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1. Classroom Connections: SKIES LIKE THESE by Tess Hilmo

age range: 7-12
setting: Wyoming
Tess Hilmo’s website

“Drawing on rich Western lore and creating characters as gritty as the earth itself, Hilmo paints a picture of a town where everyone is connected . . . A heartening, comforting story with enough tension to keep readers hooked.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A robust cast of well-developed characters and a delightful, swiftly moving plot will leave readers wishing for Jade to extend her stay in Wyoming.” – School Library Journal

Please tell us about your book.

Skies Like These is a fun, friendship-filled novel with a cowboy twist! It’s intended for the middle grade audience (ages 7-12).

What inspired you to write this story?

My husband and I celebrated our 40th birthday (which are just a couple of weeks apart) by taking our friends on a bus ride up the canyon by our home for a chuck wagon dinner party. At that party, a fun story about Butch Cassidy was told and I sat there under a breathtaking star filled sky thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun to write a modern-day twist on a Butch Cassidy story?” And I did! Skies Like These was inspired by that fun night with friends – by the Western skies I am privileged to live under – and by the crazy tales of heroes gone by and heroes longing to be. I also think of it as a nod to The Great Brain series I loved so much growing up. It’s full of hijinx and outrageous fun!

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?

Wyoming is a beautiful state, and I got to visit the original Butch Cassidy hide outs and follow his outlaw trail. What fun! One interesting thing I learned is that Butch Cassidy is considered the Robin Hood of the West. His fight was against the big cattle barons and rail road companies that were squeezing the life out of local ranchers. He often supported the less fortunate and he was a man of his word. There is one story where he was in camp and a member of his Wild Bunch gang brought in a stolen horse. When Butch learned the horse was stolen from a young boy in town, Butch made his co-cowboy take the horse back and apologize. He then made him walk many miles back to their hideout on foot as a punishment. He wasn’t just an outlaw cowboy, he was a NICE outlaw cowboy with a cause!

What are some special challenges associated with writing SKIES LIKE THESE?

The challenge for this novel was to write about a historical figure in a modern-day setting….to blend the two worlds of long ago and today and make it feel fresh, fun and interesting.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

There are so many! Here are a few great discussion topics:

1. What makes us who we are? Is it our heritage – where we come from and who our family is? Or is it what we do with each day we are given?

2. Roy says a line in the book, “I know you’re hurting and you have a choice. You can cowboy up and climb this tree or you can just lay there and bleed.” What are determining moments in our lives? How can we overcome our hurts and fears and show courage?

3. Is it better to take a risk or avoid all risks? How do we determine which risks are okay and which are too much? Have you ever felt like Jade and thought the perfect summer would be stretching out on the couch and watching old TV re-runs all day?

4. What would be your perfect summer vacation?

The post Classroom Connections: SKIES LIKE THESE by Tess Hilmo appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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2. Title & Release Date Revealed For New Judy Blume Adult Book

judyblumeJudy Blume has revealed the title and release date for her forthcoming adult novel. Alfred A. Knopf will release In the Unlikely Event on June 02, 2015.

BuzzFeed has posted the cover for this book—what do you think? People magazine reports that the book “focuses on an ensemble of family and friends across three generations.”

According to Blume’s website, the inspiration for this story comes from “a series of passenger airplanes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey within a three-month period in 1951–1952.” This real-life tragedy has inhabited a place in Blume’s mind since she was a teenager.

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3. Barbara Walters Declares George R.R. Martin to Be a Fascinating Person

georgerrmartinGeorge R.R. Martin has made it onto the 2014 edition of Barbara Walters’10 Most Fascinating People.”

Martin earned his place on Walters’ list due to the great popularity of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and the Game of Thrones TV adaptation; both projects have made a serious mark in pop culture history.

The nine other people alongside Martin include Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Chelsea Handler, Neil Patrick Harris, Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Swift, Michael Strahan, David Koch, and Amal Clooney. (via The Huffington Post)

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4. James Patterson Completes His Promise to Donate $1M to Indie Bookstores in 2014

jamesPattersonBestselling author James Patterson is giving a generous gift to independent bookstores this holiday season. He is donating $473,000 to 81 different stores across the country.

The donation is part of the author’s promise to give $1 million to indie bookstores this year. This brings the author’s donations for the year up to $1,008,300 which he handed out to 178 independent bookstores across the country.

