Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Celebrating Books

by Marion Ueckermann

August saw me and hubby looking after our two grandsons aged 7 and 3 ½ for almost three weeks while our son took his wife on her first holiday overseas to celebrate a special wedding anniversary.

We had lists of instructions pasted on our refrigerator, as well as the pantry door—what medications the boys needed to take, their habits, what was happening at school, etc. We also had a detailed itinerary to track where mom and dad were on any particular day.

The last week of guardianship was the most instruction-laden week of them all. Liam had the fire brigade coming to his pre-school on the Friday, so we made sure to haul out his fireman’s hat and water hose complete with water tanks that strapped to his back. Phoenix had to dress up as a Disney character on Wednesday at his school, Maragon, and on Thursday he had to bring a wrapped book to school. The cherry on the cake was that last week, I had homework. Not Phoenix—the parents! And as we were the stand-in parents and hubby was at work all day, homework became my responsibility. I managed to keep up…most days. I had to play a game with Phoenix every day. Liam joined in—sort of. I also had to do a sentence story game—sometimes I handed this over to grandpa to do while they showered. Finally, I had to read Phoenix a book. Liam loved benefitting from this. Fortunately, we still have a few Disney storybooks in our bookshelf that hubby used to read to our boys when they were young.

Great excitement preceded dress-up day. We had a Mickey hat from Disneyland when we’d visited Euro Disney in Paris with our two boys about sixteen years ago, and Phoenix had a red gown, so we planned before his mommy left that Phoenix would be the sorcerer’s apprentice from Fantasia. He was so excited and looked pretty good. Only thing, somewhere I missed the instruction that he didn't need to have his school uniform on for later. Poor kid was probably the only one with school shoes and trousers sticking out from under his Disney character disguise. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to bother him in the least.

When I saw Australian author, Rose Dee, post pictures on Facebook of her son dressed as Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events for Book Week, and then my niece who lives about 1500 km away in Cape Town sent photos of her daughter dressed up as a witch (and doesn’t every good fairy tale need a wicked witch, even if she tends to appear rather gothic), the penny suddenly dropped that what was happening at Phoenix’s school was far bigger than just a book week at Maragon.

I investigated this matter further to write this blog and discovered:

·  it was National Book Week in South Africa, or maybe Children’s Book Week because it appears that this week is National Book Week (who knows, I live in Africa)
·  in Australia it was CBCA Children’s Book Week
·  in the USA, it seems Children’s Book Week happens around May
·  the longest-running national literacy initiative in the USA was established as long ago as 1919

My research also led me to another two dates—World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is on the first Thursday in March, whilst World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day is a yearly event held on April 23rd and organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright.

Another thing I found out was that this coming Friday, September 8th, International Literacy Day is celebrated. The theme this year is ‘Literacy in a digital world’ and a global event will take place in Paris at UNESCO’s headquarters. Their aim? To investigate what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programs that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

Even though so many different celebrations and dates, one thing is evident…all around the world, and all year round, there are initiatives to promote reading, especially with children.

What about your corner of the world? When do you celebrate National Book Week, or Children’s Book Week? What were some of your favorite books you read as a child? And what do you think about reading becoming so digital? I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the above.

(Images used with permission.)

MARION UECKERMANN's passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest's no longer so empty.

Visit Marion at www.marionueckermann.net

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  1. What fun you and your two grandsons had! I loved bringing books to life with my pre-school class when I was a teacher. The class loved acting out stories using simple props. I also made books for them by writing simple sentences at the bottom of pages which they would then illustrate before I stapled them (the pages, not the children!)together

    1. What great ideas, Ruth. And what satisfaction you must have in knowing you're responsible for having instilled a love of reading in children.

  2. We love book week every year. The only rule I have is that Tully has to pick an actual book character - and one he's read. Just my sneaky way of getting him to read more. Not that he needs a lot of encouragement. He loves reading. This year was the best. He looked just like Count Olaf, and he had so much fun acting out the part.
    I always tell new Mums that one of the most important things you can do for your child is to read to them. There are so many benefits in doing this, for mother, child and family.
    And I didn't know Book Week was celebrated all over the world. How wonderful.

    1. Tully made an awesome County Olaf, Rose. Thank you for allowing me to share that with our readers.

  3. In the USA - National Day of reading is March 2 - Dr. Suess' birthday! All March volunteers read to children in primary/ elementary school. Mid September is banned book week were high school students explored why books are banned and read a banned book. Have heard of International reading Day. Since school started today, I rotated the granddaughters books. All fall, Halloween, & Thanksgiving books were brought out. Spent an hour reading to them. Also doing fall finger plays - 5 apples hanging in a tree, five squirrels, five pumpkins? Preschool starts next week! Interesting blog.

    1. I LOVE Dr. Seuss!! Banned book week ... interesting. What a privilege it is to read to our grandchildren! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  4. Sounds like you had a fun time. I loved the Bobbsey Twins. I enjoy my ebooks, but I still enjoy print copies too.

  5. I've never heard of the Bobbsey Twins, Ann. Yes, ebooks are SOOOO convenient, but there is nothing to beat the smell and feel of a paperback.

  6. I loved seeing all the photos from around the world celebrating Book Week. Some parents and g/parents went to a lot of trouble. But the fact books were celebrated just warmed my heart. There's lots of life left in books! Hooray.

    Thanks Marion for sharing your post with us and all those cool photos.

  7. Loved this post, Marion. I knew nothing about any world-wide book celebrations, but then the children in my life don't live anywhere near me. :-(
    My favourite books as a child were Enid Blyton, and I have a fun story to tell about her stories and my family, but I think I'll keep it for my next post. :-)

  8. I loved Enid Blyton, too, Shirl...The Secret Seven, The Famous Five...spent many hours with those kids LOL. Glad to have given you a story prompt, or should that be post prompt?