Dawn Prochovnic on Reading with Abandon + Two Giveaway Options (Including Manuscript Critique)

Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?; Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?; First Day Jitters, featured in the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud; and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored as a 2015 Oregon Library Supporter of the Year by the Oregon Library Association. She is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries and educational conferences, and the founder of SmallTalk Learning, which provides American Sign Language and early literacy education. Dawn loves to travel and has visited thousands of potties across the Pacific Northwest and around the world. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a feisty dog. Learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?

What a great question, Aimee. I’m now flooded with positive memories of connecting with books as a child. I always had a supply of books at home, but my earliest book-related memories are associated with my Grandma Lynn. She lived in the upstairs apartment of a commercial building that housed the hair salon she owned and operated. Her building was on a busy street without a safe outside play area, so when I visited her (which was often), I listened to music (Sonny & Cher and Donny & Marie), and I read. I still have copies of a few of my most treasured picture books from that time. Two of those books, The Best Nest and A Fly Went By were likely rattling around in my brain when I wrote my book, The Nest Where I Like to Rest.

I also have positive memories of my elementary school teachers’ daily readings of beloved books such as, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Charlotte’s Web, and Harriet the Spy. One summer, I actually became Harriet the Spy … I carried my spy notebook with me everywhere so I could jot down my many observations.

Fifth grade was a particularly momentous year for me in terms of reading engagement. That was the year I earned the coveted Pleasure Reading Award in Mr. Snook’s 5th grade class. Mr. Snook ran a pleasure reading contest each year; the student who read the most books during the school year won the award. That school year, I started at one end of my school library and snaked my way around the room. I do not remember how many books I read or how far I got into the library’s shelves, but I do know that I read the most books of any student that year. 

Dawn’s reading award

Tell us about your experiences of being an adult and reading to a child or children. What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?

Reading books with kids is sincerely one of my favorite things to do. I first got the “reading to children bug” when I taught my younger sister how to read. I have a distinct memory of the evening I patiently worked with her until she “got it.” I remember the glee on her face and the excitement in her voice when, as if by magic, she suddenly understood how to sound out the letters and read the words on the page.

Fast forward to parenthood about two decades later, and some of my happiest memories involve reading to my own two children. When my daughter, now in college, was an infant, I held her on my lap and read to her for hours. I taught her how to communicate using basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs before she could communicate verbally, and I have clear memories of her vigorously signing MORE! as soon as each book ended. As she developed a stronger and stronger ASL vocabulary, she signed along with key words in the story, and she made signs that matched with the objects I’d point to in the illustrations.

Three years later, my son came along, and the three of us would sit together and read for hours. He was less gentle on books than my daughter was (I didn’t understand the purpose of board books until he came along!), but he still enjoyed reading. I started writing my first picture books when my son was an infant. My book, See the Colors, first came to me as a song. I worked out the rhymes and “verses” during tuck-in time. Each evening I would sit next to my daughter and scratch her back while I rocked my son and sang the verses of my story/song. As soon as the kids fell asleep, I would dash into the kitchen to write down whatever words/verses came to me that evening.

Shifting to group settings, I especially love reading stories that have some element of repetition and/or opportunity for participation. For example, in my story, The Big Blue Bowl, there is a repeating phrase: “Fill it up, fill it up, fill it up, I say. And my friends fill it up with me.” I absolutely love when a room full of kids (and their grown-ups!) join in on that repeating phrase as I read the book.

My college-aged daughter is currently the summer nanny for two 4 1/2 year-old twin boys. I have a soft spot for preschoolers, and these boys are no exception. This past week my daughter brought the boys to our house for a couple of hours for a visit. The last time she brought the boys for a visit was about a month ago, soon after I had received my Advanced Reader Copies for my forthcoming books, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? During that earlier visit, I read my forthcoming books to the boys. Imagine my delight when, upon their return to the house, they noticed the cover image for one of the two books sitting on the counter and called out the title by name, enthusiastically asking me to read them both books again … and again … Here’s hoping my test-market of two is a strong indication of how the books will do when they hit bookstores in the fall!

What are your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children?

I have three main tips: 1) Take your child’s lead; 2) Lean into pleasure reading; 3) Read during non-traditional times.

