Sue Todd: Bookworm and Illustrator

Sue Todd is a freelance illustrator whose work encompasses retail design and children’s books. Her images can be seen not only in books but also packaging, posters, tshirts, a tv commercial, and a bus!

Sue enjoys linocarving, which is an ancient printmaking technique. Read on for a glimpse of her process.

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

I have memories of being very young and poring over the pages of fairytale collections, paying special attention to the pictures, of course! I always judged a book by its cover, and my favourite gift under the Christmas tree was usually a book. I still remember the feeling of excitement at opening a new one.

My parents encouraged reading, and I spent a lot of time at the library exploring the shelves, looking for just the right picture books. My favourites were The Cat in the Hat and The Little Engine That Could. I remember the suspense of watching Thing One and Thing Two make a mess as Mom’s ankles approached the house, and the Little Engine That Could continues to be a philosophical inspiration. I loved the Narnia series, Alice in Wonderland and any fantasy and mystery stories, including Nancy Drew.

Sue’s studio bookshelf

I volunteered at the school library to get first crack at the new books, so I guess you could call me a book worm. I still remember one incident from Brownies when we had a Christmas gift exchange. I had carefully selected a book that I really wanted to read, and my gift exchange partner gave me a book of Lifesavers. Seriously, it was a selection of different flavours of Lifesaver candies inside a cardboard book! My friend and I were equally dismayed with our gifts and agreed to trade back, so I ended up with the book I wanted after all. 🙂

I wish I had kept the book series I wrote and illustrated around age twelve, The Adventures of Horace the Hippopotamus. It was just a Babar knock-off, but my younger sisters found it entertaining.

Can you tell us a little bit about your process of making art for children’s books?

Every book begins in my sketchbook where I scribble ideas and develop characters. Once I have established the look, I create a small dummy, about half size, to keep a consistency and flow throughout the story. After approval of rough sketches, I begin my final art process.

My technique is linocut, which is a form of relief printmaking similar to woodcut. The medium is linoleum just like the flooring material but without the finish. With relief printing you carve away the bits you don’t want and whatever is left will be the image that is rolled with ink and printed on paper. I have a table-top press for smaller images and use an old fashioned burnisher and lots of muscle for larger pieces. The black and white print is then scanned and coloured in Photoshop.

I like the combination of analog and digital technologies and enjoy each stage of the process for different reasons. The sketching stage is most creative and requires quiet concentration whereas the carving stage is more meditative, like knitting. The colouring stage is sheer fun and takes me back to kindergarten.

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

Although I have illustrated many things including educational picture books, my first trade book was released only last year. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito is a wonderful play by Tomson Highway published by Fifth House/Fitzhenry & Whiteside. My second trade book was released in March. I look forward to sharing An African Alphabet with pre-schoolers. It was written by Eric Walters and published by Orca Books.

Thanks, Sue, for sharing your process with us! I wish I could read The Adventures of Horace the Hippopotamus. 

Have a look at Sue’s new books:

Sue has a new book coming out with Eric Walters in the fall of 2018. It’s called The Wild Beast. Be sure to watch for it! 

How about you? Which illustrations intrigued you as a child?

Post a comment on this blog, and your name will be entered in a draw for a personally inscribed copy of Sue’s newest book, An African Alphabet? This book will be a lovely addition to a toddler’s library. I’ll draw the winning name on September 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 Sue: 

Website: www.suetodd.com

Facebook: SueToddIllustration

Twitter: @SueTodd20

 

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.

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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/

Jennifer Mook-Sang Shares about Books as Companions—Plus a Giveaway!

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What a pleasure to host Jennifer Mook-Sang on Good Books to Share. Jennifer lives and writes for children in a luxurious garret in Burlington, Ontario. She is the author of multi-award-nominated SPEECHLESS, an enormously popular novel for ages 8 to 12. Her picture book CAPTAIN MONTY (who is terrified of the water. Shhh, don’t tell anyone) will set sail in the fall of 2017. In the meantime, Jennifer is working on a follow-up to SPEECHLESS while trying to ignore the siren call of the bag of Cheezies in the cupboard.

 

 

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

I grew up mostly left to my own devices. My parents worked in the shop below our living quarters and books were my constant companions. I still have some of my Enid Blyton adventures, and Girls Annuals. There was a set of books called The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls in our home, a compendium of stories ranging from nursery rhymes, to folk tales and stories from history. I devoured the nine volumes (I recently purchased a replacement set), along with hundreds of comics that my dad let my sister and me buy from the bookstore. One of my favourite memories is a rare quiet evening, sitting in bed with my parents while they read their own books. Dad loved westerns, Zane Grey and Max Brand. Mom read grown-up comics about romance. I loved the cosiness of snuggling beside them and feeling warm and peaceful.

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These are The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls. Re-reading these books has been like meeting up with a beloved old friend.

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

From the time they could sit in our laps, my husband and I read to our boys before bedtime. Once, when it was my turn to read, my husband stopped in the doorway to ask me a question. While I answered him, our two-year-old decided that we’d spent too long chatting and hit the book in my hands with a determined fist, demanding, “Wead, wead!” We loved our reading routine. Reading books with my boys gave us lots to talk about, and our best moments were the times we laughed out loud or gasped at the unexpected. We still enjoy sharing books with each other, though I don’t read to them anymore.

Here are a few of our favorite books:

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

I think the best way to share good books with children is to leave books in plain view where they can be found and explored. Young children should have free access to books that they can bang with, chew on, and look at. Older ones should have lots of different books and be allowed to choose what they want to read or to have read to them. And, at least once a day, make them sit and read to them, even when they can read to themselves. Don’t stop till they push you out of the door and bar it from the inside. Talk about the stories. Ask questions. Wonder what would have happened if . . . . Reading builds language, empathy, and satisfies the wonder of curiosity.

Thanks, Jennifer!

What about you? What books did you love to read aloud?

Special offer: Comment on this post, and you could win a personally inscribed copy of Jennifer’s novel Speechless. It would make a wonderful gift for that middle-grader on your holiday list. I’ll draw a name from those who comment, and the book will be shipped to the winner’s door. 

Sign up to Aimee’s newsletter below for more giveaways and to receive inside information about the making of children’s books from the authors and illustrators themselves.   

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Connect with Jennifer:

website: http://jennifermooksang.com/

book trailer: https://vimeo.com/166207543

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifermooksang1

twitter: https://twitter.com/jennymooksang

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26011058-speechless

 

 

Daydreaming on Paper with Arree Chung

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Arree Chung is a children’s book illustrator and author. He has worked at Pixar and in the games industry as a designer and art director. Arree and I share an agent in Rubin Pfeffer: www.rpcontent.com. It’s my pleasure to host him on Good Books to Share today.

 

 

 

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

My parents were new immigrants and were struggling to learn the English language themselves, so I don’t recall reading a lot of picture books when I was young. I do remember Dr. Suess’s bold colors in his books.

I was more of a late reader. I loved Shel Silverstien’s books of poems. Where the Sidewalk Ends is probably my favorite. I became an avid reader in middle school. My favorite books were James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (practically anything from Ronald Dahl) and Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. Those books engaged my imagination. I don’t think I’ve stopped dreaming ever since.

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Arree’s vibrant art

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?

The best feeling I have as an artist is seeing kids’ faces light up when they see your work. You can see their imaginations kick into gear. When I present, I make sure to show them how a book just starts with an idea. I call it “daydreaming on paper.” Sharing good books is so important because it engages the imagination—and if you can imagine something, then you can make anything happen. I love this quote by Albert Einstein: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

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Some of Arree’s daydreaming on paper

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

I think a common mistake grown ups have in sharing books with kids is trying to share books that “teach a lesson.” Many books that teach a lesson do so in a heavy-handed way and are just not fun books.
 
Kids are just like adults. Or perhaps, rather, we’re a lot like kids in bigger bodies. Anyhow, we don’t like being told what to do, and we’re all different. Matching the right book to a kid is about understanding what the kid likes or what that child may be going through. Of course, there are those few books that just strike a chord with practically everyone because they are so magical.
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classic moment from Ninja!

I love the idea of daydreaming on paper. Your daydreams have produced some delightful books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today, Arree.

Good news! Arree is giving away a signed copy of Ninja to one person who comments on this blog. What a fun book to share with a child you love! I’ll draw the winning name on Saturday, July 25.

For more giveaways from top-notch authors and illustrators, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below.

Check out Arree’s picture books:

 

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Visit Arree at his website for activity and coloring pages based on Ninja!

Website: www.arree.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/arree.chung

Twitter: www.twitter.com/arreechung

 

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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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?
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. 

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.