Deborah Underwood on Classics Old and New

With Bella 2It’s  lovely to host Deborah Underwood on Good Books to Share. Deborah is the author of many children’s books, including Here Comes Santa Cat; The Christmas Quiet Book; Bad Bye, Good ByePirate Mom; and the New York Times bestsellers Here Comes the Easter Cat; The Quiet Book; and The Loud Book. She co-wrote the Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter book series with Whoopi Goldberg, and she has written 27 nonfiction titles. She lives in Northern California with her feline muse, Bella.

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

My parents were both teachers, and I grew up surrounded by books. So it’s not surprising that my parents read to me a lot when I was young. I have fond memories of using my finger to trace the tail of the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz at the end of Dr. Seuss’s ABC, and of correcting my parents if they missed reading one of the numerous beebeebobbibobbis in The Baby Beebee Bird.

But I most strongly remember connecting with the books I read in elementary school—laughing at Ramona’s mishearing of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” being inspired (along with half of my class) to get a spy notebook after our teacher read Harriet the Spy out loud to us, and reading classics like Thimble Summer and The Good Master over and over when I was having a difficult time for one reason or another.

Mary Bakes a Cake
In this photo, I’m reading a book called “Mary Bakes a Cake.” Early evidence of my lifelong love of both reading and cake!

I often felt out of place as a kid. I’d skipped a grade, so I was a year younger than everyone else in my class, and I was terrible at sports, and I was shy. I remember the relief I felt when I discovered that the elementary school library was open during lunch—I could go there and read rather than hanging out on the playground trying to avoid getting whacked by stray baseballs! The books I read not only helped me escape school life, but also showed me other worlds and other more inviting possibilities.

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?

I don’t have my own kids, but I madly adore my two nieces who live in Scotland. They’re older now, but when they were picture-book age, I really enjoyed reading to them during our visits. One reason, of course, was that it was just wonderful to share the experience of reading with them. But I also learned things that were incredibly helpful to me in my own writing.

For example, I stumbled across Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! in a bookstore not long after it came out, and laughed out loud as I read it. I knew immediately that I wanted to get it for my youngest niece. I brought it out during my visit to Scotland, and was delighted that she loved it as much as I did—it validated my instincts about what kids might like.

One thing surprised me: after the first reading, she immediately wanted to read it again, but said, “You be the reader, and I’ll be the ‘no’-er.” This potential for interaction hadn’t dawned on me as I stood in the bookstore reading the book to myself, but of course that implied and repeated “No!” is obvious to a kid!

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My oldest niece several years ago, reading as she walks down the street just as I did as a child.

Another important lesson I learned from reading to them: short books are greatly appreciated, especially at bedtime. I’m sure all parents know this, but I didn’t! When my nieces went to the bookshelf to choose a bedtime story, I cringed if it was a really long one. Now I know that when I cut words in a manuscript, I’m not only tightening my story and leaving more room for the illustrator, I’m also helping a parent get to bed a little earlier!

And the last lesson that was a revelation to non-parent me: a bad book is even worse when you have to read it over and over and over. There was one book that one of my nieces inexplicably loved, and it was painful to have to reread it. I try to write books that hold up to repeated readings, not just for the child’s benefit, but for the adult’s as well.

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

I’m sure others you’ve interviewed here have covered all the concrete ideas I’d have plus many others: varying vocal dynamics and tone, assuming voices for different characters, asking the kids what they think will happen next, giving them time to really look closely at the illustrations—kids are so much more observant than I am of the little details on the page!

For me, the important point is that kids are smart. If you’re enthusiastic about reading, and if you love a particular book, they will absolutely pick up on that. I think one of the best things you can do to encourage a love of reading is to let kids see that it’s an important part of your life. What a great excuse to curl up with a good book!

Thank you, Deborah! 

Special offer: Leave a brief comment on this post to be entered in a draw for one of Deborah’s wonderful Christmas books. You can choose which book you would like to receive, and Deborah will autograph it for you. Comments must be posted by midnight EST on December 7th, 2014.  

Another holiday offer: For a limited time, Aimee is shipping out free, personalized bookplates that can be placed inside copies of Mama’s Day with Little Gray. Click here for more information. 

Santa Cat Cover copyChristmas Quiet Book

Connect with Deborah: 

Website: DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com
Twitter: @underwoodwriter

Want the inside scoop on how Santa Cat came to life as well as other behind-the-scenes tales from children’s book creators? Sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below. Subscribers are also eligible for giveaways of wonderful children’s books.

