76 posts categorized "Kidlitosphere" Feed

For Bloggers: Why You Should Consider Judging #Cybils + Attending #KidLitCon

If you are a person who blogs about children's and/or young adult books, whether fiction or nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, or even book-related apps, here are two great opportunities for you to get more involved in the larger community. 

The Cybils Awards

Cybils-Logo-2015-Round-LgApplications are now open for Cybils judges. The Cybils Awards, now in their 10th year, highlight children's and young adult books that are both well-written and kid-friendly. Anyone can nominate titles published in the past year in each of 10 categories. Following the nomination period, two rounds of judging are conducted by bloggers. The Round 1 judges winnow the (sometimes large) nomination lists down to a shortlist of 5-7 titles in each category (some with sub-categories by age). The Round 2 judges then take over, and select a winner in each category. The result is a set of blogger-approved titles, by category, that are of high quality, and that we believe will appeal to kids. You can view past shortlists and winners on the Cybils website (see the right-hand sidebar).

The Cybils-selected titles are a tremendous resource for parents, teachers, and librarians, or anyone who connects kids with books. The process couldn't be conducted, however, without extensive participation by the community of children's and young adult book bloggers. If you are someone who reviews children's or young adult books, or book-related apps, on a blog, you can apply to be a Cybils judge. A number of people have already shared their reasons why being a Cybils judge is worth doing (links here). Here are my top three reasons:

  1. You can get to know other people with like interests. Each Cybils panel consists of a small team of five to seven people who are passionate about their particular category. You'll have email (and sometimes Google Hangout of the like) interactions with your fellow category members. You'll debate and discuss books, and you'll likely start reading each other's blogs, and generally forming personal connections. Blogging can be an isolated pastime (particularly as commenting has declined over the years). But it doesn't have to be isolating, and participating in the Cybils can help.
  2. You can become well-versed in the titled published in your category over the past year, particularly if you are a Round 1 judge. I've judged in Round 1 for Fiction Picture Books twice, and I find myself with a broad knowledge of the books that were published in each of those years. I have a more varied appreciation for authors and illustrators than I did previously, particularly those who work with smaller, more diverse publishers. 
  3. You get to know that you have made a real contribution in helping kids to grow up loving books. Many kids need to find the right book - the book that will hook them on reading. There are plenty of parents, teachers, and librarians working to help them find said right book. But with so many titles published each year, it can be difficult for caregivers to find the books with the highest kid appeal. This is where the Cybils awardees, particularly the shortlists in each category, come in. Know a seven-year-old new reader who wants funny chapter books? Want to make sure that the ones he reads are well-written? Check out the Cybils shortlists for Early Chapter Books. You, as a blogging reviewer of books can help to construct these lists. 

Being a Cybils judge can be time-consuming (particularly for Round 1, particularly for the Fiction categories). But it's also highly rewarding. Apply here

The Kidlitosphere Conference

2015-KidLitConLogoSquareAnother opportunity to participate in the children's and young adult book blogging community is also available this fall. You can attend the Kidlitosphere Conference, an annual gathering of bloggers and authors and other interested parties. This year's KidLitCon will be held in Baltimore on October 9th and 10th. Program Chair Charlotte Taylor has assembled a fabulous collection of panels on topics ranging from Exploring STEM to working with teams to how graphic novels work. This year, KidLitCon will be celebrating the 10th birthday of the Cybils, with a special emphasis on awards, and celebrating young people's literature in general. This year's keynote speakers are Meet keynote speakers Tracey Baptiste (The Jumbies) and Carrie Mesrobian (Cuts Both Ways). 

Attending KidLitCon is an amazing experience. It's a relatively small conference (usually 50-100 people), which means that you can easily meet people. Many of the attendees are introverts (as book bloggers tend to be), and you'll find that just about everyone would rather have some brief but substantive conversation about literature than make conventional small talk. In short, if you are a person who loved children's and young adult books, and cares about connecting kids with said books, attending KidLitCon will feel like going home. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

I live in California, and dislike traveling. Most days, I don't even want to leave my house. And yet, I've attended all of the KidLitCons except one, and I am planning to be there in Baltimore. Here are three reasons for you to consider attending:

  1. You can meet people face-to-face with whom you've been interacting via your blog and social media accounts for years. You can turn virtual friends into real ones, which is a tremendously validating experience. 
  2. You can recharge your interest in blogging, both through ideas from the formal sessions and through casual conversations with other bloggers. Conquering blog burnout has been a regular topic over the years. 
  3. You can learn about new areas of blogging and/or young people's literature, from diverse books to visual storytelling.

Registration for KidLitCon is now open. This two-day conference is quite reasonably priced at $125, if you register by September 20th (and still only $150 after that). This includes two days of panels and presentations, Friday lunch, Friday dinner and bowling(!), Saturday lunch discounts. Single day options are also available, as is an optional Sunday guided tour of Baltimore. 

Sign up now for KidLitCon and/or Cybils judging. You won't regret it!

