Every Child a Reader, the charitable arm of the Children’s Book Council, has announced its plan to enhance Children’s Book Week, the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country, launched in 1919. The 98th celebration of Children’s Book Week, spanning May 1–7, 2017, will feature an increased number of events, reformatted Children’s Choice Book Awards, an enhanced online presence, and additional promotional materials available to participating bookstores, schools, and libraries.

Shaina Birkhead, programming and strategic partnerships director for CBC and Every Child a Reader, emphasized that amplifying this annual reading celebration reinforces the organization’s core mission. “Children’s Book Week is one of the cornerstones of Every Child a Reader’s literacy work, and we are pulling out all the stops for the biggest and best Children’s Book Week yet,” she said. “Our goal is to more than triple the number of library, school, and bookstore events nationwide.”

A key component of next year’s CBW will be a new online registration process for libraries, stores, and schools, scheduled to begin in January on Every Child a Reader’s first-ever dedicated website, which is still in development. Registrants can request a specific quantity of the official 2017 CBW poster, which will feature the art of Christian Robinson and a roundup of activities on the back. They will also be encouraged to share their plans for celebrating CBW, whether with story times, activity hours, or author appearances—or a combination of events.

The new website will feature downloadable event kits and Children’s Choice Book Award voting kits, press release templates, and original bookmarks by four prominent, yet to be announced, children’s book illustrators.

Also available on the site will two downloadable Every Child a Reader original booklets: a Spanish-English first-words coloring book and a graphic novel-like comic book based on CBW’s 2017 theme: One World, Many Stories. Jeffrey Brown, Mike Maihack, and Gene Luen Yang are three of the 15-plus authors and illustrators whose work will be featured in the comic compilation, which is being coordinated by Matt Poulter, CBC’s membership and marketing director, who also created the coloring book.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on this bilingual alphabet booklet,” said Poulter. “It was important to us that one of the first publications we created should supplement books available to young Spanish readers. Every Child a Reader has always inspired a love of reading in children and teens, but now – alongside the CBW comic—we’re in a position to directly create materials that kids will love to read.”

Getting Out the Vote

The plans for marking CBW 2017 also include changes in the scope, voting schedule, and announcement of the winners of the Children’s Choice Book Awards. Though in prior years the awards were announced during Children’s Book Week, in 2017 the voting will begin on February 28 and continue through May 7, the final day of the celebratory week. This will give stores, libraries, and schools a chance to host balloting for the awards as part of their CBW activities. Award winners will next year be announced on May 31, in conjunction with the ABC Children’s Group/American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) art auction at BookExpo.

Carl Lennertz, who became executive director of CBC and Every Child a Reader in August, credits his “incredibly devoted and hard-working staff” for helping to effect the changes aimed at growing CBW excitement and participation. “Though we encourage CBW participants to register online, which is a very simple and quick process, the downloadable materials are available to anyone,” Lennertz explained. “We want to make participating in the week-long celebration easy for everyone, everywhere.”

Lennertz, a self-described “small-town kid,” expressed hope that local newspapers, newsletters, and bloggers will help spread word of the week-long celebration throughout all corners of the country, bringing a spike in the number of CBW-themed events nation-wide – no matter how low-key.

“We’d like to encourage booksellers, librarians, teachers, and parents to use the activity-filled posters and the giveaway books to tie even a routine story time into CBW,” he added. “It doesn’t have to be an Event with a capital ‘E.’ The important thing is to energize the entire children’s book world and bring as many kids and parents together as possible to celebrate this wonderful annual tradition known as Children’s Book Week.”