105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Folloween

Yesterday at Booklights I talked about monster books that are perfect for Halloween but aren’t shelved in the holiday section of your library in case, say, you were supposed to get a book for reading to your child’s class and somehow put it off until the last minute and then realized that the only thing you had in the house was Clifford’s Halloween and you were not using that because okay, he’s a BIG dog and you so get it already and there has to be something better and there totally was except all the moms who were doing their job correctly made it to the library when they should have and left the shelves empty except for one beat-up copy of Clifford’s Halloween which would make you scream, but with a deep breath you remember the monster books at Booklights — with some additional suggestions in the comments from Abby (the) Librarian — so you can pick out something very appropriate and fun for the kids.

In that post, I mentioned the two poetry books of Adam Rex, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Frankenstein Takes the Cake. Amazing, funny, brilliant, books with incredible artistry. A better blogger would now spend some time reviewing one or the other of them, but I expended all of my energy on that run-on sentence above. So instead you’ll get a poem. And not even the whole poem, because now I’m getting freaked out by the legality of that. Plus the whole poem really needs the illustrations to make it work to its full potential. But in any case, here is the beginning and you can get the book to see how Girl Scouts fit in.

No ghosts are seen on Halloween,
except for kids in sheets.
No zombies ring for anything
apart from tricks or treats.
Though people say
today’s the day
when bogeymen
come out to play,
November first is when the worst
of monsters hit the streets.

And in disguise the dead arise
to sell us magazines.
In ties and slacks
they hand out tracts
as fine, upstanding teens.
Before I got to the second part of the poem, I was absolutely certain that he was going to talk about election campaigners. I don’t know how it’s been in other parts of the country, but in Virginia the election is huge, with the Republican candidate for governor leading by double digits in a state that went blue in 2008. I’ve been getting tons of calls and campaigners coming by and flyers at every local event. Obama even came to a rally in Norfolk, but a little late, I think. The only thing that could really help the Democrats now is if people take the new health care legislation seriously and don’t want Virginia to opt out of a public health care choice. In any case, they’ll have to campaign without me on Folloween because I need this weekend to catch up on things I let go for the last two months.

I also need time to prepare — possibly — for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve never been interested before, but I do have a book in my head and maybe this is the time to let it out. I don’t know. Is it crazy to go from being consumed by KidLitCon to committing to writing a novel in a month? Are you doing it this year? If you did it before, was it worth the pressure?

Oh, Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jennie at Biblio File. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Booklights, Monster Books, and NYC

I am slowly making my way back to the land of the living. Or at least the land of the living online. After the KidLitosphere Conference and the week of wrapping up — both posts and other tasks — I was off to the Internet-free world of my mother’s house to help in her recovery from surgery. She’s doing fine, and I’m now back at home with piles of laundry, stacks of books, loads of activities, and my beloved Internet... family! I meant, beloved family!

Anyway, these are the days when frantic parents hit the library looking for a Halloween book to read at their child’s school and find that the Halloween books are gone. This may be you. But have no fear — there are some great monster books around that will fill the Halloween gap and that are often overlooked by parents heading only to the shelf with the big pumpkin sign. I’m talking about three — actually four — over at Booklights. Head over and make your own suggestion of monster or spooky books that aren’t actually Halloween books. You know, like Goodnight Goon or Bedtime at the Swamp — two books I didn’t profile.

It’s a good time to announce that I’m making my way back to New York City to participate in The Children’s Literary Café on Saturday, November 7th, at 2:00 p.m.: Cybils Kick-Off: Blogging in Style. Please, please come see me and the gang. Here’s the press release. (I mean, I guess it’s a press release.)
Pam Coughlan of the sublime MotherReader children’s literary blog headlines a panel of representatives from the greater KidLitosphere. Each year the online children’s literary community bestows child and teen novels their own awards: The Cybils. Pam and other bloggers will discuss the state of children’s literature online today including ethics, publisher/blogger relations, transparency, influence (or lack thereof) over published titles, and what it means to represent an online community of children’s literary enthusiasts.

Elizabeth Burns is the Youth Services Consultant for the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center. She blogs at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. She is the co-author of Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect with your Whole Community. She blogs about children’s and young adult books, television, and movies.

Susan Thomsen writes about children’s books at her blog, Chicken Spaghetti. A freelance writer and onetime editor, she is the mother of a fifth-grader and owner of chickens.

Anne Boles Levy is the co-founder and director of the Cybils Awards. Her day job is as a news writer on the National Desk for Metro Networks, a radio newswire based in Scottsdale, AZ. She’s married to another starving journalist and they’re raising two bookworms.

The Children’s Literary Café is a monthly gathering of adults who are fans of children’s literature. Professionals, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, teachers, and anyone else interested in the field are welcome to attend our meetings. The Literary Café provides free Advanced Readers galleys, a rotating series of talks with professionals in the field, and great conversation. This program is for adults only.