 

Free, Personalized Bookplates

I’ve been touched by notes from readers telling me about those with whom they have shared Mama’s Day with Little Gray. Copies have gone to brand new babies, young adults just leaving the nest, elderly parents, andof coursechildren. I even heard that a book is on its way to a family in Thailand that runs an elephant shelter. 

With gratitude for the many ways people are sharing Mama’s Day with Little Gray, I am offering, for a limited time, to send out free bookplates with personalized inscriptions. The bookplate is clear with adhesive on the back so that it may be affixed to the book. 

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Just drop me a note through the contact form at www.aimeereidbooks.com. Let me know to whom I should address the autograph and where you’d like it sent. I will not share your information. 

I’ll try to send out your bookplates soon after I receive your requests in case you’d like to give Mama’s Day with Little Gray as a holiday gift. I would love to be a part of your festivities in this small way. 

Warm holiday wishes!

Aimee

 

 

Hélène Boudreau on Fostering Your Family’s Love of Reading

heleneHélène Boudreau grew up on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean but now writes fiction and non-fiction for kids from her land-locked home in Ontario, Canada.

Her picture book, I Dare You Not to Yawn, is a 2013 Parents’ Choice Award winner, a 2014 OLA Blue Spruce Award nominee, and a Crystal Kite Winner. 

Her tween novel, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings is a 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Finalist.

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

I’m from a family of ten so books were kind of community property in our house, growing up. I remember, though, that my godfather sent me my very own hardcover Trixie Belden for Christmas one year. I cherished that book because it was mine. All mine! That feeling of ownership of a story, a character, a whole world, is what really influences me to write for kids.

Once I read that first Trixie book, I was hooked. We didn’t have a public library where I grew up but we did have a bookmobile bus that would come to our island every few weeks. I remember walking up and down that bus aisle, perusing the shelves looking for the latest Trixie Belden. Most of my friends were Nancy Drew fans but since receiving that book as a gift, I was Trixie all the way.

trixie belden

Please share about your experiences of being an adult and reading to a child or children. 
 
Last year, I was on vacation with my family when my picture book, I Dare You Not to Yawn was released. I dearly wanted to see my book on store shelves but thought it would be a long shot to find it in the local bookstore where we were traveling, so we surreptitiously went to the bookstore to browse and, lo and behold, my book was there in the children’s section. Even better—I found out the bookstore staff was planning to read it at the children’s story hour that weekend, and they invited me to read instead.

What a happy accident that turned out to be! Being able to share my newly published book with a story time full of inquisitive, lively toddlers was such a highlight. And seeing all the children there with a dad, or a grandpa, or a mom, or a family friend, reinforced the idea that when it comes to books and children—all it takes is an interested adult to put a book in front of a child and the rest will follow.

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

Creating a ‘library culture’ in your home is a wonderful way to foster reading in children. Library cards are free and most villages, towns, and cities have access to public libraries in North America. For me as a child it was a book mobile. For my children, we are lucky enough to have a wonderful library system in our area.

We make regular trips to the library and have taken advantage of their many library programs. Checking out lots and lots of books on a regular basis and just putting books within the reach of children and letting them choose is one of the best ways I know to foster a love of reading.

Libraries, for the win!

Thanks, Hélène. Check out Hélène’s fun picture book, I Dare You Not to Yawn, at your local library or store!

I Dare you Not to Yawn

Are you interested in winning free, signed copies of children’s books like Hélène’s? Sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below.

Connect with Hélène:

Website: http://www.heleneboudreau.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeleneBoudreau

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2743065.Helene_Boudreau

 

 

Rachel Eugster on Books as Nourishment

Rachel10I’m happy to welcome Rachel Eugster to Good Books to Share. Both of our new books feature warm relationships between mothers and sons and were inspired by experiences we had with our own children. Rachel and I have attended writing conferences together where we commiserate and share inspiration.

Rachel Eugster wears two professional hats: one as a writer and editor, and the other as an actor, singer, and music director.

Rachel’s first picture book, The Pocket Mommy, was inspired by the day when she dropped her son off at kindergarten and he announced that he wished she was tiny enough to keep in his pocket all day. The book was released by Random House Canada (Tundra Books) in August, 2013.

Rachel is also the author of Beans and Other Pulses, Fruits, Grains and Cereals, Seeds and Nuts, and Vegetables, published by Franklin Watts as the Ingredients of a Balanced Diet series. As a magazine writer, her focus has been concentrated on food, healthy living, medical science, and interesting people. She has also written articles for children on such fascinating topics as horse communication, the Robotarium, ringtones for leopards, reawakening volcanoes, and exploding toads.