“Here’s to a joyful holiday season for booksellers everywhere,” said Patterson in a statement. “Yes, joyful! Here’s to more parents and grandparents coming to their senses and giving their kids books—yes, books—for Christmas and other holidays. Here’s to local governments waking up to the fact that bookstores and libraries are essential to our way of life. Here’s to media coverage of books, booksellers, and publishers, and to a wiser, more literate America. Happy holidays to one and all!”



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5. Lauren Oliver Shares Her Thoughts on the Traits of Fiction Writers

Lauren OliverLast week, Lauren Oliver appeared at the “Epic Reads” panel hosted by Books of Wonder.

During the event, Oliver shared the three traits she feels that fiction writers must possess: (1) great self-awareness (2) radical empathy and (3) a deep interest in human beings. Do you agree with her?

Oliver also divulged that her book Panic was inspired by a Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale called “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers.” Towards the end of the night, she revealed that she has a number of projects in-the-works: a young adult novel entitled Vanishing Girls, a middle grade series called The Curiosity House, and another young adult story featuring clones.

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6. James Patterson Admits His Success Could Seem Irritating: Vanity Fair Interview

jamesPattersonBestselling author James Patterson may have sold more books than anyone else on the planet, but he’s also down to Earth: He’d hate himself too.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, which publishes next month. Patterson revealed: “I would be like, ‘Well, what’s this? He couldn’t possibly do what he does…I’d probably be kind of irritated by the guy.”

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Michael Pietsch—Patterson’s former editor who is now C.E.O. of Hachette (the parent company of Patterson’s publisher, Little, Brown)—tells Purdum, “In his case, it’s a drive like I’ve never seen. He’s a very competitive person, but I think he’s competitive with himself. Do I wake up at night wondering if it’s going to stop? We had a meeting today in which I proposed that we might want to hold off a secondary format of a book for some point in the future when there might not be an abundance of them in future years, and he looked at me incredulously, as if ‘When is that going to happen?’”

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7. Seth Godin’s 2015 Book Publishing Predictions

seth-godin1Author Seth Godin thinks that 2015 will be a big year for breakout self-published works.

In an interview with Digital Book World, Godin said that he expects that Amazon’s eBook market share to continue to grow in 2015. He also said that publishers that know their customers will do a better job building connections.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

What are you anticipating as the big change we will see in 2015?

I think the healthy back-list bump that ebook sales brought will start to be eclipsed by the noise and cruft and occasional winner that’s coming from the self-publishing community.

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8. Neil Gaiman Recites ‘Jabberwocky’ From Memory

Once again, Neil Gaiman agreed to perform a reading of a beloved children’s story for a Worldbuilders fundraising venture. The choices included Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll, Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss, and Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

‘Jabberwocky’ received the most votes and the organization has raised more than $639,000.00. The video embedded above features Gaiman in the woods delivering a dramatic recitation of Carroll’s famous nonsense poem from memory—what do you think?

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9. Gillian Flynn Nabs Golden Globe Nomination

Gillian FlynnGone Girl novelist Gillian Flynn has earned a Golden Globe nomination in the “Best Screenplay” category. Flynn (pictured, via) worked as a professional journalist for fifteen years; this project marked her debut as a screenwriter.

The film adaptation also nabbed three other nominationsRosamund Pike for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), David Fincher for Best Director, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Best Original Score. The awards ceremony will take place on January 11, 2015. (via Vanity Fair)

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10. Wil Wheaton Narrates the Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free Audiobook

Info CoverWriter Cory Doctorow has taken it upon himself to produce the audiobook edition of his book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.

According to Doctorow’s blog post, actor Wil Wheaton served as the narrator for this project. It also features “a mixdown by the wonderful John Taylor Williams, and bed-music from Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls.”

McSweeney’s released the hardcover version back in November 2014. Both Palmer and her husband Neil Gaiman wrote forewords for this project. (via Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr page)

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11. J.K. Rowling’s Crime Novels to be Adapted For TV

cuckooJ.K. Rowling is going to see her first adult fiction novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, adapted into a television series for BBC.

The book, which was published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is the first novel in the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels published last year. It was followed by The Silkworm in 2014.

J.K. Rowling tweeted the news today.

My friend @RGalbraith‘s first novel is going to be a TV drama on @BBCOne. He’s very excited, but expressing it with characteristic silence.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 10, 2014

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12. Sophie Kinsella Has Written a New Shopaholic Short Story

Shopaholic on HoneymoonWriter Sophie Kinsella decided to give an early holiday gift to her fans. She announced on Facebook that she has written a new short story called “Shopaholic on Honeymoon.”

