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.

The Truth Behind Dr. Seuss

In his book Happy Birthday to You, Dr. Seuss wrote the lines “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  How relevant do those words seem when you relate them to the man himself? No other writer has been able to express his own individuality as well as Dr. Seuss, and on his birthday today, what better way to celebrate than exposing some of the You-ness behind his books. Here are some interesting facts about Dr. Seuss.

  • And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, the first children’s book Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated was rejected 27 times before finally being published by a friend in 1937.  
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go was Dr. Seuss’ final book, published in 1990.
  • Dr. Seuss never had children and didn’t interact well with them.  His wife Audrey once said he was afraid of them.  Seuss told people, “You have children. I’ll entertain them.”  
  • Dr. Seuss admitted that the character of The Grinch was based on himself.
  • Although Boris Karloff provided the voice of The Grinch in the Seuss-sanctioned cartoon, Thurl Ravenscroft, AKA Tony the Tiger, was the one who sang the song You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. When Seuss learned that Ravenscroft did not receive credit on screen, he wrote to several newspaper columnists to tell them who had sung the song.
  • Dr. Seuss was one of the first children’s writers to insert political and social themes into his works.  The Lorax was about how humans are destroying nature, Yertle the Turtle was a representation of Hitler and The Butter Battle Book was a reference to the Cold War.
  • The Lorax used to contain the line “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie,” but 14 years after the book was published, Seuss was contacted by the Ohio Sea Grant Program, who told him how the conditions had improved and implored him to take the line out.  Seuss agreed and the line has not appeared in any editions since then.
  • Despite the political nature of Yertle the Turtle, the only thing the publisher disputed was Mack’s burp, for no one had ever burped in a children’s book before, and they weren’t sure how the public would receive it.  In the end, Mack kept his burp.
  • After reading a 1954 report published in Life magazine about illiteracy among school children, a textbook editor commissioned Seuss to write a book which would appeal to children learning to read.  Acknowledging that the Dick and Jane primers were “insanely boring,” Seuss took the challenge, and using only the 250 word vocabulary provided to him by the editor, wrote The Cat in the Hat.
  • Seuss was never one to back down from a challenge.  One time his editor bet him that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 individual words.  So Seuss picked up his pen and wrote Green Eggs and Ham, which has 50 individual words exactly.
  • Anyone who has ever read Dr. Seuss knows that he invented many different words, but did you know that he invented the word “nerd?”  It appeared in his book If I Ran a Zoo, published in 1950.  A “nerd” was one of the more interesting animals the main character would bring to the zoo if he were in charge.  The accompanying illustration showed a grumpy Seussean creature with unruly hair, sideburns and a black T-shirt.
  • Dr. Seuss wrote more than 48 books, delighting young and old alike by combining the ridiculous with the logical, and he won a special Pulitzer citation for “his contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.”

Yes, it is true, Dr. Seuss. No one is Youer than You!

Dr. Seuss’ You-ness hasn’t come to an end either.  Dr. Seuss’ books are still making a difference in the lives of children today, plus, four new Dr. Seuss stories are set to be released in the fall. A study revealed the rhyming and alliterative properties of Dr. Seuss books did improve certain aspects of phonemic awareness in children 3-7 years old, as well as initial sound fluency.  In older children oral reading fluency and nonsense word fluency were increased.  Perhaps that is why for the past 18 years, the National Education Association (NEA) has chosen Dr. Seuss’ birthday as Read Across America Day.  This year, the NEA has chosen the Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go as the book to read.   

Share the love of reading by donating your favorite Dr. Seuss book, or any other new or gently-used children’s book to the Half Pint Library Book Drive.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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

Booksgiving Day: Giving the Gift of Reading with FREE Children’s Book and Storytime!

Kids, it’s time to gather ‘round for your favorite Half Price Books holiday. It’s our second annual celebration of BOOKSGIVING DAY!

Supporting literacy and providing books to families is key to our Half Price Books mission! Join us at your neighborhood Half Price Books location on Booksgiving Day, Saturday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. Every child who attends will receive a free book to take home and add to their library, or start a new one! *Limit one preselected book per child while supplies last.