New York Public Library
Children’s Center at 42nd Street, Room 84
42nd Street and 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

ABC Storytime: F is for...

Yeah, I know it happened again with ABC Storytime. I’m all off schedule. Let’s just say that I’m going rogue.

Anyway, back to the letter F. Yet again there are so many good picture books to use for this letter that I’ve done whole programs on just fish, farms, or friends. Oh, and food is a good one too. Here is a nice combination.

The Letter F

Book: Ten Little Fish, by Audrey Woods, or The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark, by Ken Geist

Song: “Once I Caught a Fish Alive”
One, two, three, four, five.
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Then I let him go again.

Why did you let him go?
Because he bit my finger so.
Which finger did he bite?
This little finger on the right.

Book: Punk Farm, by Jarrett Krosoczka, or Farm Flu, by Teresa Bateman

Song: “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”
Old MacDonald had a farm
And on this farm he had a cow
With a moo-moo here
And a moo-moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo-moo
Old MacDonald had a farm

(Continue with farm animals and sounds until you get sick of it.)

Book: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, by Melanie Watt, or Ned’s New Friend, by David Ezra Stein, or Bear’s New Friend, by Karma Wilson, or if you want to do a British accent — and who doesn’t — a Charlie and Lola book, You Can be My Friend, by Lauren Child

Song: “Make New Friends”
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.
A circle is round. It has no end.
That’s how long I want to be your friend.

Book: Fox and Fluff, by Shutta Crum

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

KidLitCon Round-Up

Here’s quick round-up of bloggers who’ve posted about KidLitCon09. I had hoped to stop by and comment at every post, but it looks like I’m heading off to help out my mom for a few days in a house without Internet. Keep me in your thoughts. Since I’m leaving Bill at home, if you post about the conference and comment here, he will update this entry. Because he’s all cool like that.

KidLitCon09 by:
And that’s a wrap, folks. At least until Minneapolis.

KidLitCon Report: Part III

In organizing the Kidlitosphere Conference, the one aspect that I really enjoyed working on was the charity raffle. In our previous two conferences, we had a charity component and I was excited to continue that tradition. As I talked to my teen daughter about the concept, we came up with the idea of gift baskets made up of donations from our attendees to put up for raffle. During the week, I pulled together baskets, bags, and boxes along with little “extras” for the prizes — pens, journals, candles, etc. My teen daughter crocheted decorative scarves and tiny book pillows to contribute.

On the afternoon of the conference, my husband brought in my daughters and two friends to pull the donations of the attendees into fun packages. I missed big parts of the last two sessions of the day to help, because it was a bit overwhelming. While we expected to make about ten baskets, we ended up with enough donations to make twice that many! It was tons of fun to put things together, though, and we got to exercise our creative juices in the process.

Before and during the cocktail hour, attendees looked over the prizes, bought raffle tickets, and put their tickets in bags for the ones they wanted to win. This picture is a pretty good summary, showing the tickets in one corner, the party bags to collect the tickets, the array of prizes, and the happy shoppers.

TeenReader was particularly fond of the Black & White Package, which featured a scarf she made, one of my homemade necklaces, bead jewelry made and donated by Maureen, and some super cool books. Her best friend and helper put her raffle tickets in this package and won — quite gleefully, I might add.

I loved the Read to Me Package (even if the kid’s shirt appears to say “Ead to Me” in the photo), which included a shirt donated by Terry, book pillows crocheted by my daughter, a tin of hot chocolate I bought at Ross, and numerous books to share with a child. I’m trying desperately to remember who won that, so please let me know. You can also see a bit of the Halloween Basket, which featured a painted basket, a stuffed black cat, a box, and Halloween picture books.

My fifth grader worked very hard on the Holiday Package, which included books from Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It also had snowman soap, candles, and a wooden candlestick. (Liz, this would be some of the “stuff from my home,” as opposed to the stray socks you supposed I threw in the mix.) My daughter convinced Jen to put her raffle tickets in for this prize and she did in fact win it.

With all this talk of winning, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, because before the winning there was the dinner. It was a lovely chance to celebrate the day of fun and relax with friends. My husband took pictures of every table, and I’ll post them to Facebook later if anyone wants to grab them. (Unfortunately, my camera isn’t great in dim light so they aren’t stellar.) I will share one representative picture of lovely ladies Laura Lutz, Caroline Hickey, and Sara Lewis Holmes. Don’t they look happy?

After dessert, my husband and the girls drew raffle tickets and gave away the prizes. I’d love to know more of the winners, if you’d care to leave your name in the comments. I do remember Tricia winning the Bearport Bear donated by Bearport Publishing and Greg winning the Electric Company bag donated by PBS. Many of our attendees donated books and journals and jewelry and more, which gave us an amazing raffle! We ended up collecting $550 for our two selected projects at Donors Choose! They haven’t reached their goals yet, so you can still contribute to Literary is Fun-damental and It All Starts with Reading. Tell them that KidLitCon sent you!

