Children's Book Columns
I am thrilled to share my first column with Caroline’s readers. Through the years, I have helped many of you find the titles Caroline recommended so I know how enthusiastically the column was embraced and will endeavor to continue her tradition of sharing great books for children of all ages. Luckily, children’s literature is in my blood. I began shelving books in the Headquarters Library children’s department while still in high school.
As the holiday gift-giving season kicks into high gear, we’re all looking for presents that will bring joy to the recipients without breaking the bank. The $16-18 average price of a children’s hardcover picture book may seem daunting at first, but not when you compare it to the price of toys. Considering how many times a picture book is read and re-read (say, a million in the case of “Goodnight Moon”), the cost per reading is quite low. And, of course, you are helping your child build reading skills for the future, and having fun doing it!
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the death of Mark Twain. Although most of his books were written for adults, children and teens quickly found them, especially “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
Was it only twelve short years ago that “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” changed the children’s book world forever? This Friday’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the first installment of the last Harry Potter film, brings it all back.
Dave Hackenberg is not your average backyard beekeeper. He and his son run a business managing three thousand hives, moving them around the country in a tractor trailer to pollinate blueberries, almonds, and pumpkins from California to Maine. But one day several years ago, Dave opened a hive in Florida and was faced with a mystery: where were the bees?
A recently published New York Times article, “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children,” is causing an uproar in the children’s book world. According to reporter Julie Bosman, booksellers are selling fewer picture books than ever, and not just because of the economic downturn. “Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books,” she reports. One bookseller noted that parents are now buying their four-year-olds “Stuart Little” while classic picture books languish on the shelf.
Before you take your children to pick pumpkins or enjoy a hayride this fall, be sure to check out picture books showcasing farm life.
It’s no fair, Isabel complains, that the porcupines don’t get to have balloons at their class’s Graduation Day, as the raccoons, possums and other animals do. But balloons are not safe around the porcupines’ prickly quills, Isabel’s porcupine teacher gently explains. The porcupines will get bookmarks instead.
Isabel and her friend Walter are not happy. “I heard that after a few days a balloon floats halfway between the ceiling and the floor…it just hangs there like a ghost,” Walter says longingly. So Isabel makes a plan to do something about it in Deborah Underwood’s new picture book, “A Balloon for Isabel.”
Duncan and Samantha, our newest library babies, are just a few months old, but they’re not too young for books. Board books, made of heavy cardboard with just a few words on each page, fit babies’ interests and attention spans perfectly. They are just the right size for lap sharing, and their sturdy construction means you can safely prop them up next to a baby who’s too little to hold them but big enough to pick up her head and enjoy the pictures.
My favorite board book to give to babies is Tana Hoban’s “Black & White.” First published as two separate board books, “Black on White” and “White on Black,” the new edition includes both books in an unfolding accordion-style format, just right for standing up in the crib of a curious infant.