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.

1-bunny-roo-open-book-illustrator-teagan-white.png Continue reading

14th Annual Half Pint Library program donates 340,000 books!

Thanks to all of the Half Price Books customers who donated to the 14th Annual Half Pint Library program! Our great customers donated just over 90,000 books to kids in need. HPB matched these donations (and then some) as part of our Million Book Project and entrusted our Bibliomaniacs to give away more than 340,000 children’s books in April to hundreds of teachers, non-profits and community organizations at more than 30 local events around the country!

Take a look at some of the crew in action!  

    

 

Thanks again for making this year’s Half Pint Library program the best year yet; we couldn’t have done it without you!

— Becky (and BW)

5 Nature Books for Kids

Gearing up for Earth Day this Sunday (April 22) and need a way for kids to get involved and excited about nature? Start with these five children’s picks and dig in!

1) 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth by The Earthworks Group – An optimistic look at the future, offering straightforward ideas for kids to reduce their resource consumption and start taking better care of Mother Nature.

2) Ecoart!: Earth-Friendly Art and Craft Experiences for 3-To 9-Year-Olds by Laurie Carlson– Great for younger kids (with parent supervision), this eco-conscious guide suggests dozens of fun and easy crafts that can be created with items lying around the house – or around the yard. Not sure what do with that empty milk jug? Want to try something new with the weeds you pulled last weekend? This book has ideas for everyone.

3) Recycle! by Gail Gibbons – This book makes the sometimes-confusing concept of recycling easy to understand for elementary age kids. Pictures and straightforward explanations detail the process of recycling from sorting used cans, bottles and paper to the new products these reused materials eventually create. Focusing on five major types of recyclables, Recycle! teaches kids what types of items they can help save from landfills.

4) The Kids’ Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences by Susan Milord – Organized in calendar format, this book offers children and parents great ideas for getting outside and observing what’s going on around them no matter the time of year. Learn about and watch birds flying south for the winter, and discover why many plants bloom in the spring while studying the saplings at the local park.

5) Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide by Mel Boring – A beginner’s field guide for kids, this book is great to take along on a family walk, camping in the woods, or even to the museum. Children can look up the types of worms, frogs, and squirrels (oh my!) they spot outside and learn more about what these animals eat and their preferred habitat. Also sprinkled throughout are several project ideas – from building rabbit refuges to making a stained glass animal.

Do you remember your favorite nature books from your childhood, or know of any great books to teach kids about the importance of our Earth? Let us know in the comments!

Also… don’t miss your chance to have a tree named in honor of a booklover you love. Learn more about our Plant It for the Planet event and how you can nominate someone. Get your green thumbs on the keyboard and enter now. Deadline is Monday!

— Kate

40 Books Every Child Should Read

As the Half Pint Library book drive draws to a close, we are reminded once again of the importance reading plays in a child’s development.  It is a fact that children who live in a print-rich environment are much more likely to learn how to read on schedule and have a bigger and better vocabulary.

Did you know that children’s books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television (or even college students’ conversations)? As essential as early literacy is, the wealth of children’s literature that we have available to choose from can be overwhelming. So we consulted with our HPB Bibliomaniacs and asked: What do you consider to be some of the best children’s books ever written? And without further ado, here are 40 Books Every Child Should Read:

                

Does anyone else have the unquenchable desire to raid the children’s section of your local Half Price
Books
for The Poky Little Puppy, Where the Sidewalk Ends and There’s a Monster at the End of
this Book
?! I sure do.

Remember, the 2012 Half Pint Library book drive ends on Saturday, March 31. Please donate a new or
gently used kids book, and help share the love of reading with children in need.

How many of these books do you remember reading? What’s your childhood favorite?

— Julie

Donate a children’s book today! (Half Pint Library kicks off)

Have you heard that Half Price Books has committed to donating one million books to the community in 2012? One of the major ways we give the gift of reading each and every year is through our Half Pint Library Book Drive, and it’s that time again! 

The Half Price Books’ 2012 Half Pint Library Book Drive runs February 20-March 31, 2012. Drop off your new or gently used children’s books at any Half Price Books location. For every book donated, HPB will match it. Donations will benefit local nonprofit organizations in your community. For more information about how the book drive works, make sure to check out our FAQs.

2012 marks the 13th year of Half Pint Library program. With your help, we have provided more than two and a half million books and created hundreds of Half Pint Libraries across the nation. In 2011 alone, 313,840 books were donated to hundreds of nonprofit groups and schools in 16 states. Thank you for helping to share the love of reading with deserving children and their families. 

Hey, Teachers and Librarians! Interested in hosting your own Half Pint Library Drive at your school? Your school could win a $200 HPB Gift Card!

