This week I was in Kansas City for four days to see my daughter and to celebrate her twenty-second birthday with her. My husband and I had never visited her in her space before, so this was something of a milestone for us; being our daughter's 'guest!'
On Wednesday morning we set of on out first expotition, (1) and the first thing that I noticed as we drove into the city was that the topography was flat. Really flat. I live in a narrow valley that is surrounded by mountains, so this was a little bit of a shock to the system. One thing that I did like very much is that is wonderfully green. Here in the Pacific Northwest the summer "toasted" season is already starting, so seeing green trees and grass is a treat for us.
Prospero's, a three storey building packed with used books and other media. It has been a quite a while since I set foot in a large bookshop of this kind, and the moment I stepped in the aroma of used books wafted over me like a well-loved old quilt; I gave a sigh of deep pleasure and started exploring the shelves.
I found some wonderful copies of Little Men and Jo's Boys written by Louisa May Alcott and illustrated by Ruth Ives. They were published in 1955 and are in excellent condition. These books continue the story of the characters that readers got to meet in the classic books Little Women and Good Wives
I also got 75 Years of Children's Book Week Posters: Celebrating Great Illustrations of American Children's Books. In 1915 Franklin K. Mathiews (who founded Boy's Life Magazine) decided that he would bring together parents, teachers, librarians and others so that they could, together, create an annual week-long celebration of books and reading. Mathiews teamed up with two very powerful allies, Frederic G. Melcher and Anne Carrol.
Frederic G. Melcher was the editor of Publisher's Weekly for many years and a huge supporter of children's books. In fact he was the one who proposed the Newbery Medal in 1922, an annual award for "the most distinguished book for children." In 1937 Melcher proposed the Caldecott Medal to honor children's picture books.
Anne Carrol was an American educator, writer and advocate for children's libraries. In 1896 Carrol accepted an offer to organize a children's room at the Pratt Institute Library in Brooklyn. Up to this point children had usually been considered a nuisance in library settings, and were often excluded from libraries until they were at least 14 years of age. Carrol set about changing this. She created a welcoming space for children with child-sized furniture, open stacks, cozy reading nooks, story times, puppet shows, summer programming, quality juvenile literature, and perhaps most importantly, librarians committed to working with children. In 1906 she became the the superintendent of children's work at the New York Public Library.
Together, with the help of the publishers' and bookseller's associations,' Mathiews, Melcher, and Carrol formed a Book Week Committee, and in 1919 the illustrator Jessie Wilcox created the first Children's Book Week poster. The poster was reused for the next four years. Over the years recommended book lists, school and public library events, parades, and other grassroots events have popular around the country, and every year an illustrator is asked to create a poster for the occasion.
In 1944 the Association of Children's Book Editors created the Children's Book Council (CBC) to take over the running of Children's Book Week. Then in 2008 the administration of Children’s Book Week, including planning official events and creating original materials, was transferred to Every Child a Reader, CBC’s charitable arm.
Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, young people across the country participate by attending events at schools, libraries, bookstores, celebrating at home, and engaging with book creators both online and in person. The 2022 Children’s Book Week will take place during two dedicated weeks of celebration, May 2-8 and November 7-13.
|A Sample of Children's Book Week Posters|
From left to right - Jessie Wilcox 1924, Kate Seredy 1962, Lane Smith 1995
From Left to Right - Jan Brett 1996, Kevin Henkes 2002, Jon J. Muth 2010
(1) The word expotition refers to “voyages of discovery in which, it is hoped by all concerned, nothing Fierce is discovered.” A.R. Melrose, The Pooh Dictionary: The Complete Guide to the Words of Pooh and All the Animals in the Forest, 1995.