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Blog: The Open Book
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Common Core State Standards
, Educator Resources
, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books
, Book Lists by Topic
, children's books
, close reading
, ELA common core standards
, independent bookstores
, reading comprehension
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What happens when there is a lack of or break down in communication between stakeholders about the tools used to assess children’s reading? One bookseller shared her experience when parents, booksellers, and students attempt to find the right book within a leveling framework.
In our previous post, “7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile,” we presented strategies for the book experts out in the field on strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.
Now for educators! Want a child to achieve a year and a half of reading progress and develop a life long passion for learning? The more adults you have involved in your students’ success, the better chances you have for meaningful growth and creating a love of reading.
Next week, we will offer strategies for parents.
For teachers and school staff who want to invest more stakeholders:
1. Don’t wait for summer break to provide reading lists. After each assessment cycle or parent-teacher conference period, provide parents with book ideas to help students get to the next level. Research or create booklists to hand parents at a parent-teacher conference. Except for the outliers, you can generally get away with making 3 lists (above-, on-, and below-grade level) of where students are reading.
2. Assume that no one knows your leveling system outside of school. Create a toolkit (that can be re-printed each year) for parents when they go to a library or bookstore. At parent-teacher conferences or Back-to-School Night, arm parents with 1) pre-made booklists (see above) 2) addresses and directions to the public library, bookstore, or community center you trust or have reached out to 3) a level conversion chart—If your leveling system doesn’t provide one, download one from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low.
3. Hold information sessions at Back to School Night or other times in the year for parents. Explain what leveling system you are using to assess a child’s reading ability. Demonstrate how to find books at that child’s reading level when in a store, online, or at a library. “What does an such and such level book like? Below-level book? Above-level book? What should a child be able to do at such and such reading level?” With colleagues, consider another session for nearby bookstores or public librarians. All leveling systems have websites and FAQs sections addressing misconceptions and how-tos that you can show parents, librarians, or bookstore staff.
4. Find out where your students and families are going for books. My students borrowed books from the local community center or bought books at the nearby discount retail superstore. We built a community by reaching out to the children’s librarian and community center coordinator. Reaching out to these places helped me learn about my students outside of school and familiarize staff with our goals. Share any booklists and conversion charts. Libraries and bookstores will be thrilled to be a part of your community. As I said last week, students may move on, but you and book staff are in it for the long haul.
5. Extend the classroom to your local library or bookstore. When I learned where my students were looking for books (and what poor quality those offerings were at a discount store), I realized that many had not been to the neighborhood branch of the public library and did not know what the library had to offer.
- Invite a librarian to class to talk to students about finding books when they are outside the classroom. Show students how to find books when they don’t know a book’s level (Hello, five finger rule!)
- Post in class or send home the library or bookstore’s calendar of monthly events.
- Encourage families to join you at a weekend storytelling event at the library or an evening author event at the bookstore (you might be able to persuade your school to count these events as parent community service hours).
- Is your local library or bookstore on Pinterest, such as Oakland Public Library TeenZone? Check out your branch’s or favorite bookstore’s new releases and collections. Show families how to engage with the library or bookstore from a school computer or on a mobile phone.
6. Simulate the real world in your classroom. Many teachers organize their classroom libraries around their guided reading levels or assessment leveling system to make it easy for students to find the right book. Yet, students need experience interacting with books that aren’t leveled—as most books in bookstores and libraries won’t be. Consider organizing your classroom library by author, theme, genre, or series—or at least a shelf or bin—so students can practice figuring out the right fit book.
7. Remember: You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on librarians and bookstore staff for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you help librarians and local bookstores and the parents, the more you help the child.
8. Think about the message. Parents may hear that their child is at Lexile level 840 and try to help you and their child by only seeking out Lexile level 840 books. Coach parents to continue to expose students to a wide range of texts, topics, and levels. Parents may need a gentle reminder that we want our readers to develop their love of reading, along with skills and critical thinking. This may include children seeking out and re-reading favorites or comfort books that happen to be lower leveled or trying harder books that happen to be on their favorite subject.
Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.
For further reading:
7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile
What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.
Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Filed under: Common Core State Standards
, Educator Resources
, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books
Tagged: Book Lists by Topic
, children's books
, close reading
, ELA common core standards
, independent bookstores
, reading comprehension
Yesterday I was in the Market Street Bookshop
at Mashpee Commons
in Mashpee, Massachusetts. My traveling companion and I were discussing the book about trucks or trains that we wanted to find for a very young family member. We did see a truck book on a shelf, but we both agreed that there was too much text for our young one.
I saw a bookseller come out from behind the counter, and the next thing I know she's bringing us a copy of Trucks
, a "slide and find" book from Priddy Books
. It's a board book, which works very well for our guy, and there's no lengthy text for him to sit through. It's mainly "What is this?" type stuff with some color matching thrown in. It also has a little something for little fingers to do. Instead of the small lifting sections you usually see in kids' books, which often end up torn by those little fingers I was just talking about, this book has sliders. We'll see how those hold up.
I was incredibly impressed with the way that bookseller hit the nail on the head for us. I've never experienced real bookseller handselling like that. I also know a lot of people have never heard the term "handselling."
Well, if you haven't, that's what it is--matching customers/readers with books. I thought it was exciting.
