• Happy birthday Russell Hoban (Bread and Jam for Francis), Barbara Shook Hazen (Tight Times), Pat Ross (M & M series).
  • It’s also the birth date of civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913–2004), Rosa Parks: My Story.
  • In 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected the first United States president. Read George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff.
  • Happy birthday Facebook, founded in 2004. Read A Smart Girls Guide to the Internet by Sharon Cindrich, illustrated by Ali Douglas.
  • Today is Bubble Gum Day. Read Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell.

Today marks a new holiday, Take Your Child to the Library Day. Patterned after Take Your Child to the Bookstore Day, the holiday emphasizes one of the most important trips that can occur for any child: going to a library, securing a library card, and learning to feel comfortable in a library. No matter how extensive your home collection, your children will always find gems in the library, and no one knows the reading tastes of the children in a community better than the local children’s librarian.

If I myself were going to a library today with a child just past picture book age, I would check out The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney. Humphrey the hamster lives in Classroom 26. The substitute teacher who brought Humphrey there leaves, putting him in the care of the regular teacher, Mrs. Brisbane. She has incredible reservations about Humphrey but can’t remove him immediately as the children have become so fond of him.

Now he spends weekends at the homes of different children in his classroom. But leave it to Humphrey to find friends and influence people. He uses his powers of observation, listening, and action to help his hosts. He even helps the night janitor find a soul mate! In fact, Humphrey operates much like the classic children’s book character, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. He uses his sparking personality and problem-solving abilities to help families find solutions to various dilemmas.

Humphrey stars in a series that has won award after award, selected by children in different states as their favorite book. So check him out for the weekend from your local public library. I can’t guarantee that he will solve your family’s problems, but he will definitely keep everyone happy for hours in the pages of a book.

Here’s a passage from The World According to Humphrey:

Mrs. Brisbane was already in Room 26 when we arrived. She smiled at Ms. Mac and shook her hand.

Then she frowned at me and said, “Is this some kind of …rodent?”

Ms. Mac gave her the speech about how much kids can learn from taking care of another species.

Mrs. Brisbane look horrified and said, “I can’t stand rodents! Take it back!”

The it she was talking about was me.

Originally posted February 4, 2012.

Tags: Animals, Hamster, School
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The World According to Humphrey
One year ago: Flat Stanley


  1. Barb says:

    I pull out easier/shorter chapter books from the fiction section for the 1st & 2nd graders who are ready for the next step–thanks for reminding me of Humphrey!

  2. McCourt says:

    Thanks for recommending Humphrey – I’ve seen it on the shelves but haven’t picked it up before. Sounds like a good fit for my youngest daughter. Thanks again!

  3. Anita says:

    Thanks for the comments on Humphrey, and Fran, thank you for posting the obituary notice for anyone who missed it.

Leave a Comment

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.