Let's Talk Children's Books

Great Learning

Let's Talk Children's Books

A conversation with writing, publishing & family engagement experts

In early 2019, we had a call to action for storytellers: Can you inspire caregivers to support early reading with a children’s book? The Early Childhood Book Challenge from OpenIDEO, a firm specializing in collective problem solving through innovation challenges, inspired more than 500 submissions of original stories written to engage children ages 0 to 3 and embed lessons for adults on how to support early language development.

After a comprehensive review, ten finalists were selected to work with experienced children’s book editors and illustrators to refine their manuscripts. (View the 10 finalists.) In the end, Jean Ciborowski Fahey’s story I’ll Build You a Bookcase was chosen by the Selection Committee as the Challenge winner. Her story is a pleasure to read with children and provokes adults to consider how reading and conversation play a crucial role in children’s early learning. 

I’ll Build You a Bookcase will be published by Lee & Low Books, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States. With support from the William Penn Foundation, 25,000 copies will be ready for distribution in five languages for Philadelphia families. Partners including Reach Out and Read and the city’s grade-level reading campaign, Read By 4th, will help us get the books into the homes of families with young children.

We invited Jean to Philadelphia to meet with others who are deeply engaged in thinking about children’s books – from writing and publishing to family and community engagement. Their conversation covered the role of children’s books in language development, the need for greater representation and cultural diversity in children’s literature, and the crucial role of parents and caregivers in early literacy and learning. Listen or watch the discussion below, featuring:

  • Perri Klass, M.D., National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read; author of New York Times column, "The Checkup"
  • Jean Ciborowski Fahey, parent educator, author and speaker; winner of the Early Childhood Book Challenge
  • Jason Low, publisher and co-owner of Lee & Low Books
  • Rachel Honore, Family Navigator for Action for Early Learning at People’s Emergency Center





Published: August 2019