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I have noticed a theme here lately in the books that win the Newberry Medal award or other awards. It seems to me that they all have a sad tone or dark mood. Here are some books I have read that have been given awards.

“Wolf Hollow” by Lauren Wolk, was such a sad story that I had a hard time reading this to my school children. It was sad and depressing and did not give you any hope in humanity. Yes, there are life lessons in it. Yes, it is more realistic with the ending. But how are these books judged? Do they get an award because of how much they make you feel or cry?

“Hello Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly, is another story that leaves you feeling a little sad at the ending. Yes, again there were life lessons. It had a better ending than the other books but you feel the innocence is gone from these children.

“Pax” by Sara Pennypacker, is a story that you just cannot stop reading even though you have guessed the ending before the last three chapters. Another sad story of loss and a young boy having to grow up and face the reality of war. It breaks your heart.

Now, these are only the books I have read in the last year that have gotten rave reviews and won awards. I have read other books that were good and uplifting.   But there is a universe of sad books that have received awards like, “Old Yeller”, “Shilo”, “Holes”, “Beyond the Bright Sea” (Another book by Lauren Wolk. You can see her pattern of style.) and “Inside Out and Back Again”.  And they all have a sad tone to them.

So what makes these books so loved by critics or literary scholars? The harsh reality in them? The fact they bring grown men to tears? Who knows?

I think we need more good books for children where they can feel happy about the ending. We need beautiful books that show that the world is not all ugly. We need books that children can escape into for a while. Children are already seeing the ugly side of the world it is time we give them books that encourage them to see the bright side of things now.

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Taking a break in the summer from writing does not mean to stop reading.  I have challenged myself to read more books this summer.  If you want to challenge yourself and need to keep track too, then try the challenge on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/

This helps me to also keep track of my reviews of the books.  Sometimes I can read so many books that after a while I lose what I read. Keeping my impressions by writing reviews reminds me of the book. How do you keep track of your reading?

I recently read an article about the summer slide for kids. The data is disheartening for children book authors. Here is an excerpt from the article on Summer Reading 2019:

“According to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 7th Edition, there is a rising trend of kids ages 6–17 reading zero books over the summer: 15% in 2016 vs. 20% in 2018. Among 9–11-year-olds, this percentage has doubled (7% to 14%), and among teens ages 15–17 it has increased by ten points (22% to 32%). To help turn this trend around, the report reveals that if parents are aware of the summer slide, their children are less likely to read zero books (16% vs.25%). Yet, 47% of parents with school-age children are not aware of the summer slide and this percentage increases sharply to 63% among families with household incomes under $35,000. “https://www.cbcbooks.org/2019/05/08/summer-reading-in-2019-is-all-about-kids-empowerment-with-scholastic-summer-read-a-palooza/ 

Scholastic and United Way Worldwide are donating high- quality books to communities providing children access to them through libraries and book stores.  Teachers and parents are also trying to reverse this trend. I do not stop reading so, of course, I do not let my kids stop either.

What are some effective ways that help children (and you) to keep reading during summer break? What do you feel is the benefits for an author to read in their genre or outside of it?

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Reading children’s books has to be a priority for writers in this genre. We need to know what children want to read or why a book is selling. Some of the best books I read this year did not make some of the lists. But here are a few that did.

The NY Times top-selling children books had only one book I have read this year: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill. 28110852.jpg

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and you can read my review of it here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2357366254?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

You can also see the full list of books that made the top of NY Times Bestsellers:

https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/childrens-middle-grade-hardcover/?module=DropDownNav&action=click&region=navbar&contentCollection=Books&version=Childrens&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&pgtype=Reference

From Goodreads Best Middle Grade & Children’s for 2018 the top of the list was “The Burning Maze” by Rick Riordan. A lot of my favorite authors made it on this list.  You can see the full list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-childrens-books-2018

Commonsense media is anotherplace where you can find the top children’s books for the year. One book I have added to my read list (maybe because I really like this author and met him once in person) is by Matt de la Pena called “Carmella Full of Wishes”.  His writing is full of emotion, which makes it is hard not to get swept up into the characters lives.  See the full list here:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/best-kids-books-of-2018

What books were your favorite from this year? Comment below what books did not make the list.

And read some great books this coming new year!

 

 

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I hate dry spells in writing. I feel guilty that I have not written in a while. This guilt then turns me away from writing which is the exact opposite of accomplishing anything productive. So what did I do during this period of “no-writing”? Well, I read some great literature, took a couple of college courses and I vegged in front of the TV. Not a lot of writing. When you have to write lesson plans, reports and other forms of documents, then creative writing seems to take a back seat.

