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This page features news in the area of children’s literature, events from around the blogging community, and announcements about KidLitosphere happenings. Primarily focused on literary news, special events, useful articles, and interesting posts from other blogs, it does not include reviews, interviews, or opinions.

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Entries in Booklights (8)

Saturday
Apr032010

Saturday Afternoon Visits: April 3

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s been another eventful week around the Kidlitosphere. Here are some links, for your perusal:

NPM_LOGO_2008_final April is National Poetry Month. There are a host of activities going on around the Kidlitosphere in celebration. Happily, Laura Evans of All Things Poetry has compiled a list (which I in turn copied from Finding Wonderland - you can find more details there):

Beautifulbloggeraward1 Lovely_award This week I was honored to receive not one but two blog awards from Dawn Little of Literacy Toolbox. Like my co-honoree Terry Doherty, I’m not one to pass along awards like this - I don’t like picking sub-sets of my favorite blogs, according to anyone else’s criteria. But I am delighted to be in such wonderful company with the other names on Dawn’s list.

I was also happy to have my blog listed as a resource recently on the Education and Social Sciences Library (ESSL) Children’s Literature Blog. Katelyn Edds chose a selection of blogs based on “how often the blogs were updated, their layout and content, and how often the blogs were cited by others as being authoritative.” I’m in excellent company there, too, with blogs like Fuse #8, Readergirlz, and Guys Lit Wire, to name a few.

Speaking of Terry Doherty, her writer’s prompt at Booklights this month is a fun one - Mad Libs. Oh, how I loved Mad Libs when I was in middle school. She talks about some different versions of the Mad Libs idea, shares some memories, and discusses why Mad Libs and related word games are an excellent literacy tool. Fun stuff! Ann also talks about writing prompts for kids in her monthly Booklights post. Great minds thinking alike, I guess.

Dayglo Accredited Online Colleges has a fun post this week: 10 Children’s Books Every Business Student Should read. It’s a nice mix of older and newer titles, and includes Chris Barton’s The Day-Glo Brothers. Thanks to Emma Taylor for the link.

Liz B responds at Tea Cozy to a recent New York Times article by Julie Just about problem parents in young adult literature. I agree 100% with Liz’s conclusion: “Just as parents need to get out of the way for their teenagers to mature into adults, so should we adults who read and review young adult books get out of the way of the intended audience — the teens. Yes, we can read and enjoy those books; but let’s not ask for those books to be written to reflect our reality of adults and parents.” But do read the whole post. Monica Edinger chimes in on the Times piece, too, though more briefly.

At the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller continues her series on resources to help teachers discover books for kids. This time, she discusses Twitter (where you can find her at @DonalynBooks). She gives tons of great examples of the fun that is following the kidlit twitterverse.  

MACLogo The NCBLA blog reports on the start of the Exquisite Corpse Adventure Mystery Author Contest. The idea is for school classes to “Play Twenty Questions with other Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers around the country to help identify The Mystery Author! Every class that solves the mystery and emails in the correct guess will be entered into a drawing to win a collection of books valued at over $500 for their classroom or library, plus a phone conversation with The Mystery Author!”

Quick Hits:

  • I haven’t mentioned it in a while, and thought that I would draw your attention to the latest installment of Sherry Early’s Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Every week, Sherry asks contributors to link to their reviews from the week - resulting in links to dozens of book reviews.
  • Mitali Perkins shares an inspiring plea from 8th grader Anisha N. on behalf of her school library. 
  • Lenore’s International Book Blogger Mentor program is up and running. She shares some of the featured bloggers at Presenting Lenore.
  • At the Tidy Books blog, Ian Newbold is wondering whether or not children’s books should come with warnings (e.g. if a character dies).
  • Doret wraps up her fun 9 Authors - 12 Baseball Questions series at TheHappyNappyBookseller.
  • If you need more kidlitosphere news, check out the latest FuseNews from Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production. There are also some interesting news links in Joanne Meier’s Food for Thought post at Reading Rockets this week.
  • And finally, Kate Coombs has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Book Aunt.

