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On Patricia and Fredrick McKissack’s “You can be president” (from March 1997)

president-obama

“Our Sunday evening news conferences with the presidents were always intense, informative, and a whole lot of fun.” I don’t know about you, but on this Monday before election day, I’m in dire need of something hopeful. “You can be president,” from the March/April 1997 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, is just that. I […]

Rumpeta-ing through Reading: Picture Books for the Very Young

My daughter Emily has always been a reading omnivore: we have photos of her poring over books from the time she could first sit up. Everything was of interest: catalogs featuring photographs of children; books verging on toys, with flaps or holes or even wheels; concept books; story books. Gradually, certain authors and books became […]

Have Book Bag, Will Travel: A Practical Guide to Reading Aloud

Goodnight Moon

By Mary M. Burns and Ann A. Flowers Suddenly, literacy is a hot topic. While definitions may vary, there is general agreement that it’s a good thing, and the more of it, the better. The problem seems to be discovering how to nurture it. Because Americans incline toward Puritanism when faced with self-improvement, the process […]

Board Books Go Boom

Not long ago, while browsing through the picture book shelves of a local book store, I came across something that immediately caught my attention: Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in a board book edition. One volume in the “Children’s Condensed Classics” series created especially for babies and toddlers, it opens with the line, “Long […]

Family Is What You Have

Last year, on a twenty-seater plane coming home from a speaking engagement, it became apparent that I was the only person on board not related to everyone else in the passenger section. My closest fellow passenger sat across the aisle singing a song about the purple dinosaur. She smiled at me—my cue to dig a […]

“Look”

by Lois Lowry My oldest child, a daughter, remembers that when she was three, and we lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while her father was a law student, she often walked with me to a nearby grocery store. She tells me that there were letters painted in the street at the corner where we stopped and […]

“You can be president”

Sunday dinner in our family is a time for sharing food and ideas. One night, we discussed the upcoming presidential election. We ended by saying to each of our three sons, “You can be president.” Spontaneously, the oldest, Fred Jr., stood up, burst forth with a full chorus of “Hail to the Chief,” and declared […]

Snapshots: “Delicious rhythms”

Recently when our ten-year-old son was asked to name his favorite book, he said promptly, “I have thousands of favorites,” and proceeded to describe his room as if he were living in a small crack between bookshelves — the pleasant problem of the voracious reader. Madison’s bookshelves span a decade of evolving interests and travels […]

Heather and Her Critics

newman_heather has two mommies

As an out lesbian author of six picture books, five of which depict families with gay or lesbian members, I have been called one of the most dangerous writers living in America today. In fact, in 1994, my book Heather Has Two Mommies was the second most challenged book in the nation, following closely on […]

“Accumulated Power”

By Margaret Mahy When I was a child, books published in the U.S. were difficult to come by in New Zealand, dominated as it was by its trading relationship with Britain. But by the time I came to read to my daughters, the publishing world had changed. I was able to read them Blueberries for […]