This coming weekend, I, along with most of my Booklights cohorts, will be participating in the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, a gathering of children's book bloggers and other interested parties. I'm expecting the conference to be a huge success (the conference organizer is Booklights' own Pam Coughlan, after all). I'm looking forward to chatting face to face with people I usually only "see" across the keyboard, some of whom (like Terry Doherty) I'll be meeting in person for the first time. I'm also looking forward to having discussions with other bloggers, and with authors and publishers, about books, blogging, and the nature of reviewing.
A session that may be of interest to the Booklights community is a panel session that I'll be hosting at the end of the conference. It's called: "Coming Together, Reaching Out, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy and the Reading Message". Panelists include:
Here's a quick intro to the panel: "Here in the Kidlitosphere, we blog because we love books, and because we want to share that love and inspire the joy of reading in families, kids, and teens. In this panel, Ernestine, Gina, Pam, Terry, and I will be talking about some of the many ways that people from within the Kidlitosphere have banded together to connect with the larger community and spread the joy of reading."
I've put together a handout containing links to resources that I expect to be discussed during the panel, as well as some links to additional resources from around the Kidlitosphere and the online children's literacy community. I thought that I would share those links here, in case any of you who can't attend the conference might find them useful. (Everyone is welcome at the conference, by the way - there are a few spots still open - see here for details).
Resources Mentioned by Panelists:
Other Kidlitosphere Links:
Other Literacy Blog Links:
Of course I read many other children's and young adult book blogs, and many other literacy-related blogs. But these should get you started. There's also a nice sampler set of Kidlitosphere blogs available at Kidlitosphere Central.
I hope to see some of you at the conference! If you can't make it, and you have questions for our panel, just let me know in the comments. I'll let you know how the panel session goes.
One Naked Baby
by Maggie Smith
This colorful, playful, lively counting book follows the adventures of one toddler baby through his day, starting with running from the bath and going outside, and counting down from playing outside to ending up back in the bath after a muddy outing. This is a simple and cute book to share with a little one.
Ha Ha, Baby!
by Kate Petty, illustrated by Georgie Birkett
“Today, our baby is not laughing. Not a hint of a dimple or a glimmer of a smile, but a face like thunder!” Though everyone in the family tries to get the baby to smile with tickling and peek-a-boo, bubbles and tricks, the baby won’t smile. Even the dachshund on the unicycle doesn’t work, and we all know how funny wiener dogs are. But when the older brother challenges baby to a staring contest with absolutely no laughing, the baby smiles, chuckles, and laughs. The pictures are have a gentle cartoon quality with soft lines and bright colors. There’s only one thing that I don’t get: What’s with all the costumes on the characters? I mean, the grandma is a fairy princess, the grandpa is a pirate, and there’s no explanation. Though I have to admit the outfits do make the book a little more fun. Great storybook for the preschool set.
written by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Carll Cneut
A counting book set in the city, where a baby sleeps through all the noise and busyness around her/him. Bright and detailed pictures make this a fun counting book with city themes dump trucks, taxi horns, and such. The art is on one side of the page, all lively and sometimes silly (notice the dog on the cell phone for nine annoying cell phones ringing.) On the other page, the text and a simple sketch of the baby’s sleeping face (line eyes with lashes, curved lines for nose and mouth, dots for freckles, and sometimes a curl). A fun title that would be especially perfect for city kids.
"Here we go round the mulberry bush, / The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush; / Here we go round the mulberry bush, / On a cold and frosty morning."
On your next jaunt to the library, add Here Comes Mother Goose to your list. Young children will love thumbing through the pages of this big, beautiful book of nursery rhymes. Some of the poems, like the one above, may be familiar to parents and caregivers, but Here Comes Mother Goose also includes some lesser-known (at least to me) gems:
"My Aunt Jane, / She came from France, / To teach to me the polka dance; / First the heel, / And then the toe, / That's the way / The dance should go."
Published ten years ago by Candlewick, the handsomely illustrated classic is still available at online booksellers and, of course, at public libraries. Rosemary Wells, of Max and Ruby fame, is the artist, and many of the colorful pictures, bustling with funny animal characters, take up a whole page. (The large print is especially easy on the eyes, too.) The children's literature expert Iona Opie compiled the rhymes.
Wells and Opie also collaborated on My Very First Mother Goose (1996) and Mother Goose's Little Treasures (2007).
Jyl from Mom it Forward picks P.D. Eastman's classic picture book "Are You My Mother?" This 50-year-old tale follows a newly hatched baby bird as he tries to find his mother, asking several different animals.
Jyl says, "When my oldest was a baby, I read him Are You My Mother? every day. I focused on intonation. He loved how I'd raise and lower my voice and make interesting sounds. It's still one of his favorite books six years later."
What books have been your children's favorites year after year?
With some help from Terry Doherty, I have been saving up recent children's literacy news with an emphasis on raising readers. I hope that you find these articles useful!
Terry found a nice little article at YourBabyGuide.com by Jennifer about how it's never to early to start focusing on children's literacy. She offers "a list of ways to help your small children become more effective readers." I liked: "Read everywhere - make reading a fundamental part of your children's lives. Have them help you read menus, point out road signs, read game directions, weather reports, movie and television time listings, and other practical everyday information. Also, make sure they always have something to read in their spare time when they could be waiting for appointments or riding in a car." [Image credit: photo by Taliesin, shared via MorgueFile.]
Education World's Wireside Chat recently featured an interview with Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, about cultivating young readers. While the article is aimed at teachers, I think that parents can benefit from reading Donalyn's thoughts on learning to read, boys and reading, and the importance of kids reading every day. This part especially resonated for me (on why Donalyn thinks that fewer children are reading for pleasure these days): "Children do not realize that the same story arcs they love in television programs, movies, and video games exist in books. Schools do a good job of teaching children how to read, but provide little motivation for students to read outside of school. Reading becomes a school task for many children, not an activity they enjoy."
