Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day

National Buy a Book Day?

September 7 is National Buy a Book Day. Did you know that? I've always wondered how these little known holidays came into being, and I now know how this one started. Philip Athans, a bestselling author of fantasy and horror novels, admits he made it up.

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Grafeek at Pixabay

His heart was in the right place. He saw independent bookstores closing and disappearing from neighborhoods. He wanted to help keep booksellers and publishers in business. He thought if he could encourage millions to buy a book on a certain day, it would bring in new business and help some bookstores stay open. Of course for that to have much of a continuing effect, buying books would have to become a habit. For me it's always been a habit, and my house will testify to that. Truly it now overflows with books. 

Support Independent Used Booksellers 

I still like to support independent booksellers, but most have left my area. One can still support independent used booksellers on line at and the Independent Online Booksellers Associaton. When I was still selling books I was a member of both organizations.

 Although many of those sellers also sell at Amazon, they can provide better service and consolidated shipping if you purchase the same books from them at through the websites listed above. I usually look there first for used and rare books. 

If you have questions, you can even ask the booksellers for more information about the books they have listed. You can usually call them or email them with questions. They can even tell you if they have unlisted books on similar topics.

 Amazon often makes mistakes in transferring information from bookseller databases. They may list paperback books as hardcover editions, and vice versa. Independent sites leave bookseller descriptions intact so that they are more accurate. If you are in doubt about something in a description, you can always call the bookseller and ask. You may even be able to negotiate on prices. Help keep independent booksellers in business., used to be an amazing online book search and selling cooperative, but it no longer lists books for sale. It has retained much of the book reference content written by the members. Book lovers may want to check it out.

Why Buying Books Encourages Children to Read

As my biographical sketch here reveals, I've always had my nose in a book. I was fortunate because I had a relative who bought books for me on every gift-giving occasion. It helped me acquire my reading habit. 

Every child should have the opportunity that I had. First I had many adults in my family who loved to read to me and I learned to love books that way. The people who gave me books read them to me over and over as I requested them. Those books became part of me. Because I owned them, they were always there for me to look at and read, once I learned how to read at the age of three. If I got stuck on a word, an adult helped me. Having an assortment of books to choose from makes it easy for a child to learn to read and enjoy reading. But a committed adult needs to keep reading aloud those books beyond a child's reading vocabulary. 

Buy Books That Will Hold the Interest of Your Children 

When I was young, excellent picture books were very few. Nonfiction picture books to satisfy children's curiosity about the world around them were as yet not published. Gail Gibbons, a prominent author and illustrator, a pioneer in this new genre, is a year younger than me. When I was young her books weren't even ideas in her head yet. Today you can buy one of her marvelous books for your young child who wants to learn more about sharks, whales, libraries, art, and a number of other subjects.

Each Gibbons book presents a series of pictures that tell a story or explain a process or the way something works. Many pages are divided into several frames, like comic strip frames, but the pictures in each frame are in the style you see in the image below. Children will return to these books repeatedly because of their bold colorful illustrations and the information they impart. 

Book Reviews: Buy a Book for a Child to Celebrate National Buy a Book Day

Some of my favorite books for today's lucky children are about animals. I'm a great fan of cat stories. Click to get more information on books you see below and some of my other favorite animal story picture books. Why not make one of these the book you buy for a child today?

picture books about animals

Board Books Your Child Will Love

Are your children too young for books with paper pages? Even babies can discover books without destroying them if the books have board pages.

Be sure to pick the best board books from the hundreds now available. The babies and youngest toddlers need large bold colorful illustrations with distinct shapes. They don't need many words. Some of the books also have textures for children to feel. These can be searched for as Touch and Feel Books. The classic book of this type is Pat the Bunny. 

Young children have loved  Pat the Bunny for decades, but it gets mixed reviews. Some feel the comb binding is too easy to destroy. After looking at my own copy, I can see why this might be true. It appears that some adult supervision may be needed with the youngest children. The pages themselves are not as sturdy as those of a board book. I would recommend this for toddlers, but not babies.

This book is has been in print since 1940 and is still a best seller. It is popular because children can pat what feels like bunny fur, play peek-a-boo with a character in the book, smell flowers, (yes they do have a scent), look in a mirror, feel a daddy's scratchy face, read a book within a book, and put a finger through a ring hole. It is best if parents read this book to children a few times before letting them read it on their own. That will help children better understand the activities. Since the book and its illustrations are so old, all characters are Caucasian, and that may be a drawback for some people.

The Bright Baby board books you see below are perfect for the youngest children. The large uncomplicated pictures are easy for toddler eyes to take in. The colors are bright. The pages I saw had three or less words in large dark print. As with other books for this age, adults should read the book with the child several times and talk about the pictures and words. This helps children develop basic vocabulary as they learn to talk. It also helps them look at the books in a more knowledgeable way independently.

The board books below are examples of the kinds of books to choose for a toddler beginning to be interested in words. I love all of Sandra Boynton's board books. Her pictures invite conversations between the children and the adults reading to them. She is not afraid to use the big words with interesting sounds that children love to learn and speak -- like hippopotamus. But she also uses short rhyming words that are easy to pronounce and read such as cat, rat, frog, and bog. Children adore seeing Boynton's animals do silly things they would never really do. These books are wonderful vocabulary builders that hold children's attention.

Guess How Much I Love You reveals the truth that words can't really explain the limits of love because it has no limits. Parent do love their children more than words can describe.