After everything was done, we stopped for a group photo. Again, not the best camera for the job but a fun reminder of a wonderful day.

The conference weekend continued for some with an evening at the hotel bar, a Twitter-talk/post-game breakfast, or a stop at Hooray for Books! for an author signing party. For some of us, it included all three. Overall, I was glad I got to spend so much time with so many amazing people over the weekend. It was an awesome event and I’m honored to have played a part in it.

So much so that I’ve signed on for another year. Not organizing in its entirety this time, but as consultant, promoter, and registrar for KidLitCon10, which will be in Minneapolis and will be headed by Brian Farrey of Flux and Andrew Karre of Carolrhoda Books! Welcome to the team!

Thanks to everyone for helping, speaking, donating, supporting, and most of all coming to KidLitCon09!

(Oh, I’m still collecting posts for a Round-Up tomorrow and I’d love to know more of our raffle prize winners. Cheers!)

KidLitCon Report: Part II

Saturday morning, the day of the Kidlitosphere Conference, and several kind souls were stuffing folders while I greeted attendees and pushed the breakfast buffet. The buffet did not reach my goal of looking “ravaged by wolves” (btw, that is a band name), nor was I able to persuade people to stuff their pockets with bacon, but it was a great start to the conference. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

I started the meeting proper off with my session The Blogger Within: An Interview with Your Inner Blogger. I’m quite proud of this session, which involved only six questions and two homework assignments, thus I will repeat it here. You will only need to supply the three-minute pauses between questions to give yourself time to answer:
  1. Why are you blogging?

  2. Who do you see as your audience?

  3. What is unique to you that you can bring to your blog?

  4. Where would you place your blog within the larger community?

  5. When will you schedule time to check back on your blogging mission?

  6. How do the answers to these questions support or change what you are doing now?
Your homework: Look at the last six months of your blog and choose five posts that you like the most and five posts that represent your blog the best. What do they show you about your passions, interests, direction, and style?

Second homework: Put a date on your calendar to look at these questions again.
Good, huh? Next I worked with Michelle of Galleysmith on Building Your Blog: Best Practices, Ideas, and Tips. I talked about Purpose (which I’d already covered in that exercise above), Passion, and Professionalism. Later I came back with Participation and Perseverance, which completed my mastery of the Five Ps. Passion referred to writing what you love, supplying quality content, and channeling your voice. Professionalism touched on giving credit, disclosing relationships/products, avoiding conflicts of interest, watching your online behavior, and having responsible review policies. Participation involved going outside your own blog to be involved in the community with comments, memes, links, and events. Perseverance is, you know, “steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” (Thanks, Dictionary.com.)

Michelle did the heavy lifting on this session with topics of Involve/Engage Audience, SEO, Social Media, Marketing, and Design. We’ll post her much fuller notes on KidLitosphere Central soon, but for now check out Liz’s summary at Tea Cozy.

The next sessions were split for book reviewers and authors. Liz also has a good writeup of the book reviewers’ part, and Sara Lewis Holmes has notes from her author session. I attended the first session and took some notes, but honestly my mind was occupied by the coming visit of the Federal Trade Commission representative.

Speaking of which, the FTC session was covered throughly at Galleysmith and Tea Cozy. It was picked up by GalleyCat and Publishers Weekly, where I talked to author and conference attendee Sue Corbett about the whole FTC vs. Book Blogger Death Match. I’m going to save my final thoughts on the topic for a separate post, but I’ll say now that it was amazing to have FTC representative Mary Engle talk to us, and it raised the profile of the conference and our community.

Lunch was on our own, and I took the opportunity to sit quietly for a bit and dip my toes in the #KidlitCon Twitter stream, which later was tied up nicely by Greg Pincus.

The Meet the Author session came next and gave me a chance to mix and mingle with many more people. Simon Pulse provided author Elizabeth Scott with gift bags of her books Living Dead Girl and Something, Maybe. Sharon Hancock from Candlewick Press brought ARCs of many books, though I only took the leftover copies of The Ask and the Answer and Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. (I later gave one copy of the first to our hotel housekeeper, who has a teenage boy.) Joan Holub signed a copy of Shampoodle for my three-year-old niece and Shelena Shorts signed a copy of The Pace for, well, me. I brought my own copy of Operation YES for Sara Lewis Holmes to sign, and now it’s first on my list of books to read when I have a brain again. I also grabbed Laurel Snyder to sign last year’s Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains after waxing poetic about her new book — which I did not have with me — Any Which Wall. I managed to grab an ARC of Paula Chase’s Flipping the Script and received a copy of Wendie Old’s The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun. I was excited to talk to Candice Ransom and meet Ellsworth — who has a totally weak handshake, by the way. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but fortunately Jama Rattigan did.

