At the end of June, I always look forward to my week at The Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University. As a teacher and children’s book writer, I am completely in my element and end up buying way more books than I think I will! Here are some of my favorite books by the authors and illustrators that presented at the conference.
If you are considering writing books for children, the first piece of advice I would give is to read LOTS and LOTS of books for children. Simple, right? For the past ten years, I have been reading children’s books like a part-time job. Seriously. I almost always have a bag full of library books in our house and will throw a few in my purse when I’m heading out and might have some downtime to read. I also usually have a young adult or middle grade novel playing on CD in my car. Being an elementary school teacher is a bonus because I get to read even more books to my students.
Reading children’s books is the best research you can do if you want to hone your craft as a writer and find your unique voice. You can see all the books I’ve read and recommended each month here.
A perfect way to start reading for research is to join The ReFoReMo Challenge! ReFoReMo is Reading for Research Month. Here’s the description from the website:
“The ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month Challenge, was founded in 2015 to help picture book writers reform writing by reading and researching mentor texts in the month of March. The challenge is supported by educators, authors, illustrators, editors, and literary agents in addition to a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction picture book recommendations. We welcome classrooms, educators, writers, illustrators, and publishing professionals to learn with us.”
Doesn’t this sound exciting? I haven’t participated before, but I signed up today and you should too. The suggested picture books for each day of March are listed here. I’ve already reserved a bunch from my library and can’t wait to dive in! Click on the picture below for more information and to sign-up. Happy reading!
Children’s author and blogger, Susanna Leonard Hill, is in the third year of her Valentine’s Day contest, affectionately known as “Valentiny.” The tiny part is for the tiny humans your story should be written for and because of the tiny word count…only 214 words or less! This year’s entries must include a character who is hopeful. Here is my entry:
Hoping for Love
By Susanne Whitehouse
“I have something to tell you.”
“Okay … ”
“I think I’m in love with you.”
“Oh, wow. Are you sure?”
“But you’re a gorilla and I’m … ”
“Beautiful? Yellow? Appealing?”
“Well, yes. But … I’m not sure you can be in love with a piece of fruit.”
“Oh. Then maybe what I’m feeling is … ”
“Don’t say it.”
(designed and created by Legacy Art)
Check out Susanna’s blog and the rest of the entries here.
And for fun, here‘s my entry into the Valentiny contest from two years ago.
Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate this day of love with Matt de la Pena’s newest book, LOVE. The New York Times Book Review says this of LOVE:
“Everything that can be called love — from shared joy to comfort in the darkness — is gathered in the pages of this reassuring, refreshingly honest picture book.”
This is a fresh and beautiful take on a timeless subject. If you enjoyed the voice of his Newbery award winner, THE LAST STOP OF MARKET STREET, you will love LOVE. Enjoy!
The John Newbery Medal and Randolph Caldecott Medal winners, along with the Honor books, have been announced! I already placed them on reserve at my local library. Of course, now that these books are famous, it will be much harder to find them!
Honor: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
Honor: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Honor: Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Randolph Caldecott Medal
Awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children.
This one’s for the illustrators!
Winner: Wold in the Snow illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell
Honor: Big Cat, little cat illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper
Honor: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut illustrated by Gordon C. James
Honor: A Different Pond illustrated by Thi Bui
Honor: Grand Canyon illustrated and written by Jason Chin
Congratulations to all the winners!
Storystorm, formally know as PiBoIdMo, or Picture Book Idea Month, has come to a close. I am proud to say that I completed the challenge on time this year! Storystorm is an annual on-line event run by author Tara Lazar. She has written some awesome picture books, such as The Monstore, Little Red Gliding Hood and Normal Norman. Storystorm runs during the month of January on Tara’s blog: “Writing for Kids While Raising Them” with daily posts by guest authors and illustrators full of inspiration. Over the month of January, our job is to try to come up with at least 30 new picture book ideas. Storystorm sparked 35 new picture book ideas for me this year! I certainly wouldn’t say they are 35 good ideas, but I’m pretty excited about a handful of them. Time to flesh out those ideas and get writing. Thank you Tara and all the Storystorm contributors!
Life at my house has been a little crazy lately. School is overwhelmingly busy, basketball season is in full swing AND we got a Great Dane puppy in November! As you can imagine, my writing and reading time has been pretty much nonexistent this month. However, I did manage to revisit an old Steven Kellogg book that is particularly meaningful to my family right now. So, in honor of our rapidly growing puppy and all of her mischievous puppy ways, this month I’m recommending Pinkerton, Behave!
Preschool (3-5 years) & Early Elementary (5-8 years):
Here’s my sweet, but sassy, Luna Blu. She sometimes needs reminders to behave, just like Pinkerton, but we still love her. Soon she’ll be almost as big as him. There were only 4 weeks in between the first and second pictures! Growing fast!
If you like looking at cute dog pictures, you can follow Luna on Instagram at lunablu4u.