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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 Reluctant Readers (4)

Friday
Dec052008

Friday Afternoon Visits: December 5

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I find myself with a bit of time to spare this afternoon, before what promises to be a hectic weekend, so I thought that I would share a few Kidlitosphere links with you.

Fresh off the comment challenge, MotherReader has been coming up with her usual amazing lists of ways to give a book. These are lists pairing books with something else, “to give it that fun factor”. You can find the lists herehereherehere, and, the newest one, here. The suggestions include things like “What else can go with Monkey With A Tool Belt but a tool belt?” Can’t argue with that one, Pam! You can also find links to tons of other lists of holiday book recommendations at Chasing Ray. Seriously. There is no excuse for NOT buying books for the holidays, with all the energy people have been putting into providing gift ideas through Colleen’s 12 Days of Christmas event. I’m especially appreciating Sarah’s Tween Book-Buying Guides at The Reading Zone, and Susan’s tracking of “best of” lists at Chicken Spaghetti.

SolvangSherrie has a lovely little post about the joy of raising readers at Write About Now. Her first grade daughter reads aloud to the Kindergarten class every week, with great pride.

There are author interviews all over the place this week. But two interviews that I particularly enjoyed were of fellow bloggers. Maureen at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved interviewed Anastasia Suen, organizer for the Cybils Easy Reader committee, about what makes a book an easy reader, and how adults should use them with kids. Jon Bard at Children’s Writing Web Journal interviewed Abby (the) Librarian about what she’s learned from her blog, and what she likes to see in books. I’m completely with Abby about didactic books, and her recommendation of The Hunger Games.

Jill has a must-read guest post at The Well-Read Child. Author Maxwell Eaton shares 10 Tips for the Parents of Ricky the Reluctant Reader, in comic strip form. The tips for dealing with reluctant readers are dead-on, and the format is funny and engaging. As fellow commenter Jeremy said: “this 10-tips comic should be distributed far and wide.” I really like the way Jill has been branching out from doing traditional author interviews to ask authors abut literacy and raising readers.

Authors thinking about starting a blog, or about what their goals are for their blog, might appreciate this sixth blog anniversary post by Shannon Hale. She talks about her goals for the blog, and her struggles. I especially liked: “I blog to promote ongoing literacy. I love to recommend books I’m passionate about, so that readers who like my books don’t stop here but keep reading, or parents and teachers can get good suggestions for all kinds of readers.” That’s the kind of thing that keeps someone like me coming back.

There have been a few tempests in the normally cozy teapot of the Kidlitosphere this week. One was started by The LiteraBuss, with a post called “Must NOT Read List For Elementary School (Books That Were Once Great But Have Become Irrelevant)”. I mean, anyone who is going to call To Kill A Mockingbird “trash” (admittedly in the context of classroom reading, but still…) is going to raise a few eyebrows. See follow-on posts at The LiteraBuss here and here, and at Charlotte’s Library.

A School Library Journal article by Gail Giles has also triggered some conflict. Addressing the question of why boys generally don’t read as much as girls do, Gail comes to the conclusion that boys don’t have enough male role models demonstrating reading. She’s pretty blunt about it: “Now, this is purely my opinion, but children copy their elders. They want to be what they see. A boy doesn’t want to be a woman. He wants to do what a man does. And if he doesn’t see a man reading, he won’t read.” Colleen Mondor begs to differ at Guys Lit Wire, saying “I do not think that boys (or girls) read or don’t read because of what other people do (or don’t do) in their homes.” Carlie Webber, on the other hand, thinks that Gail raises a valid point, concluding “I think that male role models are only one of many factors in getting boys to read, but they’re an important factor.” Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect asks “Why do we give boys so little credit? Why the gross generalizations?” She has a bit of a discussion going in the comments, if you’d like to participate.

