How To Use Picture Books To Help Your Grandkids Fall in Love with Reading by Susan Day

Here on Frog on a Blog, I’ve been saying for years that literacy is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight. Many of us take reading for granted, but did you know that some people can’t read street signs, or menus, or cereal boxes, let alone job applications, instruction manuals, or other important documents. If children are introduced to books and reading early on, their chances of becoming strong readers and ultimately successful in life increase substantially. The best way to start is by reading picture books together. 

Please welcome back author and literacy advocate Susan Day. Susan’s article 5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever appeared on Frog on a Blog last year. Today, Susan has returned with suggestions on how grandparents (or parents) can use picture books to help their grandkids learn to read and, hopefully, fall in love with reading in the process.

Develop a love of reading with picture books_2

How To Use Picture Books To Help Your Grandkids Fall in Love with Reading

by Susan Day

Learning to read is one of the most important tasks any child has to learn.

It is right up there with learning to ride a bicycle, learning to swim, and later on, learning to drive a car. However, many might argue that learning to read is so much more important, and for good reason.

Without basic literacy skills, a child’s future career, job prospects, and even happiness will be compromised. One of the saddest things I have ever come across was meeting an adult who couldn’t advance their career because they simply couldn’t read or write well. This not only meant never earning more money, but it affected their ability to prepare for retirement, and of course, their self-esteem.

So where do we begin and what can we do?

All children have an innate love of pictures and funny stories. They seem to be hardwired to respond to bright colors, and magical tales. Toddlers and preschoolers like nothing more than cuddling up to a parent or a grandparent, and sharing the special memories only a book can offer.

Picture books offer children so much enjoyment, but is just buying a book and reading it to a child enough?

Is there something else we can do to build a love of books, and a desire to read?

Picture Books Created For All Children

Picture books have been specially written, designed and illustrated to appeal to their young readers. The images are bright, large and some often have delightful quirky things hidden inside them. As well, the text is simple enough to keep a child’s attention.

Look for books which have large text. This way your child can read along with and track the words with their fingers. Sound out individual letters and blended sounds, and ask what other things begin with these sounds.

Encourage your child to look at the shape of the letters and the words as they appear on the page. Once they have done this a few times, you might like to begin to point out other places where these words appear including signs, packaging and, of course, other books.

Grandmother reading with grandchildren

Take Time to Study the Illustrations

We are all in too much of a hurry today with some parents rushing to finish reading because they have so many other things to do.

However, to really build a strong bond and understanding of how a book works, point out the illustrations and ask questions.

What is that character doing?

What color is this or that?

Do you think the character is nice, angry or sad?

Stop and Ask, What’s Going to Happen Next?

One thing children love to do is predict what is going to happen next in the story. Shut the book at a certain point and ask your child what he or she thinks is going to happen. If they don’t know or seem confused give them some options. Such as:

Do you think Goldilocks is going to drive a car next?

Where do you think the Three Bears were when Goldilocks came into the house? At the shops or at the park? Do you think they were at the movies?

Can you imagine what Little Red Riding Hood had in her basket? If she was visiting you, what would you like her to bring?

Predicting the text encourages engagement and involvement rather than just passively accepting what happens next.

Make the Book Relatable to Your Child’s Life

While many stories and fairy tales seem distant or fantasy based, there will always be aspects that can be related to a child’s life.

They might have a dog like the character in the story. They may not like the dark or they may love to sing, for example.

When a character’s parents do something funny or strange, you might ask if they know any parents who do those things too.

When a child can relate the actions or behavior of a character to their own lives, it makes the story more real and believable. They build a connection with the characters and the story that has a real meaning, even though the plot might be fantasy based.

With this in mind, don’t forget that many old fairy tales were written as warnings to children about how to behave and what to be frightened of in their world.

Next time you sit down to read to your child keep in mind how important it is to build a strong connection with reading, and grow a love of books in the heart and mind of your child.

SUSAN DAY AUTHORSusan Day is a passionate author, educator and, grandmother. She wants to empower all parents and grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren. Her first non-fiction book was written to explore changes in grandparenting, and teaches the reader how to create their own Grandparenting Philosophy. Discover the Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing

THE TOP 10 THINGS HAPPY GRANDPARENTS NEVER REGRET DOING

 

Interview Alert: Me

I have interviewed many authors and illustrators over the past eight years for my Interview Alert feature here on Frog on a Blog. Most recently, I posed questions to author and artist Abraham Schroeder, who didn’t disappoint with his candid and detailed responses.

Today, Abraham has turned the tables on me, becoming the interviewer, and I, the interviewee. But instead of appearing on his site, the interview is right here. I have to admit, I’m a bit more comfortable asking the questions than answering them, but I had fun. Have a look! Perhaps you’ll learn a little something new about me. Take it away, Abraham!

AS) You have interviewed almost 30 authors and illustrators for your blog over the years, and it is inspiring to read so much about their different backgrounds and journeys. You also recently interviewed me, thank you, and I thought it would be fun if you were interviewed for your blog too. Then I realized this is my first time interviewing anyone, so for ideas I did some careful combing through your interviews, ones you conducted, and other people interviewing you.

 

AS) What have you learned from interviewing so many people? Have you been surprised by anything in particular?

LF) I’ve learned that children’s book authors and illustrators, besides being incredibly talented, are also some of the nicest people you could meet, so generous with their time and always willing to share their knowledge with those aspiring to be where they are, that is, published. I’ve also learned that those who write or illustrate for children are, each one of us, on our own path. So we should do ourselves a favor and not compare our journeys to other’s.

AS) You have talked about how, as a librarian, you see a lot of new books. Do you have input on what kinds of books are acquired by your library?

LF) I should clarify that I am not a librarian, rather a library assistant. More specifically, I’m a processing assistant, which means I catalog all of the new materials my library acquires. So just about every new book, DVD, music CD, and etc. that the library receives, goes past me before going out to the public. The best part of my job is being one of the first people to read the brand-new picture books. I don’t have a lot of input on what books the library acquires, but I do make occasional requests. (The images below show part of my cataloging process at the library, including a cart of new books waiting to be cataloged, my computer screen, and my own book’s back cover and spine when I cataloged it in 2015.)

AS) Going to the library with small kids in tow, I often find myself with limited time to flip through the stacks, and sometimes I’m literally grabbing randomly. “Here’s a handful, let’s go!” Sometimes we find amazing books that way, some of our favorites, and sometimes we get a bag full of duds. How do you help people who visit the library find great books?

LF) I’m happy to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed, but usually I refer patrons to the children’s librarian. Librarians really know their stuff and are more than willing to help.

AS) Do you see any trends in what kinds of books are popular these days? What are your thoughts about what you see being published, or at least what crosses your desk?

