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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Close up of painting in progress on my desk

 

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

Check out Rebecca’s work:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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


Connect with Rebecca: 

Website: http://rebeccabender.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittleStRebecca

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

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

Expanding Horizons

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

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

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

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

Parnassus Books

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

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

Bethany Beach Books

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

Chapters Burlington

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

Aimee's phone May 10-2014 596

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

 

 

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

 

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.

Aimee-Reid-Book-Launch-2-high res

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

Little Gray Time Together image cropped2
© 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.