In other interesting chat, there’s discussion about why “girl books” focus on home (see Kids Lit), what girls want in literature, and when a personal area of expertise leads to a “fail” moment when you’re reading. Lisa Chellman has links for those last two. Doret also writes about what’s NOT urban lit at TheHappyNappyBookseller. And, though this isn’t particularly controversial, Stacy DeKeyser proposes a definition of young adult fiction at Reading, writing, and chocolate.

In closing, two reminders to appreciate each day. Well-known blogger Dewey from The Hidden Side of a Leaf passed away over Thanksgiving weekend. There have been various tributes across the blogs, and you can read an outpouring of comments at Dewey’s blog. And, as if she hadn’t had enough loss for one year, Amanda from A Patchwork of Books lost her mother, unexpectedly. Amanda expects to be back to blogging soon, though, because it helps her to have something normal in her life. So, in memory of Dewey, and of Amanda’s son and mother, show a little extra appreciation for the people in your life this weekend. You won’t regret it.

© 2008 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
Oct182008

Saturday Evening Visits: October 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

The FireI haven’t spent as much time working on my blog this weekend as usual, because I’ve been consumed by a couple of books. The Eight, by Katherine Neville, is one of my favorite books - an adult thriller/romance/historical epic/mystery. However, it had been several years since I last read it. When the sequel, The Fire, came out this week, I had to sit down and re-read The Eight first, before diving into The Fire. I’ve felt a bit guilty about neglecting my blog, but I had to remind myself that I started my blog because I love books. And it’s really not right for the blog to keep me from being consumed by books, is it? But anyway, here are some links that I saved up from the week.

The Reading Tub website has a gorgeous new look. The Reading Tub is one of my favorite resources for encouraging young readers. They have hundreds of profile pages for books, with details like recommendations for age to read together vs. read yourself, whether to borrow or buy, and read-alikes. The Reading Tub also has related links and reading resources, and an excellent blog that features reading news. If you have a few minutes, do check out their new website.

Over at The Reading Zone, Sarah has a nice post about helping struggling readers to find the perfect book. She warns: “It can take weeks to find something that a reluctant and struggling reader can read and wants to read.  There will be a lot of abandoned books along the way.” But she offers concrete suggestions to help. I think this is a must-read post for anyone new to recommending books for struggling readers.

My VerboCity reports (a story originally from Publisher’s Weekly) the Simon & Schuster is going to be releasing eBooks for cell phones. Some of the Nancy Drew mysteries will be available at the program’s launch, to drive initial interest.

Mary and Robin at Shrinking Violet Promotions (with much help from their devoted readers) have made tremendous progress in drafting their Introvert’s Bill of Rights. If you’re an Introvert, or you live with one, this is required reading. See also Robin’s post about the benefits of spending some time unplugged. I followed her advice, and turned my computer off at noon on Friday. I later checked email on my phone, but wished that I hadn’t… I do think there’s something to be said for spending more time away from the computer, to provide clear mental space.

Liz Burns writes at Tea Cozy about some important purposes of book reviews, including the reasons why professional book reviews “won’t be going away anytime soon.” She proposes that “instead of cutting back book reviews, newspapers and magazines should be increasing the book-talk that appears on their websites.” Liz’s post was quoted on GalleyCat, and sparked some further discussion there.

Trevor Cairney has a post at Literacy, Families, and Learning about a key theme in children’s literature: death. He notes that “Literature can helps parents, in particular, to discuss the reality of death with their children. Books that address death can be read with children and by children themselves as a source of insight, comfort and emotional growth.” Trevorsuggests some books that deal with, but haven’t been specifically written to address, death (like Bridge to Terebithia).

Lisa Chellman reports that Cavendish is launching a line of contemporary classic reissues. She says: “This is truly a labor of love. I mean, presumably Cavendish expects to make some money from this line, but they’re tracking down all sorts of rights and artwork to make this happen while looking at a pretty strictly library and indie bookstore market.” Lisa also shares some books about out of the ordinary princesses.

