Friday, March 27, 2015

Best of the (Kids-Book) Writing Online this week: March 27, 2015


An occasional roundup of blogs and other writings for kids’-book writers and illustrators… stuff that’s inspiring me, so I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

1. Are we turning teens into readers… or turning them off reading?

Over at Writers Rumpus, Marti Johnson asks, ”why is it that our high school age students abandon – no change that to – are driven from reading?”  Does required reading instill great habits, or just make teens resent books? 

I had spent two months of the summer prodding, pleading, arguing, punishing and bullying this 16-year-old into reading a classic that he will now abhor for the remainder of his life. I decided to read it. Well, I hated it too. As a matter of fact, I didn’t finish reading it. IMHO, it was AWFUL.

Read more from Writers Rumpus in How to Build Better Readers: IMHO

2.  Want to write a book with “Happy Birthday” in it?

Or any other song, for that matter?  Chances are, you will write a book someday that has lyrics in it.  Do you know how to do it without getting yourself sued?  Helen Sedwick explains that it’s not as tough as you might think.  She also lays out some great alternatives if you don’t want to pay.

The cost of getting permission to use lyrics in self-published books is often affordable, typically between $10 and $50. Now that won’t get you permission to use lyrics from Jumpin’ Jack Flash or Eleanor Rigby, but it is likely to cover many Sinatra ballads.

Read more from The Book Designer in How to Use Lyrics Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer

3.  A “wearable” children’s book?  You’ll wish you’d thought this one up first.

What a simple idea:  a book of beards.  And one of masks.  And one of hats.  I’m still not sure if these appeal more to adults than to kids.  But they’re definitely worth checking out.

Guys. So if book-gifting isn’t a thing for April Fool’s Day, then it totally should be. These books aren’t a joke, but they are a huge bunch of laughs.

Read more from Design of the Picture Book in Book-O-Beards: A Wearable Book

4.  Four awesome quick kids’-book critiques from Steve Meltzer of Penguin USA

Want to see what real editors and children’s-book pros think of typical children’s writing?  Steve Meltzer of Penguin USA critiques four very different types of stories,

…I would want to know more about Miss Molly. Why did she want to dance? What happened in her younger years that made her this way? Take us back to when she was younger. But it looks cute. I love picture books that feature adults acting child-like.

Read more from Kathy Temean’s site in Free Fall Friday – Steve Meltzer – Results

5.  Thinking of setting up an author website?  What you must know.

Whether or not you’re planning to DIY, this awesome comprehensive post from Jane Friedman will walk you through tons of great, solid recommendations (even if these aren’t exactly how I would do things).

This is so important I’ll state it again: improve incrementally. Your website is never finished. It is always a work in progress. You’ll improve it, tweak it, experiment with it, and hopefully take pride in how it showcases your work.

Read more from Jane Friedman’s site in The Basic Components of an Author Website

6.  Think you know it all about Shel Silverstein?

Just kidding.  Of course you don’t.

Most of us don’t take the time to find out even the basics, even about our favourite children’s authors.  To help fill this knowledge gap, as part of ReFoReMo, Michelle Eastman walks us through 10 Things you probably don’t know about Shel Silverstein.  My favourite?

He believed that written works needed to be read on paper—the correct paper for the particular work. He usually would not allow his poems and stories to be published unless he could choose the type, size, shape, color, and quality of the paper. Being a book collector, he took seriously the feel of the paper, the look of the book, the fonts, and the binding. Most of his books did not have paperback editions because he did not want his work to be diminished in any way.

Read 9 more fascinating facts from Michelle R. Eastman in ReFoReMo Challenge…10 Things I’ll Bet you Don’t Know about Shel Silverstein

7.  Who needs diverse books? (hint: you, me, everybody)

Why include diverse books in non-diverse settings, like schools, even if there’s aren’t disadvantaged or minority kids there?  Guest poster Taun M. Wright of Equal Read explains why diverse books are good for ALL kids over at Lee & Low Books.

Just because a school’s population is not very diverse, does not mean it should be similarly restricted in the books available to its students. Kids like great stories. All kids deserve to read the most engaging books available, books that expand their imagination of what’s possible by telling a wide variety of stories…

Read more from Lee & Low Books in Why Do We Need Diverse Books in Non-Diverse Schools?

8. So what’s a great new diverse kids’ book? (Here’s one!)

Let’s assume you read the last post and you’re inspired.

So how can you get started?  What’s a hip, contemporary new book by, say, a Latina author, with an authentic, strong Latina teen as its main character?  Trust the Latin@s in KidLit site to have one ready just when you want one in the form of the new book, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, a middle-grade book from author Diana Lopez.

Erica [whose mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer] takes her time deciding what her promesa, or promise, will be. While at the shrine she discovers el cuarto de Milagros, or the miracle room, “where people share stories and make offerings.” It is here where Erica sees a newspaper article and a picture of the Race for the Cure. Erica’s promesa is to walk the 5k and raise money for breast cancer research.

Read more from Kimberly Mach in Libros Latin@s: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel

[cover image above from Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, by Diana Lopez]

Did I get them all?  Or maybe I missed your favourite blog or author.  Let me know in the comments!


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