How To Hit the Side of a Barn Part 2

donna_s_headshot2-250x232

Donna Earnhardt is the author of Being Frank, illustrated by Andrea Castellani. When Donna isn’t homeschooling or battling the laundry, she’s writing children’s stories, poetry, songs, and mysteries. You might find her fishing the Pee Dee River, hiking in the mountains with her family, or visiting her hometown of Cordova, NC. She lives in Concord, NC, and Being Frank is her first picture book. IMG_1550

Follow Donna’s personal blog here.

PART II

If you are looking for a magic formula to make your writing “funny”, you will be looking forever. BUT… we can work hard and learn how to perfect our craft, using every word to its best potential.

Here are a few things to consider when trying to “hit the side of the barn”

  1. Ask yourself, “How do your characters respond to weird and unexpected situations?” This is fertile ground for infusing humor into the story.
  2. Is your character funny? Or are they funny only when in certain situations? How is he or she funny? What makes them tick? Use this informatioin to your advantage. Allow the reader to see the humanity in the character… and thus, the humor.
  3. What internal struggles can be shown through humor? What external struggles can be shown through humor?
  4. Leave room for the unexpected — or your predictable plot becomes an obsolete one.
  5. Is the humor appropriate for the situation your character is in? If not, is that part of the character’s flaws? Does he laugh at the wrong times? Make jokes at the wrong times?
  6. HAVE FUN when you are writing. ENJOY IT! You get to make kids laugh… don’t miss out on the fun of creating!
  7. Humor is subjective. A dear friend of mine despises fart and burp poems. I, on the other hand, find them hilarious. Don’t try to please everyone when writing funny stuff… because you won’t.
  8. Know your target audience and read, read, read! If you are writing a picture book for 3-7 year olds, don’t include jokes about puberty and dating. Read the type of books you want to write, go to conferences, and get critiques. Check out this great resource from Darcy Pattison.
  9. Study the different forms of funny. Try to identify them as you read the types of books you want to write. This will help you see the big picture and vast variety of humor in children’s books. Here are a few that I’ve identified, but definitely not all:

Witty funny, gross funny,

cheeky funny, “punny” funny,

Make you slap your brother-funny,

Hip-sarcastic-deadpan funny.

  1. IMPORTANT: Be aware of the fact that the people who are buying the books (usually the adults) are not going to enjoy the same kind of humor as the ones READING the books (usually the kids). But whatever type of humor you write, remember what the editor told me, “Don’t make the readers the “butt” of the joke.”
  2. Know that it is okay to fail. A lot of humor can come from our “failed” attempts at something. Think about all the stories we write. The characters in our stories and poems usually fail several times before they triumph. Why should we be any different? Some people are naturally gifted at humor, most folks have to work at it. “I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.” – Frank A. Clarke
  3. FUN FACT: It’s okay to look to something OLD in order to make something NEW! Check out one of my most recent poems, The Shark Who Cried Hook. It’s a new take on the old story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf!
  4. Tap into your inner 6 year old, 12 year old, and 17 year old. What made you laugh when you were a child? A teen? A young adult? Make a list for future projects.
  5. Mark Twain once wrote, “Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.” It’s a fine line – but one we must be aware of. A great example to read is, “Hug of War”.
  6. If you are interested in writing funny poetry, or even if you aren’t, head over to Kenn Nesbitt’s site and practice with some of his poetry lessons and prompts. He’s the former Children’s Poet Laureate (2013-15), so you’ll be learning from one of the best!

Langston Hughes once wrote, “”Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”  Who knows? Your “funny writing” just might be the rain that cools someone’s dry, weary land. So go out….

And hit those barns!

How To Hit the Side of a Barn Part 1

 

donna_s_headshot2-250x232Donna Earnhardt is the author of Being Frank, illustrated by Andrea Castellani. When Donna isn’t homeschooling or battling the laundry, she’s writing children’s stories, poetry, songs, and
mysteries. You might find her fishing the Pee Dee River, hiking in the mountains with her family, or visiting her
hometown of Cordova, NC. She lives in Concord, NC, and Being Frank is her first picture book.IMG_1550

Follow Donna’s personal blog here.

