The Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books (CTTCB) began as an idea promoted by Lucy Goldberg and Jude Matthews of the Baker Demonstration School Library. It continued as a formal proposal developed by National Louis University faculty and staff: Peter Fisher, Ken Kantor, Carolyn McKenna, director emerita Gail Bush, and founding director Junko Yokota. This proposal led the September 14, 2006 grand opening of the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books. The center is housed within the Skokie Campus of National Louis University in a warm, welcoming, museum-like boutique space. From the beginning, their mission has been clear: “to promote excellence in teaching with quality literature for children and adolescents.”
In an era of high stakes testing and data-driven schools, this Center holds true to their belief in the power of books to transform students, classrooms, and schools. Like the mission of the center, most classroom teachers share this passion for children’s and adolescent literature. Some teachers will tell you that the reason they became teachers is because of their love of books. Other teachers will wait in line at midnight for the latest copy of The Hunger Games trilogy. Despite all of the uncertainty of standards, tests, and educational law, the love of books remains a common thread for teachers across Illinois. The CTCB values this thread and recognizes the importance of providing opportunities at their Center to ensure that this love of literature remains in classrooms.
Each year, the Center hosts children's literature authors, illustrators and scholars. Authors Marin Budhos, Ann M. Marin, Laurie Lawlor, Christopher Paul Curtis, Peter Sis, Avi, Leonard Marcus, Ifeoma Onyefulu, Laurie Halse Anderson, Janet Wong, and Andrew Clements have all dazzled audiences of teachers, students, and community members by bringing background and life to their books at the center.
One of the most popular events at the center is the annual ALA Booklist and Book Links Editors’ Revue. Each February, this highly anticipated event includes engaging book talks by the editors of the ALA’s Book Links and Booklist magazine. Each editor presents a list of recommended picture books, novels, informational books, graphic novels, poetry, and collected stories. Each book shared is chosen not only for its popular appeal or literary excellence, but its practical use in classrooms. Each book shared by the editors becomes part of a special exhibit at the center.
Other exhibits at the Center have included the USBBY Outstanding International Books, IBBY Honour Books, Hans Christian Anderson Award Nominees, SCBWI-IL Local Author and Illustrators, ALA/ALSC Growing Up Around the World: Books as Passports to Global Understanding for Children in the United States, IRA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Awards, National Book Awars for Young People’s Literature, and Peter Sis-The Wall and Other Books in Many Languages. Teachers, students, librarians, writers, artists, and community members are all welcome to visit the Center where they can engage with these books, many of which are rare and difficult to obtain.
The Center works tirelessly to promote not only teaching through literature, but also international understanding through teaching with children’s and adolescent literature. The center collects a wide range of current, historic, multicultural, foreign language, and award-winning literature for children and adolescents and works to promote awareness and discussion of social-justice issues as they relate to children’s literature. Their multicultural book collections emphasize reading globally while teaching locally. Since 2009, the Center has hosted a Global Fair featuring international authors, speakers, crafts, food, and music. They have also promoted international understanding through their professional development opportunities,
The Center values practical, hands-on professional development. Each year, CTCB provides institutes, workshops and presentations where educators may come and participate in professional development by engaging with the exhibits. The Center regularly provides summer institutes for educators, librarians, and students. Past institutes have included “Indivisible: Teaching for Social Justice through Literature for Children and Adolescents” featuring Bill Ayers and Deborah Ells, the IBBY Regional Conference, “Children’s Books: Where Worlds Meet,” “Teaching Multiple Literacies Through Children’s Books” featuring Candace Fleming, and most recently, “Teaching Through International Storytelling and Bookmaking” featuring Anne Pellowski. These institutes give educators the opportunity to engage, discuss, and create materials for practical use in education.
In accordance with their mission to foster a community of children’s literature educators, the Center created a “Donation Station” to place books in the hands of teachers and students. Each year, CTCB receives multiple copies of books by publishers of children’s and young adult literature. The Donation Station encourages schools, libraries, social service agencies and other organizations to apply for a donation of books to distribute to children and young adults in connection with a sponsored program or event. The teachers, librarians, and other representatives who work directly with the children are then able to come to the center and select the books themselves. Each group is provided with enough books so that every single child has a choice of the books selected.
Through their extensive collection of children’s and adolescent literature, extraordinary exhibits, engaging professional development, exciting author visits, and generous donation station, the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books serves the reading, literature, and library community of Illinois on a daily basis.
Photo Gallery of Past Events: Click on events below to see photos
October 5-Local Author and Illustrator Showcase
September 27th, 2007 - Christopher Paul Curtis Author Event
June 20th, 2007 - INDIVISIBLE: Teaching for Social Justice through Literature for Children and Adolescents - Bill Ayers and Deborah Ellis
May 20th, 2007 - Laurie Lawlor Author Event
May 9th, 2007 - Ann M. Martin Author Event
April 28, 2007 - Marina Budhos Author Event