Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Tag Archives: children’s literature

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


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?

DSC_4364

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 piece a while back…

With my son’s 4th grade year coming to an end, I find this information more timely than ever.

DSC_9435

 

I love picture books, and I often write about them.  In my post, Top 10 Reasons Picture Books Rock, I touch upon the importance of continuing to read aloud to your child even AFTER he/she is able to read independently. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

Mother-son-reading-resized-750x325

If you are making this transition, you may find the following articles helpful.I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences.

Suggested articles:

7 reasons why reading aloud to older kids is still very important

1. Children listen on a different level than they read. 

2. Life Lessons.

3. Enjoyment.

4. Reading aloud with older children helps builds vocabulary.

5. Physical closeness.

6. Sense of security.

7. Sense of belonging.

The hidden benefits of reading aloud – even for older kids

Here is another great resource for reading to your older child.  This article includes an extensive list of recommended books.

Reading Aloud With Children Twelve & Older

Do you read aloud with your older child?  I’d love to hear about your experience.

 

yes kid

 


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!

 

aggie_cover_front_r-1

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.


When I learned that nearly 2/3 of children living in poverty do not own books, I started my literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On. My intention was to celebrate picture books and encourage people to donate books to kids in need. Fast-forward, a year later, and the grass-roots effort I began has grown into something truly remarkable.

PBPiO badge

Last March, I created a special initiative to collect books for children of incarcerated parents in Iowa. I reached out to friends, online and in person, to help with the month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids. The books benefit the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. Each month, the Storybook Project volunteers record incarcerated parents reading aloud to their children. The audio CD’s and books are then mailed to their children to keep.

In just one month, we collected over 350 books, 450 incarceration-themed Sesame Street book/CD sets, and loads of books signed and donated by children’s authors from across the US and several countries outside of the US.

books

This year, MARCHing Books to Kids is going strong. I reached out to authors I know, and they came through in a big way! So, I thought I’d reach out to some authors I don’t know and see what happens. Well, this is what happened yesterday…

kitty covers

I was delighted to learn that Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty series, donated a bundle of his books. Not only did Nick donate his books, he signed and added a doodle inside each one.

signed kitty

Owning a book signed by an author may not seem like a huge deal. But, the children and families served by the Storybook Project would likely never know that joy.

I truly believe books have the power to change lives. I am grateful to all of the authors who have already donated books to the 2016 MARCHing Books to Kids drive. Thank you for making a positive impact in the lives of kids in need.

The VNS of Iowa Storybook Project serves children birth-17 years of age. You can post your own pledge and learn more about the project at https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/ If you’d like to donate a new or like-new book, please mail it to the address below.

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project
c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to Kids)
1111 9th Street Suite 320
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

 


WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

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What’s cuter than kitties in bunny costumes?

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My new picture book! And it makes a much more practical Easter gift. For a chance to win a copy, head over to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks/

aggie_cover_front_r-1

Post your favorite bunny picture on my Facebook page, and you are entered to win a free hard cover book and the audio book CD (US residents).

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Meanwhile, the real Easter bunny will be kissing winter good-bye…hello razors!

legs

 


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

PBPiO badge

#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


MARCHing Books to Kids is underway! Throughout the month of March, I am reaching out to all of the book lovers, reviewers, bloggers, and authors who’d like to help get quality books into the hands of deserving kids. Happily ever after starts with one book and one child…

Featured Image -- 1290

Last year, I started the literacy initiative, “MARCHing Books to Kids” to raise awareness and collect books for children of incarcerated parents. I was delighted to have authors and lit lovers from all over the world support this cause. In fact, we received books from generous people in 11 different states and 4 countries! I hope this year will be just as great! The feedback from the participating families was incredible. They were especially touched that authors signed books for their children. That was a new experience for most of the families.

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

girl wagon

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

fist book

I celebrate the power of the picture book through my Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO) project where I share literacy information and resources and encourage people to donate books to kids in need.

Throughout the month of March I invite you to participate in a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.  Book lovers can donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books. We accept books for kids birth-17 years of age, so the sky is the limit!

Books may be mailed or sent via Amazon 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 .  I share posts on my social media, so please include photos, book links, etc.

Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge (see below) and #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.

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

I appreciate your help spreading the word! Please share on your blogs and social media. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

PBPiO badge


Embed from Getty Images

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.

My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:

  1. Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child.  Reading picture books provides a time for  parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on.  That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
  2. Picture books are funny.  Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?
  3. Picture books are serious.  Some of the heaviest social and personal issues seem more approachable when told through a picture book.  This can be a fantastic opportunity to explore situations, fears, and events that children might otherwise be reluctant to explore.
  4. Picture books are art. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the limitless artistic styles waiting to be explored within a picture book.
  5. Picture books are ideal for reluctant readers. The illustrations in picture books help children understand the story better by providing visual clues of what is happening in the story and what might happen next. While a chapter book, filled with lines of text, might be intimidating-a picture book welcomes us to step inside-no special skills required. And wordless picture books provide an excellent opportunity to explore a story, without reading a single word. Wordless picture books can also be a great tool when working with English language learners.
  6. Picture books teach. I challenge you to find a non-fiction topic NOT explored in picture books. From world cultures and traditions, to life-cycles, or politics, picture books have it all. Teachers often use non-fiction picture books to supplement a specific topic or concept.
  7. Picture books are accessible. There is a reason librarians place picture books in bins on the floor and on low shelves. Picture books can take it, they are meant to be handled.
  8. Picture books make kids better readers. When we read picture books with our children, we are laying a strong foundation for their emergent literacy skills. The simple text helps them become skilled at sounding out words. They learn about the context and structure of stories, and recognize the relationship between cause and effect. All of these skills are crucial to becoming fluent readers.
  9. Picture books are NOT just for young children. As children get older, reading becomes a solitary adventure. We often push them (too fast, too soon) into chapter books and novels. But your child should not be denied this sacred time with you just because he/she is “growing up”. No one, nope, no one is EVER too old for picture books.
  10. Picture books are empowering. Children depend on adults for so much. We tell them what to eat, how to dress, what to say, and when to play. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for children to feel empowered. Going to the library, and allowing your child to choose his/her own picture books, is a great opportunity for him/her to feel independent. Very young children are able to memorize their favorite picture book stories. I don’t believe there is any better feeling of accomplishment than when a child can “read” a picture book to his/her parent. Can he/she truly read the words? No, but “reading” what he/she has memorized means he/she is internalizing the structure of a story. He/she knows it has a beginning, a middle and an end. He/she knows how to hold the book, and to turn the pages at the appropriate time.  And this tiny person is reading, to you, all by him/herself!  How cool is that?!