Okay, this is getting really long. It was a fuller day than I thought. Oh, and that picture above was Elizabeth Scott and me. Moving on.

Greg Pincus talked to us about Social Media and connection and showed us slides on our laptops. (So, I didn’t spring for the $1,000 LCD hook-up — sue me.) During the next two sessions — Authors, Publishers, Reviewers (and ARCs): A Panel Conversation and Coming Together, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy, and the Reading Message — I was distracted with some “Being in Charge of the Conference” things, so I missed big parts of both. I’ll provide links to summaries as I find them. Sorry.

I was going to plow through with this post into the cocktail hour and charity raffle and dinner and drinks, but now I’ll leave that for Part III. If you have a post about the conference, leave me a comment and I’ll be rounding up at the end of the week. Of course, I’ll continue to accept comments about KidLitCon itself or even my awesomeness.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

KidLitCon Report: Part I

The weather sucked. I think we can all agree on that. It didn’t affect much at KidLitCon except for the scheduled Library of Congress tours, where the rain made for bad traffic and delayed arrivals of our out-of-town guests. It also made some of our DC natives look outside and decide against trudging through the rain to join us at a local institution. It was a shame, because those who came for the tours were all blown away.

It did start out slowly, with a tour guide who preferred to give great detail on a piece of artwork rather than give us time with the original Thomas Jefferson Library. But we still enjoyed walking the halls of the Jefferson Building, peering down into the impressive reading room, and strolling past the Gutenberg Bible. The real stuff began when we went to the Children’s Literature Center. There, Jacqueline Coleburn showed us some rare children’s books from the collection. We saw a first edition of The Wizard of Oz, original sketches by James Marshall for Fox Be Nimble, and an early primer book.

It was hard to take good pictures without the flash (which might hurt the books over time), so I didn’t take many photos. I’m partial to this children’s book from the 1600s, which is A Token for Children: Being an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful deaths of several young children, by James Janeway. Joyful deaths. Yep, they don’t write them like they used to. Click on the picture to enlarge if you don’t believe me. (Though it should be said — and was said by our host — that such books were made to help in accepting death, since so many children didn’t live to adulthood.)

We also spent time walking around the Children’s Literature Center, which is a small library and research center as opposed to the holdings of every children’s book ever published. However, our host was kind enough to bring over a few of our KidLitCon attendees’ books for display. Here you’ll see Joan Holub along with some of her titles. Sara Lewis Holmes was excited to see her Letters from Rapunzel displayed as well.

Our group was also treated to a visit to see books from the Rosenwald collection of rare books. The curator of this collection, Daniel De Simone, had a display of several illustrated books starting from a title from the 1400s! Then, using the Aesop’s fable of the city mouse and the country mouse, he showed us the changes in woodblock printing and artwork over time and nationality. I believe the one in the photograph is from Italy in the 1500s. I know, I should have been writing that sort of thing down, but I was too mesmerized by these old, rare books right in front of me. I just found at least two more of the books we saw in the details of the Library of Congress exhibition. Our host was very knowledgeable about the collection and captivated us with the stories behind these rare books. We were all sorry to leave, and it’s possible that one of us hid behind a bookshelf where an old Charlotte’s Web was held.

After the Library of Congress tour, we went our separate ways, knowing we’d meet up again at dinner along with thirty or so of our blogging friends. We had two large table at Arlington’s Tortoise and Hare, quickly took over a third, and then proceeded to make more room on the corners and ends as bloggers continued to arrive. People were introduced around, and where the proper names might draw polite smiles the blog names often brought gleeful squeals. Biblio File! LibrariYAn! Miss Rumphius! The conversation was lively and loud, ending only when it looked as if we would soon be overtaken by a lively and loud band. The folks who weren’t quite done for the night headed to the hotel bar, for what Liz Burns would soon dub by the hashtag #drunkkidlitcon. But even though the topics of funny tweets, Girl Scouts, Facebook friends, and of course books seemed like they could go on forever, we did clear out at a reasonable hour, knowing that a special KidLitCon breakfast awaited us at 7:00 a.m. and that bacon wasn’t going to eat itself.

I’ll continue with the day of KidLitCon tomorrow. For now, leave me a comment if you’ve got a post about the conference and I’ll do a round-up at the end of the week.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Nap Time!

I am hoping to write about KidLitCon later, but for now, a nap is in order. Quickly, I can say that it was amazing, wonderful, fun, educational, and many more positive adjectives. I am looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts, so I thought I’d leave this one as a placeholder — as you write about KidlitCon, leave the link in the comments and I’ll do a roundup later in the week.

Thanks to everyone who spoke, who helped, and who came. I had a great time with all of you and can’t wait to do it again...

Oh, hold up! I meant that I can totally wait to do it again. In a good way.

