Augusta Scattergood on Spinning Yarns and Freedom Summer

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Augusta Scattergood is the author of Glory Be, a National Public Radio Backseat Book Club selection, Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, and a novel hailed by Newbery medalist Richard Peck as the story of a bygone era “beautifully recalled.” A children’s book reviewer and former librarian, Augusta has devoted her life and career to getting books into the hands of young readers. Her reviews and articles have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Delta Magazine, and other publications. She is also an avid blogger. Augusta lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and Madison, New Jersey. Her new book, The Way to Stay in Destiny, comes out in January 2015.

 

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



I was read to all the time by my grandmothers, my mother, my teachers. My father was quite a storyteller. He never needed a book—he could spin a yarn a mile long!

One of my grandmothers taught 4th grade, moving from Mississippi to Florida to Texas as she aged out of each state. Each year she’d give me books on all occasions. Not just the Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames I loved, but the award winners and the classics. My childhood was rich with literature and stories.

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



Having spent 25 years as a librarian, I’m not sure where to begin! I loved reading picture books—to pre-schoolers as well as fifth graders—and all the Newbery winners, chapter by chapter, to classes. Poetry, folktales—all genres are ripe for reading aloud. But I think the ones that stuck with me were the middle-grade novels, and that’s what I felt closest to when I began to write. From Sharon Creech to Katherine Paterson, Kevin Henkes to Lois Lowry, I loved sharing these books with kids. 



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Some of my favorite middle-grade readalouds!

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



Choosing just the right book is crucial. Teachers know to read a book before they share it aloud with their classes! When parents and grandparents pick a book, it’s always nice if it’s a book they love.

As a librarian, I well recall trying to read aloud a certain, not-to-be-named Newbery winner that just didn’t fly! The kids were bored, and nothing I could do enlivened that one as a read-aloud. It wasn’t meant to be. After that experience, I learned that every book isn’t meant to be read aloud. Some are quiet books, best read and appreciated in a cozy chair. I also learned that if you get bogged down reading a book aloud, admit it and move to another, more perfect story to share with young readers.

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I love this picture created by a student at one of the schools I visited. This could well be me as a young librarian!

My novel, Glory Be, takes place during Freedom Summer, 1964. Since this is the 50th anniversary of that summer’s civil rights events, I’ve had some terrific opportunities to share my book. A really remarkable event just happened in the small town of Como, Mississippi, and I was honored to be there.

The very energetic public librarian had planned a week of programming, including a panel of former freedom workers returning to talk about their summer in Panola County, a Readers Theater presentation based on music and letters from that summer, and a city-wide read of Glory Be

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Augusta Scattergood signing books with two readers who were also part of the NPR Back Seat Bookclub interview at the Como Library.

All the 8th graders in one school had read my book, and other classes had had it read aloud to them. The enthusiasm and the questions from these kids was remarkable.  I was truly moved by the thought that one book, read by many, can lead to such thoughtful discussion.

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What a wonderful story about sharing a truly good book! Thank you, Augusta. Don’t miss reading Augusta’s inspiring, entertaining story, Glory Be

Connect with Augusta:

Blog: http://ascattergood.blogspot.com/
Twitter: ARScattergood

Want to hear more inspiring stories of sharing great books?
Sign up for Aimee’s newsletter. It will feature exclusive content from Augusta and many other authors. See below to sign up now. 

Urve Tamberg On Libraries and Long Storytimes

GBTS-Urve1Urve Tamberg didn’t realize that she wanted to be a writer until a few years ago. She was side-tracked for a couple of decades to pursue a career in marketing and business development in the health care sector. But the stories she had heard from her immigrant parents about the history, people, and culture of Estonia stayed with her. She was inspired by those little-known tales of stubbornness, ingenuity, and bravery, so a few years ago she began to write historical fiction for teens. Urve lives in Oakville, Ontario with her husband, three children, and a little black dog named Shimmer.

