Archive for ‘Children & Youth’

March 3, 2011

“Faded” Sparks Teenager’s Literary Career

by thiszine

BY JOHN COLEMAN

Fifteen year old Oakville, Ontario student Maha Hussain is generating a lot of buzz lately. Last fall she published her first novel, Faded, through TriMatrix Consulting. Hussain has been working on the novel since she was twelve, when she mustered up the idea and gumption to make it as a teenage author.

Faded, which is being geared toward a student audience of thirteen years and up, begins when teenage girl Hope Padden survives a car crash which kills her parents. The tragic event rehashes an old relationship with a male imaginary friend who now seeks revenge on her, and with whom she must save the world from fear and unhappiness.

In a recent article with the Toronto Sun, Hussain admits she’s always been fond for writing and started honing her talent at a young age. By the time she was twelve she completed more than most people do in their whole life*she had the workings for a full-on 238 page work of literature.

“I wanted to prove people wrong and make my mom proud by writing the book” she proclaims in the interview. Hussain also keeps up a credible reputation as a student council member at her highschool, and as a volunteer at a hospital, among other endeavours. How’s that for overachieving?

Check out Faded’s Facebook page for more information.

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December 29, 2010

Stressful Holiday Season? Rack Up Karma Points with The Fresh Air Fund

by thiszine

Yes, it’s true: We’re suckers for kids. Watch the video below and you’ll see why.

 

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

Whether it’s a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of the summer camps, The Fresh Air Fund programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities.

To learn more about The Fresh Air Fund and how you can help, visit their website.

December 17, 2010

Book Review: Laidenn The Dark Elf by Lyle Perez-Tinics

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LAIDENN THE DARK ELF
by Lyle Perez-Tinics

CreateSpace
(November 2010, $8.99, 134 pages)

The great thing about zombie authors is their dedication to the genre. Just when I think they have reached the limits of the imagination, I stumble upon something that expands zombie fiction into other genres – engulfs them, really. NOM NOM NOM! While other genres add glitter to their monsters, one author has brought the zombie culture to the North Pole.

When I read the introduction to Laidenn The Dark Elf by Lyle Perez-Tinics and realized that I would be reading a story about vampire snowmen and zombie elves, I didn’t know whether to laugh or beat myself with my laptop. After carefully noting that Perez-Tinics loves Christmas and the holiday season, I decided to approach this book with the same seriousness I would give to any fantasy tale. Keep in mind, this is young adult fiction, with the goal of appealing to both children and adults, so not quite as dark as you might expect, and age appropriate for grade school and up.

There are Light Elves and Dark Elves. The Light Elves make the toys and are enjoying a well-deserved night off at an enchanted amusement park when Laidenn realizes that they are about to be attacked by vampire snowmen. Perez-Tinic’s talent for detail shows when Laidenn prepares to fight with bags of salt. As Laidenn tries to make the other elves aware of the impending danger, we learn more about how light and dark magic work at the North Pole. We also discover that there are actually two different breeds of vampires as well.

I laughed at the description of the horrible things that took place in Santa’s workshop, such as Barbie heads with Ken bodies! Santa defends his workshop with the stealth and swiftness that would make Van Helsing proud. Don’t let the fat, jolly appearance fool you – this Santa has the moves of a warrior. He also has command of zombie elves! This is the Santa I want at my house.

When I read Laidenn The Dark Elf to my five-year-old (we’re talking about a kid who has already acted in a zombie film), he thought this would make a great movie and I agree. (Maybe a joint Pixar and Full Moon production?) This is a great holiday story for the whole family, especially if you’re already fans of the classic monsters: vampires, zombies, and the like. I know Christmas will never be the same at our house again.

Lyle Perez-Tinics is the writer and creator of UndeadintheHead.com, a site dedicated to zombie books and the authors. He dreams about opening a bookstore filled entirely with the horror genre. You can contact him at Contact@undeadinthehead.com or follow him on twitter www.twitter.com/Lyleperez

Ursula K. Raphael

December 17, 2010

Little Librarians or Little Monsters?

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BY LACEY N. DUNHAM

Little Librarian is a DIY kit with the tag line: “Be a real librarian. Just add books!”

Although I think it’s awesome that there’s a toy aimed at turning children onto reading books (the type without batteries or screens) I feel this item should also come with a warning: USE OF THE LITTLE LIBRARIAN PERSONAL LIBRARY KIT COULD TURN YOUR CHILD INTO A LITTLE MONSTER. PURCHASE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I love librarians. I love libraries. I love librarians and libraries so much that when I was eleven, I geeked out in the stationary supplies aisle of Wal-Mart and purchased a pack of 3 x 5 unlined index cards, a blue plastic index card filebox, a black sharpie, Scotch tape, a rubber date stamp, and a hot pink stamp pad. At home, I took the items to my bedroom and glued an index card into the back of all my books, writing in the neatest handwriting I could manage “RETURN BY” at the top of each one. I reinforced the spines with the Scotch tape and tested the rubber date stamp on sheets of my father’s tax return.

I own a lot of books and at age eleven, this habit was already well on its way to becoming an obsession. Because my middle school had no library, my peers frequently asked to borrow books from me and, always happy to lend them, I was frustrated that many were not returned, or were returned in poor condition. My solution: create a formal lending library.

The next time a classmate asked to borrow a book, I went home and filled out an index card with her name, the title of the book, the date borrowed and due date. I filed the card in my blue filebox and stamped the due date in the book. I was officially in the non-profit business of running a library.

I began to lend out three or four books each day, sometimes to kids in other classrooms whom I didn’t even know. R.L Stine and Christopher Pike were popular authors, so I created waiting lists for especially sought after titles. The American Girl series of books that I’d outgrown a year or two before were frequently requested; less popular were Scott O’Dell and Paula Fox. I lent Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Even The Boxcar Children found new life among my classmates.

Whenever I delivered a book, a single sheet of paper was tucked into its pages: the borrowing rules. Based on the rules of the actual library, I had typed my list of rules on my electronic typewriter and assumed that anyone receiving a sheet with the word “rules” in bold at the top would adhere to them.

Thus began my first lesson as a little librarian: people do not follow the rules.

Books were returned after the due date and were sometimes damaged: covers bent or torn, pages dog-eared, crumbs scattered in the spine. I prided myself on taking excellent care of books and their mishandling at the sticky fingers of my peers angered me. Fortunately, the borrowing rules had delinquents covered.

Per the rules, I was already charging a fine of 10 cents per day for each overdue item. Why not fine people for returning books in a damaged condition? I re-typed the borrowing rules and began to collect payments. Frequent violators had “DO NOT LEND” scrawled across their borrower’s card. Friends were granted clandestine extensions and had their fines forgiven. Boys I liked were secretly moved to the top of waitlists.

At home each night, I sorted through my filebox, checking on upcoming due dates and noting who had outstanding fines. At school, my classmates crowded around my locker as I pulled their book requests from my backpack.

Then it happened. As I would learn two years later from my history teacher Mr. Meiner, absolute power corrupts absolutely. My library was so successful, I doubled the fines. Friends were no longer given amnesty. I spent my lunch period demanding payments. Having learned a thing or two about boys, girl were automatically placed first on all waitlists. Students began fighting over the books as I pulled them from my backpack each morning. My friend Angela had a borrowed a very popular R.L. Stine from me and it was subsequently stolen from her. I still made her pay the late fee and, because book was never found, the $4.99 to replace it.

I can’t recall exactly who or how or why but, eventually, my library was shut down. My rubber date stamp fell to disuse and the stamp pad dried up. The index cards became flashcards for memorizing war battles in social studies class. The blue filebox was tucked into my closet to gather dust. Years later, the R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike books were donated to the town library (I kept Nancy Drew, Scott O’Dell, and Paula Fox), where they were sold for twenty-five cents each at the annual library book sale.

