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    Celebrate National Read a Book Day with PBS the Great American Read

    National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6th.  It’s a day that invites us ALL to grab a book we might enjoy and spend the day reading (as many hours of reading you can spare).  National Read a Book Day is the perfect time to revisit your favorite novel or maybe finish that book you started, but put down months ago.  So mark your calendars now you don’t miss out on all the bookish fun!

    Today I partnered with PBS to remind you about National Read a Book Day (September 6th) and the return of the hit show The Great American Read (September 11th).

    Throughout the summer, the multi-platform PBS initiative THE GREAT AMERICAN READ has been encouraging people across America to read as many books as possible from its list of America’s 100 Favorite Novels and to vote for their favorites. While many readers find great joy in becoming immersed in a beloved book, busy schedules can prove a challenge for making time for pleasure reading. To assist those who need help making the most of their reading time, PBS’ THE GREAT AMERICAN READ has partnered with the Library of Congress to offer tips on how to make reading an essential and beloved part of a daily routine.

    THE GREAT AMERICAN READ aims to provide a place for all Americans to discuss the books that they love; books that have inspired, moved and shaped them in one way or another,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President of Programming & Development for PBS. “Through this eight-part series and associated events and activities taking place in communities throughout the country, we hope to help readers fall in love with the act of reading all over again whether that’s through discovering new titles or revisiting favorites from the past.”

    “We all have busy lives, and while many people want to read more for pleasure, they feel like they just don’t have time for it,” said Becky Brasington Clark, Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress. “The fact that we have such hectic schedules is even more reason why we need to make time for reading; it’s one of the most effective ways to detach your mind from the stresses of daily life.”

    Summer is a perfect time to develop better reading habits, since people often have vacations planned that result in more leisure time. It’s important, however, that these habits carry over into daily routines when vacation is over and fall rolls around. Here are some reading tips from Clark and the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress to build reading into your daily life throughout the year:

    • Make the most of spare minutes sprinkled through your day. Keep a book with you so you can read it whenever you have an extra minute or two. They really add up.
    • If you have trouble putting down your phone, put a book on it. Read a few pages instead of checking social media.
    • If the weather is amenable, read outdoors! In the yard, at the bus station, under a tree, or at a museum, reading outdoors engages all of your senses and helps improve your mood.
    • Try downloading free apps from your public library so you can borrow e-books and audio books.

    Reading on the move:

    • Whether you’re going on an end of summer vacation or staying in town, make sure a visit to a bookstore or library is on your itinerary. Pick up a book. Read the jacket copy. Flip through the pages. If it grabs your interest – grab it!
    • If your phone is in “airplane” mode, that’s a sure sign that you should be reading a book. Put a book in your carry on – your time in the air and in the airport will be much more rewarding.
    • Family time in the car, whether that’s commuting to school or going to an activity, is also a great time to listen to an audio book.

    Choosing what to read:

    • Can’t find something new you want to read? Re-read a favorite. You’ll be surprised by the new discoveries found in an old favorite.
    • Embrace your not-so-guilty pleasures. It doesn’t have to be Tolstoy or Joyce – reading for enjoyment should be, well, enjoyable! Grab what you like and dig in. Sci-Fi? Check. Comic books? Yep. Graphic novels? Roger that.
    • Join reading challenges, such as Reading Without Walls by Gene Luen Yang, the former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Also, peruse lists of award-winning books on topics and perspectives that interest you.

    Reading with the kids:

    • Pick a book to read out loud together as a family activity. Take turns reading. Act out the parts. Use funny voices. Have some fun playing, reading, writing, talking and singing with the young members of your family.
    • Read your favorite childhood novel to your kids! Your child is never too young or too old to enjoy listening to a book being read out loud.
    • It’s all about choice. The more formats and books your child can choose from, the more likely they are to develop a lifelong love of reading. Show that reading is a part of life by your example, and always give them opportunities to self-select. Respect their choices and, together, enjoy what they enjoy.

    THE GREAT AMERICAN READ launched on April 20 with the release of America’s list of 100 favorite novels as chosen by a demographically and statistically representative survey (the full list is available at pbs.org/greatamericanread). A two-hour launch special hosted by Meredith Vieira premiered on PBS stations on May 22. The series will return this fall on Tuesday, September 11 at 8:00 p.m. (check local listings) to continue its search for “America’s Best-Loved Novel.”

    The initiative is supported by an extensive multi-platform digital and social media campaign designed to inspire Americans to read, vote and share their personal connections to titles on the top 100 list and beyond over the course of the summer. Since voting began during the two-hour launch episode, avid readers across the country have cast more than two million votes for their favorite books. For more information on how to vote, visit https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/.

    As part of the campaign, more than two dozen local public television stations across the country have planned over 125 community engagement activities, including book clubs, author appearances and readings, screening events, book-themed family activities and more. The Library of Congress will host the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 1, and attendees will be able to engage with THE GREAT AMERICAN READ.