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

KidLitCon and Cybils Update: Last Call to Nominate for 2014

Cybils-Logo-2014-NominatedTomorrow, October 15th, is the last day for the general public to nominate titles for consideration for this year's Cybils awards. Starting Thursday, we will be accepting nominations from publishers and authors through October 25th. Today at the Cybils site, Blog Editor Melissa Fox shared links to quite a few posts in which people have compiled lists of titles that have not yet been nominated. If you haven't nominated (or haven't nominated in all of the categories that you are interested in), these lists are a great source of ideas. 

The general goal of all Cybils nominations should be to recognize titles (published in English in the past year) that are well-written and kid-friendly. The Round 1 Cybils panelists are already hard at work gathering and reading the nominated titles. So far (with thanks to Sheila Ruth for designing our lovely database), there have been 786 eligible books nominated, 60% of which have been read by at least one panelist. Much more reading will be taking place over the next couple of months.

Personally, as a Round 1 judge in Fiction Picture Books, I've read 32 of 111 eligible titles. The hard part is not reading 111 picture books, of course, but getting hold of them from various library systems (which we try to do as much as possible, rather than imposing upon publishers). 

KidlitCon2014_cubeIn other news, the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon) was a resounding success. Here is a slightly modified version of what I shared at the Kidlitosphere Central site:

KidLitCon was 50+ people talking in Sacramento over two days about children’s and young adult literature and blogging, and how to increase diversity in both. There was a tremendous energy in the room(s) at all times. It was exhilarating and exhausting. Keynote speaker Mitali Perkins was fabulous, as was Skype guest speaker Shannon Hale, and the many brave presenterslisted here. 

Below, you can see a photo of the KidLitCon organizing committee. Lots of other pictures are available by following links further below. 

KidLitCon: Brought to you by:
l-r: Maureen Kearney, seated. Standing, Tanita Davis, me (Jen Robinson), Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, Reshama Deshmukh, and Sarah Stevenson. (Image credit to Tanita’s husband, David.)

Here are links to some roundups and followup posts from presenters (in Twitter format, because they were first shared there):

#KidLitCon, 2014: A Retrospective, Part I, from Tanita Davis, w/ great photos + insights http://ow.ly/CL1kS 

Thoughts on #KidLitCon 2014 from @aquafortis | Small World, #Diverse Voices http://ow.ly/CHC6d 

A Checklist to “See” Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books by @MitaliPerkins our keynote speaker at #KidLitConhttp://ow.ly/CHtNb 

Happy times at #Kidlitcon from @charlotteslib like @haleshannon Skyping from her rocking chair + calling@Book_Nut http://ow.ly/CHf69 

i am #kidlitcon | finding more people to play!!!, conference wrapup by @MayaGonzalezArt w/ cute child photoshttp://ow.ly/CHeDt 

A bit late to post, but this was a mid-con Update from @MsYingling attending her first #KidLitConhttp://ow.ly/CHulg 

#kidlitcon wrapup + PDF handout for reading + blogging diversely from presenter @shgmclicious http://ow.ly/CHdMn 

Ten takeaways from #Kidlitcon 2014 from Leila @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/CHd7K 

#KidLitCon wrapup and thoughts on #diversity from @CrazyQuilts http://ow.ly/CL8cc 

Thoughts on #kidlitcon and on not being “too nice” in the call for #WedNeedDiverseBooks from @ZettaElliotthttp://ow.ly/CL9Od 

Very interesting thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #KidlitCon, 2014: NOTEPAD FORUM and following #diverse bloggers http://ow.ly/CP5mj 

#KidlitCon in Photos, 10 pictures shared by @Book_Nut http://ow.ly/CPbFz 

With special thanks to Leila from Bookshelves of Doom for collecting many of these links. 

For more tidbits from the conference, do check out the #KidLitCon hashtag, where a number of folks were live-Tweeting during both days. 

And, in other important KidLitCon news, KidLitCon 2015 will be held in Baltimore, with thanks to Sheila Ruth andPaula W. More details to come! We will continue to share information at Kidlitosphere Central, as well as on the KidLitCon Twitter and Facebook accounts. Stay tuned…

Many, many thanks to everyone who participated in KidLitCon 2014. 

And now, get out and nominate books for the Cybils awards!


The Last Day to Register for KidLitCon is Tomorrow

KidlitCon2014_cubeTomorrow, Setpember 26th, is the last day to register for the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference (KidLitCon). KidLitCon is an annual gathering of people who blog about, and care about, children's and young adult books. We are teachers, librarians, parents, authors, publishers, and reviewers. We get together once a year, in person, because there's nothing that can replace being surrounded, in real space, by kindred spirits.

You can blog and tweet and Facebook all year round, but chances to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and have a face-to-face discussions about your passion for children's books are rare. Those discussions this year will focus on Blogging Diversity in Children's and Young Adult Literature

KidLitCon is being held in Sacramento this year, on October 10-11. Next year, KLC is scheduled to return to the East Coast, and then to the Central US the following year. Personally, I try to go every year. I missed only the one in New York two years ago. I know that there are others who, once they attend once, find that they are willing to travel for future KidLitCons, unable to resist the chance that it offers to recharge one's energy for blogging, while spending time with one-time virtual friends who have become real. 

