What is Children’s Book Week?
Children’s Book Week is a week set aside to celebrate children’s books and the joy of reading. Children’s Book Week is the oldest literacy initiative in America. The nonprofit, Every Child a Reader, partnering with the Children’s Book Council, oversee this annual celebration. Each year a theme is chosen, events are planned, and posters and bookmarks are commissioned for the celebration by outstanding illustrators of children’s books. School and library visits by children’s authors and illustrators are popular events associated with this week-long celebration.
The History of Children’s Book Week
This year, April 30 through May 6 is the 99th anniversary of the first Children’s Book Week. Its theme is “One World, Many Stories.”
The first Children’s Book Week was held in 1919 at the initiation of Franklin K. Matthiews, librarian of the Boys Scouts of America, with the support of Frederich G. Milcher, editor of Publisher’s Weekly, and Superintendent of Children’s Works at the New York Public Library, Anne Carroll Moore. The goal was to rally publishers, booksellers, and librarians in producing quality books for children and promoting childhood literacy. Children’s Book Week continues to address these goals and celebrate the accomplishment of its founders’ original vision by exposing children and adults to the plethora of beautifully written and illustrated children’s books published each year.
Celebrate Children’s Book Week!
Celebrate Children’s Book Week and support children’s book publishing by purchasing that perfect book for a child in your life or gathering an armful in the children’s room at your local library. Then snuggle down to read together. Below are a few suggestions of newer titles from Eerdmans Publishers that you may want to explore.
The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler ushers us into a phenomena of nature referred to as ‘the blue hour,’ that in-between time of day when the sun has set and a blue backdrop lingers along the horizon before darkness engulfs the earth. The opening lines float in a sea of blue, setting the mood by evoking a quiet hush and a sense of wonder.
“The day ends.
The night falls.
And in between…
there is the blue hour.”
Each double page illustration opens hidden doors into ways that nature’s creatures throughout the globe respond to this transitional time of day. The illustrations are bold and distinctively wrought in a wide pallet of blue hues. The sparse text augments the vibrant illustrations with vivid descriptions and by weaving the simple storyline among the pages. This is the perfect book for parents to read to overactive pre-schoolers at the end of a busy day to help them quiet down before bedtime.
Another recommendation for the younger set is Plume, a picture book also created by French artist Isabelle Simler. At first glance, this appears to be a non-fiction book displaying a variety of birds and the uniquely shaped and colored feathers of each species. However, each double-paged illustration is also punctuated by a clue… a set of whiskers, a nose, a tail… birds aren’t the only creatures that inhabit this world. Tension mounts as we view different features of a cat as a hidden stalker of these colorful, elegant fowl. A delightful surprise ending reveals that the book and story are really about the cat whose name is Plume. Beautiful illustrations appear in clear, bold shapes with clever presentation.
Roger is Going Fishing by Koen Van Biesen introduces us to a man, a child, and a dog heading to the country on a bike for a fishing expedition. On their way through the busy city streets, the child, Emily, can’t wait for the pond to appear. With her fishing pole, she snags a variety of objects belonging to other people. A chase ensues that ends happily with a party at the pond. This hilarious romp will tickle the funny bone and provide limited and predictable vocabulary for the beginning reader.
The Watcher: Inspired by Psalm 121, written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier, demonstrates how timely the words of the Bible continue to be as they are applied to the challenges of modern life. Written for the school-age child between 6 and 10 years old, it deals with the thorny issues with which many children must wrestle today such as fear, bullying, isolation, poverty, race relations, and moral choice. The text of each page is cleverly arranged in the poetry form known as ‘The Golden Shovel’ where the last word in each line repeats the phrase of an existing poem, in this case, Psalm 122. This format highlights the words of Scripture on each page and provides a sense of God’s presence and speaking into each modern dilemma. This book is a valuable tool for teaching the practical application of faith, peaceful and compassionate conflict resolution, and ways of loving our neighbor.