Before They Can Read: 12 Enchanting Picture Books for Children’s Authors & Illustrators Week

If you’re asking yourself, “When should I start reading to my baby?” the answer is today. It’s never too soon. Reading to your infant contributes to early development as they observe your mannerisms, listen to your speech, build motor skills and soak in all the colors and shapes. Trust me – you’ll blink, and your infant will soon be a toddler who can hardly sit still. But if you’ve started the routine of sitting down together to read, you’ll be able to carry this over into the preschool years and get a nice cuddle while you read new books together each day.

For little ones who can’t yet read on their own, illustrations in books are the heart of engaging imagination and captivating attention. Children’s literature is rich with beautiful art that can help a child develop a love of books (just as soon as they pass the stage in infancy where nibbling on the book is the primary intrigue).

As adults who are reading aloud to your kids, I believe it’s important that you enjoy the book, too, if for no other reason than it means you’re more likely to read it over and over again, making story time a cherished ritual with your kiddos. While there are some amazing classic children’s books which classic children’s books which every child should read, here are some children’s picture books you may not have heard of before that will inspire and get you (and your babes and tots) hooked on reading more books. What a perfect way to celebrate Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week. I’ve opened up 12 of my daughter’s recent favorites so you can see a peek at the delicious illustrations inside.

Bunny Roo, I Love You, written by Melissa Marr (@melissa_marr) and illustrated by Teagan White (@teaganwhite), is a playful and sweet book about how parents keep their little ones feeling safe and secure. The enchanting illustrations add to the warmth of the story, perfectly placed with the hand lettered words on each page. I also appreciate the whimsy of the pattern on the flyleaf. And should you ever lose the book jacket, have no fear, because the darling illustrations appear on the hardbound cover, too.

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It’s time to celebrate Booksgiving Day!

Attention kids and parents – it’s time to celebrate your favorite Half Price Books holiday, Booksgiving Day!

Now in its fourth year, we here at Half Price Books celebrate Booksgiving Day with a special storytime. BUT, the best part is, every child who attends will receive a FREE new children’s picture book to take home, while supplies last. (Who doesn’t love free books?!)

And this year, for every book purchased online at HPB.com on Booksgiving Day, we’ll donate a book to the nonprofit organization, Feed The Children. All books donated on Booksgiving Day are part of the Half Price Books Million Book Donation Project, which donated more than 1.6 million books to non-profit organizations and schools in 2015.

So stop by your local HPB on Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. local time to celebrate Booksgiving Day with your fellow booklovers, and don’t forget to shop online, too. Hope to see you there!

Check out photos from previous Booksgiving Day celebrations!

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HPB Independence 2015

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A Grown-up Who Grew Up With Harry Potter

I was a junior in college when the first Harry Potter book was released. Needless to say, the series was not on my radar then, and it remained stealthily outside those bounds until I began substitute teaching after college. That’s when I first saw 12 and 13-year old children toting around the same book.

I finally asked, “What are you all reading?”

I got the definitive answer, “Oh! YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THESE BOOKS!”

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Feed Your Brain: High Schoolers get in on the Summer Reading fun, too!

The bell just rang to dismiss your final class for the year and you’re ALREADY looking for something to do? The Feed Your Brain HIGH SCHOOL Summer Reading Program is for you!

Why?… Because reading CAN ACTUALLY BE FUN! I bet most of you know this already, though, right?

Celebrate-your-victories

All you have to do to get some Bookworm Bucks (a $5 coupon) is read a couple of titles just for fun, let us know about them and use your reading rewards at any Half Price Books location before the end of the summer.

Click here for details about the Feed Your Brain HS Summer Reading Program

We have a great list of recommendations, both new and classics for you this year. Pick one up at your favorite Half Price Books local store and GET READING now!

 

*NEW* MIDDLE-GRADE and TEEN FICTIONCapture

Doodle Adventures: The Search For The Slimy Space Slugs!
Author: Mike Lowery
Recommended for readers: 8-12 years
Published by Workman Publishing

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses sequel)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Recommended for readers: 14 years and up
Published by Bloomsbury USA

Queen of Hearts
Author: Colleen Oakes
Recommended for readers: 14 years and up
Published by HarperTeen

Theodore Boone: The Scandal
Author: John Grisham
Recommended for readers: 8-12 years
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers

*CLASSIC* TEEN READING:

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank

The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho

 

 

 

 

Best of 2015: HPB Staff Picks in Books, Movies & Music

As with any year, putting together a list of the best new releases is challenging because there is so much great work to recognize. This collection of HPB Staff Picks are the books, music and movies which inspired and entertained us in 2015. If you haven’t discovered these yet, we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did. Here they are, in no particular order:

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BOOKS // 1. Best Coloring Book (for Adults): Secret Garden Artist’s Edition by Johanna Basford / 2. Best LOL Biography: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling / 3.  Best Literary Fiction to Cry Your Eyes Out Over: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara / 4. Best Edge-of-Your-Seat Mystery: Memory Man by David Baldacci / 5. Best Unexpected, Recently-Published 1950s Novel: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee / 6. Best Finale to a Series: Winter by Marissa Meyer / 7. Best Finger-Licking Good Recipes: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond / 8. Best Controversy-Stirring Nonfiction: Missoula by Jon Krakauer / 9. Best Euphorically-Geeky, Shout-Out-to-the-80s Science Fiction: Armada by Ernest Cline / 10. Best Historical Novel: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah / 11. Best Children’s Picture Book Grown-Ups Will Enjoy Reading Again & Again: The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin / 12. Best Impactful Middle Grade Novel: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan / 13. Best Brush-Up-On-Your-Manners Children’s Book: Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (which technically was released on December 30, 2014 but we’re going to count it as a 2015 release) / 14. Best Pass-on-Your-Passion for Star Wars Graphic Novel: Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown / 15. Best Ghost Story: Slade House by David Mitchell / 16. Best Inspirational, Red-White-and-Blue American History Biography: Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice by Adam Makos / 17. Best Continuation of a Series by a New Author: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz / 18. Best Revelatory and Culture-Questioning Memoir: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates / 19. Best Start of a New Series: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard / 20. Best Infectiously Happy Bio: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore / 22. Best Impassioned and Thought-Provoking Memoir: Spinster by Kate Bolick / 22. Best Movie Tie-in Edition: The Martian by Andy Weir / 23. Best Dystopian Fantasy: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi / 24. Best Steamy Romance Fiction: Country by Danielle Steel / 25. Best Adventure-of-a-Lifetime Story: The Explorer’s Guild by Kevin Costner and Jon Baird  //  MOVIES // 26. Best Based-on-Real-Events Film: Selma, starring David Oyelowo / 27. Best Music-Rich, Unorthodox Biographical Film: Love & Mercy, starring John Cusack / 28. Best Feel-All-the-Feels Animated Movie for All Ages: Inside Out by Disney Pixar / 29. Best Weirdly-Wonderful Dark Comedy: Birdman, starring Michael Keaton / 30. Best Action-Packed-Dialogue Movie: Steve Jobs, written by Aaron Sorkin // MUSIC // 31. Best Playful-Surprise Alternative Rock Album: Star Wars by Wilco / 32. Best Throwback-to-Soul Album: Coming Home by Leon Bridges / 33. Best New Album of Old Standards: Shadows in the Night by Bob Dylan / 34. Best Powerhouse Vocalist Album: 25 by Adele / 35. Best Hauntingly-Beautiful Indie Folk Album: Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens.

What are your favorites from 2015? Did we overlook the best new book you read in 2015? We’d love to hear about your Best List in the comments below. Here’s to another fantastic year of literature, music and films in 2016! Happy New Year, booklovers!

Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Feed Your Brain Presents: Summer Reading for High School Students

Typically, high school students are required to read at least one book during the summer, either of their own choice or from a school approved reading list.  At Half Price Books, we believe you should be rewarded for reading those books. So, we have expanded our Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program to include all high school students.  All students have to do is read one book a month during June and July and visit the Feed Your Brain page to submit a review of their book. Then, readers can print out the review and bring it into their favorite HPB store in order to claim their Bookworm Bucks ($5 off their next purchase).

We believe that reading should be enjoyable and fun for everyone.  So here are some of our reading recommendations and ways you can turn required reading into fun for the whole family.

