When I opened my Email on Tuesday to find Gina' invitation to be a guest author at Booklights, I was giddy. What an honor it is for me not only to be a Booklights blogger, but also to rub (virtual) elbows with the women I consider my blogging mentors and idols.
As you might expect, I love books and have been a lifelong reader. It wasn't until my daughter was born, almost eight years ago, that I rediscovered children's books. More specifically, that special daily connection with my daughter over a story (or two or three). Ironically enough, I don't have any memories of listening to bedtime stories. My first reading memories come from trips to the library. I remember my elementary school library exactly. If the school still existed, I could take you straight to where the Lois Lowry books were! Ditto the Encyclopedia Brown books in the Arbutus branch of the Baltimore County Public Library.
My dad is the book lover, and nearly every room in the house has at least a handful of books. My mom has never been a big reader - though she'll read the newspaper or pick up a magazine. My brothers, like my mom, have always taken a more functional approach to reading: we read because we need to. My brothers didn't like it, and at times they struggled, but they knew it must be important because Mom and Dad said we needed to do it!
Each of those reading personalities are never far from my mind, whether I'm helping a new reader or thinking about the "ideal reader" for a book I just finished reading. Those same experiences are the underpinnings of the Reading Tub, a children's literacy nonprofit I launched in 2003. Learning to read begins at home, so our goal is to help adults engage kids with books even before they recognize their letters.
Literacy and paying forward a love of reading is a rewarding vocation for me. I love volunteering as a reading mentor and sharing news, book reviews, and reading ideas at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, the Reading Tub's blog. While I'm here at Booklights, I will share ideas for helping developing readers; ways to use classroom strategies at home; tips for exploring (or exploiting) the library; and a book recommendation or two. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, too.
Greetings, Booklights readers! What fun it is to be visiting here over the next few weeks. I love talking about books and reading. Here's a little bio:
Susan Thomsen writes about children's books at her blog, Chicken Spaghetti, which she named after a favorite Southern casserole. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker in the Goings On About Town section, and later reviewed New York theater for an online city guide. She is the author of Elvis: A Tribute to the King, a gift book in the shape of a record. A member of the Authors Guild and PEN American Center, Susan lives in Connecticut with her husband, 10-year-old son, and various pets, including an orange tabby cat, two chickens, and a garter snake named Snakey. Her latest favorite children's book is The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, and she is thrilled to be guest-blogging for Booklights.
What's your latest favorite kids' book?
Terry Doherty is the founder of The Reading Tub, a nonprofit "that promotes literacy by encouraging families to read together", and provides hundreds of family-friendly book reviews for kids 0 to 13. Terry is also the founder of Share a Story - Shape a Future, a cross-blog "venue to share ideas and celebrate everything reading has to offer our kids." [Share a Story logo created by Elizabeth O. Dulemba.] Next year's Share a Story - Shape a Future event will be held March 8th to 14th. This past year, Terry and I have been working together on weekly Children's Literacy and Reading New round-ups, which alternate between our two blogs (for example, here). Like the Booklights team, Terry has a strong passion for helping parents and teachers to encourage kids to love books.
This week, Terry as kind enough to interview Gina, Susan, Pam, and me about Booklights on the Reading Tub's blog, Scrub-a-Dub-Tub. She rolled our responses into a combination profile and roundtable interview that covers everything from how Booklights began to where we'd like to go in the future. The interview even touches on Susan's and my excellent experience at last year's Newbery/Caldecott banquet, and Pam's personal quest for mental telepathy. We hope that you'll take a few minutes to check out the full interview, and tell us what you think.
What I think is that I am very much looking forward to meeting Terry face-to-face at the upcoming Kidlitosphere Conference in October. And I hope that we'll see some of our Booklights readers there, too. The Kidlitosphere Conference, now in its third year, is an annual gathering of people who blog about children's and young adult books (including reviewers, authors, editors, librarians, teachers, parents, and literacy advocates). New bloggers, and people who are just thinking of becoming bloggers, are very welcome to attend. It's a relatively small conference, with plenty of opportunities for discussion and socializing, making it very easy to get to know other participants. The conference does focus on issues related to blogging (ethics of receiving review copies, building readership, etc.), rather than on the books themselves. However, as with this week's Booklights Reading Tub interview, what the participants have in common is an enthusiasm for children's literature and a wish to pass along that enthusiasm to kids.
Many thanks to Terry for this wonderful interview. I think that she captures perfectly what we're trying to do here at Booklights.
I was so excited to be part of the Booklights blog that I was determined to write a hilarious introductory post. Unfortunately, this week I was plagued by planning my seventh-grade Girl Scout troop's camping trip, along with hosting their movie night on Friday and coordinating the "first aid challenge" for the area troops. It also became hard to concentrate on writing once the dishwasher started leaking water out the back of the house. Yes, it surprised me too, as it did the plumber who had to be called in to check it out, confirming that I would need a new dishwasher, but also that it was lucky the water had followed the slight slant toward the outside wall instead of the kitchen, where it would have ruined the whole floor. I've kept this good news in mind as I washed dishes by hand, since I don't have the time or energy to buy a new dishwasher yet -- not with the Girl Scouts, the fourth grader's dance and drama classes, and my work at the public library.