LF) In picture books, though I wouldn’t call it a trend exactly, based on my observations, the most popular amongst my library’s young patrons are the superhero, Star Wars, television series, and Disney tie-ins. It’s the sad truth, but at least they’re reading!

As far as trends in what’s being published, I’m pleased to report that picture books are all over the place in terms of word count, illustration style, and type of story (humorous, lyrical, thought-provoking, whimsical, concept, rhyme, prose, interactive, nonfiction, etc.). Any writers out there reading this, don’t write to perceived trends. Just write your best stories.

AS) Why do you think picture books are important? Why do you spend so much time working with, reading, writing, and sharing them?

LF) I love that picture books are both mirrors, for kids to see themselves in, and windows, for kids to learn about the world and to develop empathy for others. But even before I gave much thought to that spot-on analogy, I was a fan. Where else can you find a story and page after page of incredible art packaged up so perfectly and ready to transport readers or listeners of all ages to amazing places?

I also believe that literacy is an important milestone to success in life. If children are introduced to books and reading early on and throughout their growing-up years, they will become strong readers. The best way to start is by reading picture books. I encourage all of you to read picture books with the kids in your lives often.

AS) You’ve said in other interviews that you have dozens of stories written and many more ideas. What is your process for turning those ideas into finished stories?

LF) I wish I could say I had a process. Usually, my ideas sit for weeks before my mind generates enough substance to start formulating an actual story. The ideas that “speak” the loudest are the ones most likely to become finished stories. I have tons of ideas; many will never be stories because after that first spark, they never speak again. On the flipside, I sometimes get ideas that come to me as fully formed stories, ready to be written down. Sadly, that doesn’t happen too often.

AS) Do you work on one story at a time or several at once?

LF) I definitely work on several at once. If I’m stuck on one, I work on another. I have many in various stages of development.

AS) Do you think about vocabulary and age range when you write?

LF) I’ve read so many picture books that I think those things are ingrained in me at this point. I just concentrate on writing the best story I can.

AS) In one interview, kids asked if you were rich and famous now that you have a book out. I’m sure many adults also assume you’ve hit the big time now. When you’re not too busy counting your money and going on shopping sprees, how do you spread the word about your books? What sort of personal outreach and publicity do you do?

LF) I can’t answer this question right now because I’m off to do some shopping in Paris. Okay, I’m back. Seriously though, I don’t talk about this much, but I’m struggling with a chronic illness that makes it difficult for me to do as much promotion as I would like, outside of social media and local book signings. I experience severe fatigue on a daily basis and have trouble with walking and balance. With some possible new treatments coming up, I hope to feel better in the near future.

Some ways that I have promoted my book include, sending copies to reviewers, interviews, local book signings, donating copies to literacy organizations, features in local newspapers, blogging, tweeting, etc.

Java and MeAS) When you’re not living, breathing, and thinking picture books, what do you like to do?

LF) Spending time with my dog is at the top of the list. I like teaching him new tricks. Also, my husband and I watch a lot of movies together, all kinds. I enjoy Japanese anime too.

AS) Is there anything else you’d like to share?

LF) I just want to say thank you to fans of my picture book The Peddler’s Bed, followers of Frog on a Blog, and all of my supportive family and friends. I appreciate you all!

And thank you, Abraham, for the interview! You’re a pro at this now! (Those were some tough questions.) 😊

5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever by Susan Day

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Please welcome author, literacy advocate, blogger, and dog lover, Susan Day, to Frog on a Blog. On her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, Susan has made it her mission to help grandparents create lasting memories by showing them how to share the wonders of reading with their grandchildren.

Today, Susan stopped by to share tips on making storytime an extra special time for both reader and listener.

5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever

by Susan Day

Have you ever been riveted to your chair by a powerful storyteller? One who weaves such a magical and inspiring tale you simply can’t move until it’s over?

A good storyteller can hold the breath of each listener in their hands, and mesmerize them with every word.

Storytelling is certainly an art form that takes many hours of practice, but just about anybody can quickly gain the right skills to have children or grandchildren hurrying to bed each night in eager anticipation of their next bedtime story.

Here are some pointers to help you –

Voice

Your voice is your most important tool when it comes to storytelling. We each have a unique voice which adds to the charm of any story we tell.

But, why not give each character its own voice. The more exaggerated you are the more fun it will be. This is further enhanced when you give a large, heavy animal like a hippopotamus or an elephant a high, squeaky voice.

As well, who said all mice have to sound meek and small? What about a mouse with a deep voice that is gruff and coarse?

You might be great at accents too. Delight your children with a long southern drawl or a sharp Cockney accent each time you read.

Voice volume

Changing the volume of your voice to reflect the plot is another wonderful way to keep children engaged in the story. When the heroes enter the dark, mysterious cavern, drop your voice to a whisper. When they are at the fairground, shout the words out loud! (You know how noisy fairgrounds can be!)

boy reading

Speed

Try to match the speed at which you read to the action in the plot. Try doing this with the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill to get some practice.

Read in a measured, deep voice which imitates someone slowly walking up a steep hill: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”

Now in a quick voice imitating someone falling down a hill: “Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.”

This will make the whole story so much more engaging and fun. Your children will love to hear how the actions of the characters are reflected in the way you read the story.

Hand gestures and facial expressions

Hand gestures may be difficult if you are holding the book, but don’t let that stop you from employing them. As with facial gestures, you can add so much more to story time by mimicking the reactions of the characters.

Remember the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs story? He put a lot of effort into blowing those houses down. Imagine how much fun the story would sound if you ran out of breath and became tired as you ‘huffed and puffed’?

What kind of face would Little Miss Muffet have pulled when she ate her curds and whey? Yikes! Who eats curds and whey today?

One of the keys to success for all storytellers is in the element of surprise. Using your voice, hand and facial gestures will keep your young audience enthralled with every turn of the page. Let’s face it, the key to good storytelling is not in the story, but in the telling!

Image3About the author – Susan Day

Susan Day is a children’s author and writer. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents, parents and teachers to support them in helping children become better readers. As well, Susan has created a guide to help grandparents build a more meaningful relationship with their grandchildren through their love and passion for books.

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. And, apart from blogging, writing and reading; she loves coffee, painting and learning to box.

My thanks to Susan for featuring Frog on a Blog on her site, Astro’s Adventures Book Club!

 

Splashing In The Reading Tub

reading-tubI’m extremely pleased to share that I’ve been interviewed by Terry Doherty at The Reading Tub. The Reading Tub is a volunteer-run, non-profit literacy organization. 

“The Reading Tub collects and distributes books to at-risk readers, whether it is a child with no books at home or a teacher building a classroom library for her struggling students.”