Below are tweets that I've shared over the past week that will lead you to further details (registration, program, attendees lists, etc.). But the most important thing you need to know is that the deadline to register is tomorrow. I hope you'll join us. 

KidLitCon Links:

GottaBook: #Kidlitcon ! You! Go!!!! @gregpincus on why YOU should attend this year's KidLitCon http://ow.ly/BHp1P 

Tanita Davis reports: #KIDLITCON: REGISTRATION EXTENDED! Hotel room block also extended (call hotel) http://ow.ly/BKm4E 

TOMORROW is the last day to register for this year's #KidLitCon, Sacramento, CA, Oct. 10-11. Theme = #diversity http://ow.ly/BSGHZ 

Will you be joining #Cybils organizers and panelists at this year's #KidLitCon? A chance to talk books + #diversity http://ow.ly/BS6GA 

These amazing bloggers + authors will be attending #KidLitCon in Sacramento, Oct 10-11. There's still time to sign up http://ow.ly/BPrjh 

New updates to the Twitter list of #KidLitCon attendees. Doesn't this make you want to come? Register by FRIDAY! http://ow.ly/BPqTg 

Have you seen the fabulous #KidLitCon Program, centered around blogging #diversity in children's literature? http://ow.ly/BNhaw 

Wendie's Wanderings: Reasons Why You Should Attend #KidLitCon http://ow.ly/BPgJu 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.  

Cybils and KidLitCon Updates

It's time once again for an update on what's going with the 2014 Cybils Awards and the 8th Annual KidLitCon


The Cybils organizers are all in place. You can see links to their profiles below. You can follow the Cybils organizers on Twitter via this handy list

The application period to be a judge for the 2014 Cybils Awards has closed. The panelist announcements will be coming soon, after a slight delay due to circumstances beyond our control. If you applied to be a Cybils judge and are waiting to here, please be patient. We'll share the panels just as soon as we possibly can. 

Nominations will still be opening on October 1st. It is definitely not too early to start thinking about what you feel are the most well-written, kid-friendly titles in each of the various categories. To see lists of finalists from previous years, visit the Cybils website, and follow the links in the upper right-hand sidebar. 

Here are our recent Twitter links: 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Stephanie Charlefour @scharle4 | Young Adult #Nonfiction | http://ow.ly/Bm3XN 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Jackie Parker @interactiver | Young Adult Fiction | #yalit http://ow.ly/BlRFD 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Karen Yingling @MsYingling | Middle Grade Fiction | http://ow.ly/BlRwU  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Liz Jones @LizJonesBooks | Graphics http://ow.ly/Bg4qY  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Pam Coughlan @MotherReader | Fiction Picture Books http://ow.ly/Bg4kz  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Charlotte Taylor @charlotteslib | Elementary + Middle Grade Speculative Fiction http://ow.ly/Bg4g0  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Jennifer Wharton, Elementary/Middle Grade #Nonfiction http://ow.ly/Bg46e  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers Katie Fitzgerald @mrskatiefitz | Easy Readers/Beginning Chapter books http://ow.ly/Bg411  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Cathy Potter @cppotter | Chairing Book Apps http://ow.ly/Bg3Rp  #BookApps


The Kidlitosphere Conference starts four weeks from today (October 10-11 in Sacramento, CA). Have you registered? You can find a partial list of registered KidLitCon attendees on the Kidlitosphere blog, and you can also follow the KidLitCon14 Twitter list. The KidLitCon Program has been updated slightly, and is looking great. 

Here are a couple of KidLitCon-related tweets from the past week: 

Do you guys realize that #KidLitCon14 is one month from today? Get those registrations in soon! http://ow.ly/BmlO1  #kidlit #diversity

The Official @SCBWI Blog: #KidLitCon 2014 Focuses On #Diversity, writes @leewind http://ow.ly/BfZGR 

And that's the scoop. I hope to see you at KidLitCon, and I hope that you'll considering nominating books for the Cybils. Not one but two chances to participate in the larger children's book blogging community! Have a great weekend, everyone!


KidLitCon and Cybils: Two Chances to Participate in the Larger Community

Hey there, Kidlitosphere fans. There is news to share this week about the 2014 Cybils Awards and KidLitCon. Here is the scoop:


  • The new Cybils website is now live. The new site was designed by Sheila Ruth, Sarah Stevenson, and Anne Levy (with a tiny bit of input from me). I think that it's beautiful. It's also quite user-friendly, with a pop-up for viewing finalists by category, and a responsive design that re-sizes automatically depending on your browser size (especially helpful on mobile). 
  • New Cybils logos are also available, as you can see to the right. You can find logos in different sizes and formats on the Cybils website. Bloggers involved with the Cybils are encouraged to display the Cybils logo on your sites. The Cybils logo was designed by Sarah Stevenson.
  • Updated Cybils bling is now available in the Cybils Cafe Press store. I have already ordered my 2014 Cybils coffee mug. 
  • MOST IMPORTANT: The call for judges for the 2014 Cybils is now live. If you blog about children’s and/or young adult books, either on your own or as part of a group blog, you are eligible to apply to be a Cybils judge. Judges are needed for Round 1 (sifting through perhaps hundreds of nominated titles to produce a shortlist of 5-7 well-written, kid-friendly titles) and for Round 2 (selecting a winner from the shortlist), in 11 categories (some with sub-categories), ranging from Book Apps to Poetry to Young Adult Fiction.You can apply now through September 5th. My application is in already.


