'Read with a Child': Remembering Anna Dewdney

  • by Gwen Glazer

    [E]mpathy is as important as literacy. When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language.  We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human

                               - Anna Dewdney in the Wall Street Journal, 2013

    Author and illustrator Anna Dewdney, who created more than 20 picture books about the Llama family and other memorable characters, died yesterday at 50.

    Dewdney's work is particularly beloved among children's librarians; her fun-to-read rhymes have made her work a storytime staple at libraries everywhere. Baby Llama—with his red pajamas, his shopping drama, and his love of mama— has warmed the hearts of librarians, parents, caregivers, and readers since his debut more than a decade ago.

    Translated into eight languages, the Llama books speak the universal language of strong emotions in young children and help them figure out how to cope.

    Dewdney asked that, in lieu of a funeral service, her fans read to a child instead. Below is a selection of her books, about the llamas and her lesser-known characters, you can check out to do just that.

    Sit down, put a child on your lap, and read a story. Have fun. Read in character. Use funny voices. Ask questions. Laugh and cry. Be human and be strong, and that will allow the children in your care to be human and be strong. And, they will also learn how to read.

                               - Anna Dewdney at a lifelong learners conference, 2013

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    Llama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Rojo Pijama (2005)

    Grumpy Gloria (2006)

    Llama Llama Mad at Mama (2007)

    Roly Poly Pangolin (2010)

    Nobunny's Perfect (2011)

    Llama Llama Hoppity Hop (2012)

    Llama Llama Misses Mama (2012)

    Llama Llama Nighty-night (2012)

    Llama Llama and the Bully Goat (2013)

    Llama Llama I Love You (2014)

    Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too (2014)

    Llama Llama Sand and Sun (2015)

    Llama Llama on audiobook


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!