Art From the Archives
Children’s Book Week is the United States’ longest-running literacy initiative, promoting reading to generations of children and teens since its first celebration in November 1919. A reproduction of that first poster, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith and captioned “More books in the home,” is on display along with 33 others – three from each decade, including Willa Alexander’s 2023 work.
Franklin K. Matthews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, came up with the idea for Children’s Book Week in 1913 and enlisted the help of visionary Publishers Weekly Editor Frederic G. Melcher and Anne Carroll Moore, the superintendent of children’s works for the New York Public Library. The initiative is now sponsored by the Children’s Book Council.
Each year’s observance is marked by a commemorative poster created by a leading illustrator of the day. The Kansas City Public Library has compiled perhaps the most complete collection of that artwork and, as part of the Library’s celebration of its 150th anniversary, invites you on a walk through Children’s Book Week history.