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Authors & illustrators

A good day, knock on wood!

The number 13 gets a bad rap all the time. Poor 13 is considered unlucky, especially when it falls on a Friday.

But it is the last time we'll see a Friday the 13th in 2012 so no more worries for this year at least.

Is there such a thing as luck? Lots of children I know think so. And luck, superstition, and talismans find their way into children's books.

Smart school librarian shortstops summer slide

When I gave some advanced reading copies of books to a particularly astute school librarian friend, she used them in a way that just might help these children avoid the dreaded "summer slide" which happens when children don't read during non-school months.

She asked 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to examine the books and decide as a group which was their top choice. l had visited earlier in the school year, talking with the students about the awards process — specifically about the Caldecott.

Fathers and children and reading together

I was reminded that Father's Day is this weekend by an advertisement suggesting baseball tickets instead of a tie or socks for old dad. A very good idea, I thought.

It's all about spending time together, isn't it? And there's nothing quite like spending time with children over a book. Here are a few that I like.

Children's Book Week: a real celebration

Children's Book Week (CBW) 2012 ended on May 13 but the work of celebrated children's authors and illustrators is sure to continue throughout the year.

I have this year's CBW poster hanging in my office. Created by three-time Caldecott Medalist Davis Wiesner, the poster has recognizable characters from renowned children's book creators coming together on a busy street.

The loss of a friend

I never met him but still feel like I've lost an old friend. Maybe we all lost a longtime friend this week. Maybe we thought he'd go on forever — and I suppose in some ways he will.

How do you hear about great new kids' books?

We're always on the hunt for good books around our house. I rely on friends, librarians, my local bookstore, and several online sources for new titles we should be sure to read.

Fun with science and math IS possible

All too often, children hear the word math and they freeze. It just can't have pleasure associated with it nor can it possibly have anything to do real life.

Math really is everywhere but like the narrator in Jon Scieszka's funny and slightly offbeat Math Curse (Viking), fear of it can be a serious affliction. It can even impact how children perceive and school success — and eventually their career choices.

Beyond Earth Day

A friend of my son and I were talking about a high school course he's taking on environmental science. He said that it wasn't as much about saving the planet as it was saving people.

I thought about what he'd said and I agree — at least in general.

Where does respect for the environment and people begin? When children are very young. My son's interest in observing backyard birds started when he built a small birdhouse as a 6-year old Cub Scout and continues to this day.

Authors are real!

When I was growing up, I thought that all authors had to be dead and gone to have a book published. That misconception has quite happily been dispelled. I've even gotten to know some published authors, all of them quite alive and well. Many of these authors enjoy hearing from their readers.

What books do best

Books entertain, educate, inform, engage, and more — more than we may realize. Readers meet others and see themselves in them. They may feel validated, see change, or may be changed by a book.

A recent piece by Katia Hetter exploring how children's books help families explore diversity brought this home for me.

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"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney