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.)
It’s no secret I love children’s picture books (and collecting them), so I’m excited to present this fun book trailer for Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall, a sequel to Dinotrux (imagine Transformers meets dinosaurs). Gall writes and illustrates his own books, combining clever ideas (dinosaur-like trucks!) with colorful and bold illustrations. In fact, I own one of Gall’s earlier books, Dear Fish, which is about what happens after a young boy writes a letter to all the fish in the sea, inviting them to visit him on land!
In this Dinotrux sequel, watch out as Garbageadon, Craneosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Trux try to take over the world!
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.
Make sure to read our Tech Savvy Parents blog by Leticia Barr — she has some family- and budget-friendly ideas for celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with fun online activities. March is also National Reading Month, so get your kids hooked on books with classic Seuss favorites such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Horton Hears a Who! Or plan a trip to the colorful Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando — where favorite characters, scenes, and places from the books come to life.
Update: Play a matching game online, The Many Languages of Dr. Seuss, to see if you can match the English versions of his book titles with the translations in other languages. You may need to print the image out and use a pen or pencil to draw lines between the titles. After you’re done, find the answers at www.smartling.com/seuss.
What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books? Which ones do your kids love?
Over the weekend, I popped into a bookstore and spotted the familiar-looking “Goodnight, Moon” cover with its classic blue, green, and orange, colors…but on close inspection, I realized that it was a parody called, “Goodnight, iPad.”
Written by Ann Droyd, the book mimics the rhyming style of Margaret Wise’s book but focuses on a a family of floppy rabbits being driven a little crazy by modern technology. The hilarious book is a reminder to say goodnight to all our mobile devices and gadgets in the evening. (“In a bright buzzing room, in the glow of the moon–and iPhones and Androids and Blackberries too–it is time to say goodnight…”)
Along with her husband, Stan, who passed away in 2005, the husband-and-wife team collaborated on writing and illustrating simple and sweet stories, with good family values and strong morals, for preschoolers. Each book focused on a specific lesson, as experienced by human-like Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear. Their first book, “The Big Honey Hunt,” was published in 1962 by Random House under the guidance of children’s book editor Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), who encouraged them to rhyme each story’s text.
There are now over 300 titles in the Berenstain Bears series, published by HarperCollins, that have sold more than 260 million copies worldwide, in 23 different languages. In addition to books, the Berenstain Bears have been featured on TV cartoons and movies, toys, clothes, video games, and mobile apps. There is even a show touring around the country, The Berenstain Bears Live! in Family Matters the Musical.
February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, so if your kid is begging for a pet or has shirked his responsibilities of caring for one, these picture books are great reminders about the joy of owning pets and having four-legged friends.
Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly – Prudence imagines having a pet, but her parents object to the expense and noise. Laugh along as she decides to adopt unusual objects as her best friends — until her dream for a real pet finally comes true!
Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo - Living in a city, a boy yearns for pet. One day, he discovers a turtle with a yellow spot in the park, brings him home, and names him Melvin. But slowly the boy discovers some animals need to stay in their natural habitats.
Not Inside This House! by Kevin Lewis – Told in fun rhymes, this story follows a little boy with a big name, Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse, who loves to explore like his famous namesakes. Along the way, he brings home some unexpected animals as house pets, to his mother’s exasperation.
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown – When a female bear finds a little boy in the woods, she immediately becomes his caretaker and discovers kids don’t make very obedient pets. Brown, known for his hilarious and colorful books, gives a unique twist to a popular theme.