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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, since 1/28/2008 [Help]
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42176. Preview: The Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt and a COMPULSION for Reading Giveaway

Hey, guys!

Are you ready for some fun? I'm participating in the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt from noon PACIFIC time on April 2nd to noon PACIFIC time on April 5th. 

The hunt is HUGE this year, so there will be eight different teams. I'm going to be on #TeamBlue, but you can play every team for more chances to win! 

If you've never played before, it's like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books at every stop. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website. 

Not only will I be hiding an exclusive never-before-revealed sneak peek of COMPULSION, but I will also be giving away a signed hardcover and an ARC of PERSUASION, book two in the series for part of the Blue Team prize. 

Starting today, here on Adventures, I'll also be giving away a Tiffany-style "key" necklace like Barrie wears, an "I have a compulsion for reading" tote bag, and ten "I have a compulsion for reading" bumper stickers. You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three short days!

Ready? Here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Blue Team 1 Pink TeamTeam Gold (2)Team Purple 1Team GreenTeam Red 1Team Teal (2)
Team Orange

I hope you are all as excited as I am!

Today's Bonus Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


What book first started your compulsion for reading?

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42177. What female-domination of the 2015 box office could mean for comic book movies

Are superhero movies the only thing keeping young men going to the movies? Or are they doomed to soon crash and burn out? That and more are covered in this NYT piece on on how female fare is dominating 2015’s box office. Insurgent (above), Cinderella and Fifty Shades of Grey have all been hits this year, while male focused films have mostly flopped. (One exception, The Kingsmen based on a you-know-what by Mark Millar, one of Hollywood’s most reliable creators.) But other factors are at play including the numbing prevalence of endless special effects and male distraction by video games:

Young men used to be Hollywood’s most reliable audience, in part because they tended to be less discriminating than women. “No story? No problem! As long as people got blown up, guys showed up,” Mr. Dergarabedian said.

But studio research executives say young men are the most likely to be lured by alternative activities like video games, sports and YouTube comedy clips. Research indicates that teenage boys in particular do not want to be told when and where they have to consume entertainment, which makes herding them into a movie theater difficult.

In contrast, “teenage girls still seem to want the experience of going to the movies as a group,” said Terry Press, president of CBS Films, which recently hit specialty film pay dirt with “The DUFF,” an $8 million comedy about a high school pecking order that is closing in on $35 million in ticket sales, overwhelmingly because of female moviegoers.

One movie analyst suggests that stories that make you laugh and cry may be making a comeback, while another says that “The clout and importance of the female audience has never been bigger.”

While this may cast a bit of a pall over the 30 superhero movies coming at us in the next five or six years, most of Marvel’s incredible popular films do have compelling characters and strong emotional beats at their core. Thor: The Dark World had a very weak story, but the Thor/Loki relationship (and to a lesser extent Thor/Jane) were front and center. WB definitely needs to establish this kind of rapport to get its ambitious movie slate off the ground, but things like Steve Trevor showing up in Suicide Squad show they’ve been paying attention.

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42178. Dinotopia: World Beneath, Episode 9

It's Tuesday, time for Episode 9 of the serialized audio dramatization of Dinotopia: The World Beneath. You can listen to the track by clicking on the play button below, or by following the direct link to SoundCloud.

Arthur, Oriana, Bix, and Crabb explore further into the caverns, and in the process, each of them discovers more about their own inner lives.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez, mastermind of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

The Christian Science Monitor called this production "A dazzling soundscape that does full justice to Gurney’s wondrous lost world… perfect family listening.”

Episode 10 arrives in a week. Each short episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour World Beneath podcast right now and hear all fifteen episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out The World Beneath at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download. It's also available as a CD.

The Book
You can also order the original printed book from my web store and I'll sign it for you. (It ships via Media Mail within 24 hours of your order. US orders only for the book, please). The book is also available from Amazon in a 20th Anniversary Edition with lots of extras.

The Museum Exhibition is now on view
Many of these paintings are now on view at the Dinotopia exhibition at the Stamford Art Museum and Nature Center through May 25.

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42179. Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Reisters, Soldiers, Spies and Medics by Kathryn J. Atwood

Today is the last day of Women's History Month for 2015 and because the theme this year is about Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives, I thought who better to turn to for today's post than Kathryn Atwood.  A few year ago, Atwood wrote a fascinating book called Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance and Rescue.  Now she has followed it up with a book about women heroes in World War I and once again, their stories are as amazing as they are compelling.

In Women Heroes of World War I, Atwood introduces the reader to some of the women, a few still in their teens, who decided to serve their country, despite the real dangers that they were to face.  Some became nurses, caring for the wounded as close to the front lines as they could get.  Others joined the resistance or became spies, some became soldiers fighting side by side with men, and still others were journalists, reporting events from the heart of the conflict.

Some of the women are familiar, like British born Edith Cavell who found herself in Belgium when the war started, director of a school of nursing there.  After the Germans invaded Belgium, hospitals were forbidden to care for any Allied soldiers that might find their to one of them.  Edith, ignoring the Germans, cared for wounded Germans soldiers openly, and for wounded Allied soldiers secretly.  And when these were healthy enough, she made such they had safe passage out of Belgium to the Netherlands.  Edith and her network can be credited for heroically getting a lot of Allied soldiers to safety before the getting caught by the Germans.  Her capture and punishment, which caused an uproar around the world, subsequently changed the way Germany handled women POWs at the insistence of the Kaiser.

One of my favorite stories is Helena Gleichen and her friend Nina Hollings, two ambulance drivers in Italy who sometimes found themselves driving through intense shelling to get wounded men to hospital.  Later, after training in Paris to become radiographers, they could be found driving around the Italian front with a portable x-ray machine.  With their x-ray skill, Helena and Nina were able to help the wounded in some surprising ways, for example, locating shrapnel lodged in areas that wouldn't have been found otherwise and bringing relief to the wounded man.  For their heroic work, the women were awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (the OBE).

