My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett


Around this time of year we celebrate Father’s Day. Now, as a rule, children are not particularly excited to read a book about an adult, even if they love their father. They would rather read about children they want to hang out with. But one of the best children’s books of all times (perfect for […]

Adventure, Animals, Imagination
Featured on June 19

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

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

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

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

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Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer. For children summer often means more unstructured time when they can enjoy their own activities. The hero of our book of the day, Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden,  Tom Long has been looking forward to his summer idyll with his brother, Peter. But Peter comes down with […]

Adventure, Gardening, Ghosts, History, Time Travel
Featured on May 30

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming


Today marks the 103rd birthday of British writer, journalist, and Naval Intelligence Officer, Ian Fleming. If his name sounds unfamiliar, you’re sure to know the character he created “Bond. James Bond,” who has become part of our cultural landscape, just like Sherlock Holmes. Like other authors who first distinguished themselves writing for adults – E. B. […]

Adventure, Cars, Family, Transportation
Featured on May 28

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

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrated by Carson Ellis

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Today for RIF’s Reading Is Fun week, I’d like to look at a recent novel. When I ask young readers what books they adore reading, one title keeps coming up—Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society. During the last five years, end-of-the-world, dystopian novels have started to dominate publishing lists and children’s reading lists. All […]

Adventure, Imagination
Featured on May 14

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery


On April 6, 1943, one of the most unusual offerings in the children’s book cannon was published. Whether it was a book for adults or children or more appropriately “all ages” would become part of the ongoing debate about The Little Prince. Certainly some of the early reviewers like P. L. Travers and Anne Carroll […]

Imagination, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on April 6

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth


April has been designation National Humor Month. Many children tell adults that they just want funny books. One of my favorites in this category, Oliver Butterworth’s The Enormous Egg was created in 1956 and concerns a favorite topic of children: dinosaurs. Nate Twichell, an ordinary boy in Freedom, New Hampshire, helps on the family farm […]

Dinosaurs, Humor
Featured on April 4

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Toward the end of March, World Folk Tales and Fables Week has been set up to encourage children and adults to explore the lessons learned from folk tales and fables. I’d like to finish our celebration with one of the most popular retellings of a folk tale published in the last fifteen years. Gail Carson […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Fairy Tale, Magic, Newbery, Quest
Featured on March 27

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

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March has been set aside to recognize the contribution of small presses to our literary heritage. After I had finished selecting books for 100 Best Books for Children, I went back to calculate the percentage that had originally been published by small or independent publishing houses. 10 percent! An amazing figure when you realize that […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Quest
Featured on March 16

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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On March 12, 1963, the New York Times wrote “A housewife and an artist today won the nation’s top awards for the most distinguished children’s book published in 1962.” This statement doesn’t even hint at the truth—that the most courageous committee in the history of the Newbery and Caldecott Awards had just announced its results. […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Newbery, Other Worlds, Science
Featured on March 12

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

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On March 5th we celebrated a relatively new holiday, World Read Aloud Day. I’d like to continue this celebration by talking about my favorite recent read-aloud, written by Germany’s bestselling author for children, Cornelia Funke. Cornelia was brought to the attention of publisher Barry Cunningham by a devoted fan. The girl wrote to Cunningham, who had […]

Adventure, Geography, Imagination
Featured on March 9

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

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Today we celebrate National Dentist Day. Suggestions for the day include delivering a thank-you note to your dentist—although I would recommend giving them the book of the day instead. For me, the greatest book ever written about a dentist is also one of the best picture books of the twentieth century: Doctor De Soto by […]

Animals, Award Winning, Humor, Imagination, Mice, Newbery
Featured on March 6

Babe by Dick King-Smith


Today marks National Pig Day. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pig books for me to choose from. Intelligent and humorous, pigs make a naturally intriguing subject for children. I first read the book of the day in 1984, and I have never fallen so hard or so fast for a new title for […]

Animals, Humor, Imagination, Pigs
Featured on March 1

Tooth Fairy Day

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On February 28, Tooth Fairy Day commemorates our love and affection to the kindly tooth fairy and her generosity to children. Many retain wonderful childhood memories of placing a tooth under the pillow and finding some coins in the morning. But does the tooth fairy visit everyone—all over the globe? In Throw Your Tooth on […]

Bedtime, Family, Humor
Featured on February 28

Honus & Me by Dan Gutman

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On February 24, 1874, Honus Wagner was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Called “The Flying Dutchman,” because of his great speed and his German heritage, Wagner played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, won eight batting titles, and became one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because Wagner disliked smoking, when […]

