Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak


Born in Denmark on September 13, 1920, Else Holmelund Minarik came to the United States when she was four. At first she hated English, the new language that she had to learn, but she became devoted to it—and to teaching first graders how to read words that had once perplexed her. As she observed her […]

Animals, Bears, Family, Humor
Featured on September 13

David Goes to School by David Shannon


Over the last two months, we’ve been looking at some optimistic books about a child going back to school. Whether it is The Magic School Bus or Kindergarten Diary, these books end happily with their protagonists very satisfied to be in school. But for some children, school may be a bit more of a challenge. […]

Humor, School
Featured on September 8

Pinkerton, Behave! by Steven Kellogg


September has been designated World Animal Remembrance Month. So since I like to think about dogs, I’m going to feature some famous dog protagonists who deserve to be remembered: Spot, Art Dog, the unnamed heroes of Go, Dog. Go! and Steven Kellogg’s irrepressible Pinkerton. Possibly September should just be designated Steven Kellogg appreciation month. Steven […]

Animals, Dogs, Humor
Featured on September 3

Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall


As August comes to a close, many children head back to or have already started school. Today I’m recommending one of my favorite stories about school, one that some teachers like to use at this time. It not only tells a great story, but also sends a subtle message. By the time James Marshall created […]

Humor, School
Featured on August 31

Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis

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Our book of the day yesterday, Wemberly Worried, has been around for a decade. But last year, Antoinette Portis added a new book to read during Get Ready for Kindergarten Month. Kindergarten Diary explores what a young child might think and experience each day in a new school. Portis, the very creative inventor of Not […]

Humor, Imagination, School
Featured on August 20

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

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For some children, the end of August means preparing to go to school for the very first time. For them August has been designated Get Ready for Kindergarten Month. If you are hunting for a book that might help the very young overcome some of their anxieties about school, today we’ll look at Kevin Henkes’s […]

Animals, Humor, Mice, School
Featured on August 19

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall


As the Almanac has evolved, frequently I get ideas, directly or indirectly, from the readers of this column. Every year John Schumaker, @MrSchuReads, takes a character from a beloved children’s book, travels with it, and takes photos that he shares on his website. You can see his video of his trip with year on Read, […]

Family, Humor, Seasons, Summer
Featured on August 16

The Rescuers by Margery Sharp
Illustrated by Garth Williams


Around this time of year the Norway Cup takes place, and more than fourteen hundred international youth soccer teams traveled from different countries to compete. Well, our book of the day doesn’t have much to do with soccer. But it begins when Nils, one of the book’s three heroes, has to be fetched from Norway […]

Adventure, Animals, Humor, Mice
Featured on August 5

Whales on Stilts by M. T. Anderson


It is amazing how many holidays exist, and what strange ones some of them are. Today is National Walk on Stilts Day. According to those who observe this day, walking on stilts allows you to build coordination and have a lot of fun at the same time. The holiday organizers want you to get out, […]

Adventure, Humor, Imagination
Featured on July 27

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

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Today is National Hot Dog Day, and July is National Hot Dog Month. So it seems a good time to focus on hot dogs, one of America’s favorite and “most patriotic” foods according to promoters. Although the book of the day seems like a natural for publication, Mo Willems’s first book about the pigeon, Don’t […]

Animals, Birds, Food, Humor, Imagination
Featured on July 23

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

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July 15–21 has been designated National Rabbit Week to pay tribute to this animal for being such a great companion for humans. What is it about rabbits that so inspire children’s book authors and illustrators? Ever since Peter Rabbit went lippety, lippety down the road, rabbits have multiplied like—well—bunnies in children’s books. I’ll be talking […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Humor, Imagination, Rabbits
Featured on July 16

Stuart Little by E. B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams


On July 11, 1899, Elwyn Brooks White, known to his friends as Andy and the literary world as E. B., was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He would eventually become a Maine man, where he lived with his wife Katharine. White published his first article in The New Yorker in 1925 and continued to […]

Animals, Family, Humor, Imagination, New York
Featured on July 11

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

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On July 9, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II woke up in Buckingham Palace to find a stranger sitting at the end of her bed. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, the intruder had actually planned to commit suicide in the queen’s bedroom, but then decided that wasn’t “a nice thing to do.” Instead he simply wanted to […]

Humor, Imagination, London
Featured on July 9

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann


June has been designated National Safety Month to promote safety at work, at home, on the road, and in our communities. Safety might seem a bit dull as a topic for a book for children, but the book of the day, Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann, demonstrates that highly creative people can make […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Humor, School
Featured on June 30

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
Illustrated by Edward Gorey


In the 1930s, an author who called himself “Old Possum” sent his godchildren (Tom Faber, Alison Tandy, Susan Wolcott, and Susanne Morley) a series of poems about cats. Playful, irreverent, and brilliantly written, these fourteen poems (a fifteenth “Cat Morgan Introduces Himself” appeared in 1952) were published in England by Faber and Faber in September […]

Animals, Cats, Humor, Imagination
Featured on June 28

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin

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On June 23, 1868, the first American typewriter was patented by Luther Sholes. Beginning in 1937 the dairy industry has dedicated June as National Dairy Month, a time to call attention to the important role that milk and milk products play in our diets and the outstanding contributions made by dairy farmers. So how do […]

