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Entries in Summer Reading (10)


Monday Night Visits: Blog Identity Crisis Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I did my usual Sunday visits post yesterday, and that was all well and good. Except that today, interesting posts simply exploded across the Kidlitosphere. So I’m back with a few additions. (Perhaps feeling extra keen to report on the news, after Daphne Grab kindly included me in a Class of 2k8 round-up of recommended resources for kidlit industry news).

  • First up, my sympathies go out to Jules and Eisha, the proprietors of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. They are experiencing a bout of what I like to call “blog focus angst” (though they call it an identify crisis), and they write about it eloquently. Feeling worn down under the pressure of review books and the time required to write the long, thoughtful, link-filled reviews that are their trademark, they’ve decided to pull things back a bit. And who can blame them? I often feel the same way (especially when I actually look at the number of review books that I’ve accumulated recently), and it’s clear from the comments that many other people do, too. I’m just glad that they’ll still be keeping 7-Imp, and modifying it to fit their own busy lives a bit better. Colleen Mondor offers support at Chasing Ray, too.
  • And, in an ironic counterpoint, given the pressure that bloggers are putting on themselves to write thoughtful book reviews, another article (from the Guardian) takes on the print vs. online reviews debateLiz B. offers up her customary insightful analysis of the piece at Tea Cozy. I think that a particularly important point Liz makes is that “there isn’t a lot of print coverage of children’s/YA books, so the blogosphere fills that vacuum.”
  • Meanwhile, Kim and Jason from the Escape Adulthood site are suggesting, as their tip of the week, that readers “Spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.” As Kim points out, ” If you cannot find 15-30 minutes on a regular basis to do something you love, then what’s the point?” Words to live by, I’d say. If our blogs, which started out as a way to talk about our love of reading, become work, then it’s up to us to make them enjoyable again.
  • Kiera Parrott at Library Voice is starting a new reluctant reader pick of the week feature. First up is Jellaby. I think it’s a great idea, and I’ll be watching for her other recommendations. (Though, I hope that Kiera doesn’t put pressure on herself with this weekly schedule - see identify crisis above).
  • Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles has a lovely post about what her family has learned from readalouds (including books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, J. K. Rowling, and Diana Wynne Jones).
  • And if you’re looking to read to escape, Newsweek has an article about the rise of post-apocalyptic fiction aimed at kids. Lots of people are quoted, including Susan Beth Pfeffer (hat-tip to Sue for the link). The article, by Karen Springen, discusses the suitability of such books for kids, and also touches on “potent political messages” embedded in some of the books.
  • And, if you really want to escape, check out Franki Sibberson’s list of books for kids who like Captain Underpants, at Choice Literacy (linked from A Year of Reading). Franki adds “if we are thinking of summer reading lists like this—connecting kids to books based on books they love, kids would have lots of ownership over what they read.”
  • Walter Minkel shares a couple of summer literacy links from Reading Rockets at The Monkey Speaks.
  • And finally, Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews weighs in on the Summer Reading List question. Becky points out (among other insights) that (on the topic of required reading) “You cannot force someone to enjoy something. Requiring something means it’s work. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once something becomes work, it loses its ability to be fun. Work is tedious. It’s mundane. It’s something to be endured.” And so we’ve come full circle with the 7-Imps post, in which Jules said: “I’ve also felt obligated to write about these books after I read them (even if I find fault with the writing), and I just really, REALLY want to read something and not have to report on it. To be thrilled about reading a book and then putting it down, instead of spending one or two hours to write about it….well, that tells me something. I feel like I’m doing to myself what we do to children when we give them programs like Accelerated Reader: Don’t just read and enjoy it. You must take a quiz now. I know I’M DOING THAT TO MYSELF.” Definitely a common theme going on today - don’t take something you enjoy and turn it into work. And especially don’t do that to kids.

Here’s wishing you all 15-30 minutes (at least) to do something that you enjoy.

© 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).


Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 13

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

There have been tons of interesting things going on around the Kidlitosphere this week. Here are a few links:

  • Congratulations to Andrea and Mark, who just celebrated the second anniversary, and 400th post, at Just One More Book! Wishing them hundreds more posts. See also Shelf Elf’s one-year birthday party, with a very creative list of book reviews as gifts.
  • Over at Open Wide, Look Inside, Tricia shares her must-have subscriptions for teachers. She calls them “a series of e-mail subscriptions that I can’t live without”. Selections include the PBS Teachers weekly newsletter and the Math Solutions online newsletter.
  • Inspired by a post by Jenny Han at The Longstockings, Liz Burns writes about direct delivery of services at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. The discussion started with a new paid service that will deliver books to you via mail (like NetFlix), and questions about what this offers as compared to libraries. It evolves, at Tea Cozy, into a discussion about the future of libraries.
  • In case you didn’t get enough of Gail Gauthier’s Three Robbers blog tour last week, you can read one more interview with Gail at Cheryl Rainfield’s blog. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about how to get kids interested in reading (for example “You can’t treat reading like work, like something you escape from when you’re on vacation.”).
  • On a related note, Abby (the) Librarian writes about adult summer reading clubs. She notes: “In terms of developing literacy, one of the best things parents can do is read themselves. Seriously. It seems like such a simple thing, but I think it’s a really potent thing”. 
  • And speaking of reading and vacation, Franki takes on the question of summer reading lists at A Year of Reading. She warns that “kids are not going to become readers if they see reading as an assignment and don’t have the opportunity to read the books they choose”, and cautions against adults, even with the best of intentions, creating lists at all. She says “Creating our own summer reading lists because we don’t like the ones out there, only says that we like the idea of summer reading lists if they are lists that WE create. Where is the child as reader in these conversations?” A valid point, I must say. See also Betsy’s thoughts on this issue at A Fuse #8 Production, Maureen’s at Confessions of a Bibliovore, and Gail’s at Original Content. On a related note, ShelfTalker Alison Morris writes about the shortage of YA titles on many summer reading lists. (Last link via Original Content.)
  • Speaking of Fuse #8, one thing I didn’t have in my ALA roundup post was a picture from the dinner that Sondra LaBrie from Kane/Miller hosted for Betsy and me. Fortunately, this has been remedied by both Betsy and Sondra, who each posted a photo taken with Betsy’s camera. Betsy also has some free ARCs to share, if you happen to live in New York, and a warning about stolen book reviews.
  • Trevor Cairney has a detailed, two-part post at Literacy, Families, and Learning about stimulating literacy and learning during the holidays (though in Australia, where Trevor is based, the holidays going on now are relatively short). Here is part 1 and here is part 2. There’s much more in these posts than I can possibly capture here, but if you’re facing school vacation time with kids, do check out these articles.
  • Monica Edinger shares some thoughts about Laura Amy Schlitz’s Newbery Award acceptance speech at Educating Alice. She urges “those who read Marc Aronson’s thoughts about the speech to read it for yourselves especially if you are planning on weighing in on the issue next week as Colleen Mondor suggests you do.”
  • The Newbery acceptance speech was actually only of several potential topics that Colleen raised for discussion next week. After recapping recent controversies (from Frank Cottrell Boyce to celebrity picture books, Colleen said: “I’m proposing that the week of July 20th we all take some time and talk about the controversies that have found there way to our corner of the lit blogosphere… What I’d love to see is many other blogs pick up on this thread and write about the aspects of children’s and teen publishing that frustrate them. We write about this stuff way more than pretty much any other print reviewers anywhere (not all but most) and we have our ear to the ground in ways that most publishers do not. In other words, we hear about stuff lightening quick and we form immediate opinions. Well, now is a great time for everyone to share those opinions and actually create a few ripples in the literary pond ourselves, rather than just riding someone else’s waves.” Personally, I’m thinking of writing about “message books” (which of course as a topic does tend to overlap with the topic of celebrity picture books).
  • Speaking on controversies in the KidLit blogosphere, Laurie Halse Anderson responds to a repeat cartoon by aquafortis at Finding Wonderland about how book bloggers think of themselves. Laurie has quite a discussion going in the comments about how blog reviewers think about what they’re doing. Personally, I used to call my reviews “recommendations”, because I didn’t publish very many negative reviews. But somewhere along the way I decided to give myself more credit, and call them reviews. I do try to separate out personal background information about how I responded to a book from the review itself, where applicable.
  • And, for another book reading and reviewing question, Jill asks at The Well-Read Child how readers feel about abandoning books unfinished. Several people weigh in on this topic in the comments - most have evolved to some sort of book abandonment policy (e.g. after 50 pages).
  • The brand-new blog Book Addiction has a partial round-up by Eva M. on graphic novels for kids. I found this blog through a recommendation from Susan Patron on the CCBC-Net mailing list.
  • And finally, just off the presses, Sarah Miller, a Disney fan, has issued a Disney Literature Challenge. She says: “Let’s dig up the uncorrupted originals, and see how these stories looked before Uncle Walt had his way with them, shall we? For my part, I’m making this a long term, laid back endeavor. No time limits, no minimums, no obligations. Pick the ones you like and quit when you get sick of the whole idea.” Personally, I tend to pass on challenges, because I have enough trouble just keeping up with my regular blogging. But I have to admit that this one does appeal…

And that’s all for today. I hope that you’re all having a restful Sunday. Me, I’m happy because the Red Sox are back in first place of the AL East, just in time for the All-Star Break.