December 3, 2010

THIS Reads: Classics for Kids

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BY SWEETMAN

Serial books are terrific gifts because they can be given individually over the years or as a set, particularly if there’s more than one young reader in a household. Individual books by a multitude of young adult authors – the genre churns out more books than I can follow – I like to give for gifts as well. A few timeless and enjoyable old school books impart a love of reading thanks to the excellent caliber of writing. They are true gifts to bestow upon young readers.

E.B. White
White is one of the most eloquent and writers I have ever read. He has a wonderful way of writing incredibly appealing novels for children that avoid the pitfalls of “writing down” to young readers. His stories include The Trumpet of the Swan, Stewart Little, and, of course, Charlotte’s Web. These classics should probably be given with a box of tissues.

Roald Dahl
What fun it is to read novels from a child’s point of view about evil villains (and villainesses) when you’re a kid. Roald Dahl’s children’s stories are full of dark humor, mistreatment and peril – and kids love it. These short, funny and very engaging books for young readers are hilarious to read out loud. Dahl, a disciplined father of five, allegedly regaled his children with these dark tales at bedtime before writing them as novels. Some classic Dahl favorites include The Gremlins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Reading shaped my life when I figured out the beauty of words on a page. I was never without a book, hence I was rarely bored (although I was almost always late.) Of the all the books and authors mentioned above, Roald Dahl probably influenced me the most. I love dark humor, I adore an evil villain and the best stories for me are where good conquers all. I never consciously reflected on the influence, though I named my sons James and Charlie.

Many, many of these stories have been made into movies, some good, some not so good but they are nothing in comparison to the actual novels. So give books this season and give the gift of reading. Kids today are so connected, scheduled, sheltered and overloaded with electronics that they need the freedom of imagination and to learn that the power of words has the ability to take you anywhere.

Read Sweetman’s previous THIS Reads: Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Twihards

photo: July

December 2, 2010

THIS Reads: Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Twihards

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BY SWEETMAN

Are you wondering what to give the tween or teenager in your life? Think books. Reading is a gift that never stops giving. Give books, real books, not anything electronic – kids today suffer from waaaaaaaaaay too much electronic crap cluttering up their brains. The act of reading sustains the brain’s ability to solve logic problems and operate on a higher level of processing and reasoning. And there’s nothing like the physical reminder of a thoughtfully given book.

I am not well-versed in books for babies, toddlers or young children although I’ve had two babies (then toddlers then young children). It’s been my limited experience that “popular” and “educational” are somewhat less satisfying for both parents and children. I always leaned toward the classics and books about trucks because I have two sons. Whatever you give to a toddler or non-reading child, make sure it’s something that you’ll love reading over and over and over again, too.

For school age to young adult, here’s what not to give: any of the Twilight books. I know they have a legion of followers breathlessly fainting into the pages because Edward is so amazing and Bella is so amazing and the Twilight books are so amazing and there you have it: indoctrination to repetitively bad writing. Let the tween or teen borrow Twilight from a friend or the library and let’s stop shoving money into Ms. Meyer’s overflowing coffers. There are far better things to read:

C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia
A classic masterpiece, Lewis’s seven book series takes the reader into the fantastic world of Narnia. Four children – Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy Pevensie – find the magical world of Narnia through a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke’s mansion. In Narnia they join forces with the noble Aslan to save the wintry world from the evil White Witch. Readable chapter books for even the youngest children, The Chronicles of Narnia series has widely influenced and guided the talents of many influential authors, musicians, directors and artists since they were published in the 1950s.

