Since 1919, Children’s Book Week has endeavored to celebrate and bolster books for younger audiences. It’s the longest-running literacy initiative in the United States, and you can participate on an individual, small group, or even community-wide level. Be sure to check your local libraries and bookstores to see if there are any in-person events in your area.
The event takes place May 2nd – 8th. You won’t want to miss it!
This year, Read to Them has asked staff to share the children’s books that impacted their lives. Dive into the list below – and be sure to share your favorite children’s books with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Kayla Aldrich – Programs Specialist
Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman
I grew up with a house full of dogs, and any kind of book or media that featured a sweet-faced, furry friend could’ve been labeled Kayla Bait. Eastman’s illustrations were so bright, colorful, and distinct (just like the other Eastman classic, Are You My Mother?) that I can still picture the red and the yellow dogs riding off toward a setting, marigold sun at the book’s close.
All that fun stuff aside, this was the first book that I can recall reading aloud with my parents. The silly, borderline nonsensical narrative was something that all of us got a kick out of. It became a bedtime routine staple, and the copy that’s on my childhood bookshelf has the well-worn spine to show for it. Even now, my dad and I still quote the book’s running joke of “Do you like my hat?” “I do not!”
Whether we realize it at the time or not, the books we encounter as children shape us into the readers we become as adults. I wouldn’t trade my time with Go, Dog, Go! for anything.
Bruce Coffey – Director of Programs
The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The first “hard” book I read and didn’t put down. Somehow realized/recognized there was something here there, even if it was not presented as easy or normal as I was used to. I soldiered through and ended up growing in the process. Charmed and blessed. And grew as a reader. Became a more sophisticated reader.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
I like to say that Read to Them (the office anyway) is the house that Humphrey built. This may be true, but it wouldn’t have happened w/out The Trumpet of the Swan. This is the first book we read as a school at Fox Elementary – an All School Read, we called it Fox Reads One Book – the first book I prepared a supporting resource suite of materials for (including the vaunted Principal’s Talking Points). Read to Them founder, Gary Anderson, and I ordered 5000 copies and stored them in my garage, and when a school wanted to try One School, One Book, I went to my garage and took 6 boxes of books to the post office. RTT’s early garage days.
Anne Curry – Regional Outreach Manager
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
My best friend gave my newborn daughter Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes this book 24 years ago.
On the inside, she wrote, “May you always have the thrill of a purple plastic purse in your heart.”
I love my friend’s inscription, but this book holds even more treasured blessings like the values of patience, personal responsibility, courage, and forgiveness.
Lilly impatiently wants to show off her purple plastic purse, but her classmates and teacher, Mr. Slinger, are not excited. It’s not the right time! They are in the middle of a lesson! Lilly is hurt, and she becomes angry. The magic of this book is watching Lilly process disappointment and anger, ultimately realizing she made mistakes. And graciously, Mr. Slinger accepts the apology. Our world could learn some lessons from Lilly and Mr. Slinger.
Emily Gerber – Marketing Manager
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Growing up, one of my favorite children’s books was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kindergarten class did a whole art unit where we made pictures inspired by Carle’s illustrations. We drew animals and then glued small, square scraps of tissue paper to paper onto them to bring their fur and scales to life. I remember being so excited about the art project because I adored the story – and now I realize, as an adult, that it was my first experience where a book transcended the boundary of its pages and inspired new creativity, imagination, and connection.
Sara Hudson – Programs Manager
The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold
Iris and Sarah are best friends – the kind of friends everyone wants to have – until Sarah is tragically killed in a freak accident, leaving Iris with unanswerable questions. Iris and her family move from Southern California to Corvallis, Oregon because her mom gets a dream job (and maybe because the family thinks a fresh start will be helpful for Iris). In rainy Oregon, Iris is befriended by Boris, a boy in her class who is a medical miracle. He wasn’t supposed to survive more than a few hours after birth, but he did, perhaps because of the fervent prayers of some nuns to a long-dead Pope. Now, the Vatican is looking to certify Boris as a real miracle to help that Pope to sainthood. Iris thinks that if there was a miracle for Boris, maybe there can be a miracle for Sarah and she can still be alive, or at least still contact Iris.
Why it impacted me: This is a quiet book. The big upheaval happens before the book starts, and we meet Iris after Sarah’s death. The details of the accident are revealed later in the book, but the story is really about Iris’s journey with grief. Elana has successfully written a children’s book with no villains – no awful bullies; no terrible teachers; no absent, negligent, or abusive parents. The villain is grief – unfair, unexpected, and unpredictable grief. It is such an honest book filled with people doing their best in a terrible situation. On a personal note, I am friends with a family facing a similar set of circumstances having lost their daughter to an act of violence with a friend of hers looking on. This little book went straight to that place in my heart trying to make sense of that terrible tragedy. While Elana doesn’t spoon feed the reader any answers, she does what she is supposed to do. She offers hope without dismissing the pain.
For more information on Children’s Book Week, visit Every Child a Reader.