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You know you’re an
old experienced children’s librarian when …
… you make public school outreach visits and you can recognize some of the kids from baby story time!
I spotted one child I remember from when I visited with his preschool class years ago. He was always the one with yogurt and Cheerios ® smashed on his head!
Photo: By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Have a great weekend, all, and remember – today’s babies are tomorrow’s library patrons.
Go on, guess!
Okay, fine, I'll tell you. Starting tomorrow through October 15, you get to nominate books for the Cybils! The world's only Children's and YA Blogger award opens its nomination period tomorrow, in thirteen categories from picture books to YA fiction, from book apps to poetry.
Anybody can nominate, and the books can be anything published in English in the US or Canada in the past year.
Remember, each book (or app) can only be nominated by one person. So if you're going in, take at least a few faves in each category with you.
More info here: Nominating for the Cybils.
By: School-Age Programs and Services Committee,
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This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”
We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.
Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more. Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.
The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time. Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.
The first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.
We think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.
Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.
Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf
Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love him or hate him, Melvil Dewey was the architect of modern library cataloging. His classification system added order to the world of books like the classification system of Kingdom, Phylum, Species, etc., made sense of the biological world.
In most instances, Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) makes for easy non-fiction browsing. Once in a while, however, it makes for some strange “shelf-fellows.” Here are two that you might enjoy:
Browsing the DDC 610s: Nothing goes together quite like Chiggers and My First Trip to the Dentist
© L Taylor
The Christmas Cookie Book and Flush: The Scoop on Poop – strange shelf-fellows indeed!
© L Taylor
What strange shelf-fellows are nesting on your shelves? If you’ve got a great photo, I’ll be happy to add it to the post.
(Be sure to tell me whom to credit for the photo.)
How ironic that the more fluid the study of math and science becomes, the more rigid becomes the study of language and literature…
© L Taylor
…in which math becomes form and reading becomes function.
By: Angela Muse,
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The Cat Who Lost His Meow
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About the Book
Title: The Cat Who Lost His Meow | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Helen H. Wu | Publication Date: June 1, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3+
Summary: Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before.
Priced at only $.99 during this promotion.
About the Author: Angela Muse
Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012.
* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: July 29, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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School has finally ended here and we are getting ready for a summer full of science programs for all ages to go along with our summer reading theme. Bubbles are always a welcome addition to the play period of our story times, so I thought creating and exploring bubbles at one of our Library Labs would be a great way for four and five year olds to be introduced to the basics of the scientific method, practice using science vocabulary, and learn more about surface tension, all while having fun.
The children will have been introduced to the idea of surface tension at the previous week’s Library Lab. We will experiment to see what happens when you sprinkle pepper on water and then insert a cotton swab that has been dipped in dishwashing liquid. We will also do a similar experiment with milk and food coloring observing what happens when you insert a cotton swab dipped in dishwashing liquid.
I will begin our bubble Library Lab with a review of what we learned at the previous program. Then we will share a book that introduces the science behind bubbles. I chose Pop! A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley because it offers information on how bubbles form, why they are round, and why they pop in simple and very readable text.
Second, we will move on to bubble solutions. I have three bubble recipes. One is made with detergent and water only, one adds glycerin to the recipe, and the third adds corn syrup to the recipe. For the sake of time, I will have mixed the solutions prior to the program, but we will talk about the ingredients in each of the recipes. I will ask the children questions about how the solutions look the same and how they look different and we will record our observations on my dry erase board. We will also make some predictions about which solution we think might make the best bubbles and record those predictions.
Third, we will test our hypotheses by trying out the three bubble solutions. This will be both the messiest and most fun part of the program. To determine which bubbles are best we will be looking at which ones are hardest to pop and which bubbles last the longest if you catch them on the bubble wand. The children will be working in small groups during this part of the program with some high school student volunteers that will be helping the groups to record their data and observations on a very simple chart.
Photo by Michelle Willis
Finally, we will come together as a group to share our data and to draw our conclusions about which bubble solution makes for the best bubbles and why that particular solution worked best. I have also prepared a take home activity sheet with information on the day’s activity, the bubble solution recipes, and some additional activities to try with bubbles.
Michelle Willis works as the Head of Children’s Services at the Scotch Plains Public Library in Scotch Plains, NJ and a member of the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee.
One for all and all for one
Ah, summer… Kids reading,
Wonderful … and yet, I have a complaint.
(photo credits below)
I’ll begin by stating, unequivocally, that I am a fan of the Collaborative Summer Library Program and I mean no disrespect to the people who contribute countless hours to its planning. A themed summer reading program is fun and invigorating, adding variety and inspiration to the summer season. This year’s theme is science. When I visit schools and tell kids that we’ll be focusing on science this summer, they erupt in excitement. Science is fun. Science is cool. They’re thrilled.
When they arrive at the library with their families, however, they’re often more confused than excited. When confronted with three different programs (kids, teens, adults) with three different slogans they’re unsure. They often register for the wrong program.
“What does this mean?” “Do I sign up for this, too?” “It’s not the same for her brother?” “I’m an adult. This isn’t for me.” “How does it work again?“
I believe that it’s time for one slogan for all. If we want to promote family and community reading and cohesiveness, let’s have everyone on the same page. Sure, contract with different illustrators for age-appropriate graphics, but make it easy and give the program one name. Surely we can come up with a slogan that will appeal to the masses. Right?
Next year’s slogans (all good ones, BTW) are already set in stone; but for 2016, I’d like to see one for all and all for one!
(For another commentary and chance to weigh in on CSLP, read Liz Burns’ post, “In Defense of CSLP” at A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy.)
MotherReader just announced her annual 48-Hour Book Challenge, fondly known around the interwebs as the 48HBC. It's quite simple - you pick 48 consecutive hours somewhere in the weekend of June 6-8 and read for as many of those hours as you humanly can. You also blog what you've read, chat on Twitter, and visit each other's blogs.
This year, because it's always (unfortunately) a Topic of Concern amongst the kidliterati, the focus is on diversity. WeNeedDiverseBooks is a hashtag that's been going around the Twitters and the Tumblrs and I don't know what else these kids are using these days, get off my lawn.
By the way, it's 2014. Why is this still a thing? Why is it still so hard to find these books about kids that are other than white, straight, neurotypical, and able-bodied? Agh.
As I do every year, I went wading through my TBR list to see what I wanted to read. These things have to be ordered, you understand. There has to be planning. I generally read about 9 books during the 48-HBC challenge. To give myself choices, I decided to pick about 12 or so books out of my list. I also decided to be as broad as possible. Anything where the main character didn't fit that "default" setting stated above would qualify.
I went in going, "This should be easy. These are the kind of books that catch my eye." Several pages later, I was still scrolling, muttering, "Really? Out of all these books, it's taking me this long to find the ones I would call diverse?" I did finally pull together several books, but I was dismayed by how long it took.
So . . . that was sobering.
In my defense, I just read two books that would qualify under my terms, Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist, whose incredibly multicultural cast started this leg of the ongoing diversity conversation, and Wendelin Van Draanen's The Running Dream, about a runner who has to adjust to life with a leg amputated below the knee. Also in my own defense, I was going off titles, authors, and a fuzzy memory of why I'd put certain books on my list. But still, I should have more choice. I should be putting more of these on my list, and I should have more available to put on my list in the first place.
If you know of a book I should read for the challenge, please leave it in the comments. Also, it should be the main character, not a supporting cast member. Yes, inclusivity in the characters surrounding the main character is nice and I like it. But nobody is a sidekick in their own life.
Are you going to join in? What are you going to read? Share!
Tax day approaches – everyone's favorite day of the year. Tonight I plan to stay up past midnight and watch the day arrive. Not because I waited until the last minute to do my taxes (although there's that) but because tonight there will be a total lunar eclipse.
