Gather around people—I just cranked up my random number generator, and I’ve got some winners to announce. Ok, so it’s not as exciting as winning PowerBall, but hey, it’s a close second. Third maybe?? And the winners of Sherrill Cannon’s picture books are:
Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you in a sec to get your addresses. I’d like to thank everyone for entering my Children’s Book Week giveaway last week. Don’t be strangers. Also, I’d like to thank Sherrill Cannon again for providing her books as prizes and Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews for sponsoring the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. As a new blogger it was a good way to jump into the kid lit blogosphere and get my feet wet.
One of my favorite things about Children’s Book Week is the posters. Each year a children’s book illustrator designs a commemorative poster. You can see a nice collection here: Children’s Book Week Posters.
Not only have Sherrill’s books won over a dozen national awards, they manage to teach kids the importance of manners all in rhyming verse. I’ve tried telling stories to little T in rhyme, it ain’t easy! I asked Sherrill to share a few thoughts on what inspires her as a writer:
What inspired you to write these types of books?
Once a teacher, always a teacher”… as the saying goes. I wanted to write books that teach, disguised as fun stories. My inspiration came from the fact that I feel very strongly about “treating others the way you would like to be treated,” and also promoting the idea that having good manners and thinking of others is the best way to encourage young children to grow into responsible adults. These two related concepts, combined with my love of rhyming poetry, are the foundation of my books for children.
What were your favorite books as a child?
My favorite books as a child included Munro Leaf’s books about manners (I guess they had a profound influence on me!) as well as many books of poetry. My mother used to tell us stories as well, one of which resulted in my “Peter and the Whimper-Whineys” book. Also, all the books of my favorite author “Dr. Seuss” – with Horton Hatches the Egg being at the top of my list, which continued to grow with each book he wrote. My favorite comment by a reviewer was when I was referred to as “a modern-day Dr. Seuss.” I really love to write in rhyme!!!
Sherrill has kindly offered three of her books to give away to three lucky readers. There are a few ways to enter: Subscribe to this blog (enter your email in the box in the upper right column), leave a comment to this post, or if you’re on twitter, tweet this post (don’t forget to include my twitter handle @shorttales). Triple your chances and do all three! The giveaway is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada. Now on to the goods…
In Sherrill’s latest book, a dynamic superhero helps children learn to cope with bullies and teaches them ways to be considerate of others. “I am strong, and my flash is bright, And I will defend you and make things all right.”
Read a review at Readers’ Favorite.
The Magic Word
The Magic Word is one that everyone needs to learn. “Elisabeth Keys never said thank you, excuse me or please. She made fun of people, she’d argue and tease. She took what she wanted whenever she could, Elisabeth’s manners were not very good.”
Read a review at Kid Lit Reviews
Greedy and selfish Jimmy learns that it is actually fun to share. The tale begins, “James Alexander’s nickname was Jim, But nobody would be friends with him. No one wanted to play with Jimmy, For Jim Alexander always said, ‘Gimme.’”
Read a review at Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Winners will be chosen randomly and announced Monday May 20. Don’t want to leave things to chance? You can purchase Sherrill’s books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If purchased throughhttp://sbpra.com/curejm, fifty percent of the books’ proceeds benefit the Cure JM Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for Juvenile Myositis.
There are lot more books to give away this week, take a moment to check out some of the other kid lit blogs participating in the hop…
There’s a lot of talk lately about kids growing up in front of screens. Long gone are the days of cartoons delegated to Saturday mornings—kids have a pick of not one, but several television channels with non-stop children’s programming. On top of that you have computers at home to surf the net, video games to while away the hours, and the growing prevalence of mobile phones used for entertainment (who hasn’t seen a harried parent shove an iPhone in front of a whiny baby?). Screen-Free Week gives us a chance to break the cycle!
Organized by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, Screen-Free Week takes place from April 29-May 5. That’s seven days of no TV, computer, video or mobile games, or any other screen you use for entertainment. Seven days of reconnecting with the people and world around you. Seeing as my son is only 21 months old he doesn’t have any real screen time in his life now (barring the occasional music video when he’s feeling under the weather). So I decided to walk the talk and made the pledge to go screen-free myself. Of course, this only applies to entertainment screen time—my job requires me to be stuck to a screen all day so I don’t think screen-free would go over too well there. I’m not a huge TV watcher, but I certainly indulge now and then. Ironically, my passion for books has increased my screen time quite a bit as I find myself spending more time online because of this blog. So giving up all screens for a week will be a challenge, but one I’m willing to make because I want to set a good example for my kid when the time comes.
I encourage my family to join me (my husband is whether he realizes it or not). We’ll be ending the week visiting my sister and her kids for an overnight trip, and I hope to bring the joy of television-free living with me (dust off the board games!).
If the kids need some inspiration to unplug for a week, try some of the books below. Note, I use the book’s suggested age ranges, but as always, go with your gut about whether your kid will enjoy it.
A personal favorite, this new book about a young robot who forgoes his daily download to discover what he can learn by seeing, feeling, and hearing the city is a great way to introduce the concept of “unplugging” to kids. It’s all about experiencing the world around you the old fashion way. Learn more about the book from the author himself over at Random Acts of Reading.
