Monday, January 31, 2011

The publishing future of poetry for kids

Over at the fab Poetry for Children blog, Sylvia Vardell has posted an interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins about the future of publishing poetry for kids.

It's an excellent read, even though it's not entirely encouraging when you see someone like Lee saying the anthology is dead/dying.

Got something to add? Let's keep the conversation alive here or there or somewhere, because while I'm confident that poems will still be getting out there to kids... I think we should be focusing on the challenges now not feel run over by 'em later!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The January Carnival is up!

The January Carnival of Children's Literature is up over at Challenging the Bookworm. There's a lotta good stuff contained therein, and I heartily recommend a browsing trip.

Good weekend reading, indeed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Cheer for 300!

No... I didn't bowl a perfect game (not even on the wii). Instead, I'm cheering for poem 300 over at the Poem Farm.

Every day for the prior 299 days, you see, Amy has posted a poem over there - an original one, at that. Today is day 300... which means her goal of a poem every day for a year will be reached in 65 more days.

You really should go check it out - not just to say "yay for 300" but because I think you'll have a great time reading her blog.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Spinach - a vegetable poem/a food poem

Gregory K.

There are little bits of spinach
Up above and down beneath.
I'm glad you like your vegetables...
Now please go brush your teeth!

One of the joys of sharing this silly little ditty is learning that many families have secret words or signals to let kids and parents know that they've got a... uh... a "little extra in their smile" as one young friend shared with me. Do you have a code word? Wanna share?

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at A Teaching Life. Why not go on over and check out the poetry love going on in the kidlitosphere today?

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Different Take on the Today Show and the Newbery/Caldecott Winners

Don't get mad at me, but I'm having a hard time being angry with the Today show for not having the Newbery and Caldecott winners on this year. Am I disappointed? Yes, I am - I love seeing children's literature get attention, and I think our field's big award winners deserve it. I'm also glad that advocates in our field are speaking out about the lack of attention children's literature gets. But...

I may be wrong about this, of course, but I think that IF this segment had been a big success for the Today show in the past, they'd've run it again this year. Wouldn't you? So, my thinking is that there's a problem and that it's not personal. It's business.

And honestly, having seen the Today segment in question many times over the years... well... from my point of view, it's usually not good TV. And if I ran a TV show, that would be a problem for me.

Not only that, but let's face the fact that no other network morning show has featured the ALA award winners (or has had a book club for kids) over the past few years nor did they step into the gap this year. It was great that the Today show did this segment in the past, but clearly, something changed for them. The lack of other networks diving in again says to me that this type of segment, for whatever reason, doesn't work for them, either.

Those of us who love children's literature should try to figure out what has changed and/or why this doesn't work, and then figure out how to overcome that obstacle.
I think one challenge we face here is that while the ALA awards are big news to all of us, unlike the Oscars, Grammys or even the People's Choice Awards, there's not a national audience of millions for the awards nor weeks of public speculation about who might win. Sure, we all talk about it, and some schools do, too, but it doesn't create the same level of buzz.

As a result, when the winners are announced, it's not "news" on the same level as those other awards, so there's no built in audience for a segment on the morning shows. Is this sad because books and authors should be news? Yes. Should we try to change that culture? Yes. But that doesn't mean we should expect others to do something that doesn't make sense to their business, for whatever reason.

Yet here's something we all know first hand: there is a hunger among parents and teachers and kids and grandparents and uncles and aunts for information about good books. I suspect the Today show knows this, too.

The question then is this: what other way can our books and/or award winners be presented to make for better TV, to make it more than anchors interviewing authors and illustrators about books that usually aren't yet part of the public conscience (though will be over time)? Our field is vibrant, influential, and about more than awards, so what should we do?

Maybe we can find an incredibly charismatic author who can talk about bigger children's lit stories than just the winners... to somehow give context and/or resonance? Can we uncover and present stories of kids in action with a book or books? Can we get an energetic bookseller talking about all sorts of amazing books from the year? Can we get Ashley Bryan to lead the entire Today staff in poetry call and response or have past award winners/best sellers use their "celebrity" or or or or? (I mean, honestly - having JK Rowling talk with the award winners is very different TV than having Matt Lauer do it.)

Clearly, I don't know the answer, as my above examples prove. But I'm positive that if we want to focus on things like network coverage for our field, we need to think out of the box here, because the message I take from the Today show is that the "box" doesn't work for them. It's painful and sad... very... but let's take this moment as one of opportunity and see what we can come up with.

We're creative types, after all!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thinking about KidLitCon

This year will mark the fifth KidLitCon - a conference for bloggers in the kidlitosphere (from all perspectives (author, teacher, librarian, editor, etc) and for all age ranges from board book to YA). Colleen and Jackie, this coming year's co-organizers, have posted a survey to get input about what people have liked at prior KidLitCons and what people would like to see at this one.

I made it to the first three events, sadly missing this year's, and plan to go this year, so I quickly filled out the survey. But I wanted to write about what I said here in case it sparks reactions in any of y'all. (Plus, ya know, urge you to go fill out the survey!)

For me, a lot of the fun of the event is meeting people who share the same passion - children's literature - and love to talk about it. I like meeting fellow bloggers... and I like having group events where we're all thrown together rather than small groups breaking off into familiar clusters. I get the sense that we can be... not clique-y, as most of us don't know each other that well, but insular: we find folks we know/feel comfortable with/only see once a year and don't make the effort to meet others. Those of us who've been doing this awhile now probably need to lead the effort to introduce folks around.

This is not to say, by the way, that I wouldn't instantly pull up a chair so I can talk with, say, Mother Reader since I haven't seen her in so long. I will do exactly that. It's to say that we all need to be aware that each year brings us folks who know no one among us.

In terms of panels, well, this is tougher. With 100ish people there, we're all gonna be at different levels, we all come from different perspectives, and we all have different priorities. I think the goal in panels has to be balance: some topics appeal to all equally, some have a strong, specific focus (reviews), some technical, some creative.  I think we always need to look at topics that we as a community can grapple with together (how blogs can help books find an audience, for example), and I think we need to focus on how to help the kidlitosphere move beyond speaking to the hard-core, committed book lovers of the world and into becoming a voice that creates new hard-core, committed book lovers.

Those are my first-blush thoughts, also shared via the survey. I hope you'll all chime in on the survey or here in the comments. And I hope to see you at KidLitCon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Revisiting diversity this week on #kidlitchat

Last year, we had a great #kidlitchat about diversity in the children's lit world. This year, well, it's time to have another one. Let's see how we, collectively, have done as a business this year, looking at issues of diversity in gender, race, sexual orientation issues, and more... and where we should be going moving forward.

Please join us Tuesday at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Twitter for #kidlitchat.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Poetry Re-Issue: Belly Button Blues - a belly button poem

Gregory K.

My belly center’s really bare:
My belly button isn’t there!
I got no innie, got no outie.
Every day it makes me pouty.

I wouldn’t mind a belly snap,
A zipper, hook, or belly flap.
Still, most of all, I’d like a button,
But sad to say, friend, I got nuttin’.

Earlier this week I was doing a school visit and had brought along my big 3-ring binder full of poetry for some show and tell. This poem fell out, and I took that to mean it wished to be seen again. I originally posted this here back in 2006... so my bet is that, as NBC (I think it was) used to say about reruns, "If you missed it, it's new to you!"

Irene Latham's hosting the first Poetry Friday Roundup of 2011. Head on over and see what's up in the blogosphere today.

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Let's Review... Fibs! (And comments)

Would you believe the EIGHTH issue of the fib review is up and available online? It is! This makes me very happy. Once again, it's packed with poems by people who take the fib form and really do amazing things with it. Well worth a looksee, if you're so inclined.

Today also marks the kickoff of the Comment Challenge, the brainchild of Mother Reader and Lee Wind. It's a great community event, and I'm excited to be participating this year. Are you?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Cybils' Short Lists are Up! And...

It's New Year's Day (happy new year, by the way), so that means it's time for the  Cybils' short lists to be announced. You can find links to them all right here (or go straight to the poetry list via this handy link). I use the Cybil lists to catch up on reading in a lot of categories....

And if that's not enough fun for one day, I send you over to the Golden Fuse Awards for 2010. Where else will you find a category for Most Unexpected Blurb?

Still need more? The December Carnival of Children's Literature is waiting for you, too.

There. That should keep ya linked up for a spell. Enjoy!