  • The program for this year's KidLitCon was just posted, with thanks to Program Chair Charlotte Taylor. There are sessions on diversity, of course, including what promises to be a fabulous keynote by Mitali Perkins. But not to worry. KidLitCon remains true to our roots, with sessions on blogging in general, and an exciting author meet and greet event (more details to come). 
  • There is now a Twitter list of registered KidLitCon attendees (those who have given permission to be listed, and are on Twitter). A blog-linked list of attendees will be posted on our website later this week. The deadline for registration is September 17th, so if you have not yet registered, please do! The room block at the KidLitCon hotel is also filling up fast. See the registration form for details. 

If you blog about children's and/or young adult books, the Cybils Awards and KidLitCon both offer a marvelous opportunity to reach out from the comfort of your own blog and participate in the larger community. Being a Cybils judge is a way to expose yourself to great books within a sub-category of children's and YA literature, and to work with a team of other bloggers who also love that category (aka kindred spirits). Attending KidLitCon is a way to meet long-time blogging friends in person, and make new one. You can also renew your commitment to your blog, and to sharing your passion for children's literature with others.

Have I convinced you? Then apply now to be a Cybils judge. Register now for KidLitCon 2014. Opportunity awaits!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature: Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, Peter Sieruta

Book: Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature
Authors: Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta
Pages: 288
Age Range: Adult Nonfiction

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature is an insider's guide to the world of children's books and their creators, written by three well-known children's book bloggers. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I have known Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson since my earliest days of blogging. While we've only met face to face a few times, I've read their blogs for years, and been on shared mailing lists and the like. I also read the late Peter Sieruta's blog, though I don't believe I ever had any direct contact with him. So you should consider my discussion of Wild Things! more along the lines of a recommendation than a critical review. I very much enjoyed the book. 

Wild Things! reveals the authors' deep affection for and knowledge of the field of children's literature. They discuss everything from the history of subversive children's literature to book banning to the ways that the Harry Potter books have affected the industry. This is the first book I've seen that openly discusses gay and lesbian authors of children's books, and how the outsider status of some of these authors may have affected their work. Like this:

"Unique perspectives yield unique books. It is difficult to be gay and not see the world in a way that is slightly different from that of your straight peers." (Page 54, ARC)

I especially enjoyed chapters on "scandalous mysteries and mysterious scandals" and "some hidden delights of children's literature." There's also an interesting discussion of the books critics love vs. the books that kids love. 

Despite covering a lot of ground, Wild Things! is a quick, engaging read. Though there are extensive end-notes citing sources, and it's clear that much research has been done, the book itself reads like a series of chatty essays written by friends. Wild Things! is full of interesting tidbits, like the extra pupil shown on one page of Madeline, and a rather disturbing claim by Laura that Pa Ingalls may have once encountered a serial killer. There are some resources that may help those new to thinking about children's books, such as a list of publications that review children's books. But for the most part, Wild Things! is a book that's going to appeal most to people who already have a reasonably solid grasp of the industry, and at least a passing familiarity with the key players. 

Wild Things! is not, however, insider-y in terms of the book blogging world. Because I've read so many posts by Betsy and Jules, there were certainly places where I could hear their distinct voices coming through. There are some fun sidebars in which all three authors briefly take on some question or author. But there is scant mention in the book of the authors' blogs themselves. The authors do muse a bit in the final chapter about the impact of cozy relationships between bloggers and authors, but for the most part they keep their emphasis on books and authors, and other people who have been instrumental in the evolution of the larger children's book world (like Ursula Nordstrom). They do include snippets of interviews with many authors and publishers, frequently backing up their own opinions with remarks from leaders in the field. 

Wild Things! is strong on the defense of the importance of children's literature (and fairly strong against message-driven celebrity books). Like this:

"And with every doctor, librarian, and early childhood educator telling us that childhood's importance is without parallel, it is baffling to see their literature condescended to, romanticized, and generally misunderstood." (Page 5 of the ARC)

"Childhood is not a phase to be disregarded; the same should be said of the books children read. They deserve well-crafted tales from the people who have the talent to write and illustrate them and who take their craft seriously. Do they need heavy-handed sermons from the latest celebrity "It" girl's newest children's book? Not so much." (Page 6)

I also loved this quote from A. A. Milne:

"Whatever fears one has, one need not fear that one is writing too well for a child, any more than one need fear that one is becoming almost too lovable." (Page 192)

Wild Things! is a book about the joy and quirkiness that is the field of children's literature. It is a celebration of books and their authors, and a defense of the importance of putting the very best possible books into children's hands. Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta accomplish all of this by sharing stories and opinions, theirs and those of others, with the reader. Fans of children's books, be they authors, bloggers, teachers, librarians, parents, or just people who appreciate a good book, are sure to enjoy Wild Things! Recommended for adults and older teens (there is definitely content that is not for kids), and a must-purchase for libraries. Wild Things! is a keeper!