The New Yorker (online) has a fascinating article titled, "The Bookstore Brain." It's by Sam Sacks who writes the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal and is an editor at Open Letters Monthly.
I came upon this article while doing research for another article on by-pass marketing for selling books and became engrossed. It's an inside look at book stores and how they determine which
A small publication party at my local bookstore
today here in Winthrop, WA. Much thanks to Trail's End for hosting and for the small but attentive crowd for turning out in the middle of your Sunday afternoon. Special thanks to Abby for making AWESOME COOKIES!
I'll be posting a Facebook event announcement later this evening, but Harts Pass Comics and I will be making our next appearance at Village Books
in Fairhaven/Bellingham, WA on Saturday, May 17th. Don't miss it. GRRR!
Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ.
Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?”
The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But it wouldn’t be the last.
“Umm,” I said, “a bookstore.”
The answer seemed obvious, but later I thought about it further. Had I bought it in a physical bookstore? I probably purchased it online. This eighth grader couldn’t do that without a parent with a credit card. And where was the nearest bookstore? It was in the suburbs, and, again, this eighth grader probably couldn’t get there without someone willing and able to drive him.
Furthermore, the city’s public libraries left much to be desired. They actually closed down completely a few years later, making Camden the largest city in the United States at the time without a public library (thankfully, a couple branches eventually reopened as part of the county system).
The Camden Free Public Library
That simple, surprising question actually spoke volumes: Camden, the resting place of Walt Whitman, was a literary desert. It’s not that there weren’t people who still read and wrote, as there certainly were. I knew students who read well above their grade level, inhaling books like oxygen, and then offering profound comments that left me reeling. But the sad truth was that they were few and far between.
Many students in the inner-city do not grow up in literacy-rich environments. They may not have been read to regularly as children. Their houses might not have contained several shelves of books. They might not take regular trips to the library or a store that only sells books.
Eight years later, I now teach high school English at a charter school in West Philadelphia, but this question and its implications have remained in the forefront of my mind. Relative to the nearby neighborhood schools, our students perform pretty well, with a vast majority of each graduating class gaining acceptance to four-year colleges or universities.
Yet our average student still reads below grade level, our top students’ SAT scores are unimpressive, and a majority of our students couldn’t tell you the last time they read an entire book for fun.
I appreciate the complexity behind acquiring language and literacy. But it seems to me that on the whole these are the cumulative consequences of not being surrounded by books and learning to love them. It’s a simple truth overlooked amidst today’s mania for testing: if kids experience the joy of reading, they will read more and become better readers. A student bombarded with practice reading comprehension questions or scripted intervention curriculum for hours a day, year after year, learns only that they hate what they are being told is “reading.”
So, fellow educators, how do you get your students to love reading, to enjoy a book so much that they want to find a bookstore and go buy it? How did you ever get to that point?
The post “Where do you buy these?” appeared first on The Horn Book.
I've been so busy this week. I went to San Antonio and signed at The Book Festivals of Texas booth at the Texas Library Association's Annual conference. I also shared the news of my upcoming YA Rom-Com PLUMB CRAZY. Best of all, I spent a few days with some true heroes this week -- water for my soul this week. I'm chatting about that.
I trekked across the great state of Texas with Kathy Whitehead, and truly felt like I had magically been transported to a Porfirio Salinas' painting. Here's a link to "Springtime in Texas" by Salinas. It makes me want shove my WIP in a corner and spend my days painting the world around me.
The wonderful DannyWoodfill of The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas was the bookseller for the Book Festivals' booth. Oh, independent bookstores fill me with happy feelings of freedom of speech. I also feel this happiness that someone is spending his life investing in the future, in his community and ultimately our whole county by adding fabric to the community. How? Who supports local authors? Who understands the specific needs of a local reading community? Who creates a hub for creative folk within a community? Who can guide a non-reader into the world of reading? (So huge!) I hope this makes you want to drive over to your local independent and buy some books!
Big shout out for Tabatha Perry. She heads up the Montgomery County Book Festival. Again another cultural investment maven! A real hero! Here's an interview with her. How does she add to the fabric of our community? Who supports local writers? Who will create communities of readers who have a wide vision of the world through reading? Who will light imagination fires in the minds of teens? Yes, Tabatha Perry! Books saved me as teenager. I have no idea how I would have survived those years without books. I wish there had been book festivals when I was a teen.
Finally, I'm not forgetting the army of heroes, the Librarians of Texas!!!! Yes, these folks are the best ever. I am at war with Texas. Why? This stuff: Why do we need librarians in elementary schools? Let's save money in the budget and do away with those librarians.Why do we need any librarians at all? Here is my why....we must facilitate life-long learners, an informed global community and all-access educated citizenry.
This apparently means little to so many Texans. Here is a link to Texas Literacy facts. Understand me. I love Texas. I'm a generational Texan. This is my home. But this galls me: Football is the important thing. I know this is not a popular stance, but I don't seen giant shining libraries across Texas. I see football fields, really fancy ones. I'd like to see a huge library as the fabric of community in every small town in Texas. I'd like to see a big staff of librarians stamping out ignorance that is choking the people of my state.
Don't believe me? My home town football field: Waller ISD stadium (accommodates 10,000). My hometown library: The Melanee Smith Memorial Library (no words for how much I treasure this place as teen). The library doesn't have a website. Just a page. There is one librarian.
Do me a favor -- visit your local bookstore, your wonderful local library, and/or a book festival and thank important heroes in our world.