I hope my top ten list encourages you to crack open a picture book, with your child or loved one, and enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment and share what you love most about picture books. I am interested to know how picture books impact you and your family.

kid read


UPDATE-Children’s authors and lit lovers are giving BIG to help kids of incarcerated parents!

MARCHing Books to Kids launched just over a week ago, and children’s authors are already making a big impact.  Thanks to all of you who have donated books and told others about the initiative. 

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 are able to visit their parents and read a special book together.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

How can you help?  Donate a book.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

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 picture 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 Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

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. Please include our badge and ‪#‎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, and Greece.

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

 

burn books

PBPiO badge


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 melt 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 these programs have, 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…

Now, through the month of March, Picture Book Pass it On is launching 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

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. Please include our badge and ‪#‎PBPiO‬, and #‎MARCHingBookstoKids

PBPiO badge

#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, and Greece!

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

 

burn books

 


To say the past year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

cat

I self-published my first children’s picture book around this time in 2014. Aside from my first year teaching, I have never worked so hard, or felt more inept. But, in both cases, I was determined to learn what I needed to know in order to be successful.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I set out to learn the best way to publish my book, but I gained much more than that. I started this blog, fumbled my way around Twitter and a few other social sites, and met a lot of truly wonderful people along the way.

Success is a relative term. And, for me, it has been a dichotomy. I have enjoyed many successful moments. But, for whatever reason, I still beat myself up about my shortcomings (not sure if that is an indie author thing or just an all-around author thing).

bully

They say success breeds success, and despite my attempts to sabotage my own, I’ve managed to publish a second children’s book. I was blessed to work with the same illustrator on what we both feel is our best work to date.

I’ll host the book launch party for my second book tomorrow. And, I’ll also celebrate the one-year anniversary of the book that started me on this wild and winding path.

To mark the event, I am offering both books for $.99 on Kindle from December 4-11.

I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to all of my online friends and colleagues. Being part of this community has definitely been one of the best aspects of becoming an author.

than

I wish each of you joy in the things you love to do. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to leave a reply about your joyful moments.

Here are some of the moments that have brought me joy:

 

 

 


Traveling the indie publishing road can be a daunting and lonely journey. For the novice, there are plenty of opportunities to take a wrong turn, stumble, or lose sight of your destination. The entire experience practically begs you to throw yourself an occasional Pity Party, or two, or three.

Birthday boy having a tantrum

I have hosted some killer woe-is-me celebrations. Instead of a hangover, these blow outs always leave me in a funk. My last, and most impressive, fete was a month-long celebration after the rush of my book launch abruptly came to a halt. I won’t liken it to post-par tum depression (not out loud anyway), but it was pretty miserable.

Sad Pink stick figure sitting on a white chair

Everything leading up to the launch of my book was exhilarating. I had the launch party to plan, books to order, swag to buy. The launch party was a huge success. I sold hundreds of books that month and scheduled a handful of author visits. I received scads of 5-star reviews, and my book was featured on a few blogs. People were buzzing about my book, and I was on cloud nine. Then…crickets. Nothing happened. I went from living and breathing my book to staring at a pile of them. Cue the Pity-Party music and back-up dancers.

Revival

Gloom and Doom became my BFF’s. I beat myself up for not selling more books. I couldn’t think of anything to write. And, to make matters worse, I had spent a lot of money on self-publishing a book I was sure would never again see the light of day.

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Since I couldn’t write, I read. I went to the library. I started reading picture books again. I found solace in the kid lit community. I read blog posts and articles, tweets and memes.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.

sci fi

The author’s message helped me alter how I perceive my success and allow myself to appreciate the little moments as much as the big ones. That paradigm shift removed a huge roadblock in my writing career-a roadblock constructed by me.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.

pinch

Instead of complaining that only 5 people showed up at my Barnes and Noble author event, I pinch myself. I look around and think, “OMG! My book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!” Rather than beating myself up that my online sales are not in the thousands, I take pride knowing a book I wrote is in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.

Not that I’m a masochist, but I kind of like this whole pinching thing. It seems the more I do it, the more “pinch able” moments come my way. My book is on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). The Horn Book Magazine reviewed a collection of indie books for the first time in the history of the magazine, and my book was included (bad pinch on that one-Roger Sutton is not a fairy fan). School children in the UK chose to dress up as Dust Fairies (complete with matching dust bunny dolls) for World Book Day (pinch). My book has been a #1 Kindle on Amazon (pinch). I started a successful literacy initiative, and we’ve collected more than 300 books for children of incarcerated parents (pinch).

But, the best “pinches” by far, are all of the incredibly kind, gifted, generous people I have met on this journey. Thanks for your inspiration, humor, and support.

I love hearing from you. Tell me your best pity or pinch party story!

Thank you written in hands

Here’s my original blog post from last December:

Embed from Getty Images

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.  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.  This 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.


