What I’ve Been Reading (March 2015)

Of the books I read in March, here are the ones I recommend. I recently read The Very Quiet Cricket and Giraffes Can’t Dance at my school’s Stories Under the Stars night, where the students show-up in their jammies and listen to teachers read stories. Even though Eric Carle’s cricket book is recommended for younger ones, those elementary school kids “oohed” and “ahhed” at the end when the cricket starts chirping!

Babies and Toddlers (0-2 years) & Preschool (3-5 years):


Preschool (3-5 years):

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Preschool (3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):

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Early Elementary (5-8 years):


Early Elementary (5-8 years) & Middle Grades (8-12 years):


Middle Grades (8-12 years):

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What I’ve Been Reading (February 2015)


Here are some fantastic children’s books I’ve read this month. I found the gem The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, on the shelf of a tiny little bookstore in Middleburg, VA. Several of them are from TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best children’s books of all time.  Enjoy!

Preschool (3-5 years):

Preschool (3-5 years) and Early Elementary (5-8 years):


Early Elementary (5-8 years):


Middle Grades (8-12 years):


Middle Grades (8-12 years) and Young Adult (12+ years): 


2015 Newbery and Caldecott Medal Winners

The John Newbery Medal and Randolph Caldecott Medal winners, along with the Honor books, have been announced. I can’t wait to get may hands on these!

John Newbery Medal  awarded for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature (this one’s for the authors!).




Winner: “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander









Honor: “El Deafo” by Cece Bell










Honor: “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson






Randolph Caldecott Medal  for the most distinguished American picture book for children (this one’s for the illustrators!)



Winner: “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” illustrated and written by Dan Santat






Honor: “Nana in the City” illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo









Honor: “The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art” illustrated by Mary GrandPre (written by Barb Rosenstock)







Honor: “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole” illustrated by Jon Klassen (written by Mac Barnett)








Honor: “Viva Frida” illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales








Honor: “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus” Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (written by Jen Bryant)










Honor: “This One Summer” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (written by Marikko Tamaki




What I’ve Been Reading (January 2015)

Here are the children’s books I’d recommend that have been in my library bag and on my nightstand in January. I thought I’d include some of my favorite Sandra Boynton board books since I haven’t posted many books for the babies and toddlers category. Check them out!

Babies and Toddlers (ages 0-2 years) and Preschool (ages 3-5 years):

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Preschool (ages 3-5 years) and Early Elementary (5-8 years):


Late to the Party…But at Least I Showed Up. PiBoIdMo in January!

Picture Book Idea Month, or PiBoIdMo, was created in 2008 by author and blogger, Tara Lazar. Each year, in the month of November, she has daily guest posts of inspiration and encouragement from picture book authors and illustrators. The challenge is to come up with 30 new picture book ideas in 30 days. You are supposed to complete this task in November. However, I went back to teaching full-time this September and finding time to focus on my writing has been extremely difficult. But I participated in PiBoIdMo 2013 and was determined to complete it again this year.

So…I FINALLY (in January) finished reading all the posts, taking notes, bookmarking the author and illustrator websites and blogs, following them on twitter and Facebook and most importantly, coming up with a list of ideas! Eleven of my new ideas were inspired by a PiBoIdMo post from author Tammi Sauer (love her!), who encouraged us to come up with picture book ideas following the format of “How to _______.” Examples she gave were Vampirina Ballerina, So You Want to Be a Rock Star, How to Babysit a Grandpa and How to Wash a Wooly Mammoth.



Out of my eleven “How to” ideas, one immediately resonated with me and over the next 24 hours I had completed a 205 word picture book draft. Thank you Tara and Tammi and PiBoIdMo!

Even though I didn’t follow the PiBoIdMo rules and completed the challenge two months late, I consider it a success. I have tons of new ideas, a new picture book draft and a renewed excitement in writing.

My lesson from this: Life can be hard and busy and crazy. You may feel pulled in all directions AWAY from your writing. But if this is important enough, you have to find the time and keep doing the hard work. Even though the party was two months ago…at least I showed up.

TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time

Time Magazine recently came out with their list of the 100 best children’s books of all time. Of all time? How do you narrow it down to just 100? I think they did a great job and was happy to see some of my favorite newer books like The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers and I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, along with some of my childhood favorites like Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. I have read 73 out of the 100. Looks like I have 27 books to reserve from library! Maybe you’ll see some of them on next month’s What I’ve Been Reading List.

How many have you read? Click on the picture below to go check them out.

I’ve also made a printable list of all 100 books that you can take to the library with you and check-off as you read. Happy reading!

TIME magazine’s 100 best children’s books printable list

To check-out my post on TIME magazine’s Best 100 Young Adult Books of All Time, click here.

TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time

TIME magazine has come out with a superb list of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time. The category of “Young Adult” is typically for children ages 12 and above. Some of my all time favorites have made the list, such as Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  A few of my favorite more recent reads are also listed: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. 

How many have you read? Click on the picture below to see all 100.

There are many on this list that I haven’t read and will be slowly checking them off my list. I have made a printable list that you can check-off as you read, too!

TIME magazine’s 100 best YA books printable list

To see my other post on TIME magazine’s 100 best children’s books of all time, click here.

Ride the Revision Wave with ReviMo!


Nope. No matter how I say it, that word conjures up nothing inside me but dread. I am the  idea lady. Just full of them. They fill my writing journal and the notes and voice memos apps on my phone. There are sticky notes with ideas all over my desk. I don’t even mind writing the first draft. But anything after that falls into the revisions category. And, well, I think I might be allergic to revisions. I even wrote a poem about revisions that got published in SCBWI’s Bulletin last year! Clearly, I need to do less thinking about revisions and more doing them. I currently have six picture books that need revising and I seem to always find something else to do besides work on them.

Then I heard about the 2nd Annual ReviMo, Revise More Picture Books Challenge, which is taking place this week, January 11-17, 2015. ReviMo is the brainchild of author Meg Miller and is filled with encouraging blog posts, support from other writers and prizes! Hooray for prizes!

I signed up and I’m ready to go! So here’s to a week of focusing more on my neglected stories and making “significant and thoughtful changes to a Picture Book Manuscript,” as Meg puts it. Bring it on! I will now try to say the word with a smile.