A former editor of Walking magazine, Rachel has edited nearly every form she can think of, from fiction to poetry to medical journals to architectural writings. She particularly enjoys editing the manuscripts of writers for children.

In Rachel’s parallel career, she is a founding member of the theatre company Bear & Co. (http://www.bearandcompany.ca/) and the ensemble Dragon’s Tea Trio (with cellist Joan Harrison and guitarist Andrew Mah).

Born in one national capital (Washington, D.C.), Rachel now lives in another (Ottawa, Ontario) with her husband, two sons (when they are home from university), two cats, and a greyhound.

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

That is as difficult as describing my first taste of solid food! Who remembers the first banana they tasted as a baby?

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What was your first taste of solid food like?

Books have been a constant, as far back as I can remember. They were companion, refuge, entertainment, distraction, sustenance.  There has always been one in my hand or within easy reach—and here is photographic evidence.

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Nothing like a little philosophy before bed.

I don’t remember being read to, although I’m quite sure I was. But I do vividly remember being taught to read by my mother, whose hand-lettered cards and brilliantly conceived phrases rewarded decoding with a nugget of humor.

Thus, I entered kindergarten one of two children who could read. In one of my only memories from that class, Miss Bucket held up the book she was about to read aloud, and asked the two of us if we would read the title to the class. Painfully shy, I wasn’t confident enough to speak, so the other child (worse: a boy!) got all the glory, and I spent the rest of the day kicking myself for looking like a fraud. Shyness goes deep, and books were everything to me, as they are for so many shy children.

One important early gift was Bulfinch’s Mythology, from my grandmother. She, too, was a writer, and often asked what books I was reading. It took her aback when, at age of 9, I asked for Bulfinch’s. Her only condition was that I read it. Needless to say, there was a teacher behind the wish: ours had been reading from it to my class.

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I kept my promise to my grandmother.

But I read everything and anything, and have never stopped reading children’s books. That’s less unusual for adults these days, but my mother used to say I was the only person she knew who read them “as if they were literature”!

Now that you are an adult, what are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?

I don’t remember many picture books from my own childhood, and reading to my own kids as a young mother led to wonderful discoveries. Both boys are in university, now, but I still have most of the collection we accrued. How can I get rid of Goodnight Moon? Blueberries for Sal? Grandfather Twilight? Bea & Mr. Jones? Perfect the Pig?

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As my sons grew older, I loved sharing books from my own past, as well as exploring the new things that were being published. We read everything, and even though they are very much children of the computer age, both of my sons still do.

The bedtime ritual of reading aloud that we established very early continued right up until my older son left for school. With four and a half years between the boys, it was sometimes a challenge to find things that would interest the whole family. Books from my past often came to the rescue: Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family, Tove Jansson’s Moonintroll books, Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, L. M. Boston, Madeleine L’Engle, Susan Cooper, James Thurber.

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Since my own book, The Pocket Mommy, came out last fall, I have also loved reading it to children in bookstores and libraries. Watching them sit entranced as I read, hearing them giggle in exactly the places that I think are funny—this is deeply fulfilling.

As an author visiting bookstores in cities far away from home, one of my best experiences so far occurred when a child who had just left the store pulled her mother back in so she could meet me—because she had recognized my book as one she loved from her school library. And this was only three months after it had been released!

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

Really, there’s only one tip to give: Read to them. Whenever you can. Wherever you can. Whatever you can.

Whenever means start reading to them when they’re really little—the earlier, the better. It also means read to them when they’re happy, when they’re fussy, when they’ve woken up or are about to go to sleep; whenever they ask, and at the drop of a hat.

Wherever means at home or away, snuggling in bed or while standing in lines, waiting in cars or sitting at the airport.

Whatever means anything and everything: Shakespeare, poetry, economics, history, mathematics, newspapers. Read them anything you love and believe in. Nothing you love will be too hard for them, as long as you are ready to answer questions.

Rachel8Rachel9

Also, be sure to read for your own pleasure, and be seen to be enjoying reading! Make sure it isn’t just newspapers and magazines, either. Let you kids know, by showing them, that you, too, like to read books, whether in print or electronic form.

Great advice! Thanks, Rachel.

Pocket Mommy

The Pocket Mommy is a perfect back-to-school choice.  What other books have you found helped to ease the transition back into the fall schedule? Share your suggestions below.