PART I

Several years ago, my hubby invited me to play “disc golf” with him. It is much like regular golf, but there are no balls, no clubs, and no holes in the ground. The “balls” are discs that look like Frisbees, the “clubs” are the arms/hands, and the “holes in the ground” are usually giant alien trash cans. (Okay, they aren’t alien trash cans, but that’s what they look like to me.).

We started the course and my hubby showed me what to do. He stood to my right, a good five feet. He pointed toward the alien trash can. “Aim that way,” he said, “and release.”

I looked straight ahead, kept my eye on the target, practiced my aim (like all good golfers do!) and RELEASED.

As soon as I let it go, it knew something went terribly wrong. My hubby did, too… because he immediately ducked.

“HEY!” he yelled pointing in the other direction, “I said aim THAT way!”

Thankfully, I missed him, too, or he would have ended up with a disc-shaped bruise in the middle of his face.

More recently, my physical therapist told me to bounce a ball off of a trampoline (while standing on one leg). He soon discovered what my hubby already knew. “You can’t hit the side of a barn.”

***

Like aiming and throwing a disc or a ball, it seems that writing “funny” would be as easy as hitting the side of a barn… but as I’ve demonstrated, it’s not always like that.

In my early years of submitting to children’s magazines, one of the editors was kind enough to write a short editorial note on one of my rejected stories. She complimented me on a thing or two, but then told me WHY they rejected it. “You made the children in the story the ‘butt” of the jokes. We don’t publish stories like that.” She went on to explain that they love humor, but not at the expense of their targeted audience.

To be honest, I was shocked when I read her words. I couldn’t believeJean Donna 2012 I’d written a story like that. That was NOT what I’d intended to do. But when I went back to read what I’d written through the lens of her critique… I realized she was right. I thought my story would make the readers laugh – but instead, the reader would have felt laughed “at”.

That was never my intent. I tried so hard to get a laugh, that I failed to realize that I missed the target completely (much like my incident with the disc golf!).

So how DO we “write funny”? How do we learn to “HIT THE SIDE OF A BARN”?

Part II NEXT FRIDAY, FOLKS!

Bringing Big Doctrines Down to Kid Size

How can we teach Bible doctrine to children in ways that they can understand?

By Crystal Bowman

CrystalBowman100As a Christian children’s author, my main message to children is that God loves them and cares about them very much. But I believe children can understand some deeper biblical truths as well. The word ‘doctrine’ describes what we believe and why. So how can we teach Bible doctrine to children in ways that they can understand?

  • Is God Real? Children can be taught that there’s a God in heaven, but we can go deeper when we explain the evidence of God’s existence in nature. In Our Daily Bread for Kids (Discovery House) I wrote a devotional “Can You See It?” which explains that even though we cannot see the wind, we can see what it does. Wind blows a sailboat across a lake. It blows the leaves on a tree and carries a kite through the air. Children understand these examples from everyday life. In the same way, we know God is real because we can see what He does. We can look at the sun, moon, and stars He created. We can see God’s beauty in rainbows and sunsets, and we can see His power in a mighty ocean. Children can have a greater awareness of God’s existence by learning to see Him in the world around them.

 

  • What Is Grace? The way to teach grace is to help children understand that God already loves us and we don’t have to earn His love. God gives us blessings we don’t deserve. It’s like getting a present when it’s not your birthday, or getting an A even though you got the answers wrong. One of my picture books Do You Love Me More? features a child who is trying to do everything right to earn God’s love. The mother finally explains to the child that God already loves him, but by doing good things we can show God that we love Him back.

 

  • What Is Faith? When teaching a concept such as faith, a writer needs to give examples of what that looks like, since concepts are concrete objects. Noah had faith when God told him to build a boat even though it had never rained. Abraham had faith when God told him to move to another country, even though God didn’t tell him where to go. Through sharing stories like these, children can learn what it means to have faith and trust in God.

Of course, there are many others Bible doctrines that young children can understand if they are taught with age-appropriate examples and kid-friendly language. Whether it’s kids’ devotionals, Bible story books, or picture books, writers can reach little children with big doctrines by using carefully chosen words—and that’s one of the challenges of writing for children!   

CrystalBowman100Crystal Bowman is a former preschool teacher, award-winning author, national speaker, and Mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She has written more than 100 books for children, three books for women, numerous magazine articles, and Bible study materials. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

She has written books for many popular children’s series, such as Little Blessings, The Berenstain Bears, and I Can Read. She is the co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers, My Mama and Me, and M is for Manger. She and her husband enjoy living in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best!)