Please click HERE to read my Author Showcase interview. And to read a special bonus interview that’s been posted to The Reading Tub’s Family Bookshelf blog, click HERE. I had such fun doing both interviews! I hope you enjoy them! 🙂 

The Ripple Effect

 

Childrens Book Bank

 

Rob and Amanda Broder, the founders of Ripple Grove Press, the publisher of my book The Peddler’s Bed and other lovely picture books, have teamed with The Children’s Book Bank in Portland, Oregon to start a book drive during the month of March, which they’ve aptly named The Ripple Effect. Their aim is to “put a book in every young child’s hands.”

Here’s what Rob Broder says about RGPs incredible mission:

“My wife and I started Ripple Grove Press to bring beautiful and timeless books to life. But we also want to make a difference in the lives of children. So we are teaming up with the Children’s Book Bank (CBB) in Portland, OR to start a book donation drive called “The Ripple Effect.” We want to put a book in every young child’s hands. The Children’s Book Bank makes that possible.

They reach low-income neighborhoods, where the ratio of books to children is one book for every 300 children, far below the ratio of 13 books per child in middle-income neighborhoods. The Children’s Book Bank closes this book gap by gathering tens of thousands of new and gently-used books from the community each year and engaging hundreds of volunteers to help clean, sort, and distribute the books to low-income children, free of charge. Since 2008, The Children’s Book Bank has delivered over 510,000 books to over 41,000 local children in need, giving these kids tools to develop the language skills they need to become future readers, learners, and citizens. We want this reach to go as far as possible.

For every Ripple Grove Press book bought and sent to us for CBB in the month of March, we’ll match it, and for every dozen new or used books donated (not an RGP book) we’ll add a new RGP book. Hardcover or softcover. One book or 100. We’ll find a new home for your books.

Please help us by sending children’s picture books to:
Ripple Grove Press
PO Box 86740
Portland, OR 97286

Thank you for your support and helping us in this drive. Hopefully we’ll create a story to tell.”

For more information about The Ripple Effect and how you can help, click HERE.

One Teacher’s Mission To Inspire Her Students Using “The Peddler’s Bed”

DonorsChoose

With so many books to choose from, I’m so excited and so moved that she chose mine! 

Ms. Macadangdang is an English teacher at LA Academy Arts & Enterprise Charter School in Los Angeles, CA. Her school is located in the inner city of Los Angeles, an area crippled by poverty. Her students are reading below grade level and struggling with the new demands of the Common Core standards. She is working hard to provide as much opportunity for learning and academic achievement as she can for her students. But her school lacks the funding she needs to do all that she’d like to do for them.

So Ms. Macadangdang turned to DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose.org is a fantastic organization/site where public school teachers post classroom project requests, and donors choose the ones they want to support.

Ms. Macadangdang is seeking funding to purchase 30 copies of The Peddler’s Bed to inspire imagination and integrate arts into her curriculum. Here’s her project in her own words: “My 6th graders need to be inspired! The common core curriculum is so advanced, and they are so far behind, I need some tools to bridge the gap. With this donation, we will step away from the prescribed textbook and use this rich and imaginative text to perform grade level literary analysis and learn how to analyze images as a form of text.”

I am thrilled to know that my book, The Peddler’s Bed, will be used to inspire these incredible young students and help bring them just a little bit closer to a bright and happy future.

To learn more about Ms. Macadangdang’s classroom project and what you can do to help, please click HERE.

Join Me: Take the #MARCHingBookstoKids Pledge

PBPiO badgeYay! I’ve been waiting a whole year to make this pledge. And now that my book is out and March is right around the corner, I can finally do it!

I pledge to donate a copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed to the VNS of Iowa, Storybook project via children’s book author Michelle Eastman’s literacy initiative MARCHing Books to Kids, which is part of her incredible Picture Book Pass It On (#PBPiO) project, where she shares literacy resources and encourages people to donate books to kids in need.

Here’s what MARCHING Books to Kids and the Storybook project is all about (from Michelle’s blog):

“Throughout the month of March I invite you to participate in a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”. Book lovers can donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.”

“The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.”

For more information or to find out how you can participate, click here.

The donation of just one book can make a big impact in the life of a child. 

The tagline on Michelle Eastman’s blog says it all: “Never Underestimate the Power of a Picture Book”.

It’s Official: The Peddler’s Bed Book Birthday + You’re Invited To The Party + The Giveaway Winner!

Final Final Cover

Today is the official release day of my debut children’s picture book The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila and published by Ripple Grove Press!

I’m super excited to share this news with all of you! I have a lot to tell you about today, including the “when” and “where” of my book launch party and the announcement of the Giveaway winner, but before I get to that I want to thank everyone who has encouraged my writing endeavors, everyone who has followed Frog on a Blog, and everyone who has preordered a copy of my book. All of your support means so much to me. Thank you! 🙂

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You’re Invited To A Book Birthday Party!

What’s the best way to celebrate the launch of a book? You have a birthday party, of course, and everyone’s invited!

Book Birthday Party (2)

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I’ve Been Profiled!

My publisher, Ripple Grove Press, posted a short profile of me, in the form of an interview, on their website. Find out more about me as an author-who my idols are, where I get my inspiration, what my favorite picture books are, and more by clicking on the Key. 

Ripple Grove Press

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Author PictureMy Pledge

For every 100 copies of The Peddler’s Bed sold for a period of one year (between Sept. 1 2015 and Sept. 1 2016), I pledge to donate one copy to a U.S. school or public library or to another organization that works to put books into the hands of children.

If you are a U.S. school or public librarian or are affiliated with a children’s literacy organization, and would like to receive a copy of The Peddler’s Bed, please use the form on my Contact page to submit your organization for consideration.

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Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Suzanne Knox!

She is the winner of one signed copy of The Peddler’s Bed plus two blank books to share with an emerging author! Suzanne, use the form on my Contact page to send me your address and the name of who you’d like me to sign the book to–and I’ll get your winnings out to you asap. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the Emerging Authors post and shared it!

{a rainbow of blank books}

{a rainbow of blank books waiting to be filled with the colors of imagination}

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A Request

Authors feel uncomfortable asking this, but it really does make a difference–those of you who have read or plan to read The Peddler’s Bed, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon, B&N.com, or Goodreads. I’d really appreciate it. 

