Friday, September 19, 2008

BBAW Guest: Jen Robinson

(I really wanted someone to blog about kidlit bloggers/blogging, especially since I don't have anything else geared towards this very important area of book blogging. I was really excited when Jen, who tied for Best Kidlit blog!, agreed to write something for me.)

Three Excellent Reasons for Blogging about Children's Books - Jen Robinson

Although there are other perks, there are three primary reasons why I blog about children's books. First of all, I LOVE children's and young adult books. I was a bookworm as a child, and simply never stopped reading children's books as I got older (though I also read adult titles, especially mysteries). I've found children's books to be a portal to imaginary worlds, a pathway across multiple genres, and a time machine to visit my youthful self. More importantly, I think that some of the best literature being published today is being published for children and young adults. Even if I didn't have a blog, these are books that I would choose to read because they are brilliant and insightful. Having a blog gives me a place to share my thoughts about the books, and gives me the chance to learn about a much broader range of titles.

The second reason that I blog about children's books is that having a children's book blog allows me to be part of a community of fabulous people who share my interest in children's books and literacy. Discovering this Kidlitosphere (a name coined by author and blogger Melissa Wiley - http://melissawiley.com/blog/) has given me validation (yes, there are lots of adults who read children's books) and helped me to find kindred spirits. Children's and YA book bloggers share book recommendations and reading ideas, and celebrate each other's success. We've even started holding an annual conference, so that we can continue our discussions in person. I'm also involved with a series of children's book awards given by bloggers. The Cybils awards, in their third year, are given in nine different categories (from picture books to young adult titles). The Cybils were founded by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold, in a quest to help promote books that are well-written, but also engaging to kids. Anyone can nominate titles (one per category), whether you have a blog or not, starting October 1st. Then the books will be judged by committees of children's and young adult book bloggers. I would love to see more nominations this year from the broader community of book bloggers.

The third reason that I blog about children's books is that I believe, passionately, that all children should have the opportunity to grow up loving books. Children who enjoy reading do better in school, and have more opportunities in life. They also learn to amuse and comfort themselves, and they have their minds expanded by literature. There was a recent study that found that people who have better literacy skills are happier than those with poor literacy skills. But it's hard to become a book-lover as an adult (not impossible, but harder). The best time, the time when people can most easily fall head-over-heels in love with books, is when they're young. So, what I try to do with my blog is help parents, teachers and librarians to raise kids who love books, by providing book recommendations and literacy-related links. I also provide this content in an email newsletter format, to try to reach more people.

So there you have it. Children's book blogging offers the chance to read great books, be part of an amazing community of like-minded people, and make a positive difference in the lives of children. Who could ask for anything more?

25 comments:

M. said...

Lovely post about what is an inexplicably neglected area in blogland

Lenore said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE Jen's blog!

Callista said...

I love reading kid's books too!

Ruth said...

As someone who was blessed to have a mother and several teachers who encouraged me to read, I can't say enough about adults who help promote literacy in children. My lifelong love of reading is absolutely invaluable to me as an adult.

Lately I've been stocking up on middle grade readers, YA, and books that I loved as a child. Over the winter I really want to spotlight children's books.

elizabethwillse said...

I'm relatively new to the book blogging scene, and delighted to find so many bloggers posting thoughtful, insightful commentary on children's and YA literature. I'll have fun catching up.

Marjorie said...

Jen is truly inspirational in all she manages to convey on her blog. We were very fortunate to interview her for our recent issue focusing on literacy and her generosity in responding to our questions makes for a really rich read - http://www.papertigers.org/interviews/archived_interviews/jrobinson.html

Ali said...

Thanks so much for this post, Jen. I've only been blogging about books (kid, YA, and adult) for a few months and the links you provided were really helpful! I'm astounded to learn your conference is coming up next weekend in my home city. Unfortunately my Saturday afternoon is already booked (no pun intended) so I can't go, but it's still kind of cool to know you'll all be here.

Jen Robinson said...

Thank you all so much for reading my article, and for taking time to comment. Lenore and Marjorie, it's wonderful to see friends here. Thanks for your kind words!

M, I don't think it's so much that children's books are neglected in blogland. There are literally hundreds of people blogging about children's and young adult books. But I think that we don't always do a good job of connecting to the larger book blogging community. That's one more reason why I've appreciated this BBAW - which brings the different sub-groups of book bloggers together.

Callista, I think that your kids will be lucky to have a mom who enjoys reading children's books. I'm sure you'll have fun together.

Ruth, I'll look forward to hearing what you have to say about middle grade and YA books on your blog.

And Elizabeth, I loved your article about how "reading is a gift". Thanks, all!

Jen Robinson said...

That is really too bad, Ali (that you can't make the conference). Though your finding out about it here proves my point that we could do better at reaching the broader book blogging audience. Anyway, thanks for the feedback, and I'll look forward to seeing you around the blogosphere.

JenniferY said...

I am thrilled that there are blogs out there for children's books. I have always been a reader and I have been trying to instill that same love in my nephews and nieces. Sadly, I don't know about many of the children's books available today so it is nice to be able to learn about them somewhere.

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

And I'm doing my best to make children's books a less-neglected area of PODCASTING!

Feel free to come and give our podcast a listen, and we'd love it if any of you would send us your thoughts (via voice mail or .mp3 file) on a favourite children's book so we can include your audio in our show.

www.JustOneMoreBook.com
"A podcast about the children's books we love and why we love them -- recorded in our favourite coffee shop"

Karen said...

I blog about children's books in part because I want our family to be committed to reading together. It's fun to share our very favorites with other families.

Kelly said...

Yay, Jen! Great reasons :)

msmac said...

Children's books, YA books rock. When have you seen a child stick with a badly written book? Thanks for the great post, Jen.

Shelly Burns said...

I am new to book blogging, and am absolutely loving being able to read about all the wonderful books that are out there. It has been a great resource to me in aiding our librarian to add some great titles to our collection. I blog because reading is my passion and something I try to instill in my students is a love for reading - whatever the genre. I am excited to be a part of this great group of bloggers. Please visit my blog, www.writeforareader.edublogs.org.

Wendie O said...

Jen, You've said it all. Great job.

I'm another children's book blogger -- on Nonfiction Mondays I review younger, easier to read nonfiction. And I do other books whenever the impulse comes. (The rest of the time I blog about life in general and writing in particular.)

Links to all the Nonfiction Monday book reviews are gathered each week at http://6traits.wordpress.com/

-wendieO
wendieold.blogspot.com

thereadingzone said...

Awesome post, Jen!

I blog about children's/YA books for a few reasons. First of all, like Jen, I also grew up as a huge bookworm. I guess I just never stopped. :) Second of all, I am a 6th grade teacher. And when I share my book reviews, ARCs, and my passion for reading with my students, it is infectious. :)

-Sarah

Laini Taylor said...

Great reasons, Jen. I'm with you on all three. I'm always trying to get readers to give YA a try. I saw an interesting point made on a blog recently about YA -- maybe somebody else saw it too and remembers where it came from? -- that a great thing about YA is that since all the books are shelved together, it's easier for authors to cross "genre" boundaries and write books that are hybrid mystery/fantasy/romance etc. Whereas in adult books, there is some pressure to keep books more easily categorizable. I never really thought about that, but really, my favorite kinds of books are the genre-bending ones: a little romance, some alternate history, some fantasy, a twist of mystery. Delicious.

Lee Wind said...

I think as a kid and as a Teen, as much as I loved a great story (I read sci fi and fantasy), I was always looking to identify with the main character and go - "hey, yeah! That's what I would do." Or, "that's just like me."

But, being a GAY kid growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, there wasn't much. Actually, there was NOTHING.

Happily, today there are LOTS of Young Adult Novels (and even some middle grade and younger books) that have Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer characters and/or themes. Some picturebooks are about a sense of "otherness," some about how all families are different (and some have two moms or two dads), and some tell about how sometimes a prince falls in love with a prince for their "happily ever after."

The YA books run the gamut from coming out stories to genre novels that have gay characters in horror or superhero adventures.

In a lot of ways, discovering all these books, and having a blog that lists and showcases them and lets readers add their reviews, has been enormously healing to that kid inside me - the one that just so desperately wanted to find a book, one book, that I could read and say, "Yeah. That's me, too."

And I feel like I'm helping get the word out about a slice of kid lit that is not talked about very much.

But just having these books exist isn't enough. We have to talk and blog about them so kids will know about the books, and if they want, get access to them, and read them!

I like to think my blog helps in getting the word out.

So please, if you'd like, stop on by.

Namaste,
Lee

"I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" at
http://www.leewind.org/

Terry said...

As I was reading there was lots of *head nodding vigorously* going on. Another fantastic post, Jen.

We created the Reading Tub to help parents find books they will love to share. We put more reviews on the Website than the blog, but the goal is the same: get kids excited about reading.

"The Reading Tub ... Bringing reading home to families."
http://www.thereadingtub.com

Jules at 7-Imp said...

What a fabulous person to have talked to about this: Look at all her passionate reasons for blogging about children's lit. Reason #2 has become so important to me, too. Not only can I share the love of these books with others, but I've made so many wonderful new friends.

Megan Germano said...

To Jen, one of my favorite Kidlitosphere gals:
What makes you such a great blogger is that you care about your blogging community. You have never let me down by commenting in all the right places and mention other blogs and their contributions. You and others like you are what makes the community such a great place to be.
Megan Germano
Read, Read, Read!
http://www.5thgradereads.blogspot.com

Gregory K. said...

Yet another kidlit blogger here.... I echo your reasons, Jen, and add a few more. Selfishly -- the children's book blogging community talks about/reviews more books than I could ever do on my own, so I love that I can to learn so much, so fast via so many informed opinions. And truly, I don't believe I've ever been part of a more generous-of-spirit community, and I find that it's inspirational in many ways -- as an author to get my books out there and as a blogger to continue that tradition, as two examples.

Plus, and it might be a coincidence, I've found there's been more chocolate in my life since I started talking about children's literature. I'm just saying....

Thanks for posting, and thanks, too to the blog hostess for including you. You are right that there are more bridges to be made, and how nice that someone else is jumping in to help build 'em!

Jen Robinson said...

Lest anyone should have any doubts about what I said about the community of people who blog about children's books... Would you look at these comments! You all are so so great!! My thanks to everyone for taking time to comment, and for caring about connecting kids with books in the first place.

RebekahC said...

What a great blog!

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