Most of North America will be able to see the eclipse and since the moon is close to full it should be pretty dramatic. Because of the timing of the eclipse, sunsets and sunrises in other parts of the world will make the moon look blood red. Kinda cool! If you have cloudy skies or too many city lights to see it, The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will broadcast the eclipse live starting at 9:45 p.m. PST.
This is also the last week of the blog tour for WISH YOU WEREN'T. Here are the planned stops.
The Book Cellar: Erica posts an interview about my reading and writing habits.
Books and Needlepoint: Kristi will post her review of Wish You Weren't.
Book Loving Mom: Amy will post her review of Wish You Weren't.
I want to thank all of the bloggers who hosted me during this tour. Book bloggers are seriously the coolest people. They don't make money from this. They do it because they love books and I'm totally honored to have been part of so many awesome blogs.
You know you’re a children’s librarian when …
you sing the words to fingerplays while driving to work – just to be sure you’ve got them memorized before morning storytime.
DAYS OF THE WEEK (Stand up to begin this rhyme.)
Clap, clap, clap. (Clap hands.)
Tap, tap, tap. (Tap foot.)
Hop, hop, hop. (Hop on one foot.)
Stop, stop, stop. (Hold up hand.)
Jump, jump, jump. (Jump on two feet.)
Thump, thump, thump. (Pound fists together.)
Turn around. (Turn around.)
Now smile quietly
Without a sound! (Sit down and smile.)
(Credit: DAYS OF THE WEEK fingerplay, Dr. Jean Feldman)
Happy Friday, all!
It’s December – the time to ponder the best books of 2013, and to wonder which ones will receive the coveted awards of January.
It’s also time to come clean and admit the books still languishing on your TBR pile.
What book did you want to, plan to, or have to read this year … but didn’t?
Here are the two that I most regret not having read this year:
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster)
- Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (Scholastic)
So, now that I’ve made you (and me!) feel guilty, take heart – we have 21 days left until next year. Grab a book and start reading!
Luckily for me, I’ll be reviewing the audiobook version of Rooftoppers soon for a magazine, and I’ve got time to squeeze in Serafina’s Promise. How about you?
You know you’re a children’s librarian when …
you know the release date of every major upcoming children’s book and movie right off the top of your head, but if a patron asks you about the latest or upcoming James Patterson or Danielle Steel book, you scurry off to the catalog!
So, now that Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades (Disney Hyperion) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Amulet) have been released, what are the kids in your library waiting for? Or, how long is your holds list?
Here’s where I stand:
My personal “holds” list captured with Snipping Tool (very useful).
By: Jen Robinson
Blog: Jen Robinson
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There are two important deadlines in the Kidlitosphere today. First of all, nominations for the 2013 Cybils close tonight, October 15th, at midnight PST. This is your last chance to give props to the well-written children's and young adult titles that you think will most appeal to kids. Don't know what to nominate? Bloggers from all around the Kidlitosphere have been publishing lists of titles that they would like to see nominated. Start here and here for links. Many thanks to everyone who has nominated, suggested titles, and/or generally spread the word about the Cybils this year!
Second of all, today is the deadline to obtain our group discount for the KidLitCon hotel (the Sheraton in downtown Austin). You can still register for the conference until October 24th, but you may find it harder to find a hotel nearby. MotherReader (who negotiated our hotel discount) adds:
"Yes, other hotels around will be cheaper but this one is about .5 miles from the conference site, and is between the conference and dinner location. It looks lovely and has a lounge where we can hang out! I'm sorry, I mean where we WILL hang out."
I have to tell you that one of my very favorite parts of KidLitCon is sitting around a hotel lobby or lounge late into the evening, with a glass of wine in hand, talking with my peeps about all things books (and life). If you'd like to join us, today is the day to sign up, and lock in the discounted hotel rate. Contact me if you need more details.
We've also finalized some details about the conference, and the Friday pre-conference event. See the beautiful flyer below for details (with thanks to Tanita Davis and Sarah Stevenson).