WARNING-Shameless Plug to follow…

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I’m celebrating the 6 month birthday of my first published children’s book. The whole experience has been more than a bit surreal. I never dreamed I’d see my self-published book on the shelves of libraries and bookstores, let alone that people would ask me to sign copies. I also never thought I’d come up with another idea for a book. But, Kevin Richter and I are currently working on book #2 in what has now become a series of Dust Fairy books. Needless to say, I am blessed.

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The star of our newest book is Absolutely Aggie. She longs to join the fairy band, but she is too loud, too bold, and just too much for the more dainty fairies in the group. Aggie follows her heart, and she eventually discovers you don’t have to be perfect to find your perfect fit. You can read the latest Dust Fairy updates on Facebook.

KevToon_Aggie_v2

I’m also blessed to enjoy the company of my awesome blogging buddies. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

monkey

So, here comes the plug.

Drain Plug

In honor of the 6 month anniversary of my book, I am offering the Kindle version for 99 cents for 6 days. If you enjoy picture books with colorful pictures and subtle, yet sincere take-away messages, you won’t be disappointed in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale.

Thanks to Chris, The Story Reading Ape for pointing out that I previously did not include the Amazon link. Be sure to check out his blog. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for Indie authors! He is amazingly generous (not sure he’ll let you eat his dishes, though).

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Here is the US Amazon link to get your .99 cent Kindle book:

The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NT6MXM0/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_awdm_KZKvvb1XC9JFF via @amazon

Here’s a preview of the book I created using Animoto:

Happy reading!

Are you celebrating something special? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply!

elephant asleep on rug


Wow! That’s all I can say about the wonderful authors who donated books to MARCHing Books to Kids of incarcerated parents book drive. I dropped off another huge collection today, and I was able to spend time in the VNS library. It was great to see all of the books on the shelves, but the best part was seeing all of your books. I was able to “Drop Everything And Read” a few days late, and I read many of your awesome books for the first time! You authors are as talented as you are generous. It was a pleasure to read the books you’ve created. The VNS staff members are very appreciative of the outpouring of donations from authors in 12 US states, and 3 additional countries. I’ll have the final book count very soon, but I can tell you the sentiment outweighs that total by loads and loads. Tabby, the program coordinator, mentioned how touched the inmates have been by the kind gesture from so many people who do not even reside in our community. Thanks to you, it will be a very special Mother’s Day for these ladies. Many of the MARCHing Books to Kids donations are being distributed in May. I am so happy to have been a small part in the work the VNS is doing to serve these families. Thank you so much for your generosity!

UPDATE-We received over 312 books and 450 Sesame Street Books/DVD Kits (Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration)

Here’s a shot of VNS staff members proudly displaying some of the donations.

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Here’s a shot of the VNS library. Every month 60-80 books are sent to children of incarcerated parents (along with an audio recording of the parent reading the book to his/her child). They serve children birth-17 years of age.

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Here’s what I imagine the VNS staff and volunteers do every morning. They are awesome!

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It’s never too late to donate. Learn more about the VNS Storybook Project and how they connect children of incarcerated parents with their children through the magic of books. https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

You can donate books anytime. Your book donations 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

mom jail

If you participated in MARCHing Books to Kids (in any way) or PBPiO, please feel free to post a comment below and include a link to your books or author page or blog.


If you are an author, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “Show, don’t tell.” So, why not go one better and let a video do the talking?

camera

One of the best things about being a children’s author is visiting schools. I love reading to the children and answering their questions about my book and about being an author. One of the most common questions is, “How did you make the book?” As a self-published author, I had a hand in every aspect of the publishing process, so my answer to their question could get pretty involved. Since most of us have an attention span of a…”Oh, look, glitter!” You get the idea. I decided to create a video to give kids a peek inside the book making process.

smurf

I am not a tech-savvy gal, and I am not made of money. So, imagine my delight when I discovered I could create a video for FREE! Yep, free. And, wait for it…EASY!

gluten

I used Animoto to create a short preview video. It is free to create a video that is 30 seconds long. It doesn’t seem like you can get much out of 30 seconds, but I was able to create a trailer to suit my needs.I later upgraded to the $30.00 per year plan to create a longer preview and the “Making the Book” video seen below.

No, I am not getting a commission from Animoto (although, that would be nice). I am just excited to tell people about it, because I was intimidated by the prospect of creating a trailer for my first book. That changed when I found this site.

Yessss!

boy fist

I love sharing things about my self-publishing journey with others. I hope this information is helpful, and I wish you well as you forge your own path.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I also love to hear from you. Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What cool things have you learned as a self-published author?

Tah-Dah…Here is my “Making the Book” video:

And, here is the preview trailer:


Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to indulge me in my shameless Easter Plug (re-posted below). We have a winner! I am happy to send a copy of my book and a dust bunny adoption kit to Clarike Bowman-Jahn. Everyone who “liked” or commented is welcome to a copy of the PDF version of my book. I’ll contact you to send that along.

photo 5

Little more than a year ago, I was working to get my first children’s picture book published. At the same time, I was making a clumsy effort at starting this blog. Social media was a completely uncharted territory for me. Millions of clicks later, I am blessed to have made many friends online. I am grateful for the connections, laughs, and knowledge we share. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors.

Okay…another shameless plug…

I am currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series. I am pleased to introduce “Absolutely Aggie”.

KevToon_Aggie_v2

WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

200381425-001

Something DUSTY is going on!

duster

Head over to my Facebook page for the details. https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

I am offering a special Easter GIVEAWAY. You can enter for the chance to win The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale and an official Dust Bunny adoption kit. In this book, dust fairies come out at night and create all sorts of messes in our homes. The naughty nymphs hold crumb-spitting contests and fire soot from their slingshots. And they have a “fairy” good time doing it!

photo 5

To enter to WIN, simply LIKE my Facebook page, and ANSWER the following question in the FB COMMENTS.