I will be back next week with more April Showers.
Here is the doodle: Girl in Bluebonnets.
From a Texas gal I like, a quote for your pocket.
The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. Libba Bray
is our sister-site's weekly mailbox-sharing feature.
Crikey, it's been a while! I've only acquired a handful of books since last time, which is good for the hoard, but I do also have a ton of news.
I'll try to bullet-point it and use lots of photos so you don't get antsy :)
Sorry, not going to happen. I have a lot to say, I guess!
First off, I finally started hitting the bookstores near my parents' place in Manila. Did you know that in a recent study by the World Culture Score Index, the Philippines is the top 4 country in the world in terms of time spent reading per person? The US is #22 on that list
, though only a couple hours less per week on average.
In the mall near my mom's house alone there are at least 4 bookstores, that I know of anyway. One is inside the supermarket. In some of the malls the bookstores take up 3 or more floors! There's even one mall where I was getting so confused because the same company would have a store on the ground level and one on the third floor. Not just one company, but two different ones with multiple locations in the same mall. It's pretty crazy.
Anyway, here's one shelf from a store called Book Sale. It's basically a used bookstore (they sell some new books from local presses as well as magazines and assorted stationery like gift wrap and notebooks) and they are freaking everywhere. I was too embarrassed to take a photo of the store to show you what one looks like (I was already kind of lurking and surreptitiously taking pics). They basically cram everything into a tiny space, pile books on the floor, triple-stack them on shelves and tables with no real order. You just have to pick through and find something you might want to read. I think it's pretty fun! I ended up with Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking
and Ann Patchett's Bel Canto
for about $2 each.
I also went to Fully Booked
at the GreenHills Promenade. I like them because the interior is kind of cool, they face out a lot of their books (especially in arts and design, where it matters so much!) though this isn't one of their coolest locations. Their kids/YA section was in disappointing disarray, but at least they have some nice huge display tables for new and bestselling YA. I even found some sale books for half off!
The thing they really have going for them is their selection. I just have to stop myself from going in and re-organizing their shelves. I will be doing a Shop Hop post soon (yep, bringing that back) where I will go into more detail.
Next up, I finally freaking finished the Pasadena Teen Book Festival
website! PHEW. I hope you'll take a look when you're done here.
Also, next weekend is the 3rd Annual Yarn Crawl LA
--our friends at Unwind
in Burbank will be hosting Salina Yoon
on Sat, Apr 5 from 11am-1 pm. There will be storytime, crafting, and snacks. My cousin and epic-level cake popper Adri P.
is bringing Penguin and Bootsy pops! Our very own Thuy
is running the show. Salina will show kids how to do finger-knitting, even though she admits she doesn't know how to knit for reals, haha! Once Upon a Time Bookstore
will be selling Salina's books, including the Penguin
titles and her latest book, Found
! Awesome yarnista and knitwear designer Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns
created a scarf and hat pattern inspired by Penguin in Love
. You can peek at the samples here
and pick up the kit at Unwind during the Yarn Crawl! Last but not least, our favorite photographer Katie Ferguson
will be on hand to document the event. I can't be there, sadly, but maybe I can eat some cake pops while I look at the photos afterwards!
This weekend, I headed out to Glorietta Mall to meet up with some of the Filipino book bloggers (find them #PHYAbookbloggers
on Twitter). Thanks Louisse
), and Jesselle
) for hanging out with me! They actually had to run off to Becca Fitzpatrick
's blogger forum and OMG you have to go look at their photos because Black. Ice. ARCs. Who do I have to beg, bribe, or bake for at Simon & Schuster to get a hold of one of those?
My selfie skills were strained to the max, haha! You can see the rest of our photos on my Instagram feed @frootjoos
. I totally missed Kai
) but I still hope to meet up with her and get a #PHYAbookbloggers t-shirt because how cool is that?!
Anyway, about the signing. I didn't get to go because I was going to have to work at 11 pm (I know, time zone madness) and the signing was at 4 pm. So what, you say? That's plenty of time!
People, this was the line at National Bookstore
at 8 am for this 4 pm signing:
This was the bottom floor of the bookstore (which has 4 floors I think, I didn't get to them all) at 1 pm:
Scheiße! American YA fans, you don't even know. I think we sometimes take these events for granted, since so many YA authors actually live there. On the other hand, publishers, this is where you should send YA authors. Pinoys read! They read widely. We love fantasy as much as we love contemporary. We love Andrew Smith as much as we love Cassandra Clare--yes, they've read and loved The Marbury Lens
. We are equal-opportunity readers. We buy books (libraries aren't really a big thing here) and we wait patiently in massively mind-numbingly long lines. We fangirl like it's going out of style (you would know how over the top we go if you had been here the year Michael Jackson died--I swear I didn't enter a single mall, jeepney, or restaurant that didn't have MJ songs playing or being performed by avid karaoke singers).
In case you're wondering, here's who I heard they want to see the most: Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer E. Smith, and Leigh Bardugo.
I actually really wanted to see Kate Evangelista (Til Death
, Entangled Teen 2014) but I had to work that day, too. Bummer! Her launch party looked like it was a lot of fun. I did buy her book at National yesterday.
National actually books auditoriums for some visits, where they expect way more people than will fit in their store. Example:
Anyway, I'm sad I didn't get to see Becca, but I have already met her 3 times, and hopefully she'll tour in SoCal when Black Ice
when it hits the shelves on October 7, 2014.
Crap, I just thought of three more book-related things to tell you. But this post is way over tl;dr already so I'll just leave you with this:
Folks, I legit fell off a futon when I read the email telling me to expect one in the mail. Like I wasn't excited enough to get Ruin & Rising
when it releases on June 17! Anyway, my husband took a photo of the package contents with my lil' Darkling-wannabe John Carter, but he refused to read me the chapter sampler over FaceTime. *frowny-face*
Blog: The Open Book
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Recently The New York Times paired articles by Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers, discussing the lack of representation of people of color in children’s literature. Those excellent articles—which pointed out that in the long history of children’s literature we haven’t made much progress—caught the attention of best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, who started the #colormyshelf hashtag on Twitter asking for suggestions of diverse books that she could go purchase for her daughter. What a wonderful way to bring attention to what parents can do!
Just because diverse books don’t always show up front and center in bookstores doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Here’s a list of places to find great diverse books for young readers. Buy them, read them, recommend them. Showing demand for diverse books is one of the best ways to encourage the publication of more of them!
1. Publishers: Several small publishers (us included) focus on diverse books. They’re a great place to start, and you can usually buy books from them directly, order them through an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or ask your local bookstore to order them (which also displays a demand for diverse titles):
Lee & Low Books (diverse books for young readers featuring a range of cultures)
Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low (diverse middle grade and young adult speculative fiction)
Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low (bilingual English/Spanish picture books)
Cinco Puntos Press (adult and children’s literature, and multicultural and bilingual books from Texas, the Mexican-American border, and Mexico)
Just Us Books (black interest and multicultural books for children and young adults)
Roadrunner Press (fiction and nonfiction for young readers focusing on the American West and America’s Native Nations)
Piñata Books, an imprint of Arte Público (juvenile and young adult books focused on Hispanic culture and by U.S. Hispanic authors)
Groundwood Books (Canadian publisher of books for young readers with a focus on diverse voices)
2. Blogs That Recommend Diverse Books: There are some great bloggers out there who do the hard work of seeking out, reading, and recommending diverse children’s books, so you don’t have to! Just hop over to their blogs to find great new books to add to your collection:
The Brown Bookshelf (African American books)
American Indians in Children’s Literature (Native American books)
Latinos in KidLit (Latino books )
BookDragon (all diverse books, with a special focus on Asian/Pacific Islanders cultures)
Diversity in YA (diverse young adult books)
Rich in Color (diverse books for all young readers)
Crazy QuiltEdi (diverse books for all young readers)
Lee & Low Pinterest Board (diverse books searchable by genre and age)
3. Awards: If you’re simply looking for the best of the best that’s been published each year, awards are the place. Books that win these awards have been vetted by experts (mostly librarians) so you can expect them to be top quality, beautiful, and culturally accurate.
Coretta Scott King Award (African American books)
Pura Belpré Award (Latino books)
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
Middle East Book Award
American Indian Youth Literature Award
South Asia Book Award
Américas Book Award (Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino books)
Tomás Rivera Book Award (Mexican American books)
Notable Books for a Global Society (outstanding trade books that help promote understanding across lines of culture, race, sexual orientation, values, and ethnicity)
4. Bookstores: If you prefer to purchase your books through good old-fashioned browsing, there are several great independent bookstores that make it a point to stock diverse books. Below are a few we’ve been to, or that have been recommended to us by readers. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to support them!
Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
Calamus Bookstore, Boston, MA
La Casa Azul New York, NY
Quimby’s, Chicago, IL
Women and Children First, Chicago, IL
The Book Stall, Winnetka, IL
Politics and Prose, Washington DC
Busboys and Poets, Washington DC
The Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, VT
Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, MN
Ancestry Books, Minneapolis, MN (coming soon)
Antigone Books, Tucson, AZ
Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
Librería Martinez, Santa Ana, CA
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!
Filed under: Diversity Links
, Publishing 101
Tagged: book awards
, multicultural books
A Facebook friend linked to an old Slate article called Don't Support Your Local Bookseller. It has the kind of title guaranteed to attract irate readers.
The good point the author makes is one that I find few people want to discuss--the cost of books. There are people who truly can't afford to buy much in the way of full-price, hard cover books or even your classier paperbacks. Your really serious readers need to get their hands on a lot of books. How many of those people can support a local bookseller for all their reading needs? Making books available at more affordable prices and whenever readers want to buy them, as Amazon and Barnes & Noble do, makes books more available. It encourages the sale of books, and it encourages reading.
Having said that, I did have a great independent bookstore experience while on retreat last week. Our cross-country ski spot was suffering from weather shock--too warm and too rainy. Trails were closed almost all week, and we never took our skis out of the car. I was worried about running out of reading material, which was ridiculous because I always overpack books and magazines. So we wandered down the mountain to Bear Pond Books, where I browsed and, yes, stumbled upon what was a perfect book match for me, Jo Walton's Farthing. I'd never heard of Walton, and I believe I'd never read an alternative history story. But what this book does is mash together the mid-twentieth century British Scotland Yard detective story, along with the British country estate story, and the British World War II story, all of which I've been known to enjoy over the years, and puts them into that alternative history world. This was kind of a custom made book for me, and it is unlikely I would have found it on Amazon.
Farthing is the first in a three-book series, and I'm interested in picking up the others. Is that great for that author? Yes. Is it great for her publisher? I hope so. And, yes, it's because of the classic independent bookstore experience.
But you know what? I may end up getting them through Amazon. And not just because I can get them cheaper there and may decide to purchase them for my Kindle. An equally important reason is that I have to go quite a way to find an independent bookstore. That one I visited during retreat week? It's five hours from here. Limiting myself to independent bookstores means limiting book purchases, both because of price and because those stores are few and far between in these parts.
Good independent bookstores provide a wonderful shopping experience for readers. But let's face reality. Amazon provides a good, though different, shopping experience, too.
I was in Storrs, Connecticut earlier this month and noticed the UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center. I didn't get in there, but should be able to do so in the next few months. Though the main UConn Co-op has a parking garage these days, this new bookstore should be even more convenient to shoppers.
Yeah, I'm a pragmatist. Things like parking matter to me.
Here are some tips for quick meetings with librarians and booksellers.
better way to continue celebrating our 4 x 4 Blogiversary Celebration by
introducing our readers to the incomparable Pat Wroclawski, Bookseller
Extraordinaire to the 4th Power.
Pat left the world way too soon in March of 2005 but her Spirit lives on in the
countless individuals she touched – readers, writers, parents, teachers, me.
many times I finish a novel, or page through a picture book, or wonder at a
biography and think, “Oh, how Pat would have loved this book!”
knew of Pat long before I – boldly –
introduced myself to her. She’d managed
the Chestnut Court Book Shop in Winnetka for 15 years, then headed the Children’s
Department at Kroch’s and Brentano’s flagship store in Chicago before returning
to the renamed Bookstall at Chestnut Court as a consultant. (FYI: Kroch’s and Brentano’s was the largest
bookstore in Chicago and at one time the largest privately-owned bookstore chain
in the U.S. It closed in 1995.)
I’d heard about Pat proved true and then some.
never-ending knowledge of children’s literature.
impeccable taste in books.
love of reading.
respect for and interest in writers and illustrators.
passion for All Things Children's Book glowed from within.
Bookstall’s Children’s Book Section became an invaluable resource for me as I
traveled my Writer’s Plotline. The best
of the best lined the section’s shelves.
course Pat herself proved the best resource of all.
cheered me on as I made my way, introducing me to esteemed authors and
illustrators, to books I should know, to opportunities that helped me grow as a
writer, and to the Association of Booksellers for Children, which Pat helped
found, now a part of ABA re-named the ABC Children’s Group and a most vital piece
of the Children’s Book World.
I shall always remain grateful for how warmly Pat welcomed and embraced my fellow
She personally decorated the store’s windows and
greeted each and every guest.
she was there in the audience of Northern Illinois University’s March 1999
Children’s Literature Conference keeping me strong in my first-time-ever speaking presentation to 500 educators and librarians
Pat’s smile undid my buckling knees.
well as mentor, teacher, advocate, friend.
somehow made time too to help found in 1989 yet another important children’s
book organization, Winnetka’s and Northfield’s Alliance for Early Childhood -
community collaboration that promotes the healthy growth and development of
children from birth age to eight by providing resources, programs, and support for
the parents and professionals who teach and care for them.”
years Pat wrote the organization’s monthly column “At Home with Books.” In the
Fall, 2005 issue, her daughter Margaret Wroclawski Griffen shared with readers
what her mother taught her about children’s books.
“Everything I Know About Children’s Books I Learned From My Mother,” this beautiful tribute keeps Pat’s Spirit alive.
The Margaret Wroclawski Memorial Collection now holds some
100 titles at the Winnetka/Northfield Public Library.
the books they hand their readers, booksellers change lives too.
extraordinary ones, like my Pat Wroclawski.
forget to celebrate our 4th Blogiversary by entering our 4 x4
give-away! You can win one of 4 $25 gift
certificates to Anderson’s Bookshop! All
you need do is share the name of your favorite
independent bookstore, and maybe even bookseller.
HERE for details.
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In her first guest post, author/illustrator Christy Hale shared ideas for how to plan a successful book launch. In her follow-up post, Hale shares tips for planning storytelling and activities for bookstore appearances. Hale is the author and illustrator of, most recently, Dreaming Up, which was named a 2012 ALA Notable Book by the American Library Association and one of the Horn Book Magazine‘s Best Books of 2012.
1. Consider the audience when planning your program. Bookstores host different types of author events. If possible attend other programs at bookstores where you will appear so you can scope out the typical crowd. The time of the event may be a good indicator of the age level likely to attend. At Kepler’s Story Time Sundays, I have read to toddlers and preschoolers with a few older school age children scattered in the mix. A mid-week morning time program at BookSmart in a shopping mall in San Jose drew in moms and caregivers with toddlers and preschoolers. An afternoon program at Linden Tree in Los Altos brought school age children. An early evening program at Reach and Teach in San Mateo was geared toward whole families. My evening launch party at Books Inc. in Palo Alto was mostly attended by adults.
2. Plan age-appropriate readings and activities. Attention span and developmental abilities vary from one age group to another.
- 2-3 year olds have an attention span of 3-4 minutes. They like repetition and imitation. They understand actions and objects.
- 4-5 years olds have an attention span of 5-10 minutes. They love fantasy and have great imagination.
- 6-8 year olds have an attention span of 15-20 minutes. They are concrete and literal minded. They can understand chronological sequence.
- 9-12 year olds have an attention span of 30-45 minutes. They like to be challenged and can learn abstract concepts.Try these ideas when reading aloud:
- Practice reading ahead of time and look for themes in your story. Make a list of questions to ask your audience (Who has seen a _____? Who likes_______?) Find areas of the story that allow for active participation.
- Be expressive! Ham it up and act it out. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- If you have a long story, feel free to skip some parts to adapt to the attention span of your group.
- Invite children to add sounds effects at select points in the story (animal noises, wind blowing, car motor, and so forth). In Elizabeti’s School, Lee & Low author Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen asks children to count to five in Swahili along with her, “Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano.”
- Model actions for kids to follow (Look right. Look left. Look up. Look down. Look all around.).
- Ask kids to join in repeating phrases.
- Employ props; bring show and tell. I bring a kanga from Tanzania when I read Elizabeti’s Doll.
- Use visual aids that allow for kid participation, like felt boards, large sketchpads.
3. Consider the physical space allotted for your reading and activity. Will attendees sit in chairs? On a rug? Are there tables for activities? Can attendees spread out on the floor?
4. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
- Plan activities that involve supplies the bookstore might have on hand (like glue sticks, colored crayons, pencils, and markers) OR provide your own supplies.
- Avoid activities that require water for clean up.
- Design your own activity handouts that can also serve as further promotion.
- Consider open-ended activities that allow children and adults to participate at their own developmental levels.
Here are some examples of bookstore activities I’ve designed that have been a big hit:
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building
- BUILD YOUR DREAMS SLOTTED BUILDING CARDS. (downloadable PDF) Materials: scissors, colored pencils, and some big dreams.
- MINI DOMES. Materials: toothpicks and gumdrops.
The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan
- DESIGN YOUR OWN DREAM HOUSE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, pencils, and imagination. Great lesson for older kids.
- EAST-WEST KIDS COLLAGE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, recycled patterned business envelopes, scissors, glue sticks, and colored markers.
How to Plan A Successful Book Launch, Part I
Filed under: Activities
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, Publishing 101
Tagged: author advice
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, illustrator advice
, Reading Aloud
My friend Carole Horne, general manager of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, told me a story about this man who came into her bookstore last summer to browse. He thumbed his way through their “recommended” section, then came up to the cashier seemingly empty-handed. Nope. He put a five dollar bill on the counter and said that he was going on a trip and would download his books but had spent a lot of time browsing and felt like he owed the shop some money.
The story is a mixed bag, but there is a measure of good in it. The guy recognized the intrinsic worth of the local bookstore. This time he forewent its paper products that would weight down his luggage. But he did value the expertise of independent bookstore buyers, the taste of those who curated that special section of books worth his attention, the opportunity to look into familiar books to see if they appealed and browse unknown ones to find a treasure. And at least it translated into some value for the store as well.
A worse story. This week I was picking up a book and a calendar (yes, I still write down my appointments in little white squares) at nearby Brookline Booksmith and noticed a shopper jotting down titles on a list next to people’s names. Wanna bet that list is going home to a computer and amazon.com?
The WORST story. Quite simply, the Amazon app. For those of you who haven't heard or read about it, Amazon has created an app called, “Price Check.” People go into stores, enable the app’s location feature, scan products using their phones and are immediately offered 5 percent off 3 identical Amazon purchases for up to 5 dollars. In other words, the app is turning brick-and-mortar stores into unwilling showrooms where consumers can check out the product, and leaf through a few pages before they click a button to save five bucks (plus, don’t forget, the sales tax!)
Right now, Price Check (or as I see it, the Death Star) is only using consumers as its foot soldiers to do reconnaissance on products like electronics, toys, music, sporting goods, and DVDS. Then, with a click, it sucks up this market. How long before books, the product that defined Amazon, will follow? Then how long before all our favorite bookstores will no longer exist?
People in all parts of the book business know something about death by a thousand cuts. But writers—especially kids’ book writers, especially nonfiction kids’ book writers—know that losing local bookstores is more like the Sword of Damocles. The pricelessness of booksellers has been written about so often, I’ll just print the keywords and you can fill in the blanks: know their stock standards, take chances, word of mouth, hand sell, actually read, actually care.
Let's not lose all those beautiful keywords for five bucks and some sales tax.
Come on everybody, it’s the Christmas buying season. There will
There were two dueling posts in the Internetosphere about Amazon and independent bookstores yesterday that took vastly different approaches to the value of bookstores and Amazon to literary and reading life.
First, in a provocative broadside against bookstores called "Don't Support Your Local Bookseller
," Slate's Farhad Manjoo tackles what he sees as misplaced nostalgia for bookstore culture, the economic efficiency of Amazon, and argues that selling boatloads of books (which Amazon does) is more important to literature culture than setting up folding chairs for book readings:
It’s not just that bookstores are difficult to use. They’re economically inefficient, too... I’m always astonished by how much they want me to pay for books. At many local stores, most titles—even new releases—usually go for list price, which means $35 for hardcovers and $9 to $15 for paperbacks. That’s not slightly more than Amazon charges—at Amazon, you can usually save a staggering 30 to 50 percent. In other words, for the price you’d pay for one book at your indie, you could buy two.