In case you're having trouble viewing images, here is some of the key information in text form:
Join keynote speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith, readers, bloggers and
friends at the 2013 Kidlit Con at Austin. Kickoff meetup will be held Nov. 8 at the UT-Austin iSchool Campus, Tocker Lounge 1-4 p.m. The main conference will be held November 9, with coffee starting at 9:15, and the keynote at 10 a.m. Rekindling Your Love of Blogging. Panels and discussion,
catered luncheon. Round out the day with a buy-your-own group meal at Scholz
Beer Garten in downtown Austin. Conference Fee: $65. Registration deadline: October
24. See Kidlitosphere Central
for more information. Register here.
So, get your Cybils nominations in, and book your hotel room for KidLitCon today. And don't delay registering for KidLitCon, because that deadline is approaching soon, too. I hope to see you there.
Has an ALSC blog post every spurred you to action? Spawned a great new idea? Opened up a new opportunity? We all hope that these daily posts help advance the cause of librarianship to children – helping librarians and their young patrons reach a brighter, more meaningful and more interesting future.
Here is one such success story.
Back in the summer of 2012, ALSC guest blogger, Tess Goldwasser of St. Mary’s County Library in MD, wrote a post entitled “Music and Libraries: A Natural Combination.” I read it and thought,
“Hmmmm… I wonder if I could play the ukulele.”
I emailed her about using the ukulele in library storytime programs and I was enthusiastic about the possibilities. She was very helpful, offering advice on purchasing a ukulele and finding music. Then Superstorm Sandy hit, and my life took a different turn for several months; but still, I couldn’t shake that ukulele from my mind.
In the winter, I resettled in my home, and I acquired a shiny red ukulele! I reconnected with Tess, and she gave me continued encouragement and some great ideas for easy songs. I’m still learning and my repertoire is thin, but children are so wonderful – they love it! We learn the letter “U,” we count the strings, we take note of its lovely color, and of course, we sing! I even play at home. “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers lends itself very well to the ukulele.
So that’s my success story. Thanks, Tess. Does anyone else have one to share?
The current nugget that’s lodged in the back of my brain? ”The StoryMob.”
Note: Ukulele enhancements are courtesy of PicMonkey. It doesn’t look quite so effervescent when sitting on my couch, but it certainly comes alive in storytime!
A patron asked the librarian why Tales of Robin Hood had been withdrawn from the children’s collection. The librarian replied, “Too much Saxon violence.”
(adapted from http://www.booknotions.com/riddles.html)
Ever wonder where librarians lark about on the Internet? If you’re in need of a laugh, here are some great sites to put a smile on your face. It’s all in good fun. Enjoy.
- Unshelved – a comic strip devoted entirely to libraries and librarians
Psst … Want to see more of Tamara, Unshelved’s perpetually cheerful children’s librarian? Send your funny stories about library service to children to the creators of Unshelved. You may see them in a future comic (shhh … act surprised) ! (email@example.com)
- Awful Library Books – a collection of the worst books in library collections around the globe. You’ll get a good laugh and some weeding inspiration from these “winners!” You can submit your own worst books, too! (anonymously, of course) Visit Awful Library Books at their blog, Pinterest, or Facebook.
- Doughnuts made me do it!
Need some fast humor? Twitter has it covered.
And if you are the #saturdaylibrarian, #sundaylibrarian, or #nightlibrarian, join your hashtag comrades on Twitter. If you don’t get a laugh in there somewhere, I’ll be surprised.
Is Tumblr your thing?
Or for humor of a more “academic” nature, try
- It’s a mixed bag, but if you search “librarian humor,” you’ll find something to make you smile.
Did I miss any of your favorite sites for library-themed humor?
Emoticon image by The people from the The Tango! Desktop Project [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Hop on over to the Cybils blog to discover the winners for this year. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators, and many, many thanks to all the judges and organizers. This is a big job and it's all volunteer-driven.
