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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

What a way to start the year

January 10, 2008

A bunch of parents and their newborn children have started the New Year on a bright note. They're leaving the hospital with a board book.

I was heartened to read about this program in Nebraska that gives books to newborns — actually their parents. This is where literacy really starts, isn't it — with a parent cuddling, talking, reading, or singing to an infant?

Libraries have always provided a great start for children of all ages, in any stage of development, and at any time of the year. I'm hard-pressed to think of any other organization that provides services to the very young and the significant adults in their lives. In fact, the Association of Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, has a program called Born To Read. Libraries across the country have been involved with an early literacy initiative, "Every Child Ready to Read."

I remember my son at six months old howling with laughter over Rosemary Well's Max's First Word (Dial). I still chuckle when I hear the word "bang" as I remember Max — the small, smart, and stubborn bunny that delighted my son so. I used libraries all the time when he was very young — and bought books that especially touched my son.

Some of his early favorites are still read by children today: Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Martin Waddell's Owl Babies; and a bit later, Walter Dean Myers' Brown Angels. These books remain as special to me as they were to my son at one time and probably will be again.

Take a minute to share some of the books that are favorites of young children in your life. Maybe we can build a list of classics old and new.


I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday with my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter -- laying on the floor of the public library (South Lee County, FL) reading all about Max & Ruby. My granddaughter is VERY impressed with Ruby's Beauty Salon -- and after reading it twice together, she "read" it to me. We forget to use this wonderful and fun resource!!

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan