Rosemary Wells had an ideal childhood, and she’s coming to Tacoma next week to encourage local parents to offer their kids the same.
The renowned author and illustrator of children’s picture books like the wry “Max and Ruby” and stories for older readers will speak at a book-signing and talk for parents at the Tacoma Public Library’s main branch Monday night. Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Carla J. Santorno, superintendent of the Tacoma School District, will kick off the talk to announce Tacoma Reads Aloud Together, a new initiative to encourage parents and caregivers to read to their children.
Born in New York in 1943 to a ballerina mother and playwright/actor father, Wells grew up surrounded by books and music. Taken to museums and the theater, and encouraged to draw, she also spent most of her childhood playing outdoors and swimming along the then-rural New Jersey shore. It’s a childhood that inspired many of the books in her 30-year career.
“I thank (my parents) endlessly for giving me all the important stuff in life,” said Wells in the library’s press release. “I put into my books all of the things I remember.”
But Wells’ library talk will focus on the importance of parents reading to their children.
“Reading aloud was a really central part of my childhood, and my children’s childhood,” said Wells, who spearheaded the national initiative “Read to Your Bunny.” “Reading aloud is close to nutrition, seatbelts and inoculation in importance to a young child, even as young as 4- and 6-month-old babies. It’s a way of being one-on-one with a parent, and it’s irreplaceable.”
Wells, along with Strickland and Santorno, will encourage Tacoma parents to follow the new Tacoma Reads Aloud Together program by reading aloud to their kids for at least 20 minutes a day. The suggested starting book is “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams and colorized by Wells herself.
Wells also will sign books. The event is for parents, rather than kids, the library stresses.
The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday (doors open at 6 p.m.). Admission is free, but there is limited space in the Olympic Room at the Tacoma Public Library main branch, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma. For more details call 253-292-2001 or go to tacomapubliclibrary.org.Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@ thenewstribune.com