7 Great Titles, 2 Meaningful Weeks: Honoring National Young Readers Week and Children’s Book Week

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What I Remember about Reading

1989. I was 7, the age my oldest child currently is. I’ll be honest. I don’t remember much about my reading life back when I was in 1st grade. I don’t remember when I learned to read, nor do I remember how it happened. Perhaps I don’t remember because the act of learning to read is unimportant. It’s what happened before and ever since that is important.

Reading happened everywhere with my parents, especially my father. Newspapers were purchased every morning. Bookshelves filled any free space of any apartment we lived in. I am even told that my first word was “book.”

I remember The Little Engine That Could being one of my favorite children’s books. I remember chanting to myself, “I think I can, I think I can,” every time I struggled with something, from making friends in kindergarten all the way through writing my college thesis! I remember walking to the library with my father and feeling a bit like Matilda, the shelves so much larger than my miniature self. I remember moving on to The Babysitters Club series and treating the characters like they were part of my inner circle of friends.

Back in 1989, when I was maybe starting to read on my own, National Young Readers Week was co-founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. For the past thirty years, this annual event has been held during the second week of November to emphasize the importance of the act of reading. An act that should obviously extend more than a single week per year. But like we teach our children, it’s the thought that counts.

Reading With My Kids

My older children are very different young readers. My daughter taught herself to read at age four and proclaimed, “reading is my life,” in kindergarten. My son, now in kindergarten, is just starting to learn how to sound out words (Look by Fiona Woodcock is a great book with single words and huge matching images). He tries here and there when he wants or needs to, but “reading” is not yet something that defines his life.

Despite their very different reading levels, both of them are currently very interested in sharing the lessons that books teach. Both of them, my son in examining the pictures and listening to the story unfold, my daughter in reading quietly to herself, take at least two full minutes to process the meaning of the book. Sometimes, they can spit out a message in a single sentence. Other times, they need our help piecing together their ideas. Either way, it launches a conversation about what matters and why.

Thus, in honor of National Young Readers Week, I share with you seven books with lessons we love (read them yourself and take away your own meaning!). All of these books were published within 2019, and were either discovered in the New bookshelf section of our local library or in the ever-exciting monthly Scholastic catalogue!

Technically, National Young Readers Week is only five days from November 11-15, but November 4-10 is Children’s Book Week, and they’re celebrating their 100th anniversary (wowzers!) with aptly themed, Read Now and Forever, so make the most of these 11 days and read/ re-read any or all of these joys: 

Three for the independent readers: 

Three picture books to read together: 

One emerging reader chapter book/ for every Dav Pilkey superfan:

What books would you recommend as must-reads for these important weeks? 

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Maria F. is a high school English teacher who naturally finds herself reflecting upon the beautiful struggles that accompany the routine and randomness of each day as a working mommy. She relies upon humor and some sort of chocolate treat as survival tactics, at home, at work, and, of course, in her beloved dream car, a minivan. She and her husband live in Norwalk with their three kids, Abbie (born 2012), Charlie (born 2014), and Phoebe (born 2018). Maria F. loves exploring all that Fairfield County has to offer, and as a native New Yorker, she will continue her search for a true good slice of pizza...

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