Of course one of the major tips for parents to encourage young readers it to read aloud to them. Via a tweet from Mitali Perkins (first discovered by Terry), I found a wonderful "how to" resource by Mem Fox (author of Reading Magic), complete with audio examples. Here's a snippet: "Reading aloud is an art form in which the eyes and voice play important parts. Here are a few hints about how to make the most of both, as well as some general advice on how to read all stories aloud in a more entertaining manner."
At Literacy Launchpad, Amy wrote recently about the importance of reading role models, including but not limited to parents. She offers concrete and enthusiastic suggestions, like "Encourage others' children to read, not only your own. We need to be role models for many! Ask your children's friends what they're reading. Volunteer to read at your child's school. Host storytime playdates. Be seen reading!" I always like to think of myself as a reading role model, don't you?
At Great Kids Books, librarian Mary Ann Scheuer reviews a brand new book for parents by Diane Frankenstein: Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read. Mary Ann says: "Reading Together explains that it is through reading for pleasure that children will read more, enjoy reading and become better readers. The first step for parents is to help your child find books that they enjoy and can read successfully - a book that is at their reading level and one that engages them." I haven't seen this book yet myself, but it certainly sounds like a resource worth checking out. She recommends it for parents of four to 12 year olds.
I linked earlier to Susan Stephenson's two-part series about Literacy in the Playground. Recently, Susan published Part 3 at the Book Chook. After recapping several chanting and clapping games, Susan says: "Kids are hot-wired to enjoy play. The motivational factor involved in games with accompanying chants, means that children will repeat them many times. This allows language to become internalized. Judging by the looks on the faces of people I've asked about these games, and the tone of their emails, adults remember them very fondly. The words stay with us (in my case!) for an amazing number of years."
For parents interested in encouraging middle school and high school readers, Cathy Puett Miller has some suggestions at Parents and Kids Reading Together. Cathy specifically addresses the laments of parents whose children used to love reading, and don't anymore. She says: "Certainly you can't expect that 13 or 15 year old to want to sit with you and read like they did when they were small. But you can keep whetting his/her appetite for reading by exposing your young person to reading materials (books, magazines, Internet sites, how-to manuals, vacation brochures, etc.) that connect to his interests." She offers several concrete tips.
I also found an article by Pam Krueger in the Bismarck Tribune about the decline in reading skills among adolescents. Although the article talks primarily about schools, Kruger concludes with recommendations for parents. She says: "School is not the only place where literacy can be the focus. There also are things that parents can do to improve literacy in adolescent children. Continue doing the things that help younger children blossom into readers, such as modeling reading, providing an assortment of reading materials that adolescents enjoy, encouraging daily reading, make reading a part of the family's everyday life, and continuing to read out loud to older children."
I'll have more children's literacy news in this week's children's literacy and reading news roundup (prepared by Terry and me) at my personal blog. What about you all? Have you run across any recent posts or news stories aimed at helping parents to grow bookworms? I would love to hear about them.
1. National Book Festival
I packed my pockets with tissues and cough drops, and went to the National Book Festival on a chillly, rainy day certain to exacerbate my cold. Totally worth it. The fifth grader and I went to the Mo Willems signing, while the teens tried for Rick Riordan's autograph waiting in a line that defied description. After missing out on his signature, the teens went to his author session early to make sure they didn't miss that too. The fifth grader and I went to see Mo Willems' presentation.
My daughter was picked to go up on stage and read/act the book Today I Will Fly, with her as Piggie, Mo's daughter Trixie as the dog, and Mo as Gerald the elephant! My heart was bursting with pride as my daughter turned in a wonderful performance for a packed house, and now we can't wait to see the webcast on the National Book Festival site.
The whole bunch of us also saw Jeff Kinney, who was delightful, funny and truly humble, and Rick Riordan, who shared the news of his upcoming books. Patrick Carmon talked about his new titles along with The 39 Clues Series. Judy Blume held the crowd mesmerized just by being there. My whole story is available in at MotherReader in two parts.
2. Banned Book Week
With everything I've got on my plate this week, I've let others carry the online efforts for Banned Book Week. Fortunately, they've done a wonderful job. While a Wall Street Journal op-ed questioned whether you can even call a book banned in this country, Colleen Mondor wrote a reply at Chasing Ray that amounts to the world's most eloquent Yes. My good friend Lee Wind has a exceptional two-part interview with authors of challenged books. A letter posted last year at MyLiBlog (and tweeted by Neil Gaiman this year) offers an incredible answer to a patron who wanted a picture book removed from a public library. I also can't help returning to the Banned Books Week manifesto, a jarring poem of Ellen Hopkins, "Burn every word to ash. Ideas are incombustible."
3. The Cybils
Nomination season has begun for the 2009 Cybils, also known as the Children's and Young Adult Blogger's Literary Awards. If you have a children's or teen book that you loved that was published in 2009, you can nominate it at the Cybils site. You can submit one book per genre, and nominations are accepted from today through October 15th. At that point, a panel for each genre reads, analyzes and discusses the books to come up with a shortlist of finalists on January 1, 2010. Then a second round of judges take those books and in the course of a month an a half come up with a winner for each category. With all the genres and judges and rounds, the Cybils involves many bloggers in the KidLit and Young Adult online communities making it a festival season for book lovers. This year I'll be the organizer and a panelist for the Fiction Picture Book category, so I'll be bringing you lots of the best picture books over the next few months. Of course, you don't have to look just to me. Check out the Cybils page for reviews of great titles across the genres.