A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday C.S. Adler (Ghost Brother) and Walter Wick (A Drop of Water).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Erich KĂ¤stner (1899â€“1974), Emil and the Detectives.
- W. E. B. DuBois (1868â€“1963) was born on this day, author of The Souls of Black Folk. Read W. E. B. Du Bois by Mark Stafford.
- In 1927, the Federal Communication Commission begins to regulate radio frequencies. Read Sounds in the Air: The Golden Age of Radio by Norman H. Finkelstein.
- Itâ€™s the beginning of Learning Disabilities Week. Read Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, and any of the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos.
Next week, from February 24-28 has been designated as Read Me Week by Reading Is Fundamental to celebrate the importance and fun of reading. All week long, local businesses and organizations who have adopted schools in their area will send out volunteers to read. The week culminates on Read Me Day in Nashville, Tennesseeâ€”where local celebrities flock to Nashville schools.
When I think of books and celebrities, the essays I published in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Childrenâ€™s Book instantly come to mind. I asked those who have achieved some status in various professions to provide a testimony about a childrenâ€™s book that had a profound influence on their lives. Many of these choices proved very surprising. Kirk Douglas, who played all the tough-guy roles in Hollywood, loved the Bobbsey Twins series because his older sister taught him to read from these books.
At first I was surprised by another choice, that of Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS. When I finally had a chance to interview him, he has just returned from Silicon Valley. Moonves told me he was so happy to talk, because this trip had reminded him of his favorite childrenâ€™s book. I must admit I was frantically searching my mind for any title that had a connection to Silicon Valley.
The book he chose, The Travels of Babar, had been written and first published in France. Another one of those classics that began as a bedtime story, the adventures of Babar the Elephant were originally created by Celeste de Brunhoff. Her husband Jean turned them into a book in 1933, The Story of Babar. Babar sees his mother killed by hunters and flees. When he arrives in Paris, he is befriended by a rich lady and becomes a Parisian dandy. First printed in oversized volumes, the books have been reissued from time to time in this same format. This is the ideal way to experience the stories; Babar works best on a large canvas.
For Leslie Moonves, the Babar books â€śprovided noticeable life lessons. Babar the elephant is quite sensitive and quite exploratory. He is very interested in everything in the world. Babar goes to new placesâ€”Paris, the seashore, mountainsâ€”and travels in a balloon and on an ocean liner. I related to him because I wanted to be an adventurer; I was very curious. To this day I remain curious; it helps me every day that I am in my job and that I am on earth.â€ť I personally love the idea that a future CEO of one of the worldâ€™s largest telecommunications companies would delight, as a child, in the image of an elephant sailing over the earth in a balloon.
Do what you can in your community for Read Me Weekâ€”no matter what book you might choose. Childrenâ€™s hopes, dreams, ambitions, and life quests come from books shared with them. Read Me Week reminds us that we all have reason to share books with the children in our community; in doing so, we all become part of their lives and their futures.
Originally posted February 23, 2011. Updated for .