Episode 97: Celebrating Children’s Book Week and Introducing Small Kids, Small Talk

In this episode we discuss Children’s Book Week and a little history of children’s books. Then we announce Small Kids, Small Talk – a month of daily texts to keep talking about important things even in the crazy, busy-ness of May. Sign up here: https://link.terriehellardbrown.com/text.

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids.

This week, we are celebrating the upcoming week of Children’s Book Week, and this has been celebrated for over 100 years in America. And it began back in 1919. So this is pretty exciting. In this week we emphasize children’s literature and children’s books and with your kids, if you’re homeschooling, to take that time to really focus on reading some great children’s books would be really wonderful. So the week of May 2-8 is children’s book week. The history of children’s book week, it says: “Children’s books, as we know them today, have been around since the 18th century with the earliest of the genre being educational books, books on conduct, and simple ABCs.” And this is from the NationalToday.com website. “Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Songbook, published by Mary Cooper in 1744, is the first known nursery rhyme collection. However, the most celebrated of the pioneers in children’s literature is John Newbery, whose first book for the entertainment of children was a little pretty pocketbook, is widely considered to be the first modern children’s book.” And we have the Newbery Award in children’s book publishing named after him. And he became known as the father of children’s literature and “set the tone for the literature of years to come.” Then when we think of children’s literature, after that, some of the most famous ones are Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Those are some of the first examples of novels written specifically for children. Since then we have Charlotte’s Web and the Little House series and Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden, and many, many more that were novels written specifically for children. And then we come to the era of picture books later on after that.

So a brief history of picture books, if you’re curious. I find all of this fascinating. Picture books didn’t show up until about 130 years ago in the 1800’s. The first illustrator who took the illustrations from just being an illustration in a text, like we would see in some of the early novels written for children, but where the pictures became a part of the story–so that would be what we really call a picture book because the pictures help tell the story–that would be with the illustrator Randolph Caldecott. And you may have also heard of the Caldecott Award for children’s literature and illustrations. And you’ll see that stamp on the front of some of the picture books that we get today, but he was one of the first illustrators, and he’s the one that elevated the illustrations into becoming part of telling the story–visual storytelling.

And then we see picture books really taking hold in the late 19th century, early 20th century. And that was because publishing became better, and they could publish picture books more easily with the colors. On the atlantic.com, and I’ll have that link in the show notes, there is an article all about picture books. It’s very interesting, but one of the things it says is, “The first three decades of the 20th century germinated such timeless classics as Curious George and the Babar stories…Then in the 1950’s, a peculiar cultural shift began to take place. The line between artists and authors started to blur, and a crop of famous graphic designers set out to write and illustrate picture books as a way of exploring visual thinking.” In this article it gives you lots of examples of early picture books–what the illustrations look like, how they’ve changed over the years.

Then we come into our most modern day picture books that we are most used to when we come into the 1960s, 1970’s, and beyond. And of course today we have so many picture books to draw from, and I just love the genre. I think it is such a brilliant way to introduce a story, to make it come alive through pictures, and to intrigue our minds with concepts–with ideas. What we see today is every kind of doctrine, every kind of belief, every kind of worldview is reflected in picture book–from the ones that we just think are terrible personally, to the ones that we embrace. And so we have to be aware of what we’re reading, what we’re teaching our kids, and how each picture book is teaching something. I know a very few, although there are some, a very few that aren’t teaching something. Children will glean these ideas from the picture books they read, from the novels they read, and from the movies they watch. And so as parents, we want to be aware. That doesn’t mean we want to protect them from everything and not let them hear any other ideas, but to be prepared, to discuss those ideas with our kids. I’m going to be doing a podcast about that coming up soon about how to read a book–what if you get a picture book that is disturbing or maybe they read it at school, and so you want to bring it home and talk about it with your child. What if you get a really odd picture book, what do you do with that? So we’re going to do an episode about that. I’m going to read a few excerpts from some really interesting and very strange picture books that are a little–well, are definitely not from the traditional, historical Christian worldview. And what would I do if I found out my children had been reading this book, and I wanted to bring up a conversation about it. So watch for that episode. We also have some really great interviews coming up. I’m so excited to share with you some of the interviews that we have coming up, I hope you’re enjoying the ones we’ve had so far. So let’s get back to talking about what we’re going to do with children’s book week.

This week, as we prepare to jump into Children’s Book Week, think of what book you would like to read with your children this next week. In addition to hopefully having a reading time each day for them to just read silently on their own and encourage them to embrace reading because it’s so, so important. And I know you’re already busy and you may not want to add one more things to your schedule, but this would be such a great time to take your kids to the library. If you don’t already have library cards for them, why not go this month of May or this week of Children’s Book Week, get a new library card for your kids, have them get some books to read during this week, but then also see what your library has going on for the summer. They usually start in May talking about their summer programs, and they often have storytelling days. They have different guests come in, or they have a reading challenge program. I know some of my students used to volunteer in our local library over the summer to help students with reading, and it was really wonderful. So check and see what your local library has going on for the summer. This next week, as you’re going into celebrate Children’s Book Week, you can be prepared for a whole summer of reading. I will be posting some lists for the summer–some suggested book lists for the summer, and your teachers probably will do the same thing with your students, but in case they don’t, I will have those available on my website before the summer begins so that you have a list of books that you can look into for your children to read, and they will be based on different levels of learning and the different reading levels. So I’m just excited that we are almost finished with another school year. We have a lot going on. We are preparing for a great summer in addition to getting ready for Children’s Book Week.

