May 30, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Mary Cunningham


Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week author, Mary Cunningham, joins us. Mary, tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the sleepy little town of Corydon, Indiana. And I really mean “in the town!” My house was just beyond the main intersection that took Southern Indiana cars and trucks from north to west. That was well before Interstate 64 zoomed traffic just north of town, so you can imagine the teeth-grinding sound 18-wheelers made navigating the tight Walnut Street turn, then downshifting as they passed my house. Winter? Not so bad. Summer with the windows open? Countless sleepless nights were spent sitting on the porch with my dad telling me stories and pointing out the constellations.

After 10 years as a bank teller, followed by a horrifying stint as a travel agent and more rewarding experience teaching travel and tourism and the airline computer reservation system, I finally realized my heart belonged to writing. Childhood experiences, and a recurring dream about a mysterious attic, inspired me to create characters, Cynthia and Augusta Lee, for the award-winning ‘Tween series, “Cynthia’s Attic.”


Tweens love a series. Tell us more about Cynthia’s Attic.

Cynthia had an attic. Not just an ordinary attic. Cynthia’s attic was magic.

Cynthia and I came into the world just three months apart. We grew up on the same quiet, sycamore-lined street, our friendship as close as our houses. Fifty years earlier our grandmothers were best friends. However, we didn’t realize the extent of their friendship until after our experience in Cynthia’s attic.

You can buy all four of the Cynthia’s Attic books:





Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.


1.      The most obvious tool of the trade is the computer I use to write and create. I can't imagine being a published author had I been forced to write longhand. No editor would be able to read my writing since I can't even read it myself! How J. K. Rowling did it is beyond me! Plus, the research I get from the Internet is invaluable. While all stories are set in my hometown (1964-1914) and many of my ancestors are main characters, all must be authentic relating to historical elements.

2.      Social marketing is the best promotional tool and something I lean on heavily to market my books and my writing. When Cynthia's Attic: The Missing Locket (Book One) was published in 2005, most marketing sites were just coming online, and it was much more difficult reaching my target audience. Now, I have to budget my time between sites. I've also come to rely on the social aspect, too. The world would seem so isolated without Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc., friends and fans!

3.      I wouldn't be published without networking. A writers' club in SW Florida gave me the confidence to finish the first 2 Cynthia's Attic stories and the know-how to write a professional query letter. I can't over-state the value of writers clubs and critique groups. I'm certain that my present writers club in Carrollton, GA has made me a much better writer.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

1.      Oh, this is a fun one. We recently adopted our furry daughter, Lucy. Part of my day is set aside, at her insistence, for walks and playtime. She's not quite two, and is a 17-lb bundle of energy. She also forces me away from my computer to stretch and clear my mind.

2.      I was a tomboy; something that follows me to this day when it comes to sports. The older I get, however, the more my participation centers on watching. I grew up in Indiana, so basketball (Indiana Hoosiers!) is a prime focus. I also love NFL football and golf (participating and watching).

3.      Is eating considered a leisure activity? LOL! Seems so for me, which is why taking all those walks with Lucy is not only fun for her, but a necessity for me. Fortunately, I live in West Georgia on the top of a mountain, so strenuous walks up and down steep hills burn a few calories. 

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

1.      Read! As an eight-year-old tomboy, lucky enough to have a library within walking distance of my house, AND a beloved aunt serving as head librarian, I gravitated toward sports biographies. I read from A-Z (Hank Aaron to Babe Zaharias). After those ran out, my aunt made sure I read books that challenged my reading level. I'll be forever grateful for that. So, kids, challenge yourselves!

2.      Write! Whatever you want to write is okay. Short stories about family (how I began my writing career), fantasy, poetry…anything that inspires and makes you happy. You'll be surprised how writing skills improve your over-all schoolwork. Plus, it's fun and something you can do for the rest of your life. Every teacher from 3rd grade on said, "Mary, whatever you do, don't stop writing." It ONLY took me 40 more years to write my first book. It's never too late.

3.      Teachers may not like this next suggestion but I believe far too much emphasis is placed on reading for points. I'll never forget talking to a 4th grader and her father at a book signing. He prodded her to tell me how many reading points she had and how many books she'd read the previous year. I couldn't help wonder how much comprehension she gained from any one of those 300 + books. I'm not suggesting AR shouldn't be used, but parents need to encourage their kids to stretch beyond the list


Great advice, Mary. Where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

Mary Cunningham Books – http://www.marycunninghambooks.com
Cynthia's Attic Blog – http://www.cynthiasattic.blogspot.com


Thank you for joining us on Three Times A Charm, this week. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hosting you on SoT. Hope you visit again. Best of luck with your writing, Mary.