J.K. Rowling, The Harry Potter Series
We can’t thank J.K. Rowling enough because she didn’t just ignite the spark of love for reading in young people: she set the house on fire. The Harry Potter Series, seven epic novels about Harry Potter, Hogwarts School for Wizardry and Witchcraft, and the battle of good versus evil, have become instant coming-of-age classics. J.K. Rowling masterfully narrates an epic and, at times, very dark tale full of memorable characters in a magical wizarding world. These books are excellent on many levels and the writing is superb. I confess I was reluctant – no disdainful – of the books when they first came out because I had no interest in the magical world of wizardry. Fantasy was not my genre but my sister gave a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stones to my youngest son for his 5th birthday. It was a gift that I believed was a curse because I had to read it out loud to him. However, before the first chapter ended I was hooked and waited as anxiously as all the other Harry Potter fans for the next installment. I read each word of all seven books to my youngest son, a literary experience like no other in my life.

Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events
Thirteen quick-paced, sharp and witty books chronicle the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, beginning with the fiery deaths of their parents and propelling them through a number of unfortunate events as they are pursued by their distant relative, the evil Count Olaf. The books in A Series of Unfortunate Events are cautionary tales with dark Grimm undertones but they are clever and engaging. It’s a series that is sure to develop and secure a young reader into a life of good reading.

In tomorrow’s THIS Reads, Sweetman discusses more beloved children’s books by Roald Dahl and E.B. White.

photo: Stephanie Skidmore

October 18, 2010

Halloween Book Review: Monstermatt’s Bad Monster Jokes

by thiszine

MONSTERMATT’S BAD MONSTER JOKES (VOLUME 1)
by Monstermatt Patterson

May December Publications, LLC
(September 2010, $12.95, 166 pages)

Know someone who is into everything and anything to do with monsters? If this person is also the type who looks forward to Halloween more than any other holiday, then I have the perfect gift suggestion for this October: Monstermatt’s Bad Monster Jokes Vol. 1. The monsters aren’t bad but rather the jokes are…intentionally. This book is the gift of self-torment, kind of like Jackass-meets-literature for horror fans (you know, “insert pencil into eye” kind of torment).

The introduction by Joe Moe describes the development of Matt’s love of cheesy jokes, and points out that Matt lives and breathes monsters as an FX monster mask sculptor and horror host. Kyle Kaczmarczyk, the illustrator for this joke book, also adds a tale of his personal experience with Matt and includes a brief explanation of how this collaboration came to be.

The jokes include all the traditional monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy, as well as aliens, zombies (of course! why else would I be reviewing this book?!) and superheroes. Matt even goes to town on the Jersey Shore cast, True Blood, Star Wars, and, sadly, the Human Centipede (which has traumatized me for life – Google the movie at your own risk, and have a bucket nearby to puke in). Some of the jokes are the kind my five-year-old likes to tell me and some of them are the kind of jokes you could share if you want to alienate people who annoy you.

Example of child’s joke:
Q: What moon phase will turn a baker into a Werewolf?
A: A “Croissant” moon!

On the other end is anything from the song parody section that is sure to kill your social life – you might even be able to get yourself arrested and/or committed, and no one will ever ask you for anything ever again.

One of my personal social life-killing favorites:
Q: What do you get if you cross a British sci-fi TV show and a Dr. Seuss book?
A: Horton hears a Dr. Who!

I really enjoyed reading this assortment of bad jokes, some of which aren’t quite that bad, and I don’t think any household should be without a copy this Halloween! You can see how insanely talented Matt is here.

– Ursula K. Raphael

September 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Censorship

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BY URSULA K. RAPHAEL

If you’ve paid attention to recent news, you’ve probably heard about Terry Jones, the preacher who proposed burning the Qur’an. Alas, book censorship is still alive and well in the United States, the country that totes freedom of speech as our national mantra. Not only is it ridiculous, but it’s a shameful waste of millions of trees. Unfortunately, there are people who are so desperate to protect others from what they consider “harmful reading material,” they are probably recruiting computer hackers to create viruses to stop the downloading of “dangerous ideas” to Kindles everywhere.

Number one on the banned/challenged book list of 2000-2009, compiled by the American Library Association, is *drum roll please* the Harry Potter series. This series has been accused of promoting witchcraft/atheism, encouraging children to misbehave and make bad decisions, and being just plain frightening. (I’m not sure if trying to fly on a broom falls under “witchcraft” or “making a bad decision.”)

I personally thought the Harry Potter books were a fantastic collection of mythology and folklore interwoven into a story of an abused boy who makes something of himself despite not having a loving family environment and having to ward off attacks on his life every year. But, I was probably reading too far into the storyline and overlooked the details enticing children to the dark side with promises of owl-delivered invitations to a wizarding school.

I will be the first to admit that Harry and his friends do lie, break rules, and disrespect authority figures, but so do most school children (which is why I homeschool). I would also like to point out that if fictional characters always told the truth, followed the rules, and showed more respect for others, stories would be pretty boring, probably not go anywhere, and miss the point of creative writing.

The complaint that makes me laugh the most is the accusation that the Harry Potter series is too scary for children. Honestly, I think the news is the scariest thing I’ve read on any given date. At least when they read the books the kids can tell themselves “it’s just a story.” Of course, any sensible parent would read what their kids read, be aware of what is age-appropriate and realize that, in our world, children are no strangers to suffering and death.

My personal experience with the Harry Potter books includes reading the series, watching the movies, and collecting some of the memorabilia (which includes a sorting hat). I have thrown Harry Potter themed parties for organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had craft tables where the kids could make their own wands with unicorn hair, dragon scales, and phoenix feathers. We sorted participants in the four houses of Hogwarts (by drawing names out of my sorting hat), gave prizes for trivia questions about the books, and shared a Harry Potter birthday cake. In return, our guests were asked to bring new books (any children’s books) that were donated to children of families who could not afford the luxury of reading material.

Some people would say that a kid reading anything without discretion or standards is not an accomplishment, but I say that kids reading books and sharing that love of reading with less fortunate children is something to be proud of.

September 1, 2010

Back to School Book Review: The Art of Education by Linda Dobson

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THE ART OF EDUCATION
by Linda Dobson

E-book, available online
(July 2010, $8.95, 254 pages)

Linda Dobson writes so passionately about homeschooling that a parent merely has to read her introductions to find the inspiration and encouragement to teach their own children at home, although someone does not have to be a homeschooler to appreciate her concern for the quality of education in general. In the 15th Anniversary edition of The Art of Education, Dobson asserts that the U.S. public school system is “based on a false definition of education,” and challenges us to reconsider our priorities as a society, as well as parents who wish to take personal responsibility for their child’s learning experience. Dobson decided to release this edition as an e-book to keep costs minimal for parents who are looking for solutions to help their children succeed.

In her introduction, Dobson points out that in the past 15 years, science, social studies and history have taken a backseat to the fixation with standardized test scores for math and reading, while physical activity and the arts have become almost non-existent, as schools all over the country struggle with the economic crisis. She even includes a foreword by John Taylor Gatto, a long-time schoolteacher who clarifies the difference between schooling and education, noting that an official title does not necessarily make one an educator.

The first section of Dobson’s book highlights issues with public schools, and addresses myths about homeschooling, such as the ever-popular question, “what about socialization?” and the variety of reasons that parents choose to homeschool; no longer is religion the dominant factor, as the number of secular homeschoolers is on the rise. The second section of her book encourages readers to self-examine their priorities regarding time, money, children, school and the self, and emphasizes the benefits of home education for parents, children and the community.

In her own words, “Our education crisis is a crisis with a depth and magnitude sending tremors throughout every stratum of society…we must stop fueling the crisis with our children.”

~Ursula K. Raphael

August 12, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham Turns 50

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Dr. Seuss’s quintessential book for children, Green Eggs and Ham, turns 50 today. The book was written after Suess’s editor bet him he couldn’t write a book containing only 50 words. Too bad Suess died before the advent of Twitter’s 140 character updates. He’d be in good company.

As an extra special treat, watch Jesse Jackson memorialize Green Eggs and Ham in the video below.

