Contributed by Tucker Stone, USBBY Board Member.
The history of the program dates back to a passionate group of librarians, educators, booksellers, and journalists. The very first Children’s Book Week was launched in November of 1919 and was the brain child of Franklin K. Mathiews, librarian for the Boy Scouts of America. With the help of New York Public Library superintendent of the Department of Work with Children, Anne Carroll Moore, and Publisher’s Weekly Editor, Frederic G. Melcher, this national celebration had its start with an amazing poster created by Jessie Wilcox Smith and the slogan “More Books in the Home!”
Since then, Children’s Book Week has evolved and changed in many ways, but the essence of the program has remained constant. At its core, Children’s Book Week is an opportunity for kids and teens to connect with books and book creators, and to give teachers, librarians, booksellers, and educators a structured but fun annual occasion to celebrate the love of reading.
A 100th anniversary only comes around once, so this is a big year with a lot of brand new partnerships, resources, and events happening throughout 2019. Every Child a Reader, the organization that has had stewardship of the program since 2008, understands the importance of honoring the past, celebrating in the present, and looking towards the future. This is a celebration for kids after all, whose futures are bright and shinning before them. That’s why this year’s slogan is: Read Now ● Read Forever.
So many people have joined in to make this a 100th anniversary worth remembering! Celebrated author/illustrator Yuyi Morales created the beautiful 2019 official poster. With activities on the back, 125,000 copies of the poster will be distributed to kids, teens, and adults at over 1,300 schools, libraries and bookstores in all 50 states during the spring week of celebrations, April 29 - May 5. Original bookmarks created by Selina Alko & Sean Qualls, Vera Brosgol, Jason Chin, Ekua Holmes, Juana Medina, and Jessie Sima are available online to download and print.
Two new amazing visual resources were created this year. A Comic Book Activity Kit with art/activities by Jed Alexander, Morgan Clement, Gale Galligan, Kazu Kibuishi, Yehudi Mercado, Chad Sells, and Judd Winick was released online in March. And throughout 2019, original artwork panels will be released monthly as part of a first-ever collaborative poster created by 12 acclaimed artists: Sophie Blackall, Eric Carle, Bryan Collier, Grace Lin, Juana Marinez-Neal, Barbara McClintock, Frank Morrison, LeUyen Pham, James E. Ransome, Eric Stead, Melissa Sweet, and Raina Telgemeier.
Children’s book publishers and partner organizations have joined the fun in so many ways. Donated by publishers, 30 costume characters and over 2,000 special event kits will be used by official event locations.
An outstanding new partnership with KidLit TV is resulting in the release of 100 videos featuring authors and illustrators talking about their characters. This “Creator Corner” series will allow kids to directly connect with book creators for years to come.
Screen-Free Week, which is also taking place April 29-May 5 has worked with Every Child a Reader on joint resources including a reading list and pledge card. They are also the first of five groups to create a “100 Years, 100 _____” list in honor of the anniversary and to highlight the amazing work they do in encouraging kids to read. More lists to come throughout the year from groups like We Need Diverse Books and First Book.
And that is just what is happening in the first half of the year. In the fall, a special educator kit will be released with brand new resources. This kit will be a key part of our 2nd week of events, November 4-10.
This fall will also see the opening of the Rabbit hOle in Kansa City. Their all new Explor-A-Storium will include an exhibit all about Children’s Book Week, featuring posters and other ephemera from years past.
It has been an amazing 100 years. We can’t wait to see what the next 100 years brings!
The United States Board on Books for Young People
The U.S. National Section of International Board on Books for Young People
Building Bridges Through Children's and Young Adult Books
Center for Teaching through Children´s Books
National Louis University
1000 Capitol Drive
Wheeling, IL 60090
V. Ellis Vance, Executive Director Executive.Director@usbby.org
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