2017-09-07
There’s more blogging happening these days over at Reading Rockets. The chronicling of a family trip to the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder has grown beyond a special series and taken on a life of its own! The new Book Life blog will focus on all kinds reading and learning adventures. I’m looking forward to hosting many special guests and learning what the book life is like for authors, parents, and teachers working to launch young readers.

The celebration of Read Across America on Dr. Seuss’s birthday is just a week away, and all over the country—and across the Internet—folks are being reminded, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read with a child.” Every year millions and millions of readers are inspired to don the hat of Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and share books with kids in schools, hospitals, homes, homeless shelters, libraries, museums and more.

 

It was March 2, 1998, when the National Education Association (NEA) first called for every child in every community across the country to celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Kids reading across our great nation in a Dr. Seuss birthday celebration needed an anthem worthy of the lively rhymes and rollicking rhythms of the beloved author. Something Seussational like:

 

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,

To pick up a book and read with a child.

 

You’ve probably seen this quote attributed to Dr. Seuss. On Pinterest. Or Facebook. Or on a t-shirt.

th-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss never said, never wrote those words.

 

The lines comes not from Dr. Seuss, but from a talented NEA staff member who swiftly composed this poetic piece during a meeting:

 

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,

To pick up a book and read with a child.

You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,

To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.

In schools and communities,

Let’s gather around,

Let’s pick up a book,

Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,

Kids who will need

Someone to hug,

Someone to read.

Come join us March 2nd

Your own special way

And make this America’s

Read to Kids Day.

 

The poem is published in full on the NEA website, but the first two lines have been appropriated by—for the most part—well-intentioned folks who want to use a Dr. Seuss image and clever quote to spread the word about the joys of reading. This accidental plagiarism is somewhat similar to that of author John Green’s much-circulated quote that was actually written by a 13-year-old reader. Except that since Dr. Seuss is no longer with us, he can’t say to the Internet, “Hey, I didn’t write that. Anita Merina did. So you should credit her, not me.”

 

But now you know. So you can get it right.

wackyanita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when you’re getting wacky and wild sharing books with kids next week, you might also point out to them that its always a good idea to question what you read.

 

Using the Force over at The Reading Connection blog this week to generate some ideas for book-inspired play and remembering how Star Wars fired my imagination as a child.

c3po with Belle of the Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for even more Star Wars reading fun, I recommend checking out these fantastic–and very imaginative–retellings by Alexandra Bracken, Adam Giowitz and Tom Angleberger:

disney star wars books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more, play more, you must!

 

On this day in which we give thanks for the people who make our lives so very special, I am also thankful for the amazing authors whose words have made a deep and lasting impression.

I am thankful for Hard Times by Charles Dickens, particularly the character Rachael, for whom I am named.

I am thankful for The Big Tidy Up by Norah Smaridge, illustrated by Les Gray, and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. These books launched me into reading and I am forever grateful for the clever rhyme and cunning pictures in these titles that captivated my imagination and tickled my tongue.

I am thankful for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, which added hilarity to long family car trips during the holidays. And taught me a beauty tip I still use—Vaseline eyelids!

I am thankful for Black is brown is tan by Arnold Adoff, which opened my eyes to poetry.

I am thankful for With Love From Karen by Marie Killilea. This book about the joys and challenges of raising a child with cerebral palsy in the 1950s is a great read and was a great comfort as I learned to navigate middle school.

I am thankful for The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger and for all of her other mousy brown haired heroines. Very reassuring to read that brunettes have fun too!

I am thankful for The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which showed me that it is perfectly reasonable to look at the world in many different ways.

I am thankful for The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, which I have read a half dozen times, and within its multi-layered complexity, find a new and remarkable meaning each time.

I am thankful for Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton, which started my own kids reading.

I am thankful for A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke, which my husband read aloud to our whole family.

Books give us so much to be grateful for—from special time with family to new experiences to joy, comfort and a lifetime of pleasure. I am truly thankful for books.

This month, support a love of reading by showing your own enthusiasm for books! Read to kids, read in front of kids and expose them to all kinds of exciting and fascinating aspects of the written word. To make reading something kids look forward to every day this month, take advantage of the special dates and activities on the February calendar.

Celebrate Black History Month

Share the stories of African Americans throughout history and honor their contributions to our culture and country during Black History Month.

aaauthorsBelle of the Book with Sherri Smith, Walter Dean Myers and E.B. Lewis

Join the National African American Read-In

Throughout the month of February the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English invites schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, communities and readers from all walks of life to make promoting literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities and celebrate and share the works of African American writers.

Brush up on Dental Heath during National Children’s Dental Health Month

Learning about good oral health is fun for kids when they sink their teeth into a good book.

