Hope the Fourth was with you and you had a pleasant Cinco de Mayo! This week is special in still another way. May 4–10 was officially designated Children’s Book Week by the Children’s Book Council. You can read more about this literacy effort here.
Children’s Book Week poster illustrated by the awesome Grace Lee
I love the idea of a week dedicated to promoting books for kids. After all, A Wrinkle in Time, a book written for kids by Madeleine L’Engle, is what started me on the path to becoming a writer. I was eight years old when I read it, because of the significant adults in my life. My parents were, and still are, readers. They read to fairy tales to me at night and provided books by Dr. Seuss and P. D. Eastman to encourage my brothers and me as we learned to read.
Caring librarians also were stalwart champions of books. My elementary school librarian introduced me to Madeleine L’Engle’s books and many others. Also, the children’s librarians at the branch library I frequented in Chicago helped me come home with armloads of books (like Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White).
As I think of such an abundance of books, I can’t help thinking of a scene in the 1996 movie adaptation of Matilda by Roald Dahl (I read the book too), when Matilda discovered the joy of checking books out of the library. She brought home wagonloads. I didn’t have a wagon, but I usually brought home quite a few books each week.
Mara Wilson as Matilda
I love recommending books to kids and teens. So I can’t help feeling sad when kids tell me they don’t read books at all. Some are so swamped at school, they have little downtime at home. Others are nonreaders by choice now, though an occasional book series like the Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling), the Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), or Divergent (Veronica Roth) captured their attention for a little while. Still, I remain an advocate of books in their lives, even if they are content to avoid them.
Book cover by the equally awesome Kazu Kibuishi, who has a wonderful graphic novel series—Amulet. See cover at the end of this post.
This week—or any week—you can be a children’s book champion. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to recommend a book to a kid, you can pick one up for yourself. Connect with a book that makes your inner child sing.
Even supervillains read.
Great books to introduce to a kid:
What was your favorite book when you were a kid? What book, if any, would you consider to have been very influential in your life? Why?
Children’s Book Week from usatoday.com. Mara Wilson as Matilda from hellogiggles.com. Most book covers from Goodreads. Harry Potter cover from unademagiaporfavor.blogspot.com. Stacks of books from blogs.hpedsb.on.ca.
It’s difficult for me to think of children’s books when I was a kid: I think I told you about the stuff I used to read? My primary school teacher expressing concern that I was reading James Herbert when the kids in my class were into Dahl, also there was a trip to the local library, where it was asked if anybody who was already a member could bring their books with them to return so it could be demonstrated how it works? I did-and got into trouble as I had a Star Trek book and Dracula (!) both from the adult section.
Still, they were good books 🙂 Thinking of children’s books, I do remember James And The Giant Peach being read to us in school, and I know I definitely read A Wrinkle In Time, even if I don’t remember much about it now.
I know what you mean, Andy! My dad had a lot of science fiction novels around the house like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, C. S. Lewis, and James Blish (who used to write Star Trek books). So I read some of them when I was a kid. 🙂 But since this is Children’s Book Week, I didn’t mention those novels. 🙂 But yes, classic books (Frankenstein; Dracula) also were part of my reading.
I still remember the year that we drove from Maryland to Florida; my mother read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my little sister and me the whole entire way. At least it seemed like that when I was five, though I realize now that the book isn’t near thick enough to have gotten us all the way to Florida. Thank you for coaxing the memory out!
Glad to do so, Laura. That’s such a great book. I devoured Roald Dahl books. They were so quirky!
I read books aloud to my niece and nephew on a long trip. Um, they favored books like The Day My Butt Went Psycho. Lots of poop jokes.
Dr. Suess was always one of my favorites and I would jump among them. Though ‘Wayside School is Falling Down’ got read quite a few times too. Can’t go wrong with the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ stuff too, but that’s more of a game than a book at times.
I’m glad the Choose Your Own Adventure books are coming back into style. I used to love those! And any mystery books.
Louis Sachar books are always fun!
Loved the Encyclopedia Brown stuff.
Yay! Such a great series!!
A girl I know is reading the Nancy Drew series. That pleased me immensely.
I think I head a year or two ago that they stopped printing Encyclopedia Brown. I haven’t heard of him since childhood, so I can’t say I’m surprised.
I’m not surprised either, Charles. I guess with so many books competing for shelf space. At least they’re still at the library.
True. Though it’s always nice to be able to buy them somewhere.
I remember Are You my Mother! Still one of my favorite books.