June 28, 2010

From The New York Times: Top Talent Under Age 10

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Read this clever op-ed response to The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 list.

June 3, 2010

Won’t somebody think of the children?

by thiszine

Actually, The Fresh Air Fund already is!

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

We’re a sucker for adorable kids and really, can they get any more adorable than the child in this video?

Besides, fresh air and the occasional walk in nature frees the mind to create, write, and discover!

May 8, 2010

Vampire Baby Names

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Stephanie Meyer’s literary phenomenon Twilight has exploded into the parenting world with the names Jacob and Isabella coming #1 on the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names for 2009. Also, Cullen (as in werewolf/alternate love interest Edward Cullen) is the fastest rising boy’s name on the list.

In a press release acknowledging their new status at the top, Baby Jacob and Baby Isabella issued a joint statement thanking Americans for “their support and good taste.” They also urged fans to “check out http://www.socialsecurity.gov to learn about a new ‘twist’ in the law that may help an older relative or neighbor get an average of almost $4,000 of extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs.”

Do vampires need to worry about health care?

March 24, 2010

YA Literature For Grown-ups

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Recently, a Los Angeles Times article mentioned that more adults are reading YA (young adult) novels than in previous years and sales of YA books are one of the few bright spots in a floundering publishing industry. Over at Flavorwire, the editors picked their selection of the ten best YA books for adults.

Adults loving YA literature is nothing new, of course, as the number of adult Harry Potter fans shows. However, outside of massively successful children’s and YA literature that is deemed acceptable for older audiences despite its younger targets, literature for the young is often received with disdain by “serious” readers.

Well, “serious” readers have no fun in life and probably spend their time drinking unsweetened tea and munching on rice cakes. The dividing line between adult and YA literature is a wavy, inconstant one and, despite the supposedly recent trend, not new. While there are plenty of trashy and terribly written young adult books, there are an equal if not larger number of trashy and terribly written adult books. However, just as The Catcher in the Rye is beloved by teenagers and adults alike, so The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime or The Book Thief can transcend the too often limiting label of “young adult” that prevents excellent books by fine writers from falling into adult hands.

A smart bookstore will have YA books adults can enjoy and adult novels that adolescents can enjoy in both sections of their store. Further, a smart bookstore will have a well-read staff that isn’t limited by the demarcation lines of publishing house imprints. The same goes for smart libraries and librarians. Reading is for pleasure, not shame. Much of what prevents adult readers from seeking out and reading books otherwise categorized as “young adult” is the belief that if “it’s intended for someone younger than me, it must be beneath me.” Adult readers need to get over this limiting and fallacious belief because, not only is it silly, but it also shows a lack of sophistication about writing and books.

This is one of the reasons why this actively encourages book reviews about YA books. We understand that, while not all YA literature is superb and not all of it will engage or interest adult readers, there are plenty of YA titles that adults can and should enjoy without feeling ashamed, idiotic, or a less serious reader.

In this Issue #2, Rachel Heston Davis reviews Alison Croggon’s The Naming. In future issues, we look forward to bring our readers thoughtful reviews of adult and young adult literature. We feel it’s important to recognize writers outside of whatever publishing house imprints their books come from and without much regard to the average age of the target audience.

January 20, 2010

Caldecott and Newbery Winners Announced

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The American Library Association announced the winners of their 2010 awards, including the Caldecott Medal, for distinguished American picture book for children, and the Newbery Medal, for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, among others.

 

The winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal is Rebecca Stead’s young adult novel When You Reach Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal is The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

August 30, 2009

Classic Children’s Books

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I never knew until recently what a list fiend I am. I’ve always dismissed “top ten” lists (which is probably why I’ve never enjoyed David Letterman) and all those “What’s hot/What’s not” lists in various magazines. And yet here I am again writing up another list for this zine’s blog. I guess I love book lists (I keep an active Goodreads account, both for the blog and for myself).