My personal favorite is the story of Mary Roberts Rinehart.  Yes, I do mean the mystery writer.  Mary was also a journalist who wrote for the Saturday Evening Post and in 1915, she decided she wanted to go to Belgium.  After all, she had nursing experience and could report of the conditions of the hospitals there, but what she really wanted to do was experience the war as soldiers do.  Mary finally did get to see the front lines, including no man's land, and even managed to get an extensive interview with the King of Belgium.  Returning home she wrote her articles, but realized the war was going to last longer than anyone thought.  

Women Heroes of World War I is a well-written, riveting book.  Atwood divides the women's experiences into four sections - Resisters and Spies, Medical Personnel, Soldiers, and Journalists.  The women profiled come from different countries, including the United States, France, Britain, Russia and each of their individual stories ends with a Learn More inset listing where to find more information them.  Atwood's extensive, intelligent research is evident in all the women's stories and she includes sidebars that give additional information about the women and the war.  Also included are an Introduction, an Epilogue and many, many photographs of war and the different women in it.  An extensive and useful Glossary and Bibliography, and well as a list of websites can also be found at the back of the book.

World War I was at first greeted with incredible enthusiasm, causing young men to unhesitatingly leave school, jobs, and families to join their countries armed services.  After all, no one thought it would last more than a few months.  Women were also eager to do their part and for some that meant being in the thick of the fighting, not working on the home front.  Women Heroes of World War I not only informs the reader about these now mostly forgotten women heroes, but pays homage to them and all the women who decided to do constructive for their warring countries.   

I can't recommend Women Heroes of World War I highly enough, and what a wonderful book with which to end this year's Women History Month.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

March is Women's History Month

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42180. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/31/15: What clicking on these links says about your personality

§ Headline of the Day #1: Comic Con Event Takes Over Nutter Center. Why how DARE you? Nutter center! Oh wait, that is a venue in Dayton Ohio and it was the site of the Gem City Comic Con over the weekend. As you were.

§ Headline of the Day #2: New Comic Book Series is Launched. Whoa exciting! Possible best press release ever.

“The Alternative Energy Man” series has hit shelves. “Alternative Energy Man” is an environmentalist taking to the streets to save the world. Issue 1: “Don’t Call Me Alternative Energy Guy” and Issue 2: “Alternative Energy Man Vs. The Dumper,” by Evan W. Taylor, have been published by BrickWarriors Publishing. They are both now available for free on BrickWarriors’ website. Action packed, this comic book series will surely sweep you off your feet. Three more installments will come out later this year. Begin following Alternative Energy Man on his world changing journey.

§ The first ever Otaku summit was held in Makuhari, Japan. Self identified geek culture fans from more than 18 countries attended the two day event.

The Expo is part of a special comic book fair held every five years, which attracts about half a million visitors, but this year’s event marks the first time that groups from outside Japan are invited. About four dozen overseas Otaku groups were expected to attend. Briton Katie Carter, 23, was dressed as Usagi Tsukino, a character from the popular “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.” “This is amazing. There are so many people of different cultures are coming together,” she told AFP.



§ A new comic strip launched this week, Dana Simpson’s Phoebe and Her Unicorn. The strip features a child and a fantastic best friend, drawing comparisons to Calvin and Hobbes, but Simpson says such talk comes with the territory:

“If what you’re doing is reminiscent of the greatest cartoonist of the last 40 years, well, that’s a huge compliment,” she said.
Most of Phoebe’s experiences (minus the unicorn thing) are based off Simpson’s childhood — she said she spends an inordinate amount of time wandering through her elementary school memories, mining for little absurdities and antics that she can use in the strip.
“You have to write what you know — it’s the only place where you’re ever going to find enough material,” she said.



§ Writer Hayley Campbell is now the author of a book about Neil Gaiman and staffer at Buzzfeed, but in a past life she worked as a comics shop clerk for three years, and so here is the Buzzfeed article you’ve been waiting for: 37 Things You Learn From Working In A Comic Shop. They’re all true, but I’ll only quote this one:

  1. If stacked wrongly, a volume of the Dynamite Vampirella Archives is a genuine health and safety hazard. Dynamite Entertainment / Via dynamite.com The last thing you see before you die is Vampirella’s crotch.

§ Carol Tyler is one of the finest cartoonists of the last 30 years, and her “You’ll Never Know” trilogy is perhaps her masterpiece, a rich biography of her father, including his real life heroics in World War II, and his adaptation to civilian life. It’s a rich, multi-layered portrait of a generation and family relationships. Charles Tyler, Carol’s father, is 96 years old….but he is dying of cancer. But in his last days, he’s being honored by local media:

The city of Clinton is honoring a dying World War II veteran. 96-year-old Charles Tyler is actually the oldest WWII Veteran in Vermillion County. Charles, or better known as Chuck, served in the army from 1939 to 1945. Recently, Chuck found out he’s dying from cancer. But, before he goes, his town wanted to honor him and friends say he may look old but he’s as sharp as a tack. And quite a jokester. “[Chuck tell me about being in the military, what do you remember most?] Chasing girls!” And, there’s plenty more where that came from! Chuck definitely has charisma! Coming up tomorrow on News 10, we will share some of Chuck’s life adventures, more of his spit-fire personality plus his many talents!

It’s a sweet twilight tribute to The Greatest Generation.

§ Meanwhile, with the Going Clear documentary on Scientology getting talked about every where, Abraham Riesman looks back on That Time the Avengers Battled Scientology, sort of. It was a four year long Avengers storyline by Kurt Busiek.

