Finding shelter in a good book

We’d be hard-pressed to find someone here at Scholastic who doesn’t think reading is the ultimate way to relax. But can reading a good book be so great that it’s therapeutic?

If you ask Mackenzie, one of our 2010 BE BIG winners, the answer is surely yes. When Mackenzie was diagnosed with a painful neurological condition, she would distract herself from the pain by reading a good book. And since reading helped get her mind off her pain, she wondered if it could work for other kids, too. She had a BIG idea to donate books to local hospitals and shelters and help kids there cope with their challenges – and today, her program has more than 46,000 books in six states that form “Shelter Libraries” – and those numbers are about to grow even BIGger!

Check out what she had to say:

Continue reading Finding shelter in a good book

The Essentials: Contemporary YA

There are books; and then there are the Essentials.  Those are the books that typify their genre.  Librarians, and book lovers alike, all have their opinions.  Invariably someone will ask: “If I was going to read one [insert a genre of book here] book, which should it be?”  Here at OOM, we decided to attempt to answer that question. 

Young Adult (YA) fiction seems to be teeming with fantasy.  Werewolves, vampires, fairies, alternate universes and those with superpowers seem to reign.  But what about high school?  Contemporary YA fiction deals with issues that everyone faces (or faced) as they are (or were) growing up.  Yes, everyone’s experiences are individual but some are universal; asking a person (or wanting to get asked) out on a date, passing classes, getting into college, trying to be cool, dealing with “unreasonable” parents.  We’ve all been there.  So have the people in these books.

So today, we attempt to answer the question: If I was going to read one Contemporary YA book, which should it be?” Continue reading The Essentials: Contemporary YA

Econ 101…in the form of children’s books

We can find lots of lessons in children’s books…but are the lessons of economics one of them?

I found myself fascinated by this piece from the New York Times (“Fairies, Witches and Supply and Demand” by Motoko Rich, August 20), which talks about “passages in children’s books that inadvertently teach economic principles.” From The Wizard of Oz to Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday to The Lorax to Harry Potter, are we sneaking econ studies into children’s lit? Or is it just a case of “once economics is on the brain, it suddenly seems to pop up a lot in children’s literature?”

If you read OOM regularly, you likely know The Westing Game is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s even in my Bookprint on You Are What You Read, and I credit the book for teaching me a little bit about the stock market — really! In fact, when I studied economics in school, I kept flashing back to Turtle Wexler and how she managed her investments, and the book inadvertently helped me understand the movement of monies across the country and world.

Of course, it’s not easy to convey economics to kids…let alone adults. And, mostly, says Rich, “the economic concepts conveyed in the books reflect values like generosity and equity rather than competition.” Have you picked up any economics lessons from kids’ books? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

A novel approach: How Sarah Darer Littman researched Want to Go Private?

At On Our Minds, we love to talk about social media and technology—covering the latest trends, hot topics in the news, and have even rounded up some great fiction books on the subject. Award-winning YA author Sarah Darer Littman recently published Want to Go Private? her own look at the digital world. The story follows Abby, a teenager who becomes the victim of an online predator she meets through a chat room. Entertainment Weekly called it “scary and engrossing.” The Los Angeles Times says the book is “…[C]hillingly real…Want to Go Private? is a bold investigation of a potentially lethal, if common, mixture for teen girls: emotional immaturity, technology and emerging sexuality.” Sarah Darer Littman is here with a very special blog post discussing why she chose to look at the darker side of technology and the research that went into crafting her novel. Continue reading A novel approach: How Sarah Darer Littman researched Want to Go Private?

IOF: Presidential reads, Living Books, good news for fiction readers, celeb libraries, and National Parks from space

Every Friday, we share a handful of links we found interesting, provocative, funny — or just plain cool. We call it In Our Feeds. Have a good weekend!

Ever wonder what a President reads on his summer vacation?  Thanks to The New Yorker you can find out!

A photographer in Pennsylvania refused to photograph four students for their Senior photos because of evidence of bullying that she found on Facebook.

Ever wish you could just talk to an expert?  The Surrey Library in British Columbia will let you do just that.  They have started a “Living Books” program that will lend you a volunteer expert.  Cool, huh?

We’ve always said reading fiction is good for you.  Now experts agree with us!  Check out the benefits of reading fiction!

Ever wonder how a celebrity reads and what their personal collections look like?  Check out 20 truly beautiful personal libraries.

Speaking of eye candy, check out these beautiful pictures of National Parks from space.  Talk about perspective.

How to talk to your kids about the hurricane

If you live on the East Coast it’s almost impossible to ignore that Hurricane Irene is making its way to us this weekend. While the intense media coverage of the hurricane can be too frightening for kids to consume, anxious kids will have tons of questions for their parents.

Francie Alexander, Scholastic’s Chief Academic Officer,  recommends ‘Bibliotherapy’ — books and tips that will help kids learn about hurricanes — for parents to help calm their child’s fears about hurricanes and to give kids just enough of the right kinds of information that will help them feel empowered, stay calm and think ahead. Continue reading How to talk to your kids about the hurricane

Welcome to the next golden age of books

I keep hearing that this is the death rattle for books, the last gasp for libraries and the end for anyone else who deals in books.  I am putting my foot down today.  I just don’t buy it.  And I’m not the only one.  Paul Carr over at Tech Crunch wrote a great blog post titled The Golden Era Of Books Isn’t Over.  The Golden Era Is Now.  And I couldn’t agree more.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  I’m a librarian who works for a book publisher.  That’s what I am supposed to say.  But the thing is…it doesn’t make it any less true or Paul Carr any less right.  How do I know this?  I counted 13 books, 10 e-readers and 7 newspapers on my one subway car just this morning.  That doesn’t count anyone reading on a smart phone.  (I can only be so nosy.)  I know this because most people can answer the question “What are you reading?”  I know this because when you ask people which books influenced their life, they tell you that it’s a hard question.  Not because they don’t have any, but because they have too many options to chose from.  To-Be-Read piles are common.  Social networks are based around people and their books: You Are What You Read, Goodreads and Library Thing are just a few.  Most Fridays #FridayReads is a trending topic on Twitter.  I’ve talked to people who say that they haven’t read like this in years…devouring book after book and story after story. Continue reading Welcome to the next golden age of books