BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS - writing them, making them, and sending them home. That's what our cover story is about this issue, and we hope you'll be as excited about the ideas you'll find there as we are.

Certainly, having children learn about the components of books, use their words and pictures to make them, then turn them into something special to be shared is a wonderful learning experience. In addition to the strong literacy component, we also love the "craft" of making books - and turning the children's work into something to be valued, saved, reread, and cherished.

We thank all the teachers who sent us books and told us about their classroom writing projects so that we could fill our cover story with practical ideas you can use. We'd love to know what book projects this story inspires in your classroom or center and hope you'll tell us about them. We know there's more to the story - that is to say, even more ideas we would love to share in the future. So keep them coming. Like fresh paint, fresh book ideas make us want to dip our fingers in and see what we can create.

By the time this issue reaches you, President Clinton will have already given his State of the Union address. Whatever he discusses regarding child care and the ideas that came from the White House conference on this topic last October, no doubt there will still be more to do to enable the field to gain the respect and attention it deserves.

With one eye on the October conference (Helen Benham from Scholastic was there and gave us her reactions in our last issue) and with the other eye trained on what may lie ahead, we recently asked Ellen Galinsky to have lunch with us and give us her perspective on this topic. Ellen, who's been looking at work and family issues for over two decades, has some interesting insights into the big issues that we simply must get right.

In the meantime, don't forget that we're getting ready to honor those who care for our youngest children. Early Childhood Today and Scholastic are working with Child Care Aware to make April 24 Child Care Professionals' Day, certainly an important and timely milestone. You'll hear more about this in our next issue.

For now, keep up the wonderful work you do.

Susan Strecker