Animals, Cows, Humor
Featured on June 23

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss


For many years, 2 Park Street in Boston served as the headquarters for Houghton Mifflin Publishers. In this Beacon Hill landmark, overlooking the Old Granary Burial Ground, a rickety brass elevator cage took employees up and down to their appointed floors, shuddering and whining as it did. This Otis elevator required the care of an […]

Animals, Cats, Humor, Imagination
Featured on June 18

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume


Today marks National Fudge Day—and I intend to celebrate. For children’s books aficionados, fudge not only conjures up food but also one of Judy Blume’s most original characters, Fudge, the younger brother of Peter, hero of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. When I entered the children’s book field in the seventies, Judy Blume reigned […]

Animals, Family, Humor, Turtles
Featured on June 16

Brian Jacques by Brian Jacques

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Sometimes writing the Almanac can be bittersweet, and today is such a day. On my outline for the first year of the Almanac, I set today aside to celebrate the birthday of a very special writer. Unfortunately for me and countless fans, Brian Jacques died suddenly in 2011. He would have been 74 today. During […]

Adventure, Animals, Humor, Mice, Rats
Featured on June 15

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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In June of 1908, Anne of Green Gables appeared on the list of a small Boston firm, L.C. Page and Company. Then-unknown Canadian author L.M. Montgomery had found it difficult to find a publisher in the United States—and so she did what so many new authors do today. She submitted to the Page brothers because […]

Family, Friendship, History, Humor
Featured on June 14

His Shoes Were Far Too Tight by Daniel Pinkwater
Illustrated by Calef Brown


This week, on June 10, in Australia, Belieze, Cayman Islands, and Fiji they celebrated the “Queen’s Official Birthday.” Queen Elizabeth II actually was born on April 21. Celebrating the Queen’s Official Birthday on a day when she wasn’t born would be just the kind of corkscrew logic that our English author of the day, Edward Lear, […]

Animals, Humor, Imagination
Featured on June 13

Curious George by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey

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Seventy years ago in 1941, three days before Hitler’s army marched into Paris, two German Jews who had come to the city on a honeymoon and stayed for a couple of years, found themselves trapped in Paris. Although Hans and Margret Rey had secured railroad tickets, the trains stopped running. So Hans scoured bicycle stores, […]

Animals, History, Humor, Imagination, Monkeys, World War II
Featured on June 11

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

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Today marks the birthday of Norton Juster, a man who should be named the patron saint of all who put pen to paper. One of the things that all writers do, on almost a daily basis, is avoid writing. If most of us put as much energy into writing as we put into not writing, […]

Adventure, Cars, Games, Humor, Imagination, Transportation
Featured on June 2

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

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Today has been designated Flip a Coin Day. The word flip immediately reminds me of one of the funniest, and yet most true to life, romances written for the ten- to fourteen-year-old set, Wendelin Van Draanen’s Flipped. Told from the point of view of two protagonists, Julie and Bryce, they alternate narrating chapters. In second […]

Family, Humor, Romance
Featured on June 1

Half Magic by Edward Eager
Illustrated by N. M. Bodecker


“It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.” So begins the book of the day, a perfect story about summer. This book holds a unique place in the children’s book canon. It is the only one I know where the author admitted to copying, shamelessly, from another author […]

Adventure, Humor, Imagination, Magic, Seasons, Summer
Featured on May 31

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

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Get out your party clothes! Today those in the know celebrate National Paper Clip Day. The modern version of this lowly but extremely useful object was patented on November 9, 1899 by William D. Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut. But during World War II the paper clip became the symbol of national unity in Norway. Forbidden […]

Animals, Award Winning, Blindness, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Dogs, Humor, School, Special Needs
Featured on May 29

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

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Organizers of National Bike Month—established to celebrate bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation—estimate that five million people will participate in biking activities across the country during May. Certainly for many people, nothing says “good weather” and “good times” as much as the idea of a bike trip, however long or short. I just wish the […]

Animals, Ducks, Humor
Featured on May 26

Swindle by Gordon Korman

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Today has been designated Be a Millionaire Day. Oddly enough, the topics of money and becoming rich rarely find their way into the plots of children’s books. Still the preoccupation of being richer than you are must be a universal childhood fantasy. The book of the day, Gordon Korman’s Swindle focuses on some children who […]

Featured on May 20

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell


May 18 has been designated Visit Your Relatives Day. The idea of a trip to see family members can bring many different images to mind. When I was a child, one of my happiest times each year came during the month of July when my father, my mother, my two sisters, and I got in […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Family, Humor
Featured on May 18

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Illustrated by W. W. Denslow

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Today marks the  birthday of the American author, Lyman Frank Baum. He worked in a variety of jobs—journalist, actor, theater manager, salesman. In fact, he may well have been the inspiration for his most famous character: the Wizard of Oz. In 1900 Baum released the first book about Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a […]

Adventure, Humor, Other Worlds
Featured on May 15

Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse by Kevin Henkes


This week  Reading Is Fundamental celebrates an important concept: Reading Is Fun Week. Nothing will guarantee the reading success of children more than if they find enjoyment in reading. Today I’m going to look at a picture book that is sure to delight young readers. In Kevin Henkes’s Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, a young mouse absolutely […]

Humor, School
Featured on May 13

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.