Connect with Rachel: 

Websites:

http://racheleugster.com/

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/223093/the-pocket-mommy-by-rachel-eugster

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/thepocketmommy?bookmark_t=page

https://www.facebook.com/rachel.eugster.1

Twitter: @RachelEugster

Don’t miss out! Want to get exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and tips from other children’s book creators? Sign up to Aimee’s newsletter below.

 

My Writing Process: On Sparks and Spreading Joy

Today’s post is part of the “My Writing Process” blog tour. I was invited to participate by Lisa Dalrymple. You can visit Lisa online at www.lisadalrymple.com and read her responses to the blog tour questions here: http://lisadalrymple.com/launch-of-book-cafe-writing-process-blog-tour/ My answers are below.

What are you working on?

At present, I am working on several picture books in various stages as well as an early chapter book.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Maybe the easiest way to answer this question is to highlight books that have been compared to my new one, Mama’s Day with Little Gray, and reflect on some similarities and differences. Liitle Gray 1Mama’s Day with Little Gray is a gentle, call-and-response book that features a curious little elephant and his mother. Little Gray asks his mama, “When I grow up, will you grow down?” Their conversation over the course of a day reveals Little Gray’s wish to be able to care for his mama when he grows up. He imagines what life would be like if their roles were reversed. Each interaction–snacking, swimming, finding pictures in the clouds–is overlaid by Little Gray’s wonderings and Mama’s reassurance of his competence.

Readers have told me that this book reminds them of The Runaway Bunny, Love You Forever, and Guess How Much I Love You? I’m honored by these associations because each book offers reassurance of a parent’s unconditional love.

There are subtle differences between these books and mine. Unlike The Runaway Bunny, Little Gray wants to stay close to his mama, and unlike Love You Forever, it is the child who takes centre stage as he imagines future connection with her. In Guess How Much I Love You?, Little Nutbrown Hare and his father enjoy a playful competition about whose love is bigger. Mama and Little Gray’s conversation focuses more on Mama’s affirmation of Little Gray’s dreams:

Mamas-Day-with-Little-Gray_Cover-HiRes“If I grew up and you were my calf,” said Little Gray, “I’d spend every day with you.”

“I would be your calf and stay right by your side,” said Mama . . . .

“I would be tall enough to reach the tastiest leaves, and I’d share them with you,” said Little Gray.

“You would be big,” said Mama. “And very kind.”

I hope I’ve captured something unique in the affirming nature of Mama and Little Gray’s conversation. I love hearing that the children and adults who read it together are able to celebrate anew their caring relationship.

Why do you write what you do?

Joy. There is real joy in celebrating healthy child-parent bonds and the everyday beauty and humor of human relationships. I feel a strong desire to notice and draw attention to what is good about our world.

The work of two individuals that I admire comes to mind.

The first is Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood fame. I didn’t discover the show until I was an adult. As my young daughter and I watched it together, I grew to appreciate the way that Fred Rogers respected children. He never talked down to them. He didn’t shirk difficult questions. However, he also pointed out the kindness, strength, and indomitable spirit of the many, many people who do good every day.

When giving advice on how to cope with large-scale disasters such as 911, Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” I want my work to be a tribute to this sort of enduring good.

The second person is writer and artist Nancy Tillman (author-illustrator of On the Night You Were Born). Her joyful, nurturing books celebrate the wonder of being alive and connected to one another. When asked what one message she would give to children, Nancy responded, “You are loved.” I like that. If I were to answer the same question, knowing that Nancy’s answer was taken, I think I would say this: “You are valuable.”

How does your writing process work?

Somewhat mysteriously.

I’m a checklist-lover, but I’ve realized that I can’t schedule inspiration. What I can do is create an environment where inspiration is likely to arrive. I’ll share a few of the stages of my writing process with this caveat: they don’t necessarily occur in linear order! My writing process is more like a dance than a march. I visit and revisit each stage several times for each piece of writing.

Creative spark: There is always a spark. Sometimes a new character wakes me up at night by whispering a few lines in my ear. Maybe I see a connection in a fresh way, and there is a hard-to-describe but goose-bump-producing recognition that this is my next story.

Idea generation: This stage looks a lot like daydreaming or napping or gazing out over a lake. Basically, I get quiet and listen for the story. Often it comes to me through the voice of a character.

