Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

How Gutenberg Changed the World

While some predict the imminent demise of the printed book, some profess that the printed book will continue on in perpetuity. I stand with the second group. As much as I enjoy the convenience of ebooks, there is a majesty to a beautifully illustrated and bound printed book that not even the most colorfully animated ebooks can equal. There is so much ephemeral electronic correspondence today that a printed book, by its sheer mass and substance commands a certain amount of respect. Or, perhaps it's simply the history of the printed book that I revere.

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World lavishly presents the early history of the printed book as pioneered by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450.  Categorized as a biography, this new picturebook by James Rumford focuses more on Gutenberg's revolutionary invention of the printing press, than on the life of Gutenberg himself. Each richly illustrated double-page spread describes the process of creating a book as a mystery of sorts, asking the reader to guess the elements that formed the finished product: "What was this thing made of rags and bones?" and answering on the next page: "It was paper, and it was ready."

The epilogue to this book notes that Gutenberg's invention remains a bit of a mystery, as no one knows for sure how he was able to produce such beautifully crisp and clear letters in the 1400s. But some of the books he produced more than 500 years ago endure to this day. In fact a copy of one of those books resides in Bloomington at the Lily Library on the campus of Indiana University. The Gutenberg Bible rests in a glass case on display in the Lily Library, open for anyone to visit. 

From the Good Mountain concludes with an illustration of computer circuitry, suggesting that as hand copied books gave way to printed ones, and printed books give way to ebooks, perhaps it doesn't matter at all what books look like -- what form they take -- as long as people keep writing and reading them. What are you reading today?

Oskar Loves Letters!

This is Oskar playing his favorite game. He knows the names of all the letters in the alphabet and he loves to take these magnetic letters off the wall and carry them to his parents. They were wise to help him make learning fun. All children need to know the names of the letters and the sounds they make before they begin school and learn to read. Oskar is on his way to becoming a great reader!

April is National Poetry Month

Sonnets, Haiku, Free Verse... Shel Silverstein, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost... There is a poet and style of poetry to suit you. You can sample a wide range of poetry in the juvenile nonfiction collection between 808.81 and 821.92: individual poems, collections of poems, poems to ponder silently to yourself, poems to read aloud. If you want to memorize a special poem, you might peruse a collection like: Poems to Learn by Heart, selected by author Caroline Kennedy, pictured to the left.

You can also create your own poem -- from your imagination or observation. If you look carefully enough, you can find poems all around you -- like on the spines of books at the library -- just waiting to be discovered:

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Find other ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month at ReadWriteThink.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Pete the Cat has been a cool cat fixture in children's literature for a couple of years now. He first appeared on the picturebook scene in 2010 with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, followed by Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes in 2011. Each story features Pete singing a little ditty, which you can listen to and download for free through the publisher's website. (You can also watch a short video of each Pete the Cat through the website, too.)

Light and Shadow: Preschool Science and Math

Light and Shadow

Groundhog's Day has come and gone, but the shadow of its promise of longer, warmer days lingers! For preschool science in February, we explored the world of light, reflection, and shadow. These activities are meant to promote lively discussions between children and their adult partners, which builds vocabulary and knowledge of the world.

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