It’s Children’s Book Week, which means this week is another special reason to encourage your kids to read! This celebration of books (sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader) officially began in 1919, though the idea was originally formulated in 1913 by Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America. To date, this week is considered the longest-running literacy program in the U.S. (Read more about the history at bookweekonline.com)
Since spring and rain are on my mind (it’s been endless wet weather in New York), here are some new and old spring-related books that are perfect for the season:
Gem by Holly Hobbie – The author/illustrator of the “Toot and Puddle” series showcases her superb watercolors in this (mostly) wordless book about a frog and a young girl’s discovery of the world.
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano – Spare and poetic as a haiku, this first-time author focuses on a boy waiting for his garden to bloom. Subdued illustrations by Erin E. Stead, who won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” are a perfect accompaniment.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – A tribute to nature and the environment, Seeger shares the different shades of green that exist in the world, along with scenes of what a world would be like without green. Strategic cut-outs on each page also give a hint of what will come next.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown – Inspired by the High Line in New York City, this story follows a little boy as he plants a rooftop garden with the hope of transforming a dark and dreary world into something bright and bold. (Brown’s signature drawings are detailed, lush, and vibrant.)
This cute and catchy music video came across my inbox yesterday and I’ve watched it at least three times. If you love books and reading as much as I do, you will also love this video from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest non-profit children’s literacy organization. RIF just launched the national ”Book People Unite” campaign to encourage book lovers to band together, and this Public Service Announcement features an original song produced by The Roots.
A montage of assorted puppets (by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) and animations (by Curious Pictures) of beloved book characters (Pinocchio, Curious George, Babar, Humpty Dumpty, Clifford, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Madeline) are all seen or heard singing ”Book People Unite.” Famous musicians and celebrities such as Chris Martin from “Coldplay,” John Legend, Regina Spektor, and Jack Black also contribute vocals for the characters or make appearances alongside them. LeVar Burton, who hosted “Reading Rainbow,” also makes a cameo. (NYTimes.com also has a feature-length piece about the video.)
Last year, RIF provided 14 million books to 4 million children, and the non-profit hopes to give more books to the 16 million children living in poverty in our country. To show your support for literacy, sign the “Book People Unite” reading pledge and receive a free download of the song.
Can you spot all the book characters or match them to the celeb voices?
Before March ends, make sure to encourage bring your little bookworm to the library since March is National Reading Month.
To help promote a love for reading, Cheerios is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its Spoonfuls of Stories program, which places one free book written by award-winning authors inside specially-marked cereal boxes. This year, six different books (with English and Spanish versions) will be distributed together:
Peeny Butter Fudge, by Toni and Slade Morrison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Mostly Monsterly, by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Scott Magoon
Noodle & Lou, by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Arthur Howard
If I Were a Jungle Animal, by Amanda Ellery and illustrated by Tom Ellery
Hello Baby, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Can I Just Take a Nap?, by Ron Rauss and illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Since 2002, Cheerios has distributed 60 million books in boxes and donated $3.8 million to First Book, a non-profit dedicated to improving literacy for low-include families by providing them their first new books. This year, Cheerios will be giving 50,000 children’s books and $300,000 to First Book.
You can also donate to First Book through your mobile phones by using short code 20222 and texting Books2Kids. By doing so, a $5 donation will be made that will provide two new books to a child in need. Standard messaging rates apply, and the donation amount will appear on your cell phone bill. Parents can also find other book-related events sponsored by Cheerios near you.
If you’re looking to add new reads to your child’s bookshelf, consider these two distinguished winners of this year’s Newbery and Caldecott awards. The books were announced by the American Library Association (ALA) this week.
John Newbery Medal (outstanding contribution to children’s literature): “Dead End in Norvelt” by Jack Gantos, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In this YA novel, a boy named Jack Gantos (same name as the author) is grounded but his life then changes over two months when a neighbor offers him a job of typewriting obituaries.
Randolph Caldecott Medal (distinguished American picture book for children): “A Ball for Daisy,” illustrated and written by Chris Raschka, published by Schwartz & Wade Books (imprint of Random House Children’s Books). A story told without words, the book follows a playful dog named Daisy as her favorite ball is ”lost” but then “returned” to her.