I get that some people like bookstores, and they’re willing to pay extra to shop there... And that’s fine: In the same way that I sometimes wander into Whole Foods for the luxurious experience of buying fancy food, I don’t begrudge bookstore devotees spending extra to get an experience they fancy.
What rankles me, though, is the hectoring attitude of bookstore cultists like [Richard] Russo, especially when they argue that readers who spurn indies are abandoning some kind of “local” literary culture. There is little that’s “local” about most local bookstores... Sure, every local bookstore promotes local authors, but its bread and butter is the same stuff that Amazon sells—mass-manufactured goods whose intellectual property was produced by one of the major publishing houses in Manhattan. It doesn’t make a difference whether you buy Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs at City Lights, Powell’s, Politics & Prose, or Amazon—it’s the same book everywhere.
In the other corner you have Bookavore, the manager of indie bookseller Word Brooklyn
, who has... well, pretty mild-mannered words for Amazon and a list of ways she feels they could be a bit less evil
I don’t want to make lists of the reasons why Amazon sucks because I feel like I’m handing them a blueprint for rehabilitation.Many people want so, so badly to like Amazon, and many people already do. (See: comments sections on any article talking about Amazon.) Any effort they made towards making the world a better place would be embraced wholeheartedly by consumers and publishers, who mostly, when it comes right down to it, just want things to be con
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Not one, but two new blog editors! Alice Northover joined the OUPblog in January 2012 as our New York-based Editor-in-Chief. Social Media Manager here at Oxford University Press, you can also find her tweeting @OUPAcademic and Facebooking as Oxford Academic. Prior to joining Oxford, she worked in book publicity, annoyed colleagues about social media, argued semantics, and fantasized about running away to Paris and living as a late 1950s “intello.” Now she can be found wandering aimlessly around New York, obsessing about her cat, and still arguing semantics. And now on to a quick self-interview for you blog readers… –Herself
What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading Is That a Fish in Your Ear? : Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos, which I picked up entirely because I saw the book trailer a few months ago. I’m a bit of a word nerd, which only got worse when I studied French and made a brief attempt at becoming a translator. When you come across a word that stumps you, just stealing that word into English feels incredibly satisfying.
Which word do you have to look up in the dictionary repeatedly?
I can’t remember. Why do you think I have to look it up so much? I’m fairly certain it begins with “p.”
What weird things do you have in your desk drawer?
I haven’t built up a drawer full of weird objects yet, but I do have band aids (“plasters” to our UK readers), lavender hand cream, nail clippers, and some heel inserts. I have two pairs of shoes in my filing cabinet and no files.
What do you look at on the Internet when you think no one’s watching?
I have an irresistible urge to look at slideshows of celebrity dresses after awards ceremonies. I’m very ashamed of this habit.
What’s your favorite bookstore?
A tough decision in New York — we have so many great bookstores. I’ve loved St. Mark’s Bookshop in the Village since my days at NYU. It’s small, friendly, and “curated” as people like to say when justifying the existence of independent bookstores. I’m also very fond of Book Culture on the Upper West Side, my go-to place for esoteric academic titles on Persian military garb or Byzantine political history.
If your friend were visiting NYC, what is the one thing they should do while they are here?
Go for a walk along the High Line, an old elevated freight rail line that has been converted into a public park. Walking among wildflowers while three stories up between (and sometimes under) buildings gives you an entirely different perspective on the city. And it seems crazy, but New Yorkers walk differently on the High Line. They stroll.
Which book-to-movie adaptation did you actually like?
I enjoyed the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish films (haven’t seen the American one yet). One quibble: The second book has a killer closing line; why didn’
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It's difficult to overstate how big of a deal it is to bookselling culture that the Department of Justice is reportedly planning to sue five publishers and Apple for colluding over e-book prices
In order to understand why
this is a big deal, here's a brief recap of what led us here (this summary is described in greater detail in my post Why Some E-Books Cost More Than the Hardcover
).Wholesale vs. Agency
At the time Amazon kicked off the modern e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle, e-books were sold according to the traditional wholesale model. Essentially, publishers set a cover price and they got half, the bookseller got half. If a book was listed at $25, publishers got $12.50 on an e-book sale, the bookseller got $12.50.
Problem was from publishers' perspective, Amazon was selling some e-books at $9.99 and taking a loss on those sales, all the while locking readers into their proprietary format. Not only did this devalue what consumers felt a book "should" cost, publishers were worried that competitors wouldn't be able to enter the e-book space because they wouldn't be able to compete with Amazon's prices. No competitors would mean a virtual monopoly for Amazon, and publishers were presumably concerned about Amazon's ability to then dictate terms.
Along comes Apple and the iPad. Steve Jobs talked the publishers into the agency model - publishers set their own prices and they get 70% of the proceeds.
The irony is that the agency model actually meant publishers received less money per copy sold. Napkin math for wholesale: $25 cover price, they got $12.50. Agency: Price that e-book at $14.99 and they get $10.50.
Publishers then turned around and imposed that agency deal on Amazon, which is the subject of the DOJ investigation. The end result: There really is more competition in the e-book world, but prices are higher than they likely would be if Amazon and others were able to discount as they saw fit.Competing on Price
I don't presume to know what the end result of the current discussions will be and it appears that there are a range of possible outcomes. But if it ends up meaning the end of the agency model this will have massive, massive repercussions across the book business.