Redsoxlogo I’ll be away from the computer tomorrow, celebrating Easter as well as baseball’s Opening Day (finally!). Wishing you all a Happy Easter or Passover, or anything else that you might celebrate, and a happy spring.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Saturday
Apr032010

Sunday Afternoon Visits: March 21

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Happy Spring! Happy March Madness! A belated Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Here are a few links from around the Kidlitosphere, for those who are actually indoors on the computer this fine weekend:

First up, I was delighted to see that Jen Funk Weber profiled me this morning as her first Extreme Reader, a new series that she’s doing at Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy. She shares my story about reading on a raft in a lake in New Hampshire as a kid. Jen is looking for other extreme reader stories, as well as extreme stitcher stories, if you have any to share. And have you seen her tutorial for stitching Readergirlz bookmarks? Anyone interested in both books and needlework should really be following Jen’s blog.

Matilda Betsy Bird is up to #17 in the Top 100 Children’s Novels poll at A Fuse #8 Production. You can also enter a challenge to predict the top 10 titles. I got an extra kick out of seeing Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory side by side at #18 and #19. The book-loving Matilda is one of my all-time favorite characters from children’s literature. And I’ll always have fond associations for Charlie, because I taught myself to type by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There’s also a top 100 YA books poll going on at Persnickety Snark.

Speaking of Matilda, great fan of reading, Terry Doherty has started a list/widget at The Reading Tub with books about kids finding a love of reading. She would welcome your suggestions. Also, my congratulations to Terry for being the latest Featured Sweetheart at the Texas Sweethearts blog. There’s a great interview!

Helaine Becker believes that kids enjoy reading. Inspired by a recent visit as guest author at a bookstore, she shares her thoughts on why kids sometimes get a reputation for being non-readers. I think she makes some good points, especially: “Kids don’t like to read books that are “good for them” or jammed down their throats.” 

Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling is shifting the focus of her blog a bit to focus more on finding books for boys. She’s reformatted her blog, added a list of other blogs that suggest books for boys, and declared Guy Fridays. It’s always interesting to me how people shift the focus of their blogs over time, as they discover areas that they are particularly passionate about.

Sara Zarr, on the other hand, wants to know if blogging is dead. She notes: “I don’t have time to read and comment on blogs the way I used to, and that seems to have led to fewer comments on mine, or folks do their commenting on Twitter and Facebook where my blog feeds—or commenting has been replaced with sharing, liking, and reTweeting.” The post is a bit slanted (understandably) towards author blogs, but the discussion has implications for us all. I think it depends on whether you’re blogging FOR the sense of community, or to share particular things that lend themselves more to the longer format of the blog (vs. Twitter or Facebook).

Lee Wind (co-founder of the Kidlitosphere Comment Challenge) has a new blog about The Zen of Blogging. He says: “This is my new on-line home for sharing weekly inspiration and how-to tips about blogging with you.” 

Booklights Speaking of the Comment Challenge founders, Pam Coughlan has a great post this week at Booklights about Thrifty Reading, with suggestions for acquiring books during tough economic times (and no, shoplifting is NOT among her suggestions). See also Susan Stephenson’s suggestions at The Book Chook for finding free reading material online. Also at Booklights, Susan Kusel suggests checking out holiday-themed books from the library EARLY.

Quick hits:

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Thursday
Feb112010

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: February 10

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

There has been a lot going on around the Kidlitosphere this past week. Here are some links for your perusal:

The biggest news is that Betsy Bird has started reporting the results of her Top 100 Children’s Books Poll at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy asked readers to share their list of top 100 children’s books of all time. She’s compiled the results, and is reporting the list in small chunks, complete with commentary and assorted covers for each book. These posts (see 100-91, 90-86, 85-81) are truly an amazing resource, filled with quotes and memories about beloved books, new and old. Even though we’re only 20 titles in, I would venture to suggest that the completed list is going to make an excellent recommended reading list. In fact, I actually dreamed about reading these posts last night. Stay tuned to A Fuse #8 Production for the rest of the Top 100.

For anyone who might be snowed in this week, Joan S. at the First Book blog suggests: “Settling in to enjoy a GOOD BOOK doesn’t require electricity or a wireless connection. Satellite dishes may be covered with snow, wires may be down, but READING A BOOK just takes a quiet nook and a willingness to enjoy the moment.”

