When Bad Words Are Said to Good Children

Should bad words be read to children? This question surfaced last week when children’s author Dan Gutman posted his response to a parent letter on Facebook asking whether it was appropriate to use the N-word in books for young audiences. Gutman rose to fame with his My Weird School series. The wacky volumes, beloved by … Continued

Books, Culture

The Everlasting Appeal of Natalie Babbitt

Whether they recognize her name or not, most elementary school students know Natalie Babbitt very well. They know her through the pages of her book, Tuck Everlasting, which seems like a typical children’s story but in fact masterfully raises a complicated question of immortality, namely: What if we could live forever? This week, news of … Continued

Books, Culture

Why Character No Longer Counts in Presidential Biographies for Children

American documentarian Ken Burns has written a new book for children called Grover Cleveland, Again! The book is colorful and fun, and the title is taken from his own children’s lyrical recitation of the American presidents in chronological order—and the need to say Grover Cleveland’s name twice (he was the 22nd and 24th president). Each … Continued

Books, Culture

The Virtues of Attila the Hun—and Other Stories

Hungarian history isn’t a staple in elementary or middle school curriculum these days, and it’s rare to see a Kate Seredy’s book on a child’s reading list. Ask your kids about Hungary and you might hear a reply like, “Yeah I’d love some dinner.” But in the early twentieth century, Seredy, a Hungarian-born illustrator by … Continued


Why Ramona Quimby Still Matters

Even though she’s turning 100 years old today, Beverly Cleary still has the same fiery spirit as when she wrote her famous Ramona books, starting back in 1955. Although she’s sold over 91 million copies of her children’s books, one of which was made into a Ramona and Beezus movie starring Selena Gomez and Josh … Continued


The Simple Magic of a Tree House

In a 2003 online chat with Mary Pope Osborne hosted by the New York Public Library, the author of the widely read children’s series Magic Tree House was asked, “Will anybody make a movie about the Magic Tree House?” Osborne was firm in wanting her books to be just books: “I don’t want any movies to … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Movies

What Happens When Homes Have No Books

Carol Rasco, President of Reading is Fundamental, recently asked, “Can you imagine a childhood without books?” Rasco’s piece noted that two-thirds of the country’s poorest children don’t own a single book. These children are little different than the character Francie, the poor girl living in the Williamsburg slums of New York in 1912, who has … Continued

Books, Culture

Fear and Friendship in ‘Goosebumps’

As a young girl, I devoured the bags of Goosebumps stories my mother brought home from the used bookstore as one would devour bags of buttered popcorn at the movies. To my young mind, R. L. Stine’s books were genuinely horrifying, captivating my imagination in a way that many contemporary writers don’t seem to have … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Movies