News

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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Wednesday
Sep302009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: September 30

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I begin to think that the sheer impossibility of keeping up with the news from around this Kidlitosphere is a permanent condition. Particularly when, as was the case last weekend, I have trips. But here’s my best effort to capture the news from the past week. Hope that you find it useful.

ECA-main-title3I’ve been following the news about the NCBLA/Library of Congress/Jon Scieszka project, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. The project was officially launched at last weekend’s National Book Festival. The idea is for the project to be “a buoyant, spontaneous experiment; a progressive story game just like the one many families play on road trips, at camps, at parties, at home when there is a power outage… Members of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure “motley crew” are, in reality, some of the most gifted artists and storytellers in our nation, award-winners all—M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Timothy Basil Ering, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Dusen.” If you follow the NCBLA’s blog, you’ll be notified easily about each new episode (new episodes will be published every two weeks for the next year). You can also (I learned from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom) follow a special RSS feed for the new ECA posts alone).

NcblalogoI must confess to being particularly pleased because, as part of a Literacy Resource Treasure Chest accompanying the Exquisite Corpse Adventure (prepared by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University), the team published a list of “Blogs that Inspire”. And, well, my blog is listed, along with several other amazing blogs (see Fuse 8’s thoughts here). I must say, this made my week. But in general, the page offers nice one-stop shopping for many of the literacy organizations that Terry Doherty and I talk about all the time. It is truly an honor to be included.

3961914637_3993283a87Moving on, there have been tons of articles about on Banned Book Week, too many for me to link to here (but check out Finding Wonderland, for a range of posts, and Lee Wind’s challenged author roundtable discussion). But my attention was caught by this article from Boston.com, sent to me by my friend Alex from Outside In. It’s an op-ed piece by Julianna Baggott about an embattled teacher’s response to potential “objectionable material” in books. Here’s the part that got me: “The overwhelmingly sad thing for me was the sound of fear in this woman’s voice and her utter lack of conviction in the things that probably once inspired her to become a teacher in the first place - the way someone can talk about the world of books, the power of the imagination, and change a child’s life.”

Mimlogo_smLori Calabrese reports that Saturday (October 3rd) is Make it Matter Day. She says: “Reader’s Digest, Reading Is Fundamental, and other organizations are partnering to bring learning to life for Reader’s Digest’s National Make It Matter Day, this Saturday (October 3rd). Members of local communities as well as local and national organizations will rally behind literacy and education in over 100 events at select schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and libraries across the U.S.” She also offers concrete suggestions for participating.

What-book-2Today is the last day to vote in First Book’s What Book Got You Hooked? campaign. The First Book blog says: “Don’t forget to cast your vote for the book that got you hooked and the state to receive 50,000 new books. Voting is open through 12:00 am midnight ET TONIGHT, September 30!”

Quick hits:

  • At SemicolonSherry Early vents about the “torn between two lovers device” in literature and film. Now me, I find this compelling, when done well. But I still enjoyed Sherry’s post.  
  • By way of followup to last week’s What A Girl Wants column, which lamented the way that socioeconomic woes are often ignored in children’s and young adult fiction, Colleen Mondor discusses two recent books that do take economic struggles into account (Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes and Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry, two books that I loved. See also Sara’s YES interview with Rosanne.)
  • Greg Pincus shares 10 Facebook Status Update Ideas at The Happy Accident. I also liked Greg’s earlier post about 10 Golden Rules for Engaging Via Social Media, created with Mark Blevis.
  • Ann has an interesting post about picture book end papers at Booklights today. See also Terry’s post from yesterday about celebrating culture with books, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m also somewhat attached to Gina’s Show and Tale selection for this week: Harriet the Spy.
  • Mary Pearson writes at Tor about the unsung hero of literature: setting.
  • Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews explains her reading challenge addiction.
  • Sarah shares “hot books” from her middle school classroom at The Reading Zone. Sarah also shared a lovely success story recently, about creating a lifelong reader.
  • Susan Taylor Brown is seeking your favorite unsung kidlit blogs by authors and illustrators for a top-secret project.
  • At Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover suggests that parent-son book clubs would help engage more boys in reading. There are many, many interested and supportive comments on this subject.
  • Speaking of boys and reading, Lori Calabrese highlights Gotcha for Guys: nonfiction books to get boys excited about reading.
  • Kudos to DaughterReader (and proud MotherReader) for her recent National Book Festival success doing a dramatic reading with Mo Willems.
  • Kate Coombs (Book Aunt) writes about her observation that story books (one step up from picture books, including fairy tales, written to be read to slightly older kids) are losing ground fast.
  • I was traveling and didn’t have a chance to participate, but Sunday’s 7 Kicks from the 7-Imps featured one of my favorite characters, Andrea Beaty’s Ted (of Doctor Ted fame, now reinvented as Fireman Ted).
  • Liz B has the scoop on the Simon & Schuster Blogfest 2009 at Tea Cozy. Liz also had a post over that weekend about whether or not it should be viewed as negative to want to understand how something like the Book Blogger Appreciation Week awards worked. There is a LOT of discussion about transparency in the comments.
  • Speaking of transparency, the Readergirlz Divas recently shared an explanation of how they choose the books that they feature each month.
  • At Shelf ElfKerry Millar has a post highlighting three authors who she thinks are also great bloggers (including the reasons why). I certainly agree with her choices.
  • Justine Larbalestier has a bit of a rant on the current obsession with dwelling on an author’s age (as in, “isn’t it amazing that he wrote this book by the age of … whatever”).

