Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Children's Book Week: K-2

As I twittered, it’s the Children’s Book Council Children’s Book Week, a celebration dating back to 1919. The CBC has just posted the winners of The Children’s Book Awards on their website. The categories are as follows:

Kindergarten to 2nd grade
3rd grade to 4th grade
5th grade to 6th grade
Teen Choice

And, of course, I thought I’d join in on the fun. I mean, you guys can’t have a party without expecting me to crash it. Especially when the party involves children’s books. So here I am, digging through my many years of reading experience to give you my own top choices every day this week, and they might just be extremely old school.

Kicking it off, Kindergarten to 2nd Grade:

The Jolly Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg: Renting this book from our elementary school library was, quite literally, a fight to the death. And it was a fight I lost. Over and over again. The book was never available to take out, and the kid who was lucky enough to get their grubby paws on the book usually wouldn’t even let you look at it. It was the elements that drew us in and around this famous picture book. The letters that we could pull out of the envelopes and read, as though we were spying on our favorite fairy tale characters.

Years later, in college actually, I lamented often on how I was never able to check this book out of my library. For my birthday that year, my roommate bought me the picture book and now I don’t have to share it with anybody!

Really, one could say this isn’t truly my favorite book from this time period, as I doubt I ever actually read it then. However, I remember it. I remember wanting to read it so badly, I’d give anything for it. And I obviously cared so deeply about not having read it that my college roommate bought me a copy and I, from time to time, still take it off my shelf and read all of the Jolly Postman’s letters. And Children’s Book Week should be about celebrating books that give kids the desire to read. Even if that desire results in a fight on the playground.

The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton: I spoke about this book briefly in my previous post. I think it’s probably the first book to make me feel something, to connect me to the world through its universal themes, emotions, and stunning illustrations.

Real Mother Goose: Every child needs a collection of Nursery Rhymes. This just happens to be the collection that I grew up with and loved. The illustrations are wonderful and classic. My sister, brother and I loved our paperback edition to pieces. This past Christmas, I purchased gorgeous hardcover editions from Barnes & Noble, inscribed and gave one to each of my siblings. My brother was really too young to remember, plus he always hated getting, and I quote, “stinking books” for Christmas, so he thought I was referencing a Mother Goose computer game we used to play as kids. “Uh, thanks.” But, my sister cried.

Babysitter’s Little Sister, by Ann M. Martin: The Babysitter’s Club was a HUGE deal when I was in elementary school. However, partly because I was too young and partly because my mother monitored, somewhat, what I read, I wasn’t able to start reading The Babysitter’s Club books until the fourth grade. Thankfully, there was Babysitter’s Little Sister, part of the Little Apple Books series which made up most of my early chapter book reading.

By the way, I was Mary Ann. And I remember constantly referencing something about “faucets” when it came to describing how much Mary Ann cried. Though I wasn’t much of a crier. And I wasn’t very shy either. But I was Mary Ann. Which Babysitter were you? (C’mon, you know you played!)

And my Top Pick for my favorite Children’s Book in the Kindergarten to 2nd grade Category:

Elmer, by David McKee

Okay, so I didn’t even know about Elmer until last year, but I’m completely obsessed with him. And it isn’t even the first title that is my favorite, but rather the character in general. I’ve started collecting all of the books and almost have them all, including the  Pop-Up Book , Matching Cards and Baby Record Book . I’ll probably soon purchase the Lunchbox and the Tea Set, and I’ve got a small AND large Elmer Doll sitting on my desk. Just to complete the obsessive streak, I’m creating a crochet pattern to make my very own Elmer blanket.

Elmer is adorable. He’s bright, cheery, and always suffers some ordeal that makes him stronger, smarter, and brighter in the end. An oddly colored elephant among a herd of gray, Elmer teaches children the importance of being different and the strength it takes to be yourself.

My poor, first born forced to love Elmer child!

Find these books and more in the From Infants to Young Adults Bookstore! 

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