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I Am Your Book

An early childhood multi-lingual read aloud board book for families with children ages 0-3 about the power of owning print books at home.

Photo of Emily B Cicchini

Written by

I am your book.

Please take a look!

I have been waiting a long time

To talk with you in rhyme.

I am your book.

Read, listen, and look!

I can show you lots of places.

Meet people with interesting faces!

I am your book.

Sing, say and look!

Keep me by your side,

I will take you far and wide.

I am your book.

I can be there when you cook!

I am slow and will not flash.

Do not rush and do not dash.

I am your book.

Keep me in your special nook.

Can you hear each different sound?

Can you see letters straight and round?

Words together make a thought:

Tell us things are shared and taught.

Is your heart full?  Hear it say:

"Books share our soul a special way."

I am your book and for no other.

Not your friend, sister or brother.

Do not let my light go dark!

Open my pages in a park!

Your life is like a story book

And all its days are pages.

I want to read your book someday,

Keep it through all the ages.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This children's board book is envisioned translated into multiple languages with diverse illustrations simultaneously, giving children and families many choices that would build intrinsic motivation to read. The layout design would have large fonts that compliment things to point at. The artwork would show interesting things from daily life to point at and name that compliment and/or contrast with each line; and reflect both cultural traditions. English and Spanish would be the first effort.

Share your suggested book title

I Am Your Book / Soy tu libro

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

Brain research indicates how critical it is for young children ages 0-3 to hear their caregivers reading aloud to them, in order to properly develop the language centers of the brain (Hutton et. al., 2015). During this period of development, the brain is increasing in astounding amounts. While emotion and deep personal connection is important, long term story comprehension is not yet typical. It's important that sounds are repeated, consonants and vowels, and rhyming is a great way to naturally point them out while reading aloud together. Bi-lingual books in two languages allow for both the home language and target language to be shared in the home, but sometimes suffer from layout issues by squishing too many words on one page. Also, this book will need a good design and high quality print production that is beautiful for both parents and young children to help with repeat reading and engagement. The words alone will not do this.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I've been to Philadelphia a long time ago and was impressed by the art scene there, and by the closeness and diversity of the arts community. It looks like in addition, we could translate this into Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, French (including Cajun French) and several other less commonly spoken languages. I would love if we could give low income families two books, one in English and one in home language, like a set, each equal weight and authority.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

Contrasting cultures on different editions of the book provide opportunities for discussion about similarities and differences between people. The words flash, rush, and dash reference digital devices and screens and their possible potential to distract and confuse young minds. It's important for parents and caregivers to slow down and spend time with their children, even as our world seems to get faster and busier all the time. The same book in different languages provides the opportunity for early bi-lingual learning or simply reading in the primary language spoken in the home. Each translation will need experts as they will need to find unique rhythms sand idioms in the home language.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Website URL (optional question)

Tell us more about you / your team

I'm a children's playwright and executive director of a local early literacy organization called BookSpring. We regularly work with publishers who provide bi-lingual and single language books in less common languages for our diverse population, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Burmese, and Vietnamese - but they are expensive, lack variety, and are very hard to find. This project would help serve our families. We are all dedicated to building home libraries for all families with children. Children who grow up with books are more likely to achieve 3 more years of education (Evans et al., 2010). Plus, there are myriad social-emotional benefits of families reading aloud together, not only from birth to age 3, but as children get older. If this book were to be selected, ALL proceeds would be donated to supporting the work of BookSpring to distribute over 150,000 books to children a year to help them build home libraries. Learn more about our work at

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

We are working with a really wonderful designer for our 20 Books by 2020 campaign and would love to use her artwork if possible. Here are representative images that are collages of themes; these are the types of images that would illustrate each page of the book.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Edward the Owl and the Calico Cat; Like a Metaphor; Becoming Bronte; Just Bee; Duckie Sees The World; A Christmas Rose; A Dragon's Happy Day. I am resident playwright of The Pollyanna Theatre Company which has produced over a dozen of my plays. You can see more about my plays at the National New Play Exchange: Also, my son and I have a blog (who first said "my life is a book"):

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists
  • I am/we are are a registered NGO or Non-Profit Organization


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH

I hope this book can become a best friend to a child and bring the richness of the child's culture to life in a way that calls the child back to read the book again and again. Also, it is wonderful to let children and caregivers know that life is like a story book and each day is a page in the book.

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