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Anita Silvey

Children's Author

The author of 100 Best Books for Children and 500 Great Books for Teens, Anita Silvey has devoted 35 years to promoting books that inspire children to become enthusiastic, lifelong readers. Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Horn Book Magazine and a children’s book publisher with Houghton Mifflin), Silvey continues her role as an energetic advocate for children’s and YA literature through regular appearances on television and radio and at literacy events nationwide. Publisher’s Weekly has said, “It would be hard to find a more authoritative voice than Anita Silvey.” She has recently published her first book written for children, a work of narrative nonfiction called I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War.

In this interview, find out what Silvey thinks about the future of the book and listen to the thrilling real-life anecdote about the creators of Curious George. As she says, “every children’s book tells a story, but every children’s book has a story behind it.”


Anita Silvey grew up with stories. One of her early memories is listening to her mother read poetry aloud as Silvey washed the dishes; somehow that chore seemed to be more pleasurable than not as she soaked up all that beautiful language. Her ‘desert island book’ is The Secret Garden, and to this day, she keeps a first edition on the desk where she writes.

As Editor of Horn Book from 1985-1995, she read several thousand books a year, looking for those of exceptional quality that children would return to again and again. As publisher of children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Company from 1995-2001, she worked with many well-known authors and illustrators, including H. A. and Margret Rey, Virginia Lee Burton, David Macaulay, Lois Lowry, Allen Say, David Wiesner, Karen Cushman, Linda Sue Park, and Chris Van Allsburg. With all her work, Silvey says that her guiding principle has been this: “only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young.”

In one of Silvey’s latest books, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, more than 100 leaders from the arts, sciences, business, and politics recall a children’s book that they loved and discuss its impact on their lives.

Currently a member of the Editorial Board of Cricket Magazine and the Board of Directors for the Vermont Center for the Book, Silvey also teaches courses at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library Science in Boston and at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont. She lectures throughout the United States on children’s books and reading.

Silvey’s hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana honored her with an official award during the town’s bicentennial celebration in 1994. She is also the winner of the Women’s National Book Association Book Women Award in 1987 and, in 2008, the Ludington Award of the Educational Paperback Association for her lifetime of dedication to children and books. The Association of Educational Publishers gave their Distinguished Achievement Award to Silvey’s School Library Journal article, “Has the Newbery Lost Its Way.”

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