 

 

 

 

Pam Halter & Kim Sponaugle Part 1

Pam Halter headshot

Pam Halter has been a children’s book author since 1995. She has published two picture books, Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes (Concordia, 2001) . She was selected to attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy, May 2010, received Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, and won the Reader’s Choice Award in a short story contest hosted by Realm Makers and Brimstone Fiction in 2015. Pam also is a children’s book freelance editor and the children’s book editor for Fruitbearer Kids. http://www.pamhalter.com

 

Kim Sponaugle is a graduate of The Art InstituteKim Sponaugle head shot of Philadelphia and began working for David C. Cook Publishing designing children’s curriculum and products. But she soon found her heart’s vocation in children’s illustration. In 2001, Kim illustrated her first picture book series Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes with Concordia Publishing House. In 2007, Kim started Picture Kitchen Studio and has had the pleasure of interacting and working with both traditional publishers and self-published authors. She has illustrated more than 60 picture books is also a children’s book cover designer. http://www.picturekitchenstudio.com

I asked Pam to tell how she and her buddy Kim Sponaugle worked together to create their newest picture book, Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch. 

Take it away, Pam!

Kim and I met through a friend in May of 1995. I answered the phone one day to hear, “My name is Kim Sponaugle. You don’t know me, but I got your number from Sue Smith at church and she says you write children’s books. I’m an illustrator and have been looking for someone to work with.”
We met, exchanged our work, and decided we wanted to work together. The result of that was publishing two picture books through Concordia in 2001: Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes. We’re also the best of friends and have gone on many-an adventure, eaten a ton of brownies and drank gallons of coffee, and laughed (well, snorted) our way through some crazy fun story ideas together.
It’s a rare thing when a traditional publishing house takes an author/illustrator team, and while we’ve created many other books, no one has picked us up since then. We weren’t disillusioned because we knew God had put us together and it’s all about His timing. We continued to work on our projects as well as separate things. I’ve published a couple of magazine articles, some daily devotions, and have contributed to several anthologies. I’ve also taught many workshops and attended loads of conferences. And have won 2 awards for my writing.

We’ve learned so much about the craft of children’s books, we decided to go out on our own with Willoughby. Our goal with Willoughby and Friends is to teach children that it’s okay to be friends with people different from themselves. That sometimes it’s hard at first to really know someone. Kids can be rough and even mean, but there’s usually a reason for it. We need to be patient and try our best to see past the outside. Willoughby’s stories aren’t teaching stories, though. We show what we want our readers to learn by simply having it play out in the story. I like to describe Willoughby and Friends as The Smurfs meet Sesame Street, with Willoughby as our “Big Bird” who wants everyone to be friends. Our first book, Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch, has Scripture in the beginning: Ecc.4:9 “Two are better than one … if one falls the other can help him up.”  It’s never said in the story. It’s shown in the story.

The question we hear the most is, “Where did you get the idea for Willoughby?”

Willoughby cover - frontI have to credit Kim with that. We meet often and brainstorm lots of book ideas. Usually over chocolate and coffee. Ha! And sometimes we get laughing so hard, we cry. It’s so much fun to brainstorm with a friend!

Well, one day, Kim said, “We need a story about unlikely friends. Like dragons and fairies. You know, big and small.”

I thought about it, wrote down some ideas and wrote the first draft of Willoughby’s Itch. Kim approved. We always collaborate together on both the story and the artwork. And after several drafts and a few tries to sell him traditionally, as I said above, we decided to do it ourselves. We’re very happy we did. Kids love Willoughby! And we’re having a blast marketing him.

Next Friday we’ll share Our advice for anyone who is considering self publishing a children’s picture book. Please come back to Jean’s blog for some tips and tricks Kim and I have learned.

 

Kim and I are also planning to offer mentoring workshops and weekends for picture book authors and illustrators. We’re hoping to start this fall.  Subscribe to my blog or Kim’s blog for updates.

www.pamhalter.com

www.picturekitchenstudio.com

Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch is available through Amazon and at Fruitearer.com

Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way

51wewkwlxglRhyming Picture Books The Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard is the second book in the Children’s Writer Insider Guides that I have read. It follows the same short and sweet format as Picture Books The Write Way. I like that. The ten short chapters are all focused on ten common problems writers have when writing rhyming picture books.

