• It’s a big day for author/illustrator birthdays! Birthday greetings to Jack Prelutsky, the first U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate and author of The New Kid on the Block, It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, and many other books of poetry. Best birthday wishes to Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (named by the Library of Congress in 2008), author of The Stinky Cheese Man, Time Warp Trio series, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and the autobiographical Knucklehead. Also, happy birthday to Byron Barton (Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Machines At Work), Jeanie Adams (Pigs and Honey), and illustrator Michael Hague (A Child’s Book of Prayers, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic).
  • Richard Drew invents Scotch tape in 1930.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is published in 1952.
  • The television show Star Trek premieres on NBC in 1966.
  • Ellis Island Historical Site in New York opens to the public in 1990, providing access to the starting point of many families’ American Journey. Read I Was Dreaming to Come to America: Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project by Veronica Lawlor, Coming to America: The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro, illustrated by Susannah Ryan, and When Jesse Came Across The Sea by Amy Hest, illustrated by P. J. Lynch.
  • It’s International Literacy Day, highlighting efforts to provide the opportunity for all people, all over the world, to learn to read. Read Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9 –14 by Sonja Cole.
  • It’s Pardon Day—a time for seeking forgiveness (because we all make mistakes) and remembering to say “Excuse me!” Read Excuse Me, But That Is My Book by Lauren Child.

In 1965, UNESCO set aside a day to highlight to individuals and communities the importance of literacy, and deemed it International Literacy Day. People celebrate it around the world every year on September 8.

But before children can become verbally literate, they need to develop visual literacy. In our book of the day, Flashlight, Lizi Boyd takes young picture book viewers on an exploration of the natural world, one that draws on young viewers’ ability to follow stories through pictures.

On the title page, a young camper heads out into the world that surrounds his tent. Each subsequent page features a beam of light that brings one of the animals or objects into bright focus—an owl, a bit, mice, skunks, and bats go about their nocturnal business. But then, in an interesting twist, the camper falls, loses the flashlight, and the animals take turns turning a beam of light on their environment. What is going on in this breathtaking nighttime world? When his interlude in a peaceable kingdom ends, the camper heads back to the tent, while mice still hold the flashlight.

The book works on multiple levels: as a piece of whimsy or fantasy for very young children, as an educational look at nocturnal creatures, and as a writing exercise for older children.

Printed on heavy paper, the book also displays intricate cutouts that reveal the landscape’s details, by bringing small parts of the forest into color. Every page can be pored over again, and includes various storylines. Every element of Flashlight’s design has been worked out with care and cohesion, making it ideal for lovers of artfully made books. The volume begins with solid black endpapers that have flora and fauna reversed out in white. The black endpapers use color to highlight some of the creatures that can be found in a nighttime environment. The heavy paper stock feels delightful; the book even smells good!

And best of all, Flashlight makes readers want to return to the first page, after they have finished the last. On International Literacy Day it is important to remember that the path to literacy begins with those simple words from a child. “Let’s read it again.”

Here’s a page from Flashlight: 



Originally posted September 8, 2014. Updated for .

Tags: Animals
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Flashlight


  1. Thank You for making the connection to International Literacy Day with this book!
    Having shared this book with my grandchildren while camping (with flashlights), “read it again”
    was definitely the refrain! Loved it!

  2. Helen Frost says:

    What a beautiful concept. Looking forward to reading this.

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