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Posts from November 2013

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. 

Strategies:

  • 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.

Strategies:

  • 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.)

Strategies:

  • 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.). 

Strategies: 

  • 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. 


Heaven Is Paved with Oreos: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Book: Heaven Is Paved with Oreos
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Pages: 208
Age Range: 10-14

I loved, loved, loved Catherine Gilbert Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center). So when I heard that Murdock had written a book called Heaven is Paved with Oreos, for a slightly younger audience, I scooped it up. I didn't even realize until reading a review at Book Nut last week that this new book is set in the Schwenk universe. What a lovely and unexpected gift!

Heaven is Paved with Oreos is told in journal fashion from the viewpoint of Sarah Zorn, best friend and science partner of D.J.'s younger brother, Curtis. It's the summer before freshman year, and Sarah and Curtis are pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend, so that people will stop asking them if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. But Sarah is a bit concerned about another girl from their class who appears to want to be Curtis' real girlfriend, making Sarah self-conscious about, say, going to Curtis' baseball games. Meanwhile, Sarah's grandmother, who everyone calls Z, invites Sarah to accompany her on a week-long pilgrimage to Rome. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Sarah bargained for, but it certainly contributes to her emotional growth over the course of the summer.

So, basically Heaven is Paved with Oreos is a coming of age story, a book about family, and a book about taking baby steps towards boy-girl relationships. It falls to the upper end of middle grade, I think, given the 14-year-old narrator, and a storyline involving the father of Z's illegitimate child, born some 45 years earlier. But it is absolutely perfect for middle school-age readers, I think. 

I fear that some fans of the Dairy Queen books will be a bit disappointed by Heaven is Paved with Oreos, because the content is a bit less mature. But personally, I was happy to be spending time back in D.J.'s universe, however I got there. I found myself reading Heaven is Paved with Oreos slowly, because I was just so happy to be spending time with the characters. D.J. is a character in this book, someone Sarah looks up to and gets advice from. But Murdock is quite clear throughout that this is Sarah's story. It's not necessary to have read the Dairy Queen books to read this one, though it undoubtedly enhances appreciation of the book.

One thing that I especially liked about Heaven is Paved with Oreos is how Murdock handles the journal style storyline. She tells you, briefly and without taking you out of the story, where Sarah is when she's writing each journal entry. There's an entry, then she goes somewhere and writes there, then she goes home and writes there, and so on. This lends an immediacy to the narration that works well. One might think to question whether a fourteen-year-old girl would really sit in a cafe in Rome writing in her journal. But Sarah is a strong enough character to totally pull it off. 

I LOVE that Sarah is interested in science. That's the source of the bond between Sarah and Curtis, a mutual fascination with physical science (studying animal skeletons, and so on). She's also just ... secure in who she is. She has things she is working on, sure, but she's happy to eat nothing but vanilla ice cream, for instance, and work on projects that other people think are disgusting. Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Sarah's voice:

"I wanted to be sympathetic -- Paul looked so upset -- but I could not help being reasonable. Reasonableness is a byproduct of a scientific mind." (Page 11-12)

Oh, I would have been friends with Sarah when I was fourteen. And this:

"Lady Z does not eat anything made with wheat. She says the hardest part was giving up Oreos, but they are made with wheat flour, so even though they are absolutely delicious and perfect, they're out. If I ever stopped eating wheat, I would make a rule that I could only be 99% wheatless. The last 1% I would leave for Oreos." (Page 16).

Curtis is, well, Curtis. For a character who says hardly anything, he still feels completely himself. Like this: 

"I nodded. Curtis stared at the floor, but that is not unusual for him." (Page 26). 

Lady Z is more complex. I like that though she's larger-than-life (not at all a regular grandma), she's also clearly flawed. Part of Sarah's growing up throughout the book involves coming to terms with the fact that you can love someone even if they aren't perfect. As Z is not. 

