What I'm Thankful for in Children's Literature
Cybils Young Adult Committee Recent Reviews

Mid-Week Visits: November 16th

I finally had time to catch up with what's been going on in the kidlitosphere for the past week or so (or most of it anyway - after going back about five days in Google Reader my eyes glazed over, and I had to stop). Here are some things that caught my eye:

  • This is pretty cool. Meet the Author USA is a website where you can find (at current count) 807 video clips of authors describing their own work. They assure us that "(t)he video clips are NOT reviews, they are NOT written by the marketing departments of publishers - these are authors speaking from their heart - to YOU." Three of the top 10 are children's or young adult authors, beginning with Markus Zusak talking about The Book Thief. I learned about this from A Fuse #8 Production, who learned about it from bookshelves of doom.
  • There's a report from Temple University that finds that traditional print books provide more parent-child interaction than electronic books, and are thus better for promoting early literacy. This isn't surprising, but it is nice to see someone studying the issue. Here's a highlight: "Parish-Morris noted that parents who read traditional books made more comments that related pictures or themes in the book to their child's real life in a way that might spur the child's imagination, or their short- or long-term memory. This is significant because children are more successful in school when they spend their pre-school years reading with their parents." I learned about this report from TadMack at Finding Wonderland (one of the tireless Cybils YA nominating committee members who are plowing their way through some 70-odd accepted nominations so far).
  • And for pure fun, Gotta Book's Gregory K. posts about a particular search phrase that brings people to his site, and it's ridiculously perfect. I'm not going to spoil it, though. You'll have to click through.
  • I also enjoyed Greg's post about reading to kids. If I can ever tame my travel schedule, volunteering to read with kids somewhere is very high up on my priority list. I appreciate Greg's reminding me of that. Tasha also comments on this topic at Kids Lit. Tasha is also a member of the Cybils YA committee, but her work won't start until judging time in January.
  • Nancy is well-known for posting quotes of the day over at Journey Woman, and they are always fun. But I especially enjoyed the ones that she posted in honor of Children's Book Week. I love the Madeleine L'Engle quote. Nancy is also a member of the Cybils YA judging committee.
  • E. Lockhart has a post about holiday gift books for teenage girls. I especially like this suggestion: "give the teenager something with a positive girl-power vibe". She also includes a list of recommended titles, most (or all?) of which are Cybils nominees. I would add Kiki Strike to her list, too. It definitely has that girl power vibe.
  • MotherReader has a new look and tagline to her blog. And the tagline is absolutely 100% perfect for her. Check it out.
  • Monica Edinger has an interesting post about the recent spate of Holocaust novels for children over at Educating Alice. She notes: "Why this urgency to introduce the Holocaust to young children? The plethora of picture books and middle grade fiction on the topic seems never ending. Book after book about horrible events with little to anchor them historically." She argues that kids aren't ready "to even begin to understand the Holocaust in history, in the way it really needs to be understood." There's some thoughtful discussion in the comments, too.
  • There are lots of fun memes going around, about which of the top 100 books people have read, and their early reading history, and so on. But personally, my attention was caught by The Question of the Week at The Longstockings: What is your favorite use of food in a children's (or YA) book? you can read answers here and here, and in between. I particularly bonded with Lisa Greenwald's reference to the cocoa and sandwiches in A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Just in time for fall, PJ Librarian talks about book jackets at The Magic of Books, asking "have you done anything different with a book jacket other than read and enjoy it?"
  • Bookseller Chick writes about books that are "gateway drugs". The idea being that with books "it is often the big-name, popular types that act as the gateway to get people to read." Her focus is on adult books, but there are clearly gateway books in the kidlitosphere, too. What are your favorites?
  • Did you see Mary Lee and Franki's interview in the School Library Journal blog? In case you don't know them, Mary Lee and Franki are two teachers who read a lot, and have hopes of having read this year's Newbery winner by the time that the awards are announced. They started the blog, A Year of Reading, to document this, but soon became hooked into the whole kidlitosphere scene. Their blog is home to the 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. The interview tells how they got from a vague idea of a blog to where they are today.
  • And, just off the wires, M. T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. 1: The Pox Party won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Thanks to Kelly at Big A little a for the information. I have to confess that just last night (before learning this news) I decided that I couldn't get through it. Something about the style, something about the pace - I don't know, but I fell asleep immediately every time I tried to read it, and I have abandoned it at page 100. I just have too many books in my to read pile to continue slogging through one that I'm not enjoying. So, I congratulate M.T. Anderson, but I've moved on to An Abundance of Katherines.

And that should be enough to keep anyone busy for a time. Happy reading!