Her first book, The Darkest Corner of the World, is inspired by true stories of the Estonian people and their struggle to survive during the Soviet and Nazi occupations during World War II.

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

Growing up as an only child, I loved books and stories. I won’t be cliche and say that books were my only friends; they weren’t. But I was the child who went to the library on a sunny summer day.  My mother constantly told me to go outside and play. I had a plan to read all the books in the library, starting with the authors whose last name started with “A.” I’m still working on that.

I’m the child of immigrant parents, and they did not read to me (shocking, I know, but I think they were too busy earning a living). Before I could read, I remember making up my own story to go along with the illustrations in the picture books and then telling that story to my mother. Looking back, it was an interesting role reversal and one that captures the universal appeal of picture books. The illustrations are integral to the story.

One of my favorite picture books was Katy Did. (This dates me, doesn’t it?)

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

I have three children (teenagers now), and one of my favorite activities (and theirs) was to read to them at night. There is nothing better than curling up in bed with three freshly bathed toddlers in clean jammies, having them each choose a book, and reading the books to them. Our night-time reading session always went on for quite a while. They always wanted “one more,” and that request was almost impossible to refuse.

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With my oldest, when she was just a baby, I would leave a couple of board books in the crib with her, and she would “read” by the light of the night light. She never had any trouble falling asleep. Of course, once she’d fallen asleep, I’d take the books out of the crib.

That is when my love of picture books really solidified. Each picture book was a marriage between words and art. And shhhh—don’t tell anyone yet, but I do have a couple of picture books that I am working on.  

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

Reading to and with children is important, especially in this age of technology and quick reading (excuse me—just have to go check my Twitter feed). We all love stories, and I think children need (and want) to be exposed to different types of stories, different styles of writing, and different characters. It helps them start to make sense of the world and exposes them to the “what ifs” in life. And you never know what topic or story will pique their curiosity. Discovering new interests is the fun part!

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Thanks, Urve! 

Check out Urve’s book, The Darkest Corner of the World. 

Connect with Urve:
Website: www.utamberg.com
Twitter: @utamberg
Facebook: Urve Tamberg – Author

Don’t miss out! Sign up for Aimee’s newsletter to learn more about the behind-the-scenes stories of Urve’s book and others. 

First Book Canada Gives Good Books to Kids

I recently met the team at First Book Canada, and I’m thrilled to feature a post from this wonderful organization. First Book Canada and First Book (in the U.S.) truly live out the mission of sharing good books with children. Through innovative corporate and publishing partnerships, they provide free new books to programs that serve in low-income settings.

Here are some of the facts:

–reading interest tripled among children who received new books from First Book

expanded literacy efforts in 99.2 percent of programs that receive books

–increased reading in the homes of 70% of the children who receive books

–growing impact with more than 25, 000 programs registered and hundreds joining each week 

efficient, mission-driven service to communities and children with 97 cents of every dollar donated supporting First Book’s efforts to provide new books to children in need

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Let’s hear about this remarkable organization from the First Book Canada team itself. How did First Book Canada come to be?

In 1992, Kyle Zimmer, then a corporate attorney, was volunteering regularly at a soup kitchen in Washington DC. When staff at the soup kitchen asked kids to bring in books to share, some of them brought in phone books because they were the only books in their homes.

Realizing that the kids she was working with had no books to call their own, she set out with some friends to remedy the situation. First Book began operations in the United States in 1992 and First Book Canada launched operations in 2009. Since then, First Book Canada has distributed over 2 million brand-new books to kids from low-income families all across the country.

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What difference has sharing books made in the lives of the First Book Canada team members? 

Sharing brand-new books with teachers and kids has shown us how magical books are. When we see the joy and excitement in a teacher’s face as she’s picking up books for her students, we know that these kids are experiencing something special at school and at home. We can only imagine how delighted their parents must be that their kids are bringing home backpacks full of books to call their own! We know these quality books are strengthening curriculum and that each book will help a child become a stronger reader.