I noticed two posts today about creative classroom activities dedicated to popular books. At Educating Alice, Monica Edinger shares a mural that her students created after reading When You Reach Me together as a class. And at Learn Me Sumthin’, Tony’s class is tracking Percy Jackson’s adventures using Google Maps. Here’s a snippet from Tony’s post: “Some very unexpected and wonderful things started to happen. The classroom conversations about writing became stronger, because I think the kids really started to see the connection that fiction, even fantasy like The Lightning Thief, is more ‘real’ when the author can layer in events, details that are real. Also the importance of setting, which can get lost of 4th grade writers is now more apparent.”

Speaking of classrooms, Everybody Wins! reports: “MrsP.com has created some beautiful literary-inspired valentines — that you can download for free at www.MrsP.com. They are perfect for teachers or mentors to use in the classroom this week. They are created for readers of all-ages and perfect to give to the book lovers in your life.” Here’s the direct link. They are very cute! 

And in other Percy Jackson news, Amanda from A Patchwork of Books reports: “The Guardian has an awesome interview with author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) about his son’s dyslexia and ADHD preventing him from enjoying reading. Well Mr. Percy Jackson’s story helped fix that!”. Of course, the Lightning Thief movie comes out on Friday, too, so we’ll be hearing lots more about Percy in the coming weeks.

David Elzey is writing a series (based on work that he did as part of a graduate residency) on building better boy books. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Part 1 is introductory, while Part 2 is about grabbing the attention of boys by using humor. David says: “there are subtleties to some forms of humor that boys respond to above others that can be incorporated into fiction. Knowing these elements might help explain what makes many boys – both readers and characters – tick.”

Charlotte's web At Booklights, Susan Kusel discusses reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to young children (who might not cope well with Charlotte’s death). Susan notes: “As a librarian, I frequently get asked what age the book is appropriate for. My answer is always that it depends on your child. Will they be able to handle it?” Commenters seem to agree.

Also at Booklights, Terry Doherty has launched a new monthly column called A Prompt Idea. She says: “Each month, I’ll talk about writing and suggest ways to add writing to children’s literacy diet. Even if your child isn’t ready to put pen to paper, prompts can open the doors to building vocabulary, honing communication skills, and being creative. Varying the outlets for writing and communicating is as important as offering different types of reading materials.”

Abby (the) Librarian and Kelly of Stacked are starting a new monthly roundup of posts about audiobooks. Abby says: “We want to encourage people to listen to audiobooks and to post about them. We want to provide a place for people to find out about great audiobooks.”

Cybils2009-150px The Cybils winners will be announced this Sunday (Valentine’s Day). In the meantime, the Cybils blog has been running a fun series about the inside scoop on the nominees in various categories. Here’s Part I, Part II, and Part III. I continue to be wowed that Deputy Editor Sarah Stevenson manages to keep up her own blog, and keep coming up with creative content for the Cybils blog, too.

Quick hits:

And that’s it for today. I’m feeling much better having the starred items in my reader cleaned up, and I’m off to watch the Duke/UNC game with a friend. Happy reading, all!

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Sunday
Sep202009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: September 20

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Last week kind of got away from me, blog-wise. Which is a shame, because there’s been a lot of great stuff going on in the Kidlitosphere. This is my attempt to catch you all up.

Via lots of people, yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Me, I’ve been wanting to watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies all weekend. Or at least Goonies… I recommend, for those of you interested in a different perspective on pirates, a reading of The Dust of 100 Dogs, by A. S. King.

Cybils2009-150pxLiz Burns has a post about the Cybils up today at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. She discusses the origins of the Cybils, as well as the transparency of the Cybils award process. If you’ve seen the term “Cybils Awards” floating around, and you’re not sure what that means, do check out Liz’s post. And if you’re already a fan of the Cybils, I’m happy to report that you can now buy Cybils-themed items (mugs, etc.) at CafePress. I just got two gorgeous Cybils mugs in the mail this week. See also the introduction post for Liz Jones, this year’s Graphic Novel Category Organizer. And did you hear that the Cybils Award now has a Wikipedia page?

