Thursday, May 6, 2010

Children's Book Week, Then and Now

We've come a long way, babies. Children's Book Week, which celebrates the best in children's literature, is close to 100 years old. It kicks off Monday and runs through May 16, and features author events in bookstores and libraries around the country, as well as online celebrations.

In many ways, this year's celebration is not too different from past years. Kids are still wandering the stacks at their local or school libraries and pulling books off the shelf. They're still discovering "new" authors and books, like Treasure Island, just as they did in 1919 when the first Children's Book Week was celebrated.

But a few things have crept onto my radar recently that are giving me grins about Children's Book Week. One was a teaser to help get kids excited: Parents or teachers can send kids a personalized Children's Book Week e-card. I couldn't help but think that those digital darlings who would enjoy the card might also like downloading their book as well.

Then I read an Amazon ad that pitched downloading free Kindle copies of classics like Treasure Island onto the iPad, Blackberry, or any other e-reading device. And that's when I realized how far we've actually come.

Kids today have so many avenues for accessing quality media. And the ease and convenience of getting books into their hands is unprecedented. Sure, those hands might already be holding a video game. But a classic or contemporary novel is merely a click away. Think about it -- as these kids (or Mom and Dad) tote around their iPhones, iPads, Kindles, or the like, they're also carrying around a vast library of books.

They have a world of wonderful reading available to them, literally at their fingertips.

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