Fill your Valentine’s Day with books

Valentine’s Day can be more than candy, hearts, and flowers. Extend the love to poetry and books and encourage kids to share their favorite poems, titles or authors on February 14.

Hail to the books on Presidents’ Day

Use books to celebrate and honor the lives of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and to reflect on the contributions of all the men who have served our country as President. To distinguish the first and sixteenth presidents, plan read alouds on their actual birthdays: George Washington was born on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln on February 12.

Get ready for March (reading) Madness!

Theodor Geisel, known and beloved as Dr. Seuss, wrote and illustrated more than 40 books and gave us some of the most memorable characters in children’s literature including the Cat in the Hat. His March 2nd birthday is the date of the nation’s largest celebration of reading.  NEA’s Read Across America events and activities—with red and white hatted readers—bring reading excitement on Dr. Seuss’s birthday and provides resources to keep kids reading 365 days a year.

Belle of the Book with the Cat in the Hat and
NEA’s Read Across America’s own Anita Merina

Summer is a great time to get a little crazy in the kitchen and for food-related field trips! At Random Acts of Reading, you’ll find my Dr. Seuss inspired recipes that will take your reading and cooking adventures on beyond Green Eggs and Ham.

You’ll also find food fun, like these One Fish Two Fish Treats at Seussville.com.

two fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Rockets has cooked up some great food fun centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. Check out these Reading Adventure Packs for getting creative in the kitchen:
weather

Each Reading Adventure Pack includes great book recommendations. But if you want to sample some other food and cooking related titles, try these: 

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger

How To Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry by Joanna Cole

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech

Pie by Sarah Weeks

Have a very happy Who-liday when you visit Who-ville this Christmas season!

Enjoy enchanting scenery and local musical performances

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 Dig in to delicious local foods
Since the Grinch took the last can, sample this Who Hash featuring
leftover Roast Beast

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Or remember the Grinch with a sweet and tasty souvenir

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 Send holiday love to friends and family

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 And relax with a good book

It was delightful to chat with Kathleen Dunn and her callers today about encouraging and motivating kids to read. Listen here if you want to hear the thistle tongue twister, how to be a reading role model, and ideas to make reading fun and fundamental to your kids.

 

 

 

seus05_abc_lunchboxnote-tmb

 

B is for back to school and I’m sharing back-to-school reading fun at Random House Kids!

Check out this post for Seussational ideas to help parents start the new school year out right.

Try the recipes, crafts and printables at Seussville!

 

At the local elementary school, I’m known to some as Princess Rita Alot. Others call me the Book Fairy. While out shopping, I’ve been recognized as “the space alien who came to school.”  I like to dress up! School book fairs and library nights have given me many opportunities to have fun with favorite themes and characters.

QueenCI realized though that I’d been very limited in my costume choices, neglecting the wondrous world of nonfiction. So I moved beyond the book fair to the Science Fair. In my late 19th century dress with a vial of (pretend) radium, I was Marie Curie. But the most fun was dressing as a cumulus cloud and having kids explain the water cycle to me!

Why did I wait so long to take advantage of these nonfiction opportunities? As a parent, I don’t think I’m alone. When my kids were younger, we read a lot about shapes, colors, animals and then trains. Lots and lots of books about trains. Which is normal. As children get older, their interest in specialized information grows stronger. The trick I think is to remember to keep introducing potential new interests so that you don’t wander away from nonfiction all together just because you’ve exhausted (or been exhausted by) one favorite subject.

In the work I do with Reading Rockets we’ve developed some interesting resources and activities for engaging in nonfiction reading.  The Reading Adventure Packs which pair a set of theme-based fiction and nonfiction books and related interactive activities are great to encourage reading at home and support the role of parents as educators. Robots and Gardening are the newest themed packs and wonderful to share during the summer.

The Reading Adventure Packs are also featured as part of Reading Rockets newest project, Start with a Book. Start with a Book is a great resource to help parents, caregivers, and volunteers find summer themes that match the curiosities and interests of young children (grades K-3) and get them actively exploring bugs, birds, planes, music, sports, superheroes, inventors, art, the ocean and more!

QueenCumulus

If you’re unsure of where to start with nonfiction, this Quick Guide to Selecting Great Informational Books for Young Children will give you a very thorough introduction.  Start with a Book can also help you entice fiction readers to nonfiction. But if you already have nonfiction fans in your house, they might enjoy learning more about how these kinds of books are made. These video interviews with Gail Gibbons, Seymour Simon and George Ancona will give curious minds even more to think about.

So this summer make sure the library basket has nonfiction choices. And make sure those costume baskets have lab coats as well as crowns and wands!

 

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Part of this post is revised from a previous article written for the First Book Blog.