I had a great time with my fellow judges for the YA fiction panel, and I feel awfully proud of our choice. Hope you like it as much as we did.
Also, there's some holiday about love or something. Yeah. I don't see it catching on.
Blog: Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!
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I’m welcoming Alex Boles, whom I met through my critique group (she’s the sister of one of our members) and who has a very exciting and important website and book! I encourage everyone to check out the website here and then the book through the Amazon link at the bottom of the post. I will let her tell you about the book and the website because she took the time to answer some questions! This seems to be teen week on my blog this week because this is another book and website PERFECT for teens! Here we go:
Margo: Hi Alex! Welcome to Read These Books and Use Them. How do you describe the Unwritten Letters Project? When did you get the idea?
Alex: The Unwritten Letters Project (ULP) is a website dedicated to allowing people to release emotions in a cathartic, non-violent fashion. It’s a place where anyone can write a letter to those who they haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to, didn’t have the courage or resources to say these things to them before or just release feelings, or confessions about themselves or their lives. ULP is more than just a letter-writing, interactive website. It’s a place where people can come to release emotions they didn’t know they were feeling and use it to cope and heal. Reading the other letters helps people to realize that we’re not alone in this huge world, and chances are, someone else has gone through or is going through something similar. If you can’t connect with the people close to you, maybe you can through someone’s letter from across the world.
I came upon the idea for the Unwritten Letters Project in 2009. I was a junior in college; and once the book version was released, I became the youngest (and some say first) undergrad to publish a book at Truman State University. The idea was inspired by a number of films and a class I was taking at the time called “Family Communication.” After reflecting throughout the course on how I would communicate my feelings growing up, I realized I tend to write how I’m feeling in journals or through creative writing. I created the website to see how many others use the same writing method of coping. If others used writing or could see how writing can be healing, then I figured the website could help a lot of people through difficult times and overcome hardships.
Margo: So, it started as a website! What were people posting to the website? What did you post?
Alex: Yes, the Unwritten Letters Project is in its truest form, a website. At the beginning, professors at my university would use the site for classroom projects and assignments. I used those letters to create the original base of letters and then began a self-ran marketing campaign to solicit letters from across the globe. Seemingly overnight, I was receiving letters from countries like Japan, Germany, and Great Britain–sometimes in their native languages adding to each letters authenticity. People would write about current love interests, lost love, friendship, regrets, passion, their own lives and wishes. I would receive letters about bullying, suicide, and self-harm. It seemed to open up to somewhat of a confessional, and people began trusting me with their deepest secrets. I feel very overwhelmed and lucky to be trusted by thousands of people just trying to heal.
Truthfully, I have posted a few of my own letters. I posted my own letters more in the earlier years because I had some old letters from my past that I wanted to let loose. Nowadays, I let the readers’ thoughts make up the website. It’s always been more about letting others utilize the website than what I can get out of it.
Margo: What a wonderful service you are providing other people! Why did you decide to make it into a book?
Alex: I decided to make the Unwritten Letters Project into a book because I wanted people to be able to get as much out of this project as possible. It’s a “coffee-table” book–something you read to feel comfort and hope. It’s something to read to realize you’re not alone, and things will get better. I wanted something tangible that readers could cherish and pass down to their children as something that helped them get through life’s hardest moments. I also wanted to use the resources I had while I had them. My college experience was amazing, and my university was very welcoming of ambition. They let me saturate the campus with my dream and embraced my enthusiasm for the project and its message. I was able to go in to classrooms to spread awareness, and the University Bookstore even hosted a book signing where the president and provost attended with campus and local media present. I realized I had an amazing support system through school, family, and friends and wanted to take advantage of the resources at hand, so that I could continue to spread the Unwritten Letters Project.
Margo: How awesome! I went to TSU, too–way before you–it was still Northeast Missouri State University. (smiles) Anyway, what a great opportunity and what a great way you use that opportunity. So, how can teachers, parents, and counselors use the book with young adults?