This is a story of how an entire town forgot how to read because they became so addicted to TV. Leave it the town librarian (who is considered a real nut case) to save the day. She is still able to inspire one person, her nephew, and through his actions the entire town is once again reminded of the importance of reading.
I have fond memories of the 2003 blackout. I left work early, rode my bike around Brooklyn, and enjoyed a much welcomed evening of conversation with friends. The young boy in this book also discovers the simple joys of spending time with loved ones when the city goes dark. Read more about it in the New York Times review.
Lydia says hello to everyone, but her family members are absorbed in their gadgets. Felling restless, she ventures outside where there are so many things to say hello to. Read a full review at books4yourkids.
Rocket is an energetic puppy who loves to chase leaves and chew sticks, and would rather take a nap than learn to read. Until one day when a bird shows up and introduces Rocket to the wondrous alphabet. Soon Rocket can hardly wait for the next story, and he MUST learn to read. Read a review of the book and App at Great Kids Books.
This colorful book helps young authors deal with writer’s block. Young Eva sits on her stoop searching for inspiration when a colorful cast of characters help her realize that fantastic and extraordinary things can and do happen in her neighborhood. Read a review over at Storied Cities.
Another book in which a young girl struggles with a writing assignment and is given plenty of advice. Her dad tells her to make her story funny, her aunt says it should make you cry. Finally she gets sound counsel from her mother, and writes what she knows, from the heart. See the full review on Kirkus.
Ralph is always stumped when it comes to writing stories in class. Ralph just can’t come up with any ideas. Nothing ever seems to happen to him until a daydream opens up his creative floodgates. Full review at Children’s Literature Network.
And for when you’re ready to take a break from bookish activities, but are low on ideas, take a look at Unplugged Play—over 700 old-fashioned games and activities for kids from 10 months to 10 years old.
Dan Yaccarino, the author of Doug Unplugged, teamed up with other children’s book authors to travel around the country and help spread the gospel of unplugging. Check out the video below to see them visit Brooklyn’s own P.S. 9 and watch the very end for an inspirational free style rap by one of the students…
Happy D.E.A.R Day! Yup, today is Drop Everything and Read Day, a day to remind ourselves to make reading a part of our everyday lives. It falls on April 12 in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, who first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
The benefits of reading to children from birth are well known—it helps them build vocabulary, they do better in school, and they become readers themselves. If you like empirical evidence, a recent study in Australia actually proved a causal effect between the frequency of reading to a child and his or her development (reading to children everyday puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to). The benefits continue long after children are capable of reading themselves, so don’t stop just because your kids can read! Kids’ interest in reading books drops dramatically around fourth grade, right when parents stop reading aloud (see the infographic below).
Now that we all know reading to kids is really, really important, how do we do it so that it is FUN? I’m not a literacy expert, but Judy Cheatham (vice president of literacy services for Reading Is Fundamental) is, and she says “Unless you read aloud as if you were reading a tax return, there is no wrong way to do it.” That seems like sound advice. I think the best way to instill a love of reading in your child is to enjoy reading yourself. Here are a few tips that have helped make story time enjoyable for both me and my son. They are geared towards reading to toddlers, but apply to other ages as well…
Five tips for story time fun for everyone
Choose books about what interests your child. A no-brainer, I know, but it bears mentioning because it is a surefire way to get a rapt audience. Popular favorites at my house now include Freight Train, The Little Red Caboose, I Love Trains (detect a theme?).
Pay attention to the illustrations as well. This is more important the younger the child is: babies need lots of contrast to capture their attention. Even toddlers tend to prefer bold, colorful images. But don’t be afraid to experiment—I brought home Tuesday not knowing whether T would be interested in the wordless picture book full of intricately painted illustrations full of blues and greens. He loves it!
Use the text as guidelines, not rules. I know authors must struggle over every word printed on a page, but let’s face it, sometimes skipping a sentence or two is just the trick to keep story time manageable for a squirmy audience (or a tired reader). I often get books intended for an older audience for T because I find that with a little editing, most books can be adapted to suit his attention span (and the age suggestions for books can be so arbitrary!). For example, we are currently reading Doug Unplugged (a great book, by the way) which is recommended for 5-9 year olds. There is one page strewn with facts about city living that I gloss over, but besides that I think it’s a perfectly good read for a toddler, and T enjoys the story of a robot boy exploring the city.
Make it lively! Remember, you aren’t reading a tax return. Bring out your inner actor and throw in some voices or accents. For some reason whenever I read Caps for Sale the peddler ends up being Italian or Russian. T is a forgiving audience, and it makes it more fun for me! You can also enliven things a little by asking questions or relating the story to something you saw that day.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Kids will be more likely to enjoy reading if you do. Don’t feel like playing the role of five different character voices? Don’t bother. I think even young kids can detect when something is forced. So if you’re not into it, save yourself the trouble and read in a way that you find comfortable. And don’t waste time reading books you don’t like.
Keep experimenting with different types of books, as well as new places and times to read. Find what works for you and your family, and most importantly, keep reading!