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Authors & illustrators

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.

A list of lists for the holidays

This time of year, there are a zillion lists: to-do, must-do, "can't go to bed until this is done" lists, and then there are those designed to help us wrap up our holiday shopping. Below are some of my favorite lists, maybe there's something here for you too!

Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of book recommendations, our Annual Buying Guide includes books for kids ranging from 0-4 to 8-9 year olds.

Excitement builds!

December is an exciting month. Children of all ages are getting ready for the holidays and a break from school and classes. (I know my son is in countdown mode.)

It also signals the end of a year and the start of a new one.

Thanksgiving continues

I hope everyone had a fine Thanksgiving. Ours was filled with family, friends, food, a bit of football, and lots of conversations.

It was also a time to catch up with young people who were home from college for the long weekend.

One young woman I've known for most of her life is now a freshman at a Virginia university, pursuing her interest in studio art and art history. She's always been introspective and rather quiet, but she and I have always shared an interest in the arts including literary.

Native American Heritage and a dearth of children's books

This morning my son was asking me about a movie he saw ages ago called "Hook" (Sony, 1990). It's a Robin Williams film that involves an adult Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

As I was re-examining books on my shelf, I came across a stunning book with the same title but an all together different subject. Hook by Ed Young (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) is about an abandoned egg that hatches into an eagle.

The "Mystery Reader" needs a book

My daughter's third-grade teacher does something called The Mystery Reader, which involves a surprise visit by an adult who comes in to read with the class. I'm the Mystery this Friday (shhhh...don't tell Molly!)

I'm looking for funny and engaging picture book read alouds for third graders. I've asked around my neighborhood and my teacher friends, and combed our own bookcases. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear yours!

Why not use graphic novels with younger children?

I recently read an article describing how two library clerks would not allow an 11 year old to check out a graphic novel. They lost their jobs over it — it was a violation of library policy plus they clearly exceeded their authority — although they likely did so with the best intentions.

It brings up a much broader question; that is, why is the graphic form so popular with children of all ages?

Pictures in the Mind: Magicians and Elephants

Our new family read aloud is Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant. Although we're only three chapters in, we're all hooked. It's a great read aloud for my kids, ages 7 and 9, and I'm sure other ages would love it too.

An excerpt from Kirkus Reviews:

Slightly spooky books are fun now -- and later

I'm the kind of adult who does not (emphasize not) like scary movies. I stopped reading scary books after I read a Stephen King novel that gave me nightmares.

So if you like the type of books that give you major creeps, then don't bother reading any more. But if you're up for not-too-creepy books to share with the children in your lives, you may find an idea or so here.

The gift of a thank you letter

I love children's writing. It can be fresh, fun, and unexpected. It can also be rare. E-mails just don't have the staying power of a pen (or pencil) and paper correspondence.

But recently I got a batch of thank you letters from a group of 4th graders at the grade school from which my son graduated. I had donated some new books to the school.

The librarians and teachers are always appreciative as their budget frequently doesn't allow them to purchase new materials.

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables