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Children's books

Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children.

The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Not goodbye, but see you later!

It’s impossible for me to believe that I started blogging for Reading Rockets in January, 2007. My girls were 5 and 7 then, and our days were filled with preschool celebrations and I Can Read chapter books. Fast forward 7 years and we’re firmly entrenched in middle school and more dystopian and realistic fiction than I could possibly read.

At the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, There’s Something for Everyone

Although the Ingalls family only lived in Walnut Grove for three years (on two different occasions — 1874–1876 and 1878–1879), the town has a strong connection to Laura and the Little House books because of its prominence in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” As we drove into the center of town, signs connecting the location to Laura abound, announcing “Walnut Grove, Childhood Home of Pioneer Author Laura Ingalls Wilder,” “Nellie’s Café” and “Ingalls Street.” But our first stop in Walnut Grove is dedicated to a thorough exploration of the

Participant or witness?

What’s the difference between participating and witnessing? And what does this have to do with books and children?

I had lunch with some longtime friends today and as we walked out together, my friend was telling me how she shared books with a group of children, the same group she had the opportunity to observe as they saw the same story read on a “smart board.”

It's epic! New way to access great kids’ books

Nothing creates readers like a good book. And in my experience good books are often recommended to children by a trusted teacher or librarian.

But educators are busy people. A lot of teachers and school librarians I know have a hard time keeping up with what’s new and what’s good in books for children. Then there’s the entire matter of getting one’s hands on the books. Libraries certainly have a role, but there are limitations to physical resources.

Little Sod House on the Prairie

Rachael in a poke bonnet

If we followed the Ingalls’ journey according to the Little House series, after we left the Big Woods in Wisconsin, our next stop should be Independence, Kansas. Given that Independence is more than 600 miles from Pepin and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, is less than 200 miles, the banks of Plum Creek is where we headed next.

Celebrate with books

It's earlier than it's been in the past and the location has changed from the National Mall to the Washington Convention Center but once again, it's back. If past is prelude, then it will be just as much fun (with the benefit of indoor plumbing and air-conditioning against the dreaded DC humidity).

I'm talking about the National Book Festival, of course.

2014 National Book Festival

Digging for Little House Treasures in Pepin’s Attic

Remember Laura’s first trip to Pepin? In Little House in the Big Woods, Wilder writes, “Laura stood up on the board and Pa held her safe by the arm, so she could see the town. When she saw it, she could hardly breathe. She knew how Yankee Doodle felt, when he could not see the town because there were so many houses.”

Book to film – and back again

More and more often filmmakers have been turning to children’s books for inspiration. Perhaps it’s a catchy book title that a filmmaker finds intriguing or maybe an idea they want to flesh out. Maybe they simply want to build on existing popularity.

Sometimes it works well. Many of us are wild about Harry, for example. I’m a Harry Potter fan in both the novel and film version, and frankly I find the 1936 movie version of Wizard of Oz more engaging than the book.

Little House in the Formerly Big Woods

When readers first meet Laura in Little House in the Big Woods, she’s a little girl living with her Pa, Ma, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. The real Laura Ingalls was born in a little house deep in the forests surrounding Pepin, Wisconsin, on February 7, 1867. Since Pepin is Laura’s birthplace and the setting of her first book, this village along the Mississippi River seemed like the place to visit first.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox