A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Mitsumasa Anno (Annoâ€™s Counting Book), Lois Lowry (The Giver, Number the Stars), Ellen Conford (Jenny Archer series), Pamela Sargent (Child of Venus), and Louis Sachar (Holes).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Fred Rogers (1928â€“2003) When a Pet Dies, and Shigeo Watanabe (1928â€“2006), Ice Cream Falling.
- In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stoweâ€™s Uncle Tomâ€™s Cabin is published. It was the best selling novel of the nineteenth century and is credited for fueling the American Civil War because of its anti-slavery message.
- Itâ€™s Rotten Sneaker Day. (Ugh!) Read Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos, illustrated by Nicole Rubel.
Born on March 20, 1916, in Hiawatha, Kansas, Bill Martin Jr. served as a teacher and textbook editor before he became a childrenâ€™s book writer. Growing up in Kansas, he struggled with reading, but adored listening to his grandmother, who was a storyteller. Also, he was saved from a lifetime of hating books by a fifth grade teacher who read aloud twice a day. Martin discovered that he loved the sound and beauty of language.
Because Martin understood the difficulties of those who had trouble with the written word, he began to write stories, ones that read aloud beautifully. The fairy godmother of his writing career was none other than Eleanor Roosevelt; in 1945 she praised his self-published book, The Little Squeegy Bug, which eventually sold around a million copies.
Bill then received a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and became an editor for the Holt, Rinehart & Winston reading series. Although it was not unusual for those in his position to write stories to be included in the basal readers, Martin soon proved to be in a class by himself. In 1967 he wrote a patterned question and answer book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and asked the then-unknown illustrator Eric Carle to contribute art. “Brown Bear/ Brown Bear/ What do you see?/ I see a red bird/ looking at me.” Although the book was successful as part of the series, it became an even greater hit when released in 1991 as an individual book. Recently, Brown Bear has been tastefully reformatted into a My First Reader, with some extra materials to help parents and educators. The text draws on all of Martinâ€™s great strengthsâ€”rhythm, rhyme, the participation of childrenâ€”to introduce a variety of animals, amphibians, and birds. Eric Carle fashions all these creatures with brilliant collage papers.
During Martinâ€™s lifetime, he and Eric Carle also published Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? After Martin died, Carle read Martinâ€™s manuscript for Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? and decided to make a book, in honor of the man so influential in his career. After Carle finished the project, he created a very touching short video, ideal for sharing with children, in which he talks about Martin and their working relationship.
One day Bill came to Eric and said, â€śDa, da, Dah, Dah.â€ť Or do you think it should be â€śDah, Dah, Dah.â€ť Eric said, â€śBill I donâ€™t know what you are talking about.â€ť Martin replied, â€śFirst I get the rhythm, and then I fill in the words.â€ť Small wonder then that Martinâ€™s books, created with an understanding of how children learn to read, have been so influential in the education of babies and preschoolers. Martin believed that children did not need to understand every word of the text, they just needed to â€śassimilate the sounds, the music, and the poetâ€™s vision.â€ť
This would have been Bill Martinâ€™s 95th birthday. Children the world over are so lucky that this educator, who had problems reading, dedicated his life to helping children find poetry, rhythm, and rhyme in their stories.
Originally posted March 20, 2011. Updated for .