If you aren’t a kid but want to participate, how about picking up a copy of your favorite kid’s book and sharing it with a special child in your life?

Let’s get a book to every child, in every home! BW, the Half Price Books Bookworm, and I will see you there!

The books donated on Booksgiving Day are part of Half Price Books Million Book Donation Project, which has donated more than 1.3 million books to non-profit organizations and schools in 2014.

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.

You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Best Book Cover Designs of 2013

Typography, illustration, photograhy and graphic design can work together to tell a story and catch your eye. This year, some notable trends in book cover art direction include handwritten lettering and torn paper. Here’s the 3rd annual round-up of 50 of the best book cover designs to hit the shelves of Half Price Books in the past year, including some re-releases, reprinted literary classics and paperback releases, alongside brand new publications in 2013. Hope you enjoy this collection of eye candy.

          

If you’re interested, here are the lists from 2012 and 2011.

Which book cover of 2013 is your favorite?

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

Best Children’s Books to Turn Reluctant Readers into Bibliophiles

Do you remember your first chapter book? That first book you read that was more pictures than words and was thicker than half an inch?

I actually don’t, but, oddly enough, I do remember my sister’s. While she was a straight-A student and a teacher’s pet, she just wasn’t that into reading. The first book she got excited about was Island of the Blue Dolphins. She was so proud, and while her habit for reading didn’t start as early as mine and she struggled to keep the habit going, she slowly found inspiration and entertainment in books.

While studies show that most reluctant readers are boys, girls are not immune to the affliction. Many times, it is just a matter of finding the right read for the reader.

Like my sister, it may be an award-winning novel that wins your reluctant reader over, but for lots of kids, just finding the right book to tap into their interests is all they need to get a good habit going.

NON-FICTION 

From graphic novels to historic tales, these are a few books that can make learning fun.  Whether they like science, history, art or sports figures non-fiction addictive for young readers!

Elementary School

The Who Was…? series by various authors 

The What was…? series by various authors 

The Baseball Card Adventures series by Dan Gutman 

Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist by Donald B. Lemke 

Middle School and High School

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

A.D. New Orleans: After the Deluge Josh Neufeld

Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska by Michael D’Orso

Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey by Julia L. Foulkes

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katherine Harmon

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

NEWBERY AWARD WINNING FICTION 

While some of these Newbery Award winners might be hard to tackle or overwhelming by oneself, reading award-winning classics like these together can really get a reluctant reader’s habit started, and they might just bring back some fond memories for the adult reading buddy! Here are just a few:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1959)

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1961)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1972)

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1978)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1994)

Holes by Louis Sachar (1999)

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (2004)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (2009)

FICTION SERIES AND GENERAL FICTION

Elementary School

Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne 

Animorphs by Katherine Applegate 

Goosebumps by R L Stein 

Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene 

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder 

Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney 

Matt Christopher Sports Classics series by Matt Christopher

The Great Brains series by John D. Fitzgerald

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell 

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket

Middle School and High School

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

The Princess Diary series

The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card 

The Chronicles of The Black Company series by Glen Cook 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 

Grendel by John Gardner 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Back to my sister —  when she was in third grade, she had to get glasses, and it was a pretty strong prescription for a little kid. It’s important to consider all the reasons why a child doesn’t take to reading. Sometimes it is not just that they are not exposed to books — it could be he has difficulty distinguishing characters, or, like my sister, it could be her eyesight isn’t perfect and reading is uncomfortable. Creating habits early is key to creating a lifelong reader, so parents and teachers can help by reading together and working to solve the mystery of the reluctant reader. Ah…a mystery, time to revisit those Nancy Drews!

Want more tips on getting kids reading? Here is a great article from KidsHealth. Have fun reading this summer and all year long! Any great books for reluctant readers you would recommend? — Becky

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Bexican75.

