Monday, December 07, 2009

Online Book & Literacy Resources for Families

The Lawrence School library has many books about books and young people's reading. Here we have endeavored to highlight just a few online resources that may be of interest to families. Not included are the many wonderful web sites put together by authors and illustrators about their own work, an exploration we'll save for another time!

Children's Book Awards: The American Library Association and its divisions sponsor notable book awards in many categories, such as the familiar Caldecoot, Newbery and Coretta Scott King Awards.

The Children's LIterature Center of the Library of Congress: serves those organizations and individuals (teachers, parents, and librarians, for example) who study, produce, collect, interpret, and disseminate children's books, films, television programs, or other forms of materials destined for children's information and recreational use.

Common Sense Media: family entertainment reviews and ratings for movies, television, video games, music CDs, books, and web sites

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: a delightful venue in Amherst MA that collects, presents, and interprets picture book art, with a hands-on art studio for kids, a great library and ever-changing exhibits. a web site dedicated to motivating boys to read by connecting them with materials they will want to read, in ways they like to read.

The Horn Book Magazine: a long-established, excellent publisher of reviews, books and magazines about books for children and young adults.

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards: awards given annually to children's books promoting the cause of peace, social justice and world community.

The National Center for Family Literacy: an organization dedicated to providing every family with the opportunity to learn and the ability to learn and grow together.

Reading Is Fundamental: the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit children's literacy organization.

Reading Rockets: a national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award: presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. a great resource for teen readers and grown-ups who are interested in their reading (as well as book clubs, book reviews, book news, book lists, books-into-movies and much more).

Friday, December 04, 2009

Curious George and Company

Last summer as we headed for Maine, we gave our 2 year old granddaughter Ruby a snuggly Curious George as a travel pal because she had been enjoying the mischievous monkey's exploits so much in H. A. Rey's classic books. George has been her constant companion ever since, and I have marveled at what seems to be her comfortable understanding that George is both "real" and not "real." Or perhaps she knows that George is not alive like a person or an animal, but George certainly has a presence in her life that is utterly real and meaningful. Ruby frames her own adventures in George's terms ("Close the gate, Amma") and delights in diapering George alongside her mother as she diapers the very real baby brother Hugo. Recently she set George down on the couch alongside baby Hugo, patted Hugo's tummy and then George's tummy and very seriously proclaimed them babies together to take a nap.

Such is the power of story -- to lend a child's world expanded dimension, concepts on which to hang everyday experiences, characters to inspire conversation, caretaking and curiosity... and of course luscious words to savor and imitate.

The George of books was part of my childhood. He has certainly proven to be an enduring book character through the years! And despite the fact that I tend not to embrace aggressively commercial children's book spinoff products, soft stuffed George has been a wonderful friend to Ruby, a true extension of his literary adventures. This has caused me to think twice about my disdain for related products...

But then, it seems I always return to literary connections. Our library has the wonderful book The Journey That Saved Curious George, by Louise Borden, telling of the wartime escape from Europe of Curious George's creators Margret and H. A. Rey. It provides a neat opportunity for older children and grownups to glimpse the creative lives behind a favorite character. And the estate of the Reys has been involved in creating a family center for art, science and adventure in Waterville Valley NH. You can view details of its programs online. George is alive and well on many levels!