A big thank you, once again, to all of my supporters, blog and social media followers, book readers, and fans! You’re the best! 🙂

Sharing Is Caring With Bookroo

bookroo_board_books (2)Earlier this month, I introduced you to Bookroo, a new children’s book-of-the month club service with a bright future and a mission to promote literacy by providing an easy and affordable way for parents to build their children’s book collections. Read that post here

Now Bookroo is back with a Buy One, Give One! deal that’s too good not to share with you. In honor of John Newbery’s birthday, Bookroo is offering the next 250 new customers a coupon for a free one-month gift subscription. So if you sign up as a new Bookroo customer, you’ll be able to send a coupon to a friend who can get their own Bookroo box for free. The deal starts tomorrow, but I got special permission to share it with Frog on a Blog followers first! For more information, click here. Happy reading!Bookroo deal

Budding Reader eBooks and a Pop Quiz

Budding Reader

“For every eBook you buy, we donate one to a child in need.”

That’s the Budding Reader eBooks pledge.

Melinda Thompson, the visionary behind Budding Reader, a company that creates award-winning learn-to-read eBooks, has a question for you.

Get out your pencils. It’s time for a pop quiz:

If you read to your child 20 minutes a day for the first five years of life how much time will you have spent reading to your child?

A. More than 600 hours
B. More than 25 days
C. Approximately 1% of your child’s life
D. All of the above

The answer is D: All of the above! That’s a lot of time spent reading, isn’t it? And all that reading is likely to entail thousands (yes, thousands not hundreds) of picture books. (Thank goodness for libraries!) Is all that reading really worth the time? Research answers with a resounding YES! Time and again, research studies have demonstrated the importance of reading for wiring brains, building vocabulary, promoting empathy, and increasing knowledge of the world. So clearly, spending time reading to a child is time well spent and a commitment well worth making.

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Melinda Thompson of Budding Reader eBooks is on a mission to make learning to read easier and more fun for children, especially struggling readers. For tips on working with emergent readers, check out this free eBook from Budding Reader.

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To learn more about Budding Reader and it’s amazing line of eBooks, click here.

Bookroo Delivers Books (and smiles) To Your Child Each Month

I love the idea of a book-of-the-month club for young children. Books make awesome gifts! I’ve used a book-of-the-month club for my two little nephews for the past year and a half. Both the boys and their parents love to receive a brand new book every month, right on their doorstep. And it’s always wrapped, so it feels like each new book is truly a gift. And as an added benefit, I feel good having helped build my nephews’ book collection which I hope will help them both to become strong readers as they get older. 

When I researched book-of-the-month clubs for children a year and a half ago, there weren’t many to choose from, though I did, eventually, find one that suits my needs. But now there’s a new company I’ll be keeping in mind for the future with a mission I can really get behind. Bookroo‘s mission “is to enable and empower parents to build their children’s book collections in an affordable and exciting way through curated monthly book deliveries. We believe in the power and impact of the written word in the life of a child, and believe it’s never too early to start reading to children!”

I asked Jane Tanner, who co-founded Bookroo with her husband Kesler, Kesler’s two brothers, and their wives, to tell me a bit more about the passion and vision behind Bookroo.

There’s something magical about getting a package in the mail, addressed to you, and containing several wrapped presents. Especially when you’re a child. And especially when the wrapped presents contain books–new and exciting stories for you to read in your favorite nook or sprawled across the couch upside down.

bookroo_board_books (2)

At Bookroo, our mission is to empower parents to build their children’s book collections easily and affordably in a way that enhances the excitement of reading for children. We believe, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did, that, “It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own,” and we want to help make that ideal a reality for children across the country and then the world.

Why? Because reading to children is powerful. It’s like magic or fairy dust, except actually accessible to us grown-ups. For example, did you know that for every year you read with your child from infancy to preschool, his average lifetime earnings increase by $50,000? [1] Or that reading to your baby increases not only her vocabulary, but also her math skills? [2] Reading to your children is a powerful force for good.  As Albert Einstein said: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Rather than having the experience of individually wrapped books and a handwritten note to the parents and child come at a premium, in order to ensure that the maximum number of households can benefit from Bookroo, the retail value of the books in each box always exceeds the subscription price you pay. So it’s a win-win-win.

So what is Bookroo? It’s a monthly delivery of curated children’s books–either 3 board books or 2 picture books–individually wrapped and delivered to the child in your life. We invite you to help us on our mission to promote literacy from a young age, as a way to improve the future by increasing the abilities and potential of the children of the world!

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[1] http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Freadingfoundation.org%2Fthe-solution%2Fprograms%2Fread-with-a-child%2F%3Fgclid%3DCj0KEQjwv6WrBRD4gbngqe7mosYBEiQAIB5oTMViEjRuT6DqxxJwYPASEsmf83yyg0yGdnuAOXWBLFwaAmHl8P8HAQ&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNEDEsY-TtR0jeNxvYcoXajUE6YVkw

[2] http://www.parents.com/baby/development/intellectual/benefits-of-reading-to-your-newborn/#page=3

Besides their dedication to literacy and children, the folks at Bookroo are doing even more to help make the world a better place by using recycled and recyclable packaging in their Bookroo boxes and they also donate books to children in need through Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that partners with medical providers “to promote early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families in all 50 states”. Bookroo is a company with a bright future. If you’ve ever considered using a book-of-the-month service, I encourage you to check out their site.

How “The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden” Came to Life

MinaFlowersCover

Aviator Owl Books co-founder Sarah Porcher is a young woman who has impressed me greatly with her creativity, generosity, ambition, and seemingly boundless energy. She first appeared on Frog on a Blog last summer and shared how she started Aviator Owl Books. She also said that the goal of Aviator Owl Books is to “inspire and educate children through print books, eBooks, online games, and apps”. And as if that isn’t enough, Sarah and her co-founder Chris Bill support charitable causes, such as First Book and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, through their book sales. You can read my interview with Sarah by clicking here.

Sarah is back to take us through her fascinating illustration process for her new book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden. (As a writer, not an illustrator, I’m always intrigued by the art techniques that illustrators use for their books.) Take it away, Sarah! 

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be able to share some of my illustration techniques for our new book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden! I’ll start with a brief introduction. My name is Sarah and I’m co-founder of Aviator Owl Books Inc. where I write and illustrate the books under the pen name S. A. Porcher. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how I illustrated our newest book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden, which is to be launched April 24 (2015). 

So let’s get started! First, if you’ve seen any of our books before you’ll know that we have two different illustration styles: one using flat designs and vectors, and one with a digital painting technique. For any book with Aviator Owl characters, I use vector illustrations, so this post will be about that process.

I begin all of my illustrations with simple sketches on plain printer paper. I prefer to use ballpoint pens, but occasionally I’ll use pencil. The Aviator Owls were born on paper in 2009, so the basic character sketches have been finished for a long time. That made the illustration process for this book a little more streamlined.

