From now through May 6th, it’s National Children’s Book Week. This long-running initiative of the Children’s Book Council promotes literacy with events at schools, libraries, and bookstores celebrating books for children and teens. Throughout this week (and beyond!), it’s a great time to revisit favorite classics like Charlotte’s Web and Little Women, and also an opportunity to explore the wide range of voices and perspectives in works by contemporary authors.

Where to begin? You might start with recent Newberry and Caldecott winners, or peruse the titles selected by the Association for Library Service to Children as this year’s Notable Children’s Books.

Here at the Core Knowledge Foundation, we’d like to share with you the works of an author suggested to us by teachers in the Core Knowledge network, Jacqueline Woodson. Ms. Woodson has authored eighteen books in genres varying from picture books to young adult fiction to poetry. Ms. Woodson’s work has garnered many awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award. She is a four-time Newberry Honor Medalist. Ms. Woodson has also recently been named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2018-2019.

Children in grades K-5 might enjoy The Other Side (2000), a picture book that tells the story of two girls, Clover and Annie, who live in a segregated town and use the power of friendship to bring down the barriers separating them. In another picture book, Each Kindness (2012), the narrator, Chloe, is unkind to the new girl at school, Maya. When Maya stops coming to school, Chloe realizes, through a lesson taught by her teacher, that she lost the opportunity to make a new friend. The book dramatizes the ripple effect of acts of kindness.

In Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a “memoir in free verse,” Ms. Woodson describes growing up in the 1960s and 1970s as an African American girl in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. In these narrative poems, Ms. Woodson recalls how she never felt quite at home in either place, and lets us see through her eyes her growing awareness of the Civil Rights Movement.

Brown Girl Dreaming, suitable for grades four and up, will soon be the focus of a new Language Arts unit to be developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation as part of a forthcoming initiative to expand our offering of Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) materials offered for free download on our website. An OER (Open Educational Resources) Teacher Guide to accompany Brown Girl Dreaming is currently under development and will soon be added to our offering of Grade 4 CKLA units.

To learn more about Jacqueline Woodson and her other works, check out her website. And you can learn more about National Children’s Book Week and find activities that you can do with your students here.

5 comments on “It’s National Children’s Book Week”

  1. 1
    Madison on November 14, 2018

    I love the ideas you have shared. These books are refreshing as they have the vibe of addressing social issues in our world today with youngsters. Preparing the next generation is a job that should never be taken lightly. The only way we can mend our past is if we prepare our future to learn from the mistakes of the past. Think about how much the world would benefit from students who learned to accept each other’s differences and spread love instead of hate and violence. I feel as if there is a correlation between good grades and love. I do not have the data on that, but have a good gut feeling that the love students feel from their teachers and the materials used to teach them would correlate to good grades on report cards. Who knows? Let me know your thoughts on the matter. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 2
    Ellie Elli on January 25, 2019

    Thank you for your post. I especially appreciate discovering new (to me) authors that offer books that can spark meaningful conversations with kids. I teach in an elementary school, and I find that the kids never got too old to be read to. Even the 4th and 5th graders love picture books. Studies have shown that reading fiction can help people develop deeper levels of empathy. Our school has a fairly strong character education program, and I love choosing books that model good character (or non-examples of good character) or books that offer perspectives that are different from those in our class.

  3. 3
    Margo Laseak on September 17, 2019

    This is a great post that helps me find new books to read with my students! I always am up for great recommendations, especially having ideas of what to teach after reading. It looks like these books are a great way for me to introduce social topics with my students. Sometimes I feel like I am always worried about teaching to the standards and tests. I’m forgetting about social skills and issues that would be helpful for my students to learn. I am trying to teach character traits to my students, so this could be a good way to do that with them. I think it is always great to read a book to introduce a topic. I haven’t heard of some of these, so I plan to write them out and try it!

    1. 4
      Margo Laseak on September 17, 2019

      Has anyone tried reading any of these books and found a good outcome? Was there a good topic you taught with a particular book or discussion you had?

  4. 5
    Elizabeth Mencer on November 13, 2019

    For a leadership initiative at my school, it would be a great opportunity to have this week happen at my school as we are K-8. We have a Pj’s storytime that happens once a year, but if we could implement National Children Book Week in my school it would provide more literacy to all our students. It is a goal of our school, especially middle school, to focus on literacy and improve the reading scores of our students. Children Books are a great way to engage students at any age because they all have lessons to be taught, vocabulary to decode, and memories to be made. To dedicate a week in our school to this cause would be extremely beneficial and most of my fellow colleagues would agree and see the value in such an initiative (Laureate Education, 2007f).
    Laureate Education. (Producer). (2007f). Dynamic teacher leadership: Thoughts and perspectives. Baltimore, MD: Author

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