 

In the spirit of excellent lists (as opposed to mediocre lists), here’s NPR’s A Classic List of Children’s Must-Read Books (with comments).

 

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I loved The Boxcar Children series growing up and read all of the originals plus extras written by ghost writers after Warner had passed on. Mystery, thrills, orphans, boxcars (though it took me a while to learn what, exactly, a boxcar was) this series was my first of many obsessions.

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl
I’ve actually never read The Witches. (gasp!) In fact, I never read any Roald Dahl growing up, unless it was for school (James and Giant Peach). I did, however, see the movie Mathilda, based on a Dahl book, probably thousands of times as a babysitter of young children. I’ll have to add this to my list of books to read.

 

The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt
Ditto to this. Never read it though I love the title.

 

Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Ditto. Man, NPR is busting me up.

 

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Wasn’t there a Lindsey Lohan movie of the same title?

 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer
I loved this book growing up, even if I didn’t quite get it. What’s not to love: he boy representing the .5 in the 2.5 kids for the average American family; the Promethean task the protagonist is given; the wonderful and curious illustrations. I need to go back and re-read this one.

 

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
Okay, wow, another one I’ve never read. Did I just have an abnormal childhood?

 

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
Konigsburg’s tale combined two of my favorite things growing up: learning and mysteries. While I can’t quite remember all the details of the mystery involved, I do remember my immense jealousy that the siblings in the story were able to stay the night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, long before Ben Stiller hit the Smithsonian with a synergized pale comparison.

 

Watership Down by Richard Adams
I truly must be the only American youth who has not read Watership Down. I’ve heard lots about it though: talking rabbits, references in Donnie Darko, death, destruction. One of those classics I suppose I should pick up someday and enjoy with the pessimism of an adult.

 

The House with the Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, illustrated by Edward Gorey
I’ve never even heard of this but I love Edward Gorey’s dark drawings and twisted humor. This is definitely on my to-read list.

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August 29, 2009

Good-bye Reading Rainbow

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“Reading Rainbow”, an iconic children’s television show, aired its final episode yesterday. The show lost support from PBS and the Department of Education, as the former Bush administration shifted its funding priorities to phonics and spelling, rather than supporting a general love of reading. “Reading Rainbow” first aired in 1983 and was hosted by LeVar Burton.

 

I feel sad over the loss of “Reading Rainbow” to a generation of kids, past and present. I grew up watching PBS alongside network and cable cartoon and kids’ shows (including another PBS favorite, “Wishbone”) and dreamed of appearing on-air with LeVar Burton to talk about a great book I enjoyed. While I’m certain that other reading-focused shows will replace “Reading Rainbow” in the spectrum of kids television, nothing will ever spark a joy for reading quite the way “Reading Rainbow” did for over two decades.

 

July 20, 2009

Run NYC

by thiszine

What’s better than cute kids? Helping out cute kids!

 

 

As a former educator of urban youth, I know that summers are often a difficult time for children from disadvantaged communities. They often face long, hot days at home alone or in neighborhoods without resources to support and engage youth. Many of my students were anxious about being away from the familiar school year routine and missing their friends and teachers. Some students from particularly challenging environments expressed fear at having to spend their summer at home or in their neighborhoods.

 

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend Fresh Air Fund camps.

 

As a not-for-profit agency, The Fresh Air Fund needs volunteers to support the children with whom they work. If you live in the New York City region, you can support The Fresh Air Fund by running in this year’s New York City Half-Marathon on August 16th.

 

Fresh Air Fund Racers

Fresh Air Fund Racers

Join our Fresh Air Fund-Racers team today! If you would like to register just click here! If you have additional questions or are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Kate at runners@freshair.org or call (800) 367-0003 ext. 8890.

 

Last summer’s NYC Half-Marathon Presented by NIKE was a huge success for The Fresh Air Fund, raising more than $125,000 to directly support free programs for NYC children.

 

And hey, you can even write or blog about your experience supporting The Fresh Air Fund for this zine!