Children will tell you what they want out of a reading experience. Many kids want to read a story over and over and over again. Indulge them. Some kids like to fast-forward to their favorite parts of the book and skip the rest. That’s A-Ok. Some kids want to stop reading before the story is over. That’s okay, too. Some kids really get into “their part” in the story. Some kids really, really love when the reader uses a variety of voices. Some kids memorize the words on the page and will call you out if you miss a word. Other kids are so enraptured with the illustrations that they don’t care much about the written story and instead want to read the visual story.

If you take your child’s lead in each of these circumstances, you will naturally flow into my second tip: Lean into pleasure reading. Let kids choose the books and genres that they want to read. Let kid re-read the books they love, over and over again. Let kids read books that are “not challenging enough” or “not sophisticated/literary/honorable/etc enough.” Reading is reading is reading is reading is reading. When a child finds the experience of reading pleasurable, they will more likely become readers for life vs. seeing reading as a chore.

Speaking of chores, please resist the temptation to categorize reading as a daily “chore” or task that a child must accomplish. I understand that reading logs and assignments come from good intentions, but in my experience these tools hurt young readers more than they help them. When reading is viewed as a required chore (that is coupled with the added task of writing down what was read), reading becomes less pleasurable. What if we re-framed reading as a reward: “Yay, you! You’ve earned 15 minutes of time to yourself to read whatever book you choose!” “Oh, lucky you! How many chapters (or books) did you get to read this past week?” “Turn to your table partner and tell him/her something amazing about the book you are currently reading…” Doesn’t that sound more fun than “You are required to read for at least 15 minutes each and every day, and you must log the title, author, genre, and number of pages read for each day …”

My third and last tip is to find ways to incorporate reading into nontraditional times of the day. We often think of reading with a child as something that we do at bedtime, but bedtime can be a hard time of the day to allow your child (and yourself) the pleasure of reading for long stretches of time. What about “bathtime stories?” Or “books on tape while we’re cooking dinner” stories? Or “Storytime while we’re waiting for the school bus to come…” Think outside of the box. Bedtime stories are great, but there are other parts of the day that might be more suitable for reading with wild abandon.

Thank you, Dawn, for these great suggestions and for sharing your childhood experiences with us. I, too, loved the book The Best Nest when I was young!

Giveaway: Dawn is offering two prize options if you are the winner of the giveaway. You can choose an advanced reading copy of either Where Does a Cowgilrl Go Potty or Where Does a Pirate Go Potty OR you can opt to receive a manuscript critique from Dawn! Just comment on this post to enter.  

Connect with Dawn:

Twitter: @DawnProchovnic

Instagram: @DawnProchovnic

Facebook: @DawnProchovnicAuthor

Web: https://www.dawnprochovnic.com/

Celebrating Mister Rogers’ Legacy of Kindness + a Giveaway

Introducing my newest book:

You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood (releasing from Abrams Books on August 6, 2019). Art by Matt Phelan: www.mattphelan.com

I wasn’t able to watch the television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood until I
became a mother, so my eldest child and I got to know it together. We learned the opening and closing songs, and Rachel looked forward to the puppets’ new adventures in each episode. 

As a teacher, I was impressed by how much Fred respected children.
He told them the truth. He also showed them that all of their feelings were manageable.
I aspired to build the emotional foundation of our home firmly on the kind of unconditional
acceptance that Fred Rogers demonstrated.  

Day after day, we listened as Mister Rogers looked right
into the camera and shared his time-honored message: “You’ve made this day a
special day by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like
you, and I like you just the way you are.”*

 

illustration of Freddie Rogers and Grandpa McFeely (c) Matt Phelan

As I researched my book, I was fascinated to discover that these words were shared with Fred by his Grandpa McFeely. They stayed with Mister Rogers throughout his life. In fact, the quotation above comes directly from Fred Rogers’ public testimony to the United States senate on behalf of public television. 

The last image of the book is of Fred Rogers looking out at the reader—just as he connected with us one-by-one through his television program—and repeating his grandpa’s message.

My hope in writing You Are My Friend is that readers everywhere will receive those words and allow them to sink deep within. No matter our ages, we all need to hear them.

You are valuable and important—just as you are.

Giveaway:

I’m giving away four signed copies of You Are My Friend, one to each of four winners. 

Here’s how to enter:

You can enter the draw a total of four times, once in each of the following ways.

