This week marks the centennial celebration of Children’s Book Week, the nation’s longest running literacy initiative. Established in 1919, it is the annual celebration of books for young people and for the joy of reading. Each year during Children’s Book Week, over 2,500 reading hours and author / illustrator events take place across the country at 1,300 libraries, bookstores, and schools.
Spearheaded by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books. Join in the fun all year long with a dedicated week of celebrations at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country, April 29 – May 5, 2019, and another week this fall, November 4-10!
Some of the most exciting happenings are 100 KidLit TV videos airing from mid-April to December, with individual videos being released two to three times a week. Each two- to three-minute video will feature book creators discussing their favorite children’s book characters. The goal is to connect kids with creators and make a series of videos that honors the 100th anniversary, but remain an evergreen resource for teachers, librarians, and parents. In addition, 100 authors and illustrators will be showcased during Spotlight Events at bookstores and libraries across the country.
Children’s Book Week originated in the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, began touring the country to promote higher standards in children’s books. He proposed creating a Children’s Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians.
Mathiews enlisted two important allies: Frederic G. Melcher, the visionary editor of Publishers Weekly who believed that “a great nation is a reading nation,” and Anne Carroll Moore, the Superintendent of Children’s Works at the New York Public Library and a major figure in the library world. With the help of Melcher and Moore, in 1916, the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association sponsored a Good Book Week with the Boy Scouts of America.
In 1944, the newly-established Children’s Book Council assumed responsibility for administering Children’s Book Week. In 2008, Children’s Book Week moved from November to May. At that time, the administration of Children’s Book Week, including planning official events and creating original materials, was transferred to Every Child a Reader, CBC’s charitable arm.