An Introduction, then ten chisled chapters helped me examine specifics about the rhyming picture book manuscripts that I am working on (either creating or selling.)

Also, every chapter is loaded with links to helpful websites and to author pages for the picture book examples Salas and Bullard use. I’m taking my Kindle with me to the local children’s library so I can read as many of these examples as I can find.

Aside: I have another list gleaned from Tara Lazar’s website Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). A list of NEW picture books. In Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way Salas and Bullard continually remind the reader (AKA ME) to read current picture books if I want to write in a way that appeals to current readers.

Okay, I’ll stop rambling now. Here is the long-awaited list of chapters in Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way:

  • Are You Targeting the Right Audience?
  • Is Your Manuscript Too Wordy?
  • Is Your Meter Imperfect?
  • Can You Do Even More With Meter?
  • Do You Use Rich Poetic Elements?
  • Have You Thought About a Refrain?
  • Is There More There Than Just Rhyme?
  • Is Your Message Heavy Handed?
  • Does Your Verse Sound Natural?
  • Have You Considered Nonfiction?

lisa-lauraSalas and Bullard give clear and specific ways to challenge my manuscript and correct whatever problems I find. For example, the chapter on Poetic Elements clearly explains rhyme, fresh rhyme, near rhyme, sensible rhyme, internal rhyme. Then provide examples of picture books (with links) that do the job well.

Thanks for reading here at On My (Kindle) Shelf. I hope some of the writing books that are helping me will also help you. Are they?

Hmmmm…

That question begs an answer from YOU, dear reader/writer. So, can you leave a comment here telling me if any of my summaries have helped, and which ones?

Or send me a msg on FB please at Jean Matthew Hall Author. And follow me there, please?

I’m trying to do this marketing/PR/networking/social media thing the best way possible. However, I think I’m still on the first page of that chapter of my life.

Blessings!

Jean

 

Primary Sources for Your Nonfiction Picture Book

sandmanBy Sandman, the writing buddy of Nancy I. Sanders

 

Everyone wants primary sources in their nonfiction. Primary sources are especially important if you’re researching a historical or biographical picture book.

What’s a cat gonna’ do?

I tried hiding in a bag and never dealing with it, but then I got too hungry for tuna fish tacos so I had to come out.

So I decided to try a new tactic. I’d hunt those primary sources down and pounce on ’em!

First plan of attack was to sneak around the house, hide behind the couch, and jump out at any unsuspecting spider crawling by.

But that didn’t get me very many primary sources.

What are primary sources anyhow?

I looked up the definition of primary sources in my cat-dictionary and discovered they are:

Autobiographies: Whenever a cool cat writes a book or article about her own life, it counts as a primary source.

Diaries: My cat friend, Pitterpat, keeps a diary and in it she chronicles every detail about Devin and Derby, the two Rat terriers who live next door. Pitterpat knows those little yappers are up to evil designs and she’s determined to prove it! Diaries are a primary source.

More primary sources include

* letters people actually wrote

* artifacts, buildings and landmarks that were actually there during the era

* e-mails, interviews, photographs, official documents

* and speeches people actually spoke

But how do you FIND primary sources? I’ve tried digging in the dirt in every single potted plant in our house, pulling out all the tissues and reaching in the bottom of a tissue box, and shredding every paper that comes out of the printer, but that only got me in trouble!

So then I tried a new tactic. I already had a pile of picture books and books for kittens on my topic. This time, however, I went to my library and borrowed every book on my topic written for mature cats. These books have FOOTNOTES. (I think they should call them pawprints.) And these books list many many primary sources in the back where they cite those pawprints…I mean footnotes.

Plus these books have PHOTOGRAPHS and PAINTINGS from the actual era of my topic. I looked in the back for the places who own those primary sources and made a note to contact them and find out what kind of permissions they give to cats who want to use them in their nonfiction picture books. (Like me.)

Then I went online and googled my topic. I didn’t look at Wikipedia like I normally do. (Okay, okay, I know that’s a no-no for research but it’s handy!) Instead, I read articles that looked official on my topic that were posted by museums and universities and national archives. I looked at THEIR footnotes to see where they got their primary sources.

So there you have it! Are you writing a historical or biographical picture book? Check into primary sources.

