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Books in the Home: What My First Grader Taught Me About Reading

What does it mean to learn to read? As a former first-grade teacher and a professor of literacy education, I have constructed plenty of answers over the years. But witnessing the process as a parent has led me to challenge any overly simplistic explanations and assumptions I had held. The most important things I’ll probably ever […]

On “Radio Penderwick,” bedtime (audio)books, and more

Just like their print counterparts, audiobooks play many roles in the home. This week we looked at some different ways audiobooks accompany families — at bedtime during road trips, and really any time (or, Rachael Stein’s case, all the time). Here’s a roundup of our mini-celebration. At Family Reading on Monday, Kitty Flynn shared her […]

Books in the Home: “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?”: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books

When my son was five, he was watching TV when a commercial came on that showed a woman slathering her peach-colored arms with lotion. He glanced down at his own brown arm. After poking it with a finger, he asked: “Mommy, do I have white skin?” It was a moment that seemed straight out of […]

#WeGotDiverseAwardBooks: Reflections on Awards and Allies

I missed out on ALA Midwinter this year. At nine months pregnant, there was just no way I could hop on a plane (or hop anywhere, really) to be a part of the conference and its festivities. But shortly after the 2015 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced, a colleague emailed me, “How about all […]

Words for Flora’s Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)

Often, when I mention that I have five children, people ask, “How do you do it all?” I sometimes quote a response I’ve heard from Donna Jo Napoli, fellow writer, professor, and mother of five: “How do I do it all? Badly. You could eat off my kitchen floor…for weeks.” How I do it all […]

Reading about Families in My Family

In my family there are two moms and five kids. I’ve yet to find a children’s book that depicts a cast of characters that looks anything like our particular multiracial, foster-adoptive family constellation, and I know there are lots of artistic, social, political, and market-driven reasons for this; for one thing, such a book would […]

The Secret Garden’s Perennial Wisdom…for Parents

Every September of my English teaching career, I’d type up the semester’s reading list and prepare myself for the inevitable question: I’ve already read this! Why do I have to read it again? I’d tell my 
students that rereading a novel at a new period in their lives could bring fresh insight. But I never […]

On the Rights of Reading and Girls and Boys

Discussions about gender issues in children’s literature are perennial (even in the pages of this magazine; see the special issue on gender in September/October 2007; articles on boy and girl reading in the September/October 2010 issue; and, most recently, Carey E. Hagan’s “One Tough Cookie” in the September/October 2011 issue). My personal experiences differ from […]

O Christmas Books!

I was the type of kid who lingered in stairwells trying to overhear adult conversation and who sneaked downstairs to catch my babysitter making out with her boyfriend. As a six-year-old, I blew Santa’s cover after noticing that “his” handwriting on gift labels was just like my dad’s. My mother was aghast to learn I’d told […]

Dave the Potter and Stevie the Reader

One of the things I love best about my work in children’s literature is how seamlessly it melds with my life as a mother. When I was elected to serve on the 2011 Caldecott committee, I wrote to family and friends, saying, “Thousands of picture books will come my way and I have just the […]