Dawn Prochovnic on Reading with Abandon + Two Giveaway Options (Including Manuscript Critique)

Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?; Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?; First Day Jitters, featured in the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud; and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored as a 2015 Oregon Library Supporter of the Year by the Oregon Library Association. She is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries and educational conferences, and the founder of SmallTalk Learning, which provides American Sign Language and early literacy education. Dawn loves to travel and has visited thousands of potties across the Pacific Northwest and around the world. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a feisty dog. Learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

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

What a great question, Aimee. I’m now flooded with positive memories of connecting with books as a child. I always had a supply of books at home, but my earliest book-related memories are associated with my Grandma Lynn. She lived in the upstairs apartment of a commercial building that housed the hair salon she owned and operated. Her building was on a busy street without a safe outside play area, so when I visited her (which was often), I listened to music (Sonny & Cher and Donny & Marie), and I read. I still have copies of a few of my most treasured picture books from that time. Two of those books, The Best Nest and A Fly Went By were likely rattling around in my brain when I wrote my book, The Nest Where I Like to Rest.

I also have positive memories of my elementary school teachers’ daily readings of beloved books such as, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Charlotte’s Web, and Harriet the Spy. One summer, I actually became Harriet the Spy … I carried my spy notebook with me everywhere so I could jot down my many observations.

Fifth grade was a particularly momentous year for me in terms of reading engagement. That was the year I earned the coveted Pleasure Reading Award in Mr. Snook’s 5th grade class. Mr. Snook ran a pleasure reading contest each year; the student who read the most books during the school year won the award. That school year, I started at one end of my school library and snaked my way around the room. I do not remember how many books I read or how far I got into the library’s shelves, but I do know that I read the most books of any student that year. 

Dawn’s reading award

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?

Reading books with kids is sincerely one of my favorite things to do. I first got the “reading to children bug” when I taught my younger sister how to read. I have a distinct memory of the evening I patiently worked with her until she “got it.” I remember the glee on her face and the excitement in her voice when, as if by magic, she suddenly understood how to sound out the letters and read the words on the page.

Fast forward to parenthood about two decades later, and some of my happiest memories involve reading to my own two children. When my daughter, now in college, was an infant, I held her on my lap and read to her for hours. I taught her how to communicate using basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs before she could communicate verbally, and I have clear memories of her vigorously signing MORE! as soon as each book ended. As she developed a stronger and stronger ASL vocabulary, she signed along with key words in the story, and she made signs that matched with the objects I’d point to in the illustrations.

Three years later, my son came along, and the three of us would sit together and read for hours. He was less gentle on books than my daughter was (I didn’t understand the purpose of board books until he came along!), but he still enjoyed reading. I started writing my first picture books when my son was an infant. My book, See the Colors, first came to me as a song. I worked out the rhymes and “verses” during tuck-in time. Each evening I would sit next to my daughter and scratch her back while I rocked my son and sang the verses of my story/song. As soon as the kids fell asleep, I would dash into the kitchen to write down whatever words/verses came to me that evening.

Shifting to group settings, I especially love reading stories that have some element of repetition and/or opportunity for participation. For example, in my story, The Big Blue Bowl, there is a repeating phrase: “Fill it up, fill it up, fill it up, I say. And my friends fill it up with me.” I absolutely love when a room full of kids (and their grown-ups!) join in on that repeating phrase as I read the book.

My college-aged daughter is currently the summer nanny for two 4 1/2 year-old twin boys. I have a soft spot for preschoolers, and these boys are no exception. This past week my daughter brought the boys to our house for a couple of hours for a visit. The last time she brought the boys for a visit was about a month ago, soon after I had received my Advanced Reader Copies for my forthcoming books, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? During that earlier visit, I read my forthcoming books to the boys. Imagine my delight when, upon their return to the house, they noticed the cover image for one of the two books sitting on the counter and called out the title by name, enthusiastically asking me to read them both books again … and again … Here’s hoping my test-market of two is a strong indication of how the books will do when they hit bookstores in the fall!

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

I have three main tips: 1) Take your child’s lead; 2) Lean into pleasure reading; 3) Read during non-traditional times.

Children will tell you what they want out of a reading experience. Many kids want to read a story over and over and over again. Indulge them. Some kids like to fast-forward to their favorite parts of the book and skip the rest. That’s A-Ok. Some kids want to stop reading before the story is over. That’s okay, too. Some kids really get into “their part” in the story. Some kids really, really love when the reader uses a variety of voices. Some kids memorize the words on the page and will call you out if you miss a word. Other kids are so enraptured with the illustrations that they don’t care much about the written story and instead want to read the visual story.