The title was released today as a free eBook in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. Readers in the United States and Canada will be able access this digital book on December 16th.

Follow this link to read the full piece online. Back in October, Dial Press released the seventh installment of the main series which is called Shopaholic to the Stars.

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13. Books to Celebrate Emily Dickinson


Today is Emily Dickinson’s 184th birthday. Enjoy this list of books celebrating America’s greatest poet!

Picture Books:
Emily — Michael Bedard
My Uncle Emily — Jane Yolen
Emily and Carlo — Marty Rhodes Figley
The Mouse of Amherst — Elizabeth Spires
Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World — Jeanette Winter
Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson — Frances Schoonmaker Bolin

Coming soon…
On Wings of Words: A Story of Emily Dickinson — Jennifer Berne

Middle Grade:
Hope is a Ferris Wheel — Robin Herrera
Miss Emily — Burleigh Muten
Another Day as Emily — Eileen Spinelli

Young Adult:
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia — Jenny Torrez Sanchez
Nobody’s Secret — Michaela MacColl
Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things — Kathryn Burak



The post Books to Celebrate Emily Dickinson appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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14. Gene Luen Yang Creates a Confession Comic

Gene Luen YangEveryone makes mistakes, but not all people give a confession with a comic. Printz Award winner Gene Luen Yang created a comic to atone for a blunder in his most recent book, The Shadow Hero.

According to the piece, posted on the Diversity in YA blog, Yang did not refer to Chu F. Hing’s name correctly in the essay featured at the beginning of the book; Chu was the original creator of the Green Turtle comic stories. Yang explains how he made this error to begin with and how he came to learn about it.

First Second, the publisher of this comic, will make an adjustment in future printings of the book. What do you think?

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15. YouTube Star Zoella’s Book Was Ghostwritten

zoesuggPopular YouTuber Zoe Sugg, a British blogger that writes about makeup and fashion, didn’t write her novel alone, Penguin UK has revealed. Known as Zoella to her fans, the social media icon signed a two-book with Penguin UK back in June.

The first book, Girl Online, a coming-of-age novel, came out in November and has been flying off the book shelves. According to a report in The Sunday Times, the book sold more than 78,000 copies in the UK last week alone. Yet, some readers and Amazon reviewers have been commenting that the work didn’t sound much like Sugg.

A Penguin UK spokesperson commented on the rumors in an interview with The Sunday Times, saying, “To be factually accurate, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own.” Freelance writer Siobhan Curham is recognized in the book’s acknowledgments.

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16. Author Greg McKeown’s Advice on How to Reset Your Life

gregmckeownGreg McKeown, author of the New York Times bestseller Essentialism, has come up with some advice to help you refocus your life.

The tips came from a discussion he had on LinkedIn with a close friend who had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. After surviving the experience, the friend was enlightened. McKeown interviewed his friend and turned the insights into a 7-step exercise to help people focus their lives more fully.

Here is an excerpt from Lifehacker:

  • If possible get out into nature where you can feel the natural pace of the earth and not the hyperactive and inhumane pace of modern life.
  • Write down the question “What would I do if I only had a week left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer
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    17. Doris Lessing Left Her Book Collection to Zimbabwe Libraries

    lessingDoris Lessing has left her book collection to libraries in Zimbabwe.

    The Nobel Prize-winning novelist, who passed away last year, helped start libraries in Zimbabwe after the country became independent in 1980. Her donation includes more than 3,000 books.

    The Associated Press has more:

    “For us she continues to live,” said 42-year-old Kempson Mudenda, who worked with Lessing when she established the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust.

    “The libraries she helped set up are giving life to village children who would otherwise be doomed,” said Mudenda, who said he used to trudge bush paths daily to reach remote villages with books.

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    18. Great Disruptors: microchips, gay marriage, perestroika, kitty litter, and a book

    InnovatorsDilemmaCelebrating its 85th anniversary, Bloomberg Businessweek announced its take on “The 85 Most Disruptive Ideas in Our History.” The focus of its current issue and noted at a party that drew George Lucas, Henry Kissinger, Harvey Weinstein, Mort Zuckerman, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Martha Stewart, and MSNBC host Ronan Farrow, the impactful and eclectic mix from the past 85 years lists concepts and inventions that have changed the way we live and conduct business, including: TV, e-mail, Starbucks, Napster, gay marriage, perestroika, refrigeration, junk bonds, the Pill, Air Jordans, billable hours, the jet engine, and a book.