Despite general excitement about the Cybils, another round of Blog Angst Flu (loosely defined as a periodic phase of questioning the purpose of and time required by a blog) is going around. Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book!! and Lenore from Presenting Lenore have both written recently about their struggles. Outside of the Kidlitosphere, Megan from Velveteen Mind has a post about the phenomenon in general (thanks to Liz B. from Tea Cozy for the link), reporting on blog closures after big conferences. Blog Angst Flu is surprisingly contagious (considering how rarely we’re all in the same room). What I find helps fight it off is focusing on my larger goals for the blog (to help people who are growing bookworms, in whatever small ways I can). My stack of unread review titles taunts me sometimes, but I try to think of every review that I DO have time for as a little candle that I’m lighting in the darkness. It works for me, anyway.

Speaking of reviews, in this weekend’s Around the Interwebs postAbby (the) Librarian pointed me to an excellent post by author Jackson Pearce about the different types of reviews. Pearce offers an ode to bloggers who write “thoughtful, meaningful reviews” (she calls us rock stars!). She also discusses the problems with reviews that offer just a ranking, with no explanation, and other equally unsatisfactory types of reviews. Everyone who blogs about books should read and think about this post.

Speaking of authors and bloggers, Colleen Mondor has a post at Chasing Ray directed at authors with suggestions for ways to interact with the literary blogosphere. She’s not talking about authors like Jackson Pearce, of course, but to those who send blog reviewers mass, impersonal emails about participating in blog tours, and the like. The conversation in the comments is well worth reading, for authors and bloggers. Colleen also has another new post, one that I’m going to talk about at length separately.

Getting back to review books, Greg Pincus has been collecting photos of people’s to be read stacks (or, in some cases, bookshelves and closets). He’s posted a compilation of photos at The Happy Accident. Some of these have to be seen to be believed. I didn’t get around to sending mine in (I have a six-shelf bookcase, double-stacked, plus a growing pile of picture books on a nearby table), but seeing everyone else’s made me feel a bit better about my own.

Another post with great pictures is from What Adrienne Thinks About That. Librarian Adrienne shares photos of her library’s welcoming new Tween Center. I LOVED her opening paragraph: “Lately, I’ve been thinking that my philosophy of librarianship could best be summed up, “Embrace your inner nerd.” I want every child who walks in the doors to find something of interest in the Children’s Room, but, what’s more, I want children to know that this is the place where we love books and thinking and art and creativity and logic and problem-solving. This is the place where you can go to figure out the world or get a little respite when figuring out the world is wearing you out.”

KidLitCon-badgeOne conference that I vow will NOT lead to anyone feeling discouraged about their blogging is the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (now affectionately known as KidLitCon09). Pam has come up with a handy conference badge, which I’m proud to display. I’ll be working on my panel session this week, about “Coming Together and Reaching Out: Building Community, Literacy and the Reading Message”.

BooklightsThe PBS Parents Booklights blog is pleased to welcome two new guest contributors. Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub and Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti will be alternating weekly guest posts for a bit, while Susan Kusel takes a temporary break from posting. You can read Susan and Terry’s welcome posts here and here. Pam, Gina, Ann, and I are thrilled to have them both on the team! Of course the real question is, will Susan be able to get Elmo’s autograph?

Mitali Perkins has an interesting theory, after much discussion on her blog, about whether kids look for themselves in what they read, or not. She says: “Elementary-aged kids and upper high-schoolers are more open to fiction with protagonists who are markedly different than they are when it comes to race, class, or nationality. During early adolescence, fifth through ninth grade, most young readers buzz about and share books featuring protagonists they hope to resemble. Also, if everybody’s reading it, or watching it, or playing it, odds are they’ll want to, also.” Sounds reasonable to me. Read more at Mitali’s Fire Escape.

Quick Hits:

