After reconfiguring this year’s Children’s Book Week into an entirely virtual format because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader wrapped up their annual literacy celebration for an online audience of booksellers, librarians, and educators. From May 4–10, participants engaged in programming that ranged from author readings and virtual story times, to drawing and speed painting demos with children’s book illustrators.
Here is a snapshot of how #BookWeek2020atHome played out this year:
A Partnership of Epic Proportions. The CBC joined forces with digital library service provider Epic to make children’s books available free of charge in honor of the 101st Book Week. Through Epic’s Remote Access Student Promotion, educators can utilize a collection of 40,000 books for students through June 30. The library is comprised of three to five books for pre-K through sixth grade in assorted genres and formats (audiobooks and e-books included).
Video Celebrities. Six National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature—Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, Gene Luen Yang, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jason Reynolds—appeared in self-made videos, promoting Book Week while sheltering in place. Posted on the CBC’s website, these videos include personal messages from each author, encouraging participants to keep reading and to share their experiences online using the #Bookweek2020atHome hashtag.
Anna Dewdney Award Recipient Reading. The recently announced fourth annual Anna Dewdney Read Together Award, which went to Thank You, Omu!, was incorporated into the Book Week festivities. On May 8, author-illustrator Oge Mora read aloud from her winning title, which was live-streamed on Every Child a Reader’s Facebook page.
Book Creator Celebrations. Author-illustrators who were originally slated to participate in in-person Book Week events instead connected with their fans virtually. Using #BookWeek2020atHome, they took to social media to appear in online panels, discussion groups, and instructional demos. Among the events were Claribel Ortega (Ghost Squad) and Daniel José Older (Dactyl Hill Squad) in a “Dinosaurs, Ghosts, and Gods, Oh My!” forum on May 1; a drawing demo with Hyewon Yum (Lion Needs a Haircut) on May 3; and a live experiment with author and science professor Kate Biberdorf (Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments) on May 6.
Bookstore Extravaganzas. Booksellers and librarians across the country tweaked their live events for their online customers and patrons. Some of the revamped events included a bilingual story time on Facebook Live at the Warner Library in Tarrytown, N.Y., on May 5; free activity sheets with pick-up or delivery at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, N.C.; and a one-chapter reading of James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks by Newbery Award winner Kelly Barnhill in Minneapolis on May 5.
Social Media Blowout. Having publicized the shift to an online format four weeks in advance, the CBC reported that #BookWeek2020atHome had a reach of more than 1.1 million. “We are so honored and thrilled by the level of participation in this Children’s Book Week,” said Shaina Birkhead, associate executive director at the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. “It was a joy to see book creators, booksellers, librarians, teachers, publishers, and readers all come together online to celebrate and share in a love of books. Every day we felt connected with a community that extends nationwide and beyond, and is dedicated to sharing amazing things with kids.”