What messes do you blame on dust fairies?

Or simply like or comment below to win a PDF version of the book.

man


I was both nervous and delighted when Matthew Winner, The Busy Librarian, and all-around great guy, invited me to come on his Let’s Get Busy Podcast.

I was excited, because I had never participated in a podcast. It sounded like a lot of fun.

scooter

I was nervous, because Matthew typically interviews folks such as New York Times Bestselling Author, Ame Dyckman (Wolfie the Bunny), and Nick Bruel, author of The Bad Kitty Series. I’m just an indie author, from Iowa. Someone pinch me!

pinch

We talked about my strange journey into self-publishing The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, investing time in building a presence on social media, and how connecting kids with books absolutely can make a difference.

fairy fan

If any of those things interest you, check out the podcast at http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/

Meanwhile, I will be doing this…

monkey


WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

200381425-001

Something DUSTY is going on!

duster

Head over to my Facebook page for the details. https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

I am offering a special Easter GIVEAWAY. You can enter for the chance to win The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale and an official Dust Bunny adoption kit. In this book, dust fairies come out at night and create all sorts of messes in our homes. The naughty nymphs hold crumb-spitting contests and fire soot from their slingshots. And they have a “fairy” good time doing it!

photo 5

To enter to WIN, simply LIKE my Facebook page, and ANSWER the following question in the FB COMMENTS.

What messes do you blame on dust fairies?

Or simply like or comment below to win a PDF version of the book.

man


Why would anyone want to put a picture book in prison? I’ll give you 2.7 Million reasons why…

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

prison

But, through programs like the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project, some of that stress melt away when kids are able to visit their parent and read 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 they encourage their children to read with them and in their absence.

mom jail

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

How can you help?  Donate a book.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

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!

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

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

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture 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 Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

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. Please include our badge and ‪#‎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, and Greece!

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

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

Please consider sharing this message on social media to help spread the word about #PBPiO and #MARCHingBookstoKids.


I am celebrating the power of picture books through an initiative called #MARCHingBookstoKids https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO Please join us by donating a book to a child of an incarcerated parent.

prison

The Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project is collecting books for children birth-17 years of age. Each month, VNS volunteers record an incarcerated parent reading a book to his/her child. The book and the recording are mailed to the child to keep. Please include a note stating that your book is part of the Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to KIds)

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

Thank you for making a difference to a family in need.

burn books


I write books for children. I’ve actually managed to get one published. But, I have a LOT to learn about the craft. The ReFoReMo Challenge was created by, children’s book writer, Carrie Charley Brown. You can learn more about it here http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo/the-reforemo-challenge-is-coming-soon

As Brown puts it, the basic idea is: “As picture book writers, it is necessary to read heaps and gobs of picture books to truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them.  This challenge will be a place to build your reading background with current widely recommended picture books, research, learn how to use mentor texts, and share GREAT picture book models.”

The challenge begins March 1 and ends March 31. So, I am a little late to the party. To add insult to injury, I am not exactly following the guidelines. Instead of researching picture books, I am researching the writers. My search today resulted in some mind-blowing (to me) facts about Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree and numerous poetry books for children. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a peek into the weird and wonderful life of a true Renaissance Man.

  1. He served in Japan and Korea for the United States Army.
  2. In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy Magazine.
  3. Silverstein’s editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, encouraged him to write children’s poetry.
  4. He wrote the lyrics and music for many hit songs for artists such as Dr. Hook, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn. He wrote most of the Dr. Hook songs, including “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone
  5. Silverstein composed original music for several films and displayed a musical versatility in these projects, playing guitar, piano, saxophone and trombone.
  6. He had a popular following on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Among his best-known comedy songs were “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” and “The Smoke-Off” (a tale of a contest to determine who could roll—or smoke—marijuana joints faster).
  7. Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue” won a 1970 Grammy. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his song “I’m Checkin’ Out” in the film Postcards from the Edge. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
  8. He believed that written works needed to be read on paper—the correct paper for the particular work. He usually would not allow his poems and stories to be published unless he could choose the type, size, shape, color, and quality of the paper. Being a book collector, he took seriously the feel of the paper, the look of the book, the fonts, and the binding. Most of his books did not have paperback editions because he did not want his work to be diminished in any way.
  9. In January 1959, Look, Charlie: A Short History of the Pratfall was a chaotic off-Broadway comedy staged by Silverstein, and he went on to write more than 100 one-act plays.
  10. Silverstein’s estate continues to control copyright permissions on his work.

mouse

UPDATE-Children’s authors are giving BIG!

MARCHing Books to Kids launched just over a week ago, and children’s authors are already making a big impact.  Thanks to all of you who have blogged or re-blogged about the initiative.  And thank you to every person who has donated a book to help a child and an incarcerated parent connect through the power of reading. If you’d like to learn how you can help get books to kids in need visit Picture Book Pass it On (https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO)

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 melt away when kids are able to visit their parent and read 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 they encourage their children to read with them and in their absence.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

How can you help?  Donate a book.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

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!

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

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

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture 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 Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

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. Please include our badge and ‪#‎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, and Greece!

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

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

Knowing that the future of our country is inextricably linked to our skills in literacy, and you can make a difference immediately.  We have known for as long as we have had written language that literacy is the vehicle for other learning. When children have access to books, we empower them to develop a lifelong love for learning, which strengthens us all. http://www.americanliteracynews.com/reading-fundamentals/americas-literacy-crisis-an-overlooked-epidemic

burn books

PBPiO badge


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 melt away when kids are able to visit their parent and read 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 they encourage their children to read with them and in their absence.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

How can you help?  Donate a book.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

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

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

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

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture 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 Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

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. Please include our badge and ‪#‎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, and Greece!