  • Color Online shares a recommended reading list for Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15). There are some additional suggestions in the comments, too.
  • Bill from Literate Lives has a fun post (with pictures) about how NOT to treat a library book.
  • Sherrie from Write About Now has a lovely little post about her second grade daughter looking around the house for “secret portals”, after reading The Doll People. This is what it’s all about, people! Kids finding magic in what they read.
  • This weekend’s Poetry Friday roundup was at Becky’s Book Reviews.
  • Jill T. from The Well-Read Child recently put out a call for guest hosts for her weekly “what my children are reading” roundups. Quite a few people have already volunteered, but there are still slots available. I think that including other hosts is a great idea to strengthen this event.
  • Congratulations to the Kidlitosphere’s own Monica Edinger from Educating Alice, who just sold her book Africa Is My Home (a book 10 years in the making) to Candlewick Press. Details here.
  • Inspired by a recent experience with having an author visit canceled because of censorship, Author Ellen Hopkins offers a stirring defense of the First Amendment (and a criticism of banning books). She says things like this: “NO ONE PERSON should be able to tell other people what their children can or can’t read… Why not instead, parents, read the books with your kids, open the lines of communication, and TALK TO THEM!”
  • Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling (a frequent source of book suggestions for me) asks a philosophical question about what books she should be providing for middle school readers. In a depressing kind of reverse censorship, she gets pressured to push middle school kids to read YA, in many cases reading above their interest levels. See also Robin La Fevers’ thoughts about older middle grade fiction.
  • Kelly from YAnnabe has a post about how to ban books the right way. OK, that’s a provocative title. What she really talks about is banning oneself from buying more books, before they take over one’s life. It’s pretty entertaining.
  • At The SpectacleParker Peevyhouse asks whether authors should try to create more female secondary characters.
  • Charlotte from Charlotte’s Library made me laugh out loud with this post.
  • Another fun post comes from Bri Meets Books, about “Top Five Kidlit Characters Who Were Infinitely Cooler Than Me When I Was Younger”. She mentions one of my favorite characters, Sara Crewe from A Little Princes. Bri also had a nice post about last weekend’s Roald Dahl Day.
  • Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews recently read Tarzan for the first time. Check out her fun interview about the book, here.
  • The deadline to submit articles for TBR Tallboy (which Tanita Davis says is “a hip, low-tech, chapbook style fiction ’zine, successful after only one issue, filled with stories from atrociously talented writers, if I do say so myself”) is September 30th.
  • Maureen from Confessions of a Bibliovore reports that the next big thing in young adult fiction is going to be angels. I say, sure, why not?
  • Did you hear about the Harry Potter Theme Park being built in Orlando? I heard about it from Educating Alice.

Five hours after starting this post (I kid you not, though I’ve also been working in parallel on tomorrow’s Children’s Literacy Roundup and watching the Red Sox), I am thrilled to report that all that’s left starred in my Google Reader are an assortment of book reviews. (I’m saving those for the next “Reviews that Made Me Want the Book” column, of course.) Maybe you guys could all take next week off from writing interesting things, as a little favor to me? Kidding … kidding! Thanks for tuning in!

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Friday
Sep112009

Friday Afternoon Visits: September 11

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

September 11th will never again be just another day. One can’t even think about the date without remembering the events that occurred 8 years ago. My heart goes out to the friends and family members who are still grieving. The people lost on 9/11/01 will never be forgotten.

But I think that remembering terrible things only makes it that much important to take positive actions when we can. In doing so, even when the actions are small, we send out a tiny light into the darkness. And so, this Friday, September 11th, I bring you the news from the largely joyful place that is the Kidlitosphere. First, some September 11th-related remembrances and reviews:

RIFF_logoAt Rasco from RIFCarol Rasco shares RIF’s plans for the first official September 11 Day of Service and Remembrance. She says: “The tragic events of September 11, 2001 unified us as a nation. The memory of that day continues to inspire us to serve our neighbors, our communities, and our country. We are pleased to join this national effort and thank the President for making this call to service.” 

14_cowsAt The Reading TubTerry Doherty shares her personal response to the book 14 Cows for America, saying: “Although September 11, 2001 is the backdrop for the story, Deedy is offering us a timeless, universal story of empathy, compassion, and shared dreams of hope. Sharing this book with a child will open their minds to other cultures, traditions, and belief systems.”

Levithan_loveAnd at Finding WonderlandTanita Davis intermingles her memories of 9/11 with a review of David Levithan’s Love is the Higher Law. She says: “David Levithan is a New Yorker whose own impressions of that bewildering, horrifying, terrifying day are reflected in these pages. Few readers, teens and adults alike, will be able to experience this novel without remembering their own story — where they were that day, what they did.” Jackie Parker reviews the book, too, at InteractiveReader. She says: “I read it because it was David Levithan writing about 9/11. I know that Levithan is a New Yorker. And I trusted him as an author to deal with this subject with barefaced honesty, never pandering, never with any sense of self-importance or false heroism, or anything else that sullies that day.” 

