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

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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

 



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