Diggers and Dumpers is an example of the best type of special interest nonfiction books for young children. My Jason had an avid interest in trucks and construction vehicles. At five years he knew more about big rigs than I did. This is a book that would have been just right for him between one and three, and he would have continued to look at it even longer. The illustrations are large and clear. The words are in large type. They tell children the names of the vehicles they like to watch, and they explain what these vehicles do. That's what children this age want from nonfiction -- a way to talk about what interests them, whether vehicles, flowers, animals, or everyday objects and activities.

Lois Ehlert is a children's author and illustrator known for labeling the objects in her bold colorful pictures that emphasize the shape of things. Click that author link and you will see all her books I discuss here. Planting a Rainbow, shown below, explores the steps in planting a flower garden in very simple terms, with few words, in giant print. Unlike ordinary word books, Ehlert's books tell a story or explain something in a child's world in a way that makes sense to them. She continues the gardening theme in Growing Vegetable Soup and then exhibits the fruits and vegetables that a garden produces in the alphabet book Eating the Alphabet. Most of her subjects are related to art and nature, so it's easy to find one of her books that is just right for your child. 

When choosing a board book or any picture book, try to choose books with originality and style. There are many books with mediocre art or based on popular media and Disney characters that children already see enough of. Give them new fresh characters and art. As your children get to be school age,  give them picture books that will develop an appreciation of many art styles. I personally love the picture books of Thomas Locker that display his magnificent landscape paintings as he tells his stories or explains science concepts. Help your children develop a taste for fine art by choosing the picture books that use it.

Wouldn't you like to celebrate National Buy a Book Day now by buying a book for your favorite child? Publishers, authors, and booksellers will thank you. And don't limit book buying to one day of the year. Let's keep authors and publishers motivated to continue giving us more quality books for our children by helping them earn money through our purchases.

celebrate national buy a book day

Which book will you buy? What is your favorite picture book? Did your children have a favorite?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. What a wonderful national day to celebrate and how perfect that it happened to fall on your post day! This is a great way to encourage children to read and to support the smaller book stores. You have featured several children's books that my children own and that they loved. "Guess How Much I Love You" was a book that my husband bought for our daughter when he was away on a trip. It was the perfect gift for her when he returned home. Pat the Bunny is another one you will find on my children's book shelves. For now, I am the keeper of they childhood library, but I am sure the time will come when those books are passed down. The gift of a book is so much more than just a present for a particular moment.

    1. I'm glad you kept your children's favorite books. I was planning to pass mine on to my grandchildren, but, of course, I'll never have any. I can only wait for my nephews to have children, and one of them isn't even married yet. Many times when children grow up they remember their favorite books and want to buy them for their own children only to find them unavailable or terribly expensive.

  2. Books, books and more books! I love them all. But you know its a shame that I know so many people who cannot read or can barely read. They actually do not care to learn, I would be wondering in this world lost without reading and my books.

    1. When my daughter came to me she was in third grade and couldn't read. It took a few years to get her up to speed and then she began to read on her own. It took my brother a long time to earn, too, since he was dyslexic before anyone knew what that meant. He just thought he was stupid when his friends were reading and he wasn't. He resisted trying to learn after that because he thought he couldn't. Fortunately he did finally get help, but reading still isn't his favorite pastime as it has been mine.

  3. Well I can't afford to buy a book today. I do think making it a national day is a great idea to spread the word. I tend to buy my children and grandson a book each Christmas, Easter and for their birthday.

    1. Sandy, we used to buy books for Christmas and birthdays, too. On birthdays we took them to the children's bookstore and let them pick one special book. Sometimes we'd buy more than one.

  4. Books have always played a big part in my life and the lives of my family members. Reading is such a joy and instilling the love of reading in a child at an early age will help them learn the same pleasure we enjoy today. My favorite stores are bookstores and it's such a shame so many have closed down today. I fully believe in supporting independent book sellers in particular, especially used book stores. This is a perfect day to celebrate books.

    1. I celebrate books every day. My house is still part bookstore. At least it's still got the inventory. Amazon helped put many of us out of business.

  5. I need to start stocking up on books for our future grand-baby! Fortunately, his parents and both sets of grandparents are all readers so I know he'll grow up surrounded by books. Love the children's titles you've featured, Barb.

    1. Susan this is just a sampling. As I was looking for some of them I wrote about, I kept seeing more I wanted to include. I guess I'll do more book blogging between now and Christmas. All the books I love would never fit into one blog post. I know your grand-baby will get off to a great start as a future reader with you seeing to his book needs.

  6. What fun looking at all the titles and remembering when our kids read these books!

    1. It's amazing to realize how many books I've been through. I have to admit that I love picture books.

  7. I love reading to my grandson over internet video chat. It's not always easy to find a book that holds his interest across the miles. I see some in your list that might be just perfect.

  8. My daughter loved the Lynley Dodd books, they had lovely rhyming stories that she could relate to and she also used words like cacophony because she didn't believe that you had to only have small words in board books for children. Her illustrations were beautiful too. I think my daughter had every single one of them, my parents used to buy them for her as they lived only an hour from where Lynley Dodd lived in New Zealand.

    I passed them on to a work colleague as she loves reading to her grandchildren and apparently these books have become firm favorites and all four of her grandchildren have a different favorite which is great.

    I always received a book at every birthday and Christmas as well and I've always given my daughter one for her birthday and Christmas too - I think reading is a wonderful fuel for the imagination which is always a good thing to encourage.


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