  • Comment on this blog post
  • Retweet my pinned tweet about the giveaway:
    @aimeereidbooks
  • Tag someone on my Instagram post about the
    giveaway: @aimeereidbooks
  • Share my post from my Facebook author page about
    the giveaway: https://m.facebook.com/aimeereidbooks

The giveaway closes at 12:00 noon EST on August 13, 2019, and I will contact the winners. 

* Fred Rogers, testimony, Extension of Authorizations under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Hearings, Ninety-first Congress, first session, S. 1242; April 30 and May 1, 1969. Senate Committee on Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications, Washington, D.C.

 

You Are My Friend is a work of fiction. This book is an expression of admiration of Fred Rogers, the man and the artist, by the author and illustrator. This book is not associated with or endorsed by The Fred Rogers Company. 
 

 

Sue Todd: Bookworm and Illustrator

Sue Todd is a freelance illustrator whose work encompasses retail design and children’s books. Her images can be seen not only in books but also packaging, posters, tshirts, a tv commercial, and a bus!

Sue enjoys linocarving, which is an ancient printmaking technique. Read on for a glimpse of her process.

Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What memories do you have?

I have memories of being very young and poring over the pages of fairytale collections, paying special attention to the pictures, of course! I always judged a book by its cover, and my favourite gift under the Christmas tree was usually a book. I still remember the feeling of excitement at opening a new one.

My parents encouraged reading, and I spent a lot of time at the library exploring the shelves, looking for just the right picture books. My favourites were The Cat in the Hat and The Little Engine That Could. I remember the suspense of watching Thing One and Thing Two make a mess as Mom’s ankles approached the house, and the Little Engine That Could continues to be a philosophical inspiration. I loved the Narnia series, Alice in Wonderland and any fantasy and mystery stories, including Nancy Drew.

Sue’s studio bookshelf

I volunteered at the school library to get first crack at the new books, so I guess you could call me a book worm. I still remember one incident from Brownies when we had a Christmas gift exchange. I had carefully selected a book that I really wanted to read, and my gift exchange partner gave me a book of Lifesavers. Seriously, it was a selection of different flavours of Lifesaver candies inside a cardboard book! My friend and I were equally dismayed with our gifts and agreed to trade back, so I ended up with the book I wanted after all. 🙂

I wish I had kept the book series I wrote and illustrated around age twelve, The Adventures of Horace the Hippopotamus. It was just a Babar knock-off, but my younger sisters found it entertaining.

Can you tell us a little bit about your process of making art for children’s books?

Every book begins in my sketchbook where I scribble ideas and develop characters. Once I have established the look, I create a small dummy, about half size, to keep a consistency and flow throughout the story. After approval of rough sketches, I begin my final art process.

My technique is linocut, which is a form of relief printmaking similar to woodcut. The medium is linoleum just like the flooring material but without the finish. With relief printing you carve away the bits you don’t want and whatever is left will be the image that is rolled with ink and printed on paper. I have a table-top press for smaller images and use an old fashioned burnisher and lots of muscle for larger pieces. The black and white print is then scanned and coloured in Photoshop.

I like the combination of analog and digital technologies and enjoy each stage of the process for different reasons. The sketching stage is most creative and requires quiet concentration whereas the carving stage is more meditative, like knitting. The colouring stage is sheer fun and takes me back to kindergarten.

Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.

Although I have illustrated many things including educational picture books, my first trade book was released only last year. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito is a wonderful play by Tomson Highway published by Fifth House/Fitzhenry & Whiteside. My second trade book was released in March. I look forward to sharing An African Alphabet with pre-schoolers. It was written by Eric Walters and published by Orca Books.

Thanks, Sue, for sharing your process with us! I wish I could read The Adventures of Horace the Hippopotamus. 

Have a look at Sue’s new books:

Sue has a new book coming out with Eric Walters in the fall of 2018. It’s called The Wild Beast. Be sure to watch for it! 

How about you? Which illustrations intrigued you as a child?

Post a comment on this blog, and your name will be entered in a draw for a personally inscribed copy of Sue’s newest book, An African Alphabet? This book will be a lovely addition to a toddler’s library. I’ll draw the winning name on September 13, 2017.

Sign up to Aimee’s newsletter below for more giveaways and to receive inside information from children’s book writers and illustrators. 