Up until now, conscious or not, consumers have grown accustomed to the idea that e-books cost what they cost. The decision of what e-reader to buy or which app to read on has largely been driven by user experience preferences.
Do you like the feel of the nook? The ease of the Kindle app? The pretty iBooks page animation? Those are the decisions people have been basing their decisions on - the reading and buying experience.
But if the agency model is dismantled in whole or in part and Amazon and others can go back to pricing as they see fit, suddenly price
is going to be at the forefront of consumer choice.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Amazon and their deep pockets are going to have a big advantage in that environment.Who wins?
The irony of returning to the wholesale model is that publishers may actually make more money per e-book copy sold even as prices go down for consumers.
This sounds like a win win for publishers, but it ignores the big losers: traditional bookstores, wh
My friend and critique group partner, Carolyn DeCristofano, had a great signing event at Westwinds Bookshop for her amazing book, A Black Hole is Not a Hole (which has gotten FOUR starred reviews, by the way
).Carolyn has a way of making science easy and fun. The audience was eager to volunteer for her fun activities that helped explain black holes.
|Carolyn (right) and I|
|Critique group pals (l to r) me, Carolyn, Wiesy MacMillan, Valerie Kerzner|
|Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, MA|
Shelf Awareness wrote about some of the new ticketed events a small bookstore chain is doing:
As part of a "total reinvention" of the stores' events programs, Copperfield's Books, which has eight locations in Sonoma and Napa counties in Northern California, is launching several new themed series, all of which make us wish even more that we lived in the area.
The most striking is the Debut Dinner series, which this season consists of three dinners, each for a different first novelist, that will be held at local restaurants. Readers pay between $65 and $75, have a three-course meal with wine, speak with the author and receive a copy of the book. The first dinner features Amanda Coplin, author of The Orchardist.
What really caught my eye is they are going to have a mystery series next year called Dinners to Die For.
Read more about the events here.
I've hosted a LOT of bookstore events over the years, and while most authors do fine, there is still a lot of angst about the reading portion of the event. Authors can be shy-boots or nervous-nellies who are amazing at strutting their stuff on the page, but are afraid to read aloud in front of people.
Deep breathing helps, as does finding friendly faces in the audience and trying to talk to them, as does practicing at home. But there is also something technical you can do beforehand to make sure you are totally prepared and ready to bring the awesome.
One of the biggest problems when reading aloud is that when people are nervous and confused, they rush. If you are rushing, mumbling or fumbling, you will lose your audience. This EXCELLENT advice on slowing down was given to me by the very sensible Bella Stander, founder of Book Promotion 101. (For the record, Bella herself got this advice from her son's bar mitzvah coach. So it is not only useful, but approved by G-d!)
* Decide the section(s) you want to read ahead of time. 90% of authors seem to be seeing their books for the first time when they are asked to read. Confusion reigns - what should I read? Where should I start? What who where wha???! Remember, your goal here is to get people to buy the book, not just read it aloud to them - short and sweet is better than long and disjointed, and it's GREAT to end the section with a cliffhanger "and then what happens?" moment.
* Type this selection (or cut and paste) into a clean document. This will also give you the opportunity to edit anything you don't want to include - like if there are references to something that the audience won't understand at this point, or story spoilers. You don't want to have to interrupt your own reading to explain what so-and-so meant by such-and-such, and the audience won't know or care that you skipped a bit.
* Make the font BIG - 18 point type or so, and give each paragraph its own page. The big font and space means you'll be able to see very clearly, you'll be able to look at the audience more and keep your notes further from your face, and you'll be forced to slow down to at least go to a new page between paragraphs.
* Now take these pages and put them in plastic sleeves in a loose-leaf binder, and read from THAT. The binder and plastic sleeves mean the notes won't get mixed up and you won't have to fumble for the section you want, and it will be ready for you at a moment's notice... and use anti-glare plastic in case there's a spotlight on you at a podium.
Personally, I love it when people read a few SHORT selections, as I tend to drift off/get bored after a few minutes of straight reading. Luckily, your nifty new Reading Binder can include a variety of selections from the book. Also, if there are fans who know your work well in the audience, you might consider not just reading from the new book, but also giving a sneak peek at whatever you are working on next -- no spoilers of course, but teases can be great fun.
Now go make that binder - don't forget to breathe - and happy eventing!
Tony DiTerlizzi designed this delightful window for his local bookstore, Essentials
in Northampton, Massachusetts. Visit DiTerlizzi's website
to follow the creative process behind the artwork.
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E-book growth may be slowing
, but that doesn't appear to be making a dent in the viability of large chain bookstores.
Barnes & Noble reportedly plans to close a third of its stores over the next decade
(link is to CNET, I work there proudly). That amounts to 20 stores closing a year over the next 10 years.
I've written in the past about how I found it likely that chain bookstores would go the way of record stores into obsolescence,
even as smaller, independent bookstores still plug on into the new era. This development is a reminder that it won't take 100% e-book adoption to threaten the viability of brick and mortar stores.
And these closures could further speed the adoption of e-books as people lose their bookstores and are forced to find their books elsewhere.
The publishing landscape is going to continue to shift very dramatically over the next decade. What do you make of this news? Are you ready for the new era?Art: The Bibliophilist's Haunt or Creech's Bookshop by William Fettes Douglas