Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #11

On the eleventh day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

FIRST DOG'S WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS - J. Patrick Lewis (Sleeping Bear Press)

With the recent election, your child might have more questions than usual about the White House. In this book, Dog travels the world learning about the many traditions and customs before finding the perfect home at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #10

On the seventh day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

SAD SANTA - Tad Carpenter (Sterling)

You might not be the only one who gets post-holiday blues. How will Santa get his joy back after all the presents have been made and delivered? Find out along with you youngster in this fun and unique holiday book.

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #9

On the ninth day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...


Patience any time of year is difficult but especially so for Llama Llama during the holiday season. Enough of the shopping, baking, wrapping and decorating. When will Christmas come? Explore with your little one a meaning to the season deeper than the gifts.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #8

On the eighth day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

THE PECULIAR - Stefan Bachmann (Greenwillow Books)

In a year filled with great debut novels, this one has gained much attention. Bachman tells the story of Bartholomew, a boy who is half human, half fairy. They don't fit into either world and have to go unnoticed to stay alive. When Bartholomew disregards this primary rule, he is dragged into a dark and magical adventure to save his sister.

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #7

On the seventh day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES - Mike Jung (Arthur A. Levine Books)

An unexpected superhero, a dastardly villain and a giant robot (along with a little romance) and you've got great elements for a boy book. It's not just one difficult thing that Jung accomplishes so masterfully in his debut novel; it's two difficult things. In addition to keeping this adventure fast-paced and engaging throughout, he's also made it funny. For many authors writing for young people, humor seems forced. Here it is so natural.
Barnes & Noble

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #6

Non-fiction is a great way to go with gifts for many emerging and reluctant readers. There are so many great books that open doors to exciting real world people, places and things and explain the mysteries of life around these young readers.

Barnes & Noble
On the sixth day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

BUG SHOTS: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BUGLY - Alexandra Siy (Holiday House)

This book has a wonderful format, something found in many of the non-fiction books from Siy, afantastic writer who has a great knack not only for appealing subject matter but a terrific ability to deliver it in a kid-friendly way. Bug Shots plays off idea of mug shots of villainous perpetrators. It is an ideal hook and format for a young, emerging reader. They can pick it up and  put it down as they like. They can find an individual topic, in this case a specific bug, read just that one, come back again and again to favorites.

This book has some of the most incredible photographs (technically, micrographs) from photographer Dennis Kunkel that will surely have youngsters showing every friend what a treasure this book is. Rumor has it, Siy and Kunkel are teaming up once again with editor Sylvie Frank at Holiday House for a spider specific book to go along with BUG SHOTS.  So keep an eye open for that one, too. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #5

We've conditioned ourselves during holidays to think bigger is better, that we have to do more, give more materialistically. Often it's too much about grand gestures. For children, it's not the gift that counts in the long run. Trust and love built in those quiet moments like those times we read books with them have a far bigger impact.

On the fifth day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

OH NO, LITTLE DRAGON! - Jim Averbeck (Atheneum)

Little Dragon has lost his fire. How can he rekindle that spark that burns inside him? In a tender moment with Mama, she shares what makes the spark inside her burn. This is a wonderful book that can help you share your enduring love with your youngster.
Barnes & Noble

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #4

On the fourth day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...

WAVE by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books)

One of the most beautifully illustrated stories in recent memory, WAVE speaks to children without a single line of text. The story captures a young child's day at the beach with emotionally evocative drawings in spread after spread. It would make a treasured addition to any child's library.

Chronicle Books - KIDS30 Horizontal

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #3

A reading connection is vital in literacy with youngsters. The timeliness of a holiday book read during this season is one means of creating a connection through literature. Traditions can be reinforced by seeing them acted out in a story.

On the third day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...




The dinosaur book team of author Jane Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague bring the warmth and cheer (along with a little mischief) to the holiday season. Those dinosaurs our young readers have come to know and love will light the menorah and decorate the tree right along side your own young readers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #2

What better way to encourage a reader than making reading an anticipated ritual. And what better ritual than a bedtime story. 

