Picture Book

Some Picture Books Are a Little Scary


I was thinking about Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, and how as a child I was both drawn to and scared by the story. If you don't know, this book for preschoolers and primary grade children features a little black fish who must undertake the classic hero's journey after his entire family is eaten by a giant tuna. While I love to share this book, I recommend it carefully. No one deserves to get frightened when they're not looking for a scare. But what about when they are?

In School Library Journal (www.slj.com) John Peters notes that, "do you have any scary stories?" is second only to "where's the bathroom?" in the list of most commonly asked reference questions from very young children. We have a natural instinct to protect children from things that might frighten them, but what are they telling us when they ask for these stories? According to Peters, children who ask for scary stories are "searching for ways to articulate, control, or at least build a little resistance to the fear that comes from feeling surrounded by a world rife with shadows, sudden dangers, and unknown rules."
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What's Your Favorite Dr. Seuss Story?

I find it hard to pick a favorite Dr. Seuss story... I enjoy both the early reader chapter books and the longer stories that I remember my parents reading to me as a child: Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Yertle the Turtle, and even What Was I Scared Of? (probably because those pale green pants were a little creepy). But on a cold, cold wet day like today, I'd have to say that my favorite Dr. Seuss story is The Cat in the Hat, Seuss's first book for beginner readers.

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss story? Let us know. And share it with a friend to help celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2. This is Dr. Seuss's (Theodor Geisel's) birthday, and a day that the National Education Association honors by calling for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult. We'll be celebrating on Saturday, March 5th with some Seusspicious events. Join us!

Ruth and the Green Book


When I got my first car, I couldn't wait to take a road trip of my own. I'd spent plenty of time in the "wayback" of the family station wagon as a kid attempting to read while my Dad switched the radio back and forth from baseball broadcasts to classical music stations. Now I'd be in the driver's seat and could choose what to listen to and when and where to stop for a rest break! The road atlas was my guide as I set off on my own from Chicago to visit my brother in Pennsylvania.

When Ruth and her family set off in the early 1950s on a road trip from Chicago to Alabama, they needed something in addition to a road map to guide their trip. They needed "The Green Book." "The Green Book," author Calvin Alexander Ramsey explains in his picturebook Ruth and the Green Book was developed in 1936 by a postman named Victor H. Green to help black people who were traveling. The book listed by city all the restaurants, hotels, gas stations and businesses that would serve African Americans during the era of "Jim Crow" laws when many establishments, especially in the South, refused to admit blacks.

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