THANKS!

I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have a book, a blog or a business related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

May 23, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Susan Kaye Quinn


Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry. 

This week author, Susan Kaye Quinn, joins us. Thank you for agreeing to be a part of my weekly feature “Three Times a Charm.” 

Thanks so much for having me!

I’m especially excited since today is your BIG launch day for Closed Hearts the second book in your Mindjack Trilogy.  Our lucky readers even get to enter your giveaway!  But first, Susan, let’s learn a little about you.

I grew up in California, where I wrote snippets of stories and passed them to my friends during class. I pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that I writes novels, my business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and I don't have to sneak my notes anymore (too bad!). All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. I write from the Chicago suburbs with my three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as I can handle.

Tell us about Closed Hearts.

When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.

This is the tagline for my second novel in the Mindjack Trilogy, Closed Hearts, which releases today! The Mindjack Trilogy is about a future world where everyone reads minds, except one girl. She soon discovers she can control them instead and is dragged into a hidden underworld of mindjackers. (Tag line for the first book, Open Minds: When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.) The future of her, and her fellow mindjackers, is explored even further in the second book. I’m excited to see what readers of Open Minds think of Closed Hearts, while I’m busy writing the third book in the trilogy. All my novels and short stories can be found on my blog. Open Minds and Closed Hearts are available in ebook and print on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I can’t wait to read it myself! Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.


  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.

Scrivener for Windows - I use it for keeping all my research organized, including pictures and links, and notes on bestsellers, my current draft, outlines about edits, all kinds of stuff. The only thing I don’t use it for is writing - for that I’m an old fashioned Word gal.
My moleskine notebooks - I have a dozen of them in all shapes and sizes and I tote them everywhere. I especially use them to work through difficult plot points or any kind of struggle I’m having with the story. Writing long hand is a great creativity booster for me.
My corkboard - My newest addition to the “must have” category! I’m using it now to outline my third novel in the Mindjack trilogy. I have different colored cards for scenes, structure, love story, etc. It’s really cool to see it all visually laid out and also works as a creative booster.

  • Top 3 personal and/or professional goals.

My Writer’s Mission Statement has four components to it that guide my overall professional goals. From that, I have three (short, medium, long term) professional goals (recently updated in my Market Plan for Closed Hearts):
1) (short term) Finish and publish the Mindjack Trilogy, while also writing a series of short stories as a companion to the series
2) (medium term) Plan/write another series that my readers will enjoy
3) (long term) Make enough money from my indie publishing that it will pay comparably to a part-time engineering position (so I can justify, in a money sense, continuing to write). While it’s not possible to control sales or income, I can control output, so my plan to reach this goal is to continue putting out approximately 2 novels a year (and possibly more titles in short stories), building a backlist that will provide that kind of ongoing income to support my writing career.

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

Veterinarian (changed my mind when I discovered that blood made me squeamish)
Astronaut (applied; they didn’t want me :))
Engineer (check!)

Susan, where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?


GIVEAWAY!!!!!!


Announcing the release of Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.
Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy
When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.
Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers. Now available! $2.99 Ebook at Amazon (and Amazon UK) and Barnes and Noble Request a Kindlegraph Paper copies available at Amazon or get signed copies from the author
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds,  Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunesSusan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead

CLICK HERE to join the Virtual Party for Closed Hearts
(including bonus content for the Mindjack Trilogy and writerly guest posts) 
and/or 
ENTER TO WIN prizes below
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you, Susan, for sharing such an exciting day in your life with us. I hope millions of readers discover your Mindjack Trilogy. Happy release day to you and Closed Hearts!

THANKS!