On the second day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...
Chronicle Books


In this book for young children, the beloved trucks and equipment of the build site are put to bed one-by-one after a long day of work. The beautiful illustrations and charming verse ensure your youngster will beg for you to create your family ritual with nightly readings.

30% off Chronicle Kids Books

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days - A Countdown of Holiday Ideas #1

We are well into the holiday season with Hannukah underway and Christmas and Kwanzaa fast approaching. A gift of the right book for a reluctant reader can make all the difference over this winter break from school.

I'll post a new title here each day. Check back if you have someone you're still shopping for.

On the first day of this holiday season, my loved one gave to me...


Jeff Kinney is practically royalty in the world of boy books. Elementary and middle-school children have clamored for each book in the series. CABIN FEVER is a perfect winter read for the child in your life. In this, the 6th installment of the Wimpy Kid series, a surprise blizzard traps Greg at home with his family for the holidays.

Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Halloween Treats

Who doesn't like to have his spine tingled a little or a lot?
Spooky is cool.
Especially this time of year.
Especially for boys.

Here are several great book options for the season
Chris Eboch
The Ghost Miner's Treasure is recently released and the fourth book in the HAUNTED series. Again we follow the adventures of Jon and Tania traveling with their parents who produce a ghost-hunter television show. This time they are headed to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

For Kindle users, check out the special FREE promotion on this newest installment at Amazon good through Halloween.

The Ghost Miner's Treasure

Bruce Coville
When it comes to spooky fun, Coville never disappoints. Always October is his most recent book. In it, he takes young readers to a world populated with monsters, including Jake Doolittle's adopted baby brother.

From dragons to aliens, goblins and talking skulls, Coville is a master at combining horror and humor and keeping young readers' eyes glued to the page.

Roald Dahl
The Witches is a classic from one of the all-time best. It begins, "But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES." There are not many better ways to hook a young reader than making a myth plausible in the world we know.

Dahl's unique and colorful story-telling voice and his ability to create unforgettable characters is the reason kids clamor for everything he's ever written.

If you can't get enough, here are a few more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

VOICE OF THE PICTURE BOOK: Interview with publisher Allyn Johnston and author/illustrator Marla Frazee

Today's podcast guests are author/illustrator Marla Frazee and publisher Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books. The two have collaberated on a number of books including the Caldecott Award Winning picture book, A Couple of Boys and the Best Week Ever.

Listen and enjoy their comments on finding the voice of the young male in a picture book.

Friday, October 12, 2012

WRITERS' BLOCK: What's in my pocket?

In anticipation of the upcoming movie, I was rereading The Hobbit with my son. We came up to the famous riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollem when Bilbo off-handedly asks, "What's in my pocket?"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Curiosita of da Vinci

We’ve all heard it, a teacher or parent saying, “Don’t color outside the lines.”

Whether known anecdotally or by personal experience, we all understand this to be an example of the stifling of imagination and curiosity.  

Monday, July 16, 2012


There may be no bigger turnoff to a teen reader than when a teen story does not sound like it came from a teenager.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WRITERS' BLOCK: authenticity in voice

Few things pull readers out of a story and make them set the book down never to return than a story's voice that just doesn't ring true to their ears.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Digital Publishing: An Ever Changing Landscape

The film and music industries chose to resist and to fight changes in their market rather than looking at it as an opportunity to reach its audience in a new medium.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let Them See You Read

Father's Day is not just a time for kids and moms to pamper the Dads in the family. It's really a day to reflect on what a father is and should be.

Thursday, June 14, 2012



A high school teacher remarked to Todd about a young man in her class who hadn’t gotten into any of reading assignments all year, and in all probability hadn’t read a book in years. When Todd's book THE SECRET TO LYING was assigned, the boy devoured it, relating to the story and the conflicts encountered by the main character. After finishing the book, he told this teacher, “The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it’s a book.”

