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BSA librarian helped start Children's Book Week

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Before 1920, publishers were known to publish an occasional book for boys and girls, but no publishers had “Children’s Book” departments per se. A few hundred children’s books might be published each year, but the costs for printing illustrated books in color was still high and the market was not well defined.

Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, embarked on a nation-wide tour to advocate for better standards in children’s literature. At the time, relatively few kids’ books were published each year—in part because printing color illustrations was expensive—but Matthiews was a firm believer in the importance of children’s literacy.

 He joined forces with Frederic G. Melcher, the influential editor of Publishers Weekly, and Anne Carroll Moore, the Superintendent of Children’s Works at the New York Public Library to convince the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association to sponsor a “Good Book Week” along with the Boy Scouts of America.

His advocacy led to the launch of Children’s Book Week in 1919, an annual celebration of books for little ones.

2019 marked the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week , April 29 – May 5. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books. 




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