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Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children. The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Working together: Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a bookstore program featuring author Lesa Cline-Ransome and artist James Ransome. This husband and wife team continues to create books for young readers that intrigue as well as inspire. And their work — together and as individuals — continues to evolve and grow.

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Guest Reader Season

Bringing guest readers into the classroom is a great activity any time of year. But the calendar is also full of opportunities for hosting special guests who read aloud. Many of these — including World Read Aloud Day, National African American Read-In, and NEA’s Read Across America — are coming up soon.

READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?)

I just came back from the inauguration of Jacqueline Woodson as the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. The National Ambassador program — co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader — was created in 2008 to "raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to literacy, education and the betterment of the lives of young people."

Resolutions from the KidLit Community

While I’m not big on making my own new year’s resolutions, I do love to take time to reflect on my year of reading and plan what to read next! These bookish resolutions from the kidlit community — compiled by my friend Madelyn Rosenberg — offer lots of ideas for titles to read and a great glimpse of the goals writers set for themselves.

Winter Break Wonders

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and activities for fun and meaningful interactions around books and things of kid interest.

Season of thanks

It’s the season when we think about giving thanks. Occasionally, we take things for which we should be grateful for granted. Sometimes a fresh look can help us gain greater appreciation.

That’s just what happened when I read a recent book by Khizr Khan entitled This Is Our Constitution (Knopf).  It’s an introduction to the U.S. Constitution, its government, and the freedoms afforded American citizens.

Summer Harvest

How was your summer?

Young girl in the garden

Like most summers, it went by way too quickly for me. But there are a couple of things I think will be helpful to do to preserve this summer’s bounty of reading and learning.

Who Needs a Cape When You Have an Apron?

Welcome Jarrett J. Krosoczka to Book Life! New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, whose more than 30 published works include fabulous picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels, is also the creator of School Lunch Hero Day.

The P Word

Poetry has never been my favorite. It was something archaic you had to read at school. If it was presented as “Poetry,” I never particularly enjoyed it. I’ve always tried to read more poetry, but it was an effort. Though I love stories, I somehow couldn’t connect to the story in the poems I read.

But it has recently become clear to me that I’ve spent most of my life thinking in poetry.

— Those conversations I imagined the trees were having as I passed through the woods on the way home from school

Poetry

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges