Blowing the Horn: The Ribbon of Love

Photo courtesy of Caren Stelson.

Who would we be without the stories we read as children — or the stories we read to our children, and to our grandchildren? This is the truth: when we read our beloved stories out loud to children, cozy, side-by-side, the ribbon of love wraps around us. Together, we become more empathetic friends because of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. We grow more patient with ourselves because of Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We are in awe of nature as we imagine walking in the woods by the light of Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr’s Owl Moon. We still hold those memories close, though years have passed and my children have children of their own.

Now I’m reading to my grandchildren the same classic titles and new ones too: David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka’s How to Apologize, Jacqueline­ Woodson and E. B. Lewis’s Each Kindness, all of Kate DiCamillo’s­ beautiful middle-grade novels, and more. All the picture books and middle-grade novels I have read, all the articles and reviews published in The Horn Book Magazine, have helped me find my voice for my own books for children.

I sent my son Aaron a copy of my recent nonfiction picture book Stars of the Night, illustrated by Selina Alko, a World War II story about saving Jewish children on the Kindertransport. “Put it away for a few years until your children are older,” I suggested. Too late. My precocious five-year-old grandson, Reid, spotted the book. “Read it, Daddy.” My son did [see above]. “Well?” I asked. “Reid had a lot of questions,” my son answered. “Mostly he was surprised by me. I had tears in my eyes.” I don’t think my grandson had ever seen his father cry over a story. In that moment, my son and my grandson were held together by that ribbon of love reading a children’s book with my name on the cover.

Happy Centennial Birthday, Horn Book.

Thank you for honoring children’s literature for all of us — past, present, and the important future.

From the May/June 2024 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Our Centennial. For more Horn Book centennial coverage, click here. Find more in the "Blowing the Horn" series here.

Single copies of this special issue are available for $15.00 including postage and may be ordered from:

Horn Book Magazine Customer Service

Full subscription information is here

Caren Stelson

Caren Stelson wrote Stars of the Night: The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport (Carolrhoda, 2023), illustrated by Selina Alko.

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