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What is a memorable experience you’ve had in your work at First Book Canada?

One memorabe moment from working at First Book Canada was when we held a Reading Party at Brampton Public Library with author Kevin Sylvester. For these kids, it was the first time they had an author visit ad speak to them about his book. It was too fun getting to see kids interact with Kevin and have them share their opinions about his book.

The great thing about First Book Canada Reading Parties is that our authors are always engaging and want to share how fun books are with everyone around them. We also had volunteers from Target come in and read with the kids afterwards, and I think sharing that experience was memorable for both the students and volunteers. We got to see their imaginations light up and really saw a love of reading start to develop in these kids.GBTS FBC North Kipling_HiRes_136

If you were to share one dream you have for your organization, what would it be?

One of our dreams is that each child in Canada grows up with many books to call their own. We want to see each child grow up a strong reader and to end illiteracy in Canada.

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Ending illiteracy! Now that’s a dream we can all support. Thank you to First Book Canada for your inspiring work.

If you know of an organization that may fit First Book Canada’s mandate, don’t delay! Get in touch with First Book Canada today. Register here: http://www.firstbookcanada.org/receive-books

Please check out this wonderful organization:

Website: http://www.firstbookcanada.org/ Watch the video spotlight on the home page to hear the story of First Book told by some wonderful children’s authors. 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Book-Canada/160799554011287?ref=ts

Twitter: @FirstBookCanada

Don’t miss out! For upcoming news about First Book Canada events, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below. You’ll also hear from authors and illustrators first hand about their meaningful experiences of sharing good books with children.   

Launch Party for Mama’s Day with Little Gray

I’m excited to invite friends new and old to the launch party for my brand new book, Mama’s Day with Little Gray.

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Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014

Place: Hamilton Public Library, Central Branch, 55 York Blvd., Hamilton, Ontario

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Special Features: Martha Krueger, a wonderful recording artist and music instructor, will be singing. Her joyful, participatory concerts are enjoyed by children of all ages. There will be elephant crafts, elephant tattoos, and elephant-sized fun. All is free, and all are welcome.

Giveaway: Enter to win prizes, including a one-day family pass (two adults and two children) to the African Lion Safari, where you can see real elephants! * Watching the elephant swim at the African Lion Safari inspired part of my book.

Autographs: You will be able to buy your own copy of Mama’s Day with Little Gray, and I will be happy to sign it for you.

Note: If you are planning to purchase Mama’s Day with Little Gray at the launch and you’d like to be sure that a book is reserved for you, please email areid@www.aimeereidbooks.com and place the words “Save Me a Book” in the subject line. We’ll be sure to set a copy aside just for you.

Please come out and join in the fun. I hope to see you there!

* If you can’t come to the launch party, you can still enter two giveaways.

African Lion Safari Giveaway: To enter the draw for tickets to the African Lion Safari, email areid@aimeereid.books.com and write “Lion Safari” in the subject line. The winners will be able to use their passes any one day of the 2014 season (May 3 to October 13, 2014). Thanks to the African Lion Safari for this generous donation.

Time Together Giveaway: If you’d like to be eligible for more kid-friendly gifts, such as books and CDs, go to my Time Together blog post and choose one of three easy ways to enter.

Additional details: One entry per draw per person. Both contests close at midnight (EST) on Mother’s Day, May 11th, 2014. The draws will take place on May 12th. Winners will be contacted by email.

 

 

Time Together

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© Laura Bryant

One evening, as I was tucking my daughter into bed, she said, “When I grow up and you grow down . . . .” Then she went on to chat about what fun we would have if she were my mother and I were her child.

My daughter’s words flew like a spark to my imagination and eventually became Mama’s Day with Little Gray. Little Gray, too, dreams about switching roles with his mama. He would fetch her tasty leaves, shade her from the sun—even roll in the mud with her.