If you take your child’s lead in each of these circumstances, you will naturally flow into my second tip: Lean into pleasure reading. Let kids choose the books and genres that they want to read. Let kid re-read the books they love, over and over again. Let kids read books that are “not challenging enough” or “not sophisticated/literary/honorable/etc enough.” Reading is reading is reading is reading is reading. When a child finds the experience of reading pleasurable, they will more likely become readers for life vs. seeing reading as a chore.

Speaking of chores, please resist the temptation to categorize reading as a daily “chore” or task that a child must accomplish. I understand that reading logs and assignments come from good intentions, but in my experience these tools hurt young readers more than they help them. When reading is viewed as a required chore (that is coupled with the added task of writing down what was read), reading becomes less pleasurable. What if we re-framed reading as a reward: “Yay, you! You’ve earned 15 minutes of time to yourself to read whatever book you choose!” “Oh, lucky you! How many chapters (or books) did you get to read this past week?” “Turn to your table partner and tell him/her something amazing about the book you are currently reading…” Doesn’t that sound more fun than “You are required to read for at least 15 minutes each and every day, and you must log the title, author, genre, and number of pages read for each day …”

My third and last tip is to find ways to incorporate reading into nontraditional times of the day. We often think of reading with a child as something that we do at bedtime, but bedtime can be a hard time of the day to allow your child (and yourself) the pleasure of reading for long stretches of time. What about “bathtime stories?” Or “books on tape while we’re cooking dinner” stories? Or “Storytime while we’re waiting for the school bus to come…” Think outside of the box. Bedtime stories are great, but there are other parts of the day that might be more suitable for reading with wild abandon.

Thank you, Dawn, for these great suggestions and for sharing your childhood experiences with us. I, too, loved the book The Best Nest when I was young!

Giveaway: Dawn is offering two prize options if you are the winner of the giveaway. You can choose an advanced reading copy of either Where Does a Cowgilrl Go Potty or Where Does a Pirate Go Potty OR you can opt to receive a manuscript critique from Dawn! Just comment on this post to enter.  

Connect with Dawn:

Twitter: @DawnProchovnic

Instagram: @DawnProchovnic

Facebook: @DawnProchovnicAuthor

Web: https://www.dawnprochovnic.com/

Lizann Flatt on Loving the Language in Children’s Books

Lizann Flatt2smallIt’s a pleasure to welcome Lizann Flatt to Good Books to Share. When I walked in the door for my first retreat with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Lizann greeted me with a smile. Her gracious welcome set me at ease. I’m grateful for the leadership she showed in organizing that retreat and many other events for the Canada East Chapter of the SCBWI. 
 
Lizann is the author of many nonfiction books, short stories and poems for kids. Recent nonfiction picture book titles include Shaping Up Summer, Sizing Up Winter, Sorting Through Spring, Counting on Fall, and Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here. Her work has also appeared in Ladybug, Babybug, and Highlights for Children magazines. Lizann was formerly the editor of Chickadee magazine. Today she lives in rural Muskoka, Ontario with her husband and three children.
 
Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?
My parents read to me at bedtime, and I loved that. Partly my good memories are from the together time, me tucked under a cozy blanket in bed, but it was also the way the stories sounded. I loved the language of them. I loved memorizing the stories and knowing what was coming on the next page. I loved thinking about the stories as I tried to fall asleep. Today I still keep a few of the books I had as a child on my bookshelf. I only have to open them to bring back memories of my early love of rhythm, rhyme, and story.
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What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?
 
I think my favourite thing about sharing books with kids is the way the book can spark discussion or questions or connections. When I do school visits with my Math in Nature series I hear about the squirrels kids have in their backyards, or how they saw milkweeds. When I share my Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here kids tell me about the transportation vehicles they use or like best. One boy even told me about how he came here to Canada on a boat just like in my book. I think those connections are terrific. It shows kids that reading and books are connected with our lives.
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Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.
 
I’ve always been glad I followed the advice I’d heard and began reading to my kids when they were babies. As in as soon as they were old enough to sit up in my lap, I read them short nursery rhymes or board books. And I read them aloud with feeling and drama like I really enjoyed them—because I did. Then, as they grew, I’d let my kids touch the pages—okay gnaw on the pages sometimes—and then help me turn the pages. Even my fidgety firstborn would sit through a whole board book and then later longer stories. For all my kids, once they voiced an opinion I’d let them choose the story we’d read. If they wanted more than one, they got to choose one and I chose one. Once they wanted to read chapter books or middle grade novels, I let them take the lead on what we’d read. That’s not to say I didn’t have suggestions, but if my suggestion didn’t grab them after a couple of pages, we moved on to something else. I always wanted reading at home to be fun. Now that they’re teenagers I can say, “Mission accomplished.”

