We’re excited to introduce you to our 2017 Mills Tannenbaum Award for Children’s Literacy recipient, Rosemary Wells. The award was first presented in 2013 by Helen Mills and Gary Tannenbaum and is given to a children’s book author or illustrator who is dedicated to promoting a lifelong love of reading in young children. Ms. Wells’ career as an author and illustrator spans more than thirty years and 120 books. She is well known for the ever-popular Max & Ruby series, including Max & Ruby’s Bedtime Book and Max & Ruby’s Treasure Hunt, which relays the everyday adventures of siblings Max and Ruby. She has also created Read to Your Bunny (Scholastic), Hand in Hand (Henry Holt and Co.), Noisy Nora (Viking Books for Young Readers) and Yoko (Disney-Hyperion), among countless others. A grandmother of five, Ms. Wells is passionate about the importance of reading aloud to young children and regularly travels the country to speak on the topic.
“Reading to your little one is just like putting gold coins in the bank,” Wells said. “It will pay you back tenfold. Your daughter will learn, and imagine, and be strong in herself. Your son will thrive, and give your love back forever.”
The Reach Out and Read Annual Benefit and Auction will take place June 6 from 6:30-9:30pm. Click here to become a sponsor, buy tickets, make a donation, and learn more about the event.
To learn more about Rosemary Wells, read our Believe in Books interview with her, below.
Which books are among your childhood favorites?
We had comparatively few books when I grew up in the 1940’s and 50’s. So we read our books over and over. Among my most treasured stories were those of Beatrix Potter, Robert Lawson, and Frances Burnett.
What are your favorite titles of today?
I have favorites that change daily, depending on what my granddaughters want me to read.
What’s your favorite childhood reading memory — whether of reading to yourself, or of someone who read to you, or something you imagined?
My favorite reading memory is staying home from school with a cold and piling the bed with books for the whole morning. Then turning on the radio for Our Gal Sunday and The Romance of Helen Trent and listening with just as much rapt attention as I read my books.
I believed every word of these radio dramas as completely factual.
If it was on the radio it must be true, like the President and the weather report.
I absorbed these radio shows in the same way as I believed all books, fantasy or not, as absolutely true.
A world that contained the real secret garden of Mary Lennox, the real live mouse of “Ben and Me” plus the ever desperate Helen Trent , not to mention “The FBI in Peace and War” was the world in which I lived and I loved living in it.
Automatic, innocent suspension of disbelief is the greatest luxury of childhood.
What was your biggest idea or inspiration that came from reading?
Robert Lawson’s books gave me an intense love of history as accessible and exciting. Listening to my father reading Robinson Crusoe, The Yearling and the Last of the Mohicans aloud to me gave me the knowledge that I too could actually make things up and be believed. But I didn’t hope to be an author. Kids didn’t in those days and it was not encouraged as it is now. I wanted to be a baseball player. The first girl in the major leagues.
What is your favorite word?
I always abandon ship when asked for favorite anythings! Children always ask about favorites. I stumble when I answer and I go into a serious IQ dip. Everything changes from hour to hour.
If you were going to be anything other than a writer/illustrator, what would you be?
I would work for an intelligence service or in some way alleviate crime which victimizes the most defenseless citizens.