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

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

Knowing that the future of our country is inextricably linked to our skills in literacy, and you can make a difference immediately.  We have known for as long as we have had written language that literacy is the vehicle for other learning. When children have access to books, we empower them to develop a lifelong love for learning, which strengthens us all. http://www.americanliteracynews.com/reading-fundamentals/americas-literacy-crisis-an-overlooked-epidemic

burn books

PBPiO badge


World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.

The World Read Aloud Day “Speak Your Story” Blogging Challenge, created by Matthew Winner begins February 9 and runs through March 8. If you choose to take the challenge, each week you will be asked to write a post in response to a prompt or question, for a total of 4 posts counting down to World Read Aloud Day on March 3.

Week 3: February 23 – March 1

Find a puppet, stuffed animal, or image of your favorite kid lit character. Next, take a selfie with the character. You now have a picture with your WRAD companion. He or she can travel with you wherever you go and whenever you speak up about World Read Aloud Day. Post the image as your profile picture on all of your most-used social media venues (Skype, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter).

My computer is not cooperating, so the image of Walter and me, although adorable, is currently not available to post.  Here he is flying solo…

My computer relented and allowed me to post my Walter and Me selfie…

fartingphoto

For extra credit, try to get three of your friends (in school or on social media) to do the same. In no time we’ll be in some terrific company. Nothing like an awesome profile partner when it comes to spreading the good word about reading aloud!

When you’ve finished, post the photo to your week 3 blogging challenge post. Below the photo share a short narrative explaining why this book character is meaningful to you.

I chose Walter the Farting Dog for my companion.  Why?  Well, farts are funny, and Walter is a hero.  I also chose it because I was inspired by the author’s admission that although he had written the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, his Walter the Farting Dog manuscript was rejected for 5 solid years before it was published.  I figured if rejection was good enough for the man who brought us E.T., I could sure give it a shot!  My first children’s picture book was published in November 2014.

If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories!

Happy blogging!

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It’s a little early, but I wanted to reach out to all of the book lovers and authors who’d like to join me to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

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Last year, I started the initiative, “MARCHing Books to Kids” to raise awareness and collect books for children of incarcerated parents. I was delighted to have authors and lit lovers from all over the world support this cause. In fact, we collected 348 books from generous people in 11 different states and 4 countries! I hope this year will be just as great! The feedback from the participating families was incredible. They were especially touched that authors signed books for their children. That was a new experience for most of the families.

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

girl wagon

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

fist book

I celebrate the power of the picture book through my Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO) project where I share literacy information and resources and encourage people to donate books to kids in need.

Throughout the month of March I invite you to participate in a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.  PBPiO encourages book lovers to donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture 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 Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.  Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

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.  Please include our badge and #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.

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

I appreciate your help spreading the word! Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

PBPiO badge


Okay, so I am waaay behind this week.  But, I really want to participate in this week’s WRAD Blogging Challenge-so I’m improvising a bit.  If you’d like to play along, just leave your answers in the comments section.

3d6f3-litworldwrad15logo-web

World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.  Learn more at http://www.litworld.org/wrad/

The World Read Aloud Day “Speak Your Story” Blogging Challenge, created by Matthew Winner, begins February 9 and runs through March 8. If you choose to take the challenge, each week you will be asked to write a post in response to a prompt or question, for a total of 4 posts counting down to World Read Aloud Day.

If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories! Happy blogging!

Week 2: February 16 – 22
You & Someone New

Answer the following questions with someone you haven’t spoken to about reading before. The person might be a student or a family member, a colleague or a sales clerk. The focus here is on starting a conversation and sharing the joy of reading aloud. Make sure to exchange and enjoy answers with one another before sharing them with us.

Okay, this is where you come in.  I got busy this week and did not find time to partner with anyone to be my “Someone New”.  If you’d like to be that special someone, just post your responses in my comments section.  Come on, it will be fun!  If you don’t want to be my huckleberry, please share the challenge on your own blog with your “Someone New”. 

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1. I think everyone in the world should read…

Me: Yikes!  Everyone in the world? No pressure there…I’d have to say The Lorax.  I think the overriding message of taking responsibility for our actions and our planet is universal.  And, the Lorax is just too darn cute!

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

lorax

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

Me: Am I allowed to say Brad Pitt?  Okay, just kidding (sort of).  I love reading with my son.  So, he’d be my first choice.

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

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3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

Me: Sadly, I don’t do much of this anymore.  I used to have a lot of fun exaggerating the narration in the No, David! books by David Shannon. Improvising and adding our own list of No’s was always great fun (insert 6 year-old boy gross-out humor).

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

daviddave2

4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

Kids’ books-Shel Silverstein My books-biographies and old-school science fiction (circa 50’s-60’s). Please note-those are not my feet and I wish that was me in the other photo, meow!

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

tatoosci fi

5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

Me: I was not read to as a child, so I probably live vicariously through my son when we read together.  You can read more about what I love about picture books here: Top Ten Reasons Picture Books Rock (sneak peek-#2 Picture books are funny.  Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?)

pidgeonfarting

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

Thanks for playing along.  Remember, If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories.

burn books


The World Read Aloud Day “Speak Your Story” Blogging Challenge begins February 9 and runs through March 8. If you choose to take the challenge, each week you will be asked to write a post in response to a prompt or question (outlined below), for a total of 4 posts counting down to World Read Aloud Day.

Each of the prompts addresses the WRAD theme “Speak Your Story.” Speak Your Story encapsulates that simple yet effective way that we connect with others by sharing our stories aloud. Your voice is powerful and when a story is shared a bond is made.