Family Book Club

Having a family book club is a great way to get your kids to read that book they are required to read by their school.  Also, it helps parents to understand what type of books their teens are reading. To discuss the book, include fun questions like “If this book was made into a movie, who would you cast in it and why?” or “Would you want to visit the place in which this book is set? Why or why not?”

Some great family book clubs would be:

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
This book is on a lot of school summer reading lists for all high school grades, and it is a good book to discuss with your kids.

To Kill a Mockingbird
, by Harper Lee
Again, this book is on a lot of school summer reading lists, and a new book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, will be released on July 14.  Plus, HPB will be reading this book for our Book Club during the months of June and July.

Your local HPB has many other recommendations for book club books.

Books: Read the Movie Nights

So many great books have been turned into movies.  Why not use this fact to get teens interested in reading?  Have them choose a book that has been made into a movie and then, after they are finished reading it, watch the movie. You can have some great discussions about what in the movie was different from the book.

       

Some great movie night books would be:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Paper Towns, by John Green (in theaters July 24)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews (in theaters June 12)

And the list goes on…

Pick up a Feed Your Brain bookmark the next time you are in Half Price Books for more reading recommendations.

Want some great ideas for younger readers? Take a look at our picks.

Happy Reading!

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Feed Your Brain Presents: Summer Reading for 8th Grade and Under

Did you know that most students lose about two months worth of knowledge during their summer break?  According to a research study on reading, all it takes is 15 minutes a day of independent reading to help curb this loss.  That is why Half Price Books created our Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program, where kids 8th Grade and under can earn Bookworm Bucks by reading just 15 minutes a day.  Still, the question remains: how can you get your kid reading this summer?  Here are some tips on how to make reading fun for you and your child.

Preschool:
According to the National Commission on Reading, the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. Having a parent or another caring person read aloud helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills as well as develop imagination, creativity and a sense of security, knowing that their parent feels they are a worthwhile pereson.  Here are some great books to read aloud to your preschooler:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
There is a reason this book has been around for 60 years. And after you read it, you can grab some crayons and go on an adventure of your own.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
When reading this book aloud, it warns you to “Take it slowly. This book is dangerous.”  However, both you and your child will laugh as you trip over your tongue reading tongue twisters in true Dr. Seuss fashion.

Grades K-2:
As your child learns to read, try to pair books with activities you can do together.  Here are some books that lend themselves to more fun family time.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
This is one of my 2nd graders favorite books, but I think it’s because we always make cookies after we read it.  Another good cooking book to read is…

Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth
This story was first published in London in 1808, so there are several renditions.  I chose this one because I love the illustrations.  Still, making soup (even stone soup) after reading the book is a fun thing for you to do with your child.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
When the story is all about imagination, what can’t you do after reading it?  You can bounce, bounce, bounce around the house (or outside would be even better). You can make a sword out of cardboard and aluminum, put on a cap and mask, give yourselves Spanish names and look for adventure in your own backyard. You can make “Holy Guacamole,” some rice and beans and have a fiesta. You can make a piñata, or simply have a siesta. The sky is the limit with this book.

Grades 3-5:
Now that they are reading all on their own, you have to find books that are in their interest level. Here are some suggestions in categories your child might be interested in.

If they like humor…
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Snot Stew by Bill Wallace

If they like animals…
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace

If they like science…
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne

If they like comic books…
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz

If they like sports…
Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy
King of the Mound by Wes Tooke
STAT: Home Court by Amar’e Stoudemire


Grades 6-8:

We encourage parents to read the books their children are reading so they can converse with them about the books. So, why not have a family book club during the summer where you get together once a week or month to discuss a book you are all reading?

Book club recommendation…
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This book can also lend itself to going on a trip to a holocaust museum or the symphony.  It’s great for kids who like music.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Getting your kids interested in a series is a great way to keep them reading, and if your kids like magic, this series about a self proclaimed villain might be right up their alley.

Pick up a Feed Your Brain bookmark the next time you are in Half Price Books for more reading recommendations, and don’t forget to grab a Feed Your Brain Reading Log, so that your kids can earn Bookworm Bucks this summer.

Also, we have extended our program to include high schoolers.  To learn more about the high school portion of our program, visit the Feed Your Brain home page.