Publisher: Candlewick 
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Being Celebrated at A Year of Reading

RIF_Primary_VerticalI've been having kind of a hectic day: work, laundry, doctor's appointment (with shots!) for my daughter, etc. But finally I sat down to my personal email, and found this email from Reading is Fundamental: 

"A gift was given to Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) in your honor. The nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, RIF helps get books to kids in need. For many of the kids RIF serves, their RIF books are their only books. The books provided through this gift made in your honor can spark lifetimes of ambition."

There was an accompanying note from Mary Lee Hahn and Franki Sibberson. When I traveled to their wonderful blog, A Year of Reading, I found this post: Celebrating Jen Robinson with a donation to RIF. I had been following Franki and Mary Lee's year-long celebration of their blog's eighth birthday, in which they highlight fellow bloggers whose work has inspired them, and make donations to relevant charities in those bloggers' names. But it never even crossed my mind that they might pick me. I feel so honored and grateful that I am nearly at a loss for words. 

Their post is full of reminders of my very earliest days of blogging, when those of us who discovered blogging started coming together. My lists of Cool Girls of Children's Literature and Cool Boys of Children's Literature helped lead to Mary Lee and Franki's list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. And the rest is history! We all had so much FUN blogging back then. I mean, I still do, but there was such a relief for me when I first started in finding kindred spirits, other adults who cared about children's books even more than I did. 

Later, when my daughter was born, Mary Lee and Franki were among a group of wonderful online friends who had become real friends who gave me a virtual book shower. Franki and Mary Lee sent me two books that remain among my favorites (though my daughter now declares them to be for babies): Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury and Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz. I have in turn passed on copies of these books to many other friends and family members in the four years since. 

I've been fortunate enough to meet Mary Lee and Franki in person at a conference or two over the years, and I hope to see them in person again before too long. They have brightened my blogging experience over the years, and today they made me stop in the middle of a not so fun day and remember the value of finding kindred spirits. I hope you'll check out their post. Thanks, Franki and Mary Lee! It's an honor to know you. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Session Recap: Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back

KidlitCon2013Last weekend at KidLitCon13, Sarah Stevenson and I presented on Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back. In this post, I'll recap our session, with emphasis on the strategies that we came up with for overcoming burnout. 

It has been our observation that anyone who has been blogging for a while experiences periodic bouts of burnout (or blogging blahs, or blog angst, or "the Blahgs", or whatever you would like to call it). I was struggling with this myself earlier this fall, after being sidelined by illness, when I ran across a post that Sarah wrote about her struggles to rekindle her love for blogging. A number of long-time bloggers responded in the comments of Sarah's post, with useful suggestions. Sarah shared some of these and her response to them in a follow-up post.

Reading these suggestions, and just knowing that I wasn't alone in my situation, helped me to get my own blogging groove back. I wrote about this in some detail in this post, with particular thanks to Melissa Wiley, Gail Gauthier, and Adrienne Furness for their motivational suggestions. I received lots of additional suggestions and general encouragement in the comments of that post, for which I am also grateful. But essentially, for me, getting my groove back boiled down to two things:

  1. Returning to my blogging roots, the central passion under which I started my blog in the first place (growing bookworms); and 
  2. Taking steps to remove (mostly self-imposed) pressure wherever possible. 

For Sarah, who is still working on this, thinking about the issues and why she's struggling, and reading everyone else's feedback, helped her to realize this:

"If I am writing about what I find important and enjoyable and special, then it will be different (from other blogs) simply because it reflects my perspective. It won't be a mouthpiece for marketing or a regurgitation of information I can find anywhere else." 

Which is a pretty important start to recovering from the blogging blahs.

KidLitConBurnoutSessionSo when it came time to think about sessions for KidLitCon, Sarah and I thought that perhaps in sharing our experiences, we might be able to help other bloggers. We brainstormed together, and came up with a list of reasons why we think that book bloggers (specifically children's and YA book bloggers) experience burnout. For each of these, we scoured the comments in our posts, and other sources (like the results from a recent survey of book bloggers), to come up with concrete strategies for responding. (Photo of Sarah and me presenting taken by Rosemond Cates, and shared here.)

Sarah then turned this content into a pretty one-page handout, which we are hoping to eventually turn into an Infographic. But for now, I'll just share our thoughts here. I've also added a few extra suggestions that came up during the session, though we were too busy to take very many notes. 

Reason 1: I feel burned out because blogging feels like an unpaid job, like something I "have to do." This can be especially true for authors, who are told to blog to maintain a public face. 


  • Take a break. In a recent survey of 310 book bloggers (not just children's and YA books), 24% said that they take a break from blogging when they feel burned out. 
  • Cut back: Give yourself permission not to do the parts that feel most like work. For me (Jen), this has always included blog tours and interviews. But interestingly, Jennifer from 5 Minutes for Books said that blog tours help her, by giving her a deadline. It's all about figuring out what works for you
  • Self-examination: Have your reasons for blogging changed?
  • Change things up: Try cycling in guest posts or re-posting favorite older posts.
  • Start something new: Try a new feature to rekindle your interest.