Whew! That’s it for today. Later this week I’ll be working on literacy news and reviews. And, of course, following the Cybils nominations. And preparing for KidLitCon. And … wouldn’t it be nice to have time to read books sometime? Thanks for reading!

© 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.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Wednesday
Mar112009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: March 11

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_button_170I know that I’ve been posting a lot about the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour this week. But there have been lots of other things going on around the Kidlitosphere, too. Here are a few highlights:

The latest issue of Notes from the Horn Book (a free email newsletter from the Horn Book Magazine team) is now available. Read Roger has the details.

Mary Lee Hahn has posted the lists of 2009 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) at A Year of Reading. Mary Lee was actually on the committee, and it looks like they did a great job.

Gail Gauthier is doing a series at Original Content this week about adult books for young adult readers. I may be biased, because she’s been focusing on a book that I recommended (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King), but I’ve found it fascinating. You can find the relevant posts herehere, and here (and here). And can you believe that Gail has been blogging at Original Content for seven years!? 

Laini Taylor has a heartening post about how the Twilight movie transformed her thirteen-year-old niece into a reader. She also discusses a downside of the hyper-popularity of books like Twilight (anecdotal evidence suggesting that this is making it hard for other types of books to be published). But me, I’d rather focus on the upside - the Twilight books, like the Harry Potter books before them, like the Wimpy Kid books and the Percy Jackson books, are getting kids reading. I wish these authors all success, because they are making a difference.

And speaking of authors who make a difference, our own Jay Asher (former Disco Mermaid) was featured in the New York Times this week. It seems that his amazing book, 13 Reasons Why, has been ever so slowly climbing the best-seller lists. The quotes from teens in the article are a lot of fun. 13 Reasons Why is a book that’s helping teens every day (by addressing the sometimes small-seeming events that can drive a teen towards suicide).

Another movie that I think would inspire kids to read books is the movie version of The Hunger Games. I just heard from The Longstockings that “According to HollywoodReporter.com Nina Jacobson and Color Force have recently acquired the movie rights to a futuristic young adult novel, Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins!” Now that’s a movie that I’d like to see.

At 4IQREAD, Kbookwoman speaks up for “a public relations campaign that raises the importance of universal literacy to a human right”. She suggests one specific program: “I would like to see every child own a CD player so they can listen to stories read aloud even if they do not have adults in their lives that can read to them.”

Speaking of literacy, Carol Rasco announced this week that RIF’s FY10 Dear Colleague Campaign has begun. The campaign: “includes a bi-partisan letter co-sponsored by members of Congress. The letter asks their colleagues to sign on in support of RIF funding.” RIF’s team is “asking that you take 10 minutes to visit RIF’s Advocacy Center and send e-mails to your members of Congress asking them to sign on in support of RIF’s funding for fiscal year 2010.” Carol also highlighted another Cybils title (poetry winner Honeybee) this week in her Cover Story feature.

SmallGracesMarchElaine Magliaro announced that the March Small Graces art auction has begun. She says: “Maybe you’ll be the lucky person to win this lovely original painting by popular children’s author and illustrator Grace Lin. Remember…all auction proceeds will be donated to The Foundation for Children’s Books to help underwrite school visitations by children’s authors and illustrators in underserved schools in the Greater Boston area.”

Trevor Cairney from Literacy, families and learning writes about “the 4th ‘R’: Rest!” He says (emphasis mine): “Allowing time for play inside and outside of school is important, and I have written extensively about its importance for children’s learning, development, creativity and well being”.

Els Kushner has a delightful post at Librarian Mom about how her first “professional reading” took place when she was in second and third grade, “and sat in the Reading Corner for hours at a time reading one children’s novel after another.” She shares some of her childhood favorites, and concludes: “for practical job preparation—who would have known it?—nothing in my formal pre-library-school education beats those two years I spent hunched in the reading corner. I hope, for my profession’s sake, that even though open classrooms have largely fallen out of fashion, there are still kids out there reading with such indiscriminate freedom as I had.” 

Endoftheworld2009MarchOctoberthisBecky is hosting a second End of the World Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews. She says: “Read (over the next 7 months) at least four books about “the end of the world.” This includes both apocalyptic fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. There is quite a bit of overlap with dystopic fiction as well. The point being something—be it coming from within or without, natural or unnatural—has changed civilization, society, humanity to such a degree that it radically differs from “life as we now know it.” Now, I think it’s very safe to say that I’ll be reading at least four “end of the world (as we know it)” books in the next seven months. However, I find that formal challenges, where you have to keep track, and check in, are a bit too much for me. But I’ll be following Becky’s progress!

Susan Taylor Brown is compiling lists of memorable mothers, fathers, and grandparents from children’s literature at Susan Writes. Check out the lists so far, and share your suggestions.

And that’s all for today. I’ll continue to update you on the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour for the rest of this week, and I’ll be back with reviews and literacy news this weekend. Happy reading! 

© 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).