    About PBS

    PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 90 million people through television and 30 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

    Your turn: Do you plan to celebrate National Read a Book Day?  Will you be tuning in for the return of The Great American Read?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    15+ Diverse January 2017 Picture Book and YA Releases

    2017 promises to be a year filled with some amazing literature for kids, teens and adults.  Below I’ve rounded up 15+ diverse picture and young adult books being released this month.  Which ones are you looking forward to reading with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.  Enjoy!

    January 3, 2017

    Martin’s Dream Day by Kitty Kelley

    Bestselling author and journalist Kitty Kelley combines her elegant storytelling with Stanley Tretick’s iconic photographs to transport readers to the 1963 March on Washington, bringing that historic day vividly to life for a new generation.

    Muhammad Ali: A Champion is Born by Gene Barretta

    In this picture book biography of Muhammad Ali, author Gene Barretta and illustrator Frank Morrison tell the unforgettable childhood story of this legendary boxing champion and how one pivotal moment set him on his path to become the Greatest of All Time.

    One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

    In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

    Midnight without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

    It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.

    The Sweetest Sound by Sherri Winston

    For ten-year-old Cadence Jolly, birthdays are a constant reminder of all that has changed since her mother skipped town with dreams of becoming a singing star. Cadence inherited that musical soul, she can’t deny it, but otherwise she couldn’t be more different – she’s as shy as can be.

    Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden

    Award-winning author Tonya Bolden offers an insightful look at 16 figures, from Venture Smith, who bought his freedom; to Sadie Alexander, who contributed to the Civil Rights movement in the United States; to Katherine Johnson, who helped the United States land on the moon.

    Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh

    Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

    In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt.

    January 10, 2017

    Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout: Dance, Spin & Turn It Out: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African-American Childhood by Patricia McKissack

    Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider. Read my review of this book here.

    Zoo Day by Anne Rockwell

    A young boy and his family visit the zoo for the very first time. From gorillas to lions, polar bears to parrots, Anne Rockwell and her daughter, artist Lizzy Rockwell, celebrate a day he will never forget. With simple, lyrical text and bright illustrations that jump off the page, Zoo Day brings the joys of visiting the zoo vividly to life.

    Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins

    A sculptor of historical figures starts with givens but creates her own vision. Edmonia Lewis was just such a sculptor, but she never spoke or wrote much about her past, and the stories that have come down through time are often vague or contradictory. Some facts are known: Edmonia was the daughter of an Ojibwe woman and an African-Haitian man. She had the rare opportunity to study art at Oberlin, one of the first schools to admit women and people of color, but lost her place after being accused of poisoning and theft, despite being acquitted of both. She moved to Boston and eventually Italy, where she became a successful sculptor.

    January 17, 2017

    Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal

    A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers.

    The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

    Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.  Read my review of this book here.

    January 24, 2017

    Love Is by Diane Adams

    Perfect for Valentine’s Day—or any tender moment—this story of a girl and a duckling who share a touching year together will melt hearts old and young. In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned.

    The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford.

    Fredrick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers

    In this picture book biography, the late New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers and acclaimed artist Floyd Cooper take readers on an inspiring journey through the life of Frederick Douglass.

    January 31, 2017

    The Wall of Fame Game (The Magnificent Mya Tibbs #2) by Crystal Allen

    Nine-year-old Mya Tibbs is in a triple heap of trouble. As the Tibbs household prepares for the new baby, Mya is extra excited to spend time with her mom watching their favorite Annie Oakley marathon before her new sister arrives. Until she’s cornered into a bet with her number-one enemy, Naomi Jackson, that she can beat her in the famous fourth-grade Wall of Fame Game—which means Mya is stuck studying every night instead of hanging out with Mom. As if that wasn’t enough, Mya just entered Bluebonnet’s annual chili cook-off, even though she doesn’t know how to cook! Holy moly!

    The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley

    Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family’s bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can’t tell anyone who she really is. Elvin’s living on Harlem’s cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

    Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

    From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

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    Letters to My Series…One of Oprah’s Favorite Things!

    Have you heard about the adorable Letters to My… series yet?  Oprah named this book series as one of her favorite things in 2015.  If you know me you’ll know I love all things Oprah.  I’m all over anything she endorses like “white on rice” and these books are certainly no exception.

    With over 750,000+ copies of these books sold since 2014, each book in this series is an absolute treasure.  These innovative books contain 12 fold-and-mail style letters.  Each letter bears a prompt to inspire self-reflection. Once written, the letters can be sealed with the stickers included and postdated. The keepsake bundle of letters is like a dozen diary entries for the future.

    There are currently 9 books available in the series including:

    Letters to Me, When I Grow Up (New this season!  Young Writer’s Edition – perfect for kids ages 7 – 13)
    Letters to My Future Self
    Letters to My Baby
    Letters to My Grandchild
    Letters to My Love
    Letters to My Mom
    Letters to My Dad
    Letters to Open When
    Letters to the Bride

    letters to my...

    Letters to Me, When I Grow Up is the kids’ version of the bestselling Letters to My Future Self.  It brings young writers a fun new way to capture their childhood. Twelve prompted letters bound into a keepsake book invite kids to share stories, draw, or make lists reflecting on what they know now, and what they imagine for their future. When they’re grown, this paper time capsule becomes a cherished—and likely hilarious—look back on who they once were and who they have become.

