Kid Lit Author and Advocate

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prison

The number of kids with incarcerated parents has increased nearly 80% in the last 20 years, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated, and parents of another 10 million children have been incarcerated at some point.  The experience can be profoundly difficult for children, increasing their risk of living in poverty and housing instability, as well as causing emotional trauma, pain, and social stigma. http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/reading-inside

But, through programs like the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project, some of that stress melts away when kids and parents are able to share a special book together. Through an audio-tape reading program wherein imprisoned parents/grandparents read books to their children/grandchildren on tape, family bonds are strengthened and literacy skills improve as parents encourage their children to read with them and in their absence. Read this touching NY Times article to learn about the impact of these programs, from an incarcerated mom’s viewpoint. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/07/behind-bars-finding-meaning-in-a-book-read-aloud/?emc=eta1/

How can you help?  Donate a book. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Throughout the month of March, My literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, hosts a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.

We encourage book lovers to donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite authors and children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The Storybook Project serves children birth-17 years. They welcome donations of board books, picture books, early readers, graphic novels, chapter books, novels, non-fiction, etc. The sky is the limit!

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or very gently used children’s book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project. Authors are invited to sign their books. Please include a note stating that your book is part of the MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to Kids)

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO. Share it on your blog and on social media. I share your posts on my social media, so feel free to include photos, book links, etc. Please include our badge and these hashtags ‪#‎PBPiO‬, and #‎MARCHingBookstoKids

#3 Pass it on. When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO giving chain. Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

If distance prohibits your ability to mail books to the Storybook Project, please consider donating books to children in need in your own community. Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe. So far, we have people “Passing it On” in the US, the UK, Australia, Soloman Islands, Israel, and Greece!

Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

burn books

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I recently received this request, and I thought I would pass it along:
 
“I am the Associate Producer for Stephen Folker Films, an indie film company in Davenport, Iowa. We are in need of several books for a low budget feature film titled, Overdue. The movie, Overdue, is about a library janitor that goes after people that have overdue books in order to win the heart of the library director. It is a comedy slasher. The books will be seen in the background on the carts, in the book drop box, the characters homes, etc.”
 
If you’d like to see our past work you can visit the website http://www.stephenfolkerfilms.com
 
Would you or anyone you know be interested in having their book in a movie?
 
Please send your book(s) to:
 
Kristina Smith
PO. Box 281, 226 Main
Alburnett, IA 52202
 
Please include a letter stating that you give permission to Stephen Folker, Davenport, IA, and Stephen Folker Films to show your book (specify the titles) on screen in the feature film tilted, Overdue. And that you understand that you will not be paid.
 
We will be able to add the authors name in the closing credits under the “Thank You’s.” I will let you know as soon as the website and Facebook page are live and you can follow the progress of the film.
 
We will need some books by August 18 and the bulk of them by October 10th.
We appreciate your support!
 
Kristina Baker Smith Associate Producer, Stephen Folker Films

Happy summer, everyone. I have been taking a break from writing to spend time with my son; however, I wanted to take a moment to spread the word about a new kid lit site, Storytime Pup. You can also find Storytime Pup on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

In addition to their kid-friendly web site, Storytime Pup hosts a You Tube channel featuring children’s books.

I was delighted to have my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, featured last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB_XIeuFdFg/

Storytime Pup was created by Bill McManus. Bill lives in upstate NY with his wife Diane and his 3 kids: Ryan, Colin and Shannon. He is the creator of Storytime Pup.  He is also an author, entrepreneur, inventor and actor. He enjoys entertaining and writing books for children because their joy makes him happy.

If you are a published children’s author (traditional or indie), I encourage you to contact Storytime Pup for submission information. There is no charge for having your book/s featured on the site.

I wish you all a wonderful summer!

scooter

 

 

 


nerd

I posted this a while back, but with the summer slide upon us, it seems fitting to revisit.

