One book can make all the difference

One book can make all the difference.

Maya Angelou said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

Since 2006, the One Book, Every Young Child program in Pennsylvania has taken the sentiment to heart by working to introduce preschoolers across the state to one selected book and help spark a lifetime of reading.

“The idea behind Pennsylvania’s One Book, Every Young Child program is to support, spread and enrich early literacy for preschoolers and their families,” said Susan Slater, children’s librarian at Warren Public Library, said. “While children should experience a wide variety of books, this Pennsylvania program exposes children across our fine state to one special book each year. As children become familiar with the book, children all over Pennsylvania will enthusiastically recognize the book when they see it. Most will repeat the title and say, ‘I know that book!'”

This year, the program has selected the book “The Bus for Us” by author and illustrator Suzanne Bloom.

According to a press release on the 2013 program, “This story follows Tess on her first day of school as she waits with her friend Gus for the bus.”

Bloom is no stranger to the program as her story “A Splendid Friend, Indeed” was chosen as the featured book in 2007.

“Beginning in 2006, the Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child program put into motion a brilliant idea. If you want to inspire children to read, bring them books, and authors, and illustrators – up close and personal. Present to preschoolers, and gather families at the library, for a story time with the actual author,” Bloom said. “It is such an honor to be that personal connection between stories and students.”

As part of this year’s effort, Bloom will be making three stops in Warren on April 8. She will be appearing at South Street Early Learning Center at 8:30 a.m. for students enrolled there, in the Slater Room at Warren Public Library at 10:15 a.m. for a program which is open to the public and at 1 p.m. at the Warren County YMCA for a program involving several area preschools.

“The One Book program is especially enriched for those who get to meet the author,” Slater said. “Interested libraries must apply. If granted a visit, the librarians try to involve as many preschool- and kindergarten-aged children as possible. Each year, the state provides all libraries with several copies of the book, plus supplemental materials such as bookmarks, posters, family fun guides and stickers.

“Children who attended Toddler Time at the Warren Public Library on April 1 received a copy. For the past month, we have been passing around a bookbag of Suzanne Bloom’s many titles to all of the preschools and schools that will be visiting with her on April 8 so the children will be knowledgeable of her other titles.”

Bloom, who also visited Warren during the 2007 program, said she enjoys the experience as well.

“Every book I write and draw starts with a blank piece of paper, a pencil and my imagination. I sketch and scribble and doodle, There are lots of do-overs and cross-outs until I get it just right. Then, when it’s a finished book and I get to read it out loud to kids and families, I admit it – I like to ham it up.”