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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On Robin Smith

The Horn Book family is mourning the loss of one of our own, the inimitable Robin Smith who passed away last week after a battle with bone cancer. In addition to her day job as a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Robin was a longtime Magazine reviewer and contributor as well as a steward of the Calling Caldecott blog since its inception in 2011.

We’ve depended on Robin’s calm and thoughtful reflections in this blog, too, and will deeply miss her wisdom and wit. Last October, I wrote about Robin’s “A Letter to Parents” from the Sept/Oct. 2006 issue of the Magazine. I fretted that “as the parent of a second grader, I have seen many things that we won’t go into, but seeing my eight-year-old reading voraciously isn’t one of them. I know he can read; if given the choice, however, he prefers not to.” Now, eight months later, my rising third grader stays up waaaay past his bedtime devouring series books, including the Magic Treehouse, Goosebumps, and the Wimpy Kid. Just as Robin said would happen.

In March, Elissa reminded us of Robin and husband Dean Schneider’s classic “Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader,” which never gets old. Here’s a taste of their sarcastic humor: “8. Don’t expect your children to enjoy reading. Kids’ books are for teaching vocabulary, proper study habits, and good morals.” Kids love that!

Last month, I wrote about Robin’s article from 2003, “Teaching New Readers to Love Books,” in which Robin looked back at her love of reading as a child and how that helped her to inspire her students to love books. As a teacher, Robin has undoubtedly lit a fire in the heart of hundreds of lifelong readers, a fitting legacy.

Over at Calling Caldecott, Robin’s dear friends and colleagues Martha Parravano and Julie Danielson both have written eloquently about Robin. Read their tributes as well as the comments, all of which convey how deeply Robin has touched people’s lives.

Robin, we miss you — and thank you.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. Sue Corbett says:

    What a tremendous loss all around. I loved to read her thoughts on books and reading. She will be sorely missed even by those of us who only knew her for her fine taste in literature for children.

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