After the character sketches are complete, I’ll sketch out extremely rough layouts for every spread in the book. And by “extremely rough” I mean that the only person on the planet who can understand them is me. Then I will organize them into a storyboard just to get a sense of the storyline. After this I have two options: 1. I scan in the rough layouts and add each one to a spread in Adobe InDesign (InDesign is my best friend) or 2. I use my Wacom Bamboo tablet and the pencil tool in InDesign to sketch the storyboard in by hand, using the physical sketches as a guide. Having the spreads in InDesign helps me a lot because as I fill in the illustrations I can scroll down and remind myself where I’m going next.

Storyboard

Storyboard

Rough Spread

Rough Spread

Next up is starting a spread. I don’t start at any one in particular, I just sort of randomly choose. Now, because I have been working with the Aviator Owls for a long time, I am usually able to adjust them in Illustrator without having to refine my sketches too much. With a new book with new characters, at this point in the process I would have to pull out a pen and paper and sketch out a much more refined spread to use as a guide. But not the owls. Usually at this point they tell me where they want to go (It’s quite nice. I barely do anything at this point)!

I open Illustrator and start a new document, which I will save immediately as “Mina’s Garden”. Then I’ll open any document that has the owls I already designed and copy them into the new document. I work in layers in Illustrator, so I’ll use the same document for the entire book, but every new page will be on a different layer. The tool I probably use the most is the pen tool, and I’ll create (using my Wacom tablet) all of the vectors that are needed for the page.

Mina Duplicates

Mina Duplicates in Illustrator

I pop over to Photoshop and start a new document with the correct dimensions for the book (Aviator Owl Books are all 8.5” x 8.5”) and copy in everything I need. I do touch-ups in Photoshop and then save the document. Unlike in Illustrator, in Photoshop every spread gets its own document. I try to keep these as organized as possible. Every book gets its own folder, and the Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop documents are all dropped there. The Photoshop documents are named “MinaBook01” through “MinaBook14” so I can find it all later.

Spread in Photoshop

Spread in Photoshop

Then it’s into InDesign. Command + D lets me place the Photoshop documents into InDesign. This entire process – from Illustrator to InDesign can take several weeks – sometimes months – depending on the complexity of the book, the number of new characters/objects, and, of course, my schedule (I am still a full-time college student). I am generally a very impatient person, so as soon as I finish a spread in Photoshop, it goes into InDesign. Spread by spread, the rough sketches in InDesign turn into the Photoshop images.

Spread in InDesign

Spread in InDesign

When I’m coming close to the end of the illustrations, I’ll start to fill in text. At this point it’s easy because I’ll have been working on the manuscript since the illustrations began. I’ll use the text tool in InDesign and write directly on top of the images. If something doesn’t fit well, or the text seems too out of place or “just three pixels too far to the left” (yes, I am that kind of person), I’ll go back into Photoshop and adjust the image to better incorporate the text.

Multiple Spreads

Multiple Spreads

When it’s close to its final stage, I’ll export a low-res file and send it to the other co-founder of AO Books so he can look over it and bring a new perspective. Out of the entire process I think this is one of the most important parts. I am just one human, and after looking at the same project for several weeks it becomes very easy for me to miss things. Usually Chris will look over it and send back comments and we’ll go over them together. This back-and-forth will go on for as long as it’s needed. When it’s complete I’ll add the “book” information – ISBN (which I purchase from Bowker), the cover page, the pages dedicated to the charity we’re supporting through that book (for Mina’s book it is DIG), and then we send it out to CreateSpace for a proof copy.

DIG Logo

Click the Logo to learn more about DIG.

And that in a nutshell (okay, a very big nutshell) is my illustration process for vector illustrations. I hope you enjoyed learning about how I illustrate, but if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them here, or contact me at saporcher050@gmail.com. And for more information on Aviator Owl Books, be sure to check out our website at aviatorowl.com where you can find free printable activities, all the books, and news about The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden, due out April 24th, 2015.

ThankYouOwlsLemonade (2)

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

I’ve been wanting to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for quite some time. I finally got the chance to go this past weekend. So, with my sister Linda acting as navigator, I drove over 200 miles and 3 1/2 hours along the New York State Thruway to Amherst, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day Sunday, perfect for a road trip. And though we were on a highway, we passed through some very scenic areas with rolling tree-covered hills and picturesque valleys. We even crossed the Hudson River. 

After many miles, two rest stops, and two toll booths, we finally reached the museum with no trouble. Although, I almost drove right past it until I spotted this gorgeous sign marking the entrance.

The building and grounds are beautiful. But you really have to go inside to experience the wonder of the museum. They have three lovely galleries exhibiting artwork from several picture book artists. For our visit, they showcased the art of Simms Taback, Harriet the Spy (the book turns 50 this year), and What’s Your Favorite Animal (a book featuring art from many well-known illustrators, including Eric Carle himself). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No photography was allowed inside the galleries, of course, but the museum offered other opportunities for picture-taking.

 

The museum also has a wonderful library filled with picture books (they also do story times there), an auditorium (for films, lectures, plays, author/illustrator visits), an art studio (where all ages can be creative and crafty), and a bookshop/gift shop (I was like a kid in a candy store). All that was missing was a full-service cafe, though they do have a vending machine and plenty of places to sit and eat inside and outside (in a lovely orchard) if you choose to bring a picnic lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My sister and I had such a good time. I hope to visit again sometime in the near future. If you are a picture book lover, I highly recommend it. And while you’re there, don’t forget to use the restroom; you won’t regret it!

Yes, this is a bathroom stall!

Why I Self-Published & What Works by Tabitha Grace Smith

If you are curious about self publishing, then you will find author Tabitha Grace Smith’s article fascinating. She has some excellent advice for authors who are considering self publishing. She also explains why she chose the self-publishing path over traditional publishing, what’s involved, and how she makes it work.

Why I Self-Published & What Works
by Tabitha Grace Smith

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 9 years old. I chose my college, my career (I work in social media marketing), and my hobbies because of this passion for writing. Mostly I had a desire to write adult novels, but when my first niece was born I desperately wanted to write kid’s books. Books had a huge impact on me and I wanted to share that with my nieces (who are now 6 and 7). The idea for my first book came from my cats, who seemed to love sitting on the edge of my bathtub, but never wanted to go in. I wrote Jack the Kitten is Very Brave, a book about a cat who loved being a pirate, but was afraid of water.

I read a lot about the book publishing industry. From my research I knew that picture books are incredibly hard to break into as a first-time writer. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to get published and miss the years where my book would be perfect for my nieces. That sense of a deadline was a huge deciding factor in self-publishing.

Self-publishing has become less of a stigma in the past couple years, but there still is a stigma and anyone who wants to self-publish needs to understand that. I had a lot of questions when I first went about publishing Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and several people immediately assumed that it wouldn’t be a good book if I did it myself.