The PaperTigers blog offers multicultural reading group suggestions for young readers. Janet explains: “At PaperTigers, we are deeply committed to books on multicultural subjects that bring differing cultures closer together. So of course the books on our little list are novels that we think will accomplish that, while they keep their readers enthralled and provide the nourishment for spirited book group discussions.”

Laura writes at Children’s Writing Web Journal about staying young as a children’s book writer. She says: “Whenever I’m feeling more mature than I’d like, I read children’s books. A great book for kids pulls me right back to my childhood. A stellar novel for young adults makes me feel like a teen again, only now I’ve got some perspective on the experience and can actually laugh about it.”

The Hunger GamesOn a related note, Gail Gauthier links at Original Content to a School Library Journal article about teen books that adults will enjoy. I can think of lots of other titles that could have been listed in the article (The Hunger Games comes immediately to mind), but right now I’m just happy that articles like this are being written.

The latest edition of Just One More Book! asks how old is too old for reading aloud. Several commenters report that it’s never too old for read-aloud, which makes me very happy. Everything I’ve ever read on this topic suggests that parents should keep reading aloud to their kids for as long as their kids will let them.

Speaking of reading aloud, Cynthia Lord shares a lovely story about reading aloud to her daughter, and a whole waiting room full of other people, around Christmastime. She concludes, speaking to the author of the book she was reading, “ As authors we get to do something that very few people get to do. We get to matter in the lives of complete strangers. Barbara Robinson, you’ve mattered in mine.” Isn’t that lovely?

ChainsThis has been written about pretty much everywhere, but just in case you missed it, the National Book awards were announced this week. I first saw the short list for Young People’s Literature at Read Roger. The titles are: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion); The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum); Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon and Schuster); What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic); The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Knopf). Chains is high up on my to-read list, and I am especially happy for Laurie Anderson.

Justine Larbalestier takes on the topic of editing titles originally published in foreign countries to Americanize them. I hate this, too. As a kid, I loved figure out what British words like lift and pram and jumper meant.

At Greetings from Nowhere, Barbara O’Connor shares ”timelines that kids made focused on books that were important to them at various points in their lives.” I love this idea (and the examples shown). What a way to celebrate the love of reading!

Sp0112x2Finally, I so want this notepad, which Betsy linked to at Fuse #8. It says “I will do one thing today. Thing:”. Brilliant!

And that’s all for tonight. I’ll just conclude by saying: how ’bout those Red Sox!!

© 2008 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
Aug292008

Friday Afternoon Visits: Labor Day Weekend Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I was away for much of this past week, attending to a (now under control) parental health crisis. This weekend I have guests coming in from out of town, and I doubt I’ll get much blogging in. But I managed to scrape up a bit of time to share some links with you this afternoon. There has been, and will be, a lot going on in the Kidlitosphere.