But Saturday, I was definitely going to write something funny and telling about me as a person, mother, and book reviewer. Taking my fourth-grade daughter to her Girl Scout field trip to explore a farm here in the Washington suburbs shouldn't have been an obstacle, but the unseasonable heat (how does it go from 50 to 90 in just two days?) wiped us out, leaving me with just enough energy to fast-forward through the commercials of our previously-recorded American Idol. By dinnertime I felt human again, and was certain I'd hit the computer after washing dishes and whip out something funny -- because I'm an optimist. So the subsequent eight-hour power outage was a bit of a setback. Of course, the tropical climate in our house made it hard to sleep, and meant that I woke up much later than I'd planned on Sunday --especially considering that my seventh grader's school project was going to take up four peak hours and completely occupy my husband. That might not have been a problem, except that my father was coming to visit with his wife, and someone had to make an effort to clean up.
So here I am now, explaining why I couldn't come up with something clever to introduce myself. I guess I'm a busy mom like many of you, trying to do the best by my kids, whether that involves their schoolwork, activities, friendships, or books. I've been reading to my kids for thirteen years, and I've worked in the children's department of a public library for nine years. For three years I've run a blog about children's books and also worked with the online book award, the Cybils, focusing on the picture book awards. I recently started a new website called KidLitosphere Central, its goal being to make the rich resources of children's book blogs more accessible to teachers, librarians, and parents. Each week at Booklights, I'll be sharing a few quick book suggestions for your library visits, reading times, and bookstore shopping.
By the way, my name is Pam -- or if you prefer, you can call me by my blog name, MotherReader. Nice to meet you.
We're a book-happy bunch here at PBS, and always have been. But this seems like an especially good time to be launching Booklights, our new blog spreading the fun and love of children's books.
Children's Book Week is right around the corner (May 11-17), and we were just treated to an office visit from Mo Willems, celebrated author and illustrator (and former Sesame Street writer -- here he is posing with Big Bird). The sixth Harry Potter movie is coming out in July, and books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Graveyard Book are making new fans every day. And we know that parents are always looking for ways to get their kids reading -- on purpose, not because they're forced into it.
Parents can come to Booklights to get book ideas for kids of all ages, "Show and Tale" time, and interviews and literacy news. But most of all, Booklights is about getting kids to love reading, to experience the joy of finding a book that's so good that dinner can wait, TV time can wait, and sleep can wait.
Get to know our regular contributors -- Pam Coughlan, Susan Kusel, and Jen Robinson, who will be posting every week -- and ask all the questions you want. We love to hear from you. And stay tuned for guest blogs and book giveaways.
I'm a children's librarian in Arlington, Virginia and I love what I do. Children's books have always been my main interest and it's fantastic to be in a job where I get to recommend books and work with children every day. I get to help kids find books about Curious George, dinosaurs, science projects and every other subject you can think of.
I do storytimes for babies, for preschoolers, for elementary school kids, and every age in between. I even do a weekly storytime in American Sign Language. I love to share wonderful books, fun music and puppets during storytime and watch children's eyes light up as they hear a new book for the first time.
It's always a thrill when I can help someone find the title of a book they've been searching for or when I can introduce new books to children who think they have read everything. And I learn so much from the kids I work with, whether it's a 2 1/2 year old who's an expert on the planets, a ten year old who is researching the expected life cycle of a toucan, or a high school student who needs information on Apollo 16.
I write a blog called Wizards Wireless, about children's books, comic strips and Harry Potter (which is one of my very favorite book series). I read and discuss children's books voraciously, am active in the American Library Association, and the Kidlitosphere (the organization of children's literature bloggers). My favorite part of every day is when I sit down with my son and read books to him at bedtime.
I'm looking forward to talking about some of my favorite topics here on Booklights: helping children love books and learn to read, wonderful picture books, and recommendations of books to share with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I'm also going to be posting about libraries and how to use them effectively. I welcome your comments, feedback and opinions and I always love to hear about books you and your children enjoy.
Hi, I'm Jen Robinson, and I'm thrilled to be here blogging at Booklights. A bit of background: I'm originally from outside of Boston, but have lived in the San Jose area for the past 9 years. I'm a fan of the Red Sox, chocolate in all forms, and complex television dramas like LOST and 24. I have a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, and I co-own a small software company.
But here's what you really need to know about me: I was a tremendous bookworm as a kid. I would read anywhere - up in a tree, on the roof, on a raft in the middle of the lake - you name it! As I grew older, I never stopped reading whenever I could, and I never stopped reading children's books (though I've been known to also read grown-up titles from time to time, especially mysteries). I think that many of the highest quality titles available today are published as children's books.
I've always felt compelled to share the joy of reading with children. To that end, I started my own blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page, in late 2005. I write about children's and young adult books, children's literacy, and raising readers. I'm an active participant in the community of people who blog about these topics, commonly known as the Kidlitosphere, and am the Literacy Evangelist for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (Cybils). Here at Booklights I plan to share children's literacy and Kidlitosphere news and ideas, along with book recommendations. I welcome your feedback!