Happy Reading!

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Teacher Appreciation Week: Celebrating Educators and Half Pint Library

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and we have some teachers to thank!

As we bid farewell once again to the biggest book drive and book giveaway of the year, the Half Price Books Half Pint Library program, we say a special thanks to the educators and game-changers who came out during April and picked up box after box of children’s books to deliver to their own classrooms and libraries. Selfless acts of literary kindness are just one of the things that make teachers great.

At Half Price Books, we know that educators spend lots of their own money each year to furnish their own classroom supplies. That’s why we created the Half Pint Library Program to help defer some of that cost by providing books for kids in need.

So, teachers, THANK YOU! The 17th Annual Half Price Books Half Pint Library giveaway events ended last week and our math lesson for the day follows. Here is HPL by-the-numbers:

1 month

34 Half Pint Library Book Giveaway events

16 states across the USA

487 schools and non-profits

11 Half Price Books trucks FULL of kids books

53,021 books donated by customers

170,256 books matched by Half Price Books

223,277 total books given away!

Thank you to our customers who donated books in March! Half Price Books was able to match these donations (and then some) with excess kids’ books from our stores. We provided every teacher or non-profit that attended a giveaway at least two boxes of books to support their libraries and programs in local communities across the nation!

The Half Pint Library program (HPL) is part of the year-round Million Book Donation Project. This annual children’s book drive is hosted each spring by Half Price Books to collect and distribute books to those in need. Books donated through the Half Pint Library program provide an escape from the challenges faced by children while helping to boost literacy skills outside of school. In many cases, children receive their first book through the Half Pint Library program. The drive accepts any type of children’s book, including Spanish language books, as long as they are in good condition. The program has collected more than 2 million books for pediatric patients, community centers, schools and other children in need.

 

And don’t forget! You can save 10% off your purchases from Half Price Books year-round with our Educator Discount Card.

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.

You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

Before They Can Read: 10 Children’s Book Illustrators Both Kids & Parents Will Love

For youngsters who can’t yet read on their own, like my precious daughter, illustrations in books are the heart of engaging imagination and captivating attention. Children’s literature is rich with beautiful art that can help a child develop a love of books (just as soon as they pass the stage where eating the book is the primary intrigue).

As adults who are reading aloud to your kids, I believe it’s important that you enjoy the book, too, if for no other reason than it means you’re more likely to read it over and over again, making story time a cherished ritual with your kiddos. While there are some amazing classic children’s books which every child should read, here are 10 illustrators whose artwork will get you (and your babes and tots) hooked on books.


Oliver Jeffers is an artist, illustrator and writer from Belfast in Northern Ireland who now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Jeffers uses mixed media and figurative painting, along with his own style of composition, to create enchanting illustrations which are adored by readers of all ages. Several of his books – including Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me (shown above) – rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, comes to life thanks to the illustrations by Jeffers. Follow him @OliverJeffers on Twitter.

Canadian-born author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is known for his children’s picture books which encourage creativity and self expression, including The North Star, The Dot (shown above), Ish and So Few Me. The Dot is among my favorites. Clearly others agree, since it’s been published in more than 20 languages around the world. Follow him @peterhreynolds on Twitter.

Benji Davies is both an illustrator and animator. His work on the printed page features colorful scenes and charming characters, like award-winning On Sudden Hill, written by Linda Sarah, Goodnight Already! by Jory John, The Storm Whale (shown above) and dozens more. Follow him @Benji_Davies on Twitter.

Jane Chapman (also known by her pseudonym Jack Tickle) really hit her stride with the bestselling picture book Bear Snores On, written by Karma Wilson and published in 2002. Chapman’s feathery brush strokes are easy to spot. Due to her tendency to illustrate anthropomorphized creatures great and small, I’ve been compelled to acquire several of her books for my daughter’s library.

Chapman’s husband, Tim Warnes, is also an illustrator, comic artist and children’s book author. One of my favorite board books which features Warnes’ work is I Love You to the Moon and Back. It’s sweet, gentle rhyme was written by Amelia Hepworth. Warnes and Chapman live in Dorset, England, with their son Noah. Teamed up, they published Hands Off My Honey! Follow this duo @chapmanwarnes on Twitter.