    I think these books make absolutely wonderful gifts – and they’re affordable…yay!  They are so creative, memorable, compact (slightly larger than the size of a dollar bill) and beautifully packaged.  What a fantastic alternative to a journal for people who aren’t very good at keeping up with journaling!  These books allow you to capture and share your hopes, thoughts, goals, dreams and experiences with your loved ones or your future self.

    Although the writing space is somewhat limited on each page, I think it’s just enough space to get your heartfelt messages or words of wisdom across.  Also, you’re not limited to only writing on the pages.  You can draw, make a small collage, include wallet sized photos – whatever.  Have fun and use your creativity to share your messages. Think of these books as mini paper time capsules sure to fill the recipients with joy and emotions as they read through it.  My book is currently blank, but I’m looking forward to filling the pages with my thoughts, dreams and memories.  I can just see myself now looking back at my book to reflect on the person I used to be when I wrote the letters.  It will also be fun to watch my kids flip through their books when they get older.

    I created time capsules for each of my children when they turned one.  I wish I had the Letters to My Baby book back then so I could have included it in their time capsules.  Now that I know about these books they will definitely be my staple gifts for weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day and more!  They are perfect for giving your loved ones a glimpse into your heart or finding out what you wished their future or your own future.

    P.S. Although you can actually mail these letters, I like the idea of keeping them all contained within the book.  I just think it makes for a nicer presentation when it’s all completed.

    Check out this unique series of books and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

    Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here are the writing prompts for one of the books we received:

    Letters to My Future Self contains the following 12 writing prompts:

    These are my roots…
    Where I want to go…
    All the things I’d like to try someday…
    This is what I live for…
    It was an extraordinary day…
    I promise to myself…
    There’s no place like home…
    A pep talk for the future me…
    This is a letter about my love…
    I never want to forget this…
    [Blank – write your own]
    [Blank – write your own]

    About the Author
    Lea Redmond is a collector of curious objects and a maker of unusual experiences. She is always looking for the poem hiding inside things: a salt shaker, a clothes tag, a hand gesture, a cloud. Lea is infinitely intrigued by the way experiences can slip from the ordinary to the extraordinary and she designs things that hold this possibility. Leafcutter Designs, her creative studio in Berkeley, CA, makes the world more playful and peaceful one little experience at a time. Visit Lea’s world at http://www.leafcutterdesigns.com.

    Disclaimer: I received two complimentary copies of these books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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    What’s Your Book Fate? Plus A Giveaway!

    Lisa Papademetriou, author of the newly released novel A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic wants to know:

    What is your book fate—what book has changed your perspective, your heart, your life?

    If you participate by posting a comment on this blog post, I will randomly select 1 winner to receive a copy of the book for FREE!  Giveaway ends October 24, 2015.  Good luck!  Below is a synopsis of the book.

    LisaPapa

    ABOUT A TALE OF HIGHLY UNUSUAL MAGIC:

    Kai and Leila are both finally having an adventure. For Leila, that means a globe-crossing journey to visit family in Pakistan for the summer; for Kai, it means being stuck with her crazy great-aunt in Texas while her mom looks for a job. In each of their bedrooms, they discover a copy of a blank, old book called The Exquisite Corpse. Kai writes three words on the first page—and suddenly, they magically appear in Leila’s copy on the other side of the planet. Kai’s words are soon followed by line after line of the long-ago, romantic tale of Ralph T. Flabbergast and his forever-love, Edwina Pickle. As the two take turns writing, the tale unfolds, connecting both girls to each other, and to the past, in a way they never could have imagined.

    A heartfelt, vividly told multicultural story about fate and how our stories shape it.

    PRAISE FOR A TALE OF HIGHLY UNUSUAL MAGIC:
    “Magic! It’s everywhere—in music, in moths, in an old handwritten book. But the real magic is the exquisite storytelling that sweeps us along until the last wonderful page. This is a book that leaves shimmers in the very air.” — Kathi Appelt, New York Times bestselling author of The Underneath and Keeper

    “Lisa Papademetriou’s prose and sense of place dazzles the ear and eye, while the adventure and mystery binds us from page to page. Now that’s sleight of hand!” — Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor Winner

    “A beguiling tale of… enduring love and nascent self-discovery.” — Kirkus Reviews

    “A rollicking adventure of forbidden love and magic”  –School Library Journal

    “Begging to be read aloud… a fun book for middle-grade readers, and it will surely inspire them to read—and write—more.” –Booklist

    ABOUT LISA PAPADEMETRIOU:
    New York Times bestselling author Lisa Papademetriou is the author of Middle School: Big, Fat Liar and Homeroom Diaries (both with James Patterson), the Confectionately Yours series, and many other novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Her books have appeared on the Bank Street Best Books of the Year list, the NYPL Books for the Teen Age, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List, among others. A former editor, Lisa has worked for Scholastic, HarperCollins, and Disney Press and is the founder of the humorous online grammar magazine, IvanaCorrectya.com. You can visit Lisa at: http://lisapapa.com

    The Giveaway
    Enter to win a FREE copy of bestselling author Lisa Papademetriou’s latest book A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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