KidlitCon09: NOW

So guess what? A representative from the Federal Trade Commission is coming to KidlitCon to talk to us about the new regulations for bloggers! Now do you wish you were coming?

Well, you still can. Shoot me an email so I’ll know to expect you, and plan on attending the Kidlitosphere Conference only for $50. Total deal — especially if your kid’s soccer game is going to be rained out anyway. Email me at MotherReader AT Gmail DOT com.

Here’s the info, yet again and for the last time. The conference is open to bloggers, wannabe bloggers, and the blogger-curious, along with YA/Kidlit authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers. The meeting is at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and will cover:
  • The Blog Within: An Interview With Your Inner Blogger
  • Building a Better Blog: Best Practices, Ideas, and Tips
  • Split Reviewer/Author Sessions:
    It’s All About the Blog: Approaches for Book Reviewing Bloggers
    It’s Not About Your Book: Writing Ideas for Blogging Authors
  • FTC Regulations and You
  • Social Networking with Gregory K.
  • Authors, Publishers, Reviewers (and ARCs): A Panel Conversation
  • Coming Together, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy, and the Reading Message
There will also be a “Meet the Author” time during the day, where writers and illustrators can share their books.

I’ll be checking in online, but will mostly be occupied with, you know, the conference for a few days. Hope to see you there.

KidlitCon09: Four Days Away

This is about the time I usually get Conference Envy. You know what I mean, that feeling that everyone is going to this really cool event and you’re missing out because you couldn’t decide if you should put another activity on your schedule, but now it seems stupid that you opted to take on the dance rehearsal carpool again instead of asking your neighbor to do it so that you could do something for yourself for a change because Lord knows you DESERVE IT!

Or something like that. Perhaps instead you’re an author or editor realizing that the opportunity to present your new titles to forty book-reviewing bloggers isn’t something you should pass up in this dicey economy and saturated book market.

If you are experiencing Conference Envy after hearing about our Library of Congress tours, Friday night dinner, amazing conference panels, Meet the Author session, fun charity raffle, Twitter breakfast, and bookstore visit, well… I can still take a few more people for the Kidlitosphere Conference. Email me at MotherReader AT Gmail DOT com.

If you live in the area, and absolutely can’t make it Saturday, let me encourage you to come out to our author event at Hooray for Books! in Old Town Alexandria on Sunday, October 18th, from 1:00–3:00 p.m. Bring the kids. Bring the neighbor’s kids. Bribe a teen to join you. We’re going picture book to middle-grade first, and then tweens to teens second with:
1:00 p.m.
Cynthia Cotten presents Rain Play
Jacqueline Jules presents Unite or Die!
Sue Corbett presents Last Newspaper Boy

2:00 p.m.
Caroline Hickey presents Isabelle’s Boyfriend
Elizabeth Scott presents Something, Maybe
Paula Chase-Hyman presents Flipping the Script
Let people know about this wonderful chance to greet bloggers, meet authors, and buy books, all while supporting an independent bookstore and the Kidlitosphere Conference.

You can also join us in supporting Donors Choose for our KidlitCon09 charity, and specifically two projects at Washington, DC, schools — Literacy is Fun-damental and It All Starts With Reading!. If you’d like to send something for our charity raffle on Saturday, email me soon at MotherReader AT Gmail DOT com.

If you’re still reading because you want to be convinced to come to the KidLitosphere Conference, then I’ll remind you that the conference is open to bloggers, wannabe bloggers, and the blogger-curious, along with YA/Kidlit authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers.

The meeting is at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and will cover:
  • The Blog Within: An Interview With Your Inner Blogger
  • Building a Better Blog: Best Practices, Ideas, and Tips
  • Split Reviewer/Author Sessions:
    It’s All About the Blog: Approaches for Book Reviewing Bloggers
    It’s Not About Your Book: Writing Ideas for Blogging Authors
  • Social Networking with Gregory K.
  • Authors, Publishers, Reviewers (and ARCs): A Panel Conversation
  • Coming Together, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy, and the Reading Message
There will also be a “Meet the Author” time during the day, where writers and illustrators can share their books. A fun dinner to mix and mingle is scheduled for 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. with the continuing party moving to the hotel bar. The registration fee for all of this — including the breakfast and dinner — is only $100. Can’t make the dinner? Email about a reduced conference-only fee.

Here’s who’s coming so far:
And authors and publishers including:

I Am a Mother Reader

I originally wrote this for ForeWord, but as they are dropping their old blog posts I’m copying it here. I’d like to hold onto it anyway — but I’m inspired to put it up today to make sure that it can be part of the National Gallery of Writing, organized by the ladies of A Year of Reading.

At the time I was a guest blogger — I had written two posts as a reviewer and two posts as a librarian. But I hadn’t addressed the roles nearest and dearest to my heart, the duo of roles that inspires my blog title. I am a Mother and I am a Reader.