Are you, or someone you love, a book nerd? If so, how did it happen? Was it nature or nurture?

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My son has always been surrounded by books. Even before he was born, his bookshelves bore the weight of the legions of titles I had collected for him. With few exceptions, he has been read to/with every day of his 10 years on this earth. Each week, we visit the library and heap our bag to the top with books. He receives books at Christmas and on his birthday, and for no reason at all. He delights in choosing titles from the Scholastic book order forms sent home from school, and we are regulars at Half-Price Books. Books are ever-present in his day to day operations. In theory, he has all the makings of a book nerd. But, he’s anything but that. He will, on occasion, crack open his copy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or his Guinness Book of World Records to entertain himself. But, rarely does he deliberately choose to read for pleasure. Where did I go wrong? Why isn’t my boy a book nerd?

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I, on the other hand, grew up with no books in our house. I, honestly, don’t know if I laid my eyes on a book until I was in elementary school. We were poor, and my parents were teenagers. I was raised on reruns of Batman and Gilligan’s Island. I was also a PBS junkie (we had only 4 channels back then). In my parents’ defense, books were not as readily available as they are today. They were not crammed onto the shelves of Target and Walmart (we didn’t even have Walmart back then). For whatever the reason, no one read to or with me. Nevertheless, I sought out books. I couldn’t wait until the Book Mobile pulled up, in my neighborhood, and I could climb aboard and select my 2 book limit. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read books beyond my years, and books I probably shouldn’t have read. I was not “nurtured” to love books-but I did, and I do.

shelf

So, I ponder the question: Are book nerds born or made? Clearly, despite my efforts, I’ve not nurtured a book nerd. And, despite my parents’ lack of effort, I am a book nerd.

lion

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.  Please leave a comment, nerdy or not…


I posted this many moons ago, but I thought it was worth repeating…

I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.

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For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  The following New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


April is overflowing with literacy-related events. Rhyming Picture Book Month, National Library Month, and DEAR.

Beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary is 100 years young today!
Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in her book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Since then, “Drop Everything and Read” programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. Learn more about Cleary and DEAR at http://dropeverythingandread.com/

I’m celebrating DEAR and the personal influence Cleary has had on me by offering my free children’s ebook.

Here are some fun facts about this American treasure (borrowed in part from mental_floss):

SHE’S A CAT LOVER.

I know many of us can relate to this one-

Cleary’s owned several pet cats over the years, one of whom used to resent having to compete with her typewriter for attention and would sit on the keys in protest.

SHE KNOWS KIDS AIN’T PERFECT.

and this one-

Cleary was annoyed with the books in her childhood, “…because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona … and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.”

SHE’S ALWAYS SYMPATHIZED WITH STRUGGLING READERS.

Getting put into the lowest reading circle in first grade almost made her resent books. Phonic lists were a drag and being force-fed Dick & Jane-style narratives was flat-out excruciating. “[We] wanted action. We wanted a story,” she lamented in her autobiography. It was an experience Cleary never forgot. Since then, she claims to have always kept children who might be undergoing similar trials in mind while writing.

SHE’S NOT RAMONA THE PEST. 

Although Ramona and many of her beloved books are about sibling rivalry and relationships, she grew up as an only child.

I grew up loving her books (although I think I referred to her as Beverly Clear-ly until early adulthood).

What’s your favorite Beverly Cleary book or fact?


April is Rhyming Picture Book Month, so I thought I’d celebrate by giving away my newest picture book, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie.

Download the ebook for FREE, this week, on Amazon. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0155J4Q7I/

I just discovered that UK Amazon customers are eligible for the free offer as well.

Happy Reading!

 

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Here are some other literacy celebrations going on this month:

National Poetry Month

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

National Library Week  April 10-16, 2016

http://www.ala.org/nlw

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

Children’s Day/Book Day – El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) April 30, 2016

http://dia.ala.org

Children’s Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading and held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background.



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