Connect with Sue: 

Website: www.suetodd.com

Facebook: SueToddIllustration

Twitter: @SueTodd20

 

Rebecca Bender on Getting Lost in Books * Plus a Giveaway!

Rebecca Bender is an art director and designer as well as an author-illustrator. Her books, Giraffe and Bird and Don’t Laugh at Giraffe, have won the Ontario Library Association’s Blue Spruce Award and Blue Spruce Honour, respectively. Rebecca’s newest book, How Do You Feel?, releases in 2017.  Be sure to comment on this post in order to be entered in the draw for a signed copy!

 

Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?

We were lucky that my mother read to us a lot. The way I remember it, she always wanted to read the more serious stories, like The Little Match Girl, whereas I always preferred something light that would make me laugh and think at the same time, like Dr. Seuss.

I was a child that loved to draw and get lost in make-believe worlds. Picture books were inspiration for my art, and I was drawn to ones where the illustrations hooked me and took me somewhere. I spent a lot of time with the Serendipity series and still have a few of these books today. They were beautifully illustrated and full of vivid, endearing characters. I can see why I adored them as a child.

From left: me, my mother, my sister
Some books I’ve hung onto since childhood; part of a series called Serendipity by Stephen Cosgrove, illustrated by Robin James

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?

I’m always amazed to see how children internalize a good book and the fruits that come from it; be it my 3 year-old architect meticulously building his own home with Magformers and Lego, after reading If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen, or my 5-year-old fashion designer creating her own line of clothing after reading Birdie’s Big-Girl Dress by Sujean Rim.

We also have fun adopting terms and phrases from stories into our way of communicating with each other, such as, are you feeling like a Boo Hoo Bird today? Or, remember Hamilton Squidlegger, stay in your own mud tonight. Or, if I’m too clean The Witches will smell me!

Me reading with my two children. (Pulling photos for this post, it struck me how similar this one looks to the earlier one of my mom reading to my sister and I!)
My daughter’s line of fashion clothing, inspired by a picture book we read together

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.

When I’m sharing my books in a classroom I set up the story first by showing the cover and then asking the children what they learn from the illustrations alone. It’s a good opportunity to show them how illustrations play a big role in telling the story in a picture book. Sometimes I introduce my characters by drawing them on chart paper and talking about who and what inspired them. Before reading we also practice sound effects so they are ready to make the silly noises that happen in the story. While reading I stop to ask questions at key moments in the story. Afterwards I like to hear how they connect the story to their own lives; we discuss, for example, if Giraffe and Bird really like each other or not, and if this is similar to how siblings behave sometimes.

My daughter reading to me from my new book, How Do You Feel?

I take a similar approach at home with my kids. I focus on finding connections in their lives, and even days after we’ve read a book I will refer back to it if something comes up that relates. I try to keep drawing supplies, building supplies, and raw materials available for them to follow their whims and inspirations and suggest crafts and activities relating to the books we read.

Looking back, I’m glad my mother read the more serious books to me. I’m a believer in letting children make their own choices whenever possible, so I do let them pick their own books at story time, but I also adopted the rule that  mommy gets a pick, too!

My studio while working on art for How Do You Feel?

Close up of painting in progress on my desk

 

Thanks, Rebecca! How fun to see your illustrations in progress.

Check out Rebecca’s work:

Exciting news—my first picture book, Giraffe and Bird will be re-released with Pajama Press, in a padded, hardcover edition (April 2017)
These lively and unlikely friends are back.
Enter to win a signed copy! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about you? Which books captivated you because of their illustrations?

Post a comment on this blog, and your name will be entered in a draw for a personally inscribed copy of Rebecca’s newest book, How Do You Feel? This book will be sure to captivate young readers. I’ll draw the winning name on February 13, 2017. 

Sign up to Aimee’s newsletter below for more giveaways and to receive inside information from children’s book writers and illustrators. 


Connect with Rebecca: 

Website: http://rebeccabender.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittleStreetStudio

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittleStRebecca

Tumblr: http://littlestreetstudio.tumblr.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/r_bender/

Jennifer Mook-Sang Shares about Books as Companions—Plus a Giveaway!