That book always takes me back to childhood. I like to give that book as a baby shower gift.
According to my mother, as a child, I was always off by myself reading, while my sister was constantly getting into mischief. My all-time favorite book and the first book I ever bought with my own money was Stuart Little. I love that Hello Kitty! 🙂
Thanks you! Ha! That sounds like the dynamic with my older brother and me! 🙂 I was off reading and he was off scheming to take over the world. 🙂
Aww. Stuart Little. A great book, Jill! Children’s books are so formative!!!
Oh my gosh, Jill and Linda — that was me and my younger sister! I was always nose in book. She was sneaking around 🙂
Ah, families. I wonder if there are any without these dynamics. I don’t happen to know of any.
Yay! For children’s books! I love them. 🙂 And we’ve read SOOO many good ones. The Goblin and the Empty Chair is one of my favorite picture books. The Little Bear series. Beatrix Potter, Beverly Cleary, Lewis, Tolkein, Laura Ingalls Wilder… My eldest LOVES reading. my middle girl is a struggling reader, but she loves stories, so if there’s an audio or I read it, she’s in heaven. Oh, oh, oh! As a middle grade-YA writer, you should discover Peter Nimble, if you haven’t already. FANTABULOUS! We have it on audio and even Beloved and I are like, “You know what? Let’s listen to Peter Nimble this week.” 😀 Oh, and the Phantom Tollbooth… So many good books.
I loved Peter Nimble! Have you read Jonathan Auxier’s other book, The Night Gardener? It’s very creepy but good!
You mentioned some of my favorites. 🙂 I love the enduring quality of stories.
I haven’t read Night Gardener. I will look it up. 🙂
I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s very different though from Peter Nimble.
Reading is such a gateway. I loved so many books as a child ~ Mary Poppins, Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, etc..
I checked out great stacks when the bookmobile came around every two weeks. The librarian often told me that I wouldn’t be able to finish them all in two weeks time. She was incorrect in that assumption.
On occasion I still go into the children’s section of the local library to pick out books.
I remember the bookmobiles! They used to come to my neighborhood too in the summer. Such fond memories. I also loved the Arrow Book Club where we could buy books at school.
Yes! Book Fairs at school -> coming home with Pippi Longstocking and Treasure Island and Helen Keller’s biography.
Yay!!! I loved Pippi Longstocking! I wanted to be her! That’s why I really want kids to read! They miss adventures like that when they don’t.
I thought living with a horse and a monkey would be vastly preferable to parents and siblings!
I wanted both too and probably would have traded one of my brothers to acquire a horse or a monkey. My parents would have said no though.
I always enjoyed reading, but it was when a teacher introduced me to Anne of Green Gables that it really became a love affair. I was also fortunate to be the youngest in a family of readers, all with different tastes and all determined to foist their favourites on me. I guess that’s why my tastes even today are so eclectic.
I love the Anne books (and the miniseries). I’m glad you discovered them! I appreciate your eclectic taste. I’m the same way!
I always enjoyed the Shel Silverstein poems and the Little Golden Books. Good for you for keeping the faith and pushing those kids you interact with to read more!
Love Shel and the Little Golden books. My younger brother still has one of the ones he was given when we were kids. 🙂 I hope you’ll introduce Angus to them.
Quick answer to the question asked: “My Father’s Dragon.” Must have been in 2nd grade or so…especially loved it because it was a book I shared with my baby cousins once I was old/big enough to hold them on my lap and read to them at the same time!!!!
Ah, my first memories were sitting on my grandmother’s lap. Yia Yia was a Greek immigrant and the stories were wonderful. The fact that the books had no pictures, were upside-down, and she was illiterate didn’t matter one whit. She taught me to love books and that love carried me through childhood and to this day. Now a Yia Yia myself, my grandchildren and I enjoy story times.
I read so much as a child, but, right now I am fondly remembering a series of Lois Lenski books that captured my attention. Flood Friday. Strawberry Girl. Cotton in my Sack. She wrote a regional series that took me all over the country (or so I thought) and gave me a bit of understanding how others lived through adversity. I still have Strawberry Girl.
What a lovely memory, Penny!
Ah, Lois Lenski. I loved her books when I was a kid!! Found those at the library!
Books are such an important part of my life and I hope I’ve passed that on to my kids. We’ve spent many hours reading out loud together–our special bonding time. Reading together fostered conversations on characters, plot, predictions, vocabulary and emotion.
Glad to hear that, Naomi. You’ve given them a rich legacy!