The publishing world was saddend by the news that Anna Dewdney, 50, best selling children's book author and illustrator, succumbed to brain cancer after a 15-month battle. Her family was with her when she passed last Saturday, Setpember 3, at her home in Chester, England.
The writer of the Llama Llama picture-book series had only one request as she bid goodbye to this world. Instead of having a funeral to honor and celebrate her life, Dwedeny asked people read to their kids, according to her obituary. This was also echoed by her publisher, Jen Lola, president of Penguin Young Readers, who said in a statement: "And as we grieve, we celebrate Anna’s life, in dedicating ourselves to carrying forward her mission of putting books into as many little hands as possible."
Dewdney, who was also once a teacher, shared her thoughts about reading to kids in an opinion piece published in The Wall Stret Journalback in 2013. A good book and the joy it provides, she wrote, is often the main motivation for a child to become a reader and thrive in this world. However, Dewdney also emphasized that reading to a child helps develop empathy, an equally important value children need in life.
"When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language. We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human," Dedney wrote. She continues that through reading, a child sees the world in someone else's eyes, learns how to empathize and, at the same time, she becomes more self-aware.
Dewdney's books often tackle issues young children encounter everyday, and she writes it in simple rhyming verses. So in honor of Dedney passing, we urge you, dear parents, to read with your child. Start with these books Dewdney authored:
Llama llama Red Pajama (2005) If you get drama during bedtime, this may be comforting to your kids.
Llama Llama Time to Share (2012) Read this book to your kids who may need a little nudge in sharing their toys.
Llama Llama Mad at Mama (2008) Llama is impatient at a store and ends up with a tantrum. Mom's lesson: she needs to make shopping more fun for her and her son.
Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too (2014) Start the tradition of bonding with dad with this one, which revolves around the activities Nelly Gnu does with her dad.
Nobunny's Perfect (2008) The book is perfect for kids who need little reminders on how to behave, how to share with friends, and think of what others would feel.
Roly Poly Pangolin (2010) This story teaches kids to come out of their shell, become less fearful, and experience new things.
Grumpy Gloria (2006) This book tells the story of Gloria the bulldog who was having trouble explaining why she's feeling out of sorts after her owner--and best friend--receives a new doll. so her brother and sister try to cheer her up.
Dewedney's advice on reading to kids: "Sit down, put a child on your lap, and read a story. Have fun. Read in character and use funny voices. Ask questions about the plot and the characters. Talk about how the story makes you feel, and ask your child if she can relate to what the characters are experiencing. Laugh and cry. Be human, loving, and strong, and that will allow the children in your care to be human, loving, and strong. "
Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama series inspired an animated show with actress and mom Jennifer Garner. The series is developed by Netflix and is slated to be released in 2017.