Alex: Educators and professionals can definitely use the Unwritten Letters Project as a resource for learning or healing. It’s a great example of real life hardships and how people deal with, overcome, and react to these situations. Nothing is embellished or changed from the original letters. Every letter is pure raw emotion and real-life scenarios and actions. With so many fiction and fantasy novels becoming increasingly popular, we lose sight of reality and how people can really be affected by life’s decisions and our actions. Reading this book can remind us of our humanity. It reminds people that we feel, we’re alive, and we need to consciously make an effort to keep living our lives to the fullest each day. Because if we don’t, then we end up regretting the moments we didn’t have or wishing we would have done something when we had the chance.
Margo: WOW! That is powerful and so true and such an important message. Can people still post letters to your website?
Alex: Readers don’t post letters to the site directly. They submit the letters to a portal that sends them to a private e-mail. I then choose letters that are posted. I continue to receive letters on a daily basis and post as often as I can. I am definitely still accepting letters on the website. I encourage everyone to try writing at least one letter. I think you’d surprise yourself.
Margo: I hope some of my readers will consider it and use the website and book with their students/children. Do you have plans for future books?
Alex: I don’t have a second book planned for the near future, but I do have plans to publish more books with specific themes. As long as readership continues or improves, I will always run the Unwritten Letters Project. When the demand for another book increases, I will solicit publishers and agents. I’d like the second book to have a heavier following and possibly a blog/book tour if possible. Another book is definitely a possibility, but when it happens is up to the fans and future unknown publisher.
Margo: Thank you so much, Alex. I am just really in awe of what you are doing and think it is a wonderful idea and service. Readers, you can look inside the book on Amazon!
On Fridays, many poetry fans across the KidLitosphere take part in Poetry Friday. Here, today, I offer my first contribution to the weekly meme in honor of my favorite prop, an old brown sheet.
“Ode to an Old Brown Sheet”
You’ve been a “cocoon” from which “butterflies” spring.
“Caterpillars” crawl in, then emerge on the wing.
At the Teddy Bear Picnic you’ve been a dark cave.
There’s snoring inside; enter only if brave!
You’ve helped created theatre – a shadow play,
hiding the actors, keeping bright light at bay.
When you’re a tunnel, toddlers know what to do.
I teach over and under, but you teach them through.
And when I go visiting, pan and bags in my hand
you are my clothing; and don’t I look grand?
Perhaps you have a prop of your own that is deserving of an ode?
Have a wonderful weekend!
Well, almost. In strict accuracy, it's time to register for KidlitCon
. This year, it takes place in New York City, September 28-29. This is your chance to meet and hang out with all the bloggers you ever wanted to know, plus a few more. Talk about bloggy topics, books, and blogging about books.
Because it's in New York City, AKA the Big Apple, AKA You Want How
Much for That Apple?,
they've lowered the price of the conference itself to just 55 dollars. For the whole thing! This includes a pre-con on Friday, with dinner (and special guest speaker Grace Lin!), lunch on Saturday, and naturally the conference itself. If you don't feel like coming to the other stuff (although I don't know why you'd miss out when you're already in New York anyhow), the conference itself is free. Can't get much better than that.
So if you've always wanted to try it out and you've always wanted to visit New York City, consider this your big opportunity. This is the seventh year and I haven't missed one yet.
Thank you, thank you to Carole Di Totsi, PhD, for giving me this reader appreciation award. If you don’t know Carole, you should! She writes a few amazing blogs (see below) and is a wonderful promoter of her friends and colleagues at her Twitter handle: mercedeskat45. I first met Carole when she took an online class from me through WOW! Women On Writing. She has now taken a few, and we have become cyber friends. I keep threatening to go to NYC and visit her!
The Reader Appreciation Award is given to writers who have supported other writers’ blogs. Happily, I’ve received the award from Carole, who has three blogs: The Fat and the Skinny, All Along the NYC Skyline, and A Christian Apologist’s Sonnets. All three are totally different because she blogs about health and wellness issues, NYC events, and her own sonnets respectively. But check them out and leave a comment!