This is precisely the problem, especially as boys get older. The idea of a traditional book is so unappealing. Todd is one who explores alternative storytelling mechanisms whether it be with graphic elements like in his FLIGHT OF ANGELS or his non-linear book BACKWARDS scheduled to come out with Candlewick in 2012.

"Three? Just three. Okay, I'm guessing people already know about books for younger audiences like the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series, BIG NATE, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, THE STRANGE CASE OF ORAGAMI YODA, and THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET —all books for younger teen audiences that use art as part of the narrative in novel ways. What I'm interested, though, is how art can be used with text for older audiences in ways that haven't been done before. "

1. "Sherman Alexi's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is one book with art that I'd highly recommend for 9th grade and up.

2. AMERICAN BORN CHINESE, by Gene Yang is a great, quick graphic novel with a lot to discuss for 6th grade and up.

3. And for older teen boys, I recommend checking out Craig Thompson's graphic memoir, BLANKETS."

"But as far as art/text hybrids (books that use art in different ways from comic books, or illustrated novels) I think writers are still trying to figure out what's possible. Hopefully, publishers will begin to take more risks on new projects (hint, hint --if any editor wants to see my latest hybrid project, THE HIDDEN, it's completely different). I think there's a lot of new possibilities for narrative art/text hybrids that haven't been explored yet."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Slide

I was reading a column (How to Raise a Bookworm by Stephanie Weaver) in the US Weekend (May 11-13, 2012) insert to the Sunday paper recently that stated only one third of of our country's fourth graders read at or above grade level. I have a fourth-grader who until this year was a very reluctant reader, so this figure struck my attention.

The significance of this literacy issue can be further compounded by what educators call the Summer Slide where children who are left to direct their own time over the summer often fall further behind. This has become a hot-button for educators and parents in the years since a Johns Hopkins study comparing economically disadvantaged students with children from wealthier families who received more academic structure over their vacation was popularized in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell several years ago.

Many libraries around the country offer reading programs to encourage kids to keep their mind active during the summer months away from school. Some incorporate educational and entertaining performances along with incentives for reaching reading milestones. Check out your local library and make sure the kids that you work with an care about have plenty to keep them active over the break.

Friday, June 1, 2012



Bruce Coville is the author of numerous children's books including New York Times Best Seller, MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN. He is known for his books that appeal to elementary age children, especially boys. In this interview, Bruce discusses some of the foundational elements in writing for boys at such a critical age in determining whether they become life-long readers.

1. "Three of my favorite books when I was that age were DAVID AND THE PHOENIX by Edward Ormondroyd (which, happily, I got to record, with Ed narratating, when I was in my early 50's!)
2. CHAMPION DOG PRINCE TOM by Jean Fritz and Tom Clute, which I read over and over again,
4. When I was teaching, I found that HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS by Thomas Rockwell was a sure fire hit with the boys,
5. and THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara was great for everyone."

"Probably my favorite books ever for that age group - good 4th grade readers, 5th and 6th grade, are the five books of Lloyd Alexanders CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Relaunching Books4Boyz

I am so excited to announce the relaunch of the Books4Boyz blog June 1, 2012.

Books4Boyz is being refocused as a resource for parents and educators of and writers for boys and young men. Included in the new structure will be:
  • loads of information about how to get guys excited about reading, 
  • interesting alternatives to traditional format and structure of books,
  • recommended reading for boys of all ages,
  • advice in writing for this demographic,
  • and interviews with leaders in the fields of publishing and education.

Over the summer via podcast we'll hear from:
  • Author Bruce Coville
  • Editor/Publisher Allyn Johnston & Author/Illustrator Marla Frazee
  • Author/Illustrator Adam Rex
  • Librarian Marcia Jacques
  • Author Todd Mitchell
  • Author Denise Vega

So check back JUNE 1st for the first of many great guests.