Here’s one of my favorite MotherReader stories: When my oldest daughter was five, she asked me to play house. “I’ll be the mommy and you’ll be the little girl,” she said. I agreed and prepared myself for my role. Meanwhile, she sat down on the couch, opened a book to read and, looking over the top, said, “Go play with your sister.”

Never have I felt so much angst and pride at the same time. Of course, my mother guilt kicked in. Did she think that all I did was read? Did she feel so neglected? What kind of mom was I? But at the same time, I felt proud of the lesson she had picked up from me — namely that Moms read, and reading’s important.

As a mother of two (now) school-aged girls, I get asked occasionally how I find time to read. I can only pat the questioner on the head with an air of pity (well, mentally), and answer that one doesn’t find time to read, one makes time to read. Looking at reading as something that’s done when everything else is finished means that you’ll never even crack open a People magazine. (Not that I read this particular journal, understand.) And this goes double, maybe triple for mothers. Every minute I read, I’ve carved that time away from something else. Sometimes I don’t put the laundry away. Sometimes I don’t shower, but I make the time to read.

While I’m taking time for myself in a self-care, Oprah kind of way, I’m also conveying an important message to my kids. Moms read books for fun. I couldn’t talk to them about reading being important and then never open a book myself. My actions speak louder than my words ever could, and believe me, I can make my words LOUD.

I’ve also been asked by parents that with today’s busy lifestyle, how can I find time for my kids to read? For this question, I allow a quick wide-eyed expression of shock so the questioner realizes the very seriousness of the inquiry. For me, it’s as if they’ve asked how I find time for my children to eat dinner. In my family, reading is a necessary and vital part of our day. We formed the habit early, and rarely break it.

Since my daughters were babies, the last part of every evening has been given over to reading. When the girls were younger, my husband or I read to them. Then each child went through a stage where we would alternate fun picture books with the beginning-reader series of the month. Now sometimes we read a book to them — a great picture book or chapters from a harder book — and sometimes we all read our own books. Often one daughter and I will recline on the couch, each leaning against the opposite side arms, our legs sharing the space in the middle. It’s comfy. It’s fun. The dishes can wait.

Want to raise a reader? Then read. Read to them, read with them, read beside them. Take it from a MotherReader.
Category: 17 comments

ABC Storytime: E is for...

Okay, I’m a little late this week, but I’ve been kind of busy.

The Letter E

Book: Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, by Mo Willems

Book: Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

Fingerplay: “Eggs”
Eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch
In a carton, in a bunch
Boiled or scrambled, cooked or fried
How many eggies have you tried?

Book: Ella the Elegant Elephant, by Carmela D’Amico

Song: “The Elephant”
The elephant goes like this and that

(stomp around)
Cause he’s so big and he’s so fat!
(make arms in big, wide circle)
He has no fingers and has no toes

(wiggle fingers, point to toes)
But goodness, gracious, what a nose!
(put arm in front of nose and move it like trunk)

Book: Elephants Cannot Dance, by Mo Willems

Book: Edward the Emu, by Sheena Knowles, or Epossumondas, by Coleen Salley

Mo, Webcasts, Booklights, FTC

The webcasts from the National Book Festival are up, including the one of Mo Willems with my daughter as Piggie! If you want watch that part — and of course you do — it is about halfway through the webcast, at the twelve-minute mark. You’ll also see Mo’s daughter Trixie of Knuffle Bunny fame. Watch it and come back and be excited with me.

Today my post over at Booklights covers picture books about babies. Go add some favorites to the comments.

The interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission guidelines are making things look either HUGE or no big deal for book bloggers, so we’ll be waiting to see how it shakes out. There is a great post at Boston Bibliophile with a lawyer’s viewpoint, and Chasing Ray is asking for — and receiving — responses from publishers. What are you hearing around the interwebs?

KidlitCon09: Ten Days Away

Writing that KidlitCon09 was only ten days away just made my heart do a little jumpy thing in my chest.

I can still take a few more people for the Kidlitosphere Conference, though I can’t guarantee your dinner choice. I can, however guarantee an amazing time filled with interesting people and illuminating sessions. Or maybe illuminating people and interesting sessions. Either way. We’ll be setting aside some time to talk about the new FTC regulations and what they may mean for book bloggers along with the greater publishing industry. Being next to Washington, DC, it’s not out of the question that we may get someone official to talk to us. In any case, we’ll be discussing the topic and hopefully coming up with some answers — or even better questions.

