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Celebrating Children's Book Week

This week is Children's Book Week, which started off in 1919! It was a national initiative promoting children's literacy and has now become a celebration of choosing the Children's Book Award of the Year, along with Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year. You can read more, including the history of this initiative, here.

Today I'm just going to share a few of my favorite authors, illustrators, and publishers so that you can find some great books to read for children in your life.

First off, a combined illustrator and author, Jan Brett. This woman has written and illustrated so.many.books. we seem to find a new one every time we go to the library. Her illustrations are beautiful and intricate, and the best word I can describe is this: meticulous. Her books could literally be done without any words because the pictures are so telling, however, her books are among some of my children's favorites, and a number of them are seasonally appropriate. Here's a full list of her books from her website.

My absolute, all-time favorite illustrator is Barbara Cooney. She is the wonderfully Americana stylist behind some very excellent books including: Ox-Cart Man, Miss Rumphius, and Roxaboxen. I am often shocked (and somewhat appalled!) that I find her books in mint condition in thrift stores. "People! Why are you throwing these treasures away?", I think, as I nap them for under $2 a piece. Really well written books, and perfectly nostalgic for the personal stories that are told in a touching way. I do not own all of her books--yet, but I will. My recent find was a brand-new edition of Emma that I practically squealed when I picked up. All in paperback, these truly are gems.

As hard as it is to choose a favorite author, so I think I'll choose a couple that my children love. The first is Richard Scarry. We have so many of his (and hers! Patricia Scarry co-wrote and illustrated) books that my children know his characters by heart and can remember even minute information, or where a certain story is located within the many Scarry anthologies we own. This is another group that we ALWAYS find in really good condition at used book sales, thrift stores, and garage sales. The Scarrys were very prolific and something I love about their books (and the TV series The Busy World of Richard Scarry--that *I* grew up on and is now in our own Netflix queue) is that they also feature stories with the same characters, but all over the world and make true stories of real people, into their books and cartoons. For example, just last Friday when my children were watching TV, there was the story on how the first abacus was used! Engaging, funny, and familiar, any child will love these books!

Beatrix Potter is also a favorite of mine (ahem, my kids). Someday I would love to visit her Lake District, where her famous pint-size books were inspired. When I came across the entire Beatrix Potter set of the mini editions for $20 I quickly nabbed it before anyone within my vicinity might have noticed it. $20?! I couldn't have been more excited. I don't even think I had kids yet, but I knew this mint-condition set was worth easily $65, and my kids love to read these because they are sweet, funny, and fit inside their hands perfectly. The thing I love about Miss Potter is that her writing is really 'hefty' for a small child, and these books increase vocabulary with flipping through the pages. Both written and illustrated by Miss Potter, these surely must be read by any child, especially the infamous Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit! Since meeting these quirky characters of hers years ago, I am often found putting single editions in my cart, and passing them out to any lucky friends who I happen to see in the near future! ;)

The last item I want to mention is publisher. This is where my undying love for Usborne books comes in, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to tell you to peak around their website by clicking onto the little rainbow hot air balloon do-hickey over on the sidebar. I became a consultant a couple of months ago after consistently--for years--loving their books and buying them for my children. At full price! That doesn't happen often. You can read in more detail here, but I truly love this company because the product they produce, and the ethical code they live by is impressive! They are so well known as quality non-fiction (like their science and history books, for example) that many schools, libraries, and almost every home schooling curriculum package I've seen uses them. They're affordable (80% of their stock is under $10), and they are engaging and well designed.

My daughter's current favorite is a Kane Miller book from England (KM is sort of like the 'fiction' arm of Usborne) and it's called You Choose. Think of a Where's Waldo mixed with a Choose your own Adventure book, and you get the endlessly entertaining, car-ride extending, writing-exercise-building book You Choose.
My son's current read is the Illustrated Stories from Dickens, which includes a 20+ page biography, internet links that go along with the book like a virtual tour of a Victorian town, and 5 of his classics broken down into chapter books with wonderful illustrations. We are currently reading David Copperfield, and it's the last book in the 300 page anthology! I actually have 6 of the Illustrated series, with my eye on the rest of them with my next ordering because my kids have read and read and read them!

What great children's books have you found recently? I love to hear what others are reading!


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