Reason 2: I feel burned out because I receive too many books and too many requests for reviews, and I have too little time.


  • Give yourself permission not to do things, not to review everything. Here audience member Paula Wiley said that she's talking about books more on GoodReads, and only reviewing the ones about which she really has something to say. Maureen Kearney is doing something similar with LibraryThing. 
  • Set boundaries: use a review policy. For instance, after discussions with other bloggers, I (Jen) recently altered my review policy to say that I wouldn't necessarily respond at all to review requests. This was freeing (though controversial among audience members.)
  • Stop accepting ARCs. Blog backlist or library titles instead. Audience members mentioned that digital ARCs are particularly stressful because they expire on a certain date (possibly when one is still in the middle of reading them). We say, try saying no to these for a while, and see how you feel. 
  • Take a break from reviewing for a while, or stop reviewing altogether.
  • What's your favorite category of books to read? Stop reviewing those for a while, and just read for enjoyment.
  • And an additional suggestion from someone in the audience, clear your shelves, and get rid of the books that you aren't ever going to read. This can be very freeing. November/December is a good time for this, because many organizations are conducting book drives. 

Reason 3: I feel burned out because nobody's commenting, and/or I don't feel like I'm reaching enough people. (Many audience members agreed that comments and stats have been down in recent months, and that there's often a feeling like we are only reaching each other.)


  • Give comments to get comments.
  • Find new places to put the word out: Facebook, Pinterest, topic niches (i.e. parenting blogs).
  • Reach out to blogs that seem similar to yours. Comment, share posts. Strive for real connection. 
  • Set your blog up so it's easy for readers to share posts. For instance, I (Jen) often send a post out on a Tweet instead of commenting. If you don't have a visible Twitter ID that I can include, you won't know this.
  • Try posting book lists instead of (or as well as) individual reviews. Lists are often distributed more widely than other types of posts. The audience also agreed that individual reviews are among the posts that receive the least comments. 

Reason 4: I feel burned out because I'm too busy. I don't have time or energy for blogging. Other things in my life may take precedence for a while (new job, new baby, etc.). 


  • Put the word out and let people know. Your loyal readers will understand and be there when you get back. Or, as I (Jen) put it during the session, the people who read your blog probably like you. 
  • Use the time to reassess. Do you miss it? Do you want to come back? Do you want to do something else?

Reason 5: I feel burned out because blogging just doesn't feel as rewarding anymore.

  • Start a "FeelGood" folder for storing supportive comments or emails. Refer to this folder from time to time. 
  • Get back to your blogging roots. Blog your passion.
  • Share your struggle. Knowing that you are not alone can help. 
  • Try something new. Someone in the audience mentioned here that it's ok to blog about other topics if you like, apart from your core blog mission, and that sometimes such posts generate excellent responses. 

In summary, a more general plan for fighting burnout:

Pinpoint the specific reasons YOU are feeling burned out. It may sound obvious, but once you starting thinking about it, you may find a deeper reason than you anticipated. You may THINK you're depressed because your posts don't go viral, but stop to consider: was that your original aim, to be viral? If not, then maybe that's somebody else's priority, not yours-and the real issue is that you feel pressures that you didn't feel before, concerning somebody else's definition of blogging success. Go back to the beginning, and get in touch with why you blog-ask yourself the important questions about why you're doing it.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Why am I blogging in the first place? If you don't know, it's well worth spending some time to figure that out.
  • Who do I want my audience to be? Parents, teachers, kids, other bloggers?
  • What is it that gets me fired up about blogging? What am I excited to share?

Our thanks to everyone who helped us to think these things through before KidLitCon, and to everyone who participated during our session. Blogging can feel like a lonely thing. You sit in front of your computer typing up posts to which people may or may not respond at all. Attending KidLitCon was a reminder that we are NOT alone. Those of us who blog about children's and young adult books have formed a community of like-minded individuals. We are kindred spirits, who share a passion for connecting kids with books. And when times get tough, we are there for one another. That is what community is all about. 

Thanks for listening! -- Jen and Sarah

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page and Sarah Jamila Stevenson. All rights reserved. 

Time is Running Out: Kidlitosphere Edition

Cybils2013SmallThere are two important deadlines in the Kidlitosphere today. First of all, nominations for the 2013 Cybils close tonight, October 15th, at midnight PST. This is your last chance to give props to the well-written children's and young adult titles that you think will most appeal to kids. Don't know what to nominate? Bloggers from all around the Kidlitosphere have been publishing lists of titles that they would like to see nominated. Start here and here for links. Many thanks to everyone who has nominated, suggested titles, and/or generally spread the word about the Cybils this year!

KidlitCon2013Second of all, today is the deadline to obtain our group discount for the KidLitCon hotel (the Sheraton in downtown Austin). You can still register for the conference until October 24th, but you may find it harder to find a hotel nearby. MotherReader (who negotiated our hotel discount) adds:

"Yes, other hotels around will be cheaper but this one is about .5 miles from the conference site, and is between the conference and dinner location. It looks lovely and has a lounge where we can hang out! I'm sorry, I mean where we WILL hang out." 