    Making the cut and clocking in at #58 on the #Businessweek85 is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, who coined the now-ubiquitous term “disruptive innovation” in his book about why well-managed companies often fail.

    Writing about its central theme, he told Businessweek:

    “I decided to study the disk-drive industry on a tip from one of my faculty members, who said he knew nothing except that successful disk-drive companies had failed over and over again. They were the fruit flies of business: At the time, I was living essentially in the Motel 6 on First Street in San Jose. It was about 7 o’clock one night, and I had gone across the street to have dinner at McDonald’s. And I was going back to Motel 6, and in the middle of the street it just fell into place—and I realized why the low end wins so frequently.

    “This phenomenon that I call disruption is one that allows a larger population, people who historically didn’t have enough money to buy a product, to afford something like it. That creates growth. The puzzle was, if this is what creates growth, why don’t the leaders in the industry go after it? I realized that every company has a business model, and they can invest in things that help them make money in the way their business model is structured. If innovation doesn’t allow them to make more money in the way they’re structured to make money, they can’t do it. It had nothing to do with technological change. Once I had that, I could see it happen everywhere. That was the real epiphany.”

    Nice to see the power of the written word holding its own.

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    19. Authors Making a Name for Brands

    Ron Barrett for the New York Times

    Ron Barrett for the New York Times

    “Cultivating Thought” is a series of captivating short pieces written by ten noted authors, from Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison to Malcolm Gladwell, printed on Chipolte cups and bags and meant to be read in two minutes. They were the brainchild of Everything is Illuminated writer Jonathan Safran Foer.

    In the New York Times, Teddy Wayne looks at “the branding of literature,” companies turning to “literary luminaries to form a collective ‘spokescribe’” as the perfect pitchmen. It can work well for the writers, too. According to Wayne, Moneyball author Michael Lewis told Conan O’Brien on “Conan,” “It pays very well to write a Chipolte cup.”

    Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of eyewear company Warby Parker–two names picked from Jack Kerouac’s unpublished journals–told the Times, “We wanted to build a brand that stood for fun, creativity and doing good in the world, and we thought writers best represented that.”

    It’s not a match made in corporate heaven for all authors. “Not everyone is willing to be the face (or prose) of a brand,” writes Wayne. Elliott Holt saw her first novel You are One of Them pubbed last year. When a company sought her out to endorse an e-cig (vape, anyone?), she declined.

    “‘I felt like being the face of some product would somehow cheapen me as a writer,’ she said, also expressing her reservations about the merchandise’s potential health risks. The offer of $30,000 still gnaws at her, though.”

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    20. PJ Harvey & Seamus Murphy to Release Book

    bloomsburySinger songwriter PJ Harvey has spent the last few years collaborating with photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy on a series of films. The two are continuing their working relationship with a new book, which Bloomsbury just acquired called The Hollow of the Hand.

    The poetry/photo book is inspired by a series of trips that the two made together to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington in recent years. “Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about,” explained Harvey in a statement. “I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with. My friend Seamus Murphy and I agreed to grow a project together – I would collect words, he would collect pictures, following our instincts on where we should go.”

    There will be a hardback edition which will highlight the photography, as well as a reader’s paperback version. The book is slated for publication in Fall 2015. Alexa von Hirschberg will edit the work from the UK and Kathy Belden will edit the book in the US.

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    21. Little, Brown, and Company to Publish J.K. Rowling Harvard Speech as an Illustrated Book

    Back in 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a commencement speech at Harvard University. Little, Brown and Company plans to publish it as an illustrated book.

    The release date for Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and The Importance of Imagination has been scheduled for April 14, 2015. Joel Holland has signed on to create the artwork for this project.

    According to the press release, “sales of Very Good Lives will benefit both Lumos, a charity organization founded by J.K. Rowling, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children, and university-wide financial aid at Harvard University.” The video embedded above features Rowling’s full speech—what do you think?

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    22. Writing Advice from Author Valerie Geary

    Jump into a scene late and get out early. Cut out anything that sounds like an introduction or summary ending. Explain as little as possible and let the scene speak for itself. Readers are smart; let them fill in some of the blanks.

