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    Author Interview: Up Close and Personal with Tonya Bolden + Saving Savannah

     

    Tonya Bolden is one of my favorite writers for historical fiction for both children and adults.  It was such a treat to have the opportunity to interview her to chat books.  Her forthcoming novel, Saving Savannah will be published January 14, 2020 and I’m so excited to read it since I thoroughly enjoyed Inventing Victoria

    Check out the publisher’s synopsis for Saving Savannah:

    Savannah Riddle is lucky. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., she attends one of the most rigorous public schools in the nation–black or white–and has her pick among the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society–the fancy parties, the Sunday teas, the pretentious men, and shallow young women–has started to suffocate her.  Then Savannah meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man from the working class who opens Savannah’s eyes to how the other half lives. Inspired to fight for change, Savannah starts attending suffragist lectures and socialist meetings, finding herself drawn more and more to Lloyd’s world.  Set against the backdrop of the press for women’s rights, the Red Summer, and anarchist bombings, Saving Savannah is the story of a girl and the risks she must take to be the change in a world on the brink of dramatic transformation.

    Author Interview

    How did you come up with the characters for Inventing Victoria and Saving Savannah?
    Characters come to me in shadow, in outline. Then I ask questions. What does she want? What are her fears? And so forth. With Crossing Ebenezer Creek and Saving Savannah I was very much driven/led by an antique photograph of a young black woman that said to me, “This is Mariah!” and another one that said to me, “This is Savannah!”

    Do you enjoy writing children’s books or adult books more?
    Don’t make a choose, please! (smile). Given that the majority of the forty-something books I’ve authored/co-authored/edited are for young people . . . Yes, my first love is writing for children. History is my passion and I believe that if we hook our young people on history—if we make history come alive for them—we really put them on the path of lifelong learning, critical thinking, curiosity, and making some sense of the world.  Without history you have no context for your life, for your present era.

    Besides your own, what were some of your favorite children’s picture, or chapter books you’ve read or come across within the past year?
    Yuyi Morales’s Dreamers. My “to-read” list includes Jennifer Swanson’s Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won World War II and Nikki Grimes’s memoir Ordinary Hazards.

    What are some of your must-have children’s books for a home library?
    That’s a tough one!  I really believe that each home library should be tailor-made for a particular family’s interests and needs. The only must-have I can think of is range: books about the present and the  past, books about people familiar and not familiar. In this global village of a world of ours, to borrow from the eminent Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, all our young people need mirrors, windows, and sliding doors.

    Do you have any literacy rituals that you practice in your family or practiced in the past?
    Not really. Growing up I was crazy about books. Couldn’t get enough of books! And I have my parents to thank for that. My mother, who only had a sixth grade education and my father who only had a ninth grade education, were avid readers. There is a lost picture of me, maybe I was about two or three. And there I was propped up in my parents’ bed. I had my mother’s glasses sprawled on my face. I had a book in my hands. Upside down. I was imitating my parents. There is also a photograph of the living room of our apartment in East Harlem. We had recently moved in. The furniture was the old furniture we had in Brooklyn. There was no carpeting on the floor (at a time when carpeting was pretty much de rigueur). Front and center in this photograph is our family’s bookcase.

    Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success?
    Engage them in critical thinking, early and often.  Encourage them to create stories of their own. And while you’re at it, tell your children family stories. 

    Do you have a favorite book that you have written?  If so, what is it and why?
    My favorite book of mine is always the one that is just about to come out or the one that has just come out. So right now Saving Savannah is dearest to my heart. But really it’s like a family with many children. Each is unique and you love them all equally (we hope) though each child has something in particular that endears you to her or him.  With Saving Savannah I think Savannah Riddle is the character most like me. I didn’t realize this at first. My sister pointed this out after she read part of an early draft. As  she gave me feedback, I shared with her that compared to Mariah in Crossing Ebenezer  Creek and Victoria in Inventing Victoria, I found Savannah the easier character to write. My sister snickered, then said something like, “That’s because Savannah is you!” 

