Books have always meant the world to me. As a young child, my family always read to me and as I got older, we continued to love reading together as a family. It is so wonderful to share the stories with others. In grade school, I wrote a book and made copies to share with my classmates. My love of stories and storytelling was inspired at a very young age and continues to this day.
I have created two of these unforgettable characters in my series, “The Adventures of Maddie and Albert.” Maddie, with her mischievous daring and Albert with his witty intelligence give children two very different characters with whom they can relate. I imagine countless children have, and will continue to, fall in love with these endearing characters. In reading about Maddie and Albert, children can imagine their own bravery, witness zany, funny adventures and see a special friendship evolve between two unlikely personalities. Maddie and Albert have distinct – and fairly opposite- personalities, which allows for both outgoing and more introverted children to find a hero. And there’s even a beagle named Houdini. Magical indeed!
National Children’s Book Week (November 7-13) is a great time to celebrate the amazing characters that allow children to encounter new perspectives, make them feel less lonely, empower them, let them feel a myriad of emotions or to simply take them on new and exciting adventures.
Here are 5 great ways that you and your children can celebrate the fabulous characters created by so many talented authors during National Children’s Book Week:
#1. Have your child dress up as their favorite children’s book character. This does not need to be elaborate or entail purchasing anything. Simply recreate the character’s dress as best as your costume box (or closet) allows. Maddie and Albert go on so many adventures that recreating one or two of their looks (safari outfits, summer clothes, square glasses or a red hat) should be easy enough. Children love to emulate the dress and mannerisms of people they admire. Then let them tromp around town all day dressed like this.
#2. Have a favorite book swap with other children from school, play group, daycare or the neighborhood. Encourage each child to bring their favorite book (of the moment) either from their personal library, the school or the local library and put all of these in a box. Have each child pull out a new book to take home and read. Get together again to return everyone’s book and let the kids talk about the characters. Did they like them? Relate to them?
#3. Write a letter to a favorite author. Authors like myself love to hear from young fans, especially about characters that they have created and that readers have connected with! Writing letters also helps young readers learn the format for letter writing, practice writing their own (and the author’s) address and feel quite “sophisticated” as they take the letter to the nearest post office. Sometimes they even get a reply!
#4. Act out a scene from a favorite book. Find props around the house and find siblings or other kids to play parts. For the truly creative book lover, scenery is fun to create. And you can always bring out those costumes they created earlier to make it an (almost) official play. Off, Off, WAY Off Broadway here they come.
#5. Create a life-sized favorite character from a book. Get a roll of (cheap) printer’s paper. Trace your child’s form and then have them add clothes, hair and accessories for a favorite character. These can hang in your child’s room later.
Here’s to the characters that help our children grow, learn and relate. Here’s to the characters that are sometimes not even real but help us learn to be better at being real. Here’s to the characters that are strong, funny, sad, beautiful, unwieldy, loud, quiet, young and old. They are the magic that creates life-long readers – and also decent humans. And here’s to National Children’s Book Week, which gives us a dedicated week (or two –there was actually another one back in May) to celebrate the many books in which these characters live.
Alexandra Adlawan is a writer and illustrator from Long Beach, CA, and creator of the Amazing Artists publishing company. A naturally gifted visual arts and written word communicator in reaching children, Alexandra enhanced her skill set by graduating from Exceptional Minds – a professional digital arts & animation studio for artists with autism. Alexandra’s children’s book series includes, The Adventures of Maddie and Albert, Wild Imagination, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Flying the Imaginary Skies, and Backyard Jungle.