    Raise the stakes. Make it hard for your character to get what they want. Take away the things they love. Let them lose. Let them fight. Just never make it easy. In every stage of the process, I’m always asking myself, What else could happen? What if she made this choice instead of that one? Where would that lead? I’m rarely satisified with the first answer that comes to mind.

    I am a huge Gillian Flynn fan. Also, Tana French and Kate Atkinson. All of these writers get my heart pounding and my brain churning. I love the way they balance plot with character with language. All three do really interesting things with their writing that satisfies me as a reader and inspires me as a writer.

    Read more here.
    Val’s interview at the Huffington Post.
    Library Journal includes CROOKED RIVER in its Trio of Thrillers: Adult Books 4 Teens.

    The post Writing Advice from Author Valerie Geary appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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    23. How Can Stillness Help Writers?

    Travel writer Pico Iyer gave a TED talk on “the art of stillness.” We’ve embedded a video showcasing the entire presentation above.

    Simon & Schuster recently released Iyer’s new TED book, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. Follow this link to learn about the evolution of the cover design.

    Here’s more from the TED blog: “In the book, Iyer shines a light on a fascinating phenomenon: how advances in technology are making us more likely to seek out spaces to retreat. [See 'why we need a secular sabbath' on ideas.ted.com.] And further, that the very people responsible for creating new technology are at the forefront of this new return to stillness.”

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    24. Creativity and Routine: DAILY RITUALS

    Daily Rituals

    Ludwig van Beethoven poured water over his hands while humming scales. Jonathan Edwards pinned bits of paper to his clothing to remember ideas while horseback riding. Anthony Trollope paid a groom five extra pounds a year to bring him coffee each morning at 5:30.

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work is a collection of dozens of vignettes about “writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, sculptors, filmmakers, poets, philosophers and scientists on how they create.” I found it impossible to put down. Just when I thought I discovered a pattern to these artists’ daily practices (early morning work and no day job, for example) new structures began to emerge (the night-time only artist and those who held other occupations).

    As someone who has sometimes struggled to find a rhythm to my writing, I found this glimpse into others’ lives both inspiring and familiar. While there were differences in each daily ritual, some habits were repeated in most creative processes*:


    Structure allowed Trollope to “tutor his mind” and write for three hours before going to work at the Post Office. Gustave Flaubert believed being “regular and orderly in your life [allows you to be] violent and original in your work.” In other words, when the structure is established, you are freed to focus on what counts.

    Solitude and simplicity seem to function hand in hand. Time alone, free of distraction is necessary to create. This means a narrowing or stripping away of extraneous things gives a creative the space to work. Some artists deliberately would forgo social commitments or would choose a hermit-like existence. Others would make room for community but keep those hours separate from the work. “What you need to do is clear all distraction,” Anne Rice says. “That’s the bottom line.”

    I was surprised how many artists engaged in daily exercise — calisthenics, swimming, and the like — long, long before this was considered the ideal. Walking long distances was by far the exercise of choice, serving as both a break from the work and sometimes a new way to view it. Those walks I take with the dog when I’m feeling stuck? I’m in good company.

    This book has inspired me to think again about how I might best keep my days simple and distraction free. In the midst of my daily solitude it has made me feel a part of something bigger than myself. I’m carrying the creative torch like those before me and those who will come after — important work indeed!

    Does ritual play into your creative process?


    *I’m focusing on the positive here. Many artists relied on various vices to (supposedly) bring out their best work. A few, like George Sand, felt “the work of the imagination is exciting enough…Whether you are secluded in your study or performing on the planks of a stage, you must be in total possession of yourself.”

    The post Creativity and Routine: DAILY RITUALS appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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    25. James Patterson Hopes to Elicit Barack Obama’s Support to #SaveOurBooks

    World-renowed author James Patterson has launched the #SaveOurBooks campaign. The video embedded above features a controversial scene of book burning.

    Patterson aims to elicit a pledge of support from President Barack Obama; he hopes to have Obama declare his concern about the state of reading within the country, appear in public carrying a book, and visit either a library or a bookstore. To help Patterson with this project, bibliophiles can sign a petition, write to a U.S. senator, and share information on social media.

    For the last two years, the President has visited the Politics & Prose independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday. Last week, he and his two daughters purchased 17 books including Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award-winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming.

    In the past, Patterson has expressed his own concern about how well reading and books are valued by the American people. He has donated $2 million to independent bookstores throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. What do you think?

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