When it came to choosing how to self-publish I did a lot of research. I wanted a POD (Print on Demand) service so I didn’t get stuck with boxes and boxes of books. I also have a lot of friends who live all over the world so I wanted a service where they could order without paying a TON of money. CreateSpace (which is part of Amazon) wound up being the perfect solution. Just a note here: you shouldn’t need to shell out thousands of dollars to a self-print book service. Beware, there are a lot of scams out there. You’ll never make that money back.

There are four HUGE skills you need to self-publish:
1. Design Skills
2. Art Skills
3. Editing Skills
4. Marketing Skills

Design Skills. Thankfully, I have some design skills. My first job was doing graphics and layout. A big part of doing a book yourself is understanding how to format and set up a layout. You’ll need to understand things like pixels, dpi, how to create a multi-page PDF, page bleeds, etc. If you don’t know these things there are a ton of free classes online to get the skills. Another option is to hire someone. Please make sure to pay for the service. Formatting and layout for a book is a lot of work and it takes a good amount of time.

Art Skills. I have zero art skills. I can draw some pretty awesome stick figures, but that is not good enough for most picture books (Okay, one of my books I drew myself, but it’s pretty doodle-y). For the artwork I had a dear friend, Mindy Lou Hagan, who I had seen a ton of art from. I loved her style and we worked together on the layout and images. I have to be completely honest here, a lot of the unsuccessful self-published children’s books I’ve seen have terrible artwork. Do yourself a favor and search for a good artist. If you have no artistic talent yourself or you have no artistic friends, search sites like Deviantart.com. Again, pay your artist. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when artists don’t get paid. Artwork is at least 50% of the selling point of a children’s book. Mindy and I agreed on payment before we started the project. Have that all in writing.

Editing Skills. Picture books need as much (if not more) editing as a novel. Have as many people as you can read your book before you publish it. I found out early on that people will catch different things, so multiple editors really helps. Also, try and have at least a couple friends who will be 100% honest with you (i.e. don’t just have your mom read it). Have the editors edit the text, have them edit the text placement, and have them edit the story. Read the story out loud to kids and check their enthusiasm level (if you have no kids, ask a local school librarian if you can come in and read your book). Edit. Edit. Edit. A lot of first-time writers are way too attached to their writing. As a result, they’re not open to edits and changes. Don’t be that person. Listen to what your editors say and take it to heart if they’re right.

Marketing Skills. So you have a book. It’s uploaded. Fantastic! No one is going to buy it. This is the huge con for self-publishing. There are no sales without your marketing. Absolutely none. There are thousands of books out there that someone can buy for their child. If they don’t know about your book, they will not buy it. You’re going to need to sharpen your marketing skills. Learn how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) effectively, learn how to publicize without being spammy (check the authors that you love and see how they do it), offer a print copy of your book to some bloggers (check to see how much interaction they have on their blog), pitch yourself to local schools and offer a free author visit, ask folks for help to get the word out, and find places you can sell your book (local fairs, garage sales, charity events, etc.). Cross-promotion with other blogs and authors is your big friend here. I think 90% of the time people usually buy self-published books because they love the author.

There are a couple other things you need to learn like self-employment taxes, keeping track of expenses, etc. Find a tax accountant who can help you with that if you start making some good money off your book.

{From Tabitha Grace Smith’s book Machu the Cat is Very Hungry}

Another option for publishing and getting the funds you need to publish is crowdfunding. My latest book, Jack the Kitten is Very Sleepy, I am funding through Kickstarter. This is a great way to get fans in on helping make the book and pay for the artwork. If you’d like to check it out, it’s here: bit.ly/SleepyJack. If you like pirates and cats, it may be the perfect book for you!

Kickstarter is a huge commitment; I often tell people it’s like a full-time job. So if you’re thinking about crowdfunding, I really suggest backing a couple projects first to see what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve been very happy with how well my books have done so far. I’m no Stephen King of picture books, but I’ve sold a good amount. Copies of my books are all over the world. I get awesome letters from kids who have read my books. Best of all, my nieces love my books and I get to read them to them whenever I visit. School visits are probably my favorite. Once, I was walking the hall of one school as the kids were going home, one of the little first graders got all excited when she saw me and waved like mad and said, “Hi, Author!”. It was a really fun feeling.

My big take away from the whole experience is that self-publishing and doing it well is a lot of work, but it’s a ton of fun too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and give help to others whenever you can. Another thing that really helped me was giving my book away. A lot. Ultimately, I wanted kids to read it, not to become rich. One time I was at a car wash fundraiser and I saw a very sad little boy. I happened to have copies of my book in my bag and I gave him one. His face lit up like it was Christmas. That was well worth buying the book myself and giving it away. After all, what good is a book if no one reads it?

Well said, Tabitha!

Tabitha Grace Smith is a professional geek, blogger, writer, web designer, podcaster, social media expert, and strategist. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Moody Bible Institute and an M.A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She’s written five children’s books including, Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, which were based on her real life cats. You can find them on Amazon or over at MachuandJack.com. She also wrote a book for reluctant readers called Mary Lou Wants to Be a Big Star and a book about dealing with bullies called Everyone’s Mean, Except When They’re Not. Both are available on Amazon. Her latest book, Jack the Kitten is Very Sleepy is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

Find her on Goodreads or online at tabithagracesmith.com.

{The real Jack and Machu with their books}

{Tabitha Grace Smith's latest picture book}

{Tabitha Grace Smith’s latest picture book}

When You Are Blue (A Squishy Blueberry Tale)

 


Sharing information about great causes is something I love to do here on Frog on a Blog, particularly if the cause is related to picture books and helping children. So, I am thrilled to introduce Squishy Blueberry, a charming character created by author and illustrator Amanda I. Greene, who is also the founder of D’inkling Publishing. Amanda’s goal, through her Squishy Blueberry book series, is to encourage children to look within in order to discover a wealth of confidence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence, qualities that we all possess but might need a bit of help bringing to the surface.

Amanda’s first book, Reflections of a Blueberry, is already available and is beaming with beautiful, whimsical, brightly colored illustrations and lyrical, rhyming text. To bring her second book to life, When You Are Blue, Amanda is seeking our help through a PUBSLUSH campaign. Please click on the cover image above to learn more about Amanda’s worthwhile project. You can watch a video, read about Amanda’s vision, make a contribution (and earn some great perks), or simply spread the word. You can also go to the Squishy Blueberry site: http://www.squishyblueberry.com/ for more information and oodles of “squishy blueberry” fun. 

I think a little bit of Amanda herself can be found in the character of Squishy Blueberry who follows his heart and his dreams, notable endeavors indeed. Good luck, Amanda!

