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Children's books

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.

Two National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature, Sitting and Chatting

American-born Chinese Gene Yang sits down with Chinese-born American Katherine Paterson to talk about the books that most influenced them as readers and writers. Paterson — the child of Christian missionaries — spent her early years in Huai'an and Shanghai. Her first language was Chinese, but the books that she remembers most vividly from her childhood were the works of British writers such as A.A. Milne and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Bringing Books to Life: My Little House in the Big Woods

We’ve had a mild winter here in Virginia and the lack of snow got me thinking about a past cold and snowy adventure to the boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder in upstate New York.

That time of year again: honoring books

The 2017 Youth Media Awards were announced recently during the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.

The books chosen for the Caldecott Medal (awarded to the most distinguished American picture book) and others (including the Newbery, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Awards) are selected from books published during the preceding year.

Who Has Authority Over Meaning? Part II

In my last entry, I explored some ideas concerning what role authors play in our interpretation of text. As with many controversies in the garden of literary criticism, nothing is settled, but an exquisite tension has been created. It is this tension that mature readers need to learn to negotiate — and that we have to prepare them for.

It All Started with a Question

It all started with a question. What was their story? Author Linda Barrett Osborne wanted to find out more about her great grandparents who came from Italy in the 1880s and 1890s to the United States — much like the English who settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 17th century.

America's Librarian: Meet Dr. Carla Hayden

Gene sat down with the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hayden talks with Gene about her life in libraries, starting from when she was a young girl. She shares some of the surprises she's discovering at the Library of Congress. Did you know that the Library has more than 162 million (yep, million) items in its collection? Among those items: the world's largest collection of comic books!

 

Our Diverse World, Through Books

We may never travel far from our own town or city; go to school with people of different backgrounds, have different families, live near a mosque or synagogue, or even eat at a restaurant that serves food from another part of the world.  

Books Make the World Larger: A Conversation with Patrick Ness

Gene sits down with writer Patrick Ness — author of the award-winning middle grade book, A Monster Calls, the popular YA science fiction trilogy Chaos Walking, and the YA book The Rest of Us Just Live Here, a story about finding the extraordinary in your ordinary self. Ness says that "all writers are noticers" and that stories should reflect the diversity of the world around us. He advises kids to "reach up" and read books that are difficult or filled with ideas that may be beyond your understanding, because storytelling helps us make sense of the world.

Chatting with Lois Lowry

I had the absolute lifetime honor of speaking with the legendary Lois Lowry for this episode of Reading Without Walls. The Newbery Award-winning author of The Giver tells us how her quiet childhood helped her become a writer, about her career as a professional photographer, and how she feels about the movie adaptations of her books. And she has advice for aspiring young writers. I hope you'll make time to watch!

 

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan