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Reviews, resources, and ideas to accompany "The Joy of Children's Literature." I am a professor of children's literature and literacy methods courses at The College of William & Mary. I enjoy reading, writing, and talking about books with children, teachers and anyone who will listen (so please, share your thoughts with me!).
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If there's one thing kids are scared of, it's the dark. In his latest children's book, The Dark, Daniel Handler — who writes under the pen name Lemony Snicket — takes on darkness itself, with the story of a young boy who confronts his biggest fear. Handler is known for his dry wit and matter-of-fact take on the mysterious and macabre. In his A Series of Unfortunate Events books and , the protagonists confront twisted characters and dastardly villains.
"I can't think of a story that doesn't have something terrible in it," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "Otherwise, it's dull. So when I embarked into the world of picture books, my first thought was to do something about the dark.
"I think the book is probably a little bit scary. I also hope it's interesting."
Handler talks about his own childhood fears and the process of writing his latest book.
Several years ago, I took my son (who was around 10 at the time) and the students in my children’s literature course to an author appearance by Christopher Paul Curtis. His book, Watson’s Go To Birmingham – 1963 had been chosen for the citywide read program. By all accounts, it was an amazing event! Christopher Paul Curtis read aloud the first chapter (which is hilarious), discussed his inspiration for writing the story, and answered questions.
Afterward, as we stood in line to get his autograph, many of my students commented that they had never met an author before. My son was also enamored. He asked Curtis to sign a poster of the book and to take a picture with him. Later, he hung the poster on his door. As he grew into a teenager, almost everything about his room changed – all except the poster of Curtis on the door. He didn’t want to take it down. It represented an important moment in his life; one that made a lasting impression.
Meeting an author is a wonderful experience. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the National Book Festival hosted by the Library of Congress on the National Mall every September. Large tents are set up on the lawn representing genres or age groups and scheduled authors present over the two day weekend. Two of these tents are for children’s and young adult authors. Book enthusiasts from across the country gather under the tents waiting to be wowed by their favorite authors and every year I am lucky enough to be one of them. This year, the festival will be held on September 21-22. Check out the list of children’s and young adult authors appearing this year here.
However, everyone is not able to attend the National Book Festival. Fortunately, each author is videotaped and the recordings are made available on the website for the National Book Festival. Last year, I heard Patricia Poloccoand was simply brought to tears by her powerful presentation. I was able to share that experience with my students by showing the video to my class. There are hundreds of videos of authors available, so you can bring the power of meeting the author to your students!
“SUMMER BOOKS” SERIES COMES-OF-AGE WITH YOUNG ADULT FOCUS,
YA AUTHORS REVEAL FORMATIVE LITERARY INSPIRATIONS
NPRBOOKS.ORG FEATURES ANNUAL “SUMMER BOOKS” ROUND-UPS FROM NPR FAVORITES
May 30, 2012; Washington, D.C. – A good novel doesn’t just transcend the boundaries of its target market – it knows nothing about target markets. NPR Books takes this to heart with the launch of its annual Summer Bookspackage, focusing this year’s theme on the coming-of-age stories that open our eyes to a world beyond childhood and stick for a lifetime. NPR Books will spotlight Young Adult literature with a new series and its annual listeners’ poll in addition to round-ups of critics’ picks and exclusive excerpts from this season’s most anticipated reads.
The centerpiece of Summer Books is “PG-13: Risky Reads,” a new series exploring the ageless themes and no-holds barred style that makes the Young Adult genre eternally inspiring. In first-person submissions, acclaimed authors includingJodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper), Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone),Lois Lowry (The Giver) and Jesmyn Ward (2011 National Book Award for Fiction, Salvage the Bones) remember the books they may have read before they were quite ready – a child peeking into the world of adults. The series began on All Things Considered with the nightmarish nail-bitter I Am the Cheese, which made a then-12-year-old Ben Marcus worry.Listeners can also visit the This Is NPR blog to read similar narratives submitted by NPR staff. Local stations and broadcast times are available atwww.npr.org/stations.
