Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh


On October 21, 1964, a book appeared that critics consider the beginning of modern fiction for children. Before that day, it had been controversial in its own publishing house, causing disagreement among the members of Harper & Row’s children’s book department. The gatekeepers of children’s books wanted to keep it out of the hands of […]

Family, New York, School
Featured on October 21

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

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Some books just begged to be discussed with others, and our book of the day for Reading Group Month is perfect for mother/daughter groups: Dana Reinhardt’s The Summer I Learned to Fly. When we first meet the protagonist of the book, she tells us that some smells draw us back to childhood—like her grandfather’s aftershave […]

Food, Romance, Seasons, Summer
Featured on October 16

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

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October has been designed Reading Group Month, organized by the Women’s National Book Association. Today we’ll look at a classic book, ideal for mother/daughter book discussions, and tomorrow a new title. I am always interested in the books that people remember from childhood—children read so many books but which ones stay with them into adulthood? […]

Dance, Great Depression, History, London
Featured on October 15

Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars


For our last book for Great Books Week, I will look at a classic by Betsy Byars, published in 1968, The Midnight Fox. In her career, Betsy wrote picture books, easy readers, historical fiction, and fantasies; she won the Newbery Award for The Summer of the Swans. But The Midnight Fox, a book about a […]

Animals, Foxes, Seasons, Summer
Featured on October 8

The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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From September 22 through September 28, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week. Often your local public library will display some famous banned books. I am always surprised to see what makes list of “top banned/challenged books” of the decade. Harry Potter leads the list—possibly Harry Potter is going to lead all lists (sales, censorship, […]

Family, Humor, School
Featured on September 26

Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

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September has been designated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Month to educate everyone about effective treatments for the disease. In 1998 Jack Gantos published a book called Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key that not only became a National Book Award finalist but also goes a long way in educating young readers about ADHD. Joey Pigza […]

ADHD, Award Winning, Humor, National Book Award, School, Special Needs
Featured on September 14

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 Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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Today we celebrate the birthday of a writer who had no intention of crafting a book for children—nor was her classic published as one. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s The Yearling appeared on the Scribner adult list in 1938. Edited by the legendary Maxwell Perkins, who also worked with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, The Yearling became […]

Animals, Family, Nature
Featured on August 8

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

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Illustrated by Wesley Dennis


On Chincoteague Island, the annual pony penning contest is taking place at the end of July. Since 1925, around 50,000 people gather each year to watch 150 wild ponies herded off Assateague Island. They swim across the channel, are rounded up, examined, and auctioned. If you aren’t in Virginia at this time, you can watch […]

Animals, Geography, Horses
Featured on July 26

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright


July has been designated Make a Difference to Children month. All involved with children’s books celebrate this cause year round. Nothing can make more of a difference than the right book for the right child at the right time.  I’m going to look at two novels this month, one classic and one contemporary, that that […]

Family, New York
Featured on July 14

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

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July 1 was Canada Day and in its honor I’m celebrating two Canadian authors and events this month. On July 5 the Almanac featured Tim Wynne-Jones. Today we’ll look at another Canadian writer, Kenneth Oppel. I first encountered his work in the Airborn series and loved his voice, imagination, and ability to write page-turning science fiction. […]

Family, Science, Social Conscience
Featured on July 7

Rex Zero and the End of the World by Tim Wynne-Jones

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Around this time of year, for almost forty years, the annual Kimberly International Oldtime Accordion Championships took place in Kimberley, B.C., Canada. Family dances, jam sessions, and pancake breakfasts marked a festival that distinctly reminded me of my childhood. I was once forced to take accordion lessons; my mother had visions of her daughter performing […]

Canada, Cold War, Family, Geography, History, Politics
Featured on July 5

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George


Today marks the birthday of  Jean Craighead George. In a life filled with travel and adventure, she wrote two beloved classics—My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves—and scores of other great books. Admittedly, her family gave her a good start. As she wrote, “I was lured into natural history by my father.” […]

Adventure, Animals, Survival
Featured on July 2

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham


During the month of June, the National Wildlife Federation has been promoting the joys of camping. They advocate camping on any day in June and want everyone to participate in the pleasures of singing songs around an open fire, toasting s’mores, looking at the stars at night, and experiencing the joys of camping. The hero of […]

