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Dear Parents and Other Adults Who Spend Time with Kids,

The words "read" and "succeed" are often linked in our world.  We may hear it on the news, and think to ourselves, "Sure, you have to read to get a job, or write checks at the grocery store." But reading can be more than that. Reading with kids and spending time with them makes them feel very important, and feeling important and confident is a key to success in the world. Not only that, but connecting reading with other activities makes reading fun, and not like a chore. By making reading fun, you're introducing your kid to a lifelong friend. Reading together, and doing activities, also makes the relationship between you and your kids stronger. Maurice Sendak, the famous author of Where the Wild Things Are says it best when he says:

"I think it's an easy physical thing: When my father read to me, I leaned into him so I became part of his chest or his forearm. And I think children who are hugged, and children who are held on laps--nice yummy laps--will always associate reading with the bodies of their parents, the smells of their parents. And that will always keep you a reader. Because that perfume, that sensuous connection is lifelong.
If there's any advice I have to give, I would say it's that. If you're looking for a way to get closer to your kids, there ain't no better way than to grab 'em and read. And if you put them in front of a computer or a TV, you are abandoning them. You are abandoning them because they are sitting on a couch or a floor and they may be hugging a dog, but they ain't hugging you."
Maurice Sendak, interview with Marion Long from HomeArts, the publisher of many magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Redbook, etc.

There are many organizations that stress the importance of reading with kids, and spending time with them.  I'll list their web sites here, with brief highlights of their contents. Each of the sites has something different to offer.

Some helpful links about children's literature:

Association for Library Service to Children
This is the children's division of the professional organization for librarians, the American Library Association.  The American Library association recently unveiled a huge project called Great Sites: Amazing, Spectacular, Mysterious, Wonderful Web Sites for Kids and the Adults Who Care About Them, in which they have organized over 700 web sites for kids. You can also find an explanation of two awards given to children's books, the Caldecott and the Newbery Award, as well as a list of books and authors which have won these awards.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
This site has evalutions of children's literature. It also has a nice archives of book lists on different themes. For example, one month the list might be on ghostly stories, and the next month it might be on poetry. As this site is the companion to a print publication, you can find here the books to which they gave star reviews in the print version of their journal.

Children's Book Council
Both parents and teachers will find resources at this site, including tips on how to encourage kids to read, reading activities, and a variety of book lists for use with kids either at home or in the classroom. Each month, you'll find a new book list.   Past topics have included The African American Experience, Science and Nature, and more. The site also has pages dedicated to publishers, authors/illustrators and booksellers.

The Children's Literature Web Guide
This site is a comprehensive guide to children's literature. It has links to children's authors, illustrators and stories on the web. Their awards page features the largest collection of lists of children's literature award winners that I know of, which represents the diversity that some of the other sites might lack. It includes resource for parents, teachers and storytellers, and even for illustrators and authors.  It's probably the site I would recommend the most!

Cooperative Children's Book Center
This site has some good book lists, including "Thirty Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know."  The CCBC emphasizes multiculturalism and maintains a list of "Small Presses Owned and Operated by People of Color: Publishers of Children's Books." Their reference section also contains valuable multicultural resources.

U.S. Department of Education--Helping Your Child Learn to Read
Here you'll find ideas and activities for helping your kids to read. Includes suggestions on reading poetry with kids, too.

Helpful links about children's web sites and activities:

The Internet Public Library
This is a collection of children's web sites.  Students at the School of Information at the University of Michigan maintain the site. It includes many fun pages with links to all kind of stories, activities, and experiments.

This is a web directory/search engine that especially collects children's web sites. They include lots of links to stuff for kids to read and do. The folks at Yahoo update this site weekly, so it is very current.

Family Fun Magazine
Full of activities, this is an excellent site for parents or other adults and kids to read together. It has activities for every season and for every interest that you can imagine. This is a magazine put out by Disney. I especially like their Activities page, which has a link to 365 Outdoor and TV-Free activities.

Aunt Annie's Craft Exhange
While not addressed especially towards kids, this site has a lot of crafts that kids would love to do! The site is continuously updated by the people who use and read it, so the craft suggestions on it almost always reflect the season!

Kids Craft
This site has activities that are put up by the authors of the site.  These activities have diagrams and detailed instructions.  This site also includes a long list of activities that readers have sent in.  You'll find recipes here, and instructions for some old-fashioned games that were played before computers even existed!

These are just a few of the many sites that are out there. Combine the reading and the activities with some time spent together, and you'll really have something special.

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Created by Stefanie A. Halliday,
School of Information, University of Michigan
Last updated: December 5, 1997