In June, NPR Books will begin compiling readers’ nominations for the best YA literature of all time. Listeners can vote for the
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Last month, I signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon and I've started training. Everyday as I run through my neighborhood, this little bunny runs across my path. At first, I thought it was a fluke, since I live in a large subdivision with lots of concrete. But, each day, this little guy is still there, so now I look forward to seeing him. Today, I took my phone and snapped his picture. Cute, huh?
One of the big ways I find time to read is auidobooks. I am a big fan of audiobooks for lots of reasons.
First, they are excellently performed. Have you listened to an auidobook for children/YA lately? I just finished listening to Rotters, written by Daniel Kraus and performed by Kirby Heyborne, which won the 2012 Odyssey Award and is brilliant! Last year, The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and performed by Bahni Turpin won the award and it, too, was brilliant. Some are performed by movie stars such as the Curse Workers series performed by Jesse Eisenberg and others are performed by the author such as Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
Audiobooks often include an interview with the author at the end. This is a special treat! John Green discussed his writing process in an interview at the end of The Fault in Our Stars and Libba Bray, who also performed Beauty Queens (which is amazing!) discusses her thoughts on the concept of beauty in our society.
Audiobooks are portable. I have an audiobook in my car, on my phone and on my iPod at all times. I have a two hour round trip drive to and from the university. It's not something most people would look forward to --- unless, you're listening to a fantastic book and you can't wait to get in the car to hear more! I listen on long car trips and on vacation, too. But, I also listen when I'm gong to the grocery store or other places not so far from home. Twenty minutes here and fifteen minutes there adds up and before I know it, I've finished a book. I also listen to audiobooks on my iPod when I run. I know that for some people, it would be hard to concentrate while sucking air and sweating profusely, but it doesn't bother me at all. However, I have been known to have tears running down my face or to burst out laughing as I'm running, too.
Audiobooks are abundant and accessible. There are a lot of children's
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Exactly one month from today, Children's Book Week will begin!
Established in 1919, Children's Book Week celebrates books for young people and the joy of reading from coast to coast!
Check out the line-up of Official Book Week events! Over 40 cities are hosting author and illustrator events during Book Week (May 7-13, 2012), with additional venues to come!
Each year, the Children's Book Council enlists illustrators to design a commemorative Children's Book Week Poster and Bookmark. Download the 2012 Book Week bookmark by Lane Smith and order your 2012 Poster by David Wiesner!
Children's Choice Book Awards Gala! In 2008, the Children's Book Council created the Children's Choice Book Awards, the only national child-chosen book awards program, giving young readers a powerful voice in their own reading choices. Each year, the award winners are announced live at the highly-anticipated Children's Choice Book Awards Gala during Book Week (May 7, 2012)!
It's not too late to still have a voice in which books are awarded as Children's Choice Books. See which books make the list of finalists in K-2, 3-4, 5-6 and teens categories, then vote for your favorites. You can vote as an individual or you can post a group vote for your class.
Do you remember the bookmobile? I do. Last year (in this post), I recounted the story of how I loved the library when I was growing up in Louisville, KY. It wasn't long, however, that my mother moved us to a very small town far away from the gorgeous library I loved. The library in the small town was a long way from where we lived and we didn't have a car and there was no public transportation. Not to fear---the bookmobile came by every week! I loved the bookmobile. I remember climbing the steps, smelling the books that filled the tight space, and looking through the small collection to make my selection each week.
Needless to say, the story that appeared yesterday on NPR, The Final Chapter for a Trusty Bookmobile?, brought back all of those memories. Especially since there is a bookmobile that has been abandoned close to my house as well.
I think of the bookmobile as the modern day version of librarian's on horseback, as depicted in Heather Henson's That Book Woman. One way or another, librarian's have found a way to get books in the hands of those who need them. According to the article, a bookmobile cost around $90,000 and with shrinking library budgets, it's easy to see why they are not being repaired or purchased. Yet, there are still a lot of people, especially children, who will not have access to books without the bookmobile.
I put my faith in librarians. I know somehow, some way, they will figure it out. They always have!