Fans of Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk will definitely want to give Heaven is Paved with Oreos a look. I loved it, and plan to keep my copy for when Baby Bookworm is older. There are spoilers for the Dairy Queen books, so even though this newest book is appropriate for a somewhat younger audience, readers unfamiliar with the series may want to wait to read the Dairy Queen books first. I think that the whole series is wonderful. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: 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).

© 2013 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 2013: Connecting with Kindred Spirits

KidlitCon2013I'm back after spending four days in Austin for KidLitCon. I lived in Austin for 3 1/2 years a while back, and I am always happy to have an excuse to visit. Of course I would go almost anywhere to attend KidLitCon, but it was a bonus that it was held somewhere that I wanted to visit anyway. An extra bonus was that I got to spend some time with close friends who live there. 

For me, and I've stolen this idea from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, what sums up the KidLitCon, and the Kidlitosphere in general, is the phrase: "kindred spirits". I go to KidLitCon every year so that I can hang out with my children's book-loving tribe. Something that became clear during this year's conference is that what distinguishes the Kidlitosphere from other book blogger communities is that, much as we love the books, most of us are out there blogging, week after week, because we think that it's important to connect kids with great books. We share a common passion for children's books and literacy. 

KidLitConDinnerScholzGarten
Here are some of us together at dinner on Saturday night (photo borrowed from MotherReader). 

What this means when we come together for a conference is that we're not having sessions about how to "monetize" our blogs, or retire from our day jobs, or get our hands on more sought-after ARCs. No, what we talk about is:

  • Community (welcome speech by Pam Coughlan from MotherReader)
  • Authenticity, and understanding your own mission and philosophy of blogging (keynote by Cynthia Leitich Smith). 
  • Overcoming burnout by getting back to your blogging roots (Sarah Stevenson and me).
  • Ways that you as a blogger/reviewer/author can work to increase diversity in children's publishing (Lee Wind).
  • Ways that you as an author can build relationships with people who may help you to spread the word about your books, rather than trying any "hard sell" tactics Molly Blaisdell). 
  • The difference between writing a negative review and writing critical reviews, and why critical reviews are important (and exhausting) (Kelly Jensen and Kim Francisco from Stacked)
  • Things authors and illustrators need to know about digital art (Laura Jennings).
  • How authors and illustrators can become involved in the online community of children's and young adult literature (MotherReader)
  • How to spice up your blog with HTML and CSS (Sheila Ruth).
  • Reviewing middle grade books when we, the reviewers, are not the target audience for said books (Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, and Katy Manck). 
  • The past, present, and future of the Kidlitosphere, and how we can keep our community a welcoming, connected space (Sarah Stevenson, Jen Bigheart, Leila Roy, Sheila Ruth, and Lee Wind). 

Instead of taking notes during the sessions that I attended, I was live-tweeting the conference. While I could theoretically share all of those tweets with you here, I prefer to send you off to follow the #KidLitCon13 hashtag on Twitter. Just set the view to "all" instead of "top" and scroll down to November 9th, and read upward. You will find many useful tips, like: 

For more details about the sessions and events around KidLitCon, here are some excellent recaps:

  • Charlotte at Charlotte's Library says: "The main thing I learn every time I go to Kidlitcon is how much fun it can be to talk to people. Sure, I talk to my family and co-workers and friends in real life, but rarely do I talk to them with passionate interest about really interesting things like children's books and blogging and candy crush."
  • Kelly at Stacked says: "If I had to give three words that summed up the biggest themes talked about during the event, they would be diversityauthenticity, and burnout."
  • Sherry from Semicolon shares 10 things she learned at KidLitCon. My favorite: "Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) are NOT the same person in disguise, but they are both authorities on fantasy and science fiction".
  • Sarah says at Finding Wonderland: "You are all the most lovely people. We have such an amazing community, I can't believe it sometimes, but Kidlitcon always reminds me how incredible it is."  
  • Melissa at Book Nut says: "Kidlit Bloggers are Awesome. Seriously. They are fun, and smart, and interesting. And I want to bring them all back to Kansas and have them move in next door so I can hang out with them all of the time. I knew this already, but it's worth reiterating."
  • Liviania (aka Allie) says at In Bed with Books (a brief post): "honestly, it was just nice to meet people.  Jennifer Donovan, as it turns out, lives close to where I work.  Molly Blaisdell has a book coming out in 2014, PLUMB CRAZY, that sounds right up my alley. Plus, there's nothing like a group of people that knows each other's blog names better than their real names."
  • Pam focuses more on the social aspects than the KidLitCon sessions in this post at MotherReader, saying: "I was able to talk with Sherry Early, who I met for the first time that weekend. She confirmed the feeling I'd had all weekend, that the smaller scale had made it so easy for people to really get to know each other."
  • At 5 Minutes for Books, Jennifer says: "There is a difference between this and other blogging conferences because it really is about a common love — books." My feeling exactly!
  • At Confessions of a Bibliovore, Maureen says: "I am not a person who loves meeting people, you have to understand. But I always, always love meeting people at KidlitCon, because I know without being told--by the fact of their presence--that they are kindred spirits". Do you sense a common theme here?
  • At Big Hair and Books, Rosemond Cates says: "I met so many kindred spirits who love children's literature as much as I do!"
  • At Wands and Worlds, Sheila says: "The people were the best thing about the conference. It was great seeing old friends, and I met such wonderful and interesting new people."
  • At I'm Here, I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?, Lee Wind shares the top 7 lessons that he learned at #KidLitCon (including one from me!).
  • Emilia from Flippy-Do Reads! says: "it was a successful and lovely conference", and discusses several sessions in more detail.  
  • ... more to come. If I missed your post, let me know and I will add it. 

My session with Sarah on overcoming blogger burnout was well-received. We could perhaps have spent a bit less time on the reasons for burnout, and a bit more time on our tactics for overcoming it, but we did share a nice little one-page handout (compliments of Sarah). When our schedules allow, we'll turn that into an Infographic. I'll also share more details about the session (including our recommended burnout-recovery tactics) later this week. 

WelcomeTableWhile I found all of the sessions that I attended interesting and rejuvenating, the real reason I go to KidLitCon is to spend time with kindred spirits. (See photo to the left, which Sarah took, of Pam and me manning the registration table.)

FiestaHighlights from this year's conference included meeting Leila, Sherry, Jennifer, Katy, Maria, Kim, and Rosemond for the first time, after visiting with them on blogs and Twitter over the months and years. I also enjoyed meeting new blogging friends, like Daniela, Allie, Emilia, Jen, Holly, Julie, Molly, and Heather, and finally meeting authors that I've wanted to meet, like Margo Rabb, P.J. Hoover, and of course Cynthia and her husband, Greg. (Photo is of the entrance to our Friday night function room at El Mercado.) 

KidLitConBreakfastBut what brings me back to KidLitCon year after year, is spending time with my peeps, like Pam, Sarah, Lee, Sheila, Charlotte, Maureen, Melissa, CamillePaula, Chris, and Kelly. (Some of whom are shown in the Sunday breakfast photo to the left, which I lifted from Pam.) I am especially grateful for Pam, without whom this year's KidLitCon would never have gotten off the ground. I can't say it enough. Spending time with people who "get it" -- who share my passion for getting the word out about great children's and YA books, and getting each of those books into the hands of the right reader at the right time -- is a gift. 

Stay tuned for more KidLitCon recaps. And before you know it, we'll be planning for KidLitCon 2014. I hope to see you all there! 

