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Month: August 2015

  • Become an Official Banned Books Week Author Spokesperson!

    A Banned Books Week Author Spokesperson may be asked to participate in a press interview, create a guest blog post for the BBW site, and/or help get the word out …

  • Use Those Business Cards

    Contributed to CBC Diversity by Audrey Maynard

    I was a non-traditional hire when I began my editing career in 2001. My job qualifications included 12 years working with children and families in urban and rural classrooms. This meant I had a deep understanding of the transformative power of picture books. It also meant I understood the huge need for more diverse books for America’s children. But the third thing I learned from my teaching career was that most people have a story to tell, and some of those stories are pretty amazing. This knowledge has proved very valuable in my work as an acquiring editor. From day one on my job, I decided to cultivate an inclusive attitude towards submissions. My goal has been to find not only the right story, but the right story-teller. Happily, this approach is one that has worked well for our company over the years. As an editor, you never know who will author the next best-selling children’s book. More to the point, that “next book” you are hoping for may not even arrive as a written submission!


    In 2004, I opened a small, square package containing a CD. I remember having distinct feelings of excitement and doubt as I shoved the disc in my ancient cd player. The sender was a Passamaquoddy Tribal member named Allen Sockabasin. The CD featured a collection of his stories and songs recorded in both Passamaquoddy and English. Because there weren’t lyrics in the package, I played the music over and over. Ultimately I “got” the submission, and transcribed one special story.  After several meetings with Allen, and his family, a contract was signed. That story then found a new life as one of our best selling picture books known as Thanks to the Animals. Thinking creatively about submissions was part of the backstory that brought this book to life.


    Given the pressing needs we have to see more diverse books published, it’s important to be proactive. I’m not in favor of “sitting back and waiting” for award-winning submissions to come over the transom. I’ve developed another approach that I believe has merit because it is simple and inclusive. As I go about my daily life, I have taken to suggesting to people I meet that they might explore the picture book world. To emphasize that I am serious, I give out my business card. Over the years, I have handed out my contact information to waitresses, dog walkers, janitors, taxi drivers, teachers, librarians, and medical professionals. It always gives me great joy to suggest to these “non-writers” that they might have a story to tell that would interest a young child. In addition to generating manuscripts, I hope that my business card distribution may build aspirations.  Too many people are intimidated by the world of publishing. As a white, female editor, I embody the demographic (and limitations) of the profession. Given that fact, I believe I need to go the extra mile to empower diverse story tellers.

    All editors have considerable power. My goal has been to use mine as creatively and equitably as possible. Change is already coming to the world of children’s literature. Modifications in manufacturing options and distribution systems, social media and demographics make this inevitable. But in the end it is always worth remembering that it is the children who read our books who will thank us for taking the time to address the present inequities, and make the necessary changes. 


    Audrey Maynard has edited children’s books at Tilbury House Publishers for 14 years. She travels frequently and always carries her business card!

  • 2015 School Library of the Year Award Winners Announced by School Library Journal and Scholastic

    NEW YORK, NY – Today, school librarian Kristina Holzweiss of Bay Shore Middle School in Bay Shore, NY was named as the 2015 recipient of the School Library Journal (SLJ) …

  • Happy Birthday, Allen Say!

    Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1937, Say was raised under the shadow of World War II. He dreamed of becoming an artist from a young age. When Say’s parents divorced, …

  • Harry Potter Alliance Uniting 5,000 Fan Creators to Fight For Fair Use and Copyright

    The Harry Potter Alliance is gathering a community of fans to protect the fan creations that we know and love. The Fan Works Are Fair Use campaign aims to build …

  • Save the Children Promotes Literacy at Home

    The organization creates learning opportunities for children from pre-birth to age 8, particularly in homes with limited resources. Through home-visit programs, Save the Children works with parents to raise awareness …

  • Penguin Young Readers and Looney Labs Announce Mad Libs: The Game

    New York, NY – Penguin Young Readers is pleased to announce it has entered into an agreement with Looney Labs to create Mad Libs: The Game, a card game based …

  • Mariah Carey to Make Children's Book Debut With All I Want For Christmas is You Picture Book, To Be Published This Fall 2015

    New York, NY — Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, has acquired ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by the all-time bestselling female …

  • Why All Reading is "Real Reading"

    Audiobooks, for example, are a valuable resource for struggling or slow readers, visually or physically handicapped readers, and anyone who enjoys hearing a story performed aloud. As library workers, I …

  • Famous Authors Share Their First Literary Loves

    Author of Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert devoured Eric Carle’s A Very Hungry Caterpillar, going so far as to memorize and perform it. Joyce Carol Oates and Sue Monk Kidd …

  • Tips for Reading Aloud to Antsy Kids

    Suggestions for keeping young listeners engaged include choosing interactive books; keeping their hands occupied with crayons or other activities; and altering your reading schedule. The key is to make reading …

  • Scholastic Starts the New School Year with New Service Providing Comprehensive Literacy Solutions to School Districts

    New York, NY – As the new school year begins, Scholastic has significantly expanded its resources and organization to provide customized Comprehensive Literacy Solutions for school districts. Scholastic has realigned …

  • Nerdcamp 101

    Founded in 2013 by teachers Colby and Alaina Sharp, Nerdcamp continues to serve as a valuable forum for exchanging ideas on K–12 education. In contrast with more structured conferences, this …

  • Anticipating Students’ Response to 'Go Set a Watchman'

    Whether or not it is read as a sequel or a rough draft to Lee’s 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Watchman gives a radically different portrayal of Atticus Finch …

  • Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg With Warner Bros. Television Options New York Times Bestselling Author Eleanor Herman’s Buzzed-About YA Fantasy, Legacy of Kings

    NEW YORK, NY — Warner Bros. Television has acquired the option rights to Legacy of Kings (Harlequin TEEN; August 18, 2015; $19.99; Hardcover), first of the forthcoming Blood of Gods and …

  • Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp Create Book-Themed Podcast

    Season one of “The Yarn,” which aired on August 17, 2015, is now available for for subscription on iTunes and on the first season’s homepage. The goal of Season 1 …

  • Victoria Aveyard Has Plans For Three New Young Adult Novels

    In addition to these two eBooks, Aveyard also has a new full-length novel in-the-works. Book two, entitled Glass Sword, will hit bookstores on February 9, 2016. She intends to continue …

  • Hearing Diversity

    Contributed to CBC Diversity by Thom Barthelmess


    I’m so pleased to be asked to contribute to the CBC Diversity blog and talk a little about how audiobooks fit into the bigger picture. Much of our conversation about diverse literature for children and teens has focused on books in print, but I ask us to remember that audiobooks have a critical role to play in connecting diverse books to their young audiences. In all kinds of ways audiobooks facilitate, enhance, and sometimes constitute the reading experience, making stories come alive for children and teens in deeper and more profound ways.

    We know how important it is to make diverse books available to children and teens, but for some kids that is only the first step. Many young people lack the decoding and fluency skills to unlock the stories contained within these wonderful books. Audiobooks are able to bridge this gap, bringing the stories to life for struggling readers. Jason Reynolds, whose wonderful novel When I Was the Greatest is featured among the Hear Diversity titles, has traveled across the country to talk with young people, including visiting young men in juvenile detention facilities. Listening Library has distributed hundreds of copies of audiobooks to many of these institutions, and Jason talks about hearing from these teens how the availability of the audiobook allowed them entry into a story that would otherwise have been closed to them.


    Just as young people need to see themselves in the stories they consume, they need to hear themselves as well. The conscientious casting of talented, representative narrators ensures that what kids hear through the audiobook experience reflects what they hear in their real lives. In his Hear Diversity interview, Jason talks about getting on the train in New York City every day at 3:00 pm, when schools let out, to immerse himself in the real language of teens. In the capable hands (and vocal chords) of J.B. Adkins, that authentic language comes to authentic life. This kind of integrity is important to all listeners; kids need and deserve to hear authentic representations of people from their immediate communities and people they have yet to encounter.

    I can remember being a gay teen coming of age in the ‘70s and ‘80s and craving books or stories, or really any kind of cultural expression that reflected who I was. I can’t remember any positive or nuanced representation of gay people, let alone gay young people, and would have devoured anything that reflected me, in any way. At the same time I can remember wanting an identity beyond my (perceived) sexuality. I didn’t want to be the freak or the pervert. I wanted my peers to know that we were more the same than different, that I was really just like them.

    The power of diverse books, and diverse collections, is that they can support kids today, and tomorrow, in both of these ways. Individually, diverse stories testify to the glory of our unique identities. And in the aggregate, common themes and experiences resonate to remind us that there is a great deal that we share. I’m really proud of the way Listening Library’s Hear Diversity campaign speaks to both of these ideas.

    I hope you’ll take a look at www.heardiversity.com, think about how audiobooks might help you get diverse stories to the young people in your lives, and listen to Jason share his perspectives; he is a force and a light.

    Below are just a few ways you can take action:

    1) Take a look at your audiobook collections with an eye to diversity. How well do they reflect your immediate community and the broader world? And dig deep. Look at every level, every format, every location.

    2) Include diverse audio titles wherever books are told. Bring them along when you booktalk at the local high school. Think ahead about the technology you’ll need to play a sample or two. Add them to the booklists you use to recommend titles to your patrons. When you link to a title in your catalog, link to the audiobook format. Put them in your book displays. It’s great to include both the print and audio title, so interested kids might check out both.

    3) Listen yourself! Listening to a broad, diverse variety of audiobooks will make it easier to connect young people to wonderful, meaningful audiobooks. It will also make it easier to remember just how transformative a great audiobook experience can be. I’ve already told you how much I admire When I Was the Greatest. Here are a couple of my other favorite titles, if you’re looking for a place to begin:


    Stonewall, written by Ann Bausum, read by Tim Federle

    The War That Saved My Life, written by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle


    Bud, Not Buddy, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, read by James Avery

    If I Ever Get Out of Here, written and read by Eric Gansworth


    Kira-Kira, written by Cynthia Kadohata, read by Elaina Erika Davis

    Happy listening!



    Thom Barthelmess is the Youth Services Manager at the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

  • Changes to 'New York Times' Children's Bestseller Lists

    According to editor of the NYT Book Review Pamela Paul, the change in format is intended to boost discoverability of titles. Before the shift, debut authors had a difficult time …

  • Survey Finds Most Millennials Prefer Physical Books

    While many respondents cited a preference for the durability of paperbacks or the slimness of the Kindle, one reader cut to the heart of the matter: Who cares what we’re …

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