There are a few guidelines for accepting this award:
l) Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog. (check!)
2) Copy and paste the award to your blog. (check!)
3) Pass the award on to up to ten bloggers. (see below!)
4) Notify the selected bloggers that you have nominated them.
I am happy to nominate these bloggers and their blogs for the Reader Appreciation Award:
1. Donna Volkenannt (Donna’s Book Pub)
2. Becky Povich (Writer-Humorist-Bliss Follower)
3. Cathy C. Hall (Writing is Easy. Rewriting is a whole ‘nother story.)
4. Penelope Anne Cole (Penelope Anne Cole)
5. Sarah Butland (Sarah Butland: For Writers, For Readers, For You)
6. Sharon K. Mayhew (Random Thoughts)
7. Camille Subramanian (A Day In My Life)
8. Erin (In Step With the Spirit)
9. Patricia (PM27′s BLOG: Notes and Observations)
10. Holly Helscher (Becoming Bookish)
These 10 ladies are super supportive of my blog and the authors I host here. I know I probably missed someone–I’M SORRY!–it’s like when you give your Oscar speech, and you forget to thank your spouse. . .
I hope you have some time to check out their blogs. Thanks, ladies, for your support. You are all well-deserving of the Reader Appreciation Award!
Recently my blogging buddy, Cecelia Lester, passed along to me and a few other bloggers the Liebster Award.
I am such a forget ninny sometimes that I forgot the thank her for that.
So, A BIG THANK YOU! to Cecelia for honoring me as one of her favorite bloggers. You can read Cecelia's beautiful, sincere devotionals at her blog, Following My King. Her heartfelt words often reach out across
I have been doing a secret happy dance for a week. Why, you ask?
Do you need a reason to do a happy dance?
Well, in this case, I actually had a reason, and that reason is because I got asked to be a Round 2 Judge for the YA category! I'm awfully excited about this. Can you tell?
I'll be judging with these other magnificent bloggers:
By Singing Light
The Writer's Republic
The Hungry Readers
Reading on the F Train
Congrats to all the other judges and the other panels. It's always a fun time, working on the Cybils.
Nomination period opens up, as always, on October 1 and run to the 15th of that month. Follow the Cybils blog
for the latest!
Since KidLitCon, an annual conference for children’s book bloggers, took place right here in New York City this year, I had the happy chance to attend for the very first time, and I also spotted several other publishing people in attendance. I don’t know how the bloggers felt about us publishing folk dropping in on their conference, but hopefully they didn’t mind too much. There were some pretty open discussions of publisher/blogger/author relations at various points, so I don’t think anyone was holding themselves back on our account. And from the publisher standpoint I was glad to be there to listen, in addition to the fact that I am personally a bit of a fangirl of lots of the bloggers who were there and it was fun to meet them face to face.
The inestimable Betsy Bird
There are lots of other great recaps of KidLitCon up around the blogosphere, so I thought I’d just list a few of the things I took away from the conference on the publishing side of things:
1. Don’t forget your friends.
There are many different levels of familiarity and relationships, even when you’re just talking about the Internet. As the women of From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors explained in their panel on community building, some people are readers or browsers while others are followers, fans, or even true friends, and friends/fans should not be taken for granted. For those people, that might mean scheduling an in-person meetup or just emailing to say hello.
The important thing, I think, is that those levels – reader, follower, fan, friend – are not set in stone. With the right book, conversation, or connection, relationships can deepen and become more meaningful.
2. “Google is forever.”
As Greg Pincus explained in his session on avoiding the echo-chamber, once something is up on the Internet you can NEVER really take back. So think through what you post, and make sure whatever you are putting out there adds *value* as opposed to just trying to sell something. I think this is especially true for authors and for us as publishers: there is a lot of noise out there, so don’t just add to it through self-promotion. Instead, contribute to conversations in a meaningful way.
