Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time...Reading is Fundamental ~ G.P. Putnam, 1986

Though technically not a children's book, the other day I stumbled on a funny little paperback and was taken in immediately by all the different illustrators showing force on the cover. Upon deeper examination, I realized it was (as its subtitle states) a book "Celebrating the Magic of Children's Books in honor of the Twentieth Anniversary of Reading is Fundamental". Those of you from my generation might remember RIF coming to schools and civic organizations and giving books away.

Now another two decades have passed and apparently, they are still doing that. As for this book, back in 1986, some folks at RIF got together with some folks at G.P. Putnam... and they got together some famous children's book authors to create a book about how books, reading and writing enlightened those artists when they were little. The contents are heartwarming and inspiring to say the least. Filled with loads of touching illustrations and passages (Maurice, Shel, Kellogg, Tudor, Lobel, Marshall)... here are some excerpts:

Natalie Babbitt (author of Tuck Everlasting) ~ Each of us has to live, finally, in her own little piece of the world, doing many things in the same way day after day, seeing the same old face in the mirror. But with books added to the day, you can be quiet content. With books, your inner world has no walls. And in reading--and writing-- stories, you can be many different people in many different places, doing things you would never have a chance to do in ordinary life.

Trina Schart Hyman (author of Little Red Riding Hood) ~ My mother is a beautiful woman with red hair and the piercing blue gaze of a hawk. She never seemed afraid of anyone or anything. It was she who gave me the courage to draw and a love of books. She read to me from the time I was a baby, and once, when I was three or four and she was reading my favorite story, the words on the page, her spoken words, and the scenes in my head fell together in a blinding flash. I could read! The story was "Little Red Riding Hood, and it was so much a part of me that I actually became Little Red Riding Hood. My mother sewed me a red satin cape with a hood that I wore almost every day, and on those days, she would make me a "basket of goodies" to take to my grandmother's house. (My grandmother lived in Rhode Island, three hundred miles away, but that didn't matter.)

Jack Prelutsky ~ I Met a Dragon Face to Face

I met a dragon face to face
The year when I was ten,
I took a trip to outer space,
I braved a pirate’s den,
I wrestled with a wicked troll,
And fought a great white shark,
I trailed a rabbit down a hole,
I hunted for a snark.
I stowed aboard a submarine,
I opened magic doors,
I traveled in a time machine,
And search for dinosaurs,
I climbed atop a giant’s head,
I found a pot of gold,
I did all this in books I read
When I was ten years old.

Dr. Seuss ~ The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

A marvelous collection of stories and memories to commemorate a priceless organization. If you want to be inspired as an artist or a writer or a parent who reads, look no further. Simply magic! Two thumbs up for RIF and four decades of reading!!!!


Antmusic said...

Oh... a dream book.... It reminds me of the posters that I love for Children's Book Council Children's Book Week (unique book related pictures by Mercer Mayer, Tomi Ungerer, and more). Great fun little gems that I'd love to have hanging in my house.

Carol H Rasco said...

What a lovely post, thank you from RIF! For our 40th anniversary we put out another book, this time featuring illustrators: THE ART OF READING in which 40 beloved illustrators re-imagined a personal favorite childhood book's illustrations. http://www.rif.org/art/

Carol Hampton Rasco
Reading Is Fundamental

Chandra said...

TSH's Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite books of all time! And that quote is so fabulous! She *is* red riding hood! So am I! And so is my daughter! And so is everyone who believes in the power of a good story!

Unknown said...

What a great collection! I love the quotes. Reminds me of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book - a daily read for me.

Christine said...

Now I want both the 20th and 40th anniversary books! Gorgeous.

Janna said...

Oh how interesting. I had a poster with that first Wild Things illustration that said "Reading is Fun" or something like that... it was up in my playroom for all of my early childhood. Seeing as this book came out in 1986 and I was born in 87, it seems the poster was probably a tie-in with the book.

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