One World, Many Stories: Children’s Book Week
Libraries, schools, and bookstores have celebrated Children’s Book Week for almost 100 years. The weeklong celebration began with a librarian’s belief that literacy and children’s books can be saviors for kids. While the things we read and the way we read have changed over the years, books remain life-changers for kids. Several local events will honor Children’s Book Week, which takes place May 1-7.
“It is so important for children to have a book in their hand and to read it, sleep with it, carry it around, have it with them," said Lynn Pellerito Riehl, events manager for Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. "Many of us still harken back to the childhood books we read that fostered our love for reading and opened our minds to different ideas."
Nicola’s Books has been an official host of Children's Book Week events ever since it won the Pannell Award, which is given to a general bookstore and a children’s book store for excellence in bringing books to young people. “After winning the award in 2013, the event planners approached us and we have been involved ever since," said Pellerito Riehl.
One of the first events is on May 1 from 11-11:30 am, with the Cat in the Hat joining preschool-aged children for a special story time at the Ann Arbor District Library's Westgate branch. “Since the new library branch is practically next door, we decided to partner with them for some events," Pellerito Riehl said.
Also on May 6 at 1 pm, there's a fundraiser at Nicola's for the local Humane Society of Huron Valley’s Bountiful Bowls program will focus on collecting dry cat food and scoopable litter. Riehl said Ypsilanti author Amy Shrodes will read from her “wonderful book called Lost & Found Cat about her time working with refugee camps and the cat that she and (coauthor) Doug Kuntz were able to reunite with its family.” Photographer Rick Lieder will also be present with his book, Wake Up!, which features animals such as fawns and tadpoles being born.
A highlight of Children’s Book Week is when the kids get to connect with authors, which they'll be able to do at Nicola’s Books on May 3 at 7 pm. The event features three middle-grade writers from southeast Michigan. Beloved local children’s writer Shutta Crum will moderate the panel and said, “I look forward to moderating a wonderfully diverse panel of middle-grade novelists: Jean Alicia Elster (The Colored Car), Ruth Behar (Lucky Broken Girl) and Jack Cheng (See You in the Cosmos). We will discuss the writing of their latest novels, inspiration, and the writing life.” (Crum will also appear at the Westgate branch for AADL's Emerging Writers’ Workshop on May 1 at 7 pm where she will discuss the writing and publishing processes of children’s books).
Summing up the spirit of the weeklong celebration, Riehl says, “Get kids reading while they are young, instill that love of books and it will stay with them. We can teach them that it’s good to slow down, it’s good to escape, and hopefully they will carry this love with them as they go through life.”
Patti F. Smith is a special education teacher and writer who lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and cat.
For more information on the official Children's Book Week events, visit nicolasbooks.com. And just outside of Children's Book Week, middle-grade author Doreen Cronin will appear at Nicola's on May 8 at 7 pm to sign her new book, "Cyclone."