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.
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.)
President Obama may be the first U.S. president to write a children’s picture book. Written before his inauguration and just published by Random House, “Of Thee I Sing” is a personal, inspiring, and heartfelt letter to his two daughters, Malia (12) and Sasha (9).
Even though “Of Thee I Sing” is written for Malia and Sasha, the picture book is also a tribute to America’s melting pot history, heroes, and achievements. Plus, a portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to a scholarship fund that will help the children of soldiers who have been killed or disabled. Watch a video below of the illustrator talking about “Of Thee I Sing.”
Along with harp seals and VHS, hardcover picture books might be an endangered species.
These days, parents are encouraging their young children to bypass picture books and engage with chapter books instead, according to a recent NYTimes.com article. As parents become more aware of standardized testing in schools, they feel pressure to foster their children’s reading skills and ensure a better academic future. Kids as young as 4- or 5-years-old may see “Curious George” replaced on their bookshelf with “Charlotte’s Web,” a book aimed for kids twice their age.
Certain classic picture books are still popular (“Where the Wild Things Are,” “Goodnight Moon,” and “The Cat in the Hat”), but publishing houses are scaling back the production of new picture books in favor of promoting bestsellers, the Times reports. At $15 or more, hardcover picture books also cost more than chapter books, usually sold in paperback at cheaper prices. With the ongoing recession, parents may find that saving a little by purchasing chapter books may go a long way in getting their kids into an Ivy League.
Kris Vreeland, a book buyer in California, told the Times: “Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is much more challenging than in a chapter book. The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book.” (NYTimes.com)
While kids who read longer, complex books at a younger age may develop their reading and cognitive skills faster, there may be unnecessary pressure for them to develop at an uncomfortable pace. Part of the joy of reading picture books is to experience the textual and visual elements of language first, and then transition into more complex novels that develop the imagination.
As a parent, are you replacing your children’s picture books with chapter books already? Or are you letting your kids progress at their own pace?