11/18/02
National Children's Book Week
    by Fiona Barnes (reader)

It's National Children's Book Week and Fiona Barnes is here to tell us about this annual celebration that has been going on for the past 83 years.

National Children's Book Week, which is held the week before Thanksgiving each year, is one occasion when we take the time to celebrate the importance of children's books. This annual event is sponsored by the Children's Book Council, which provides schools, homes, and libraries with an array of background and related materials, as well as the theme of each year's book week -- this year it's "Book Time!" and the poster is by Kevin Henkes, and it shows one of his ebulliant mouse characters (she sure looks like Lucy to me, minus her purple plastic purse) standing on top of a stack of books, in her red cowgirl boots, ringing a triangle, and yelling for everyone to "come and get it!" And it's books, not beans, that are at the top of the menu.

According to the Children's Book Council's informative webpage (www.cbcbooks.org), Children's Book Week was first proposed in 1916 by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and most importantly by the Boy Scouts. Who says that boys aren't interested in books?!? And if World War I hadn't intervened that first event would have been called Good Book Week. After the war, in 1919, the annual celebration was finally launched, through the efforts of concerned librarians, the Scouts, and members of the publishing industry. Among them was Frederick Melcher, the famed editor of Publisher's Weekly, who had argued: "Book Week brings us together to talk about books and reading and, out of our knowledge and love of books, to put the cause of children's reading squarely before the whole community and, community by community, across the whole nation. For a great nation is a reading nation."

By some estimates, we'll have well over six thousand new books published this year. Books about every conceivable subject -- from a first book for babies about sushi to lullaby board books based on Mo-town hits. There are picture books about philosophy and philosophical novels about the end of time. You can go around the world in eighty poems or follow the adventures of an art-crazy squirrel named Micawber. I think the Children's Book Council's next project should be to make Children's Book Week last all year.

For more information, see: www.cbcbooks.org

Copyright 2002 John Cech

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