Oh happy, happy day! My friend Katie Davis aired her 100th episode of Brain Burps About Books today! For this special event, she interviewed all three of the National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature – two emeritus and one current. That means she has interviews with Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and Walter Dean Myers!!

Our current ambassador, Walter Dean Myers, chose “Reading is not optional” as his platform. Likewise, verily I say unto you, if you care at ALL about children’s literature, literacy, or reading and writing in ANY of its forms (children or adult), LISTENING TO THIS EPISODE IS NOT OPTIONAL. These three people are heroes, pioneers, warriors and role models – not just to children but to all adults who advocate for children, whether as parents, teachers, librarians, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.

I’m lucky because I got to listen to the episode in all of its greatness yesterday. That is an advantage of owning the Brain Burps app – you get the podcasts a whole day early. I can assure you the interviews are funny, informative, inspirational and everything you’d expect they’d be coming from these paragons of kidlit.

I’ve met both Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson in person. We met Jon at the Boulder Bookstore a few months ago, where he patiently listened to my five year-old recount every incidence of potty humor in all of the books we’d read by him. If you’ve read any of Scieszka’s work, you probably already know this is quite a formidable list. Then, he signed one of my son’s books, “To Jay – a real Stinker.” You can only imagine how much more my son loves that book now.

I met Katherine Paterson at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair after an interview she gave at the Author’s Cafe. During her interview, she said her ambition as a writer was to write a book that did for children what the book The Secret Garden had done for her. How gratifying it was to be able to tell her unequivocally that she has done that, many times over, for me. Particularly with Bridge to Terabithia, which remains one of my all-time favorite books and one that I believe is perfectly written.

Please don’t miss your opportunity to be inspired by these literary giants. I’m not promoting this episode because I’m in it (because I’m not), but because it is simply unmissable. And to help celebrate Katie’s achievement and all she has brought to the world of kidlit with this podcast, I am giving away three Brain Burps apps from the iTunes app store. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite part of the 100th episode. It is a long one, so I’ll give you a full week to listen and comment. You have until midnight EDT, Wednesday June 20th to comment. I’ll draw winners on Thursday the 21st. So GO. NOW. LISTEN!


Categories: Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Giveaway, Picture Books, Poetry, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


I have been so excited to tell you all my big news.  It’s practically killed me.  But today I can!  Katie Davis, children’s author and host of the wildly popular Brain Burps About Books podcast, has invited me to be a monthly contributor on the show.  Yay!

You may recall that I was Katie’s first guest of 2012 (Episode 78) where I spoke about my anti-resolution revolution and the launch of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  Based on the response to that show and a bug placed in her ear from the epically (Yes I DID just make up my own adverb!) awesome Julie Falatko, Katie invited me to do a monthly segment focusing on gratitude and its importance in the life and work of a writer.

So today, you not only get an amazing interview with Carol Rasco, the CEO of Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and a Take 5 Marketing Tip from Diane de las Casas, you get ME with my the big debut of my new series.  You HAVE to listen to it, if for no other reason than to hear the KILLER opening Katie developed for it (also inspired by Ms. Falatko).

In seriousness, however, I hope you listen because the subject of gratitude is one that is so close to my heart, and one that I feel honored to be able to share with you.  In this first segment, I reveal my very personal story of how I came into my own gratitude practice and how it’s changed my life – literally. Over the course of the series, I will provide ideas and tactics to help you develop your own gratitude practice in the hopes that it will change your life too – AND make you a better writer in the process.

Here’s the link to the podcast: http://traffic.libsyn.com/brainburps/84_RIF.mp3.  You can listen to it on your computer just by clicking the link, or you can do the same by clicking the link from your smart phone or tablet and listen to it from there. Or you can listen from the link on Katie’s blog here: http://katiedavis.com/rif/.

Or you can do as I did and buy the app from the iTunes store for $1.99 and have all the episodes in one place.  People, it’s a bargain.  Katie is an exceptionally talented, multi-published author/illustrator, a whizz-bang marketing guru and a pioneer in using all forms of media in the children’s book arena.  She recently published an e-book entitled, How to Promote Your Children’s Book and is on faculty at the Highlights Foundation for an upcoming workshop called Making the Web Work for You.

Are you a reader of this blog and STILL not familiar with the podcast? Well, Brain Burps About Books is all about children’s literature and has held the #1 in the iTunes store in Children’s Publishing since it began almost two years ago.  If it has to do with the children’s book business – whether it’s craft, creating a platform, developing eBooks and apps, or supporting a small business as a writer, it’s fair game. Interview subjects include authors, illustrators, librarians, editors, app creators… anyone in the field covering anything under the umbrella of children’s books. Regular features include a “Take 5 Marketing Tips” by Dianne de Las Casas and picture book and middle grade reviews by contributors Betsy Bird of SLJ’s Fuse #8 Production, “Mommy” blogger Julie Falatko, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, and YA reviews by Bookalicious Pam and now, a series on Gratitude for Writers by ME! 🙂

If you have any ideas or questions you’d like me to cover in upcoming segments in the gratitude series, please let me know in the comments or contact me offline.  

