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Friday Afternoon Visits: Labor Day Weekend Edition

I was away for much of this past week, attending to a (now under control) parental health crisis. This weekend I have guests coming in from out of town, and I doubt I'll get much blogging in. But I managed to scrape up a bit of time to share some links with you this afternoon. There has been, and will be, a lot going on in the Kidlitosphere.

  • First up, the official call has been made for 2008 Cybils judges. If you actively blog about children's and/or young adult books and you're interested in participating, check out the detailed requirements and responsibilities on the new and improved Cybils blog. This year there will be a new category, Easy Readers, headed by the terrifically qualified Anastasia Suen. More details, and a call for judges, can be found here. I'm hoping to be involved in the easy reader category this year, too. I think that finding quality books for the very earliest readers is an important task (as does Gail Gauthier).
  • September 15-19 is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted at the blog My Friend Amy. Amy says: "Acknowledging the hard work of book bloggers and their growing impact on book marketing and their essential contribution to book buzz in general, I am excited to announce the first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Think of it as a retreat for book bloggers and a chance for us to totally nerd out over books together. And of course, shower each other with love and appreciation." The categories are listed here, and do include Best Kidlit Blog and Best Young Adult Lit Blog, among many others. Nominations are made by email, and you can nominate up to two blogs per category. You do not need to have a blog to nominate, and although there's a concept of registering, I don't think that you have to register to be included in the nomination process. Anyway, there has been lots of buzz about this, so if you are interested, check out the nomination post.
  • Linda Salzman reminds I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) readers that there is only one week left to enter the I.N.K. "Spectacular Fifteen Book Blast Give-away." The contest is open to "teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, writers, or anyone else from across the country who is promoting nonfiction."
  • Over at Books Together, Anamaria shares news about the new Ballet Shoes movie (based on the Noel Streatfeild book). I thought that Ballet Shoes was magical when I was a kid. Though I enjoyed several of the other books, Ballet Shoes was always special. I look forward to seeing the movie, which co-stars Emma Watson
  • At BookMoot, Camille shares some thoughts for school librarians as the school year begins. She shares some aspirations, and says: "I salute the librarians who work so hard to teach important research skills, stoke young people's imaginations and instill a love of books and reading in their students. Your joy and passion for your job is contagious." I will never forget my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Betty Tuttle, who made a difference in my life, and in my reading. Here's to all of the other Mrs. Tuttles out there. You do make a difference.
  • Also in back-to-school land, Elaine Magliaro shares links to back to school picture books and poetry at Wild Rose Reader. And at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia has some suggestions for teachers to improve communication with both parents and students.
  • In a post called Girl Books, Boy Books, Justine Larbalestier writes about the tendency that many women have to read mostly books by women, and men to read books by men. She concludes: "Women are far more mixed in their reading. Even me. I read way more books by women than by men, but I've still read a tonne of boy books. Some of there are even quite good. I’d even recommend them to my little sister. Maybe . . . What about youse lot? Do you notice a tendency one way or the other in your own reading? Do you have idea why? Or do you just read the books that look cool." As is often the case with Justine's posts, this one has sparked quite a bit of discussion.
  • On the ALSC Blog, Kiera Parrott shares suggestions for conducting storytimes for autistic children. After giving several concrete suggestions, she notes: "Without a doubt, storytimes with autistic students have been some of the most rewarding programs in my career so far.  The kids are smart, surprising, and each time I see them, I learn something new."
  • At Librarilly Blonde (which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs), Carlie Webber shares thoughts about methods of teaching young adult literature which rely on analysis, and take away the joy of reading. Carlie was inspired by a Washington Post article by Nancy Schnog about teaching YA literature. Among other things, Schnog says: "As much as I hate to admit it, all too often it's English teachers like me -- as able and well-intentioned as we may be -- who close down teen interest in reading." What a sad commentary that is. But there's clearly some truth to it. Schnog also says, late in the article (after presenting evidence to support her thesis): "The lesson couldn't be clearer. Until we do a better job of introducing contemporary culture into our reading lists, matching books to readers and getting our students to buy in to the whole process, literature teachers will continue to fuel the reading crisis." And there you have it, folks. Be sure to read Carlie's thoughts, too, as well as those of Terry from the Reading Tub, Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray, Tricia from the Miss Rumphius Effect, and Libby from Lessons from the Tortoise.
  • And on the subject of people trying to make books interesting and relevant for young adults, Laurie Halse Anderson has extended the deadline for her book trailer contest (for Speak or Twisted). The contest is only available to "people who will be 21 years old or younger on October 31, 2008." And I especially love rule #6: "Contest is open to anyone on the Planet Earth. Teens working aboard the space station are welcome too. Entries from other planets and galaxies will be considered, as long as they can be watched on Earth-created technologies." If you know any creative teens, I would definitely recommend sending them in Laurie's direction.
  • School Library Journal has a nice article by Michael Sullivan about boys and reading. He starts out with "If we want to transform boys into lifelong readers, we need to discover what makes them tick. Equally important, we need to have a better grasp of the kind of reading that attracts them." He concludes (after a number of concrete suggestions and examples): "Although boys often do not become successful readers, the cost is too high to allow this trend to continue. It's time to give boys more options, to respect their preferences. Boys can become readers: I've seen it with my own eyes."
  • At Five Minutes for Books, Lauren writes about reading for story ("Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor... (but) because you want to know what happens next"). Personally, I've always been all about story. I'll appreciate a book more if it's well-written, of course, with complex characters, fully realized setting, and lyrical writing. But if it doesn't have that "what happens next" sense of story (whether the book is fiction or non), I won't read it at all. Of course this isn't true for everyone, but it does seem to be true for most of Lauren's commenters.
  • This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at Charlotte's Library.
  • At Bookshelves of Doom, Leila shares her off the cuff list of 20 essential picks for YA. She has some of my favorites on her list (though others are not - clearly this is a very personal thing). But if you're looking for some good suggestions from someone who really appreciates young adult fiction, you should definitely check out Leila's list (though she added in the comments below "please do note that that list was totally off the top of my head! There wasn't a whole lot of thought involved -- I was just musing about what I might put on a list like that..."). There are other suggestions in the comments, too.
  • At Library Stew, Kathy has a post for parents on how to find a good book. Among other down-to-earth advice, she says: "Students are more likely to enjoy reading when they are reading about something that interests them.The best thing in choosing books for you students is to have them be part of the process, take them to the bookstore or library and have them tell you what they are interested in reading." 
  • Rick Riordan is going to be on the Today Show on September 8th, talking about the launch of the 39 Clues series. I've set this to record on my DVR (not even for Rick will I get up at 7:00 to watch television, on what will already be tape-delay here in California). But I am interested to watch the segment. 
  • At Tea Cozy, Liz B. brings her customary insight to a Washington Post article by Bob Thompson (and a snarky Booksl** comment) about the business side of graphic novels. Liz says that the Post article is a must-read because "It talks about things like distribution and how comic book sales are different from book sales. Unless you're content to not publish your work, or have a trust fund or well-off spouse, or don't care about things like insurance and paying rent, it is important to remember that publishing (including comic books and graphic novels) is a business." I also liked the way that she pointed out that although the idea that graphic novels are big isn't exactly news to the KidLit blogger community, it IS news to many members of the Washington Post's audience.

And that is quite enough for one day. Wishing you all a lovely Labor Day Weekend.