When a child opens a book, they are opening a door to a world that will provide many benefits to their young minds. Reading will help children expand their vocabulary and communication skills and it helps them explore their imagination. Along with many benefits, books offer children the opportunity to gain critical thinking skills, and they teach children the importance of diversity. Since books are so valuable in children's lives, it is an honor to recognize some of the authors and illustrators that dedicate their time filling pages with enriching words and engaging pictures. Although we appreciate these artists all year round, the first week of February is dedicated to celebrating the work of all children's authors and illustrators.
This week can be celebrated in many ways. One way to celebrate these artists would be to write a letter to a children’s author and/or illustrator where you express to them how they impacted your life. This is a great time to involve the little ones in your life; sit down with them and help them write a letter to their favorite author. This will not only touch the artist’s heart knowing that they are making a difference in children’s lives, but it will also make children aware of the hard work that is put into the books they read, which can encourage them to appreciate literacy even more. Another way to celebrate is to volunteer at the library or a classroom to read a story to children. Of course, the best way to celebrate would be to read often to the children in your life and encourage them to become avid readers.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”– Margaret Fuller
Ashely Bryan is a children's author and illustrator. Bryan was born in Harlem, New York in 1923. His love for art was evident even as a young boy—he showed a lot of artistic talent which led him to receive a lot of praise from his parents and teachers. In 1962, he became the first African American who published a children's book in which he was both the author and illustrator. Most of Bryan’s writing is inspired by his own experiences as an African American. His book Beautiful Blackbird encourages the reader to learn to love and appreciate their heritage and it helps them see how beautiful their own heritage is. This book became and continues to be one of Bryan’s most popular books, and in 2004, this book won a Coretta Scott King Book Award. Other books written and/or illustrated by Ashley Bryan include I Am Loved, Can’t Scare Me!, and Let it Shine.
Angela Dominguez is the author and illustrator of many bilingual books for children. Some of her picture books are written in both English and Spanish, and they are great tools when teaching a child a second language. She has also written a book series where she tells the fictional story of Stella Díaz, a Mexican American girl who slowly overcomes her shyness. After a year of writing the story about Stella, Dominguez realized that she was subconsciously creating a character based on herself. Dominguez was born in Mexico City, but right before her second birthday, she, along with her family, immigrated to the United States, and she was raised in Texas. Now, Dominguez teaches at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Many of her students are aspiring illustrators, and she is passionate about passing down the knowledge she's gained from her personal experience as an illustrator.
Eric Carle was an author and illustrator best known for his books The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Carle died last year in May 2021 at the age of ninety-one leaving behind his colorful and engaging books for children to enjoy for many years to come. He was the recipient of many awards throughout the years, and many of his books have also received multiple awards. Carle’s books are loved by parents and educators because they engage children with their beautiful, unique artwork and it helps children with their emotional and intellectual development.
"Ultimately, my aim is to entertain, and sometimes to enlighten, the child who still lives inside of me." -Eric Carle