I wanted this story to celebrate the joy found in the ordinary. Rolling in the mud would be unusual for us, but it’s just what elephants do. What makes their activities special is that Little Gray and Mama share them. They are together.

I love this image of Mama and Little Gray sitting side by side at the close of the day. Our culture seems to pride itself on doing more and trying harder. But it doesn’t need to be difficult to simply be together. And if we pay attention, we can see the beauty of right now. Of how our child’s eyes crinkle when she laughs. Of hanging around in our pyjamas at the Saturday morning breakfast table. Of one more story. Of watching the clouds roll by.  

Let’s appreciate the good times we already enjoy.

In celebration of everyday beauty, l’ll be giving away some gifts that I hope will enliven your time with loved ones.* 

You can enter in one of three ways:

1. Post a comment below about one way you have enjoyed spending time with a child.

2. Subscribe to my blog, Good Books to Share. You’ll read stories of how children’s books have enriched people’s lives.

3. Subscribe to my newsletter. It features behind-the-scenes stories of the creation of children’s books and includes tips straight from their authors and illustrators on how to make story time fun and memorable.

Let’s cherish the many ordinary, awe-filled moments we share.   

Enjoy your time together!   

Sincerely,

Aimee

*Contest details: Entries must be received by May 11th (midnight, EST). Prizes will be drawn at random on May 12th. Winners will be contacted by email. One entry per email address. 

Jen Arena Shares About A Lifelong Love of Children’s Books

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I’m especially pleased to have Jen Arena, editor of my book Mama’s Day with Little Gray, as our guest for today.

Jen Arena is lucky to have been surrounded by great children’s books her whole life. As a teenager, she worked at a children’s-only independent bookstore in Pennsylvania, and after graduating from college, she made her way to New York City, where she found a job as a children’s book editor. Since then, she’s written many books for kids. Her latest is 100 Snowmen, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. You can find out more at jenarenabooks.com.

 

 

Welcome, Jen!

When Aimee invited me to write this blog post, she mentioned she was looking for authors to share how children’s books had touched their lives. The idea of children’s books “touching” my life kind of made me laugh. When I look back, it’s more like children’s books grabbed me as a kid and never let go—first I was a reader of kids’ books, then a bookseller, then an editor and a writer. Instead of little inky fingerprints, children’s books have left bright red, blue, and yellow tempera paint handprints throughout my life.

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

When I was little, my mom told me I was born on a Thursday, and my older sister never failed to remind me that, while “Monday’s child is loving and giving,” “Thursday’s child has far to go.”* Looking back, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as a kid, I felt like I was light years behind everyone else. Since my sister was four years older, no matter what I did, I could never catch up to her, could never do what she did easily.

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It’s no surprise then, that my favorite picture book was Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego. Leo’s friends can all speak and read and write. They braid flowers and make awesome snow animals, but Leo can’t do any of those things. His parents are worried about him, and watch and watch until one day Leo blooms in a big and beautiful way. Part of what I loved then (and still love today) about the book is how Leo’s blooming centers on creativity—reading, drawing, and writing. Of course he also learns to eat neatly, one of those perfect little details that turns a good book into a great one.

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* Funny story—when I was in my thirties after years of thinking I had “far to go,” I found one of those websites that checks the day you were born. Turns out I was actually born on a Friday. My mom, notorious for her bad memory, had gotten it wrong. MOM! My five-year-old self would have been thrilled to be a “loving and giving” Friday’s child, but by now I’m kind of attached to having “far to go.”

Please share 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?

Unlike many grown-ups, kids are completely unselfconscious about the books they like. At one point, my four-year-old nephew simultaneously loved Lucy Cousins’ Noah’s Ark and a dinosaur encyclopedia. What do the two things have in common? Animals, I guess. But in art style, text, theme, genre, everything else, they couldn’t be more different. I once found out my niece’s favorite book by asking her the name of one of her stuffed animals. “Chinchilla,” she lisped. How does a three-year-old learn the word Chinchilla? From a book, of course. I read that book to her many times. And you know what? She was right—it was fascinating.

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Please share your thoughts and tips on reading to kids.

One of the best parts of reading to kids is when you let them choose the books themselves. I’ve been introduced to books that I would have never picked up myself, and learned something from every one of them. As a writer, you get to see what attracts kids to a book—the cover, the title, the topic—and what they react to in the story. But I do have one very important piece of advice, learned from experience—AVOID DINOSAUR BOOKS! Sure, they’re informative, and you’ll learn a lot, but every other word is a ridiculously long, multisyllabic scientific dinosaur name. And if you think the four-year-old you’re reading to won’t know that you’ve just mispronounced Coelophysis, you’re WRONG. They always know.

Thank-you, Jen. 

How about you? How have children’s books influenced your life? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you’re in the market for a fun and educational read, check out Jen’s picture book 100 Snowmen. It’s a perfect choice to celebrate the 100th day of school!

100 SnowmenConnect with Jen:
Website:
jenarenabooks.com
Twitter: @hallojen

Don’t miss out! If you’d like to be eligible for giveaways, hear the inside scoop on how authors’ books came to be published, and gain tips for sharing good books with children, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below.

 

Lisa Dalrymple Connects Across Generations

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Lisa Dalrymple has lived with chickens in South Korea, cats in Scotland, lizards in Thailand and her two sisters in England. She has never EVER lived with a Polar Bear. Lisa wrote her first mystery adventure book for kids when she was 10 years old. She sent it to Grolier—the encyclopaedia company—to see if the editors wanted to publish it. (They didn’t.)

Since then, though, Lisa has published three books. Two of them are about polar bears, and one is about a skink! Lisa lives with her husband and three children in Fergus, Ontario.

 
 
Welcome, Lisa. Please share about your experience of being read to as a child. What positive memories do you have?

I know I was read to often as a child. I’m certain because books were always a part of our lives, because the stories we shared are still on my parents’ shelves and because my parents now share these same books with my own kids whenever we take them for a visit. Yet I don’t have any one particular memory of these interactions. Reading together was just something that occurred daily and so became a part of my childhood and who I am.

I do remember the thrill of visiting my own Nana & Grandpop, of finding the books they had saved that were my Dad’s when he was little, and of cuddling up in their front ‘box room’ (as we called it in England) to enjoy their copies of the Enid Blyton books we didn’t have at home.

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

I love sharing stories, particularly my own stories, with a group. There is no greater delight than seeing the looks on kids’ faces as they’re pulled into one of my books and that moment in time when we’re all connected through written words and spoken language.

I love how a story itself comes with no restrictions about who can experience it, that there needs to be no concept of difference or sameness, of gender or age between listeners. Recently, I was asked to present to a group of adult writers at the WordSpring festival of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. The weekend started off with an evening in the very well-appointed salon of the Shadow Lawn Inn. Many talented authors shared their newest creations of historical fiction, literary fiction, and some very (ahem) grown-up poetry. I was the last reader of the evening, and I was feeling completely out of place with my brightly-illustrated picture book, nervous that the members of the audience would wonder why I was reading to them.

I began to present in the same manner that I read to every audience, regardless of age. I held up the full-size artwork so that everybody could see it, and I “performed” the story as I always do (just not very often in high heels). It was truly amazing to see the transformation in front of me. I wonder when was the last time many of the audience members had experienced a picture book being read out loud. As I looked into the faces of each of the listening adults, I saw in their eyes the same delight that comes to children engaged in story-time. It was a magical experience that illustrated for me just how much stories—and the remembrance of growing up sharing children’s books—can have an impact on all of us.

