If you’re looking for a way to get kids reading this summer, check out NYPL’s Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme is “One World, Many Stories.” To get started: sign up, generate a cool username, and build a fun avatar of yourself! The summer reading website is run like a social networking site. Add books you’ve read or are reading to your personal shelves, review books, add friends, and much more, all while earning reading badges. It’s not just for kids, either!
So many topics, so little time! SLJ’s “Day of Dialog” event began with a bang as Katherine Paterson took the podium. Her touching, humorous stories about how her newest novel, The Flint Heart, was written with her husband (much more enjoyable than wallpapering!), was hard to follow–but the Diversity in YA Literature panel took a good crack at it with moderator Elizabeth Burns, blogger of the infamous A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy, now a blog of SLJ. Authors Paul Grffin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Rita Williams-Garcia shared insights into the choices and execution of their diverse literary works, as well as their thoughts on the future of diversity in the YA genre. After a short break, publishing representatives projected their newest, highly anticipated YA novels of the year in Publishers’ Pitch I. Look forward to some wonderful new YA lit hitting the market in later 2011 and early 2012! Panel II: The Children’s App Landscape followed suit, with moderator and Bank Street College Children’s Librarian Lisa Von Drasek’s criteria for children’s apps and an inside look into how some of these apps are created, such as Donald Crews’ Freight Train. Storybook apps are still in the early stages of their potential, but look out for some truly innovative ideas springing up in the near future.
Following a quick lunch break and some yummy, complimentary boxed lunches, Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, promptly took the stage at 1:30. His solemn humor had the whole auditorium laughing as he advertised for and answered questions about his newest adult book, Why We Broke Up. Panel III: Picture Book Biographies was next, with Martha Parravano, Executive Editor of The Horn Book magazine, as moderator of authors Matt De La Pena, Meghan McCarthy, Patrick McDonnell, and Melissa Sweet. Many inner workings of writing picture book biographies were revealed, and stories of trials and triumphs were shared. Wrapping up the the day were Publishers’ Pitch II, with Children’s literature, and Panel IV: Stellar Debut Authors, moderated by Editor-in-Chief of SLJ Brian Kenney, asking questions of authors Adam Gidwitz, Julie Kagawa, Thanhha lai, and Dave Roman. We can expect great things from these guys. Attendees were free to browse the publishers’ booths on the second floor, gathering free galleys and picking up catalogs of new releases. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a Monday.
Early last Thursday morning, when many would have preferred to be sleeping, Bank Street College was setting up its annual award ceremony for the Irma S. and James H. Black Award for excellence in children’s literature. The nifty catch with this prestigious children’s award is that these books were used in the field, evaluated, and chosen–by children! Each spring, the Irma Black Award committee chooses approximately 20-25 children’s books published in the previous year that it believes will be “outstanding book[s] for young children–book[s] in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole.” In previous years, only the Bank Street School for Children was enrolled in the Irma Black curriculum. Teachers and the children’s librarian, Lisa Von Drasek, presented the chosen books to their students, who proceeded to cut down on the stack of nominees until one winner and three honors were chosen. For the 2011 Irma Black Awards, Bank Street opened up their wonderful curriculum to school libraries across the country. These finalists are truly exceptional and have proven their child appeal.
As has been brought up at any mention of picture books in the last eight months, the New York Times article “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” was raised, chewed over, and thoroughly ripped apart as poppycock by this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Perri Klass, a pediatrician and children’s author in NYC. Dr. Klass gave a truly inspirational speech about the benefits of reading aloud to children and its connections to child development. She is the medical director of the nationwide Reach Out and Read program, through which doctors and nurses promote literacy by encouraging parents to read aloud to their children. If you’re interested in learning more about child development, check out Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14 by Chip Wood.
This year’s winner is How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills. In addition to a marker for book signings and his speech, Tad brought his inspiration for his charming children’s book to the awards ceremony–Rocket! The Irma S. and James H. Black Honor books are Children Make Terrible Pets (written and illustrated by Peter Brown), Dust Devil (written by Anne Issacs and illustrated by Paul O. Zellinsky), and A Pig Parade (written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes). All of them come highly recommended, I promise.
Want to learn more? Check out Bank Street College’s Irma Black Awards website.
Bright mixed media couples with the heart-felt emotional turmoil of Graham’s trials and triumphs leading up to the 100th Day celebrations. Miss Currier has implied that there won’t be enough time in the day to celebrate both 100th Day and Graham’s birthday. The class spends the time leading up to the big day working on their 100th Day projects and learning to count to 100. Each two-page spread is littered with colorful collages of paper chains, letters, and numbers to help readers and Graham practice counting while reinforcing Graham’s self-imposed isolation from the celebrations. The engaging representational art has child appeal and Graham’s frustrations with reading are easy to relate to, although sometimes the art is too focused on 100th Day preparations and not focused enough on Graham’s story. In the end, Graham receives a birthday surprise and realizes that he enjoys school after all. The final endpapers include a legend of the 100 collage objects and which pages to find them on for counting exercises. Beginning and early readers will get the most out of this realistic tale and its simple, straightforward prose.–Jamie-Lee Schombs, MLIS candidate, Pratt Institute