{Image from the When You Are Blue PUBSLUSH campaign page}

 

Aviator Owl Books: Enlightening Children, Raising Awareness, Supporting Great Causes

Today’s interview is with a young entrepreneur and college student who has become a huge inspiration to me. S.A. Porcher is one of the creative minds behind Aviator Owl Books Inc., a company devoted to sparking imagination in children while also raising awareness of and contributing to charitable causes. S.A. Porcher and her partner, Chris Bill, have pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sales of their picture books, eBooks, and other products to causes such as First Book and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. They are also dedicated to creating quality books for children that entertain and educate. I’m excited about Aviator Owl Books. I’m convinced it’s a rising star and I’m happy to share its story with you. Read on to learn more about S.A. Porcher and AO Books.

Q. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what inspired you to start Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Sure! I’m 24 years old, I love being outside and I love to learn new things. I was raised on a steady diet of imagination, curiosity and science, which is probably why it is rare for me to find a subject that I don’t enjoy (and also why I was always into trouble as a child – sorry Mom). I have always had ideas for stories randomly bubbling up in my head, but it wasn’t until college that I started to act on them. The original designs for Aviator Owl were born the summer before I left for Purdue University, and I never thought it would go further than digital images that I sold on a site called Zazzle. The five owls were created specifically to be sold on that site, and I had never really considered it more than a fun summer project. 

Meet the five owls.

Only later was it recommended to me that I write a children’s book, and The Aviator Owls Learn Their ABCs was born in the fall of 2010. At the same time I was working on a side project called Write for the Cause – which was (then) completely separate from Aviator Owl. The first book was My Dragon Humphrey, which I wrote specifically with HALO Animal Rescue in mind. I got pretty serious about Write for the Cause, and had all but given up on Aviator Owl to focus on it. 

As luck would have it, I met Chris Bill in the fall of 2012, and after a lot of discussing and planning, we officially went into business together in October 2013. He loved the idea of writing books to promote causes, and with his background in Computer Graphics Technology, we Frankensteined all of our talents into one entity that we could both get behind. We decided to merge the Aviator Owl characters with the idea of writing books for causes. Through research we discovered that children today enjoy books in print and online, which ties into Chris’s background of CGT quite nicely. We also found that kids hate learning unless it’s done in a way where they have fun. Put simply: they like games. All of these put together and we came up with Aviator Owl Books Inc. So your question “What inspired me to start AO Books?” is tricky to answer. I wanted to help children learn, but both Chris and I also wanted to do something we love. I think what we came up with fits both.

Q. What is the goal or mission of Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. AO Books seeks to inspire and educate children through print books, eBooks, online games, and apps. (Or at least that is what we are hoping for in the future. Right now we only have print books and eBooks.) We want to help cultivate children’s imaginations, and also raise awareness of important causes. Right now we support HALO Animal Rescue, First Book, and the Make-A-Wish America, but we hope to show our support for many more in the future.

Q. Who writes, illustrates, and publishes the books you sell? 

S.P. I do. I was born to make up stories, and I’ve been writing them down since I knew how. (Although when I was younger I also included illustrations that make no sense to anyone anymore.) I fell in love with drawing when I was in high school and taught myself Adobe Illustrator the summer before college. I love having the ability to come up with a story, write it, and illustrate it on my own because it gives me a freedom that I know a lot of other writers and illustrators are forced to give up. That being said, I do have story ideas that demand a certain type of illustrative style, and I’m not talented enough to fulfill exactly what I want. I am trying to teach myself, and I practice almost every day, but if the time comes to begin serious work on those stories and I don’t feel prepared to complete adequate illustrations, then I have no problem hiring a freelancer to help us out. 

S.A. Porcher's drawing process.

S.A. Porcher’s drawing process.

As for the publisher: AO Books goes through Amazon’s CreateSpace. We purchase our own ISBNs and barcodes and put them on the covers and then upload all of our files onto our CreateSpace platform. Eventually we would love to publish our own books in-house, but that’s something that we’ll have to address as we grow.

Q. How do you decide what charities to contribute to? 

S.P. All three of the charities we support now have come to us differently. We did research to find an organization that made sense for our ABC book, and First Book was a perfect fit. HALO Animal Rescue was chosen because Ellen DeGeneres mentions it on her show occasionally, and she’s a huge inspiration to me. The most recent charity we chose was the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we chose that to go along with the book called The Boy Who Played With Stars (which was just launched). I came up with the idea for that book in a (dreadfully boring) English course. I was doodling stars and thinking that everyone should be able to do what they want to do in life, even if it seems crazy. A boy who literally goes into the sky to play with the stars is a bit far-fetched, but the idiom is very common. Shoot for the stars, and dream big. Chris and I have both known people who participate in Make-A-Wish, so it seemed like a no-brainer for that book. Of course, we also accept suggestions!

Q. What books are currently available and how can they be purchased? 

S.P. All three books can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Links:

The Aviator Owls Learn Their ABCs: http://www.amazon.com/Aviator-Owls-Learn-Their-ABCs/dp/0988636824/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761201&sr=8-13&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

The Boy Who Played With Stars: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Who-Played-Stars/dp/0988636832/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761181&sr=8-10&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

My Dragon Humphrey: http://www.amazon.com/My-Dragon-Humphrey-S-Porcher/dp/0988636808/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761201&sr=8-12&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

Q. Do you have other items available for purchase as well? 

S.P. We currently offer free printable activities, which we upload to our website two times a week (Mondays and Thursdays). Those can be accessed here: http://blog.aviatorowl.com/activities/all/. 

We also have a very small Zazzle storefront. It used to be much larger but after our trademark was approved, we took everything down and slowly we are uploading new designs with the trademark. There you can purchase clothing, posters, iPhone cases, etc. Eventually we’d love to expand to stuffed animals and educational toys, but for now we’re more focused on the books and expanding those into interactive online pages, even if they are just seasonal. For example, this past Christmas we set up a site where kids could write a letter to Santa.

A Christmas project at AO Books.

Q. As a full-time student, how do you juggle your academic life and the responsibilities involved in running Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Very carefully, and sometimes not well! (There are a lot of sleepless nights involved.) My three majors are Industrial Design (aka Product Design), English, and Creative Writing, and my two minors are Entrepreneurship and Psychology. Every day at school I take classes that are directly applicable to AO Books, so that helps keep me motivated to learn new things, which in turn helps keep my grades up. On the flip side, AO Books benefits from what I learn. Of course, there is the occasional class that bores me to death and those are the classes in which you can find me at the very back doodling, drafting, editing, or anything else AO Books needs done. 