This will have to change this next year. 2019 will be the year of more creative stories and time to write some poetry. I recently read that “Improving your writing through the practice and study of poetry forces you to whip out your magnifying glass and look at your writing up close. Whether you apply poetic concepts to fiction, blogging, or article writing, your engagement with poetry will help you produce better writing.” (https://www.writingforward.com/better-writing/poetry-helps-you-improve-your-writing)

I do not plan to just jump head first into writing poetry. Studying and reading other famous poets will help me get my juices flowing. I have written some poetry in the past. Writing poetry will help me flex those brain muscles I have not used in a while. Let me know what helps you get over your dry spells in writing in the comments below.

Good luck to everyone’s writing in the new coming year!

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Source: Getting to the Top of the Charts on Amazon Kindle

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When I studied English in college, I learned that this language is more complicated than most  American people realize. Foreigners understand how complicated it is because learning to read and speak it is very difficult.  There is not only grammar and punctuation to worry about but also the phonetics of the language. Trying to read by phonics just does not work all the time.

The best way to learn how to speak English, in my opinion, would be to listen to a book on CD while reading along. The reader learns the different pronunciations of words along with the definition of words by association or how the word is used in the sentence.

What fascinates me the most about the English language is the root words.  Most words derived from German, Celtic, Old English, Irish, Latin and Welsh to name a few.  So in essence the English language is just a pot of mixed languages.

Because of this rich language though we see that it is ever evolving. The language takes on a mixture of words today that are not just considered slang but are put in the dictionary. Where will the English language be in another 100 years? With all the influx of immigrants from different countries the language could change even more. Today we see that text messaging is fading away because the younger generations want to snap chat or use emoji’s to communicate with.

There are poets, philosophers and writers everywhere who turn the English word into something magical that touches ones soul; Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. But most influential to the English language was William Shakespeare. We still use his words today.

 

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One poem I came across recently gave me pause in how we use words and how we create them.

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.
A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.
A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.
There is no word for a parent who loses a child.
That’s how awful the loss is.
Jay Neugeboren – An Orphan’s Tale – 1976

How is it we have words for almost everything under the Sun but not for a parent who loses a child? That is sad. If I could contribute to the English language it would be to fill the gaps in our language where people have not before.

Words are how we communicate in this world.  We can be better understood by using the right words. Think how peaceful the world would be if we could communicate more clearly and people understood each other. That is the world I want to live in.

My mother always used to say, “Choose your words carefully”.

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I recently read an article about how writers need to connect more with the wants of readers.  The idea is to help writers.  The only way to get these answers though is to do a survey or ask people in a blog what they want to read.

I love to read children’s books and some adult fantasy and mystery books. I have also been reading some fantasy young adult. Please comment below what you like to read?

The reason I read these genres is because this is what I like to write. In the book store or library, my head will be bobbing up and down in the children book sections examining all the new or old titles, looking for the next big hit. I love to explore new authors works. I also like to read what is at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. This keeps me up to date on what the market is selling, or publishers pushing, and also what readers are hungry for.

Readers are an important part of the writing process. They keep authors writing more to please them.  When a book review comes up on Goodreads or Amazon about a book you wrote, then you want to read it no matter if it is good or bad. Authors are starving for feedback. What is working and what is killing a book?

I love readers and I feel happy when I see someone curled up in a chair with their nose in a book.

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To read the article click here: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/advice-for-writers-3-keys-to-connecting-with-young-readers-online

 

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I really enjoyed this thought provoking article about reading and buying the right book for readers in your life.  Read this before you send that book to a friend or relative.

 

The Great Chapter Book, Middle Grade Confusion | Chapter Book Chat.

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Jessica Wilson’s Reviews > Happenstance Found

Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese
Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber, #1) 
by P.W. Catanese (Goodreads Author)

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Jessica Wilson‘s review

Jul 05, 14  ·  edit

bookshelves: favorites

Read from July 04 to 05, 2014

 

Wow! I have been searching for something like this for a long time (maybe years). This was a wonderful surprising cleverly written story that takes you on a journey to a world you never want to leave. I loved the main character Happenstance and all the mysteries surrounding him. Lord Umber is a character you root for and hope to see in the next installments as someone who will surprise you with more hidden bits of wisdom. Catanese is a great writer and has the ability to capture your attention with just a few lines. I am hooked and I am seriously going to invest in purchasing the series.
1 like ·  fla

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