Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Karen Katz - September 16

Happy Birthday, Karen Katz - September 16

In March 2010 (Whew! That seems like a long time ago!), my children and I celebrated our 10th author birthday. I wanted to continue the fun we were having reading books, so I made a list of "Authors We Want to Celebrate." After researching the birthdays of the authors on my list, I had two authors that I didn't know their birthdays; Doreen Cronin and Karen Katz. I really wanted to know their birthdays; Doreen Cronin's birthday because I loved Diary of a Worm and Karen Katz's birthday because our bookshelves were filled with her board books. My wife and I were expecting our third child too. I thought celebrating Karen Katz's birthday would be fun with the new baby!

After much anxiety, I worked up some courage and emailed both authors to ask them to share their birthday with us. Unfortuately, after I sent the email to Karen Katz I realized that I made a cut-and-paste error and left "Doreen" at the top of the message! I was bummed. I assumed she would not email me back. However, on the day I arrived home from the hospital with our third child I had this response from Karen Katz:

"I'm not sure who Doreen is but I think you meant Karen. I am thrilled to hear you like my books and especially that your kids like them. As far as my birthday, it is September 16th. As far as the year...lets say I'm past 50. Have fun reading!"

I wrote her birthday in my planner and hoped for a celebration that September. However, it didn't happen that year or for the next three years! Each year, I regretted not putting together a celebration for the author whose books I have read to my children just as much as Dr. Seuss and Stan and Jan Berenstain. This year, I finally get to share with you how much our family loves books by Karen Katz!

Karen Katz is the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for young children including Counting Kisses and Ten Tiny Tickles. Most of Karen's books are published as novelty lift-the-flap books and board books including Where is Baby's Belly Button? and Daddy and Me; both of which I have read at least 100 times! Before Karen Katz created books for parents and babies to enjoy together she was a quilt maker, a costume designer, and a graphic designer. According to her website, it was after she and her husband adopted a daughter from Guatemala that she "was inspired to do a children's book." Her first book, Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale was published in 1997 after an editor viewed paintings in her portfolio that represented a poem that her husband wrote about the adoption of their daughter. (Doodlebugs). Since that first book, Karen Katz has sold millions of copies of her books.  These books can be found on bookshelves of most young children, often resting on night stands after parents have fallen asleep holding their babies in their arms, and are frequently at library book sales discarded after being well-loved by little hands. (We still read them even after the lift-the-flaps have been removed!)

This week, stacks of books by Karen Katz were piled up in our living room and outside the bathroom!  Recently, Potty for Me has risen to the top of the stack, because my two year old is going through potty training. I believe Potty for Me is one of the best books I have read about the process a child goes through learning how to use the potty. It explains everything; getting a potty, trying the potty, having accidents, and then having success. I love that Karen Katz included the idea that wearing a diaper at night is still important even though the child is wearing underpants during the day.
My daughter is doing a great job with the potty. The bathroom door is covered with sticker charts. In this photo she is adding a sticker to a chart I made that featured images from Karen Katz's books.
The more we read our stack of books by Karen Katz the more I realized that this birthday post was going to be about more than just my daughter's successes with the potty. One morning this week my daughter was reading her books in the living room and my son and I joined her.

We read the book Baby Loves Fall!. In this lift-the-flap book, baby explores and finds many fall things; apple pie behind the shutters and pumpkins behind the scarecrow.  The baby also finds acorns behind a rake. This gave me an idea.  I said to my youngest two children, "Do you want to go on a nature hunt? Maybe we can find some acorns just like the baby." (I knew of oak tree in our neighborhood that was starting to drop its acorns!)

My son was super excited to go on a nature hunt. One of his favorite things to do is to gather seeds and leaves. He said, "Can we make a craft out of the stuff we find?"  I thought it was a great idea.
He showed his sister how to find really cool leaves as they walked. He shared a few of the red leaves that he found. It was important to him that she had a container full of goodies.
She found an acorn!
What's a nature-hunt collection without some rocks?
After our nature hunt my children emptied their containers on the kitchen table.
Then, they started their "craft" which they called Leaf Pictures.
My son said, "Dad, this was a good idea." 
I was so proud of her for gluing all these items on her paper!
The next day was almost a replay of the day before. My daughter was reading her books and my son and I joined in. This time we read Princess Baby and Princess Baby Night-Night.  My son was intrigued by the illustrations, especially Princess Baby's crown and shoes. He rubbed his hand on them expecting them to be rough with glitter. I said, "It is smooth, but it looks like Karen Katz made the crown and shoes with glitter. Do you want to make something with glitter?"  Of course they said "yes".
For my daughter I drew a crown and shoes on a cereal box and cut them out.
She painted the crown with glue.
Then, she flipped it over onto a plate with gold glitter.
Wow! A pretty crown.
I pasted the crown and shoes onto a picture of my daughter to make her into the "Princess Baby"!
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Whew! What a celebration! I guess I am not surprised it turned into a week-long event. It had been building up for over 4 years! Happy Birthday, Karen Katz! Sorry it took so long for us to give you an official Happy Birthday Author celebration. We hope you enjoy your day!

International Day of Peace is coming up on September 21. Check out Karen Katz's book, Can You Say Peace?:

1. Karen Katz's website
2. Karen Katz website from Simon and Schuster
3. Baby Steps with Baby Books: a Parent's Guide - Simon and Schuster
4. Interviews - Up CloseLibrary Sparks,
5. Princess Baby Activity Guide and Resource Kit - RandomHouse
6. Activity Sheets - Simon and Schuster
7. Karen Katz shares her previous occupations before children's books - video

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