A panel on whether reviews have gotten too nice
3. “New authors should be put in werewolf cages when their books are released. They can be fed, though.“
Author Maureen Johnson suggested this unorthodox but elegant solution to the problem of authors responding to negative reviews of their books. If you are an author (or author’s wife/husband, editor, agent, or personal bodyguard) don’t do it! If you want to respond to a blogger who has reviewed your book, pop online to say “thank you” and then, if need be, go drown your sorrows offline in a pint of ice cream. And if you are a publisher or agent, teach your authors that there is a right and a wrong way to respond to bad reviews.
BONUS: What blogs do your favorite bloggers read?
One last thing I loved, and I think it even came up as kind of an afterthought, was the discussion of what some of my favorite bloggers read themselves. During a panel on whether reviewers have become too nice, Betsy Bird, Liz Burns, Monica Edinger, and a few other reviewers shared some of their own favorite blogs. The ones most mentioned were Pink Me, The Book Smugglers, and Bookshelves of Doom, which was pretty much a universal favorite.
The takeaway of the day, besides the general fact that bloggers are awesome, is that blogging and reviewing is constantly evolving. Luckily, the community of bloggers is a supportive one, so there’s a lot everyone can learn from each other and a lot that everyone can do together.
And my other takeaway of the day was these amazing Charles Dickens postcards that I picked up at the NY Public Library’s Charles Dickens exhibit during a break:
M is for Abel Magwitch, H is for Miss Havisham
All in all, a good day.
Recaps & more recaps: A Fuse #8, Bookshelves of Doom, SLJ, Nova Ren Suma, The Cath in the Hat, and Jon Yang.
Filed under: Publishing 101
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This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of the whole year. It was KidlitCon, in which bloggers gather to talk about books, blogging, and the intersection of the two. There's also many hijinx and some drinking of alcoholic beverages.
Every year, a different city is selected and different bloggers organize it, making each KidlitCon a unique experience. This year, it was New York City, and it was put together by Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production and Monica Edinger of Educating Alice.
On Friday, we were treated to publisher previews, which were apparently Monica's brainchild, as well as her blood, sweat, and tears. No word on the proportion of tears to blood and sweat. I attended the Simon and Schuster preview in the morning, and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt one in the afternoon. I heard about a lot of exciting books coming up, and got a few advanced reader copies to take home. More valuable than that, however, was meeting publisher peeps and talking with them.
At Simon and Schuster, we got the chance to see the research and art that goes into one of Megan McCarthy's appealing nonfiction picture books. She shared with us some of the things she had to do in order to get the pictures and info she needed for her next opus, coming out Summer of 2013. (Hint: illicit photography was involved.)
At the Houghton Mifflin, we discussed Common Core and how books can be used in the classroom. For those of you not in the know, Common Core is the newest thing in education circles. Basically, it's an upgraded set of standards for teachers to plan their lessons by. Of particular interest is that it emphasizes nonfiction reading in language arts, which means librarians get to haul out all the incredibly awesome nonfiction on our shelves. We also briefly chatted about e-galleys vs print ARCs. I was interested to hear that they limit their e-galley distribution just as they do their print galleys, and they were interested to hear that I actually prefer e-galleys.
By the bye, I've since heard from others that they prefer print, so now I'm interested in the topic. How many of you like e-galleys better, print ARCs better, or don't really care as long as you get to read a good book? I may actually do a blog post. Craziness, I know.
On Friday night, the bloggers en masse descended on a midtown restaurant, decimated their sushi bar (Actual quote from a blogger who would prefer to remain anonymous [me]: "Oh, I'll try this one, it's pink!"), and heard Grace Lin speak about her journey from art school to children's-book-illustration. I hear tell that she came into the city with a very small baby and a very large Sasquatch (also in attendance) just to talk to us, and I can't help but feel flattered. We also got the chance to purchase Starry River of the Sky a few days before it was officially on the shelves. If you think we were all over that, you would be right.
Next time: How All The Bloggers astonished Maureen Johnson, and this particular one creeped her out a little bit.