One month ahead of its official launch date, this year’s Children’s Book Week is unveiling a host of activities and resources now available online for registered participants. Of note are the 19 book creators who have been tapped to lend their voices and artistic abilities to the 2021 event. “The theme, “Reading Is a Superpower,” has inspired us to empower young people. We really want them to start exploring their superpowers in April, so they can celebrate themselves, their own stories and the books they love,” said Shaina Birkhead, associate executive director of the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader.
Having adapted programming into a largely virtual platform in response to the pandemic, the CBC remains committed to providing a comprehensive roster of offerings for at-home usage. “This year we have added new ways for kids to participate in Children’s Book Week, beyond the traditional attending of events at bookstores, libraries, and schools,” Birkhead said. “We have also focused on accessibility and have worked hard to create materials that kids can use whether they have a printer or not.”
Here is a snapshot of the 2021 CBW campaign.
Strength in Numbers. Helping to generate excitement for the week-long initiative, running May 3–9, is the Superpower Challenge campaign. A mix of videos, quotes, poems, and drawings will be provided by current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds, along with former ambassadors Jon Sciezska, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, Gene Luen Yang, and Jacqueline Woodson; Christopher Myers will offer a special tribute to his father, Walter Dean Myers. Book creators Sophie Blackall, Carin Berger, Tracy Deonn, Angela Dominguez, Paola Escobar, Aram Kim, Jessica Love, Juana Medina, Yuyi Morales, Jordan Scott, Duncan Tonatiuh, and Mo Willems will also share videos, and arrangements with additional book creators are in the works. In the videos, Reynolds likens himself to a “superhero doctor,” while Blackall says, “I don’t believe you have to be perfect at something for it to be your superpower”—with each seeking to inspire young readers in search of their own talents.
Bookmarks, Activities Ready for Download. The five 2021 CBW bookmarks, designed by artists Angela Dominguez, Paola Escobar, Ebony Glenn, Oliver Jeffers, and Aram Kim, are now available to print. In addition, Superpower Challenge activities in nine themed categories, such as environment/climate and mental health/wellness, enable readers to develop new interests and explore existing ones. To enhance these activity lists, assorted publishers have included book recommendations for each category. “Our friends at the Brown Bookshelf have also contributed to these lists with titles featuring diverse creators, characters, and topics,” Birkhead said. Participants are encouraged to share their superpowers for inclusion in an interactive map, which will be updated throughout May.
No Printer? No Problem. Furthering CBW’s accessibility for all readers, 18 artists will create step-by-step downloadable drawing activities to engage budding illustrators. Each activity focuses on drawing favorite characters and is geared for all ages and abilities.
Celebration Central. Regardless of where readers are located, suggested celebration ideas for schools, libraries, and bookstores; home environments; and book creators/publishers are available online. A blog post featuring public virtual events for attendees from May 1–9 will be published in late April. Publishers and book creators are invited to submit event details here.
Pledge to Participate. With more than 2,000 schools, libraries, bookstores, and at-home participants signed up to receive Book Week posters, 2021 has become a record-breaking year. There’s still time to register here.