© 2013 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. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


Ann and Nan Are Anagrams: Mark Shulman & Adam McCauley

Book: Ann and Nan Are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma
Author: Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Pages: 36
Age Range: 5-8

Word-loving kids often go through a phase of appreciating anagrams. Many word-loving adults (present company included) never leave that phase. And so it is that I quite appreciate Ann and Nan Are Anagrams by Mark Shulman. This book is just one extended celebration of all things anagram. The narrative is a bit madcap, but at least there is one. Mostly, though, this book defines anagrams, and then gives pages and pages of examples. They start out pretty simple, and get a bit more complex throughout the course of the book. Like this:

"Anagrams are easy to SPOT
but hard to STOP."

and

"Then, DOWN THE STREET in THE DESERT TOWN,
what I SAW WAS ... a DINER, IN RED. 

The publisher uses fonts and text colors to highlight the anagram pairs, which is necessary, because some of them are relatively subtle. (In the last example above, there are three anagram pairs). There are, in fact, tiny anagrams sprinkled everywhere throughout the book. The aforementioned diner serves "CURLY FRIES" and "FLY CURRIES" as well as "LEMONS" and "MELONS". The pantry of the Grandma in the story is filled with things like "RAIN VEG VINEGAR". There are occasional quiet conversational exchanges like "AYE?" "YEA!". 

Mark Shulman also wrote one of my favorites, Gorilla Garage, which has a similar sense of playful fun. And I have to conclude that he got a bit carried away with the anagrams in the book, and couldn't stop himself, either. This is a book that will encourage kids to see anagrams everwhere, too. 

Adam McCauley's mixed media illustrations add to the fun, ranging from icon-like (tops and pots, a spot and a stop sign) to quirky ("She's A NUT" is illustrated by an acorn with clearly feminine features). Everything is rendered in bold primary colors, and with energetic, varied fonts and words at interesting angles. The red-headed, blue-eyed narrator has an odd, flag-like head of hair, but this helps him to stand out, even in silhouette. 

Ann and Nan Are Anagrams is not a picture book that you'll want to read aloud to your two year old before bed. Too much of following the book is visual for it to be a great read-aloud. Rather, it's a book that your new young reader will want to pore over (with you or on her own), giggling at the silliness of the examples, but also making connection after connection. If I were, say, homeschooling a first grader, or just trying to keep an early reader engaged and entertained, Ann and Nan Are Anagrams is a book that I would definitely want to add to my collection. Anagrams are hard to resist, and so is this book. 

Publisher: Chronicle (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Source of Book: 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).

© 2013 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


Charlie Goes to School: Ree Drummond & Diane deGroat

Book: Charlie Goes to School
Author: Ree Drummond (@ThePioneerWoman)
Illustrator: Diane deGroat
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

I like Ree Drummond's series about lazy ranch dog Charlie (see my previous reviews of Charlie the Ranch Dog and Charlie and the Christmas Kitty). In the newest installment, Charlie maintains his self-deceptive laziness ("I'm helping, of course" as he snoozes away near a project) as the ranch family begins their new school year. There's not actually much in the way of plot to Charlie Goes to School. It's more of an introduction to the joys of homeschooling, on top of the recurring gag of Charlie's self-absorption.   

Still, considering the vast number of picture books that take place in traditional schools, it's nice to see one dedicated to homeschooling. The text is matter-of-fact, without getting into any reasons why one might homeschool. Just:

"Lots of kids go to school at school, and lots of kids go to school at home."

The focus remains on Charlie, of course, rather than on the kids, but we still get a look at reading time, creative math (subtraction via animal crackers) and recess. And when Charlie decides to homeschool the other animals on the ranch, gentle laughs are had by all. 

Drummond's text and Diane deGroat's illustrations are tightly coupled here, with the whole story only apparent when both are considered together. Like this:

"Kitty Kitty needs to practice his math. Numbers are very important when it comes to counting food." (Picture of Kitty knocking animal crackers on the floor.) "DON'T PLAY, KITTY KITTY. COUNT!"

or 

"The ranch horses need to brush up on their history." (Picture of a horse attempting to lift a book with his mouth.) "EXCUSE ME! BOOKS AREN'T FOR EATING!"

