Guest post by JEN Garrett

Labor Day maybe the only official holiday on your September calendar, but there are plenty of reasons to celebrate during the month, especially if you love kid’s books.

Labor Day (September 5th)

First celebrated in 1882, this holiday honors the hard-working people of America. There’s some debate about who started the idea, but no debate about why. Labor Day celebrates everyone who works hard and earns a living.

To celebrate the everyday unsung heroes of America, check out the picture biography section of your library. One of my favorites is The Woman Who Invented Windshield Wipers – the story of a woman who saw a need before anyone else. Those around her thought she was crazy, but now there isn’t a car made without wipers to keep the rain off!

One Word from Sophia helps young children understand the role of unions in American Society. Sophia demonstrates sophisticated skills in negotiation when she asks for a pet giraffe. Today unions all over the nation negotiate with bosses to make sure workers are treated fairly. Labor Day was a like a pet giraffe for workers!

Since Labor Day celebrates hard work, Truck Stuck is another great book. In it, children entrepreneurs cheer up a neighborhood with their lemonade stand when a semi gets stuck under a bridge.

For a full history about the holiday, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Grandparents Day (September 11th)

This special holiday always falls on the Sunday after Labor Day. Some argue it’s just a ‘greeting card holiday’ but don’t let that stop you from celebrating. Here’s your chance to thank your grandparents for all they do. Don’t have any? Then use this holiday as a reason to adopt one. Or two! (You can never have too many grandparents.)

If you’re wondering the best way to show your grandparents love, How to Baby-sit a Grandma and a Grandpa is a boxed set of manuals – er – children’s books with step-by-step instructions.

Roald Dahl Day (September 13th)

Roald Dahl would be 100 years old on this day, and a whole slew of Whoopsy-splunker kiddles are celebrating. Join the fun with Roald Dahl’s enchanting books. While I’d recommend every single one, a true celebration goes beyond the pages. Here are three simple ideas to bring a few of his wonderful books to life.

While reading about the lovely frobscottle in The BFG, ask the children if they would like to see it. They will think you are being silly, until you take a bottle of soda and turn it upside down. Then have the children turn themselves upside down to see the bubbles going toward the bottom instead of the top. Alternatively, you can use a little movie magic with your webcam. The more soda in the bottle, the better this trick will work.

What would you do if you had The Magic Finger? Let readers celebrate with “The Magic Finger Game.” One child has the Magic Finger and draws a picture in the air. Whoever guesses what is being drawn ‘catches’ the Magic Finger and gets to draw something for the rest of the group to guess.

After enjoying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, let your readers create scratch and sniff wallpaper by painting flavored gelatin on cardstock. Mix the powder with two cups of cold water to thin and use watercolor brushes to paint. After it’s dry it will smell (and taste) like the flavor of the gelatin. WARNING: this fun craft is not meant to be long-lasting as it might attract ants and other creepy crawlies.

International Dot Day (September 15-ish)

According the official website, “International Dot Day celebrates creativity, courage and collaboration.” Join the fun and proudly ‘Make Your Mark’ just as Vashti did in Peter Reynold’s The Dot.

In the book, Vashti doesn’t think she can do art. But when her teacher puts Vashti’s little dot on display, the girl learns to take pride in her work and let creativity take over. This book, along with Peter’s other wonderful story Ish, are the basis for International Dot Day.

Do your readers need extra encouragement to make their mark? Help budding artists learn from Bridget’s Beret, where Bridgette gains confidence in her ability after losing her lucky hat. Or have readers work on a collaborative project like the characters in Louise Loves Art, and Chloe and the Lion. The finished artwork will make great decorations for the Dot Day celebration.

And what’s a celebration without music and food? Enjoy dot-ish snacks such as pizza, crackers, and donuts while dancing to Emily Arrow’s great song about The Dot. Also, be on the lookout for her new song “Thinking Ish-ly”!

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th)

My friend Bitsy Kemper loves to stump us with her favorite pirate joke: “What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?” to which everyone playfully replies, “R!”
“Ah, you’d think so,” Bitsy says with a twinkle in her eye. “But no, his favorite letter is the ‘C’.”

Whether you’re plundering through a normal day at school or learning to get along with other not-so-piraty land-lubbers, the turbulent waters of life are always easier to get handle when you take it like a pirate.

Aye, Matey, what better way to do that than by celebrating Talk like a Pirate Day!

While there’s no shortage of great pirate-themed children’s books, here’s a treasure map to a few of my favorites:

  • A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade – journey with imaginary pirates as a boy encounters first grade with courage of a sailor.
  • Pirates Vs. Cowboys – when pirates and cowboys compete, no one wins. But when they find common ground, they truly have something to celebrate.
  • Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate – No Talk Like a Pirate Day would be complete without a book that teaches how to celebrate like… well, like a pirate!

Young ‘uns will probably enjoy simple the piraty celebration, but let the older readers dig deeper into the treasure trove of books to separate the facts from fiction surrounding the pirate legacy.

JEN Garrett

JEN Garrett

JEN Garrett writes for, about, and around children all day. But sometimes she finds time to do the dishes at her home in Northern California. She also finds time to be the Critique Coordinator in her local SCBWI region, visit her local library regularly, query agents, and read mountains of books. How? We don’t know.

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