May 11, 2012

Raising A Reader - Children's Book Week Blog Hop & Giveaway


When the box of books for my first published middle grade novel, The Weaver, arrived at my house, I tore into it and the very first thing I did was open a book and smell the pages. Ink and paper, I’d smelled them many times in my life, but it was the utmost satisfying to know this time the ink formed my words.
I handed a book to my (then) 11-year-old daughter and she carefully pulled back the cover so as not to crack the spine, knowing these books were to be sent out to reviewers and contest winners. She flipped pages, admiring the chapter art, the large print and reading a few of the chapter titles. Then she looked at me and said, “This is so cool!”
How do you instill that kind of appreciation for books in your children? First it is important to be clear that you don’t have to be a writer yourself. I’ve been raising kids for almost twenty years and writing professionally for seven.  All four of my kids spend many hours immersed in alternate worlds and routing for their favorite hero or heroine.  Why? Habits.
The habits of a reading family start with board books and picture books, but they don’t stop there.  To stoke the hunger for words, it is important to read to your child regularly before they can read themselves. You don’t have to be a good reader yourself, but I promise with practice your reading skills will improve. After you’ve read a treasured picture book 35 times in one week, your child will be able to “read” it back to you, starting – oh so subtly – their own reader education with word recognition.
After reading enough stories, you and your child will have a pretty good idea of how to cobble a story together, so get them involved in storytelling.  When our kids were young, my husband and I would gather them around a cozy fire with blankets, stuffed animals and hot chocolate.  I’d start a story and then we’d take turns adding to it, one sentence at a time. It was so much fun not knowing which direction the story would turn next and such a challenge figuring out how to wrap up the tale with a satisfying ending. The boys were rather fond of saying, “And then everybody died. The end.” But we wouldn’t let them get away with that.
One of my children was a reluctant reader. He had to overcome some complications with his vision and it put a damper on his desire to sit and read a physical book. It was just too much work for him.  So when he was expected to do his first book report, I asked his teacher if he could listen to the book on c.d.  She agreed and it opened up the literary world for him and for us as a family. We started listening to books on c.d. on road trips. A book is so much more interesting when discovered in a group.  It was like a traveling book club.  Sometimes we would be so enthralled with the story, we would bring the book into our hotel room and continue to listen in the evening.  Or, we’d arrive at a family gathering, just to sit in the driveway until we got to a chapter break. As a parent, I appreciated that the kids’ minds were occupied during the trip so they didn’t argue or incessantly ask, “Are we there yet?” Plus they were free to enjoy the beautiful scenery we traveled through instead of hanging their heads over a handheld device.
Another important habit of a reading family, frequent visits to the library. We will even go out of our way to drive to another library (Redmond, Sunriver) if one of the kids expresses an urgent desire for a title not available at the downtown branch.  By frequently curling up on the couch ourselves, me with my Kindle, my husband with a book loaded onto his smart phone and his earbuds plugged in, and various forms of books readily available in the house, we’ve modeled the importance and the enjoyment of reading.
Yet, the main reason I wanted to raise readers was because no matter what our children grow up to do in life, the most useful tool they will have in order to be successful at it, is reading.  If they love to read, then they will be quick to learn more about what they are interested in. They will be able to research resources; they will be comfortable attending classes. They will be better communicators. So, give your kids the ultimate weapon. Give them the love of reading.  And maybe, like me, you’ll discover a new career path in the meantime. 
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Now it's your chance. How to enter our giveaway; become a GFC follower of this blog, like my facebook page, KaiStrand, Author and leave a comment on this post. Remember to sign up through Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Then visit the other GAP authors participating in the blog hop:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
Nicole Weaver - www.mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com

May 10, 2012

Children's Literacy from a Librarian's Point of View


Illustrator, KC Snider, and Julie
reading the contest entries

Continuing my theme of children’s literacy for the Children’s Book Week blog hop, I sat down with Redmond Community Librarian, Julie Bowers. Julie and I first met when we were involved in the Redmond 4th Grade Writing Contest. Now, who doesn’t LOVE a community minded librarian who wears really cute skirts? Julie works at the Redmond Branch of the Deschutes Public Library.

Julie, I’m a huge fan of the Deschutes Public Library System, the children’s library in particular. I have four children and have found the library an invaluable resource.

Thank you. Me too. I can’t imagine parenting without the library. When my son was little we used to the library for so many things – story time, books for fun, books for projects, music magazines, and movies. Our budget was tight, and I was so grateful to have this wonderful destination where we could pass a pleasant afternoon of discovery and not have to pay anything! Plus, we’d take home entertainment in so many forms to enjoy all week.

What is the age range of the children your library is serving?

We aim to catch them early. The Redmond Friends of the library give books and story time invitations to parents of newborns in the hospital! We serve children with story times and books right from birth. Reading with your baby every day is important to building a reader, and also to create strong emotional bonds.

We’re really excited right now about our upcoming Summer Reading Program. Summer is so much fun for us because it gives us a chance to reconnect with school age kids and teens (beyond the classroom and school projects). The programs this year are going to have a “night” theme – we expect to have a visiting planetarium, a rocket program, all kinds of great stuff. And of course we’ll be giving away LOTS of books and other great prizes to summer readers of all ages. Word is that the grand prize for the winner of the adult drawing will be an e-reader, so be sure to participate!

