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.

 

 

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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.   

 

Rob Sanders Shares about the Sweetness of Knowledge

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Rob Sanders is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He’s also a natural storyteller who keeps his friends laughing.

Rob and I met at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles a few summers ago. Since then, we have been friends and critique partners. I’m delighted that Rob is the first author to be featured on Good Books to Share.

 

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

I don’t have memories of my parents reading aloud to me, but they took me, my brother, and my sister to libraries frequently. Our church had a large library and often sponsored reading contests, and our family frequented the public library in our hometown. My sister and I have realized as adults that a mother with three kids in a hot, un-air conditioned house in the summers of the 1960s might have had ulterior motives for taking her kids to the library (for instance: air conditioning and other adults who frequently said, “Shhhhh!”), but whatever the motive, my parents instilled a love of books in me early on.

My most vivid memory of being read to as a child was in third grade. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Henley, began on the first day of school to read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder to our class—one chapter at a time. We would beg for more as we sat around her chair on a rug in the front of the classroom, but she stuck to her guns, and only read that one chapter a day. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait for the next day’s installment.

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When we finished with that book, Mrs. Henley planned a field trip for our class (the first field trip I remember). On a Saturday, with the help of our parents, Mrs. Henley took the class 60 miles from our home in Springfield, Missouri to Mansfield, Missouri. There we toured the home and museum of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We saw Pa’s fiddle, Ma’s teapot, and Laura’s handwritten manuscripts. Soon everyone in the class was rushing to check out Laura’s other books. I read the entire series that school year.

By the way, when I was in my hometown for a book signing last year, who do you think stood in line for an autograph? Mrs. Henley. Forty-five plus years after listening to her reading in class, Mrs. Henley purchased my book to read to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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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?

One of my elementary ed courses was a Kiddie Lit class. We learned about children’s literature, developed techniques for reading aloud to children, and even wrote, illustrated, and bound our own children’s books. I’ve used those lessons in every job I’ve had since then—first as a religious education director in churches, then as an editor and educational consultant, and now as a school teacher. (Yes, my work life has come full circle, and I’m  back in the classroom.)

What I enjoy most about reading to children is creating experiences—memorable and meaningful events that make a lasting impression on children. I remember a few years ago I read Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco to my class of fourth graders. There’s a recurring line in the book—“Honey is sweet, and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book.”

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After reading the powerful story to my students, I closed the book, and picked up a bottle of honey. I stepped to the closest child and squirted a dab on honey on her finger. As the golden honey sat on her index finger, I said, “Honey is sweet . . .”, and the child spontaneously replied, “. . . and so is knowledge.” Emotions flooded through me as I looked at my student and continued, “. . . Chase it through the pages of a book.” Then she licked the sweet honey from her finger.

The process continued from child-to-child, with each student replying, “. . . and so is knowledge.” When I had gone to every student, we sat silently on the carpet (an unusual occurrence in a fourth grade classroom). No one wanted the moment to end or the magical spell to be broken.

Throughout the school year, when learning became difficult or morale sagged, I would say, “Honey is sweet,” and my students would reply, “and so is knowledge.” Then we could chase after knowledge a bit more.

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

Read what you love. Only read books to children that you truly love yourself. Your authenticity will shine through, and children will have the opportunity to not only connect with a book but with you, the reader.

Read dramatically. Reflect the pacing of the story through the pacing of your reading. Let your voice become a whisper, a roar, a chortling laugh to correspond with the emotions of the book. Change your accent, your inflection, and your facial expressions to match the story and its characters.

Read with emotion. Young children are learning to read words. Then students start to read for meaning. But the all-important component of reading for emotional impact and satisfaction is not something easily taught. It has to be modeled.

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Once, after a read aloud, a student said, “Mr. Sanders, that was like a movie in my head. How did you know that book was supposed to sound like that?” The question itself was more valuable than any answer I could give. My challenge to that student and his classmates was for them to begin to let texts become so real to them that they could read and make others see movies in their heads.

Thanks, Rob!

How about you? Do you have good memories of a teacher who read to you? If so, share a comment below. 

If you’re looking for a rip-roarin’, merry-makin’ Christmas movie to play in your head this season, you can’t go wrong with Rob’s book Cowboy Christmas. Click here to see more!

Watch for Rob’s new books: Outer Space Bedtime Race (coming from Random House Children’s Books, Spring 2015) and Ruby Rose On Her Toes (coming from HarperCollins, Winter 2016).

Connect with Rob:

Web site: www.robsanderswrites.com
Blog: wwws.robsanderswrites.blogspot.com
Twitter: RobSandersWrite
Facebook: RobSandersWrite

Don’t miss out! If you’d like to receive more of Rob’s great ideas for sharing good books with kids, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below. He’ll be sharing some cowboy cookin’, cowboy writin’, and even musical and theatre ideas!  

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.

Beginner Books from Random HouseBeginner Books from Random House

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.