This week marks the nationally recognized Children’s Book Week. Children’s Book weeks runs from April 30-May 6th, but the wisdom and joyfulness it imparts about the significance of reading stays with me all year. Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the oldest literacy program in the country. It seems especially timely to celebrate Children’s Book Week after the recent death of first lady Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush was a leading literacy advocate who over the course of her lifetime raised millions of dollars to support family literacy. The word “family” was fundamental to her work, and should remain paramount when talking about ways to celebrate this important week. George H. W. Bush wore multi-colored socks festooned with books to his wife’s funeral to pay homage to Barbara’s important work. Here are a few key things you can do to celebrate both the work of Mrs. Bush and enjoy Children’s Book Week with your family.
Visit the library! My personal favorite activity. It is a powerful feeling for a child to have a library card of their very own, and to view choosing a book as a worthwhile and joy filled activity. This adventure can be heightened by making a scavenger list (I did this years ago with my kindergarten students) of things to find in the library. As an example: Can you find an author whose name begins with the same last letter as your own? Locate the copy machine. Find a cookbook!
Make a bookmark!
This can be completely open ended or perhaps your child can be encouraged to choose a favorite character, setting, or main idea to include on the bookmark with illustrations or downloaded photos from the computer. This is also a great time to introduce the concept of a chapter book, or begin reading one
Create a book or cover!
Preschoolers can write books. Allow your child to tell you a story, and write down the words your child is saying. Perhaps make this a family effort, by having everyone contribute a page to the storyline. Another fun activity is to create a cover for a beloved tale. Let your child choose a favorite part of the story and design a new cover for the book.
Have an author focus!
Find an author your child enjoys and explore many books written by him/her. Explore that person’s life and find out more about their book characters, impetus for storyline, or why they chose to write for children. Don’t forget to share your own favorite author with your child. Remember you are the model for encouraging reading!
Explore reading different genres!
It is vital that children are exposed to reading and print in different forms. Do not forget non-fiction books. In addition, all children love to get mail! My own children eagerly awaited their monthly subscription to Highlights Magazine for many years. If you are looking for a wonderful way for children to engage in print, order a magazine; Ladybug, Ranger Rick Jr., Chirp, or National Geographic Little Kids will bring your child great pleasure.
Children’s Book Week is set aside as a special time, but should not be limited to April 30th-May 6th. It is a great reminder to all that reading to and with children should be a joyful part of our daily lives!