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Drafting: Now is when I sit at the keyboard and type. For a while, I suffered under the notion that only this part of the process counted as actual writing, but I know now that’s not true. All stages feed into the others in a fluid process. The story sometimes takes surprising turns when I’m drafting. I’ve learned to be open to these swerves.

Revising: I revisit the piece and look for big picture issues. I usually need to set a piece aside before I gain enough distance to see it with fresh eyes. I send my manuscript to my trusted critique partners for their thoughts as well.

Polishing: Once I feel that the story is working, I look more carefully at all of its small pieces. I read it aloud and listen for the cadence of the lines. I search for more robust verbs and fuss over the placement of each word. I enjoy this part of the process.

Repeat as needed:

Once I’ve polished a manuscript (and sometimes re-polished, revised, and polished yet again several times), I send it off to my agent for his suggestions. If it sells, then I wait to hear how my editor would like the piece to be shaped. I do think that different perspectives can strengthen a work, and I want it to be at its highest sheen before it is sent out into the world to be read at story times.

I continue to be a student of my writing process. Sometimes I need to remind myself to trust each part of it. One thing I have definitely figured out is the importance of keeping a pen handy. Inspiration bubbles up at unexpected times.

Spark-makers

As I’ve chatted with booksellers, teachers, and librarians over the past while, I’ve  been reminded of the incredible gift you offer each time you place a good book in the hands of a child.

Beginner Books from Random House
Beginner Books from Random House

When I was young, the small town where I lived had no bookstore. Fortunately for me, my family subscribed to the Beginner Books Club from Random House. I can still remember the feeling of anticipation that swept over me as I gripped a new brown package in my hands. I could hardly wait to smell that new book smell and turn the first pages.

The sparks those books struck ignited in me a long-lasting love of reading that has never been quenched. Sparks form when two objects connect in just the right way. I think they provide an apt metaphor for what happens when we place the right book in the hands of the right child at the right time.

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from the Wikipedia Commons, photographer Gabriel Pollard

I still carry a sense of gratitude for the people who created those books and placed them in my hands. Someone wrote the words, perfected the font, and crafted the ad copy. Someone slid the books into their brown cardboard packages. Someone delivered them to my door. 

Now, as I enjoy those same books with my own children. I realize more deeply the power story has to connect us with one another. We truly are shaped by the stories we share. I can’t help but hope that my own book, Mama’s Day with Little Gray, will be similarly cherished. That it will remind the children and adults who read it together of all that is good and fun and nurturing about their relationships.

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copyright Laura J. Bryant

Because, yes, milk spills. Laundry piles up. Cereal gets ground into the floor. There is strife in the world, but there is also tenderness and beauty and caring that transform ordinary moments into extraordinary memories of connection. 

I realize that you may never fully know just how the work you do will change people’s lives. Perhaps yesterday you sold a bug book to a future world-renowned biologist. Maybe tomorrow you will chat with the next Dr. Seuss. It’s possible that today you will recommend a book to a mom whose relationship with her child will be forever shaped by that story she’ll read night after night.

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My basket of thank-you treats for booksellers at Random House

My wish for you is that you will feel a little of the joy and wonder that you create in the world as you foster connections that will brighten and warm people for generations to come. 

 

Extending Time Together Giveaway

Little-Gray-Water-Image2

A little while ago, I announced that I would be giving away children’s books and CDs in connection with the release of Mama’s Day with Little Gray. I offered three ways to enter:

1. Post a comment on the Time Together blog entry, which you can find here: Time Together.

2. Subscribe to my blog, Good Books to Share, which focuses on how sharing children’s books has enriched people’s lives. (See below for an update regarding this method.)

3. Subscribe to my newsletter, which features behind-the-scenes stories from the creators of children’s books.

Many of you have commented and subscribed. Thank you! I’m looking forward to staying in touch, and I plan to give away more gifts in the days to come.

Extended Deadline for Time Together Giveaway:

I recently made a discovery: when people subscribe to the blog via RSS feed, I have no way to reach them. If you are one of those people and you’d like to be eligible for this giveaway, please email me through the contact form on my website: (Click here to be taken to the contact form.)

Simply write Books and CDs in your message, and I’ll enter your name in the draw. I’ve extended the deadline for this giveaway another three weeks in order to accommodate this change. I didn’t want to leave anyone out!

I’ll be holding the draw on Monday, June 2, 2014.

Best wishes,

Aimee

 

Augusta Scattergood on Spinning Yarns and Freedom Summer

GBTS-Scattergood photo

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.

GBTS-Glory Be cover
Glory Be

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?
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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

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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

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