WRAD Speak Your Story Blogging Challenge: Weekly Outline

Week 1: February 9 – 15

http://www.busylibrarian.com/2013/02/wrad-blogging-challenge-week-1.html/
What is your favorite book to read aloud or to hear read aloud and why?

Your first mission is to answer this question. We are using this prompt to bring awareness to the act of reading aloud. Consider it an opportunity to connect with others through the shared experience of hearing stories read aloud.After answering the prompt, share a short description of how you plan to celebrate WRAD on March 4. With whom will you celebrate? Where will you be? If you have celebrated WRAD in the past, what activities brought you and those with whom you celebrated the most joy? If you haven’t finalized plans, of if this will be your first WRAD celebration, use this space to share your brainstorming process, and direct your readers to litworld.org/worldreadaloudday for activities and recommendations.
Week 2: February 16 – 22

You & Someone New

Answering the following questions with someone you haven’t spoken to about reading before. The person might be a student or a family member, a colleague or a sales clerk. The focus here is on starting a conversation and sharing the joy of reading aloud. Make sure to exchange and enjoy answers with one another before sharing them with us.1. I think everyone in the world should read…Me:Someone New:(repeat this format for the remaining questions)2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

Week 3: February 23 – March 1

Profile Partner

Find a puppet, stuffed animal, or image of your favorite kid lit character. Next, take a selfie with the character. You now have a picture with your WRAD companion. He or she can travel with you wherever you go and whenever you speak up about World Read Aloud Day. Post the image as your profile picture on all of your most-used social media venues (Skype, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter).

For extra credit, try to get three of your friends (in school or on social media) to do the same. In no time we’ll be in some terrific company. Nothing like an awesome profile partner when it comes to spreading the good word about reading aloud!

When you’ve finished, post the photo to your week 3 blogging challenge post. Below the photo share a short narrative explaining why this book character is meaningful to you.

Week 4: March 2 – 8

Speak Your Story

It’s time to read aloud and to let your story be heard! Select a favorite text, or a personal story that you love to share out loud, and make a video. If you don’t have a webcam, are having technical difficulties, or prefer not to be on camera, you can also translate this challenge into a written post. Share what you will be reading on World Read Aloud Day, and why you chose this particular piece to read aloud.

If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories! Happy blogging!

If you plan to participate, please post a comment below.  Thank you!


I love picture books, and I often write about them.  In my post, Top 10 Reasons Picture Books Rock, I touch upon the importance of continuing to read aloud to your child even AFTER he/she is able to read independently.  If you are making this transition, you may find the following articles helpful. I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

yes kid

7 reasons why reading aloud to older kids is still very important

If you need further convincing that you should be reading to your older child. In this article, educator Jim Trelease explains why reading aloud to your child, no matter what her age, is the magic bullet for creating a lifelong reader.

The hidden benefits of reading aloud – even for older kids

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Here is another great resource for reading to your older child.  This article includes an extensive list of recommended books.

Reading Aloud With Children Twelve & Older

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Do you read aloud with your older child?  I’d love to hear about your experience-Mine is heading into the double digits next year!  Yikes!

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I am happy to join gargoylebruce on his Oddity Odyssey.  The challenge is all about finding books that are odd FOR YOU!

I headed to our local library last week, in search of a weird picture book.  I was not disappointed when I discovered this little beauty.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge is not a title one typically finds in the Easy Reader section.

The somewhat grotesque illustrations stand out among the “sea” of kid-lit cuties.

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The subject matter was undeniably yucky!  But, I decided to “dive” into its pages.

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I’m guessing this book is not at the top of the most checked-out titles list.  Probably just a few Wednesday Adams-types and I took the “plunge”.

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You know what they say about judging a book by its cover?  Well, it turns out this book was much “deeper” than I suspected.

The book is based on the true story of a barge called the Mobro 4000.  By the late 1980’s, Long Island’s landfills were overflowing and polluting the groundwater.  City officials outlawed burying any more garbage.  Since hauling the trash upstate was very expensive, the decision was made to ship it down South.  In March 1987, the barge left Long Island, piled high with 3,100 tons of rotting garbage, looking for a place to discharge its cargo. It traveled all the way from New York to North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, and Belize, but no community wanted to let it unload. After 162 days at sea, the Garbage Barge returned to Long Island, and the trash was incinerated.  The media attention highlighted our country’s waste disposal problem, and recycling became much more widely practiced.

The moral of the story?  Don’t Make so Much Garbage, and trashy books can make a big “splash”!

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Have you read any weird books lately?

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no books

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

I recently started a literacy initiative encouraging people to donate new or gently used books to needy kids, locally-wherever you are.  It has caught on in the US, and we also have people passing it on in the UK and Australia.  Many children’s book authors are participating by giving local kids in need copies of the books they’ve written.

We now have a shiny new badge.  Please feel free to copy and paste the badge.  Add it to your blog, post it in your tweets, or use it however you see fit to promote Picture Book Pass it On.  Remember to share your giving story on our new Facebook page Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

PBPiO badge

A Child’s Picture Book Bill of Rights…

Never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

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I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her.  And, they deserve to have books of their own.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

When I look back on my early childhood memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.   We were poor, and picture books were not a top priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either.

I guess that’s why picture books hold such a special place in my heart now. Perhaps that’s why, like a starved hyena, I gobble them up. Maybe it’s why I chose to write my own. I know it is why I jump up on my soapbox, touting the power of picture books.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO) to give kids in need their very own books.

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#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…

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.

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PBPiO badge


I recently wrote and self-published my fist children’s picture book. As a self-published author, I also act as my own booking agent. I was able to weasel my way, I mean I was invited, to read my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale during pajama story time at our local library. I was pretty pumped that I was able to find adult-sized bunny pajamas and slippers (don’t judge).