Okay, let’s take a step back. Technically, the religion in question wasn’t the Church of Scientology; it was an extremely thinly veiled stand-in for it called the Triune Understanding. The story line about it was the brainchild of Avengers writer Kurt Busiek (who fully admits to the Triune Understanding’s status as a Scientology pastiche), that story line ran for an astounding four years, and — perhaps most remarkable of all — this bizarre narrative thread was oddly tender and empathic toward Scientologists. In honor of the current barrage of criticism lobbed at Scientology in the wake of the documentary Going Clear, let us revisit this strange chapter in superhero history.


§ On the off chance you did not see Saturday Night Live’s take on a reimagined Bambi starring Dwayne Johnson, here it is. And the funny thing is…this doesn’t seem far from the truth.

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42181. Five Questions for Lindsay Eyre, author of THE BEST FRIEND BATTLE

1. Tell us a little bit about your book.

Sylvie Scruggs is the heroine of this series, and she’s a lot like her name: interesting, energetic, and a little rough around the edges. In The Best Friend Battle, Sylvie comes home from a family vacation to find that her best friend, Miranda, has made friends with the enemy, Georgie Diaz. Sylvie’s entire world is threatened by this new friendship, and she does everything she can to get things back to normal. But normal doesn’t come easily, and Sylvie seems to have a penchant for making difficult situations much, much worse!

2. If this book had a theme song and/or spirit animal, what would it be and why?

Sylvie’s theme song would probably be "Life’s a Happy Song" from the new Muppet movie. It’s all about how life is a happy thing if and only if you have someone, a best friend, to share it with. But what happens when you don’t? (Sylvie does not want to find out.)

3. Please name and elaborate upon at least one thing you learned or discovered about writing in the course of creating this book.

Writing this book was not easy. I don’t believe (or at least I don’t like very much) writers who claim writing is an easy thing whether they are writing their first book or their hundredth, but certain things can make writing go much more smoothly. When you can hear the voice of your main character — when that person is large-as-life in your head — many difficult issues take care of themselves. Your writing struggles will revolve around plot, not plot and character. As flawed as Sylvie is, she’s now a friend I could sit down with and have a conversation about anything from mushrooms to ice dancing. That familiarity makes writing (mostly) a pleasure. I don’t always know what will happen to Sylvie or even what she will do, but I usually know what she would have to say about it!

4. What is your favorite scene in the book? 

The scene where Josh and Sylvie build the castle together. I love Josh (who gets a big role in Sylvie’s third book) and all of his interactions with Sylvie.

5. What are you working on now? 

Sylvie’s second adventure, The Mean Girl Meltdown, is in the final stages of publication [editor's note:  out this fall!], and her third book, The Spelling Bee Scuffle, is in beginning stages of the editorial process. I’m also working on a novel about a twelve-year-old girl named Rory, the middle child in a dysfunctional and eccentric family, whose mother is in Sweden for a month. As Rory, a very different character than Sylvie, attempts to save the family from their dictatorial grandmother and an impending eviction, she alienates her best friend, Owen, nearly kills her younger brother, and gets her grandmother arrested for illegal possession of a motorcycle. This book has been much harder for me to write because of what I was speaking about earlier — knowing your characters. I get into the heads of many characters in Rory’s book, and I’m finding out very quickly that I know some of them much better than I know others!

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42182. An Elephant Gift For You : Hello from the Elephants

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42183. An Interview with Jeff Anderson About His New Middle Grade Novel

Most of us know Jeff Anderson for his brilliant work as a teacher and writer of professional books. I have learned so much from Jeff through his workshops and books. Mechanically Inclined is a book that I go back to often and his others stretch my thinking about writing.  This year, Jeff's first MG novel is due out and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of it.  The book is called  Zack Delacruz:  Me and My Big Mouth and it is due out in August from Sterling. It was a great read and I can think of so many past students that will love this book.  This is probably geared toward the upper end of middle grade--I am thinking grades 5-7 seems perfect.  

I had the opportunity to interview Jeff about his book and his writing.   I learned so much about his writing and this new book! 


Franki:  Why, after focusing on writing professionally for teachers did you decide to write a middle grade novel?

Jeff:  Actually I began trying my hand at writing fiction for middle grade readers almost 20 years ago.  While my first published work was professional writing for teachers, my first love was middle grade and YA fiction. Since my professional writing was fairly successful, I decided to give fiction another shot after letting it wane for five or six years. Instead of revising what I’d done in the past, Zack’s voice came to me and spilled out on the page, and many revisions later that became Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth (Sterling, August 2015).  I have a blast plotting stories, cracking myself up, going back to certain settings—hamburger joints, school festivals—any of the settings in my books and paying attention in a new way.

Franki:  You mention in your note before the story that Zack Delacruz is a lot like you. Can you talk more about that?

Jeff:  That's the fun of fiction, isn’t it? Bits and pieces and flashes of your life unconsciously work their way into your prose. Zack is short—I am tall. But the way the difference contributed to us standing out is our link. And let’s just say my big mouth had a way of getting me into trouble as well—saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. But all the characters have a bit of me or people that I’ve known—even in embarrassing ways. Like Janie, I sometimes spit when I talk. This was not conscious choice for her character, however. I only realized the connection later. It just happened. That’s the other fun of fiction. As I write characters they become real people to me. They do the things they’d naturally do, which are sometimes things I’d do or I’ve seen people do. There is a power beyond the conscious mind that weaves conflict and humor into my fiction. I love the way the ideas just keep coming.

Franki:  You do such a good job of balance of real middle school issues with humor in the book. How did you do that and was it a conscious decision?

Jeff:  Thank you. I’m glad you think so. There’s that conscious word again.  I’d say no. I didn’t decide to balance tough issues with humor. That’s what came out when I started to write. The reality is I was bullied relentlessly as a middle school student, and I believe the birth of my humor came from these experiences. If I made people laugh, I’d survive. They say a peacock’s feathers are so beautiful because they eat thorns. Through constant bullying I received, I ate a lot of thorns, making humor a feather in my cap.

Another connection to me is my parents were divorced around this age, but I was separated from my Dad by a three-hour drive and three-times-a-year-scheduled visits. In this book, the closeness I have with my father is the one I wished I had. That’s another wonderful thing about fiction. You can change things or experience them in a new way. The way you want. I felt alienated and alone as a child. I had such a wish to disappear. Those thoughts couldn’t help but arise as a theme in this middle grade book. But I hope the humor makes it fun. It wasn’t a message book at all, but still I think one can be found in it if you look. 

Franki:  You’ve taught this age level. Did you notice kids you’ve taught show up in the characters of this book?

Jeff:  I wanted to write a book my students would want to read. In that way they are present as an audience I wanted them to relate to. And in a way everyone I’ve ever known shows up in Zack DelacruzMe and My Big Mouth. But of course none of them are actual people. They are fabricated mixtures of people’s voices and experiences as well as mine.

I’ve taught over twenty years in the classroom and that experience oozes all over these pages. The things my students liked, said, worried about, and wrote about find their way into the fabric of my stories. I don’t often see the students I taught in books: kids that hope and dream and have everyday kid problems, but also happen to be kids of color. I am so honored that I have the chance to give my students and those like them a true reflection of their day-to-day lives. But quite often my experiences work their way in. For example, in high school I was the one who ate all the chocolate bars I was supposed to sell. I, like Zack, turn to a jar of peanut butter when stressed. When I saw the illustrator’s rendering of that scene from the book, I saw me—young and old—all over that picture. 

Franki:  I wasn’t aware there would be illustrations. Tell me about that.

Jeff:  Yes, I absolutely love Andrea Miller’s illustrations that aren’t in the advanced reader copy (ARC) you received. The pictures really add a layer to the book. If you’re interested, sometimes we release sneak peaks of illustrations on twitter. (@writeguyjeff, @andreacecelia, @sterlingbooks) And while I am at it, I am honored to have the fabulous Tad Carpenter, the cover designer of Wonder by RJ Palacio, designing the cover of Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth.

Franki:  Can you talk a bit about your experience writing a middle grade novel as opposed to the other writing you do?

Jeff:  In some ways, writing both genres are the same. I have to set aside large chunks of time to draft and revise. But fiction comes together in a different way than nonfiction writing for teachers. For teachers, it’s my voice and my actual experiences teaching writing. For my fiction book, my voice is that of a sixth grader. The characters exist only in my mind and the pages. It’s freer.  Organization matters in both cases, but in fiction it’s about the plot and change and connection. In my professional books, it’s how I can best show teachers options and possibilities. And in the end, there is something incredibly healing in fiction writing that isn’t the same in professional nonfiction. The story is all. Fiction is also a more fun to write, though I enjoy writing whatever I work on. With fiction, I feel a new purpose, a new way of reaching readers. That’s a wonderful feeling.

Franki:  Will Zack Delacruz be a series? If not, what future writing for kids do you have in the works?

Jeff:  Yes, Zack Delacruz is slated to be a series of books. I actually have already drafted the second book in the series and am revising it right now. I also have a YA book that I’d love to get out there in the next year or so. It deals with the truth of how our pasts do in fact change us and form us and haunt us.

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42184. Sean Fay Wolfe Lands Deal With HarperCollins

Minecraft PictureSean Fay Wolfe, a teen writer, has signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins. Wolfe became well-known for writing fan fiction stories inspired by the video game Minecraft.

Senior editor Pamela Bobowicz negotiated the terms of the agreement with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agent Rick Richter. The publisher will release book one of Wolfe’s middle-grade trilogy, entitled Quest For Justice, on July 28, 2015. Book two will come out on October 27, 2015 and book three will follow on January 26, 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “Sean Fay Wolfe was just 16 years old when he wrote, Quest For Justice, the first book of The Elementia Chronicles trilogy, which he originally self-published. Inspired by the best-selling game, this unofficial trilogy brings Minecraft fans and middle grade readers on an action packed adventure. In Quest for Justice, dark forces are at work on the Elementia server, and when new players Stan, Kat and Charlie arrive on the scene, they quickly find themselves in peril.”

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42185. Coloring Page Tuesday - Groovy Bunny

     Easter is Coming and groovy bunny is hip-hopping down the bunny trail! Help him decorate his egg - and his tummy while you're at it!
     CLICK HERE for more Easter coloring pages!
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of nine literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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42186. when diversity is not a strategy but an essential element of the story being told: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

We Need Diverse Books. We absolutely do. Books that don't merely place a "non-mainstream" character into the story for the sake of inclusion. Books that go much deeper than the announcement of, or allusion to, skin color, origin countries, sexual preferences. Books that don't operate as if conforming to PC checklists. Books that function outside the circle of slogans and tell real stories.

Truly diverse books are books in which the culture and cultural heritage and economics of the characters are essential to the story being told. They explore wide ranging personages, languages, histories, orientations, dreams. They are steeped in the particular social and personal pressures faced by very particular (and particularly well-drawn) characters. They introduce characters that seem to live not just on the page, but off it.

Middle grade/YA novels such as Ann E. Burg's Serafina's Promise, Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again, and Patricia McCormick's Never Fall Down and Sold have, among many other titles, introduced lasting, fully dimensional, diverse characters to younger readers. With her second stunning middle grade novel, Blue Birds, Caroline Starr Rose has made another important addition to this canon.

Blue Birds is a novel in verse that explores a little-known chapter of American history concerning the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke. It's late in the 16th century. English explorers have arrived to Roanoke Island, off Virginia. Conflict and distrust erupt among the native tribes and the English.

Into this setting Rose has placed two young girls—Alis, from England, and Kimi, a Roanoke who has watched the English bring disease and disaster to her world. Out on her own, Alis discovers the natural beauty of the place. Watching, Kimi must decide whether or not to trust this fair-skinned creature. Will Alis and Kimi be able to peel back the social prejudice and befriend one another? Will they be able to step over the great divide that rises whenever individual people are presented with difference? And what will they do—what can they do—as tensions mount in their respective communities?

Rose has given us a complex story, a real and researched story, a story that, despite its roots in late 16th century America, feels contemporary. The questions about other are neither dodged nor trumped, and they never feel commercially strategic. The questions arise because such questions naturally do, because this is the story Starr is telling. And look how gracefully and honestly she tells it:

Why do they dress as they do?
To speak their language,
does it feel as it sounds,
like sharpened rocks on  your tongue?
What makes their skin
the color of a snake's underside?
Why do the men not keep their faces smooth
but grow hair from their cheeks?
Do they ever bathe?
For their strong odor lingers
long after they've gone.

Though they
have brought us heartache,
must all of them
be enemies?
In bringing readers Alis and Kimi, Starr has not just brought us a distant era. She's brought her readers a way of sinking in with real questions about difference—and a credible suggestion that such differences might be overcome.

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42187. None of the Above: guest post + box of Harper ARCs giveaway

I’m asked to host a fair number of blog tours, and I almost always turn them down. It’s truly a labor of love, because it takes so much time and effort if you want to do justice to the book that’s being featured. When None of the Above came across my desk, however, I couldn’t say no. It’s a compelling story about a girl named Kristin whose life is like any other teenager’s, until one night as she and her boyfriend are becoming intimate, she discovers that something doesn’t feel right. When she goes to the doctor, she finds out that she is intersex, a condition that so many people seem to know so little about–myself included. In telling us Kristin’s story, I.W. Gregorio puts a spotlight on underrepresented members of our society; as Kristin learns about intersex, we do too. It’s important to understand the physical and psychological nuances... Read more »

The post None of the Above: guest post + box of Harper ARCs giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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42188. ABC Family Gives the Green Light For a Mortal Instruments TV Show

City of BonesABC Family has given the green light for a TV show based on Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments young adult novels. The executives plan to create a 13-episode drama series.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Constantin Film will produce, and Ed Decter (Helix, Unforgettable, The Client List) is on board to serve as showrunner and executive producer…Production will begin in May in Toronto.”

Back in August 2013, Constantin released a feature film adaptation of the first book City of Bones. No announcements have been made as to whether or not the lead actors of that movie, Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, will come back to reprise their roles as Clary Fray and Jace Wayland. (via Variety.com)

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42189. The Holiday and the Holyday

The Story Of Easter

By Aileen Fisher; illustrated by Stephano Vitale



As Easter 2015 approaches, I am always looking for picture books for young readers that emphasize both the holiday and holyday components of Easter.

For young children growing up today whose families celebrate Easter, perhaps it is harder than ever to find picture books that combine both.

The Easter Bunny, rebirth and spring, dominate the cultural landscape in April, and that is not necessarily a bad thing for children. But, for those families for whom Easter is the central holyday of the Christian calendar, they are looking for something more.


And Aileen Fisher’s “The Story of Easter” is one picture book that offers that “moreness.”

Originally published in 1968, her book opens with the central theme of “rejoicing.” Nature, it appears is reflecting the greatest holiday of the year for Christians as it signifies their belief in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ms. Fisher and the elegantly subdued pastel folk art feel of Stephan Vitale combine completely in a depiction of the events in the life of Jesus leading up to Easter,  whose events can be a difficult thing to present to very young children. Ms. Fisher, I think, does a fine job here.

Her picture book also provides an interesting overview of the spring festivals that preceded Easter, as people celebrated the renewal of life from winter. I can certainly identify with that after our “winterus horribilus.”


“After the Christian religion spread

to many lands, the joy of Jesus’

Resurrection became mingled with

the joy of the spring festival. Both

celebrations stood for new life. Both

stood for new hope in the hearts of people”


Ms. Fisher gives a wonderful thousand  years perspective on many of the symbols of Easter such as the egg. It takes its significance of new life from cultures as ancient as Persia and China. Plus the egg is also ….”one of the ritual foods eaten at Passover.”

From Ukranian and Polish dyed eggs to the beauties that Carl Peter Faberge created, the Easter egg takes on a whole new history. Did you know that Sephardic Jews invented a way to dye eggs using ONION SKINS? Who knew?

And the Germans, Ms. Fisher relates, were the first to initiate the Easter Egg Tree. Poked holes in an egg shell with the liquid blown through, then dyed or painted and hung on a tree or bush, is a tradition that we have done with our children ourselves for years. Try using quince branches in a pot to hang the eggs from. It blooms beautifully and usually in time for Easter!

Traditional Easter egg hunts are here of course.

And the tradition of new Christians baptized at Easter with white robes as a sign of renewal, perhaps is also reflected in the wearing of new Easter outfits?

Sunrise Easter services and lilies blooming all announce to your young reader in this great picture book, a very interesting perspective on the history, holyday and holiday combination of celebrations that make up Easter.

Ms. Fisher’s book is an entertaining and informative prelude to the old saying concerning Easter Sunday – “The sun dances as it rises on Easter morning.”

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42190. Kindle Kid's Book Trailer : "Happy Animals. A Children's Animal Picture ...

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42191. 1-3-5

Many of us have trouble setting priorities for our writing sessions. Maybe we're working on different projects in various stages. We might be querying one story, revising another, and writing and researching a third. Or maybe we're focused on a single project but have a number of things to do.

Those of you who are organized at all likely keep to-do lists, which you prioritize from 1 to n. If you do, chances are you've run into problems because prioritizing this way doesn't necessarily work. You feel guilty if your list is long and you only manage to skim the top. You feel like a failure. Even the act of prioritizing that list can be daunting. Your top priority might be clear, but how you choose to order the rest of your list might as well be rock-paper-scissors. By the time you've made your list, you're ready for a break.