They’re the cat’s meow!

sanders-nancy-i-author-photoOh, and if you want to see the newest nonfiction picture book by my writing buddy, Nancy I. Sanders, it’s just hitting the bookshelves this month! The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1000 Amazing Facts and Photos is available at your local bookstore or online here.

If you want solid instruction and step-by-step guidance on writing nonfiction books for kids, check out Nancy’s audio workshop, How to Write a Children’s Nonfiction Book in a Month. It’s available at http://www.writeachildrensnonfictionbook.com.

Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books. Visit her website at www.nancyisanders.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALA Notable Children’s Books

Notable Children’s Books – 2017

pgraphic1-1448“Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.”

“According to ALSC policy, the current year’s Newbery, Caldecott,  Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.”

http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb

Younger Readers  (Preschool-grade 2 (age 7)

 Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. By Diane Stanley. Illus. by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman.

Ada Twist, Scientist. By Andrea Beaty. Illus. by David Roberts. Abrams.

Before Morning. By Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Beth Krommes. HMH.

Best Frints in the Whole Universe. By Antoinette Portis. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.

Counting. By Fleur Star. illus. DK.

Coyote Moon. By Maria Gianferrari. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Roaring Brook.

Fabulous Frogs. By Martin Jenkins. Illus. by Tim Hopgood. Candlewick.

Go, Otto, Go! By David Milgrim. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Simon Spotlight.

 (Geisel Honor Book)

Good Night Owl. By Greg Pizzoli. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion.

(Geisel Honor Book)

The Great Pet Escape. By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by the author. Holt.

Horrible Bear! By Ame Dyckman. Illus. by Zachariah OHora. Little, Brown.

A Hungry Lion; or, A Dwindling Assortment of Animals. By Lucy Ruth Cummins. Illus. by the author. Atheneum.

The Infamous Ratsos. By Kara LaReau. Illus. by Matt Myers. Candlewick.

 (Geisel Honor Book)

Leave Me Alone! By Vera Brosgol. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook.

(Caldecott Honor Book)

The Night Gardener. By Terry Fan. Illus. by Eric Fan. Simon & Schuster.

Old Dog Baby Baby. By Julie Fogliano. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper. By Mike Twohy. Illus. by the author. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray.  (Geisel Honor Book)

Over the Ocean. By Taro Gomi. Illus. by the author. Chronicle.

 (Batchelder Honor Book)

 

A Piece of Home. By Jeri Watts. Illus. by Hyewon Yum. Candlewick.

Puddle. By Hyewon Yum. Illus. by the author. Farrar.

Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas. By Yuyi Morales. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.

School’s First Day of School. By Adam Rex. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.

Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie. Illus. by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown.

We Are Growing! A Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! Book. By Laurie Keller. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion.    (Geisel Medal Book)

We Found a Hat. By Jon Klassen. Illus. by the author. Candlewick.

Weekends with Max and His Dad. By Linda Urban. Illus. by Katie Kath. HMH.

When Andy Met Sandy. By Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis. Illus. by Tomie dePaola. Simon & Schuster.

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? By Kate DiCamillo. Illus. by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick.

I’m off to the library again!

Picture Books the Write Way

41mlw2twmol-_sx331_bo1204203200_ A Children’s Writer Insider Guide from Mentors For Rent – Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas.

Picture Books the Write Way by Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas is one of my newest books On My Kindle Shelf. It contains about 40 pages that answer 10 questions that will strengthen my (or your) picture book manuscript.

40 pages is just the right size for me to read, chew on, and apply to a manuscript in an evening.

I’ve been writing picture book manuscripts for several years and seeing steady improvement in my skills. This little volume (Picture Books the Write Way) helped me to shore up some areas where my current manuscript was weak. One of the 10 chapters gave me a key to fixing a major problem with the same manuscript.

Picture Books the Write Way enabled me to focus on some basic areas where I was getting a little sloppy. It helped me to remember the things I’ve been learning about writing picture books.

The 10 questions answered succinctly are:

  • “Is It a Short Story Insead?”
  • “Does It Lack a Fresh Take?”
  • “Is It Too Long?”
  • “Is It Unfocused?”
  • “Will Young Kids Fail to Relate?”
  • “Is It Too Nostalgic?”
  • “Is It Too Quiet?”
  • “Are There Illustration Issues?”
  • “Is Your Meter Imperfect?”