I have to tell you that one of my very favorite parts of KidLitCon is sitting around a hotel lobby or lounge late into the evening, with a glass of wine in hand, talking with my peeps about all things books (and life). If you'd like to join us, today is the day to sign up, and lock in the discounted hotel rate. Contact me if you need more details. 

We've also finalized some details about the conference, and the Friday pre-conference event. See the beautiful flyer below for details (with thanks to Tanita Davis and Sarah Stevenson). 


In case you're having trouble viewing images, here is some of the key information in text form:

Join keynote speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith, readers, bloggers and friends at the 2013 Kidlit Con at Austin. Kickoff meetup will be held Nov. 8 at the UT-Austin iSchool Campus, Tocker Lounge 1-4 p.m. The main conference will be held November 9, with coffee starting at 9:15, and the keynote at 10 a.m. Rekindling Your Love of Blogging. Panels and discussion, catered luncheon. Round out the day with a buy-your-own group meal at Scholz Beer Garten in downtown Austin. Conference Fee: $65. Registration deadline: October 24. See Kidlitosphere Central for more information. Register here.

So, get your Cybils nominations in, and book your hotel room for KidLitCon today. And don't delay registering for KidLitCon, because that deadline is approaching soon, too. I hope to see you there. 

One Stop Shopping for Children's Book Recommendations

I've been thinking a lot lately about ways to make it easier for parents to learn about high quality children's books. There are lots of wonderful individual blogs that I follow, but I realized that I do know of several good sources at which people can find out about multiple books at one time. Here are a few highlights:

  • The Children's Book Review Wiki. This is a site at which a number of children's book bloggers (including myself) archive their reviews. You need a login ID to add links to the archive, but anyone can browse the links. You can browse books by category, or search for particular books. Clicking through the review links takes you to the original contributor's blog. The nice thing about this site is that visitors have access to thousands of reviews. The downside, then, is that it can be a bit overwhelming in terms of volume. And it's not a push system at all, but rather a reference to be searched.
  • Cybils2012The Cybils blog, specifically the Cybils shortlists. The Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards are given in ten categories, ranging from in age from picture books through young adult, and in genres poetry through graphic novels. Each year, panels of bloggers come up with 5-7 book shortlists in each category (some of the categories are further separated by age range). These shortlists are a fabulous resource for parents. The Cybils selection criteria requires that the books be both well-written and kid-friendly. Shortlists since 2006 are available on the website. Printable lists can be found in the right-hand sidebar.
  • NonfictionmondayPoetry Friday and Nonfiction Monday. The Kidlitosphere has two weekly themed events: Nonfiction Monday and Poetry Friday. Bloggers are encouraged to add links to book reviews or other relevant posts to each theme (e.g. an original poem), and many participate each week. While the hosts change each week, you can find the 2013 schedules via the preceding links (maintained, respectively, by Anastasia Suen and Mary Lee Hahn). This week's Nonfiction Monday roundup is hosted at Sally's Bookshelf. Last week's Poetry Friday was hosted at My Juicy Little Universe
  • Monthly Themed Carnivals. Zoe Toft at Playing by the Book hosts a monthly themed carnival, requesting children's book reviews on a particular topic. This month, she is looking for books about Ancient Civilizations, especially Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Romans. 
  • Booklinky150finalThe Children's Bookshelf. Another weekly, cross-blog event that is a great source of children's book reviews is The Children's Bookshelf, hosted by What Do We Do All Day?No Twiddle TwaddleSmiling Like SunshineMy Little BookcaseThe Picture Book ReviewSprout’s Bookshelf, MeMeTales, and Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. Bloggers are encouraged to link book reviews, literacy, and book activity posts. There are usually lots of interesting entries.
  • Charlotte's Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy Roundup. One individually-curated roundup that I wanted to mention is Charlotte's Library's weekly roundup of middle grade science fiction and fantasy. For this post, bloggers don't have to submit entries (though they can add their links in the comments). Instead, Charlotte scours the blogs each week for middle grade fantasy and science fiction reviews, author/illustrator information, and other tidbits of interest to fans of the genre. If you have a child who enjoys this genre, Charlotte's roundups offer a treasure trove of new book ideas each week. 

There are lots of other great sources of information about children's books available, of course. But these are a few that offer multiple ideas (sometimes many ideas) in a single location. I hope you find them useful. I'll highlight others in the future.  

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

End of October Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup

JkrROUNDUPThe end of October Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup is now available at Quietly, Carol Rasco's blog. The roundups are brought to you twice monthly by Carol Rasco from RIF, Terry Doherty from The Family Bookshelf, and me. This time around, Carol notes a slew of literacy and reading-related events, plus some literacy and reading research news, and a couple of suggestions for growing bookworms. I hope that you'll head over to check out the whole thing, but in the meantime, here are a few highlights:

"A first assignment for each of us on “What can I do to help in the aftermath of Sandy?” is to check outKidLit Cares organized by Kate Messner. And what is Kid Lit Cares? Check the webpage, all the details for this auction are there for you to study."

"First Book to give 100 millionth book in November! Check out their TEN BOOKS EVERY CHILD SHOULD OWN and vote for YOUR favorite.  This voting will help First Book choose just what that 100 millionth book will be!" (Jenny Schwartzberg also sent me this one.)