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What a pleasure to host Jennifer Mook-Sang on Good Books to Share. Jennifer lives and writes for children in a luxurious garret in Burlington, Ontario. She is the author of multi-award-nominated SPEECHLESS, an enormously popular novel for ages 8 to 12. Her picture book CAPTAIN MONTY (who is terrified of the water. Shhh, don’t tell anyone) will set sail in the fall of 2017. In the meantime, Jennifer is working on a follow-up to SPEECHLESS while trying to ignore the siren call of the bag of Cheezies in the cupboard.

 

 

Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?

I grew up mostly left to my own devices. My parents worked in the shop below our living quarters and books were my constant companions. I still have some of my Enid Blyton adventures, and Girls Annuals. There was a set of books called The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls in our home, a compendium of stories ranging from nursery rhymes, to folk tales and stories from history. I devoured the nine volumes (I recently purchased a replacement set), along with hundreds of comics that my dad let my sister and me buy from the bookstore. One of my favourite memories is a rare quiet evening, sitting in bed with my parents while they read their own books. Dad loved westerns, Zane Grey and Max Brand. Mom read grown-up comics about romance. I loved the cosiness of snuggling beside them and feeling warm and peaceful.

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These are The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls. Re-reading these books has been like meeting up with a beloved old friend.

What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?

From the time they could sit in our laps, my husband and I read to our boys before bedtime. Once, when it was my turn to read, my husband stopped in the doorway to ask me a question. While I answered him, our two-year-old decided that we’d spent too long chatting and hit the book in my hands with a determined fist, demanding, “Wead, wead!” We loved our reading routine. Reading books with my boys gave us lots to talk about, and our best moments were the times we laughed out loud or gasped at the unexpected. We still enjoy sharing books with each other, though I don’t read to them anymore.

Here are a few of our favorite books:

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Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.

I think the best way to share good books with children is to leave books in plain view where they can be found and explored. Young children should have free access to books that they can bang with, chew on, and look at. Older ones should have lots of different books and be allowed to choose what they want to read or to have read to them. And, at least once a day, make them sit and read to them, even when they can read to themselves. Don’t stop till they push you out of the door and bar it from the inside. Talk about the stories. Ask questions. Wonder what would have happened if . . . . Reading builds language, empathy, and satisfies the wonder of curiosity.

Thanks, Jennifer!

What about you? What books did you love to read aloud?

Special offer: Comment on this post, and you could win a personally inscribed copy of Jennifer’s novel Speechless. It would make a wonderful gift for that middle-grader on your holiday list. I’ll draw a name from those who comment, and the book will be shipped to the winner’s door. 

Sign up to Aimee’s newsletter below for more giveaways and to receive inside information about the making of children’s books from the authors and illustrators themselves.   

speechless

Connect with Jennifer:

website: http://jennifermooksang.com/

book trailer: https://vimeo.com/166207543

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifermooksang1

twitter: https://twitter.com/jennymooksang

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26011058-speechless

 

 

The Best Part (and a Holiday Offer)

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I met Veronica at one of my author visits. She loved trying on my Little Gray puppet. After the program, Veronica’s mom, Emily, shared with me that they had been enjoying Mama’s Day with Little Gray at home. Veronica even had a favorite line: “Mmm,” said Mama. “I know I’d feel safe.” 

Moments like these are the very best part of being an author. I realize the honor of being a part of this family’s time together. I feel blessed every time people tell me a story about their connection to my book: one mom sent a copy to her son who is now researching animal habitat; one toddler sleeps with a copy of the book in their bed; other children have memorized Little Gray’s lines and like to surprise their parents with his questions, knowing that they’ll hear reassuring words in return.

Stories like these are why I linger over autographs, imagining the children for whom I’m inscribing books and wishing them joy. They’re why this year I’m giving myself the gift of extending a special holiday offer to you.

If you would like to send an autographed copy of Mama’s Day with Little Gray to someone, send me a note through the contact form on my website.Let me know the name of the person for whom you’re buying a book along with the shipping address. I’ll autograph a copy of the book, include a personal message to the recipient, and send it on its way. I’ll even wrap it in some foil paper!

Payment can be made by sending a cheque or through online options such as PayPal or email transfers. For $20.00 (which includes wrapping and shipping), you can send a unique, personalized gift to someone on your list. Happy giving!

Lizann Flatt on Loving the Language in Children’s Books

Lizann Flatt2smallIt’s a pleasure to welcome Lizann Flatt to Good Books to Share. When I walked in the door for my first retreat with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Lizann greeted me with a smile. Her gracious welcome set me at ease. I’m grateful for the leadership she showed in organizing that retreat and many other events for the Canada East Chapter of the SCBWI. 
 