© 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).


Sunday Afternoon Visits: Holiday Weekend Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It was a pretty quiet weekend on the blogs, what with the July 4th holiday in the US and all. Still, I ran across a few things that I wanted to share:

  • Jill is hosting a Family Reading Challenge and Giveaway at The Well-Read Child. After discussing her reasons for starting this challenge, she says “Would you like to spend more time reading and challenge yourself and your family to read a bit every day? If so, I’d love it if you joined me! The only rule is that you try to fit in time every day.” Sounds like a worthy goal to me. Jill also has some excellent books that she’s going to give away to participants.
  • Over at the Reading ZoneSarah asks readers for book recommendations for her nine year old sister, “a voracious reader.” There are tons of suggestions in the comments (including a few from me), so if you are looking for ideas for the nine year old in your life, this post is worth checking out.
  • And, if you’re looking for recommendations for slightly younger readers, check out the conclusion of Gail Gauthier’s Three Robbers blog tour, with links to all of the interviews/early chapter book discussions.
  • At Shrinking Violet PromotionsMary Hershey and Robin LaFevers have an event going on in honor of the launch of Mary’s new book (10 Lucky Things that Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning) that will get books into the hands of young girls who need them. Explains Robin, Mary “has invited her friends and family to purchase a gift card (by phone if that’s easier) from our local independent bookstore, Chaucer’s, and then in turn designate that it be used to buy a copy of our books (yes we’re doing a buddy signing!) to be donated to Girls, Inc. so that a girl that might not otherwise have a chance to read or own the books might do so.” How cool is that?
  • Shelf Elf is celebrating her upcoming one-year blogiversary. And she is seeking presents. Not to worry, though. All she wants are your book recommendations. If you read Shelf Elf, and would like to show your support, just head on over to this post, and leave a link to one of your reviews in the comments.
  • Speaking of showing support, congratulations to Mitali Perkins, whose Rickshaw Girl (reviewed here) was recently named to The Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association’s list of 25 Notable Books for a Global Society. She’s in some excellent company, too. If you’re looking for some globally diverse book recommendations, do check out the full list.

And now, for the first time since I left on June 19th to go to my brother’s wedding, I’m feeling caught up with what’s going on in the Kidlitosphere — reviewsliteracy news, and other general happenings. Next up — catching up on my own reviews. I’ve read some great stuff lately, and hope to have time to write a bunch of reviews later this week.

© 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).


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: July 2

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m finally feeling a bit caught up after last weekend’s ALA Conference, and I have a few links to share with you.

  • MotherReader posts about the first meeting of her Mother-Daughter Summer Book Club, in which the participants read Jenny Han’s Shug (which I reviewed here). Pam said: “Most interesting for me was finding out that the realistic flavor of the book that I find so appealing was actually a turn-off to some of the girls. I loved the book because it took me back to that transition so clearly and represented that age so accurately. But these particular girls felt like they’re already living this life of friends and crushes and popularity — why would they want to read about it?” Fascinating, isn’t it? Something for we adult reviewers of children’s and young adult books to keep in mind. (hmmm …. do you think the acronym ARCYAB would catch on?)
  • Speaking of summer reading, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, writes about the dichotomy by which summer reading for adults consists of “fast-paced thrillers…, weepy beach blanket reads, and thick historical epics” while young adults are required to read improving fare. She says: “We must remind ourselves that readers who leave school and keep reading are those people who discover reading is personally valuable”, suggesting that kids should be left to read what they enjoy during the summer. I know I did.
  • If you’re looking for summer reading lists, here are a few good choices. Esme Raji Codell reviews We Are the Ship, and shares various other baseball books at PlanetEsme. Els Kushner suggests several “magical, timeless, enchanting novels for children are set during summer vacation” at Librarian Mom. In contrast, Charlotte has a list of “cool books with which to escape summer” at Charlotte’s Library. Summer reading options for all! I have to say that personally, I find the summer vacation list the most enticing - it’s nice to see The Penderwicks on the same page as their literary antecedents, the Melendy Family.
  • Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup has an illustration-filled interview with Marla Frazee (the talented illustrator who makes Clementine spring from the page). I especially enjoyed a photo of Marla’s work studio, which looks like a secret little cottage in the woods.
  • For all you writers out there, Laurie Halse Anderson has issued a challenge for July. She says: “1. Commit to write for 15 minutes a day for the entire month of July. 2. Just do it.” Sounds almost achievable, doesn’t it? Laurie will have encouraging/check-in posts every day on her blog.
  • And, for anyone thinking about writing as a career, you might want to check out TadMack’s recent post (OK, rant) at Finding Wonderland about the financial side of being a children’s book author. She says: “Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do. And if you want to, may you find the courage to write, too. Just understand that it may not be blindingly lucrative, and please be nice to the writers you know, who are sometimes taken for granted as the one in the group who should treat everyone to dinner or coffee because they’re “rich.” OK. Point taken.
  • Cheryl Rainfield has rounded up a huge list of contests by which you can win books for children and teens, as well as a couple that have e-book readers as prizes.
  • Via Sarah Weinman’s blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, I learned that someone is publishing a Treasure Island prequel. It’s not going to be a children’s book, however. According to the Independent, “The author John Drake, a former biochemist and freelance TV producer, has spent years studying Treasure Island line by line, together with books and essays on 18th-century shipping and piracy. The book, Flint & Silver, is the first in a scheduled series of six, snapped up last year by Harper Collins. Mr Drake is currently negotiating with a US publishing house for the American rights.”
  • Anna from the Literacy is Priceless blog recently recapped some family literacy activities from the PBS Kids Raising Readers site, including a shout-out to the WordWorld show. And speaking of public broadcasting, via my friend Alex, WBUR and NPR’s On Point broadcast today was about “A new history of children’s literature, and what it tells us about growing up”. The program featured guest Seth Lerer, professor of English and comparative literature at Stanford University and author of Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter.