I’m excited to announce that we do have an author event at Hooray for Books! in Old Town Alexandria on Sunday, October 18th, from 1:00–3:00 p.m. If you are in the DC area and can’t attend the conference, but would love to meet some of the people, come on down! Bring the kids. Bring the neighbor’s kids. Bribe a teen to join you. It’s going to be a great time. We’re going picture book to middle-grade first, and then tweens to teens second with:
1:00 p.m.
Cynthia Cotten presents Rain Play
Jacqueline Jules presents Unite or Die!
Sue Corbett presents Last Newspaper Boy

2:00 p.m.
Caroline Hickey presents Isabelle’s Boyfriend
Elizabeth Scott presents Something, Maybe
Paula Chase-Hyman presents Flipping the Script
Please let people know about this wonderful chance to greet bloggers, meet authors, and buy books, all while supporting an independent bookstore and the Kidlitosphere Conference. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Book Bloggers and the FTC

Well, this is going to get interesting.

The Federal Trade Commission has come up with its final guidelines on regulating endorsements and testimonials, which will indeed affect bloggers. The first hint of the problem is in the title of the report itself, which specifies endorsements and testimonials.

But book reviews are not advertising endorsements or testimonials, are they?

Ah, I answer that question with another question. Have you noticed how freely the word review has been thrown around the blogosphere, especially in the pitches by companies? Have you wondered how one “reviews” a bookshelf or swingset or tungsten rings?

You see, the businesses were very savvy about this coming development and hoped to tie the issues together by linking the word review to what are obvious endorsements being paid for in product. I’ve been watching this going on with the mommy bloggers and gritting my teeth, while remaining hopeful that the FTC would know the difference between a review and an endorsement. I talked about it here in July, saying, “Book blogs are likely to stay under the radar because we’re not pulling in the numbers of readers and because there is a longstanding tradition of books being sent out for review in newspapers and journals.”

I may have been wrong. Mostly in making the assumption that the FTC would address this issue with, um... intelligence. The eighty-one page final guidelines have only caused more questions that the FTC doesn’t seem to define or understand. I saw it through my book blogger eyes, but niche groups everywhere have questions and concerns, as shown in this article from Wired.

But as a book blogger, I’m very concerned that Richard Cleland of the Bureau of Consumer Protections had this to say in a conversation with Ed Champion about getting books for review:
“You can return it,” said Cleland. “You review it and return it. I’m not sure that type of situation would be compensation.” If, however, you held onto the unit, then Cleland insisted that it could serve as “compensation.” You could after all sell the product on the streets.
Yeah, because we all know the street value of Find My Feet.

Chasing Ray has a wonderful post about how this would look to the publishers. In case you’re wondering, Not Good. There is no way that book bloggers would want the responsibility and expense of returning books with a receipt so they couldn’t be declared as income. There is no way that the publishers would want the responsibility and expense of tracking those returned books. It’s illogical that I could receive dozens of books from a publisher, but only have to declare as “income” the one that I review — because I’ve now endorsed it.

In fact, it’s the idiocy of this concept along with the long tradition of print media receiving books for review that gives me hope. Because the guidelines as written and as they want to be applied to book bloggers are just too stupid to exist. That said, they won’t disappear by us not talking about them. We do need to make some noise. Bloggers are good writers, obviously, so dash off a letter to the FTC, your congressman, the local paper. Your publisher.

Galleycat has been turning out a lot of information on this new development, but we can’t let Ron Hogan and Ed Champion go this alone. And I’m not just talking about bloggers. Publishers, editors, and authors had better make their case too, because the FTC regulations as they are being interpreted could shut down a source of book reviews and interviews just as newspaper reviews are in a death spiral. Publishers may have thought that the FTC had nothing to do with them, as evidenced by the fact that they are not noted as having submitted comments to the proposed regulation (page 3). Big mistake, because this is going to be an issue for all involved parties, and we can’t let it be left up to people completely ignorant of how the publishing industry works to determine how it’s going to work from now on.

Now, the bright spot is how completely relevant KidLitCon09 seems right now — especially our panel about the relationships between bloggers, authors, and publishers. There’s still space available. Register now and be part of the conversation.

Nonfiction Monday: Faces of the Moon

Every once in a while an obvious fact hits you in the face and alters your own perception of the world. Like when you (I) realized that the phrase wasn’t “for all intensive purposes” but instead “for all intents and purposes.” Then you (I) look over the past for all the times this fact came into play and was misunderstood by you (me).

Faces of the MoonThat’s how I felt after reading the nonfiction picture book Faces of the Moon, by Bob Crelin. The author takes us through the phases of the moon and how what we see in the sky is affected by the sun’s shining on the moon’s surface combined with the moon’s orbit. The cut-outs on the pages emphasize the moons shape though its cycle, and echo the dynamic cut-out on the book’s cover. All through the book, rhyming couplets describe the phases, with my favorite rivaling the whole Thirty days hath September bit:
Each changing face (or lunar phase)
repeats each nine-and-twenty days;
from thin to thick, from dark to light;
sometimes in day, sometimes at night.
The illustrations of Leslie Evans are created from linoleum block print and watercolor. They are lovely, but what captures me most about the pictures is the story that is told in them alongside the facts about the moon. It seems to be about a boy who is visiting a girl — a cousin? a sister? — in the countryside. He goes home to the city and they talk on the phone looking at the shared vision of the moon out their windows. Then at the end he comes back to the countryside, and they sit on the steps together. I found myself dying to know the story of these two kids, but I suppose that’s my fictional favoritism coming into play.