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

When people ask me the age range for my books, I tend to say something along the lines of: children up to about 8 will especially enjoy them. No child is too young to share a good book. Even if a child can’t yet comprehend the entire context of a story, or if an infant doesn’t understand all the words, there is a special connection in sharing that snuggle time and of interacting with the images on the page and the cadence of the text.

I’m a particular sucker for good picture books with meter or rhyme. Often these books read like a song (or a nursery rhyme) and I think the youngest audiences sometimes enjoy these stories all the more. Because they can be easier to remember, the words often root themselves in young children’s minds, assisting them in making that connection between the letters they have seen repeatedly on the page and the words they hear spoken every night. These early books can help to create that magical space where a child doesn’t necessarily learn how to read but rather absorbs that knowledge through a kind of osmosis.

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Thank you, Lisa! 

What about you? What memories do you have of books that generations of people have enjoyed? Please let us know below.

If you’re in the mood for some fun stories that feature unique animals, check out Lisa’s books: If It’s No Trouble–A Big Polar Bear, Bubbly, Troubly Polar Bear, and Skink on the Brink.

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Lisa’s book Skink on the Brink was a Canadian Toy Testing Council Recommended Read for 2014 and recognized as one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens in Fall 2013 by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. It also won the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Writing for Children award in 2011. 

You can visit Lisa online at www.lisadalrymple.com

Don’t miss out! If you’d like to receive more of Lisa’s tips for sharing good books with kids, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below. Lisa will be sharing a “Make Your Own Polar Bear” craft.   

 

Good Books to Share

I don’t remember when I learned to read. At some point, the squiggles in my books transformed into letters. Then they became words that created page after page of stories.

What I do remember is the parade of characters that populated my childhood: a little bird on a hunt for his mother, a mischievous cat with a preposterous hat, dogs racing to a party in a tree. Even a spot-juggling animal with a winsome knack for entertainment.

These books and many more came to me from the Random House Beginner Book Club. I remember the feeling of anticipation that washed over me as I slid a new book out of its cardboard packaging.

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Books became treasures that still line my shelves. Even before I could read, they captivated me. I listened with glee for the sound of the Snort in Are You My Mother? I cringed when I thought that all of those car-racing dogs were about to have a huge pile-up.

One book I read repeatedly was Come Over to My House by the inimitable Dr. Seuss. It featured children from exotic locales all warmly inviting the reader to visit. I chimed in on the refrain: “Come over to my house. Come over and play!” I pored over its illustrations of children in other countries and imagined myself as a visitor in their captivating homes. What would it be like to travel on streets of water or sleep on a wooden pillow?

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This is the power of books. This ability to transport us. We imagine ourselves bigger. We imagine the world bigger.

Mysteriously, the world grows smaller at the same time. We learn to care. We discover that others whom we’ve never met feel as we do.

Now I am a children’s author with the very same publisher that brought me my first childhood books. I still love a good story. Like nothing else, stories move us. They inspire us, challenge our preconceptions, and help us to imagine the world as we want it to be.

In these pages, we will celebrate together the many ways that children’s books bring good to the world. We’ll hear from people whose lives have been touched by the wonder of books, and we’ll talk about how to make sharing books with kids a life-affirming experience.

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As a child, I knew I couldn’t actually visit all of the places portrayed in Come Over to My House. But how the world has changed since then! With a tap of a finger, we can video-chat with friends on the other side of the globe or read the thoughts of a stranger who lives continents away.

I hope that when you visit these pages you will feel as though you are dropping in on a friend. Come over to my virtual house. Put your feet up. Find a cozy blanket. Sip some tea or munch on a favorite childhood treat. Let’s listen to each other’s tales of finding good books to share.

How about you? What are some of the first books you remember?

Are you interested in giveaways and exclusive content from children’s book creators? Sign up for my newsletter below. There will be craft ideas, recipes, tips on creating memorable reading experiences, sneak peeks into the making of some wonderful stories, and much, much more.