Oh my gosh, the Summer Reading Program has been a favorite with my kids (and of course me) for YEARS!

What section of the library has experienced the most growth?

Our digital collection is experiencing incredible usage. The number of mobile device users is up over 50% this year alone. And it continues to grow – in February we had well over 500 new digital download users. I’m a fan of the paper book myself, but I’m seeing some wonderful benefits to e-readers. It’s great to be able to load your slim e-reader up with vacation reading when traveling – goodbye heavy satchel full of books! For some people the technology makes it possible to continue reading, because they can no longer see the print or hold the weight of a print book. We had a woman in the Redmond branch who hadn’t read for years because even large print books were much too small. We helped her set the font on her e-reader to “gigantic” and she was reading again. It was really moving to see this technology return someone to reading.

Along with e-books we’re also offering audiobooks in mp3 and other formats. And I’d like to mention that we also offer free and legal music downloads though, Freegal, our music partner. Unlike the e-books and audiobooks, which expire at the end of the loan period, these songs are yours to keep as long as you like. There were 5000 music downloads from Freegal during the last month!

I’m like your target audience! I recently stocked my Kindle with library books for my Alaskan cruise and I’ve begun checking out mp3 books on my iPod to listen to while I exercise. Thanks for the Freegal tip!

Julie, what’s the annual circulation for the library per year? Children’s library?

In 2010-11 the Redmond Public Library saw over 450,000 circulations. About 177,000 of those were children’s items. The county as a whole circulated almost 2.5 million items for the same year. (The county reported a population of 157,733 in the 2010 Census. Wow! That’s an average of 15.8 items per person!!)

In your experience what benefits does a child who reads or is read to often have over a child who doesn’t have a lot of reading in their life?

People who grow up reading have so much more experience with ideas and language than people who don’t. It’s so important to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as imagination. Household where adults read with their kids spark a love of reading that will give children such an advantage though out their lives. On a global level, we see increased literacy linked to lower crime. I think that a literate and informed citizenry is key to successful democracy.

Finally, Julie, in this age of shrinking budgets, what is the children’s library’s biggest challenge in the next fiscal year and how can patrons help?

We’ve had to mothball the bookmobile, which has had a huge impact on our outreach efforts. The library foundation is working to raise money to bring back the bookmobile, along with other great projects. If you’re able to make a financial gift of any size to the DPL Foundation, please do!

Our library enjoys a wonderfully supportive community; we rely heavily on library volunteers to keep us going. You can also help by donating books to the Friends of the Library. Or join them! The Friends of the Library does great fundraising work through the bookstore. The Friends’ Art Committee also brings art to the people with our wonderful library gallery shows.

Julie, I can’t thank you enough for visiting with us during this special Children’s Book Week Blog Hop! You’ve been such a fabulous and informative guest. I hope you and all your fellow librarians enter for your chance to win the bag of books for the library!

Listen up readers and librarians! To enter, become a GFC follower of this blog, like my facebook page, KaiStrand, Author and leave a comment on this post. Remember to sign up through Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Then visit the other GAP authors participating in the blog hop:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
Come back tomorrow when I talk about Raising A Reader. Hopefully by now, you are convinced that you need to encourage literacy for your child from a young age. Tomorrow I’ll share some ways my husband and I have done it with our four children.

May 9, 2012

Children's Book Week edition of Three Times A Charm with Mike Hays


Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry. 

This week author, Mike Hays, joins us with some bonus content in celebration of Children’s Book Week. Mike, tell us about you.

THE YOUNGER DAYS is my debut middle grade historical fiction novel from MuseItUp Publishing.  I am a husband, a father of three, a lifelong Kansan and work as a molecular microbiologist.  Besides writing, I have been a high school strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a baseball coach.  I have published three football coaching articles in a national coaching magazine and have co-authored over a dozen scientific papers.

Tell us more about The Younger Days.