  • First up, the official call has been made for 2008 Cybils judges. If you actively blog about children’s and/or young adult books and you’re interested in participating, check out the detailed requirements and responsibilities on the new and improved Cybils blog. This year there will be a new category, Easy Readers, headed by the terrifically qualified Anastasia Suen. More details, and a call for judges, can be found here. I’m hoping to be involved in the easy reader category this year, too. I think that finding quality books for the very earliest readers is an important task (as does Gail Gauthier).
  • September 15-19 is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted at the blog My Friend AmyAmy says: “Acknowledging the hard work of book bloggers and their growing impact on book marketing and their essential contribution to book buzz in general, I am excited to announce the first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Think of it as a retreat for book bloggers and a chance for us to totally nerd out over books together. And of course, shower each other with love and appreciation.” The categories are listed here, and do include Best Kidlit Blog and Best Young Adult Lit Blog, among many others. Nominations are made by email, and you can nominate up to two blogs per category. You do not need to have a blog to nominate, and although there’s a concept of registering, I don’t think that you have to register to be included in the nomination process. Anyway, there has been lots of buzz about this, so if you are interested, check out the nomination post.
  • Linda Salzman reminds I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) readers that there is only one week left to enter the I.N.K. “Spectacular Fifteen Book Blast Give-away.” The contest is open to “teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, writers, or anyone else from across the country who is promoting nonfiction.”
  • Over at Books Together, Anamaria shares news about the new Ballet Shoes movie (based on the Noel Streatfeild book). I thought that Ballet Shoes was magical when I was a kid. Though I enjoyed several of the other books, Ballet Shoes was always special. I look forward to seeing the movie, which co-stars Emma Watson
  • At BookMoot, Camille shares some thoughts for school librarians as the school year begins. She shares some aspirations, and says: “I salute the librarians who work so hard to teach important research skills, stoke young people’s imaginations and instill a love of books and reading in their students. Your joy and passion for your job is contagious.” I will never forget my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Betty Tuttle, who made a difference in my life, and in my reading. Here’s to all of the other Mrs. Tuttles out there. You do make a difference.
  • Also in back-to-school land, Elaine Magliaro shares links to back to school picture books and poetry at Wild Rose Reader. And at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia has some suggestions for teachers to improve communication with both parents and students.
  • In a post called Girl Books, Boy BooksJustine Larbalestier writes about the tendency that many women have to read mostly books by women, and men to read books by men. She concludes: “Women are far more mixed in their reading. Even me. I read way more books by women than by men, but I’ve still read a tonne of boy books. Some of there are even quite good. I’d even recommend them to my little sister. Maybe … What about youse lot? Do you notice a tendency one way or the other in your own reading? Do you have idea why? Or do you just read the books that look cool.” As is often the case with Justine’s posts, this one has sparked quite a bit of discussion.
  • On the ALSC Blog, Kiera Parrott shares suggestions for conducting storytimes for autistic children. After giving several concrete suggestions, she notes: “Without a doubt, storytimes with autistic students have been some of the most rewarding programs in my career so far.  The kids are smart, surprising, and each time I see them, I learn something new.”
