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What is Children's Book Week?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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Children's Book Week is a week-long celebration of children's books. It had its start in 1919 and is celebrated primarily in schools, libraries, and bookstores. Typical events during Children's Book Week include storytelling, author and illustrator visits, and activities related to books. The goal of Children's Book Week is to encourage a love of reading and books among children.

This literary celebration sprung from the brain of Franklin K. Matthiews, a librarian for the Boy Scouts of America. In 1913, he traveled through the U.S. in hopes of promoting the creation of worthwhile books for children. Matthiews sought the support of librarians, booksellers, and book publishing companies. He found two helpers in the form of Frederic G. Melcher, an editor of Publishers Weekly and Anne Carroll Moore, superintendent of Children's Works at the New York Public Library. In 1916, The American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association joined the Boy Scouts to sponsor Good Book Week.

When the ABA (American Booksellers Association) held a conference in 1919, the organization decided to make Good Book Week an annual celebration. It was renamed Children's Book Week. The ALA (American Library Association) officially voiced their approval several months later. By 1944, the Children's Book Council assumed responsibility for overseeing Children's Book Week. They began the process of distributing promotional materials and encouraging people around the country to celebrate this important event for children.

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In the past, Children's Book Week was always held one week prior to Thanksgiving. After the 2007 celebration, it was decided that the week-long event was to be held each May. Today, bookstores, libraries, and schools promote Children's Book Week by hosting parties and special events. Children can take part in programs involving storytellers, contests, storytimes, and appearances by well-known authors and illustrators. People who wish to celebrate the event at home often decide to donate books to local children's hospitals and Head Start programs. They read children's literature to their own children and seek ways to get them excited about books.

Franklin K. Matthiews wished to improve the standards of children's books and traveled the country to bring attention to the cause. A single librarian was the catalyst that sparked a huge movement continuing to be celebrated by those who love books. From its early beginnings in 1913 to its elaborate celebrations in today's world, Children's Book Week is a chance to encourage every child to explore the wonder of books.

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