Lizann is the author of many nonfiction books, short stories and poems for kids. Recent nonfiction picture book titles include Shaping Up Summer, Sizing Up Winter, Sorting Through Spring, Counting on Fall, and Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here. Her work has also appeared in Ladybug, Babybug, and Highlights for Children magazines. Lizann was formerly the editor of Chickadee magazine. Today she lives in rural Muskoka, Ontario with her husband and three children.
 
Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?
My parents read to me at bedtime, and I loved that. Partly my good memories are from the together time, me tucked under a cozy blanket in bed, but it was also the way the stories sounded. I loved the language of them. I loved memorizing the stories and knowing what was coming on the next page. I loved thinking about the stories as I tried to fall asleep. Today I still keep a few of the books I had as a child on my bookshelf. I only have to open them to bring back memories of my early love of rhythm, rhyme, and story.
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What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?
 
I think my favourite thing about sharing books with kids is the way the book can spark discussion or questions or connections. When I do school visits with my Math in Nature series I hear about the squirrels kids have in their backyards, or how they saw milkweeds. When I share my Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here kids tell me about the transportation vehicles they use or like best. One boy even told me about how he came here to Canada on a boat just like in my book. I think those connections are terrific. It shows kids that reading and books are connected with our lives.
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Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.
 
I’ve always been glad I followed the advice I’d heard and began reading to my kids when they were babies. As in as soon as they were old enough to sit up in my lap, I read them short nursery rhymes or board books. And I read them aloud with feeling and drama like I really enjoyed them—because I did. Then, as they grew, I’d let my kids touch the pages—okay gnaw on the pages sometimes—and then help me turn the pages. Even my fidgety firstborn would sit through a whole board book and then later longer stories. For all my kids, once they voiced an opinion I’d let them choose the story we’d read. If they wanted more than one, they got to choose one and I chose one. Once they wanted to read chapter books or middle grade novels, I let them take the lead on what we’d read. That’s not to say I didn’t have suggestions, but if my suggestion didn’t grab them after a couple of pages, we moved on to something else. I always wanted reading at home to be fun. Now that they’re teenagers I can say, “Mission accomplished.”

 

How about you? What childhood books contained language that you loved?

Good news! Those who comment on this post will be entered in a draw for two of Lizann’s books. First, I am giving away a copy of Counting on Fall. Also, Lizann is donating a signed copy of Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Herewhich was selected by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to be given to every Grade One student in Canada in the TD Grade One Book Giveaway. 

To be eligible for even more giveaways by wonderful children’s illustrators and authors, sign up below for Aimee’s newsletter. 

 

Check out Lizann’s books:
CountingOnFall_cover_large - Copysizing up winter - Copy (2)sorting through springshaping up summerLet's Go
Visit Lizann 

Daydreaming on Paper with Arree Chung

Arree head shot
Arree Chung is a children’s book illustrator and author. He has worked at Pixar and in the games industry as a designer and art director. Arree and I share an agent in Rubin Pfeffer: www.rpcontent.com. It’s my pleasure to host him on Good Books to Share today.

 

 

 

Arree, please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?

My parents were new immigrants and were struggling to learn the English language themselves, so I don’t recall reading a lot of picture books when I was young. I do remember Dr. Suess’s bold colors in his books.

I was more of a late reader. I loved Shel Silverstien’s books of poems. Where the Sidewalk Ends is probably my favorite. I became an avid reader in middle school. My favorite books were James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (practically anything from Ronald Dahl) and Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. Those books engaged my imagination. I don’t think I’ve stopped dreaming ever since.

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Arree’s vibrant art

Tell us about your experiences of being an adult and reading to a child or children. What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?

The best feeling I have as an artist is seeing kids’ faces light up when they see your work. You can see their imaginations kick into gear. When I present, I make sure to show them how a book just starts with an idea. I call it “daydreaming on paper.” Sharing good books is so important because it engages the imagination—and if you can imagine something, then you can make anything happen. I love this quote by Albert Einstein: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

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Some of Arree’s daydreaming on paper

Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.

I think a common mistake grown ups have in sharing books with kids is trying to share books that “teach a lesson.” Many books that teach a lesson do so in a heavy-handed way and are just not fun books.
 