This is where the 1-3-5 method might be useful. It's a pretty simple concept. Before you start your day, list your priorities, only instead of trying to list them 1 to n, list them in three levels. Put your most important task on top. This is the one thing you have to do, if you don't do anything else. On the next level, put three things that are less important. You can order them if you want, but you don't need to. If you have time after your number 1, you can choose any of these, as many as you're able to do. finally, list five tasks you'd like to get to if you have time.

Now, the idea isn't that you have to do all nine things. You have to tackle number one, and that might take more than one day. Lower priorities can wait. If you don't get toy our threes but you finished your one, you've had a good day.

The next day, you start again. Maybe one of your threes becomes a one, but you might have a new one.

Your one every day might be to write a new scene on the project you are writing. Your threes might involve the work you're revising, and maybe a couple queries for the finished project. Your fives, well, you get the idea.

For those of you who like to use technology to help stay organized, there are apps to help with this method. For example, 1-3-5 To-Do is available for both iOS and Android. But this method works just as well on a white board or a good old piece of notebook paper. If you keep a writing journal, you can put your list in your daily entry, if you want.

To me, the 1-3-5 method feels more natural than the 1-to-n method. I'm not a highly organized person, but I do this almost automatically. There's always that One Thing I really need to get done. After that, priority groups just kind of happen. Sometimes I can work down a list, but for most tasks, levels fit the way I work and think.

Maybe it will work for you too.

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42192. The Night Horses - a bookwrap

Unwrapping some quotes for you today...


Author:  Anaka Jones 

Ages:  2-5

A rhyming unwrapping of book today...

Night Horses

Early morning
Start of day
Horses gather
Eat their hay.

Off they gallop
Work with power
Toil all day
Then back for shower.

Sun descends
Dinner calls...
Served with smiles
Inside their stalls.

Humans tired
Home...days done
Horses perk up...
Time for fun!

Cards come out
They braid their manes
Paint their hooves
Now that's insane!

Funny joke time
Midnight snacks,
Dance to music,
Back to back.

Alas, they're tired
Parties done,
Time for sleep
Night, everyone!

Tomorrow's close
The sun peeks through..
Up they get
So much to do.

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42193. Thinking (out loud) about learning in makerspaces

I recently made an expedition to SXSWedu in Austin. I was really excited about this conference because I thought it’d be useful to me as an educator/facilitator/enabler of science and technology-based programs and projects at my library. I was looking forward to hearing new-to-me perspectives on student (or in my case teen)-centered learning; maybe I’d pick up some tips on how to help teens feel comfortable expressing their interests or how to frame  a challenging project in a manageable way or chunk it into achievable pieces. What I most hoped to do, I think, was speak with other educators about the unique challenges and opportunities of learning in a makerspace-type environment. It was a valuable experience in many ways, but not quite what I expected. (The usual caveats apply – YMMV, perhaps I picked the wrong sessions, didn’t find the right folks to network with, etc.)

As I left SXSWedu and headed for home, I reflected a bit on my experience. I was disappointed, because I had hoped to connect with experts - people who knew more than me about what I was doing. I didn’t. At a panel where I expected higher-level conversation about makerspaces and learning, I left frustrated that the conversation was ‘what is a makerspace?’ and ‘low-budget vs high-budget’ and ‘you don’t NEED a 3d printer’ instead of ‘this is what makes a makerspace special, and this is how to maximize that opportunity.’ I wanted nuts and bolts and a user’s manual, and I got Tinker Toys. As I thought more and more about what had happened, it occurred to me that if I wanted to talk about this, I ought to just start the conversation I wanted to hear. To that end, here are the questions on my mind right now, and some of my possible answers.

Question 1: What’s the best way to enable teen-initiated learning in a makerspace?

A makerspace-based learning environment is very different from the structure of classroom-based learning, and I wonder how to scaffold learning and build skills methodically in such an unstructured, come-and-go environment (or whether I should even be worrying about that).

We could provide pre-chunked modules for each tool or skill (in physical or digital format). For example, a set of Arduino-themed handout-style modules, beginning with Blink and advancing to more complicated projects. We could curate a tailored, leveled set of links to digital resources for self-directed learning, like Youtube videos, Instructables, tutorials from sites like SparkFun and Adafruit, and resources created in-house. Another option might be leveled project challenges, with resources on hand and mentors (staff and/or teens) on-site to help. For example, “program the EV3 robot to follow a line maze” with Mindstorms programming books and websites accessible, and volunteers from a local robotics team.

Question 2: How should progress be measured or tracked in a makerspace learning environment?

The first option that springs to mind is badging – digital, physical, or both. A bonus (and a drawback) of this method is the opportunity to engage an artistically inclined teen volunteer to design the badges. One major question for this method is the procedure for issuing badges. There could be an online form to fill out, though that feels disconnected and impersonal, and I know I value any chance to engage with a teen during the learning process. Staff could be the primary issuers, but that reinforces the adult-as-authority dynamic. Teen mentors could also be deputized to approve badge earning, but organizing that as a face-to-face interaction could be complicated. Would these badges stay with the badge earner, or in the makerspace? Would we need to create physical artifact to hold the badges?

Chart-based tracking is a simple, time-tested method. The information is all in one place and easily accessible, but it feels (to me) a bit internal and closed off. It could be made more accessible, however. A binder is more restricted than a Google Doc, and quite private as opposed to a classroom-style wall chart.

It could be handy to track progress on the resources themselves, especially for those teens who are looking for help learning to use a resource. Imagine a sticker on the back of a resource sheet or ‘Expert’ badges displayed alongside digital resources – the teen looking at those resources can easily see peer mentors. Privacy issues could come up here, but an opt-in system might alleviate that worry. One possible complication is the difficulty of scheduling peer-to-peer learning sessions with so many demands on teens’ time.

In addition to those questions, I’ve been thinking a bit about some of the unique challenges and opportunities inherent in makerspace-based learning.