Picture Books the Write Way also contains a useful Revision Checklist.

I highly recommend this little volume and the Mentors For Rent website. It’s more than worth the really small price tag. Mentors For Rent have several little volumes available on Kindle.

I’m getting ready to read Rhyming Picture Books the Write Way. I’ll let you know what I think.

Thanks, Lisa and Laura!mfrheader_3tm

Newberry, Caldecott & Coretta Scott King–Oh, My!

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I walk into the children’s library and am overwhelmed. Thousands of picture books! Beautiful books, scary books, interesting books, funny books, sad books, informative books, sleepy-time books, holiday books, adventurous books…

All of them are good books, so how do I choose the best books for my children and grandchildren?

  • Thumb through the stacks until a cover catches my eye
  • Search for particular authors or illustrators
  • Ask a librarian
  • Search the catalogue for certain topics

OR, look for award-winners.

Do you think about those awards when you are crafting a picture book? Or, do you dream that someday a book you wrote will garner an award of some kind?

READING ROCKETS is a great place on the Internet to get a glimpse of the many awards granted to American children’s books including picture books. At the top of the list are The Newberry Medal, The Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Awards and The Pura Belpré Award. READING ROCKETS is a trove of information about the best in contemporary children’s literature.

You’ll find more detailed information about the American awards for children’s literature at the American Library Association. This is on HUGE website with layer after layer of websites within the website. Some of those are for children’s books.

The Association for Library Services to Children is one of those websites within the website.

I don’t subscribe to everything the ALA (and its sub-organizations) does or represents. And I don’t always agree with their choices for awards. But I respect them. You’ll find mountains of useful information at their websites about children’s literature in American culture.

The next time you have a few extra hours to spend pay them a visit.

Next Friday please drop in for ANOTHER impressive list of picture books.

Thanks for stopping by. Please help me spread the word by sharing this post.

 

 

On My Shelf Again

img_20170205_114710445_hdrThe books that belong On My Shelf have been packed in boxes and out of sight and reach for more than a month. And my “shelf” didn’t even exist. For this writer that’s kind of like trying to type or word process my words with both hands tied behind my back.

True, I can find almost any tidbit of information I want on the Internet. But, I miss my books!

I miss touching them, flipping through the pages, “accidentally” finding nuggets of gold as I scan the pages. I miss scanning their titles as they stand at attention (or, sometimes, at ease or even sound asleep!) On My Shelf. 

However, I am making progress.

Two weeks ago my NEW shelves arrived! I admired their brown cardboard containers as they acclimated to the environment of my office.

img_20170211_141226159_hdrA few days ago my son and grandson came to set those shelves free. Halelujah! Of course, the job was not without complications. What should have taken an hour to accomplish ate up three, almost four hours of their time.

But now My Shelf stands dutifully waiting to be filled.

Over the past few evenings I’ve been ripping into boxes and liberating my books. Just a few more boxes to go.

I’m an organizer. It’s in my DNA. It was joyous and satisfying last night to not only unpack my books, but to put them in the best possible order On My Shelf.

  • My Bibles (more than a few)
  • My Bible reference books and study guides
  • My books for personal and spiritual growth
  • My books about writing
  • A very short stack of anthologies that contain stories I have written (Yay!)
  • Picture books
  • Other children’s books and YAs (I love to encourage other writers by purchasing their books.)
  • A menagerie of reference books ( I know—use the Internet.)
  • Books on leadership
  • Classic fiction books and poetry
  • Notebooks from writer’s conferences and workshops I’ve attended
  • Books and notebooks for courses I have taught at church

See what I mean? I’m enamored with pages dotted with ink.

img_20170214_210822468As I read the titles it was so much like seeing old friends that I haven’t talked to in a while. Reading each title brought back some of the great things I’ve learned from those books. I remembered how those authors inspired, and continue to inspire, me. Some of these books dramatically changed my life.

Those thoughts led me to thank God for those people I’ve never met face-to-face. But I’ve met them on the pages of their books. I’ve seen inside their souls and minds. I’ve felt our kinship, or, our incompatibility sometimes.

Someday I pray that someone will step back from his or her Shelf and see my name on a few book spines. Someday I pray that someone will have similar thoughts of me and the impact my words have had on their lives.

Impact.

Encouragement.

Influence.

In a positive and godly direction.