Charlie's melodrama when talking with the other animals should make this a fun read-aloud. I could see "EXCUSE ME! BOOKS AREN'T FOR EATING!" becoming a household catchphrase in our home. Fans of Charlie the Ranch Dog will certainly want to take a look at Charlie Goes to School. Homeschooling families will also want to check this one out (making it a recommended purchase for public libraries). 

Publisher:  HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: 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).

© 2013 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


One More Pre-KidLitCon Post

KidlitCon2013As many of you already know, the 7th annual Kidlitosphere Conference is taking place this coming weekend, in Austin, Texas. This weekend,  published a lovely article about KidLitCon on the YA Interrobang site. The article includes quotes from this year's keynote speaker, Cynthia Leitich Smith, as well as from Charlotte Taylor, Sheila Ruth, and Allie Jones. And from me, representing this year's organizing committee. 

I especially liked what Sheila said about KidLitCon:

"It’s different from other conventions: the relatively small number of attendees and the close-knit nature of the Kidlit community make this more like a family reunion than a convention. I’m looking forward to seeing people that I’ve known for years and meeting new people, all of whom share a passion for children’s and YA books, literacy, and infecting young people with the reading bug,”

I love "more of a family reunion than a convention." So true! And that quote ended up going well with something that I said, about KidLitCon "turning virtual friends into real world friends" (here I was somewhat paraphrasing Leila's post at Bookshelves of Doom).

Pam Coughlan posted about the YA Interrobang article this morning at MotherReader. She said:

"It's too important a conference for our online community to not have it. Even if it's difficult or running behind schedule. Even if room selections fell through, leaving us wondering if maybe we could just quietly set up shop on the grounds of the capitol. Even if arranging a block of hotel rooms was more like getting an IRS audit. Even if we found that we were conflicting with another event in the morning targeting our exact potential attendees. It hasn't been easy.

But this week, I hope that I'll have a chance to turn more virtual friends into real world friends. We're keeping registration open, and I hope that you'll consider joining us. Visit the KidLitCon website for more information and register today."

And there you have it. Attend this family reunion of a conference. Even if you've never attended KidLitCon before, you'll find friends there. I know that it's tough to book flights on short notice, but if you are in or near Austin, and have some time to spare this Friday and Saturday, we would love to see you at KidLitCon. 

Many thanks to Meredith Maresco for her well-researched piece on KidLitCon. See you all in Austin!

© 2013 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. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


National Family Literacy Day and Scholastic's SPOTLIT Collection

Did you know that November 1st is National Family Literacy Day? The idea is to focus on activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. Like these:

The folks at Scholastic are releasing infographics related to their new SPOTLIT initiative. SPLOTLIT is a "collection of children’s books (50 books per grade level - Pre-K through middle school) approved and hand-picked by a committee of 27 experts (professors, teachers, librarians, etc.)." I've seen the list of experts, and will share that link when Scholastic publishes it on their site. I certainly think that they did a great job. 

You can view the SPOTLIT collection books here. The Preschool list contains many of my family's favorites (like Blueberries for Sal, above). 

Scholastic says that SPLOTLIT is:

  • "The place to find guaranteed great reads hand-picked by some of the most knowledgeable experts in the fields of education and children's books
  • A collection of original, re-readable, memorable, diverse, appealing, and inspiring books for all sorts of kids in preschool through middle school
  • Expert-selected, kid-tested, stick-with-you-even-after-the-last-page books for today's readers"

Here is an infographic showing the connection between SPLOTLIT titles and the major literary awards:

Larger_SPOTLIT_INFOGRAPHIC_Awards_13_10_30
You can find several other related infographics, including one that highlights the range of animal protagonists in the books, on Scholastic's website

Redlabl-logoHow will you celebrate National Family Literacy Day? I'm celebrating right now, in a way, by listening to my daughter request read-aloud after read-aloud from her babysitter. I also plan to have a marathon read-aloud session with Baby Bookworm tonight. We were too tired to read at all last night, after trick-or-treating. Tomorrow we'll be going to the library. Because, really, every day is family literacy day, as far as I'm concerned. Or, as Scholastic says, Read Every Day, Live a Better Life. Sounds right to me. 