One challenge I’ve run into more than once is a complicated first foray into learning a new tool, resulting in frustration and discouragement and eventual abandonment of the project altogether, which in turn colors the teen’s view of the tool and makes it less likely that the teen will attempt to use that tool again. I hope that providing a structure for learning new tools and skills (see: Question 1) will ameliorate the problem. In discussions with others, I’ve also heard the suggestion of leaving the project as-is, in hopes that the teen will revisit it or that another teen’s curiosity will be piqued and they’ll take up the challenge. (Tangential – should projects be marked abandoned or off-limits to limit toe-stepping?)

Some makerspace materials are disposable, but many must be reused (for example, Arduinos), but being able to show off projects is important. What’s the best way to record these projects for posterity and ensure that the maker has some artifact of their accomplishment? Video clips? Time lapse photography? And what’s the best way to store and catalog these digital artifacts so that they’ll be accessible to the makers? Should they also be publicly accessible?


Caroline Mossing is a Teen Services Librarian in the Teen Library at the San Antonio Central Library.


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42194. An Interview with Jessica Faust

I do a lot of interviews, many with a lot of the same questions. Every once in a while one stands out as just a little different with questions that will give the reader, hopefully, something she hasn't heard a million times before.

Anna Katmore held just that kind of interview with me and for a long time I was saving the interview on my desktop to parse bits and pieces out for you or use it as inspiration for blog posts. After almost a year (how the heck did that happen!) I decided that the best course of action would just be to share the interview and let you read it all for yourself. 



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42195. Video: A School Visit with Author G. Neri

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty (Lee & Low) and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble (Lee & Low).

His novels include Knockout Games (Carolrhoda Lab), Surf Mules (Putnam) and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning, Ghetto Cowboy (Candlewick). His latest is the free-verse picture book bio, Hello, I'm Johnny Cash (Candlewick).

Prior to becoming a writer, Neri was a filmmaker, an animator/illustrator, a digital media producer, and a founding member of The Truth anti-smoking campaign. Neri currently writes full-time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter.

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42196. RIP: Roger Slifer


Lobo co-creator and Bronze Age comics writer Roger Slifer passed away over the weekend. Slifer was badly injured in a hit and run accident two years ago, suffering traumatic brain injury that left him in a nursing home for the remainder of his life. Although he had been making some recent progress in speaking, he died en route to the emergency room. He was 60.

Slifer was best known for co-creating Lobo in The Omega Men, which ws drawn by Keith Giffen, but in the 70s he was part of The CPL Gang, a group of comics enthusiasts who put out fanzines, a group that included Roger Stern, Michael Uslan, Bob Layton, John Byrne, Tony Isabella and Steven Grant. In his career he worked as an editor, a sales manager and later in animation as a writer and producer on series including Jem and the Holograms, Transformers and G.I. Joe Extreme.

Former DC publisher Paul Levitz recalled Slifer in a Facebook post:

Roger Slifer died yesterday, victim of a random hit & run a couple of years ago who took his time dying slowly. Roger was an old friend–we’d crashed on each other’s couches, played poker, and plotted ways to make comics a better place. He came to comics from a small town whose geography he defied to become part of the CPL Gang that also gave us Bob Layton, Roger Stern, Duffy Vohland and John Byrne. In NY he was an early Marvel associate editor, DC’s first full time Direct Sales guy, a DC editor, the writer co-creator of Lobo, and an advocate for creators’ rights, helping found one of the field’s first not-profits, the Narrative Arts Alliance, alongside more established folks like Steve Gerber and Gerry Conway. For a while supported himself on occasional coloring gigs and his poker winnings (in our game that was a real challenge given the low stakes). And after he was done with comics, he became an animation writer and producer, working on a string of impactful series.

But in between all that, he published the first attempt at a DC graphic novel, a Manhunter edition we licensed him around 1978. He took the Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson collaboration and assembled it in one volume for the first time in a format modeled on French albums. Can you say ahead of his time? But important enough it came up at lunch today with a groundbreaking artist in the field remembering it as how he discovered Walt’s genius. And that was before we heard of Roger’s death.

Take a minute and remember him. Or just think of the innumerable fans, creators and even business folk who helped make comics the much more vibrant field it is today. Most are anonymous names lost to history, but their work lives on. And so does Roger’s. Thanks, pal.

Mark Evanier also remembered Slifer 

He was born (in 1954) and died in Morristown, Indiana. He loved comic books and in the late sixties and early seventies, contributed to amateur publications. This led to professional publications in the mid-seventies, writing for Marvel comics and later moving into editorial work there. As far as I could tell, he was unanimously liked and respected. In the eighties, he moved over to DC, working in both the editorial and sales divisions. He didn’t have as much time to write as he would have liked but did manage to co-create and script the popular comic, Lobo.

Roger was a tireless advocate for creators’ rights and it was squabbles on that topic eventually drove him away from the New York comic book industry. He relocated in Los Angeles where he began writing animation and becoming a producer of many shows including G.I. Joe, Transformers, Jem and the Holograms and Bucky O’Hare.


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42197. New Non-Fiction for Inquisitive Teens: Rockin Books from Zest

Zest Books is a fantastic publisher of non-fiction for teens. If you're looking for fun, engaging, and informative non-fiction, add these to your collection!

Secret societies are fascinating. Did you  know there's even a secret (and pricey!) club at Disney? Some of the groups may be familiar, some may be new, but all have interesting secrets to share! 

For teens looking for a fun read exposing secret clubs and societies, this is a book that would be a blast. It could also be a fun starting point for research projects. 

With so much information coming at teens, how do they know who and what to trust? How can they find out information for themselves? Debunk It helps teens sort out what's true and what's false. 

Debunk It helps teens sort out information and decide for themselves what to believe. 