Two contests are running simultaneously as part of the Raise a Reader program, the School Challenge and the Family Challenge. The School Challenge is open to parents with school-age kids, and the school with the highest reading minutes will win $5,000 for the library. The Family Challenge is open to parents with and without school-age kids, and 50 kids with the highest reading minutes will win $50 gift cards.
2- Starting November 7, 2011, parents must begin registering their individual kids into to the program. Parents can register at parents.com/reading/ and start tracking their children’s extracurricular reading minutes. Only 100 minutes maximum can be entered each day. Students can be enrolled any time until January 30, 2012, when the contest ends.
3- When parents register their kids, they must add a school in order to be a participant in the program. Parents with school-age kids who participating in the School Challenge are automatically enrolled in the Family Challenge.
FOR THE FAMILY CHALLENGE:
1- Starting November 7, 2011, parentswithout school-age children also register their individual kids into the program. Parents can register at parents.com/reading/ and start tracking their children’s extracurricular reading minutes. Only 100 minutes maximum can be entered each day. Kids can be enrolled any time until January 30, 2012, when the contest ends.
2- When parents register their kids, they are automatically enrolled into the Family Challenge.
Startling statistics from LitWorld.org states that almost 1 billion people around the world today still can’t read or write, and that 171 million children could overcome poverty if they learned to write and read in school.
To share how power of words to change the world, LitWorld is making today World Read Aloud Day. World Read Aloud Day “motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.”
Since last year, LitWorld has advocated for reading and writing in over 35 countries through 40,000 people who partcipated in sharing the word. This year, LitWorld invites you to continue sharing the importance of literacy in several ways: reading with your kids and family, joining a reading event at your local library or in your community, or stopping by Times Square in New York City for a 24-hour Read Aloud Marathon.
Growing up, I remember looking–with reverance–at books branded with silver and gold Newbery and Caldecott medals. I knew those books were extra special, awarded by the American Library Association as being the best of the best in written (Newbery) and illustrated (Caldecott) children’s books.
This week, the ALA press release announced their winners of this year’s Newbury and Caldecott medals:
John Newbery Medal (outstanding contribution to children’s literature): “Moon over Manifest,” written by Clare Vanderpool, is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. (Click here for more book award winners.)
Randolph Caldecott Medal (distinguished American picture book for children): “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing. (Click here for more book award winners.)
Most parents may know Salman Rushdie as the author of adult novels such as “Midnight’s Children” and the controversial “The Satanic Verses,” but Rushdie has also written two children’s books; chapter books geared toward the tween/teen set.
The first chlidren’s book, “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” was written in 1990 and was considered a contemporary story akin to “Alice in Wonderland.” Written ten years later and released recently in November, “Luka and the Fire of Life” is a continuation of “Haroun”; the characters are the same but a different child hero (Luka, the younger brother of Haroun) is at the center of the story.
When Luka and Haroun’s father, Rashid Khalifa (the Shah of Blah), suddenly falls ill, Luka must journey to the Magic World and steal the Fire of Life in order to restore his father’s soul and spirit. Along for his first adventure, Luka is accompanied and assisted by Dog (the Bear), Bear (the Dog), the Magic World’s version of Rahshid, Princess Soraya and her magic carpet, and Memory Birds.
“Luka” is full of clever wordplay and themes, phantasmagorical cities and creatures, and crucial acts of courage. Recently, Parents.com had the chance to ask Salman Rushdie a few questions about his new book. Read the interview below:
How was the writing process for “Luka and the Fire of Life” better or more challenging compared to “Haroun and the Sea of Stories”?
It was the opposite of Haroun, in a way. For the first book, I knew the story more or less from the start, and the problem was to find the right tone of voice, not too childish for adults, not too adult for children. This time I knew the tone, having worked it out for Haroun, but the story took a lot of working out.
In both books, it’s the young children who are empowered to save the parents, whether from divorce or from death. How did you decide to have children take on the responsibility of being solitary heroes?
It’s just more fun that way around. Parents saving children is too obvious, and 12-year-old boys all think their dads need helping out with almost everything, anyway.
Given the increasing appeal of video games and decreasing appeal of print books, “Luka” is cleverly structured in a video game-like narrative. What inspired you to outline the story as a video game? Was it a conscious way to bridge both genres?
It was a way of using a new language to reinvigorate an ancient story, the story of the quest for fire. Also, I hadn’t seen it done before, and that made it irresistible.