  • At Librarilly Blonde (which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs), Carlie Webber shares thoughts about methods of teaching young adult literature which rely on analysis, and take away the joy of reading. Carlie was inspired by a Washington Post article by Nancy Schnog about teaching YA literature. Among other things, Schnog says: “As much as I hate to admit it, all too often it’s English teachers like me — as able and well-intentioned as we may be — who close down teen interest in reading.” What a sad commentary that is. But there’s clearly some truth to it. Schnog also says, late in the article (after presenting evidence to support her thesis): “The lesson couldn’t be clearer. Until we do a better job of introducing contemporary culture into our reading lists, matching books to readers and getting our students to buy in to the whole process, literature teachers will continue to fuel the reading crisis.” And there you have it, folks. Be sure to read Carlie’s thoughts, too, as well as those of Terry from the Reading TubColleen Mondor from Chasing RayTricia from the Miss Rumphius Effect, and Libby from Lessons from the Tortoise.
  • And on the subject of people trying to make books interesting and relevant for young adults, Laurie Halse Anderson has extended the deadline for her book trailer contest (for Speak or Twisted). The contest is only available to “people who will be 21 years old or younger on October 31, 2008.” And I especially love rule #6: “Contest is open to anyone on the Planet Earth. Teens working aboard the space station are welcome too. Entries from other planets and galaxies will be considered, as long as they can be watched on Earth-created technologies.” If you know any creative teens, I would definitely recommend sending them in Laurie’s direction.
  • School Library Journal has a nice article by Michael Sullivan about boys and reading. He starts out with “If we want to transform boys into lifelong readers, we need to discover what makes them tick. Equally important, we need to have a better grasp of the kind of reading that attracts them.” He concludes (after a number of concrete suggestions and examples): “Although boys often do not become successful readers, the cost is too high to allow this trend to continue. It’s time to give boys more options, to respect their preferences. Boys can become readers: I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
  • At Five Minutes for Books, Lauren writes about reading for story (“Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor… (but) because you want to know what happens next”). Personally, I’ve always been all about story. I’ll appreciate a book more if it’s well-written, of course, with complex characters, fully realized setting, and lyrical writing. But if it doesn’t have that “what happens next” sense of story (whether the book is fiction or non), I won’t read it at all. Of course this isn’t true for everyone, but it does seem to be true for most of Lauren’s commenters.
  • This week’s Poetry Friday round-up is at Charlotte’s Library.
  • At Bookshelves of Doom, Leila shares her off the cuff list of 20 essential picks for YA. She has some of my favorites on her list (though others are not - clearly this is a very personal thing). But if you’re looking for some good suggestions from someone who really appreciates young adult fiction, you should definitely check out Leila’s list (though she added in the comments below “please do note that that list was totally off the top of my head! There wasn’t a whole lot of thought involved — I was just musing about what I might put on a list like that…”). There are other suggestions in the comments, too.
  • At Library Stew, Kathy has a post for parents on how to find a good book. Among other down-to-earth advice, she says: “Students are more likely to enjoy reading when they are reading about something that interests them.The best thing in choosing books for you students is to have them be part of the process, take them to the bookstore or library and have them tell you what they are interested in reading.” 
  • Rick Riordan is going to be on the Today Show on September 8th, talking about the launch of the 39 Clues series. I’ve set this to record on my DVR (not even for Rick will I get up at 7:00 to watch television, on what will already be tape-delay here in California). But I am interested to watch the segment. 
  • At Tea Cozy, Liz B. brings her customary insight to a Washington Post article by Bob Thompson (and a snarky Booksl** comment) about the business side of graphic novels. Liz says that the Post article is a must-read because “It talks about things like distribution and how comic book sales are different from book sales. Unless you’re content to not publish your work, or have a trust fund or well-off spouse, or don’t care about things like insurance and paying rent, it is important to remember that publishing (including comic books and graphic novels) is a business.” I also liked the way that she pointed out that although the idea that graphic novels are big isn’t exactly news to the KidLit blogger community, it IS news to many members of the Washington Post’s audience.