It’s good to be back home, hanging around in the Kidlitosphere. Happy reading!

© 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 Afternoon Visits: Father’s Day Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Happy Father’s Day weekend to all of the dads out there, especially to my Dad and Mheir’s Dad. Thanks for all that you do for your kids every day. And extra special, super-duper thanks to the dad who read to to their kids (mine did, and look at how I love books!). The kidlit blogs have been pretty quiet this weekend, hopefully because people are out spending time with family. But here is some news for those who are interested:

  • If you’re in need of some reading that will make you appreciate what you have, check out Kelly’s poem at Big A little a about the recent tragedies in Iowa. Beware, though, it’s quite a tear-jerker. My heart goes out to the affected families.
  • I didn’t win it, but Kim and Jason at Escape Adulthood gave away a very cool book-themed clock this week. Click through to see it. Also, to enter the contest, Jason asked visitors to comment on “When you were a kid, what was your favorite time of day, and why?”. The result is a treasure trove of memories that I thought might be of interest to children’s book authors.
  • Lectitans has a nice summer reading round-up here. She links to lots of great resources.
  • The debate over age-banding of children’s books continues to rage. Tricia links to some new discussion on the matter at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • The recent flap over the new KidzBookBuzz blog tour site has prompted several bloggers to take a look at how and why they write reviews. Check out posts at Chasing RayThe Miss Rumpius Effect, and Becky’s Book Reviews, as well as a plethora of comments on these posts (especially on Tricia’s post). I shared my opinons hereGail Gauthier also offers an author’s perspective on the idea of whirlwind, three-day blog tours at Original Content (and I shared some opinions there, too, now that I think about it).
  • Kris B. at Paradise Found linked to an interesting site this week: BookTour (unrelated to the blog tours discussed above). You can enter your zip code, and the site shows you all of the authors who have upcoming events in your area. You can filter the list for, say, authors who write for kids. If you sign up, you can get a weekly email listing book tours in your area. I’m going to give it a try.
  • Speaking of events, I’ll be attending both the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim and the BlogHer conference in San Francisco (the latter I’m currently planning to attend for Saturday only). This will be my first time attending ALA, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with some KidLit bloggers, meeting some authors, talking with some of the publishers’ PR people, and attending some of the events (like the Newbery banquet and the Edwards lunch). And, of course, I’m looking forward to scooping up a few, or more than a few, ARCs. I attended the first BlogHer conference in San Jose two years ago, and will be interested to see how that has evolved as a conference. If any of you are attending either event, and would like to meet up, just let me know.
  • Congratulations to Laurie Halse Anderson for winning the 2008 ALAN Award (from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents). I first read about it here, at the CMIS Evaluation Fiction Focus blog. The full announcement is here, and you can read Laurie’s reaction here. Laurie rocks! She so deserves this award (and the dozens of congratulatory comments that she received are a strong indicator of this). She’s also organized a Hot Summer Twisted/Speak Book Trailer contest, with details here. This contest would be a great addition to anyone’s summer reading program for teens. 
  • And last, but definitely not least, don’t miss Jules’ post about early readers (and the other names that people use for this category of books) at 7-Imp. She’s got tons of great recommendations for parents in this hard-to-define category. Jules is one of my few “go-to” reviewers for books in this age range, and I’m bookmarking this one for future reference.

And that’s all for today. It’s a hot day here (as it is many places), and Mheir and I are planning to make margaritas, and watch the Red Sox on TV.

© 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).

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