International Children’s Book Day – April 2

-posted by Meghan

The things you learn!  I had no idea that April 2 is International Children’s Book Day- established on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday in 1967.

And as a day dedicated to celebrating Children’s books, this seemed like the perfect day to talk about a couple of stories that have been in the news recently that I can’t get out of my head.  They both made me cry, inspired me, and reminded me to cherish children’s books–  for very different reasons, and in very different ways.

The first one made me cry the weepy tears that you seriously ONLY cry as a parent.  It’s about a Dad reading to his daughter every night for over 3000 nights until she left for college, in what they called “the streak.”  I’ve read to my kids every day since they were born, and thinking about how much my parents reading to me as a child still means to me today, and reading about how much this 20-something girl loved reading with her Daddy– made me reinforce my determination to read aloud to my kids always and forever.  Have tissues handy!

Then practice deep-breathing to keep your emotions under control when you read this story about a book being stricken from the curriculum in Texas.  I don’t know how closely everyone else is following the Texas Board of Education updates/changes to curriculum and textbooks.  It actually infuriates me to the point where I only read the headlines and can’t stand to think or read about it too much.  So I’ve kind of been burying my head in the sand.  Until I read that last month, the new guidelines struck Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, because Bill Martin (the author) has the same name as a Bill Martin that wrote a book called Ethical Communism, and no one checked to see if it was the same person.   Grrrrr.  Seriously, I felt my hackles rise as I read that.  Banning books is repugnant.  Banning the “communist” book would have been disgusting enough, but to strike out of the curriculum one of my kids’ favorite books as an accident that the people determining the updates were too ignorant and lazy to look into and verify… ugh! But on the plus side, it pulled my head out of the sand, and made me realize I have to do something about what’s going on in Texas. Not only is it horrifying for the kids there, but since Texas is the largest single purchaser of textbooks in our county, they can determine what publishers publish for all states- so this affects all kids.  My kids.   I’m not yet sure what it is I can and should be doing.  But I’m thinking and I’m re-motivated, and if you have any ideas, please let me know!

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How we are celebrating:

We decided to celebrate Children’s Book Day by getting a few Andersen books (I love themes, and this seemed like a good one for today.  Maybe next year we’ll focus on the international part…) from the library earlier this week.  We got my two favorites: The Princess and the Pea and The Emperors New Clothes. (There are a million versions, but these are my favorites, even if Princess and the Pea is a retelling/homage, not the story he wrote.)  And there’s always The Little Mermaid (much darker than Disney!), The Little Matchstick Girl, Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling… that guy wrote a LOT of classics!

While at the library, we also took out Brown Bear, which we hadn’t read for a while.  And after we read it, I told the kids that some people aren’t encouraged to read this book, and how important it is to read everything.  Too young?  Indoctrinating them?  Probably, but I can’t help it, and I think activism is always a wonderful way to celebrate!

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