Children's Book Week: Celebrating the Importance of Children's Books

Monday, May 4th is the official kick off to National Children's Book Week. I love the idea of setting aside an entire week to pay tribute to reading and the importance of literature in the life of a child. This week, I have three posts planned for you all relating to children's literature. Today, I wanted to give you a little background on the history of Children's Book Week and resources for celebrating it in your classroom. 

The "longest running national literacy initiative in the country," began as Good Book Week in 1916 after a librarian for the Boys Scouts toured the country seeking improvements in literature for children. After enlisting the help of a major publishing editor and a superintendent of the New York Public Library, Franklin K. Matthiews' cause was endorsed by the American Library and Booksellers Associations. In 1919, the American Booksellers Association decided to make the celebration an annual event and renamed it Children's Book Week. In 2008, Every Child a Reader assumed responsibility for administering the event with the Children's Book Council as its main sponsor. It is on their site where you can find ideas and resources for celebrating. Here are a few highlights: 

1. First, you need a poster. Each year, a children's book illustrator is chosen to create a poster for the event. This year's poster was designed by Grace Lee, who illustrates storybooks for Disney. For just the price of postage, you can request up to 25 posters for free!

Image source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/poster

Image source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/poster

IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.cafepress.com/bookweek

IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.cafepress.com/bookweek

I absolutely love artwork from children's books. (If you do too, make sure you check out my upcoming post on the Mazza Museum!) When I learned that the annual posters were created by current illustrators, I had to check out their archives. Oh. My. Word. Here you can see every poster made since 1921 and order products featuring those images. For friends of my generation, think Maurice Sendak and Ezra Jack Keats from the 60's; Mercer Meyer, Arnold Lobel, Richard Scarry, and William Steig from the 70's; Tomie dePaola, Stephen Kellog, and Chris Van Allsburg from the 80's. And I could go on.

Literally a walk through memory lane looking at those images. If you do nothing else, you must visit their posters page. (I'm thinking these would make perfect gifts for other book art lovers in your life.)

 

2. Next, you need bookmarks. Can students ever have enough bookmarks? I think not. In my classroom, I tried to keep a supply of bookmarks for students to grab as they needed them, but it seemed I was always running out. That's one reason why I always like to include free bookmarks with any product I create. 

Image source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/bookmark

Image source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/bookmark

Here's one more to add to their collection. This year's bookmark is a gorgeous print by Raul Colon. One half is an adorable image of a boy sketching a giraffe while the other offers a lesson on how to draw an elephant. On the site, you can also download bookmarks from other talented artists, such as Lane Smith, Jeff Kinney, and Dan Yaccarino. 

 

3. Complete a story starter from a well-loved author. How great is this? 10 incredible authors, including Lemony Snicket, Mo Willems, and Mary Pope Osborne, each created the beginning of a story for students to finish. Work on these as a class, small group, or have students complete individually and share. Perfect for inspiring future children's book authors!

Image Source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/story-starters

Image Source: http://www.bookweekonline.com/story-starters

 

4. Participate in the 2015 Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards. Each year, several books are chosen as the best of children's and teen literature. Teachers and students vote in different categories to support their favorites. Visit the page to see which category is most appropriate for your group and then incorporate read alouds into your lessons. Voting ends May 3rd! 

 

Visit the Children's Book Council's site for other great resources to celebrate National Children's Book Week including a listing of  local events near you

How do you celebrate books in your classroom? I'd love to hear!