And that is quite enough for one day. Wishing you all a lovely Labor Day Weekend.

© 2008 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
Jun052008

Thursday Afternoon Visits: June 5

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m getting ready to participate in MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge this weekend, which means that I won’t have a lot of time for round-up type blog posts. But I will be blogging about the books. For those not participating in the book challenge, I leave you now with a few quick links:

  • The next Carnival of Children’s Literature, to be hosted by Susan Taylor Brown, will focus on fathers in children’s literature. Submit your posts here. This is fitting both because of Father’s Day, and because Susan wrote about a wonderful father in her novel Hugging the Rock. Links for the Carnival are due Saturday, June 21st.
  • Speaking of Father’s Day, see this post at the FirstBook Blog by guest blogger Tina Chovanec about the importance of fathers in getting kids reading. Tina reports, for example, that “studies show that when fathers participate in learning, their children receive higher marks, enjoy school more, and are less likely to repeat a grade.”
  • Sally Apokedak’s blog All About Children’s Books was one of the first blogs that I read when I discovered the Kidlitosphere. Sally signed off a year or two ago for various reasons, but recently brought her blog back online. She’s also started a new project called KidzBookBuzz.com. Through the site, she’ll be coordinating various blog tours, during which a collection of people all blog about the same book over a two- to three-day period, to raise the buzz level for those books. The posts can be reviews or other mentions of the book - they don’t have to be interviews (though interviews are typically what I think of when I think of a blog tour). Publishers will be asked to provide review copies (and apparently will be paying the organizers for the service). If you’re interested, check out the requirements for participating, here. I’ve decided to sit this one out, because I find that organized blog activities, where other people set the date, turn out to be stressful for me [updated to admit, after reading more about it, that something didn’t feel quite right about it], but Sally already has a number of bloggers and authors lined up. [Updated to add: if you’re going to consider this, please do see Colleen Mondor’s post about it first. She raises some serious concerns.]
  • The ESSL Children’s Literature Blog has a great list of baseball books and related links, posted by Nancy O’Brien.
  • The Horn Book’s Web Watching with Rachel column, a companion to the new print issue of The Horn Book, is now available.
  • Guys Lit Wire has been off to a strong start, with tons of interesting post (and I’ve heard positive feedback from several people outside of the target teenage guy audience). I was especially intrigued by this post from Mr. Chompchomp about speculative nonfiction, which “addresses “what if” questions, but instead of turning to wacky stories about aliens and dragons, answers them with research and facts and just a little bit of educated surmising.”
  • Melissa from Book Nut is looking for book suggestions for her bibliovore daughter, who reads so rapidly that they’re having trouble keeping her in books. It is, as she says, a good problem to have. But if you have any book suggestions for “a precocious reader, reading at a 10th grade level (who is) not quite 12” do share. Or, if you need book suggestions, check out the already-extensive comments, which include titles old and new.
  • I learned from A Fuse #8 Production today about a new blog by NYPL librarian Kiera Manikoff called Library Voice. I love it already, especially this post about The (Reluctant) Reader’s Bill of Rights. Kiera includes things like “The right to choose whatever book you want,” and asks for other suggestions.
  • And speaking of librarian blogs that I like (of which there are many), check out this post by Abby (the) Librarian, about attending a local elementary school’s family reading night. Abby includes observations like this: “The evening started off with 15 minutes of silent reading in the school’s gym. Families were asked to bring books, and books were provided for those who forgot. I think this is a simple activity that says a lot. It’s important for kids to view reading as a pleasurable activity. Kids look up to their parents and caregivers and if they see grownups who love to read, they’ll want to join in the fun.”
  • Another blog that I’ve recently discovered is debrennersmith: Writing and Reading Lessons. Deb is a literacy consultant. She had a post the other day called: Any Place a Child is Reading, about her joy in the fact that her children love books: “I am thankful that my two children never had to be coaxed to read! Read. Read. Read. Read. They read over the 2 million words by reading over 41 minutes a day so they developed a life long habit. The kids are reading for the joy of being lost in a book.” I’m happy for Deb, but I wish that every kid could have the chance to feel this way about books…
  • Just in time for summer reading, Cheryl Rainfield has a round-up of various contests for free books. Personally, I’m feeling pretty well set for books at the moment, but perhaps I’ll check the list out again after I finish the 48 Hour Book Challenge.
  • Stephanie Ford from The Children’s Literature Book Club is working on a very cool project: a Children’s Literature Alphabet (E is for Eloise, etc.). She’s looking for suggestions for some of the less common letters (like Q and X). But it’s worth visiting just to see all the great pictures she’s already included (not sure what she can actually do with this, given copyright issues, but the idea is just for flashcards to use at home).
  • I’m not sure when I’ll get my next Children’s Literacy Round-Up ready, but in the meantime, do check out Terry’s latest Reading Round-Up at the Reading Tub blog. She’s got all the top literacy and reading news stories from the past few days. 
  • Over at Tea Cozy, Liz B. has the scoop on a reading news controversy - the plan to label children’s books by age range in the UK. Actually, Liz summarizes the controversy, and shares the relevant links, and then goes into detail about the more general need for readers advisory and book matching. She argues “We (librarians) — not an age on a book — are the best help to someone who is looking for the right book for a child. And we need to let more people know that.” But even among the comments on Liz’s post, it’s clear that age-banding of books is not a clear-cut issue.

That should give anyone who needs it some reading material to tide you over this weekend. Or, you could always watch the NBA playoffs instead. (How ’bout those Celtics?)

© 2008 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).