I know a few children’s authors who are a bit nervous when faced with reading aloud to a live audience. I used to teach sixth graders, so nothing scares me! I was definitely pumped to share my book with kids and their parents.

Although authoring a children’s book has always been a dream of mine, I have to say that the whole experience has been surreal. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that my book could be sitting in someone’s lap at this very moment, and that my words might touch them in some way.

Anyway, back to the library. I was sitting in my rocker, awaiting the arrival of my captive, I mean enthusiastic audience. A few pajama-clad kids began to amble in and make their way to the carpet squares arranged before me. From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the whirling dervish as he bounded into the room. My book was propped up on the table next to me, and he zipped right to it. Clutching it to his chest, he stammered, and struggled to find the words fast enough, “I want to take this book, I want to, I mean, can I, please borrow this book from the li-bary today?” “I really like those pictures”, he said.

So, I leafed through the book with him, showing him the best parts. I explained that I wrote the words and that Kevin drew all of the pictures. “I want to be an illustrator when I grow up.” I told him how wonderful that was, and I told him he could do that for his job one day. “I am working, I am trying, I have been doing really better at coloring inside the lines at school.” At that, my heart dropped. All I could think to blurt out was, “You know, coloring in the lines is really overrated. The best part about being an illustrator is you get to make your own lines, and you color them however you choose.” Although he was only 4, my words seemed to find him, he got it.

My mind immediately began playing a Harry Chapin song, Flowers are Red. If you’ve never heard the song, you really should give it a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6viDG7Qp_-U/

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

I have to say, the whole encounter with the little boy was pretty awesome. I am not an artist, but writing and publishing my own book/s certainly gives me the luxury of coloring my words in or outside the lines, and most of the time, coloring inside the lines IS overrated.


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I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.  According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.  That’s just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

I recently launched the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO).  I encourage people to donate new or gently used books to needy kids, locally-wherever you are.  It has caught on in the US, and we also have people “Passing it On” in the UK and Australia.  Many children’s book authors are participating by giving local kids in need, copies of the books they’ve written.

With a few exceptions, the PBPiO charge is being led by an all-female squad of super-heroes (a.k.a. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Picture Book).  Frankly, I am thrilled to have anyone join me in getting picture books onto the laps of deserving kids.  But, I’d like to welcome super-dads and picture book-loving dudes to join in the fun.  Will you help celebrate the power of picture books and accept the PBPiO call to action?  It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#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…

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.

Learn more about Picture Book Pass it On:

https://michelleeastmanbooks.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/a-childs-picture-book-bill-of-rights/

Share your giving story on our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

We now have a shiny new badge.  Please feel free to copy and paste the badge.  Add it to your blog, post it in your tweets, or use it however you see fit to promote Picture Book Pass it On.

PBPiO badge


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November is Picture Book Month, and I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO)

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO)

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#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…

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.

UPDATE:  We now have children’s authors in the US, the UK, and Australia passing on autographed copies of their own books to kids in need.  How cool is that?!

PBPiO

We are donating a copy of one of our favorite picture books to Joshua Christian Academy.

I am Passing it On to @MulberryAndy


The Girl with the Picture Book Tattoo

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Spoiler Alert…I don’t have a picture book tattoo. But, as I was driving my son to school today, the idea of a picture book tattoo popped into my head. A lot of weird thoughts pop in and out of there, so I didn’t give it much thought. But, imagine my surprise, when I later opened The Story Connection Daily and saw this article: 50 Incredible Tattoos Inspired by Books from Childhood. While I scrolled through the photos, I was reminded of the truly remarkable pieces of art picture books house.

But, I was most struck by the poignant simplicity of many of the choices.

I wondered why a person would choose to permanently mark herself with Lemony Snicket’s line, “The world is quiet here.” The answer, in her words, “the world is quiet here,” reflecting its dedication to keeping the world quiet, in other words, peaceful, knowledgeable and safe.”

Other choices needed no explanation: Shel Silverstein’s sketch of the old man from The Giving Tree, Dr. Seuss’ teetering stack of turtles, or Margret Wise Brown’s scampering Runaway Rabbit. One image said it all.

As I reflected on the imagery, conveyed by both text and illustration, I was reminded of the indelible imprint picture books etch on each one of us.

I may not have a picture book tattooed on my skin, but I proudly wear their marks on my heart.


Or, anytime, really. But, it wasn’t until I became a mom that I really began to savor that smell.

To be honest, I never knew it as a child. When I look back at my earliest memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.  Picture books were not a top-priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either. The weird thing is that I never knew what I didn’t have; I wasn’t conscious of the fact that my childhood was devoid of picture books. It wasn’t until my son came along…that it hit me-hard. I’ll never forget that night. We were curled up together, lights dimmed, reading our way through Goodnight Moon for the 100th time. He looked up, and asked me a very simple question, “Mom, what was your favorite bedtime story when you were little?” As I struggled to grasp hold of the memory, I could hear the sound of my tears, dropping onto the pages of the board book. I couldn’t answer; I didn’t have an answer.

Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

When I look back on my early childhood memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.   Picture books were not a top priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either.

I guess that’s why picture books hold such a special place in my heart now. Perhaps that’s why, like a starved hyena, I gobble them up. Maybe it’s why I chose to write my own. I know it is why I jump up on my soapbox, touting the power of picture books.

It’s Picture Book Month, people! So, crack open a picture book. Cuddle with your child or loved one. Take a whiff, and enjoy.

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I started a new literacy initiative called Picture Book Pass it On #PBPiO, giving free books to kids in need.  Learn how you can help kids in your area https://michelleeastmanbooks.wordpress.com/about/picture-book-pass-it-on-pbpio/

Share your giving story on our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO


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I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.