    If you could give parents one piece of advice about reading with children, what would it be?
    Discussions of books is vital. What did the young reader learn? What puzzled her or him? Is there anything the reader misunderstood? And don’t stop reading aloud!  Whether your child is five or fifteen—or fifty—always make some time for gathering around a book and reading aloud. I don’t think we ever lose our love for being read to. I know it may be difficult to do read-alouds with teens, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

    Any advice for aspiring writers and authors?
    Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be precious. Consider trying to get into the business as a writer for hire. That’s how I began. If you have a big hit out of the gate, save your money.  You never know. Some careers do nothing but skyrocket. Others have peaks and valleys.  Once you get your foot in the door consider diversifying. Being able to write for different ages, different genres can come in handy when there are shifts in the industry. On year picture books are hot! Two years later not so much. Have many arrows in your quiver—especially if you don’t have a day job.

    Hardcover, Paperback or e-book (when reading a book on your own)?
    I like e-books for research because when traveling I can take so much research with me and still travel light. 

    Fiction, non-fiction or some other genre (when reading a book on your own)?
    Nonfiction tops the list. But really as my fiction and nonfiction require so much research, books I pick up just for pure pleasure are few and far between.

    Name an adult book that:

    1. a) Inspired you Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Paula Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, Charles’s Johnson’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Oxherding Tale, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov, probably every Anton Chekhov short story I read, Eugene O’Neill’s plays, Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Majorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, Toni Cade Bambara’s  Gorilla, My Love, Toni Morrison’s Sula.
    2. b) Made you laugh out loud  Several stories in Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love and in Naylor’s Brewster Place. 
    3. c) You recommend to others often
      To be honest, I don’t often have the occasion to recommend books to others.

    What books are on your nightstand or e-reader right now? Charles Johnson’s The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling.  

    Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others?
    I’m brainstorming on the fourth linked novel that began with Crossing Ebenezer Creek. So next up after Saving Savannah is an as yet unnamed novel about the daughter of a character in Saving Savannah. I have the main character’s name (I think) and I have a photograph that says to me, “This is her!”

    How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?
    Please visit tonyaboldenbooks.com!

    Tonya Bolden is a critically acclaimed award-winning author/co-author/editor of more than two dozen books for young people. They include Inventing VictoriaCrossing Ebenezer Creek, which received five starred reviews; Finding Family, which received two starred reviews and was a Kirkus Reviews and Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year; Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl, a Coretta Scott King honor book and James Madison Book Award winner; MLK: Journey of a King, winner of a National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children; Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty, an ALSC Notable Children’s Book, CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and winner of the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Middle Level Book Award.

    Tonya also received the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC’s Nonfiction Award. A Princeton University magna cum laude baccalaureate with a master’s degree from Columbia University, Tonya lives in New York City.

    Your turn: Have you ever read any of Tonya Bolden’s books?  Feel free to share some of your favorite Tonya Bolden books in the comments below.

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    adult books, interviews, men of bookstagram

    The Men of Bookstagram: Up Close and Personal With Reggie Bailey (@ReggieReads)

    Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers?  I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram.  This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS.  Today we’re getting up close and personal with: Reggie Bailey.

    What is your name and Instagram handle?
    My name is Reggie Bailey and my Instagram handle is @reggiereads.

    When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
    I started my Instagram account in 2011 when I was a big sneakerhead. One who was on top of all the Nike and Jordan Brand releases specifically. Originally my account was used for communicating with other sneakerheads, while showing off my latest and greatest in footwear.

    Eventually I fell off of sneakers as a hobby and fell into book reading as a hobby. I didn’t officially join Bookstagram until 2017. Before 2017 I would show books on my page because they were making an impact on me, but 2017 is when I realized there was an entire “underworld” on Instagram, called Bookstagram, and my reading life hasn’t been the same since my encounter with said “underworld.”

    Have you always enjoyed reading?
    I’ve always enjoyed reading, although I haven’t always been a recreational reader. That’s largely because when I was younger I wasn’t reading enough books that interested me, especially in grade school. Whether it was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Beowulf, the Odyssey… I was just bored. I’d probably be able to get into those now, but it’d be dishonest of me to call books those books top priority as far as my reading list is concerned.

    Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read?  Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community?
    I’ll answer the latter question first. In the Black community reading is considered cool for sure. I’ve never had anyone Black criticize me for being an active reader, and I don’t foresee that happening. In fact, according to a 2014 study, which I found on the Atlantic, College educated Black women are the demographic that is most likely to read a book. Based off of that information I would estimate that not reading would be considered “uncool” in the Black community, although myself, nor anyone else, should pass any judgment on anyone who cannot, will not or does not read books.

