Children's Literature @ NYPL
Children's Book Week is May 4-10, 2015!
This Children's Literary Salon was on April 26, 2015 at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Children's Book Council (CBC) Communications Director, Nicole Deming, gave a presentation about Children's Book Week (May 4-10, 2015). Then, Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Specialist for NYPL, interviewed her. It was great to learn about this opportunity to promote reading with kids, especially to kids in underserved communities. Reading to kids before they enter school improves their vocabulary and their ability to succeed academically.
Started by a Boy Scout Leader
Deming told us that the first Children's Book Week was in 1919. This was around the time that the first children's reading rooms started appearing in public libraries. Juvenile Instructor was a magazine from the time period for educators. Franklin Mathiews, author of The Boy Scout Courageous, was the chief librarian of The Boy Scouts of America. He formed Book Week Committee, which started the children's book week tradition. People in society at the time wanted more children's books in households. The history of Children's Book Week reflects the children's publishing industry over the last century. Currently, Every Child a Reader and the Children's Book Council administers Children's Book Week.
Each year has a unique poster to promote children's book week. Many illustrators of children's books have also illustrated these posters. Children's Book Week is celebrated in all 50 states. We want kids to really get excited about and engaged with books. There are 115 official event sites and over 200 events planned to celebrate reading with children. The events that libraries, schools and bookstores hold include story times, readings, signings, writings a song, reading to your sister, and scavenger hunts. They also create terrific book displays to entice young people to enjoy books. The Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards are chosen by kids, which is very important because it gives kids a say in which books are the best.
Bird then interviewed Deming about Children's Book Week.
Importance of Children's Literacy
Bird has always been curious about Children's Book Week. Since children's book are omnipresent now, why is it necessary to still celebrate this?
Deming stated that the #1 purpose of the week is to promote the pure joy of reading. It is a public awareness campaign to let people know how important reading to kids is in order to develop school readiness. Low income kids who enter school have an average of 3,000 to 4,000 words in their vocabulary, whereas higher income kids have about 10,000 more words in their vocabulary at the start of school. CBC has also helped support mothers in reading to their babies in prison via the Prison-Nursery Library Project. The founder of the project was born in prison.
Bird wondered why the week is now in May when it was previously in November.
Deming said the CBC was informed by bookstores that November was a bad month for them due to their holiday planning. They wanted to tie in the book promotions that they were already doing in May to children's books.
Bird mentioned that CBC is unique in that it has connections with publishers. Many publishers are members of CBC; how do they become members?
Deming told us that CBC is now accepting Canadian publishers as members. Publishers must have at least three titles published. CBC does not accept vanity presses (people who pay to have their books published). Publishers can apply for membership, and there is a review process. All of the major children's publishing houses are members, and most of all children's publishers are members. CBC has about 80 members.
Bird wanted Deming to describe the stranger and more creative events that people have had for Children's Book Week.
Deming mentioned an all-day scavenger hunt at a school in which all of the students participated.
Bird commented that there have been many changes in the kid lit world in the past decade. She asked where Deming wants Children's Book Week to go, and where she thinks it is going in the future.
Deming stated that the most important thing is to reach kids in underserved communities with books. Unfortunately, most bookstores exist in higher income areas. Luckily, we have over 100 public libraries in New York City which provide free access to books to New Yorkers and tourists.
Bird opened the floor for audience questions.
Someone asked how much input from educators goes into the planning of Children's Book Week.
Deming mentioned that the Children's Book Week Activities page came directly from teachers' suggestions. Educators communicate with CBC frequently, and they welcome email suggestions from everyone.
Another person asked if they have programs to give out books to kids in underserved areas.
Deming has worked with First Book, and CBC definitely seeks out such projects. Her favorite part of working with children's literature is unifying the children's book industry.
Upcoming Children's Literary Salon
Saturday, August 1 from 2-3 pm
Authors of Books about Sisters
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building