Featured on June 25

My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt

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Around this time of year the Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival takes place with a rodeo, parades, and a cooking contest. If you are in the area and want some local culture, the next two days will provide that and more. But if you aren’t, I have an alternative: Kimberly Willis Holt’s My Louisiana Sky, for […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Family, Special Needs
Featured on June 24

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

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass


Today marks Best Friends Day, a time to celebrate the BFF in your life. Nothing can be so wonderful in the life of a child as a best friend. And, conversely, nothing can be more terrible than a rift between them. I still wince with pain when I think about my “breakup” with my BFF in […]

Birthdays, Family, Holidays, School
Featured on June 8

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

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

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald


Today has been designated Brother’s Day—a celebration of brotherhood for biological brothers, fraternity brothers, and brothers bonded by union affiliation or lifetime experience. As could be predicted, children’s books frequently focus on sibling relationships, both brothers and sisters. After all, in childhood these relationships loom large in our lives. When I think of brothers in […]

20th Century, Family, History, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on May 24

Eyes on the Goal by John Coy

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On May 21, 1904, The Fédération International de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris. Today the Federation administers the World Cup. Football— renamed soccer in the States—is a favorite sport around the world because it’s an exciting game, played as a team, and uses inexpensive equipment. But for years soccer remained a relatively unknown […]

Soccer, Sports
Featured on May 21

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 Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

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Born on May 9, 1906, in West Haven, Connecticut, Eleanor Estes worked in the New York Public Library until her first book, The Moffats, was published in 1941. Although she won the Newbery Award for Ginger Pye in 1951, Estes’s earlier book, The Hundred Dresses, has emerged as one of our most unusual and powerful […]

School, Social Conscience
Featured on May 9

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall


Today we celebrate National Babysitter’s Day. Almost every child has had the experience being taken care of by a babysitter—many later even become one themselves—and that story has been played out again and again in children’s books. The protagonists of today’s book, two irrepressible seven-year-old girls, encounter that situation in Ivy + Bean Take Care […]

Family, Humor, Imagination
Featured on May 7

Holes by Louis Sachar

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For Get Caught Reading Month I want to talk about a book published in 1998 destined to become a classic. Whenever I ask audiences which book of the last fifteen years seems most poised for classic status, one title leads all the rest, Louis Sachar’s Holes. A rare winner of the Triple Crown in prizes […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Humor, National Book Award, Newbery, Survival
Featured on May 3

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford


In April, we celebrate Pets Are Wonderful Month. For all pet owners the concept is self-explanatory. My furred wonder Lance takes a morning snooze near my desk as I write and generally participate in every activity of my life. Fifty years ago, in 1961, a book appeared that celebrates the bond between humans and their […]

Animals, Cats, Dogs
Featured on April 25

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Illustrated by Denise Brunkus


Today we celebrate Kindergarten Day, observed on the birth of Friedrich Froebel, who founded the first kindergarten in Blankenburg, Germany, in 1837. Froebel believed that play, toys, and music formed the building blocks of children’s education. Certainly the most famous kindergartner in the canon of children’s books, Junie B. Jones, does not initially believe that […]

Featured on April 21

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo


April has been set aside as “Dog Appreciation Month.” My own dogs serve as my writing muse. Just now Lancelot, eating with relish, makes small pig noises. He encourages me to write with gusto. The bond between child and dog remains one of the universal experiences of childhood, as does the longing for a dog if […]

Animals, Award Winning, Dogs, Newbery
Featured on April 17

Gertrude Chandler Warner by Gertrude Chandler Warner


Today we honor a writer who has inspired millions of children over the years to fantasize about living in a broken-down railroad boxcar. Born on April 16, 1890, in Putnam, Connecticut, Gertrude Chandler Warner lived across the street from the railroad station. Thirty freight trains might have passed by every day. Young Warner would talk […]

Adventure, Family, Survival
Featured on April 16

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary


All 95th birthdays are special, but today marks this important milestone for one of America’s most beloved writers for children, Beverly Cleary. When Cleary’s characters are listed—Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, Ribsy, Ralph S. Mouse—they remind people of childhood favorites, even friends. Born in McMinnville, Oregon, on April 12, 1916, Beverly Alice Bunn lived for a […]

Animals, Dogs, Family, Humor, School
Featured on April 12

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.