    I can’t think of any specific reason why we don’t see more Black men reading and/or sharing thoughts on the books they’ve read. I have seen more Black men reading and sharing thoughts on Goodreads than I have on Instagram, but I’m not sure why the numbers are so skewed in favor of women reading books, and sharing their thoughts on the web.

    Maybe that’s the part that certain Black men think is uncool. Making a page on Instagram dedicated to the books they read, or maybe it’s something they aren’t confident in doing, don’t want to do or simply just don’t care to do. Who knows?

    Hopefully we’ll get those numbers up over time though!

    Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
    I read The Bluest Eye for the first time and reread Sula and Song of Solomon earlier in the year. All of those spectacular novels were authored by the late and perpetually great Toni Morrison.

    Song of Solomon and Sula were even better the second time around, which is expected when someone as magnificent as Toni Morrison authors a book, and Song of Solomon is the best novel I’ve ever read. A fact I don’t being altered anytime soon.

    Are you currently in a relationship?  It’s okay to plead the 5thif you prefer not to answer!
    If I pled the 5th, my girlfriend wouldn’t be happy. Lol.

    Do you have children?  If so, do they love to read as well?
    I do not have any children, but I would hope they would love to read if I had any.

    What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
    Although I am hesitant to propose any advice to a parent, considering I am a) Not a parent & b) Not even in a profession that deals with children, the best advice I would give, if I felt inclined, is to try and show children themselves through literature. Obviously this answer is geared more towards Black and Brown children, but it is important for these children to see themselves inside of books and on book covers, so they know that their stories are important and are worth being told.

    What books are on your nightstand right now?
    Too many! But some current standouts on my nightstand are Survival Math by Mitchell Jackson, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, and Red Now and Laters by Marcus Guillory.

    Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers?  If so, in what way(s)?
    Yes and no. Yes because there aren’t as many of us so we are somewhat of a novelty (I suppose), but no because we’re readers just like all of the women of Bookstagram and we are all ultimately reading to enlighten and better ourselves while being entertained, amongst other motivations.

    Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
    Hardcover is my preference without question. I’ll do paperback as well, but I do not e-read.

    Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
    Toni Morrison is my absolute favorite. Long Live the Queen! I will not count her as my 1-2 though, because that is too easy.  1-2 of my favorite contemporary authors are Tayari Jones and Jamel Brinkley. Both authors made a lot of noise in 2018 with their classic works An American Marriage, and A Lucky Man, respectively.

    How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?
    I’d be lying to you if I said I had a method, especially when it comes to my stories. In my stories I will showcase any book that comes to my mind. Whether those are books that I bought, books that I am highly anticipating, or literally a book that ran across my mind for a few minutes.

    For posts I choose books that motivate me to write reviews that I feel reach a substantial length. I wouldn’t want to post a review on a book I read where I only said “This book was great… 5 stars!” or something short like that. I always do my best to add a unique & informed, if not passionate, perspective to the conversation around a book I read.

    Anything else you’d like to share?
    Thank you so much for having me on your platform. I am humbled and privileged to have this opportunity.

    Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this interview. I am grateful for your time, because we live in a world that has more information and content than we can imagine, and you could literally be consuming ANYTHING, but you are here, and I do not take that for granted.

    Participate in #2BooksUnder50Reviews Challenge if you get the chance. This is a challenge I created in the beginning of 2019 to influence readers to search for, read and review more obscure works.  The rules are simple: Find a book published in 2017 or earlier that has less than 50 reviews (not ratings) on Goodreads, read it, and review it on Goodreads, but also on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #2BooksUnder50Reviews. We are going to build a library full of obscure works and finally give some authors some well-deserved roses!

    Read books! Books are amazing; they are mind-altering, life-changing pieces of art that also entertain.  Read and think critically about the content in these books. Think critically about the plot, the structure, the wordplay, how the events in the book correlate to things happening in the world, etc.

    Read with a buddy or a book club so you can discuss these books and learn from one another. During these discussions share popular opinions, unpopular opinions, and controversial opinions, but be genuine and respectful while doing such.

    Last but not least, follow me on Instagram @reggiereads. Send me a friend request on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/reggieread), and let’s discuss books. Send me a message, comment on a post, or whatever you feel inclined to do. I’m always up for discussions centering books and literature, and it’s something I’m more passionate about than I’d ever thought I’d be.

    Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read: 10 Male Bookstagrammers to Follow on Instagram If You Love Books.

    Also, be sure to check out our first interview with Rod Kelly.

    Find all of the men we feature in this series by searching the hashtag #themenofbookstagram on Instagram!

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    adult books, interviews, men of bookstagram

    The Men of Bookstagram: Up Close and Personal with @Read_by_RodKelly


    Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers?  I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram.  This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS.  Let’s get up close and personal with: Rod Kelly.

    What is your name and Instagram handle?
    Hello! My name is Rod Kelly, aka @read_by_rodkelly on Insta-, excuse me, Bookstagram.

    When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
    I had a standard-issue Instagram account for years, but I properly entered the Bookstagram sphere in January of 2018.

    Have you always enjoyed reading?
    I would say yes, absolutely! However, I can’t say I was a reader, a serious one, until around five years ago. I had no discernible taste in books, it was a total dart-throwing activity until I finally hit bull’s eye with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. That was my true literary baptism and I haven’t looked back since!

    Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read?  Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community?
    I can’t say for sure why that is. Black men, in my generation especially, are most certainly reading. Living in New York, being on the subways, I’ve shared many a cramped space with other chocolate men, head buried in the pages of our myriad lit. I think, perhaps, that hybridizing the activity into a social media platform could be seen as pointless and/or tiresome to many black men, and men in general, perhaps. I cannot speak for a whole community of men. It is, after all, a hobby, and quite the time-consuming one, when you think about the quintessential features of booksta accounts: reviews, lists, tags, hauls, giveaways, etc. What about the pleasure of simply reading?

    Perhaps instead of posting daily, hourly, and by-the-minute, they’re actually holding a book rather than a phone. (The same could probably be said for many women as well, but because women dominate bookstagram, the question isn’t very relevant.) And sure, it was probably once considered to be “uncool”, but I don’t think that’s at all true today. I think black men and women of my generation and younger now want to be educated, want to be well-read and well-rounded. And anyway, I cannot imagine a grown ass man (bleep me if there are no curses allowed haha), in this day and age, in the times we’re living in, to criticize another for reading. This isn’t a time to sit around being stupid, or, I’ll be nicer, mentally lazy. Pick up a book!

    Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
    This is hard, because it’s been an incredible reading year so far. Off the top of my head I’m going to shout out The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and Lot by Bryan Washington. Both are five-star, top-tier literary works from formidably talented, and imaginatively soulful writers.

    Are you currently in a relationship?  It’s okay to plead the 5th if you prefer not to answer!
    Okay, that went left, haha! But, no… I am happily single.

    Do you have children?  If so, do they love to read as well?
    N/A

    What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
    I’m not a parent, but my mother, grandmother, and other elders placed books in front of me from a very early age. It’s important for kids to know that there is power in language, in the written word. Children will understand and receive that if it’s taught very early on in their development.

    What books are on your nightstand right now?
    The books on my figurative nightstand: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s forthcoming novel, The Water Dancerand The Source of Self-Regard by our dearly departed God of literature, Toni Morrison.

    Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers?  If so, in what way(s)?
    I don’t think there’s any conspicuous difference in perception. Bookstagram is obviously a more woman-centered space, but within my own community of followers and followed, though women dominate, it is a variegated, prismatic mix of people of all colors, gay, straight, cis, trans, non-binary, old, young, trash readers, high-brow snobs, etc. I accept that most people’s flocks may be mostly white, mostly female, which, fine for them, but I like a multiplicity of voices and views in my own space. I think I answered a question you didn’t ask, but my point is that I don’t believe male/female perception is really a thing at all.

    Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
    Paperback preferably, but I’ve become less snobby about these things the more I read; whatever I have on hand when I’m ready to read a certain book is what I go with. For big, long books, sometimes it’s convenient to have both the digital and hard copy.

    Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
    Easy: Toni Morrison & James Baldwin. No one better. And for a younger pair: Zadie Smith & Marlon James.

    How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?

    I don’t make a huge to-do out of it, I simply share the things that give me pleasure. I review when I’m moved to review, I post when I feel I have something to say. Otherwise, I like to keep things very random and organic, mostly located within the stories feature, which is my favorite thing about IG.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I just want to thank you for thinking of me for this series! I can’t wait to read about all of the other lovely booksta-men that you feature! Much love!

    Connect with Rod Kelly!

    Instagram

    Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read: 10 Male Bookstagrammers to Follow on Instagram If You Love Books.

     

    Find all of the men we feature in this series by searching the hashtag #themenofbookstagram on Instagram!

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    adult books, children's books, technology

    Screen-Free Week: Unplug With These Books for Readers of All Ages

    Are you looking for Screen-Free Week book recommendations for readers of all ages?  We’ve got you covered!

    Every year during screen-free week, thousands of people participate and commit to unplug from screen-based entertainment for an entire week.  Are you up for the challenge?  You can visit the screenfree.org website to find out more information, discover local screen-free week events and find great resources to help you.

    What is Screen-Free Week?

    From the Screen-Free website: Screen-Free Week is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.  Each year, thousands of families, schools, and communities around the world will put down their entertainment screens for seven days of fun, connection, and discovery.  Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what you can get! An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes wiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or playing pretend!  You can celebrate Screen-Free Week at home, in your school, in your community, or anywhere – just put down those entertainment screens and do literally anything else! You might be surprised at what you find.

    Below are a few book recommendations for members of your whole family to enjoy during screen-free week.  These books are all related to the themes of living life unplugged or technology.  Happy Reading!

    Kid/Teen Recommendations

    Unplugged by Steve Anthony (Ages 3-5)
    One day, Blip becomes unplugged after a blackout and discovers the outside world beyond screens.  Blip explores the outdoors and also makes new friends.  A fun story with a timely message that shows kids it’s possible to have fun without electronic devices.

    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Dennihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha (Ages 4-8)
    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all. This clever story, complete with a recipe for lemonade, celebrates the pleasures of patience, hard work, nature, community . . . and putting down the electronic devices just for a while.

    Blackout by John Rocco (Ages 4-8)
    This is a wonderful story about how a power outage brings families and neighbors together by turning off all the distractions. I like reading this one with the kids Enjoy in the dark with a flashlight under the covers.

    If You Give a Mouse an iPhone: A Cautionary Tale by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    A funny and lighthearted parody of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Shows kids the good and bad consequences of too much screen time.

    No More Screen Time by Patti Price (Ages 4-8)
    A cute an informative book about unplugging from devices, playing outside and spending time with family and friends.

    Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    “In a bright buzzing room, in the glow of the moon-and iPhones and Androids and Blackberries too-it is time to say goodnight…”  A whimsical parody about living a life filled with technology and screens.

    How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk (Ages 4 – 8)
    All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done.

    What Does it Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio (Ages 4-8)
    What Does It Mean To Be Safe? explores physical, emotional, social, and cyber safety in unthreatening ways that spark meaningful conversations between adults and children.

    Jaden Toussant, The Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas (Ages 5-7 )
    Jaden Toussaint, 5 year-old scientist and all around cool dude, is on a mission to convince the grown-ups that he needs more SCREEN TIME. His only weapons are science, ninja dancing, and his super-powered brain power. Can Jaden Toussaint get the grown-ups to change their minds?

    But I Read It on the Internet by Toni Buzzeo (Ages 8 – 12)
    Hunter and Carmen disagree whether George Washington really had wooden teeth, and Mrs. Skorupski encourages them to research the story on the internet and use her “Website Evaluation Gizmo” to evaluate websites and come up with the correct answer.

    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media… and Mobile Devices: 21 Tips to Wise Posting in an Insecure World by Jonathan McKee (Ages 12 – 18)
    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices will help you navigate the digital world with 21 refreshingly honest and humorous tips that will not only inform, but that also just might change the way you think about your social media interaction.

    Adult Recommendations

    Raising Humans in a Digital World by Diana Graber
    This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
    Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude.

    Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria L. Dunckley, MD
    Follow the steps outlined in this four-week plan to end meltdowns, raise grades and boost social skills.

    The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz
    Finally, an evidence-based, don’t-panic guide to what to do about kids and screens.

    Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner
    Screenwise helps parents recognize that the social wisdom they have gained throughout their lives is a relevant and urgently needed supplement to their kid’s digital savvy. These skills can help set kids up for a lifetime of success in a world fueled by technology.

