Children’s Book Week

Guess what today is!  The first day of Children’s Book Week.  Sponsored by Every Child a Reader, the goal is a week-long celebration of children’s books.  Why? Because books and literacy change lives. Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.

Every year, events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, and more.  The event in my area is in a library.  A library.  I’m lucky because there are well several dozen libraries in three separate library systems in my area – St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles. Check out this map to find an event in an area near you.  Don’t see an event in your area?  Pffft.  Make your own.

Step 1.  Visit your local library and check out some children’s books.  Go with tried and true favorites as well as new titles.

Step 2.  Read.  You can read on your own or you can read aloud to young readers and prereaders.  Imagine the joy of turning someone else on to a great book.

Step 3.  Now have some book-based fun.  This could mean doing a craft inspired by the book, writing a poem based on the book, or acting it out.  Discussions, songs, plays and more.  There’s no end to what you can do.  And then?

Step 4.  Read some more.

Obviously, I’ve kind of got a thing for children’s books.  So this week I’ll spend some time writing about my favorites and how they’ve inspired and informed my work as a writer.  I’ll also be tweeting about children’s books this week.  You can check out my tweets here.  And if you tweet or blog about children’s books this week, be sure to comment with your link below so that we can fall in love with new or new-to-us children’s books.  Let’s celebrate.


Blog Hop

Last week, I was invited by my friend, Cynthia Reeg, to participate in this “blog hop interview.” The idea is this: She sent me some interview questions, which I answer, and at the end I tag 3 other writers who will in turn answer the same questions on their blogs next week. Please check out Cynthia’s answers to the questions at her blog, What’s New With Cynthia Reeg. Feel free to leave a comment and tell her it’s from me.

1. What are you working on right now?
I’ve been collecting interviews for another pair of how-tos.  One of these is about interviewing expert sources to use as primary sources and the other is on what you need to learn from teen blockbuster novels.  I’ve also been creating some new writing exercises to help build better characters.  That’s been a lot of fun because they aren’t all directly about the character.  Some involve her environment.  Here and there I’ve been messing around with a preschool picture book manuscript that started life as an early reader.  I’m really enjoying this new version, playing with refrains and developing the characters and the story line.  As soon as I get some of this done, it will be back to a nonfiction picture book and a middle grade novel.  I never work on one thing at a time.
3. What experiences have influenced you?
 I was a kid who always wanted to know WHY.  My father, a teacher, encouraged this so writing nonfiction was a natural fit for me.  I want to encourage young readers to ask why and expect an answer.  Why do we do this?  Why do they do something similar/different?  Who first came up with this idea?  My nonfiction and fiction both are influenced by my academic background.  I have degrees in anthropology and history.  My fiction explores how we interact with our environment and with the other people we encounter.
4. Why do you write what you do?
I want to encourage kids to:
  • explore the world around them.
  • be themselves.
  • laugh (even if no one else gets the joke)
5. How does your writing process work?
I sit.  I write.  I rewrite.  I am a firm believer in absolutely frightening first drafts and have no qualms about sharing these dreadful drafts with my poor critique buddies.  Writing involves a lot of rewriting but I love seeing a project change and grow.  But as much as I love to write, I believe in getting away from my work periodically.  When I’m not working, I try not to even turn on my computer.  This means that if you e-mail my on Saturday, you might not hear from me until Monday.  When you work from home, it is hard to say that you are “off work” and make it stick but I think it is vital if you are going to recharge.
8. Who are the authors you most admire?
Rae Carson is an amazing writer.  She has a way of pulling you in and forcing you to keep reading even when you have other things that need to be accomplished.
Kelly Milner Halls does such a wide variety of nonfiction work.  I love the even handed approach that she brings to even an offbeat topic.

Please check out Cindy’s answers to the questions at her blog, What’s New with Cynthia Reeg.  Feel free to leave a comment and tell her it’s from me.
In addition, I am tagging the following authors:

Posting July  7 – Sharon Mayhew  at S. K. Mayhew Kid Lit Writer
Posting July 9 – Charlotte Mielziner  at her blog 
Also posting next week — Leslie Wyatt at Journey with Honor.  
Please stop by these blogs next week for glimpses into three authors’ worlds. 

Books Sweep Young Readers Away

Most writers will tell you that they read when they were kids.  In fact they didn’t just read, they devoured books, using them as a way to leave one world for another.

Check out Julie Douglas’s piece in the most recent Missouri Passages to find out how Fredrick by Leo Lionni helped get a group of young readers through a scary storm.


Picture books this week

tenthThese are the last ten picture books for my “50 new books” reading project.

Fine as We Are by Algy Craig Hall (Boxer Books)

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington (Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux)

Jenny Found a Penny by Trudy Harris (Millbrook Press)

Dog Day by Sarah Hayes (Farrar Straus Giroux)

Tenth Avenue Cowboy by Linda Oatman High (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers)

Mavis and Her Mooncakes by Dar Hosta (Brown Dog Books)

Airplanes: Soaring! Turning! Diving! by Patricia Hubbell (Marshall Cavendish Books)

Police: Hurrying! Helping!  Saving!  by Patricia Hubbell (Marshall Cavendish Books)

A Friend for All Seasons by Julia Hubery (Atheneum)

Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster)

In my next post, I’ll summarize some of what I learned while doing this reading.  How is your own reading coming?