© 2013 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. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 1

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Book Lists and Awards

Have you checked back in at Jean Little Library's Read Scary? A collection of links to scary book review from Octhttp://ow.ly/qkZUZ

The @NYTimes picks for 2013 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books via @tashrow http://ow.ly/qmV5A

The latest So You Want to Read Middle Grade booklist @greenbeanblog is from Julie Jurgens http://ow.ly/qiNFI #kidlit

Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013 Shortlist | @tashrow http://ow.ly/qiNiU #kidlit

Some good choices | 5 Series You Probably Missed as a Kid (But Should Read as an Adult) http://ow.ly/qiMfF The Millions #kidlit

Spooky Stories recommended by @RIFWEB for Halloween http://ow.ly/qiN51 #kidlit

Our Top Ten Favorite Dogs From Children's Picture Books from @BooksBabiesBows http://ow.ly/qbuCm #kidlit

Birds in Children's Literature: 35 Great Books to Read (0-12 years) from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/qbunX #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

"Neil Gaiman has decided it’s time for us to create a new Halloween tradition called, All Hallow’s Read" @CHRasco http://ow.ly/qbvqi

Unusual analogy from @ReadingWithBean, your child's library as a kitchen of books http://ow.ly/qfX3w #literacy

Last Minute #Kidlit themed Halloween Costumes from @read4keeps http://ow.ly/qkXEd

Kidlitosphere and KidLitCon

Kate at Author Of . . . hosts the October Carnival of Children's Literature, including a section on #kidlitcon http://ow.ly/qg28F

KidlitCon2013As you prepare for #KidLitCon, how about some #YAlit Reads set in Austin from Stacked http://ow.ly/qkXsO

A post from @SheilaRuth for #Kidlitcon attendees!, with homework (!) (And if you aren't registered yet, why not?) http://ow.ly/qkWCU

#KitlitCon and Blogging Middle Grade @book_nut http://ow.ly/qdO5z "It's worth your time and money. Promise."

Post by @catagator "I love #KidLitCon + I love Austin + I'm excited to connect with old friends and meet new ones." http://ow.ly/qbuKB

The #KidLitCon presentations have been announced... says @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/qbtrr

Press Release Fun: Books About Bullying, a Google+ Hangout — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/qiNTI

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

This doesn't surprise me: Social media boosts YA sales | @TheBookseller http://ow.ly/qiM0O via @PWKidsBookshelf

I just don't get this: A Library of Classics, Edited for the Teething Set - @NYTimes http://ow.ly/qiLRP via @PWKidsBookshelf

Random House Acquires Figment Online Teen Writing Community | @sljournal http://ow.ly/qiLoe @RandomHouseKids

Thoughts from @catagator at Stacked: On Book Packagers and Literary Development Companies http://ow.ly/qg1up #yalit

Bridget Jones, Allegiant, and Fans — @lizb "I’ll repeat: It’s OK to be disappointed (by how a book ends)" http://ow.ly/qbvk9

Programs and Research

Toddlers take to smartphones and tablets; kids 0 to 8 years old watching less TV, survey shows @mercurynews http://ow.ly/qg2Ev

Fun! NYC Hosts “Encyclopedia Brown Day” to Celebrate Series’ 50th Anniversary | @sljournal http://ow.ly/qiLw3

Schools and Libraries

RT @tashrow A Library By The Highway Serves As Billboard For Reading, Learning, Exploration http://buff.ly/1aEGBa3 #libraries

© 2013 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.