Summary
The tension in post Civil War Missouri builds to a boiling point between 11-year old Boy Smyth and his mild mannered, devout father over the father's embarrassing lack of support for Boy’s Border War heroes, the outlaw Cole Younger and the notorious Border War phantom William "The Butcher" Bryant.
The family farm is visited by Cole Younger and his injured brother, Jim, of the infamous James-Younger gang, on the run after a train robbery in Iowa.  Much to his surprise, Boy discovers the Younger brothers are childhood friends of his Ma and Pa. Cole has come to their farm searching for the aid of Boy’s mother to nurse Jim’s gunshot wound.  As the Youngers rest and heal, Boy learns about his family’s past and begins to understands why Pa is the way he is.
After the Youngers leave for their Texas hideout, a new band of visitors arrive at the farm intent on violent revenge.  Everything the family built becomes threatened by the strangers, forcing Pa to make the decision to unleash a long hidden identity in order to save his family.

Cover Blurb
Even a decade after the Civil War, the evil deeds carried out in the Border War for "Bloody" Kansas are not forgotten. Hate and revenge still rule the hearts of some, while others wish only to forget and disappear.
In the beginning, Boy Smyth has a dull Missouri farm life and a burning desire to be an outlaw like his hero, Cole Younger.
In the end, Boy Smyth has five dead bodies and two burning buildings at his farm and the most feared man in the United States crying outside his front gate.
And that desire for the outlaw life? It's purged completely from his system.

Buy info:





Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

        Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

The Three P’s: Purpose, Pride and Passion
1. Purpose
            Know who you are and stand there.
2. Pride
            Put your mark on everything you do. Hard work is the magic.
3. Passion
Commit yourself to things you believe in. Make good choices and take ownership of all your choices.

        Top 3 authors.
           
1. Edgar Allen Poe
            2. Rick Bass
            3. Arthur C. Clarke

Picking only three is like trying to pick a favorite child. So hard to leave out Gaiman, Pratchett., Crichton, Twain, Irving, Hemmingway, etc. etc. etc...

        Top 3 illustrators.

1. Chris Van Allsburg - Stack his body of work in front of you, start flipping through the pages without reading a single word and without even a single work you’ll see the definition of what illustration is.
2. Mary GrandPre’- Her illustrations of the Harry Potter series were magnificent and such a huge (and unsung, in my opinion) part of the book series’s success.
3. Jerry Pinkney and Ezra Jack Keats illustrations for their two JOHN HENRY books.

Because it’s Children’s Book Week, Mike graciously agreed to answer some bonus questions about children’s literacy!

In you humbe opinion, Mike, what are some of the benefits children gain by becoming a comfortable reader?

A comfortable reader is a lifetime reader. The world opens up for a lifetime reader. Confidence blooms in the reader. Confidence, which allows the reader to dream, then use the available tools to learn a way to get it done. Boredom is easily defeated with a book in reach. The reader’s imagination regularly gets cultivated and fertilized and in the process, which is never a bad thing. Readin really is fundamental.

What are two things adults (parents, granparents, coaches, etc) can do to increase a child’s interest in reading?

  1. Read. Read anything and everything. Read to your kids every day, especially at bedtime. Read newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, books, and have all the above around your house in plentiful amounts at all times. When not reading, talk about the things you’ve read in a relaxed, informal environment (Remember: It’s fun. It’s not a quiz; it’s not a test).
  2. Let is happen. Don’t push or rush your reader. Don’t throw material in their face just because of formal grade level or other fixed parameters. Let it happen. Let the kids find something they like to read, let them find the bait to hook themselves as a lifetime reader. I was a slow reader. I am fairly sure there were many adults who worried about me. But one day, in a special session with a parent volunteer, she gave me a mimeographed copy of TO BUILD A FIRE by Jack London. I sat at a folding table placed between walls of textbook boxes in a storeroom and ran my finger and eyes over the first line “Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey...” Everything in the room disappeared. I found myself in the Yukon looking over the shoulder of the “new-comer” in his struggle for survival. I was transformed, the locked door to books kicked open; snapped from its hinges. Life would never be the same again.

For a chance to make that wonderful experience happen for a child in your life, become a GFC follower of this blog, like my facebook page, KaiStrand, Author and leave a comment on this post. Remember to sign up through Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Then visit the other GAP authors participating in the blog hop:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
             
Mike, how can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

Twitter: @coachhays64

Thank you for joining us on this very special Children’s Book Week edition of Three Times A Charm. Best of luck with your writing, Mike.
****
I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

Tomorrow, Children’s Book Week continues on SoT with an interview with a librarian! You don’t want to miss it, so be sure to come back again.

May 8, 2012

Children’s Literacy Promotes Strong Problem Solving Skills


To celebrate Children’s Book Week, I am focusing on the benefits of children’s literacy in order to encourage parents, grandparents, caregivers, siblings to model strong reading habits to the younger children in their lives.