"Books about Books” was a recent post by Amy at Literacy Launchpad where she gives us all a good “reminder” of the great books available to help us learn more about books for children whether we are studying as a parent and/or a teacher!" 

And here are a few additional tidbits from me:

WhyIVote2012-2A neat cross-blog event is taking place today, organized by Greg Pincus, Lee Wind, and Colleen Mondor. It's called Why I Vote, and it's a non-partisan event centered around encouraging people to vote (whatever their politics are). Participants are sharing their own personal reasons for voting, ranging from "It's a bit like putting your money where your mouth is" from Greg to "because I'd feel ashamed if I didn't" from Charlotte. As for me, I vote because otherwise I would feel like a hypocrite if it ever came to lamenting outcomes that I didn't like. You can find the roundup of Why I Vote posts at Chasing Ray, or search for #WhyIVote on Twitter. (Logo design by Colleen Mondor and Sarah Stevenson.) And while this might seem not directly related to literacy, well, if you can't read, you can't be an informed voter, can you?

2012-pmbbadge-ambassadorYesterday (November 1st) marked the start of Picture Book Month. Founder Dianne de Las Casas reported via email that yesterday the website had "nearly 3,000 visitors and 250+ registrations (people pledging to celebrate Picture Book Month). One school in Budapest, Hungary is making a goal to read more than 5,000 picture books this month! WOW! One U.S. school district is featuring a picture book a day in all of their school's staff lounges. Another school is creating a Picture Book Month wall and public libraries across the U.S. are creating Picture Book Month displays." Pretty cool! As for me, I'm using Picture Book Month as an incentive to get through my entire stack of To Be Reviewed picture books. Because of course I'm reading picture books with Baby Bookworm every day, no matter what month it is.

NcflYesterday the National Center for Family Literacy celebrated Family Literacy Day (and November as Family Literacy Month) by announcing developments in four programsToyota Teacher of the Year, Litera-Seeds, Cultivating Readers (Cultivando el hábito de la lectura), and Wonderopolis. Click through for details.

It's also National Year of Reading in Australia. Terry found a piece in the Herald Sun by Jane Howard about Mem Fox's efforts to spread the word about the importance of reading aloud to children. I appreciate this part: ""There are educators in positions of influence today who believe that reading aloud to children is a waste of time," she says. "Such a belief is not only foolish, it's frightening and dangerous."" Indeed! Do check out the whole article

According to a report in GreenvilleOnline.com, "Greenville County’s United Way is providing a one-time $150,000 grant so that 22,000 low income kids will have books in their homes, a spokesman said. Mike Posey, a United Way vice president, said that grant will sponsor the “Reach Out and Read” program, which focuses on early literacy and school readiness." Via Jenny Schwartzberg. 

KBF12headerIf you happen to be in Ithaca, the Family Reading Partnership is holding their 15th annual Kids' Book Fest on Saturday, November 10th. This year's theme is "Count on Books". The Family Reading Partnership's ultimate goal as an organization (per their recent newsletter) is "that 100% of babies in our community are read to -- early, often, and with pleasure." One very easy way to support this important goal is to buy their 2013 Read to Me Calendar. We have the 2012 version up, and the 2013 version waiting in the wings. Baby Bookworm and I both love them. 

Speaking of Baby Bookworm (age 2 1/2), I had a "Mommy Bookworm" success last night. After dinner, she announced her intention to go upstairs by herself and read in her "little corner" (a reading nook that I put together for her a couple of months back). Admittedly, she only lasted about 3 minutes. But I still count it as a success. I also count it as a success every time she laughs over a picture book, every time she references a book in general conversation, and every time she requests a particular book. All steps along the pathway towards becoming a reader. 

We’ll be back soon with a mid-November Roundup. And in the meantime, we’ll be sharing reading-related news on Twitter @CHRasco, @TheReadingTub, and @JensBookPage. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy.

This post © 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Call for Papers for KidLitCon

It's that time of year again. The time for children's and young adult book bloggers to think about KidLitCon. This year the 6th annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon) will be held in New York City on September 28th and 29th. This year's host, the tireless Betsy Bird, just posted the call for papers at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy says:

That’s right, folks!  We are now accepting proposals for presentations at KidLitCon 2012!

We are looking for 50 minute presentations, panels, and keynotes that will appeal to and edify Kidlitosphere bloggers. Our goal is to provide a balanced selection for a wide range of interests and include, but are not limited to, topics of diversity, reviewing critically, evaluating illustrations, social media, marketing, and technology, and industry relationships.

Proposals are due by August 15, 2012, so be sure to get your ideas in soon!

We’ll only be accepting proposals submitted in the form found here."

Conference registration opens Monday, July 30th.

The conference changes location each year, to make it easier for a range of people to attend, moving Central to West to East. Past conferences have been held in Chicago; Portland, Oregon; Washington, DC; Minneapolis; and Seattle. For those of you on the East Coast, this is your chance to attend a relatively local KidLitCon. Of course I always think that KidLitCon is worth traveling for, wherever it's held. Stay tuned for more details! But now is the time to start thinking of session proposals ...