At The Simple and the Ordinary, Christine M. shares her fragmented but crystal clear 9/11 memoriesSarah shares hers at The Reading Zone, and Susan hers at Chicken Spaghetti.  Me, I was in Austin, Texas on a business trip, and I heard about the events in New York on the car radio, on my way to work. During the course of that half hour drive, the first tower fell. And things were different. We all remember.

But, now, because life does go on, I’ll go on to the regular blogosphere news:

Book-blogger-appreciation-weekSherry Early has been running a great feature at Semicolon. She’s going through the shortlists for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, checking out each blog, writing a short blurb about the blog, and identifying her pick in each category. For example, here’s her assessment of the Best Thriller/Mystery/Suspense Blog category. I’ve flagged several of her posts to go back to, as I seek out new blogs to follow myself. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that Sherry has some nice things to say about my own blog, shortlisted in the Best KidLit Blog category. But I would think it was a neat feature in any case, I’m sure.) See also a thoughtful post at Chasing Ray, in which Colleen Mondor shares her opinion about shortlisting blogs, in general. Incidentally, voting for BBAW closes at midnight Saturday night. I hope that if you have opinions about any of the categories, you’ll take a few minutes to vote. And stay tuned for lots more BBAW activity next week.  

Cybils2009-Web-SmallThanks to the talented and hard-working Sarah Stevenson, new Cybils Bling is now available for purchase at Cafe Press. All of the new merchandise (t-shirt, mugs, buttons, tote bag, etc.) features the snazzy new Cybils 2009 logo. You can find details at the Cybils blog. Personally, I have my eye on a new mug, to go with my assorted Kidlitosphere Conference mugs from years past.

BooklightsPam and Susan have both hit it out of the park at Booklights this week, in my opinion. On Wednesday, Susan wrote about the ups and downs of reading aloud. She offers practical advice for parents who might be disappointed by their young kids’ unwillingness to sit still for read-aloud. Her conclusion: “Go easy on yourself and your children when it comes to reading aloud. And enjoy the wonderful moments when they happen.” Then yesterday, Pam used her Thursday Three feature to offer reading help for “the three people involved in your child’s reading development - the teacher, the child, and yourself.” I especially liked her strong suggestion that parents try to avoid The Reading Game (parental competition over kids’ reading levels and books). Both of these posts have the same general message for parents: raising readers works best if you keep it fun, and keep from being too hard on yourself or the kids. And that, my friends, is why I’m so happy to be working with Pam and Susan (and Gina, who guides us all, and Ann, who reinforces what we’re doing) at Booklights.

Terry Doherty wrote a guest article for this month’s Children’s Book Insider (subscription required) that some of you may find of interest. It’s about generating cyberbuzz (or, how to get your book reviewed online). Terry offers tips based on her experience in moderating book review requests at The Reading Tub. She also makes an interesting distinction between “stories written for kids, titles adults like for their kids; and books meant for adults.” There’s also a followup interview between Terry and CBI’s Laura Backes here. Terry also has a guest piece in the Examiner, as part of Jennifer Finke’s series on Toys with Imagination. Terry talks about engaging toddlers and kids with interactive books (no batteries required!).

Nathan Bransford, the literary agent, started an interesting discussion on his blog this week about whether or not children’s books should be “content-rated” like movies and video games. As I write there are some 250+ comments - clearly this is a topic that people feel strongly about. I found this post via Dawn Morris from Moms Inspire Learning (who found it via Jon Bard from Children’s Book Insider). Dawn says (on her own blog): “I wish the YA section of the library could be split in two, with books that address serious issues being put into a separate section for high school students. Why can’t there be a “safe” section just for children between the ages of 10 and 14? Parents can’t always read every book, after all.” Me, I think it’s a complicated question, because content ratings for books are such a subjective and variable thing. What’s “safe” for one kid might seem edgy for the next. It’s not easy. On a related note, Robin LaFevers writes about “some of the delineations in writing YA versus MG versus adult books”.