    The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch
    Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal?

    Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders
    Screen-Free Fun offers over 400 ideas to disconnect from tech devices and reconnect with our families in a healthier way. You can pick from DIY activities to games to weekend outings. Since many of the activities work well for kids at various ages, your family will be able to grow along with the different projects and make plans for both younger and older siblings alike. You can try indoor projects, outdoor activities, or learn more about your favorite destinations with activities like a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or an i-spy game at the zoo. There is also space for your family to add your own favorite activities so you never forget a great idea or memory! From summer vacation to holiday breaks and every rainy day in between, with this book you and your family will always have something fun to do together—without ever having to resort to a tablet, phone, or computer.

    Your turn: Are you planning to participate in screen-free week?  What other books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

     

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    adult books, children's books, podcasts

    The Ultimate List of Literary Podcasts for Book Lovers of All Ages

    Are you a book lover looking for a new literary podcast to listen to?

    I love listening to podcasts instead of watching tv or mindlessly surfing social media.  I usually listen to podcasts while folding laundry, commuting or when I’m washing dishes.

    I think podcasts have so much to offer people of all ages.  The ones I like to listen to have exciting stories, interesting facts, and lively sound effects.  That’s basically everything you need for an entertaining listening experience.  The best part?  There are podcasts for every member of your family to enjoy!

    Below I’ve rounded up some of my current favorite literary podcasts for kids, tweens/teens, young adults and adults.  I hope you’ll find at least one podcast that resonates with you or other members of your family.  Happy listening!

    Oh, and just in case you never listened to a podcast and don’t know how to do it, I’ve included some of the most popular options for listening:

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    Kids

    All the Wonders
    Weekly interviews with Authors, Illustrators, Award Winners, Up-And-Comers, and Everyone In Between

    Book Club for Kids
    The place where young readers meet to talk about books. The show includes a celebrity reader and an interview with the author.

    Books Between
    A Podcast to help connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.

    Circle Round

    Circle Round is a storytelling podcast for kids ages 3 to 10.  The show features folktales from around the world with an eye towards inclusivity. Stories are 10 to 20 minute diverse episodes that delve into topics such as kindness, persistence and generosity.

    Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
    Based on the popular book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, the global best-selling book series written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, inspiring millions of girls and women around the world to dream bigger, aim higher and fight harder.

    Little Stories for Tiny People

    A podcast featuring original kids’ stories and poems that will delight the tiny people in your life.

    Lu and Bean Read
    Join Lu, Bean and friends as they hear stories read by children’s picture books authors and interview the authors about their books.  Writer and blogger Tracy Babler and daughters Lu and Bean share their favorite children’s books and stories.

    Picturebooking
    A podcast that showcases the authors and illustrators of some of your favorite children’s books.

    Stories Podcast

    The perfect kids podcast for imaginative families. Whether you’re driving with your children or just want to limit your kids’ screen time, Stories Podcast delivers entertainment that kids and parents alike will love.

    Storynory
    A podcast offering  a mixture of original stories, fairy tales, poems and myths from around the world.

    Story Pirates
    Story Pirates is a group of world-class actors, comedians, improvisers and musicians who adapt stories written by kids into sketch comedy and musical theater.

    Story Time
    Story Time is a free fortnightly audiobook podcast for children ages 2-13.  Each story is usually less than 20 minutes long, just long enough to keep toddlers, preschoolers, and little ones engaged.

    Talking About Books for Kids
    A podcast that explores diverse books for kids and teens through conversations with authors and those that love reading children’s literature.

    The Yarn
    A narrative adventure. The Yarn takes listeners behind the scenes of children’s literature, and lets them look at all the threads that must be weaved together to create a book.

    Adults / Young Adults

    All the Books! Podcast
    A weekly book podcast of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases.

    Am Writing
    In conversations between us and guests like David Sedaris, best-selling romance author Sarina Bowen, Jennifer Weiner, Alan Alda, Anna Quinlan, Cal Newport and many, many more, the podcast gives you all we can about getting started and keeping going in all aspects of the writing business.

    Black Chick Lit
    A podcast that talks books by and about black women.

    Black & Read
    A book club podcast hosted by Terry Brown. Each week Terry and his guest will discuss a piece of literature from the unique perspectives of a person of color.

