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