Kids are just like adults. Or perhaps, rather, we’re a lot like kids in bigger bodies. Anyhow, we don’t like being told what to do, and we’re all different. Matching the right book to a kid is about understanding what the kid likes or what that child may be going through. Of course, there are those few books that just strike a chord with practically everyone because they are so magical.
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classic moment from Ninja!

I love the idea of daydreaming on paper. Your daydreams have produced some delightful books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today, Arree.

Good news! Arree is giving away a signed copy of Ninja to one person who comments on this blog. What a fun book to share with a child you love! I’ll draw the winning name on Saturday, July 25.

For more giveaways from top-notch authors and illustrators, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below.

Check out Arree’s picture books:

 

ninja amazonhow to pee girlsArree how to pee

Visit Arree at his website for activity and coloring pages based on Ninja!

Website: www.arree.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/arree.chung

Twitter: www.twitter.com/arreechung

 

Expanding Horizons

The gestation period for my book was much longer than it was for my three children. I first had the idea nine years before Mama’s Day with Little Gray was published. Launch day brought feelings of excitement, curiosity, and a little bit of maternal protectiveness. Would my book find its way safely to new shelves? Would it be accepted? Liked, even?

I remembered the days of parting with my children at the Kindergarten door. Sometimes the teacher would send a note home with one of them that said: “I had a great day!” How much I appreciated those. Now that my book is out in the big, wide world, it’s been special to receive reports and pictures of Little Gray from various places. Like postcards from camp, they let me know that my book is faring well on this new adventure.

Below are a sampling of the places I’ve heard from:

Charlotte Glover, former children’s librarian and owner of Parnassus Books and Gifts in Ketchikan, Alaska wrote to say that she enjoyed Mama’s Day with Little Gray and had featured it for Mother’s Day in her store.

Parnassus Books

Ben McNally Books, a gorgeous store on Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario displayed the book by the cash.
Ben McNally Books

Nancy Fanning, event coordinator at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, Delaware reported that Mama’s Day with Little Gray was a hit at a recent story time.

Bethany Beach Books

Friends far and wide sent pictures of my book in their local Chapters, Indigo, or Barnes and Noble stores.

Chapters Burlington

And I found it nicely displayed in an area bookstore, Bryan Prince Bookseller, on the first day of release.

Aimee's phone May 10-2014 596

How wonderful to see Mama’s Day with Little Gray keeping company with such fine people and books. Thanks for celebrating with me, everyone.

 

 

Shannon Hitchcock on Growing a Reader

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Shannon Hitchcock is a freelance writer specializing in stories for children and young adults.

I met Shannon while we were both attending the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s conference in Miami, Florida. Her debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, was inspired by her son’s eighth grade history project. It’s great to have Shannon visit Good Books to Share.

 

Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?

The first stories I fell in love with were fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk were my favorites. I remember hearing my mother read them in her slow southern drawl. I shivered when the mean ol’ giant chased Jack, and then clapped in delight when Jack chopped down the beanstalk.

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Shannon’s son, Alex, in second grade.

Tell us about your experiences of being an adult and reading to a child.

I enjoyed reading to my son when he was little. Two particular favorites were The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and all of the Thomas the Tank Engine books.

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Alex’s graduation. See those honor cords hanging around his neck? Being a voracious reader pays off!

Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.

My son has grown up to be a voracious reader. If I look back at the reasons why, these four things stand out.

Ready access. I kept a basket full of books in the family room and a well-stocked bookshelf that he could reach in his bedroom. 

I made reading fun. Alex would be sad when his dad had to travel for business, so after dinner and bath time, I’d let him crawl into bed with me. I would read several books aloud to him and then say, “Mommy’s going to read a grown-up book now, while you read to yourself.” It was relaxing for both of us.

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Alex’s eighth grade research project was the inspiration for Shannon’s first novel.

I read what interested Alex, even if it didn’t interest me. I must have read The Pokemon Handbook at least a thousand times.

As soon as Alex was old enough, I signed him up for the summer reading programs at our public library. He loved the competition aspect and winning little prizes.

These are fabulous ideas, Shannon! Thanks for sharing them.

 Be sure to check out Shannon’s historical novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl.

 

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 Connect with Shannon:

Website: http://www.shannonhitchcock.com

Twitter: @ShannonHitchcock

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