I wanted to also talk to you about a very exciting thing that we’re doing at “Books that Spark” and on my website, terriehellardbrown.com for the month of May. It gets so crazy with the end of school and trying to navigate everything, getting ready for the summer and vacation, Bible school, mission trips, and just everything seems to hit in May. We can lose sight of staying focused on discipling our kids. We can lose sight of even communicating with our family because life is just being thrown at us in rapid fire. So I thought it would be kind of fun to do Small Kids, Small Talk texting for the month of May.

So for the month of May, each day, you can receive a text from me. The plan is on Sundays, I will send you the memory verses that we have each week, which you can also access on all my social media. We’ve been doing those for the entire school year. And now as we’re coming to the end of the school year and finishing up these two verses a week for the summer, we’ll be tackling a whole portion of scripture and working to memorize a whole section of scripture over the summer. But for now we’re still on the two verses a week that we’ve been doing through the whole school year. And these will continue through the month of May. On Sundays, you’ll receive a text with those. Then, you’ll have them on your phone, in your text messages, so you can see those.

On Monday through Friday, I will send out a prayer prompt so that if you are driving your children to school or to soccer practice or ballet lessons to whatever you have going on, then on the way to that event, you can spend some time in prayer together. And just one little prompt to help you as you pray together. And of course, you’re not limited to that. If you have something else that’s on your mind, that’s pressing, that’s important, you can pray about that, but it’s just a reminder to use those opportunities. When you feel like you’re just sitting in traffic to use that time to pray together. And then as you’re picking up your child and coming back home, you will also have a discussion question and these questions are meant to open the door to some fun, interesting, sometimes silly discussions, sometimes very serious discussions, but hopefully to open up the door for some teachable times together, when you can share your faith and you can also see where your child’s heart is. That’s one of the main reasons for these prompts–to help us keep tabs on what our children are thinking, what they’re going through as we come to the end of the school year–to kind of find out if there’s anything going on that we need to talk about and deal with. So you’ll have those conversation prompts each day, except on Friday. On Friday, they get to ask you a question. So I would encourage you on Mondays to suggest that they think about, all week long, what question do they want to ask mom and dad on Friday. And so on your trip home from school or from whatever event or activity, the children can ask you a question that you can answer. I think that that is just going to be a really fun time to see what your kids are curious about, what they’re thinking about, and what they want you to share with them.

And then Saturday, we have a prompt for prayer as a family, for our church, for our pastor, for the things that are going to be going on on Sunday. And so we pray on Saturday together.

And if you homeschool, these of course become table talk point points around the classroom table or the kitchen table. And you can use them in any way you want, but it’s just meant to help us as we get through the crazy month of May to be able to stay connected and to really focus on where our kids’ hearts are, where their heads are, as they’re coming to the end of the school year. I mean, they’re facing a lot of changes, a lot of activities, maybe an end-of-the-year school program, that’s stressing them out or end-of-the-year tests that they’re really concerned about. And we can help them to navigate these last few weeks of school and the changes that are coming up, just to help minister to their hearts during this time.

The way that you can join this texting, you can do it even today. The daily texts will begin May 1st, but you can certainly join today and be ready to go. And the way you do that is on my writer page on Facebook, my Facebook group, or in Instagram, any post that is in there, you can write “text,” and it will send you to the portal for joining. And it will ask you, “Did you request to join?” And you say, “yes,” and then you’ll be on the list. Now on Twitter, you can click on the link that will be in Twitter starting this week, and it will do the same thing. And we are setting up What’sApp, Messenger, and regular texting on your phone. So if you’re in the United States, you can sign up through your text messages. You’ll get it on your texts on your phone. If you are outside the United States, you are still a part of this, and you can sign up, and you will receive messages through either WhatsApp or Messenger, depending how you sign up. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to message me. You can direct message me through Messenger [or Instagram Messages], or you can reach me by commenting on this post on my website. And there is also a link on my website that you can sign up there for the texting as well. And that’s on my main page at terriehellardbrown.com.

I’m hoping this will really help us as we get through the end of the school year. So this will give us an opportunity to stay connected with our kids, with our family. And hopefully it will be a really wonderful time of blessing for you. At the end of the month, you’ll receive a link to click on, to get an article I wrote on how ask open-ended questions and some of the things we need to think about when we’re really trying to keep those conversations going with our kids.

The goal is that we find natural ways through our daily lives to disciple our children, just as it says in Deuteronomy 6:5-9. This is a reminder that whether we’re walking, getting ready for bed, eating dinner, whatever we’re doing, we can be teaching and discipling our kids. And as we memorize scripture, and we focus on scripture, they see us growing in our faith and growing in our understanding of God as well. And so we’re leading by example. That’s what I’m hoping to encourage all of us to do in May–to take those few minutes that’s here and there while we’re in traffic or while we’re around the dinner table to focus on God and focus on discipleship and focus on each other and staying connected during this end of the year,

I look forward to seeing you in the text group. I look forward to hearing from you on my blog post. Please comment, like, and share. We always appreciate that so much, and it helps other people know we’re here. If you know someone who would appreciate getting the daily texts for the month of May, please let them know and have them join us as well. Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions, as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts, if you would like to join my mailing list and get my monthly newsletter and be notified when I post a blog or a podcast episode, you can find me at terriehellardbrown.com. On that opening page, you can sign up for my mailing list and/or you can also sign up for the texting in May.

Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.


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