As of Tuesday, March 27, all seven Harry Potter novels are now available in electronic form via the Pottermore shop, the exclusive retailer for Harry Potter e-books and digital audio books. A component of the long-delayed Pottermore site, the shop is initially selling U.S. and U.K. English editions, with French, Italian, German and Spanish editions to follow in the coming weeks, and additional languages coming later. OverDrive announced this morning that as of March 29 at 9 a.m. U.S. EDT, the e-books will be made available for checkout. A 10% discount on all the titles has been extended through April 30.
Every e-book purchased may be downloaded for personal use on a range of devices and platforms, including personal computers, e-readers, tablets and mobile phones. Compatible formats include the Nook, Sony’s Reader, Google Play, and Kindle; Kindle users may purchase via a dedicated Pottermore page on Amazon, which will direct them to the shop in order to purchase. Harry Potter e-books are DRM-free, but digitally watermarked in order to identify the purchaser and discourage unauthorized sharing.
The full Pottermore site has ended beta testing and is expected to launch in early April. The site will showcase new writing by J.K. Rowling and include extensive interactive content.
Dr. Kuby is an assistant professor of early childhood education atthe University of Missouri, Columbia, USA, with scholarly interests focused onearly literacy, critical inquiry and multimodal literacies. Situated in datacollected from a teacher/research study with 5 and 6 year-old children in asummer enrichment program in the South, this seminar addresses the tensions ofanalyzing multimodal images. The focus of the web seminar is not so muchthe empirical study of the images, but reflectively on the tensions ofanalysis.
All web seminars are free of charge, and certainly offer opportunity to engagein interesting conversations.
I just found out about an amazing workshop: Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity to work with excellent children's authors and editors while learning about developing your own authentic voice. Below is more information on how to reserve your place in the program!
Joinaward-winning authors Donna Jo Napoli and Mitali Perkins, as well as editorsAlvina Ling and Stacy Whitman, and special guest Kathryn Erskine for anintensive four-day workshop. Your mentors will work with you to discover yourtrue cultural voice through impeccable research, imagination, empathy, andexperience. Our goal is to gather a community of open-minded children’s bookauthors who wish to think deeply about questions such as:
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I love listening to audiobooks, so I am excited about today's announcement of the Audio Publishers Association's finalists for the 2012 Audies or "Oscars" of audiobooks. I am especially thrilled to see Libba Bray's reading of Beauty Queens on the teen list.
I've listed the children's and teens finalists below. The winners will be announced on June 5th.
CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES UP TO 8
Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson, by Charles R. Smith, Jr., Narrated by Dion Graham, Live Oak Media Django: World’s Greatest Jazz Guitarist, by Bonnie Christensen, Narrated by George Guidall, Live Oak Media Looking Like Me, by Walter Dean Myers, Narrated by Dion Graham and Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Live Oak Media Stone Soup, by John J. Muth, Narrated by BD Wong, Weston Woods When I Grow Up, by Al Yankovic, Narrated by Al Yankovic, HarperAudio Wolf Pie, by Brenda Seabrooke, Narrated by Andrew Watts, Recorded Books, LLC
CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8-12
Countdown, by Deborah Wiles, Narrated by Emma Galvin, Random House Audio/Listening Library The Flint Heart, by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson, Narrated by Ralph Lister, Brilliance Audio Heart and Soul, by Kadir Nelson, Narrated by Debbie Allen, HarperAudio The Hidden Valley: The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place: Book II, by Maryrose Wood, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, HarperAudio A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz, Narrated by Johnny Heller, Recorded Books, LLC
Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray, Narrated by Libba Bray, Scholastic Audio Chime, by Franny Billingsley, Narrated by Susan Duerden, Random House Audio/Listening Library Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt, Narrated by Lincoln Hoppe, Random House Audio/Listening Library Pick-Up Game, by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr., Narrated by Dion Graham and Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Brilliance Audio The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live Audio
I got home late last night and caught the tail end of Rock Center, hosted by Brian Williams on NBC. The information about the show indicated that there had been a segment on an innovative reading program between a charter school and a public school in Rhode Island.
Today, I checked NBC's website and found the segment. The innovative aspect is the collaboration between the charter and public schools, not the reading instructional approach, which is being implemented in schools around the country.
It is always great to see teachers working together for the benefit of their students!
Fiction Picture Book: Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Nonfiction Picture Book: I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat by Carlyn Beccia
Easy Reader: I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems
Easy Chapter Book: Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Poetry: Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko
Graphic Novels: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright; illustrations by Barry Moser
Middle Grade Fiction: Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman
YA Nonfiction: Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
YA Graphic Novel: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
YA Fantasy and Science Fiction: Blood Red Road by Moira Young
YA Fiction: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
The new "100 Greatest Books for Kids" list has just been released from Scholastic and Parent's Magazine. Which book is number one? You guessed it, E. B. White's Charlotte's Web! Here are the next nine on the list:
The SLJ Battle of the Kids Books is gearing up for a 4th year starting March 13. If your favorite book didn't win (or even get recognized!) in the ALA awards, maybe this year's BOB contest will correct that oversight!
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has announced a new four-book series from author Lemony Snicket (a pseudonym for Daniel Handler), set to launch this fall. On October 23, the publisher will release “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”, first in the “autobiographical” All the Wrong Questions series, which will explore Snicket’s youth “in a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted.” “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” will be published simultaneously in hardcover, audio, and e-book formats, and has a one-million copy announced first printing. Maggie Stiefvater's writes about her new series with Scholastic, The Raven Boys, on her blog. The first book in the series comes out September 18.
Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways. Find the list of Notable books here.
Recently, I read Brenda Power's introduction to the most recent The Big Fresh Newsletter. I always enjoy Brenda's insights and love the resources the newsletter provides for readers.
The title of this particular newsletter was Acronymia and in it Brenda shares her dislike and frustration with the myriad of acronyms used in education that can be intimidating to everyone, including teachers. However, at a writing retreat, she learned of a few new acronyms that she felt helped her to monitor her own behavior. For this post, I would like to talk about one of these acronyms, SHAME:
My favorite new acronym forteachers and literacy leaders is SHAME, which represents Should Have AlreadyMastered Everything. Isn't this exactly the trap so many of us find ourselvesin, embarrassed that we haven't mastered everything there is to know aboutteaching and learning, including that massive number of acronyms so many folkssling around in conversations?
Like Brenda, and many teachers around the world, I also feel SHAME. However, as professor of children's literature, I would like to add a new acronym that follows this same line of thought, SHARE: Should Have Already Read Everything. One of the first things teachers do when they enter my class is confess their feeling of SHARE. They express their feelings of embarrassment because they:
haven't read many children's books since they were kids themselves.
haven't read most of the books in their classroom library.
That ALA Youth Media Awards were announced early this morning.
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos won the Newbery! I loved this book and am happy to see it win. It also won the 2012 Scott O'Dell Award for best historical fiction, which I blogged about last week and included a link to his National Book Festival speech.
Three Caldecott Honor books were awarded: Blackout written and illustrated by John Rocco, Grandpa Green written and illustrated by Lane Smith and Me...Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, which also won the 2012 Charlotte Zolotow award.
Interestingly, all of the Caldecott award winners were written and illustrated by the same person.
All winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards can be found on the ALA website. I did well this year with having read the Newbery before it was announced as well as most of the other awards, but I do have some reading to do in a few of the categories. Soon, however, it will be time to take a deep breath and start all over again for 2012. Happy reading!
I found out earlier today that one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Woodson, is going to be the YA luncheon speaker at IRA and was thrilled! Then, quite prophetically, I found a great interview with her by Publishers Weekly. Below is an excerpt in which she talks about her newest book, Beneath a Meth Moon (due out in February), and what she is working on. Read the entire interview here.
Are you currently mining any memories for another writing project?
I feel like I’m still coming out of the fog of finishing Beneath a Meth Moon. I don’t think I realized how inside that story I really was. It was a hard and heavy book to write. But I’ve finished a picture book, Each Kindness, which E.B. Lewis is illustrating and Nancy Paulsen Books will publish in fall 2012. I was inspired by seeing third- and fourth-grade girls being so mean to each other and not even realizing that’s what they were doing. I remember thinking, “They think this moment is always going to be here, that there will always be a chance to go back and undo that.” And it’s not true. So Each Kindness is about a girl who isn’t kind and what happens with that. It’s about the importance of kindness—something I deeply believe in.
I’m also about to start writing the book for an opera about Clementine Hunter, an African-American painter from Louisiana whose work was shown at galleries that she wasn’t allowed to enter because of Jim Crow laws. And another project that is slowly coming together for me is a middle-grade novel which will be quite funny.
For the past 90 years, the ALA has awarded the Newbery Medal, sometimes called the "Oscar" of children’s literature, to an author in recognition of the year’s most distinguished children’s book. Open Road Integrated Media has made available to the public a video that captures Newbery Award-Winning authors Virginia Hamilton and Jean Craighead George talking about how those awards (for Julie of the Wolves and M.C. Higgins The Great respectively) changed their lives. Hamilton was the first African American to win the award and George saw the view of children's literature change to "something important instead of something second-rate.”
Me … Janewritten and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell is the fifteenth annual winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book. Patrick McDonnell’s picture book about chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall as a child depicts her as a curious, scientific-minded young girl whose favorite stuffed animal was a chimpanzee named Jubilee. She took the stuffed chimp everywhere as she explored and carefully observed the natural world of her childhood . . . and dreamed of someday going to Africa. McDonnell’s spare, skillful, and superbly paced text balances a sense of playfulness with purpose as he conveys Goodall’s focus and determination. Me … Jane was edited by Andrea Spooner and published in the United States in 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
The 2012 Zolotow Award committee named three Honor Books:
Apple Pie ABC, written and illustrated by Alison Murray, edited by Stephanie Lurie, and published by Disney/Hyperion;
Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm, written and photographed by Jon Katz, edited by Sally Doherty, and published by Henry Holt; and
Naamah and the Ark at Night, written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade, edited by Katie Cunningham, and published by Candlewick Press.
The 2012 Zolotow Award committee also cited ten titles as Highly Commended:
All the Water in the World, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson (ARichard Jackson Book / Atheneum)
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin)
Fortune Cookies, written by Albert Bitterman and illustrated by Chris Raschka (Beach Lane Books)
Nothing Like a Puffin, written by Sue Soltis and illustrated by Bob Kolar (Candlewick Press)
Samantha on a Roll, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Christine Davenier (MargaretFerguson Books / Farrar Straus Giroux)
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes (Houghton Mifflin)
These Hands, written by Margaret H. Mason and illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Houghton Mifflin)
Three by the Sea, written and illustrated by Mini Grey (Alfred A. Knop
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The annual award, established in 1982 by author Scott O'Dell, goes to an author for a meritorious book published in the previous year for children or young adults. The purpose of the award is to encourage other writers--particularly new authors--to focus on historical fiction. Scott O'Dell hoped in this way to increase the interest of young readers in the historical background that has helped to shape their country and their world.
A list of all award winners by historical period is available here.
On a personal note, I loved this book! I laughed all the way through it. I heard Jack Gantos speak about the book at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. last year and he was hilarious (as usual). A webcast of his speech is available here. Enjoy!
Thousands of adults, young adults, and children received eReaders this past holiday season and analysts predict that volume will continue to grow in 2012 to 28.9 million. Pricing is also expected to drop this year with Amazon’s Kindle as low as $49 and Barnes and Noble's Nook as low as $99.
I have had a Kindle since they were first introduced and though I am on my third one due to hardware and software problems, I do love that I can get most books anywhere at anytime at a cheaper price than the print copy.
Though eReaders have largely not made it into the classroom, as prices drop, this might change. The idea of having instant access to books that match students' interests is very appealing to teachers. However, teachers already spend a great deal of their own money to purchase books for their classroom libraries and school and library budgets are very limited.
LeVarBurton –The former Reading Rainbow host joins All Things Considered hostGuy Raz for a reading of Snowy Day, credited as on of the firstchildren’s book to feature a non-caricatured black protagonist.