 

How about you? What childhood books contained language that you loved?

Good news! Those who comment on this post will be entered in a draw for two of Lizann’s books. First, I am giving away a copy of Counting on Fall. Also, Lizann is donating a signed copy of Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Herewhich was selected by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to be given to every Grade One student in Canada in the TD Grade One Book Giveaway. 

To be eligible for even more giveaways by wonderful children’s illustrators and authors, sign up below for Aimee’s newsletter. 

 

Check out Lizann’s books:
CountingOnFall_cover_large - Copysizing up winter - Copy (2)sorting through springshaping up summerLet's Go
Visit Lizann 

Toni Buzzeo on Libraries and Disneyland

Toni Head Shot Trimmed

It’s a treat to have the warm and talented Toni Buzzeo visit Good Books to Share. Toni and I share a love of baby elephant stories. Just as Mama’s Day with Little Gray features a warm relationship between a mama and her son, Toni’s book My Bibi Always Remembers depicts a baby elephant and grandmother. 

Toni was a high school and college writing teacher before she became a children’s librarian. Since she began to write for children in 1995, Toni has written 19 books for children and 11 books for professionals. Among these is the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book One Cool Friend.

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

What a lucky girl I was! I was born into a family of women who loved to read. I have wonderful memories of my Grandma Mae reading to me and talking about books with me. Those conversations opened a door for a shy child like I was, as you can see in this photograph.

In addition to the pleasure of being snuggled up next to my grandmother’s side with a book opened on our laps, I had the pleasure of accompanying my mother or grandmother to the public library every week. We always returned with an enormous stack of picture books.

Toni and Grandma Mae Reading

Luckier still, when I was 8 years old, my town built a branch library just three and a half blocks from my house. For me, that was like Disneyland appearing in my neighborhood! I read my way through all of the children’s novels and the young adult alcove before graduating, at 13, to the adult books.

My life as a reader started at my grandma’s side and in my town’s libraries, and it has never flagged.

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?

Perhaps it was those many early experiences in libraries that led me onto my professional path, but I grew up to be a librarian! So, for me, sharing books with kids was my life’s work for many, many years. I started as a children’s librarian at a local public library and moved on to become a teaching librarian in school libraries. In both settings, I was always eager to share stories with my students.

A particular memory that still delights me is reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus to my students. No matter what time of day, if I student walked by my desk with that book in his or her hand, I jumped up, asked him/her to hand over the book, settled the kids around me, and launched into a raucous and lively reading of the book, complete with student-chorus.

Dawdle Duckling high resSea Chest high res

How special it was, then, when my own books began to be published. (I continued to work as a librarian for my first two years after publication). Sharing my OWN books with my students was such a treasure. I remember a class of fourth graders quizzing me about the decisions I made in the plot of my first book, The Sea Chest (still in print a dozen years later) and the little kindergartner who picked up the rubber-banded f&g (folded and gathered copy) of Dawdle Duckling and asked, “Mrs. Buzzeo, how many copies of this book do you have to SEW TOGETHER?”

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

What a pleasure it is to share my books now with enormous numbers of kids at school visits and reading festivals! My favorite way to share books is through puppets. I have a full complement of puppets for all of the characters of my books: Stay Close to Mama, No T. Rex in the Library, and Little Loon and Papa. I ask adults/teachers to select the actors for me (describing for each whether they will have lines to speak or special attitudes or actions) and then I read the book to the larger group and sneak up behind each puppeteer and whisper their lines or needed actions. The kids love it, the teachers and/or parents love it, and most of all, I love the fun of bringing my stories to life on the stage!

Little Loon cover 3x2.5notrexcoverlargeStay Close To Mama Cover-Large (1)

So whether you are a teacher, a librarian, or a parent, start building sets of puppets (even finger puppets work with small groups) to accompany the stories you share!

Thanks, Toni! How about you? What fabulous memories of libraries do you cherish?

Connect with Toni through her website: website: http://www.tonibuzzeo.com/HOME.html

Bibione cool friendLighthouse Christmas

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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.

VeroBeachReading

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.

Rachel2
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.

Rachel1
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.

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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

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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. 

 

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?)

Katy did

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. 

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

Don’t miss out! For upcoming news about First Book Canada events, sign up for Aimee’s newsletter below. You’ll also hear from authors and illustrators first hand about their meaningful experiences of sharing good books with children.   

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.

 

 

Jen Arena Shares About A Lifelong Love of Children’s Books

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© Meredith Zinner Photography

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.