Another controversy has spun up around the lit blogosphere this week. The latest Notes from the Horn Book (a monthly email newsletter from Horn Book Magazine) included an interview with author Richard Peck. Mr. Peck apparently criticized teachers for reading books aloud. The interview has evoked some dissenting opinions from teachers, of course, particularly from Sarah at The Reading Zone and Monica Edinger at Educating Alice. See also Horn Book editor Roger Sutton’s take at Read Roger (he says “I think Peck was complaining about classrooms where kids’ only exposure to trade books was hearing them read aloud”). But still… it’s always something! 

Gail Gauthier linked to an interesting piece in the Denver Post by David Milofsky. The author posits that, as Google and Yahoo start paying publishers to link to news stories, the same might be expected of literary bloggers. A number of prominent bloggers are quoted in the article. I would tend to agree with Gail that if your blog doesn’t make money, fair use would probably apply in linking to a news story. Personally, it’s not like my blog is a big profit center for me. If I had to pay to link to news stories, well, I just wouldn’t link to news stories. Or I’d find some other way to do it, anyway. But it’s something to watch.

Quick Hits:

  • This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Wild Rose Reader. The last Nonfiction Monday roundup was at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • Greg Pincus has an inspirational post about community and the power of #kidlitchat (a weekly Twitter chat about children’s books and publishing). I’ll tell you, he made me want to participate, and I’m so not a “chat” person (the introvert in me can’t cope with the swirl of conversation, even when it’s online).
  • At Angieville, Angie has a fun post about the appeal of “bad boys” in literature, inspired by a post from Adele at Persnickety Snark. Reading both posts, it’s clear to me that in literature and TV, I’m generally in favor of Bad Boys, too (I pick Pacey over Dawson any day, and I am Team Gale all the way).
  • At Bookshelves of DoomLeila is in a bit of a reading slump, and looking for “something that I’ll be able to fall into, that has writing that at the very least won’t make me roll my eyes, that has characters I can believe in, a story that I haven’t read a million times before (unless the writing and the characters make it work), something that I’ll remember for more than an hour after reading.” Lots of promising suggestions in the comments.
  • At Parents and Kids Reading Together, Cathy Puett Miller says that “picture books are for everyone”.
  • Cheryl Rainfield has pictures of a house and furniture made out of books (well, not really, but they’re made to look like they’re made out of books, which works, too). Very fun!
  • At the Miss Rumphius EffectTricia links to a Fledgling post by Zetta Elliott about authors of color. Tricia says: “In addition to being a mighty strong argument for the recognition of works by authors of color, she includes links to some astounding and disheartening statistics.” See also Roger Sutton’s response.
  • Speaking of the need for diversity in publishing, Susan has a great quote at Chicken Spaghetti from Amy Bowllan’s School Library Journal blog, in a recent column about writers against racism: “Literature helps us understand who we are and to find our place in the world.” 
  • Responding to the recent trend of adding horror elements to classic romances (e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews suggests adding romance to some of the classic horror stories (e.g. a love interest for Frankenstein). I like it!
  • At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee and Franki are commemorating the start of the new school year with a series of posts celebrating teachers. I especially liked Day 4, in which Franki reminds people about Mary Lee and Franki’s list of Cool Teachers in Children’s Literature.
  • Liz Burns from Tea Cozy is one of the winners of the Color Me Brown challenge at Color Online. She links to other winners here
  • Susan Beth Pfeffer unveils the cover of the third Life As We Knew It book, The World We Live In. This is one book for which I don’t need to see any reviews. I already want it.  
  • Colleen Mondor wrote a short history of Guys Lit Wire for Crossed Genres magazine.
  • Mary Pearson guest blogged at Tor the other day about everyone’s obsession with the future (and specifically talked about how thinking about the future led her to the ideas in The Adoration of Jenna Fox). She also has a smart post at Tor about what YA lit is and isn’t (I found that one via Liz B.).
  • Sarah Stevenson chimed in on MotherReader’s Kidlitosphere Conference meme at Finding Wonderland. Updated to add that Betsy Bird chimed in from Fuse #8, too (and she hardly ever does memes). And Colleen makes a particularly strong case for writers to attend, at Chasing Ray. Oh, I wish that EVERYONE could come this year. At least Liz B. will be there again this year (here’s her meme).
  • And if this isn’t enough news for you, Abby (the) Librarian has some other links today.

Wishing you all a weekend of peace. Me, I just got some good news from my brother, which definitely makes the day a lot brighter.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
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