So what was my great revelation? While I knew about phases of the moon and why they happen and all that jazz, it never occurred to me that the specific phases are connected to particular times of day. For instance, the waning crescent moon rises hours before sunrise and sets in mid-afternoon which is why we always see that particular shape in the morning. Of course I noticed different shapes of the moon, but I never gave it a thought as to what shape appeared at what time of day. Totally eye-opening.

Anyway, this is a lovely, interesting book for kids — or oblivious adults — to find out more about the moon. And maybe to make up a story about the two kids in the picture, so there are some storytelling prospects mixed in as well. For more titles, check out Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at Moms Inspire Learning.

Cybils, Booklights, and KidLitCon

The Cybils nominations started today, and as the organizer for the Fiction Picture Book category, I’ve already processed more than thirty titles! I haven’t made more than a few submissions myself because other people have been naming my favorite books. But that’s really fine with me, so long as we’re getting quality books in the judging. The process is so smooth this year, thanks mostly to the database design of Sheila Ruth. Now when you nominate a book, you can see immediately if it is already on the list. The nominations are contained in a nice little box, so you can scroll through them and you can see the book covers. If all this weren’t enough, the nomination form feeds right into the form for the organizers and panelists so we can keep track of the titles. Excellent!

At Booklights today, I have a recap of the National Book Festival, information about the Cybils, and some blog highlights from Banned Books Week. I already have a comment on the banned books aspect, which is making me wonder whether I should have censored my post. Oh, the irony.

KidlitCon09 is coming together quite nicely, with a list of about eighty participants, including representatives from Candlewick, Tor Books, and HarperCollins. On Friday, we have tours scheduled at the Library of Congress, the main building and the children’s center. I already have about thirty people ready to meet for dinner that evening near the hotel. Saturday, October 17th, is filled with interesting sessions, a Meet-the-Author time, a cocktail hour, a nice dinner, and a charity raffle. Sunday is looking like an informal Twitter breakfast and a field trip to the independent bookstore Hooray for Books, located in charming Old Town Alexandria, where I am working on a book reading and signing session. It’s going to be a great weekend that you should not miss.

Besides, after this Washington Post article about the importance of online marketing of your own book and Cheryl Klein’s post about how she signed Sara Lewis Holmes because of her blog, you have to ask yourself if you can afford not to invest in learning more about blogging, social media, and online presence. Register now.

Edited to add text of Booklights post:

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.

ABC Storytime: D is for...

Just like “C,” there are so many good picture books to use for the letter “D” that sometimes I’ve done a program on just dogs, ducks, or dinosaurs. Here, though, I’m offering a combination of the three. I couldn’t pick the best of each subject — it isn’t possible — but these books offer a variety of styles.

The Letter D

Book: Dinorella: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale, by Pamela Duncan Edwards (this book uses the letter D a lot), or Dinosaur Roar, by Paul and Henrietta Stickland

Fingerplay: “Five Huge Dinosaurs”
Five huge dinosaurs
(Hold up five fingers and extend arms.)
**Letting out a roar
One went away
(Hold up one finger.)
And then there were four.
(Hold up four fingers.)

(Continue down the numbers replacing **second line with:
Crashing down a tree... [three]
Eating dinosaur stew... [two]
Going on a run... [one]
Looking for some fun... [none])

Book: Duck and Goose, by Tad Hills, or a shorter book, One Duck Stuck, by Phyllis Root (counting book)

Song: “Little Ducks”
Six little ducks that I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones, pretty ones too
But the one little duck with
The feather on his back
He ruled the others with his
“Quack, quack, quack!”
Quack, quack, quack
Quack, quack, quack
He ruled the others with his
“Quack, quack, quack!”

Down the the water they would go
Wibble, wabble, wibble, wabble to and fro
But the one little duck with...

Up from the river they would come
Wibble, wabble, wibble, wabble oh ho ho
But the one little duck with...

Book: Dog Eared: Starring Otis, by Amanda Harvey

Song: “Where Has My Little Dog Gone?”
Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?
Oh, where, oh where can he be?
With his ears cut short
And his tail cut long.
Oh, where, oh where can he be?

Here! Oh, here is my little lost dog.
Oh here, he’s right behind me!
With his ears cut short
And his tail cut long.
Oh here, he’s right behind me!

Extra/Alternate Books: Mucky Duck, by Sally Grindley, or Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, by Leslea Newman, or your own favorite (short) dog, duck, or dinosaur book.