I often have people tell me that I’ve “bitten off more than I can chew”, or whatnot, but I think part of keeping everything from spinning into chaos is keeping the right perspective. I keep in mind that I’m very lucky to be in school, which is something some students take for granted. I know a lot of college students are notorious for procrastinating, but my version of procrastinating is working on Aviator Owl because that’s what I love. I love coming home to sketch and think about otherwise impossible things (like a boy who plays in the night sky). I know exactly what I want to do and really college is just teaching me how to do it.

Q. Where can people go to find more information about Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Our main website can be found at blog.aviatorowl.com. At http://www.zazzle.com/aviatorowl we have some products (and we upload new designs as we create them). And of course people are free to email me at saporcher050@gmail.com, or the company at aviatorowl@gmail.com!

Pelican Bill – A Sickeningly Good Yarn!

Kids love stories about pirates. Kids also love to laugh. What’s funnier than a pirate who gets seasick? Wouldn’t your child want to read a story like that? That is exactly what children’s author Fran Sivers and illustrator Leilani Coughlan have created in their book Pelican Bill. 

But they need our help. They’ve begun a KickStarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds they need to bring Pelican Bill and his pirate crew to life in a children’s picture book. 

Please go to their KickStarter page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1163027881/pelican-bill-a-sickeningly-good-yarn, watch the short video clip, read about the project (you can even read the entire rollicking, rhyming, jolly good story), and consider supporting their campaign. If you cannot help financially, at least spread the word about this really great cause. I’m sure Fran and Leilani will appreciate any assistance you can give.

Much Too Much

Children’s book author Jennifer Rustgi and illustrator Molly Allen need your help. They are self publishing a beautiful picture book entitled Much Too Much. They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds to bring Much Too Much to life. To learn more about their worthwhile project, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/muchtoomuchbook/much-too-much-childrens-picture-book. You can view a video, read the entire children’s story, and make a contribution to their cause. So far, half of their goal has been reached, but they will only receive the funds if the entire goal has been met. So, check out Jennifer and Molly’s page and consider backing their wonderful project or at least spreading the word. Good luck Jennifer and Molly!

Why Picture Books Are Important

Today is the last day of Picture Book Month 2013. What better way to see the month out than with a post by DeWitt Community Library children’s librarian Jennifer Burke on why she believes picture books are important.

After you read Jennifer’s thoughts here on Frog on a Blog, check out her awesome blog Miss Jenny Reads at http://jennythelibrarian.blogspot.com.

Jennifer says she can go on and on about the importance of picture books. That means a lot coming from the chair of the Empire State Award Committee of the Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association.

Why Picture Books Are Important

by Jennifer Burke

Why are picture books important? What a question with many answers! I love picture books and using them in story times. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a picture book with a group of children and seeing them interact with the pictures and being read to. One important thing I’d like parents to know is that picture books aren’t just for “little kids”. There are a variety of picture books that can be enjoyed by children all the way up to high school! In my experience as a children’s librarian, some parents try to push their young child into chapter books too early, not understanding that picture books are a valuable tool in learning to read.

Picture books are generally a child’s first encounter with books and it introduces them to reading, even if they aren’t able to read yet. The pictures are a major part of the written story and they expose children to different styles of art, while also enhancing the story with visual cues, like the emotions on a character’s face. Interacting with the pictures while listening to the story helps a child become engaged in the reading process, and helps foster a love of reading. 

From a librarian’s point of view, picture books are important because they are a tool in teaching parents early literacy skills they can do with their child to get them ready to read. Reading picture books is critical in children developing a sense of how words sound, what words mean, and what the letters of the alphabet look and sound like. While reading to a child, adults can talk to them in a way that encourages the child to engage in the story and understand what is being read to them.

Finally – and this is a personal perspective – picture books provide a sense of comfort. When I open up a picture book that I read as a child, wonderful memories of my grandfather and mom reading to me wash over me and I feel like I am returning home. Reading the same books as an adult brings me back to my childhood and I enjoy the book even more because I am experiencing those memories again. And that’s a wonderful feeling.

Thanks, Miss Jenny!

Picture Book Month

November is Picture Book Month. I love that there is a month dedicated to picture books! All month long, on the official Picture Book Month site http://picturebookmonth.com/, picture book authors and illustrators have shared their thoughts on “Why Picture Books Are Important”. I thought it would be fun to post my own thoughts on the subject right here on Frog on a Blog.

 

 

Why Picture Books Are Important

 by Lauri Fortino

Between the covers of every picture book there is a world of wonder waiting to be discovered. It’s a world of color, imagination, and new friends. It’s also a starting point for literacy because a picture book has the magical ability to instill the love of books and reading in a child. Reading is something that many of us take for granted. But for those who struggle to read, it can mean the difference between success and missed opportunity or the difference between feeling accepted and feeling lost. If children are introduced to books and reading early on and throughout their growing-up years, I know that they will become strong readers. The best way to begin the journey toward literacy is by reading picture books. So parents, and grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers, read picture books with the children in your lives often. By doing so, you will help those children grow up to be successful, thriving adults who in turn will have the opportunity to introduce their children to the wonderful world of picture books.

The ability to read is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight.

 

Urgent: RIF Needs Our Help

 The following information is taken directly from the Reading is Fundamental site. Click the link in the sidebar for more information and to see how you can help.

“The House Appropriations Committee released its recommended spending cuts for the FY11 Continuing Resolution, which includes terminating funding for RIF’s nationwide services. This means 4.4 million of the nation’s most vulnerable children would no longer receive free books and literacy support.” (RIF)

It’s quick and easy to send a message to Congress asking them to support RIF. Just go to the RIF site and follow the instructions. I did.

RIF Needs Help

 RIF is asking for our help. Click on the Reading is Fundamental link in the sidebar. Look for the Action Alert. Congress will be voting soon “on an amendment to ban ALL domestic earmarks in the FY11, FY12, and FY13 budget cycles.  Although RIF IS AN AUTHORIZED PROGRAM AND NOT AN EARMARK, this moratorium would cover all national projects, authorized or unauthorized, local or national in scope.  This would include Reading Is Fundamental and a number of other programs.” (RIF) You can help by using RIFs online form to contact the Senate and ask them to vote “no” on the moratorium. It’s quick and easy. The vote is tomorrow, so hurry!

RIF Needs Our Help!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I’m a strong proponent of the benefits of learning to read, especially for children. I believe that the ability to read is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight. That is why I think this issue is so important. Since 1966, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) has prepared and motivated children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to children and families who need them most. Recently, RIF has asked for our help because it has been eliminated from the President’s FY11 proposed budget. It’s not too late to help. Follow this link: http://www.rif.org/. Literacy for the youngest members of our country is too important to be cast aside. Find out how you can help by following the RIF link today!