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42198. Meet Miss Persnikity, your ms' BFF

A recent email exchange with one of my authors:

> ...I got far too many letters from
> prisoners, so a post office box was a necessity.

I get those too!
I always reply personally to those poor guys. Their handwritten hopes for publication just kinda break my heart. A LOT of Sci-Fi writers are in prison.

If we'd been in actual conversation, that third sentence might very possibly have passed unremarked because we both knew what I meant: the majority of query letters coming from a prison address are for SFF books.

But written on the page, it stops the eye (and rightfully so!)

If you'd sent a query letter that said most of your audience was in prison, we'd have a problem. Of course, what you'd meant to say was "lots of prisoners have ordered my book."

When you write, you know what you mean. Your task is to make sure I do too.  Whether your reader does  is YOUR responsibility. If I don't understand your sentences, that's YOUR problem (generally) not mine.

How to make sure you avoid this problem: other readers. No matter how you get them, it's really important to have a second set of eyes on your manuscript that will catch things like this. Someone who is thin lipped, evil-eyed, and sucks lemons for a living. If you can pay them in lemonade and sauerkraut, so much the better.

Here's the kind of thing Miss Persnikity will catch:

should of



Bale/bail (misuse of found just tonight in a published book!)

How many SFF writers are in prison (or exiled in Carkoon)

I read your manuscript with Miss Persnikity looking over my shoulder. Too many tsks tsks from her and I know you're more careless than the kind of writer I want to work with regularly.

It's not a problem to write this stuff. The problem is when you fail to revise it away.

(and how many revisions are enough? This blog post had seven in three days)

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42199. Today’s the Day! Maggie on Audio by Tavia Gilbert!

GRAIN VALLEY, Kan. (March 31, 2015) – The audiobook version of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, narrated by voice actress Tavia Gilbert, has been released today by distribution giant Blackstone Audio to major internet platforms and download sites around the … Continue reading

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42200. Kids and the Decline of Reading, Part 2: What We Can Do As Authors



In case you missed it, I posted last week about the decline of reading among kids (particularly teens), and how we could head that off at home. Some good ideas were generated, and I came away from the discussion with a particularly encouraging bit of news: many of you said that while your kids did stray from reading during the teen years, those who loved reading as a child often came back to it as an adult. That was good to hear.

So, as was mentioned in that post, if we want our kids to love reading, there are some things we can do at home to encourage that. But as authors—as the ones writing the books that we want our kids to eventually read—we also have a vested interest in this issue. Here are some steps we can take in that direction:

1. Write the books that excite us. When we write with passion, it comes through in the finished product. Being excited about our work drives us to keep at it, do it better, and make the end result awesome. If we want to provide kids with books that are exciting and full of life, we need to write the stories that excite us. As with any art form, passion translates well into the written word; it will come through in our stories.

2. Write the books that kids want to read. I know, I just said to write the book that you want to write. And it’s all well and good to be jazzed about a given topic; if you’re excited to write about Jar Jar Binks’ favorite snack foods, then by all means, go for it. Written well enough, there’s a market for just about anything. But if we want to engage kids, our best chance is to combine our passion with the kinds of books that kids want to read. Talk to librarians. Talk to classroom teachers. Better yet, talk to the kids themselves. What topics hold their interest? Which books are their favorites, and why? What kinds of books would they like to see on their library shelves? If you can learn what kids are looking for, you just might hear something that gets you all worked up, enabling you to write a book that kids want to read AND one that you’re excited about. The best of both worlds.

Sidebar: One thing that most kids like? Humor. According to a recent Scholastic Reading Report, 70% of kids want books that make them laugh. Also high on the list: books that tell a made-up story, allow them to use their imaginations, contain the kind of characters that kids emulate, teach them something new, or provide a mystery or problem to solve.



3. When possible, provide ways for teachers to use your books in the classroom. One of the big issues discussed in the comments of last week’s post was the required reading in classrooms and how the books themselves were turning kids off of reading. If we don’t like the kinds of books that are being used in classrooms, we need to be writing the books that teachers can use, and making it convenient for educators to use them.

Donna Gephart writes funny, contemporary middle-grade books that aren’t the typical required reading in classrooms, but she provides reading and activity guides for all of her books so teachers have ready-made lesson plan options for kids who read them. And teachers are using them. Another example is author Christina Farley, who recently spoke at a school in Seoul where Gilded, her young adult contemporary fantasy, had been read by the entire 8th grade class. Christina also provides Unit Study Guides and Common Core Educator’s Guides for her books, making it easy and appealing for teachers to use her books in the classroom.

Most teachers are actively seeking materials that will engage their students while helping them meet core criteria. After you’ve written a great book, be sure to provide materials for teachers, making it convenient and easy to incorporate those books into their lesson plans.

4. Provide books in kid-friendly formats. We know that the average teen is addicted to his/her phone and uses it for much more than its original purpose; kids use them to watch movies and TV shows, play games, view YouTube videos—all pleasure activities that are easy to do on the phone because the phone is always with them. While most kids still prefer print books, it’s my belief that digital books are going to increase in popularity simply because reading them is one more thing that can be done on a phone or tablet. Again, it’s about convenience for the consumer. Whenever possible, we should be reaching kids on their level and making books available in whatever format they’re most inclined to use.

5. If you’re a published author, engage in school visits. While it’s likely that teachers and many of their parents are trying to get kids to read, author visits introduce students to yet another human being who sees reading as valuable. It’s one more person saying, “Hey, this is important!” It reinforces what is hopefully already being taught. And it gives kids insight into not only the writing process but a viable career option that they may not have considered—one in which they might become authors who help to encourage the next generation of kids to read.

So those are my grand ideas for solving the problem of kids who aren’t so interested in reading. Problem solved ;). Seriously, you all offered some great advice last week on how to address this problem at home. What else can we do as authors?

The post Kids and the Decline of Reading, Part 2: What We Can Do As Authors appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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