The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Happy Children's Book Week!

The official 2012 Children's Book Week poster, designed by David Wiesner. Image courtesy of the Children's Book Council

Since 1919, Children's Book Week (CBW) has celebrated the illustrated, alliterative, silly, fantastical, rhyming joys of children's books. Run by the Children's Book Council since 1944 (the event was originally an initiative of the Boy Scouts of America), Children's Book Week is credited as the oldest operating literacy program in the nation. To help us celebrate CBW, we asked seven children's book authors and illustrators to name their favorite children's book of all time.

Katherine Paterson: For me, it has to be Charlotte's Web by, of course, E. B. White. In the simplest, yet most beautiful prose, White takes us through the cycle of the seasons as well as the seasons of life. I cannot get through Charlotte's death without weeping, and I cannot finish the book without rejoicing that such a story is forever ours.

Jarrett Krosoczka: My childhood copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary sits on the bookshelf in my studio---it's survived the ages and multiple moves. The cover illustration of Ralph S. Mouse in profile atop his bike inspires my imagination to this day! I recently Skyped with fourth-graders in Thailand and when they asked me what my favorite book was when I was a kid, I held up my copy of Ms. Cleary's book. Their reaction? They cheered. They all knew the book and loved it just as much as I did (and do).

Oliver Jeffers: My all time favorite children's book would have to be The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (or The Bad Tempered Ladybird as I knew it growing up in N. Ireland). The spread toward the back where the ladybird picks a fight with a whale just fascinated me. I stared at it for hours. I couldn't figure out why the whale seemed so big when the book was the same size as all the other books I had. Then one day I realized it was because the ladybird was beside it to provide scale. It was like being let in on a magician’s secret. So I would draw a wave then make it a giant wave by putting a tiny boat in it, and draw a normal-sized person and make them a giant person by putting a tiny house under their foot. Its a technique that I still use to this day.

Eric Carle: One of my favorite books for children that I did not write is Leo the Late Bloomer, which was written by Robert Kraus and illustrated by Jose Aruego. I like this book because in some ways I identify with the main character and I also love the illustrations.

Andrea Davis Pinkney: My all-time favorite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Aside from being a brilliantly crafted portrait of an American town, the novel is one of moral inquiry that still speaks to middle-schoolers as well as grownups. A few summers ago, I had a hankering to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird for what must have been the tenth time. Sitting across from me on a very crowded New York City A-train subway car, a woman was savoring Harper Lee’s final pages. She closed the book, glanced up, gently tossed me the paperback copy, and got off at the next stop!

Jon Scieszka: My favorite children's book of all time changes every week. Last week it was Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. Next week it is going to be The Twits by Roald Dahl. But this week it is The Stupids Die by Henry Allard and James Marshall. The Stupids are just so wonderfully, obliviously stupid. I love reading this to kids because it makes them so happy to point out the Stupids’ mistakes. I love reading this to myself because it makes me so happy to see the deceptively simple words and illustrations work together to tell a perfectly funny story.

Walter Dean Myers: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, because it is the best book in the world and the first to fire up my imagination. I wanted to be Little John!




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