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Authors, Children's Books, ebooks, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


This mug can be yours!!

Want to proclaim your participation in 12 x 12 while donating to a worthy cause?  Or perhaps you just want to contribute to a worthy cause and get some cool gear.  Either way, the 12 x 12 in 2012 Cafe Press store officially opened its “doors” today.

One hundred percent of the proceeds of sales in the 12 x 12 store will be donated to First Book, a nonprofit which has distributed more than 85 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.

From the First Book website:

  • First Book increases children’s interest in reading. Two separate studies found that “high interest in reading” triples among children who received new books from First Book.
  • First Book empowers teachers. 99.2 percent of programs that receive books from First Book are able to increase their literacy efforts and offer new curriculum activities, including parent engagement programs.
  • First Book improves literacy in the home. With First Book’s resources, families are able to create home libraries for the first time. More than 70 percent of children who received books through First Book reported increased reading at home.
  • First Book engages a growing number of programs. More than 25,000 programs are registered with First Book and hundreds more join each week.
  • First Book is mission-driven and highly efficient. 95 cents of every dollar donated to First Book supports our efforts to provide new books to children in need.
Head on over to the store and get the goods!
Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Charity, Children's Books, Picture Book Month · Tags: , , , , , , ,


Today marks the second annual World Read Aloud Day, sponsored by LitWorld, a New York-based literacy organization. LitWorld’s mission is to: “…cultivate literacy leaders worldwide through transformational literacy experiences… to support the development of literacy and the redemptive power of story in the world’s most vulnerable communities.”

Participants of World Read Aloud Day are asked to read with loved ones and friends to help reach a goal of 774 million minutes of reading to honor the 774 million people worldwide who are illiterate.  You can sign up to participate and record your reading time here.

LitWorld’s slogan: Words Changing Worlds

Can words really do that? As Frances McDormand would say in the movie Fargo — You Bet’cha!  Words are the sinew that bind us together as humans.  As a picture book writer, of course I am supportive of a cause like Read Aloud Day.  What other form of literature is so well suited for reading aloud?  But truthfully the support comes from a much deeper place.  One of the questions LitWorld poses to participants is, “What would you miss most if you could not read or write?”

The obvious answer is… well… books.  But after pondering the question a bit, I came up with something a bit more profound (thank goodness – I am a writer after all).  Without books I never would have:

  • Journeyed across Middle Earth
  • Lived in the court of King Henry the VIII
  • Crossed the bridge into Terabithia
  • Eaten my way across Italy, Prayed my way across India and Loved my way across Bali
  • Seen the inside of a concentration camp
  • Had illicit love affairs
  • Studied magic at Hogwarts
  • Survived the Depression in the Dust Bowl
  • Met the Wicked Witch of the West as a young girl
  • Flown a kite in Kabul
  • Watched Charlotte spin her webs
  • Witnessed an elephant hatching an egg
  • Lived in the Belgian Congo as part of a missionary family
  • Tamed Mr. Darcy
  • Climbed Mt. Everest

And on and on and on.  A good book doesn’t give us an escape; it gives us a portal.  You can go deep into other places, other times, other worlds and emerge feeling as if those experiences were no less real than the ones you move through during an ordinary day.  The emotional resonance enters our bloodstream and stays there as memory.

And if I couldn’t write? Well, that would be like putting tape over my mouth.  Writing is how I understand and interpret the world – including myself.  It’s not a career.  It’s a way of life.

So today I encourage you to celebrate your ability to read and write, and spend some time reading aloud with others.  Reading aloud doesn’t have to be the exclusive purview of young children.  Here are some ideas whether you have children or not.

  • Poetry: Read poetry aloud or go to a poetry slam. Hearing poetry out loud is the best way to appreciate its lyricism.  Read some love poetry with your honey or some Shel Silverstein with your kids.
  • Newspaper or Magazine articles: Share an article you find interesting by reading it aloud to friends or family, using it as a jumping off point for discussion.
  • Audio Books: Listen to them while you commute, make dinner or do housework
  • Car trips: Taking a long road trip with more than one adult? Have one adult drive and one read a book.  This makes the drive a lot more fun for everyone.  I’ve done this with my family a few times, and even though my throat gets a little sore, it’s worth it!
  • Volunteer: Perhaps you can read to an elderly person who’s lost his or sight, or volunteer with a literacy group.
  • Story Time: Take your kids to the library story times
  • Bedtime Stories: Yes, the old standby. Cuddle up with your kids and read to them before bed, even if they are older.  Teenagers might appreciate having you read a chapter of a book they are already reading – or a book you are reading.

Want more ideas? The best book I’ve ever read on the importance and benefits of reading aloud to people of all ages is The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  He also has a comprehensive list of read-alouds for all ages in all genres on his website.

What would you miss most if you could not read or write?  Do you plan to celebrate World Read-Aloud Day? Do you have any other suggestions for Read-Aloud activities?




Categories: Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, Poetry, Volunteer/Community, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,

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