Happy National Children’s Book Week!
Have you read “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman?” If you haven’t, you should, because it’s kind of extraordinary. Like all the best children’s books, it feels both absolutely real and completely made up, in the way that all the best children’s books are. It’s a book that’s best read around Halloween, when it’s windy and grey outside and the air smells sweet and sharp, and Christmas is still too far off to matter, but change is in the air. I reread the book every year. Some people prefer “Coraline,” which is also a wonderful Neil Gaiman book, but “The Graveyard book” is really special. And no, Neil Gaiman isn’t paying me, although I would recommend going on his website became it’s great. You may as well follow him on twitter as well.
I discovered “The Graveyard Book” at our local library, which I had passed by for many years without actually going in. It’s not the most confidence-inspiring place from the outside, but I can say in all honesty that the library has been hugely important to me. For various reasons I’d been in sort of a funk, and one day I just stopped and looked at the building and went in. “The Graveyard Book” had recently won the Newbery award and it had been written about a lot, and I am giving away absolutely nothing when I say that it opens with a murder, which doesn’t happen that often in children’s books. I was intrigued, so I took the book out. And although the book itself has a kind of dreamy pallor, as if seen though a smoky mirror, for me it was kind of the reverse–like the color had been leached out of things, but now it was slowly seeping back in.
I returned the book and took it out again. A week later a battered old copy appeared in a giveaway box at the library. I took that as a sign, though I’m not sure of what. But I started going to the library every week and was reminded anew of how remarkable libraries are. Yes, the beautiful ones in small New England towns are great, but the whole concept—you can take out books and read them and give them back and take out more–and it’s all free! —is pretty remarkable. And there’s just something incredibly welcoming and comforting about a library, unlike, say, Macy’s, which just wants to know how many tubes of foundation or throw pillows you’ll be purchasing.
We at e.t.c. are big fans of libraries and children’s books, which is why we offer so many programs that have to do with writing and books. You can try your hand at writing stories for children–whether you’re an adult or a kid. You can write poetry, or even try your hand at writing mock TV commercials. We offer “book birthday parties,” based on favorite children’s books, and “musical book birthdays”—an actual group will play the score to a musical children’s classic like “Tubby the Tuba” while someone else reads the story. You can even have a “Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” party.
We work with people who love books as much as we do—children’s librarians and ‘tween authors and poets, and people who head to a bookstore first thing on their annual trip to the shore.
Check out our programs: etccusomevents/workshops. Then celebrate children’s book week by taking a kid to the library, or rereading a book you loved as a child.
And let us know what you think of “The Graveyard Book.”
Have you loved or been affected by a children’s book? Tell us how!