My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:

  1. Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child.  Reading picture books provides a time for parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on.  That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
  2. Picture books are funny.  Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?
  3. Picture books are serious.  Some of the heaviest social and personal issues seem more approachable when told through a picture book.  This can be a fantastic opportunity to explore situations, fears, and events that children might otherwise be reluctant to explore.
  4. Picture books are art. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the limitless artistic styles waiting to be explored within a picture book.
  5. Picture books are ideal for reluctant readers. The illustrations in picture books help children understand the story better by providing visual clues of what is happening in the story and what might happen next. While a chapter book, filled with lines of text, might be intimidating-a picture book welcomes us to step inside-no special skills required. And wordless picture books provide an excellent opportunity to explore a story, without reading a single word. Wordless picture books can also be a great tool when working with English language learners.
  6. Picture books teach. I challenge you to find a non-fiction topic NOT explored in picture books. From world cultures and traditions, to life-cycles, or politics, picture books have it all. Teachers often use non-fiction picture books to supplement a specific topic or concept.
  7. Picture books are accessible. There is a reason librarians place picture books in bins on the floor and on low shelves. Picture books can take it, they are meant to be handled.
  8. Picture books make kids better readers. When we read picture books with our children, we are laying a strong foundation for their emergent literacy skills. The simple text helps them become skilled at sounding out words. They learn about the context and structure of stories, and recognize the relationship between cause and effect. All of these skills are crucial to becoming fluent readers.
  9. Picture books are NOT just for young children. As children get older, reading becomes a solitary adventure. We often push them (too fast, too soon) into chapter books and novels. But your child should not be denied this sacred time with you just because he/she is “growing up”. No one, nope, no one is EVER too old for picture books.
  10. Picture books are empowering. Children depend on adults for so much. We tell them what to eat, how to dress, what to say, and when to play. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for children to feel empowered. Going to the library, and allowing your child to choose his/her own picture books, is a great opportunity for him/her to feel independent. Very young children are able to memorize their favorite picture book stories. I don’t believe there is any better feeling of accomplishment than when a child can “read” a picture book to his/her parent. Can he/she truly read the words? No, but “reading” what he/she has memorized means he/she is internalizing the structure of a story. He/she knows it has a beginning, a middle and an end. He/she knows how to hold the book, and to turn the pages at the appropriate time.  And this tiny person is reading, to you, all by him/herself!  How cool is that?!

I hope my top ten list encourages you to crack open a picture book, with your child or loved one, and enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment and share what you love most about picture books. I am interested to know how picture books impact you and your family.


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Too many picture books? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  I am offering a Goodreads Giveaway of my new children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre. The following recommendations were adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy .

I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

Happy Picture Book Month!

An Age-Appropriate Guide to Books:
Your bedtime reading routine will evolve as your child develops physically and intellectually.

Birth to Toddlers

  • Developmental Stage: As babies, children learn by using their five basic senses to explore the world. By age 2 years, a child can use his oral language skills to identify objects and communicate ideas.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Sing lullabies and songs.
    • Choose picture books with 1 or 2 pictures per page that are clear, simple, and filled with vivid colors. Repetition with these books helps foster language development by creating familiarity and associations.
    • Use board or plastic books and allow the child to explore the pages.
    • Help the child discover her senses through textured (e.g. Pat the Cat), scented (“scratch-n-sniff”), or squeaky books.
    • Play with rhythmic activities like clapping rhymes and knee bouncing.
    • Relate story time to nighttime/bedtime through simple “good night” books.
  • Recommended books:
    • Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (fosters early language development)
    • In the Small, Small Pond, by Denise Fleming (uses language that rhymes and repetition)
    • When Mama Comes Home Tonight, by Eileen Spinelli (introduces rituals)
    • Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long (details and reinforces the parent/child bond)

3 to 5 Years Old

  • Developmental Stage: Children in this age group learn that words represent objects and things. They are able to understand shapes, numbers, colors, and seasons. This is a time when children see themselves as the “center of the universe.”
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Read stories that repeat catchy phrases, inspire creativity and make reading enjoyable (rhyming, nonsense words).
    • Look for sturdy, pop-up and pull-tag books to help coordination.
    • Choose short stories that relate to everyday events.
    • Introduce books focusing on the ABCs, counting, colors, and shapes.
    • Kids this age love non-fiction. Read books about dinosaurs, trucks, and farm animals.
    • Select simple folk tales to expand a child’s world.
    • Begin to introduce longer stories and more detailed pictures.
    • Look for stories that can be acted out, such as The Three Little Pigs.
  • Recommended books:
    • On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frazier (story includes nature)
    • The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Relant (creates an association with family)
    • Cowboy Dreams, by Kathi Appelt (includes repetition, rhythm, and word play)
    • Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney (encourages different and new ways to express an idea)
    • There’s Something There!, by Mercer Mayer (ideas that center on the child)

6 to 8 Years Old (Beginning Readers)

  • Developmental Stage: This age group is “grown up” and has many capabilities. They have a good command of language, have well developed imaginations, and are able to describe feelings and events. They like to read about things and events that are real. This is when children start to be able to see things from another person’s viewpoint. Parents and teachers of this age group should encourage children to read on their own as well as with a parent.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Choose short stories with more words per page, pictures that match text, simple chapter books, and big print in chapter books.
    • Let the child choose books with subjects that interest her.
    • Begin to read real-life stories, simple biographies, and mysteries.
    • Have fun with joke and riddle books.
    • Introduce simple magazines.
  • Recommended books:
    • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flourney (story involves multi-culturism)
    • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter (one of the longer editions; introduces fantasies that seem real)
    • May We Sleep Here Tonight?, by Tan Koide (plot that focuses on fear and resolution).
    • The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss (story that involves stereotypes and encourages conversation)

Adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy



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