Everything Kids

'Llama Llama' Author Dies of Cancer But Has One Final Request

Sit down and read a book to your kids tonight.

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Anna Dewdney, the author and illustrator behind the beloved, best-selling Llama Llama book series, has passed away at just 50 years old after a 15-month fight against brain cancer.

Such a loss! Her Llama books—which centered around the title charcater's humorous struggle to go to sleep—played such a big role in my kids' bedtime routines when they were younger! According to her obituary in Publisher's Weekly, Dewdney wrote more than 10 books in the series since her very first—titled Llama Llama Red Pajama—was published by Viking back in 2005. Netflix is even producing an animated series based on the books, due in 2017.

The mom-of-two was also a huge advocate for children's literacy, and her final request reflects that devotion—she has asked that instead of a funeral service, her fans simply read to a child.

"When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language," she explained in an op-ed she penned for the Wall Street Journal in 2013. "We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human. When we read books with children, we share other worlds, and even more importantly, we share ourselves."

So true. And now Dewdney's publisher, Penguin Young Readers, has said in a statement that it will celebrate her life by carrying forward her mission of putting books into as many little hands as possible. We can all join in this quest by following the advice Dewdney herself set forth in her op-ed:

"Sit down, put a child on your lap, and read a story," she wrote. "Have fun. Read in character and use funny voices... Laugh and cry. Be human, loving, and strong, and that will allow the children in your care to be human, loving, and strong. Perhaps, the next time those children feel like hitting or pinching someone, they'll hold off and ask for a hug from you instead."

Thanks for the amazing words, Anna. We will definitely be reading in your honor in our home tonight.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.