    Books and Boba
    A book club dedicated to books written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

    Currently Reading Podcast
    A podcast dedicated to the love of books and reading. Two bookish friends discuss what’s on their nightstands, in their earbuds, and on their Kindles right now, in addition to books they’ve loved forever, and a variety of other readerly topics.

    The Guardian Books Podcast
    A weekly look at the world of books, poetry and great writing presented by  Claire Armitstead,  Richard Lea, & Sian Cain

    Hey YA
    A literary podcast for book lovers who enjoy YA (young adult) books.

    Kidlit Women Podcast
    A podcast of interviews and essays focusing on women’s and gender issues, including non-binary and gender fluidity, in the children’s literature community and all its intersectionality.

    Levar Burton Reads
    In every episode, host LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Roots, Star Trek) invites you to take a break from your daily life, and dive into a great story.

    Lit Up
    A literary podcast that beyond the book and ask the writers and thinkers what they’re reading and what they are thinking, and the truth about who they really are.

    Literary Disco
    A podcast where writers talk about reading.

    Minorities in Publishing

    The brain child of publishing professional Jenn Baker, MiP is a podcastdiscussing diversity (or lack thereof) in the book publishing industry with other professionals working in-house as well as authors and those in the literary scene.

    The Bookstore Podcast
    A podcast for book news, reviews, and discussion hosted by two former booksellers.

    The Stacks
    Host Traci Thomas chats with a wide array of guests from film and television stars to community leaders, publishing professionals, and best-selling authors.

    Read Aloud Revival

    A podcast to equip and inspire adults to make meaningful and lasting connections with children through stories.

    Reading Women Podcast
    A podcast discussing books by or about women.

    What Should I Read Next?
    Hosted by Anne Bogel, of the popular blog Modern Mrs Darcy, this podcast features interviews with readers about the books they love, the books they hate, and the books they’re reading now. Then, Anne she makes recommendations about what to read next.

    Your turn:  What are your favorite literary podcasts to listen to?  Feel free to share in the comments.  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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    adult books

    8 New Books I’m Excited to Read this Spring & Summer

    There are so many fantastic books on my TBR list from last year I still haven’t read yet.  Can anyone else relate?  Nevertheless, in true bookworm fashion I’ve rounded up some new and forthcoming books I’m most looking forward to tackling this spring and summer…because…books!

    If you’re looking for a reason to get back into reading, or if you’re a book lover like me looking for some book recommendations, I hope you’ll enjoy this list.  If you have any book recommendations for me please shout them out in the comments.  Not that I need to add any more books to my TBR list!

    Now, on to the books (in no particular order)!

    1. They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

    This book sounds so intriguing to me…I can’t wait to dive into this thriller!  Bonus points for it being written by a Black woman and being called one of the most anticipated suspense reads of the year.

    From the Publisher:

    It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.

    Delighted by a surprise invitation, Miriam Macy sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico with six other strangers. Surrounded by miles of open water in the gloriously green Sea of Cortez, Miriam is soon shocked to discover that she and the rest of her companions have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses―and all seven strangers harbor a secret.

    Danger lurks in the lush forest and in the halls and bedrooms of the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keeps the group trapped in paradise. And strange accidents stir suspicions, as one by one . . .

    They all fall down

    2. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

    I loved the books The Wedding Date and The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory, so I’m looking forward to reading this one too.  Anyone else?

    From the Publisher:
    Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

    1. Alexa is their best friend
    2. They hate each other

    After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

    But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

    3. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

    I’ve been seeing this one all over Instagram and have heard great things about it.

    From the Publisher:

    The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

    Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

    As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

    4. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

    This book has been getting lots of buzz so far this year.  I just had to add it to my TBR list to see what everyone is talking about.

    From the Publisher:

    Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

    As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

    With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world

    5. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

    From the Publisher:

    One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

    Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

    6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

    I’m almost finished with this book and it definitely lives up to all the hype.  It’s by far THE best book about habits I’ve ever read.  I’m devouring every word of it and applying the tips mentioned.  This is a true GEM – seriously!

    From the Publisher:

    No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

    If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

    Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

    Learn how to:
    *  make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
    *  overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
    *  design your environment to make success easier;
    *  get back on track when you fall off course;
    …and much more.

    Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

    7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

    From the sound of the synopsis, I think I’m going to enjoy this one as much as I did The Hate You Give.