Baseball, History, Sports
Featured on February 24

The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

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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, Tennessee—where local […]

Adventure, Animals, Elephants, France, Humor
Featured on February 23

A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole

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In February of 1896 the Massachusetts Audubon Society was founded, the beginning of the current national organization. It was established to protect birds and to discourage the women of the era from wearing bird plumes in their hats. The man honored by the name of the organization, John J. Audubon, has been the focus of […]

19th century, Animals, Art, History, Mice, Nature, Science, Zoology
Featured on February 11

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown


In this age of the Internet, tweets, Facebook, and e-mail, we may not take time for today’s celebration: Thank the Mailman Day. Even titles like James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice seem a bit arcane. Mine doesn’t even ring once. But there is at least one classic children’s book that owes everything to postal […]

Humor, Imagination
Featured on February 4

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

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The sixteen-day celebration of Chinese New Year, marking the year of the Wood Horse, began on January 31. If you want to prepare for this event there is a perfect book to read, published only a few years ago. What does it mean to be a Chinese-American, particularly if most traces of your native culture […]

Adventure, Asian American, Folktale, Multicultural, Quest
Featured on February 3

Lloyd Alexander by Lloyd Alexander


On January 30,1924, Lloyd Alexander was born in Philadelphia. He knew from the age of fifteen that he wanted to be a writer, and for seventeen years he wrote for adults. Then in 1963, this charming, erudite author published his first children’s book, Time Cat, and 1964, his second, The Book of Three. His editor […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Magic, Newbery
Featured on January 30

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

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Today we celebrate Australia Day, when in 1788 the first settlement was established at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney. The Australian writing and illustrating community seems to me to be the most vibrant and original group of children’s book creators working any place in the world. In a few short years Australian writer Marcus […]

Adventure, Magic, Quest
Featured on January 26

Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

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Letter writing week, celebrating the often-forgotten pleasure of sending a hand-written note, takes place this year from January 9-15. If any book might inspire young readers ages eleven to fourteen, to pick up their pens and start composing, it will be the book of the day, Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery & Cecelia. Although […]

Adventure, British, History, Magic
Featured on January 14

Robert C. O’Brien by Robert C. O’Brien


Today marks the birthday of one of the most reclusive children’s book authors of the 20th century. He was not so, however, because of his personality or because he did not want to engage with children. Robert Leslie Conly was born in Brooklyn in 1918; he studied English at the University of Rochester. Working for […]

Adventure, Animals, Award Winning, Mice, Newbery, Survival
Featured on January 11

Walter R. Brooks by Walter R. Brooks

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On January 9, 1886, Walter R. Brooks was born in Rome, New York. Orphaned at an early age, he was sent to a military academy and then attended the University of Rochester. An interest in homeopathic medicine brought him to New York City, where he worked for the Red Cross. He then turned his hand […]

Adventure, Animals, Humor, Pigs
Featured on January 9

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

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Today is set aside to “Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.” The concept behind the day, and the phrase, is to get people to try out a new idea. But often for children, these sayings take on literal meanings, such as in Jerry Spinelli’s Who Ran My Underwear Up a Flagpole. […]

Adventure, Humor, Imagination, School
Featured on January 2

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Carroll Atwater
Illustrated by Robert Lawson

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Today marks the birthday of Richard Atwater, born in 1892. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where he taught Greek. But for most of his career, Atwater worked as a journalist, book review editor, and columnist for newspapers. He dabbled in publishing—first he wrote an opera, then a children’s book Doris and […]

Animals, Award Winning, Newbery, Penguins
Featured on December 29

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

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On December 28, 1732, the first issue of Poor Richard’s Almanack was advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Published from 1733–1758, this brainchild of Benjamin Franklin has been imitated and copied many times. Franklin, like so many of the Founding Fathers, was a Renaissance man—inventor, printer, ambassador, and the delight of the French ladies. He has […]

Animals, History, Mice, Revolutionary War
Featured on December 28

The Suburb Beyond the Stars by M. T. Anderson

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As I sit writing, a storm rages outside my window. Some branches scrape against the house. This creepy setting mirrors the one found in our book of the day, M. T. Anderson’s The Suburb Beyond the Stars. In December we celebrate Read a New Book Month. Of all the new books this year, I had […]

Featured on December 27

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.