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Authors & illustrators

Exhilarating, exciting, electrifying - online or print?

Once there were word webs to explore synonyms with children.

Now there is a neat website called Visuwords, an online thesaurus and dictionary. It's fun to see words bounce and connect. There's even color coding to identify the parts of speech. (Thanks to a Reading Rockets colleague for the link!)

Disturbing images - can we protect our children?

Should children be subjected to the horrendous images that surround us in newspapers, on television, on the Internet? How can we avoid having them see pictures of the death, devastation, and other horrors?

One child's Newbery goal

As I've already written, I was a member of the 2010 Newbery Selection Committee. This award has been given annually since 1922 to the "most distinguished American children's book published the previous year."

Anyway, because I was one of the 15 Newbery Committee members, this Spring I will have the honor of meeting a very special reader.

Book awards make good news

I'm writing this from Boston where I attended the American Library Association midwinter meeting and where the Youth Awards were announced. Actually, I was part of the process.

Curl up with... a Kindle?

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and before too long it found its way into the hands of Molly (9) and Anna (7).

If you're unfamiliar with Amazon's eReader, the Kindle, or eReaders in general, they're portable electronic devices that allow you to download, store and read books wirelessly. Different from a laptop, most eReaders are not backlit, which means you can't view the screen in the dark but you can read in bright sunlight, something you can't do with a laptop. Most eReaders rely on something called eInk, which uses a low-power, high contrast "electronic paper."

You had a lot to say about...

Happy New Year! January is a great time to look ahead, but I also like to revisit the past to remember some highlights. Several blog topics seemed to resonate with readers (using comments as a barometer), and for me that provides guidance about other topics I should write about in the coming year.

New Ambassador for Young People's Literature

I've been scooped!

The New York Times reported earlier today that the new ambassador was to be appointed today — at the Library of Congress. I'm not sour grapes, though. One of the reasons this posting is so late is that I got to attend the program at which Ambassador Jon Scieszka became emeritus and Katherine Paterson began her two-year term.

Making memories

Today is the first official day of winter but on the last weekend of autumn, we got a foot (plus) of snow. It's beautiful and (beyond havoc) creates a picture perfect background for the winter holidays.

I was reminded of the season of giving when I read a recent picture book by Jan Fearnley entitled Milo Armadillo (Candlewick).

So long, Mr. Ambassador

This December marks the last month of Jon Scieszka's tenure as the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. For two years, Mr. Scieszka (the author of several children's books and founder of Guys Read) has worked to promote a love of reading and books. He's been particularly focused on helping parents and teachers reach the reluctant reader, one he describes as "that's the kid who might be a reader, who could be one, but just isn't that interested in reading."

Unconventional, or just a good story?

I recently came across a piece online that suggested that there are more books about more things that we'd never have seen even just a few years ago.

I do suppose that's true. I can't think of many subjects that are off limits for children's books these days.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln