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Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books inside — and outside — of the classroom.
And the winner is ... children!
It's always heartening to be with other booklovers — especially those who recognize that the younger we start sharing the power and pleasure of language and story with children the more likely they'll grow into lifelong learners.
It was exciting to attend what has become known as the Youth Media Awards announcements at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.
I sometimes wonder about the effect of too many awards (it sure made for a lengthy program). Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Are there too many honors given? But I've concluded that awards can help identify books (in one form or another) that are in some way outstanding in this overcrowded field.
Sometimes authors and illustrators are recognized more than once, as was the case with this year's Caldecott Medal winner.
While Raschka has a unique style, he uses it very differently in ...Daisy. The story, which is told almost entirely without words, unfolds rather like a comic book. The visual storytelling, however, needs no words to convey the small dog's joy in a toy, the devastating loss, and ultimate friendship. Young children are the most likely to take the time to carefully examine the illustrations, but readers of all ages will recognize the emotions in this seemingly simple presentation.
So congratulations to all the award winners and especially to Chris Raschka who has joined a select group of artists who can claim more than one Caldecott Medal!
Super Ambassadors for young people and reading!
What do a red cape, a magic wand and a light sword represent? Each seems to be a sign of magic, heroics, something more than mere human, right?
What happens when the writers who hold these objects come together in one room? They become the superheroes and spokespeople to let the world know about the importance of reading.
These are the Super National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature! Together, their power can change the world! And that's just what current and former Ambassadors have set out to do.
Newly inaugurated Ambassador Walter Dean Myers flanked by outgoing Ambassador Katherine Paterson, and Jon Scieszka, the first Ambassador, talked to a standing-room-only crowd at the Washington, D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose Bookstore on Tuesday.
They talked about the power of reading. Each shared personal stories about their passion and power of story and reading. They have each seen the power of story, how books change lives — even save lives.
It's a big job to catch and keep the country's attention to remind them of something as seemingly simple yet powerful as the power of reading, books, and libraries. Learning to read requires time, patience and resources. Libraries have to be open, materials accessible. It's a never-ending job — but one with endless rewards.
I am confident that the current Ambassador — with the support of his predecessors and of teachers, parents, and others — is more than up for the position.
So as your work continues, congratulations again, Mr. Ambassador! We're behind you 100%!
A new year and a new National Ambassador
A new year has started and with it a new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Our new Ambassador continues a short but highly distinguished group of spokespeople for the importance of literature in the lives of children and young adults.
Walter Dean Myers will assume his newest role next week at a ceremony at the Library of Congress.
Walter Dean Myers writes books for every age. Each unique book reflects a particular interest of the author, his passion for history, and a depth of understanding about young people's emotional response to difficult situations including war.
Mr. Myers has been a longtime presence in our home.
One of my son's favorite books as a young child was Brown Angels (HarperCollins). He enjoyed the lively, rhythmic poetry and meeting children who lived long ago. It didn't matter that the children in the old photographs dressed differently and didn't really look like my son. He instinctively understood that they all shared something more meaningful; perhaps it was simply childhood.
My son was introduced to the Viet Nam war (in which his favorite uncle was involved) in Fallen Angels and later what soldiers experienced in Iraq through Sunrise Over Fallujah (both Scholastic). He was able to glimpse prison and the justice system, pondering guilt and innocence — from the outside and from the inside — with Monster (Amistad).
Readers of all ages can go on a Blues Journey (Holiday), listening to its music in the poetry while envisioning the period from which it grew through the evocative illustrations by Myers' son, Christopher Myers. They can meet a real African princess taken to England At Her Majesty's Request (Scholastic, o.p.) and feel the pressure of guns and gangs with Jamal in the Newbery honor Scorpions (Amistad).
So, congratulations Walter Dean Myers, Mr. National Ambassador of Young People's Literature! We look forward to an exciting term — and always, always to your next books.