In my experience, children who have grown up reading, being read to and listening to audio books not only have a well-developed vocabulary, but they are also better communicators.

As a writer I often hear, “Know your audience.” What this means is that if I am going to write a short story for the 5 – 8 year old crowd I have to use age appropriate vocabulary and I have to keep the storyline linear. Younger children can't follow multiple storylines within a single story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dumbing down to the 5 – 8 year olds. The story itself can be complex and emotional.

I use this as an example because if that 5 – 8 year old continues to develop their reading skills over the years, they will eventually be reading books with a diverse cast of characters, which address social issues or personal struggles, failure, success. Some characters will be well spoken and articulate. Some will speak an urban language they learned on the streets. Some might say or do things that shock the reader and others may fail to do what the reader expects, in turn disappointing them.

Hmmm, sounds like life. And that’s my point.

A child who reads, is read to, or listens to audio books is exposed to the world in a safer, more controlled environment. One day, that reader is going to be out in the real world experiencing real world situations that will mirror things they’ve read about. Based on their reaction to the fictional or non-fictional retelling, they will be able to act or react with the benefit of having had some experience in the situation. And when I say “one day” I actually mean everyday.

In my book, The Weaver, which is included in the tote bag of books being given away at the end of this week, the main character Mary feels different from her friends and family. Then something happens to make her feel like even more of an outcast. Yet, instead of burying her head in the sand and blending into the background, she works and works and works until she finds a way to no longer feel like an outcast.

It is my hope that the children (and adults!) who read The Weaver will benefit not only from the lyrical language, but from the overall message of persistence. A child who read The Weaver in 5th grade might need to dwell upon the lesson again in 6th or 7th grade, but will be more equipped to do so having witnessed how Mary handled her own situation.

****

To increase your chances in the giveaway; become a GFC follower of this blog by clicking the "Join this site" button in the right sidebar, like my facebook page, KaiStrand, Author and leave a comment on this post. Remember to sign up through Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Then visit the other GAP authors participating in the blog hop:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
Come back here tomorrow. Author, Mike Hays, is participating in my weekly Three Times a Charm feature with bonus children’s literacy content.

May 7, 2012

Children's Literacy from a Teacher's Point of View


It’s Children’s Book Week! In honor of CBW, I wanted to focus on children’s literacy. I’m a firm believer that the most effective tool you can provide a child is comfort with reading. Everything we do in life, shopping, cooking, driving, learning and working requires reading and when a child develops a comfort with the skill they are so much better prepared to live a successful life. This week, I’ll be asking people from all walks of a child’s life why literacy is important.

First brave interviewee is Bend, Oregon third grade teacher, Susan Deatherage. Thank you, Susan, for taking the time to talk to us about children’s literacy during Children’s Book Week.

Do you celebrate CBW in your classroom? 

No.

I know from experience your school does have a lot of fun during Read Across America, however. Are there any other ways you celebrate reading with your students throughout the year? 

Accelerated Reading program on the computer, Reading minutes at home with a pizza party to those who have read the required amount at the end of the year.

What are some of the benefits students gain by becoming a comfortable reader? 

Higher ability in all subject areas!  Greater appreciation of literature.

In your experience is there one or two things that parents can do to increase their child’s interest in reading? 

Take their children to the public library to choose books and attend activities.  Read together consistently and be a role model by reading yourself.

In a perfect (budgetary) world, what is on your literary wish list that you can’t currently get for your students/classroom? 

It would be nice to have comprehension activity packets for reading novels/chapter books.

What are some of your students’ favorite titles recently? 

Roxie,  Dork Diaries, Bone, Big Nate,  Whimpy Kid,  Fourth Grade Rats,  Double Fudge,  Bunnicula

Last question is totally off topic! You must write an essay titled, “What I’m Going To Do On My Summer Vacation.” Paraphrase your essay for us. (What are your plans for the summer?)

travel, see family, garden, read, hike….

Sounds like a wonderful summer ahead! Thanks again, Susan, for visiting with us. I hope you and all your students’ parents enter to win the bag full of books for your classroom library!

Anyone can enter at a chance to win two prizes:
·       One FREE Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Margot Finke
·       One FREE tote bag of children's books from the participating authors 
Visit May 7-13, 2012 and automatically enter at a chance to win by commenting, GFC Follower, and/or become a Facebook Fan or Friend at each of the author blogs.
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Be sure to visit the other blogs participating in the blog hop to increase your chances to win!

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