What is The Week of the Young Child?
Every year since 1971, the National Association for the Education of Young Children sponsors a weeklong celebration called The Week of the Young Child.
The 2023 Week of the Young Child (WOYC) takes place from April 1-7. The WOYC aims to focus attention on the importance of the early childhood stage, recognize the value of early childhood programs, and community services that support young children and their families.
What can you do to support Week of the Young Child?
Continue to connect with your community’s early childhood education community in meaningful and mutually beneficial ways. Invite early childhood educators to your library for free workshops where you introduce them to wonderful new books and other materials for young children. Ask them how the library can support them. For example, can you set up a book deposit program where you select and loan out a box of books for them to exchange every month or so? Ask them about what they think families need to help them support their child’s early literacy growth. For example, what are their ideas for how the library can help parents as they get their kids ready for the big transition to kindergarten?
Use the Week of the Young Child’s themes to promote the importance of early childhood. To jump on the WOYC initiative right now, you can quickly put up engaging displays that align with the week’s themes of music, food, science, art, and family. You can also download the 2023 WOYC logo and get lots of other ideas at the WOTC Activity Resources page.
Here are a few suggestions for some of fantastic picture books that will get you started on your Week of the Young Child book displays right away. Listed alphabetically by title, each recommendation is linked to its publisher’s page. These books all celebrate the beautiful diversity of our communities, and most of the book creators on this list are Indigenous, Black, or People of Color (IBPOC).
A young girl uses all her senses to take in the sounds and rhythms of her vibrant community. Colorfully exuberant, this delightful picture book will have everyone up and moving to the rhythms that surround us all.
Gloriously illustrated by renowned Julie Flett (Cree–Métis), this is the picture book version of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song about the changes that come with turning seasons and enduring love between people near and far. Culturally attuned to Sainte-Marie’s Cree ancestry, this absolute masterpiece includes sheet music for the original song as well as a Cree language glossary.
The addition of a train, a fire truck, an ambulance to this rollicking, Spanish-English version of “Wheels on the bus” means fun for everyone. Try this one at storytime for some bilingual singalong fun!
Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock
Sent on an errand to deliver some bannock to a relative’s house, Awâsis accidently drops and then asks the animals for help gathering the ingredients she needs to make another bannock. This engaging and softly illustrated story includes Cree words, a pronunciation guide and a recipe!
Come along on a delicious week of tasty dishes as a child shares the various ways she eats kimchi, such as pancakes, dumplings, kimbap seaweed rolls, stew, rice, and noodles. Everyone will be hungry after this read-aloud!
Omu’s stew smells so delicious that her neighbors all ask for some, but soon there’s none left for Omu! Her generosity is quickly rewarded though, as her neighbors return with a potluck feast as well as a handwritten show of gratitude.
Work Together Wednesday
A little lost duckling joins a group of busy construction vehicles in this adorable, touching story of persistence, love and family. Who knew a duck could be such a good helper on a construction site?
Lift, Mix, Fling! Machines Can Do Anything
Levers, wedges, pulleys, planes, wheels and axles are all brought to colorful life in this engaging information book that explores simple machines. Rhyming text and a diverse group of people are shown using these everyday machines.
A young narrator shares the excitement and wonder of the bike that she and her brothers build with tin cans, branches, and an old flour bag. Readers will share in the kids’ joyful exuberance as they ride over sand hills, fields and beyond!
In this delightful tribute to the powers of imagination, a group of school children gather their art supplies and go on a most extraordinary field trip. Inspired by the natural beauty of their surroundings, they begin to draw the dinosaurs that seem to spring up all around them!
Mira loves turning blank paper into colorful works of art that she hopes will brighten up her gray city. One day, she meets a muralist who helps her and her neighbors transform the drabness into something beautiful.
In rhythmic, simple prose children are shown how gathering, making, and waiting are intrinsic to all the things they make. Children will delight seeing a cake, a garden, a wind chime, a story, a mask, a birdhouse and more come to life in this lovely ode to creativity.
A young girl forages for berries, gathers seaweed, and catches salmon with her grandmother who shares their Tlingit culture along the way. Gorgeously illustrated, this Caldecott honor book celebrates the delicious bounty of the land.
A family gathering gets way too large to fit inside Grandma’s little home but the problem is solved when a small guest comes up with a solution: they head to Grandma’s backyard to share their meal outside instead! This book doubles as a counting book as well as a warm family story.
Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones
All around the world, babies are carried by the people who love them most: their families. This delightful book celebrates this closeness and love across diverse family structures, abilities, and locations.
What other picture books on the WOYC themes of music, food, science, art, and family do you recommend? Share your favourites in the comments below!
Tess Prendergast worked as a children’s librarian for over twenty years and now teaches librarianship and children’s literature courses at The School of Information, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. She has served on many ALSC committees and now facilitates the Preschool Services Discussions at ALA Annual. You can read more about her work here and here.