Feed Your Brain Q & A with a Half Pint Summer Reader

It’s time to learn a thing or two! My summers were either filled with lots of Texas heat or long camping vacations, all perfect opportunities to read. I long for the days of lazy book-filled summers and am always so happy to see that the tradition continues in the next generation! I found one first grade graduate who is excited about her summer full of reading.

I hope Mary Pope Osborne gets a chance to see this! Series books, like Magic Tree House, can be a great way to catch young readers’ attention and get  them excited about starting the next book!

Our little bookworm’s recommendations:

   

Are the little readers in your life busy feeding their brains? It’s not too late to get started! 

What do you think about these recommendations? Do you have any series books for young readers to add to the list?

 Have a great summer and don’t forget to FEED YOUR BRAIN!  — Becky 

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Bexican75.

40 Banned Books to Read at Your Own Risk

Banned Books Awareness Week is a time to celebrate our intellectual freedom by reading books that others have deemed unacceptable for certain people to read.  Reasons books get banned or challenged (which means someone wants the book banned from a school or library, but the request was denied) vary from “unacceptable sexual content “and “excessive violence” to “animals don’t talk” and “the book is a real downer.”

Now, if you are anything like me, you will want to stick it to Big Brother and read as many banned & challenged books as you can, but what if you don’t know what books have been banned?  Don’t worry.  We polled our 3,000 Bibliomaniacs to let us know what their favorite banned books are.  So without further ado, here are 40 Banned [or challenged] Books to Read at Your Own Risk.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 2) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 3) Slaughterhouse-Five by KurtVonnegut, 4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, 5) Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 6) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 7) 1984 by George Orwell 8) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 9) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 10) My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara, 11) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, 12) The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, 13) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 14) The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, 15) The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, 16) Animal Farm by George Orwell, 17) The Color Purple by Alice Walker, 18) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, 19) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume, 20) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 21) The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams, 22) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 23) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 24) Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman, 25) Inventing Witchcraft: A Case Study in the Creation of a New Religion by Aidan A. Kelly, 26) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 27) The Trial by Franz Kafka, 28) The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, 29) Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford, 30) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 31) The Devil in the Drain by Daniel Pinkwater, 32) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 33) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 34) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 35) Hey Dollface by Deborah Hautzig, 36) Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, 37) The Giver by Lois Lowry, 38) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, 39) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, 40) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, did you discover that you have already read some dangerous books?  If you would like to know more about banned and challenged books and why they cause controversy, check out DeleteCensorship.org or this ALA list.

You can find these and more banned & challenged books at your local HPB because we sell anything ever printed or recorded. Always remember to speak freely, write candidly and read endlessly.

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

Top Three Things I Learned from Shel Silverstein’s Every Thing On It

When I picked up Every Thing On It last fall, I expected the poems and illustrations so uniquely Shel Silverstein to remind me of being a kid again – silly, awkward, dreamy.  And they did.  But they did more.  Several of his poems connected to my adult life – the questions, the pressures, the state of our world.

“Years From Now,” starts the collection.  “Although I cannot see your face / As you flip these poems awhile/ Somewhere from some far-off place / I hear you laughing – and I smile.”

If the answer to the big question, “What is the meaning of life?” is to leave behind a legacy you can be proud of, Shel Silverstein’s legacy of laughter, dreaming and thinking certainly fit the bill.

“Yesees and Noees” really stuck in my mind, too.  “…So the Yesees all died of much too much / And the Noees all died of fright / But somehow I think the Thinkforyourselfees / All came out all right.”  What a straightforward way to point out the solution to surviving pressures.

As for the state of our world, we are often so afraid to be seen as different because differences get punished.  But in “Masks”, Shel Silverstein reveals to us, “She had blue skin / And so did he. He kept it hid / And so did she.  They searched for blue / Their whole life through / Then passed right by – And never knew.”

Just as The Giving Tree was considered both children’s and adult literature, Every Thing On It can be, too.

Thank you, Shel Silverstein.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned from a Shel Silverstein poem or book? – Kim

Kim is Store Manager at Cedar Rapids HPB in Marion, IA.