Mo Willems is an American writer, animator and creator of lovable children’s books. Caldecott honors and critically-acclaimed for starters, Willems’ picture books offer whimsy with a twist on the ordinary. Known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and dozens more. Follow him @The_Pigeon on Twitter.


Carin Berger is an author, designer and illustrator who created OK Go! and Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes. My favorite among her work is her latest picture book, called The Little Yellow Leaf, where she uses collage-based illustrations. Its subtlety and simplicity are delightful. Follow her @CarinBerger on Twitter.

Los Angeles-based illustrator Brigette Barrager has a retro style that harkens back to the 50s and 60s. She illustrated Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain?, written by Harriet Ziefert. Barrager also illustrates princesses, unicorns and paper dolls. Follow her @missbrigette on Twitter and Instagram.

Charles Santoso is a picture book illustrator based out of Sydney, Australia. Perhaps the inspiration for his latest work came from Down Under as well. I Don’t Like Koala, written by Sean Ferrell, just hit shelves this week. Follow him @minitreehouse on Twitter.

Erin E. Stead is a Caldecott award-winning illustrator of children’s books. Her first publication was A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband Philip C. Stead, who is also an artist. Her other award-winning works include Bear Has a Story to Tell, also written by her husband, plus And Then It’s Spring (shown above), written by Julie Fogliano.

Who is your favorite contemporary illustrator of children’s books?

Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary: Celebrating Drop Everything and Read Day

Beverly Cleary turns 99-years-old on Sunday! The beloved author of books like Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcyle and the Ramona series, was born on April 12, 1916. We would like to celebrate her birthday by telling you a few things you may not know about this author.

  • Yamhill, OR, the town where Mrs. Cleary was raised, did not have a library. So her mother made an arrangement with the State Library to have books sent to her and then created a reading area in a small room above the Yamhill Bank.
  • After moving to Portland in the first grade, Beverly came down with the chicken pox and was out of school for a while. Being behind in her schoolwork when she returned she was placed in the lowest reading circle and quickly became bored with her required reading selection.  Since Mrs. Cleary began writing, she has always kept in mind children who are struggling with reading.
  • Though Mrs. Cleary’s parents had another gentleman in mind for her, Beverly eloped with Clarence Cleary, whom she had met in college.
  • Though Mrs. Cleary was determined to write “the kind of books [she] wanted to read,” she followed her mother’s advice and got a steady job as a librarian.
  • When her husband asked her why she didn’t write a book, Mrs. Cleary said, “Because we never have any sharp pencils,” so the next day Mr. Cleary brought her a pencil sharpener.
  •  Mrs. Cleary’s mother also advised her to write simply and make her books humorous, because “everyone likes to laugh.”
  • Mrs. Cleary’s first book Henry Huggins was published in 1950.

  • Mrs. Cleary’s best-loved character, Ramona, appeared as a minor character in Henry Huggins
  • Mrs. Cleary had a neighbor named Ramona, and one day, as Mrs. Cleary was writing the character of an annoying little sister, she heard someone call out “Ramona!” so that became the name of her character.
  • Mrs. Cleary would bake bread while she wrote.
  • You can see statues of Ramona Quimby and other Cleary characters in Portland’s Grant Park.  Many scenes from several of Cleary’s books take place in Grant Park.
  • Mrs. Cleary is a cat lover and owned one cat who tired of competing with the typewriter for Cleary’s attention, would sit on the keys
  • In 2000, Mrs. Cleary was named a living legend by the Library of Congress.
  • Mrs. Cleary’s last book Two Times the Fun was published in 2005.  It is an omnibus, containing stories like The Growing-Up Feet, Two Dog Biscuits and Janet’s Thingamajigs.
  • In Mrs. Cleary’s  book Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona’s class celebrates Drop  Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, a day set aside to encourage everyone to take time in their day to read.  As a result, D.E.A.R. Day is now celebrated every April 12 to coincide with Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate someone’s birthday!

So, don’t forget to stop by your local Half Price Books on Sunday, April 12, and take time to read something fun. Perhaps even revisit your childhood by picking up a copy of your favorite Beverly Cleary book.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Cleary!

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.