    From the Publisher:

    Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

    But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

    Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

    8. The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need to Know by DeVon Franklin

    I love reading books about men told from the male perspective.  Do you?

    From the Publisher:

    We hear it all the time. Men cheat. Men love power. Men love sex. Men are greedy. Men are dogs. But is this the truth about men?

    In this groundbreaking book, DeVon Franklin dishes the real Truth About Men by making the compelling case that men aren’t dogs but all men share the same struggle. He uses the metaphor of a dog that needs training as a way to explore why behavior persists in men that can lead them to act against their vows, their integrity and even their character.

    DeVon provides the manual for how men can change, both on a personal and a societal level by providing practical solutions for helping men learn how to resist temptation, how to practice self-control and how to love. He argues the same discipline that drives men in their professional lives needs to be applied to their private lives. DeVon is also transparent about the challenges he faces daily as he endeavors to “Master the Dog” within.

    But The Truth About Men isn’t just for men. DeVon tells female readers everything they need to know about men. He offers women a real-time understanding of how men’s struggle affects them, insights that can help them navigate their relationships with men and information on how to heal from the damage that some misbehaving men may have inflicted.

    Your turn: Have you read any of these yet?  What other books should I add to my TBR list?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    adult books

    The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

    The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose Published by Flatiron Books Format: Hardcover
    Source: Flatiron Books
    Buy on Amazon

    Everyone has a purpose. And, according to Oprah Winfrey, “Your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be, and begin to honor your calling in the best way possible." That journey starts right here. In her latest book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The book’s ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us. Oprah opens each chapter by sharing her own key lessons and the personal stories that helped set the course for her best life. She then brings together wisdom and insights from luminaries in a wide array of fields, inspiring readers to consider what they’re meant to do in the world and how to pursue it with passion and focus. Renowned figures such as Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jay-Z, and Ellen DeGeneres share the greatest lessons from their own journeys toward a life filled with purpose.
    Paired with over 100 awe-inspiring photographs to help illuminate the wisdom of these messages, The Path Made Clear provides readers with a beautiful resource for achieving a life lived in service of your calling – whatever it may be.

    When Oprah Winfrey releases a new book it’s an automatic MUST have for me. So when I heard about The Path Made Clear last year, I knew I had to add it to my home library collection. I’m looking forward to diving in to this one and soaking up all the wisdom from Queen O and her peers.  Doesn’t the synopsis pull you right in and make you want to crack open the book to start reading?

    The book is divided into ten different sections: The Seeds, The Roots, The Whispers, The Clouds, The Map, The Road, The Climb, The Give, The Reward and Home.


    I haven’t finished reading the entire book yet, but here are a few quotes from Oprah that really resonated with me:

    Your life isn’t about a big break.  It’s about taking one significant life-transforming step at a time.

    What I know for sure is you become what you believe.

    Wealth is a tool that gives you choices, but it’s can’t compensate for a file not fully lived.

    On a side note, when I turned forty, I took a long hard look at my life and analyzed some of the previous obstacles I used to let stand in my way of achieving my goals. Maybe some of these obstacles have been holding you back too and cluttering your life path to destiny.

    The first obstacle was ME. Yes, I was always stepping in and getting in my own way. Do you do that too sometimes? I’ve come to realize if you don’t believe in yourself. . .no one else will. Period.

    The second obstacle was my past.  This included failed plans, broken dreams, aborted goals. . .what others have said to me. . .or anything else in my past that was weighing me down. I know now you must not let your past determine your future. If you’re struggling with this right now, you might want to write this down.

    I’m forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

    The third obstacle was resources. Many people never clear the hurdles to success because they don’t think they have the resources to accomplish their goals. Trust and believe you have access to all the educational, spiritual, and, yes, financial resources you need. If you really want to do something you can. No excuses.

    The fourth obstacle was self-imposed limitations. If this is something you’re dealing with ask yourself how many books have you read thus far this year? If you don’t like to read. . .you need to change. . .or your life will remain the same.

    The last obstacle is the opinions of others. Stop caring what other people think and live your life. You are destined for greatness.

    I’m sure some of these obstacles and many more are covered in The Path Made Clear which releases on March 26th.

    Your turn: Do any of these obstacles resonate with you in clearing the path in your life? Feel free to share in the comments.

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