Enroll your school to host a Half Pint Library Book Drive March 19-23 for a chance to win an HPB Gift Card for your school or library. Registration is open now and closes March 9th.

Ready, set, go! 

 — Kate (and BW) 

BW Picks: 5 Obscure Children’s Books by Famous Authors

Hi Kids (and Kids-at-Heart),

BW here. I’m currently on my 15-minute break between Acts I & II of a story time for National Literacy Month, and I wanted to share a couple of cool links about children’s books written by authors who are usually remembered only for their adult-geared works (via BrainPickings). These books might not be the great masterpieces that these writers are famous for, but it’s always refreshing to discover that the author of that serious tome on your reading list was able to tap into his playful side once in awhile and appeal to a younger group of readers.  

1. Aldous Huxley

Best known for: Brave New World. Serious book about homogeneity and mass consumption.

Less known for: The Crows of Pearblossom. Children’s story about two crows trying to start a family.

 2. Leo Tolstoy

Best known for: Anna Karenina, War & Peace. Celebrated but lengthy Russian novels.

Less known for: Classic Tales and Fables for Children. Get the Tolstoy experience for 1/100th of the time investment.

 

3. Virginia Woolf

Best known for: To the Lighthouse, Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway. Depicts art, British society, early Feminism

Less known for: The Widow and the Parrot. A short story that teaches kids the value of kindness to animals.

 

4. Mary Shelley

 Best known for: Frankenstein. An AI experiment goes hideously wrong, creates a lonely, dangerously strong monster who desperately wants a friend.

Less known for: Maurice, or the Fisher’s Cot. A lonely boy searches for a family, doesn’t kill anyone in the process.

5. Langston Hughes

Best known for: Harlem Renaissance poetry & short stories with jazz and social activism themes, such as “The Weary Blues,” “A Dream Deferred,” and Not Without Laughter.

Less known for: The First Book of Jazz. A children’s introduction to the music, rhythm & culture of American Jazz and Blues.

Be sure to check out the links for 7 more children’s books written by authors famed for their adult literature. Can you think of any that aren’t on the list? What about grown-up books written by celebrated children’s authors?

 Happy reading!

 BW (and Kate)

Staff Picks: Top 5 Storytime Picture Books

Hi, guys! We have another round of “Staff Picks” for you, this time from our South Dallas Assistant District Manager, Brecah Walsh-Helm. Brecah has three little ones (19 month old twin boys, and a brand new baby girl) so between work and home, she knows all about picture books and storytime! Says Brecah, “Here are some great picture books that are fun and silly, perfect for summer reading with your kids!” 

“DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!” by Mo Willems

When the driver leaves the bus temporarily, he gives the reader just one instruction: “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus.” But that pigeon tries every trick in the book to get in the driving seat. He whines, wheedles, fibs and flatters. Will you let him drive?

HARRY THE DIRTY DOG” by Gene Zion

Harry, a white dog with black spots, hates baths so much that when he hears his bathwater running he buries his scrub brush and runs away. Harry has a great time getting filthy in the dirt but soon is tired and hungry, He returns home, only to find his family doesn’t recognize him, even after he performs all the tricks he knows. What will Harry do?  

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS” by Judi Barrett

In Chewandswallow, meals rain from the sky at appropriate times of the day, but a change in the weather blows in massive problems. “Prediction: Children dreaming up their own weather menus are sure to follow up on the fun.”–Booklist. A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year.  

OLIVIA” by Ian Falconer 

Olivia is a feisty young piglet who’s got too much energy for her own good. Whether she’s singing Forty Very Loud Songs or building a skyscraper out of sand or trying on all her clothes or getting rid of her little brother or decorating the living room walls or asking for too many books at bedtime, she never gets worn out. Of course, it’s another story entirely for Olivia’s exhausted mother!
 

THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS” by A. Wolf (and Jon Scieszka)

You may think you know the story of the “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf” – but only one person knows the real story. And that person is A. Wolf. His tale starts with a birthday cake for his dear old granny, a bad head cold and a bad reputation. The rest (as they say) is history. This is a hilariously inventive retelling of the popular story which “Publishers Weekly” called the ‘Funniest book of the year.’

 (Honorable mentions go to “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak & “Miss Nelson Is Missing” by Harry Allard.)

 For more storytelling experiences in the Dallas area, join HPB at the following locations and times:

 Northwest Highway Flagship: Every Sunday at 1pm

 Mesquite:  Every Sunday at 2pm

 Rockwall: Every Wednesday at 2pm

  

Which other picture books would you recommend for storytime at your local HPB?

 — Becky