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samson in the snow

A story cloaked in frigid white snow but warmed by sweet, unexpected friendship.  Philip C. Stead’s book dedication is so fitting — “To anyone who is having a bad day.”  There’s a quiet, contemplative quality to his illustrations and a great vastness in his snowy landscapes that envelops the reader as they’re pulled into the narrative.  You can almost hear the hushed silence of the snow and the soft crunching of footsteps in it.  The thoughtful writing will sink in and settle into your soul after a good few readings.

Samson in the Snow was written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead, and published by Roaring Brook Press.


little lit book series: the read-aloud edition

A few months ago, we at #littlelitbookseries shared quotes from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and further reflections on the subject of reading aloud and its incredible importance in our children's lives.  You can find the post here on Little Lit Book Series' blog.  You can read more about Jim Trelease's work as well as more recent articles on his website.  Here was my contribution to the post:

Today we’re sharing the benefits of reading aloud in a special post for #littlelitbookseries.  Reading aloud to your kids is one of the most important things that you’ll do for their learning and education.  Everyone will be sharing different quotes from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  It’s our hope that you’ll realize the amazing things you’re doing for your children as you read aloud to them, and that those reasons will compel to do it on a regular basis, amidst today’s busyness and crowded schedules.

In the following excerpt from The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease discusses the four characteristics of a home environment that supports a successful reader.

"The research, as well as studies done of pupils who respond to initial classroom instruction without difficulty, indicates four factors are present in the home environment of every early reader:

1. The child is read to on a regular basis.  This is the factor most often cited among early readers.  In Dolores Durkin’s 1966 study, all of the early readers had been read to regularly.  In addition, the parents were avid readers and led by example.

2. A wide variety of printed material—books, magazines, newspapers, comics—is available in the home.  Nearly thirty years after Durkin’s study, NAEP studies reported that the more printed materials found in a child’s home, the higher the student’s writing, reading, and math skills…

3. Paper and pencil are readily available for the child.

4. The people in the child’s home stimulate the child’s interest in reading and writing by answering endless questions, praising the child’s efforts at reading and writing, taking the child to the library frequently, buying books, writing stories that the child dictates, and displaying his paperwork in a prominent place in the home."


We have a special #littlelitbookseries post in store for you all today—the read-aloud edition.  We wanted to share why it’s so vital to read aloud to your children every day and we’re including quotes from Jim Trelease’s excellent work, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  If you haven’t read it already, we highly recommend it as he shares incredibly valuable information about how to help our children excel in school, and in life.  He talks about all aspects of reading aloud, its countless benefits, the research supporting it and how to effectively read aloud with every age group.  He also provides a wide selection of books that make wonderful read-alouds in the last section of his book entitled “Treasury of Read-Alouds.”  The Read-Aloud Handbook is one of the most important books about education that I have ever read and I think every family should have a copy of it.  The following is an excerpt from the book.

“Parker tells anxious parents who ask about improving their child’s SAT scores, ‘The best SAT preparation course in the world is to read to your child in bed when they’re little.  Eventually, if that’s a wonderful experience for them, they’ll start to read themselves.’  Parker told me he’s never met a student with high verbal SAT scores who wasn’t a passionate reader, and nearly always they recall being read to.  An ACT or SAT prep course can’t package that passion, but parents like Susan and Tad Williams have done it and so can you.”  Quote from Tom Parker, the former admissions director for Williams College, now at Amherst College, two of the nation’s prestigious small colleges.

Now on to sharing one of my favorite read-alouds.  Even though Miss Nelson has been around for four decades, she never goes out of style.  Miss Nelson stories make terrific read-alouds—probably some of the most entertaining ones out there.


five questions with andrea beaty


Author Andrea Beaty stops by to answer five questions about her literary brood of wunderkinds, how she became a writer and more.  Her newest collaboration with illustrator David Roberts, ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST, is out now.

How and why did you decide to become a writer?

While I've always loved books and writing, I never thought about writing professionally until I was about 30. I studied biology and computer science in college and worked for a few years in the software industry. Once I had kids and got to read books with them, I started getting ideas for stories, wrote them and (20 years later) here I am!  Life is always an unexpected journey!


What inspired the stories of Iggy, Rosie and now brilliant little Ada?

Iggy was inspired by my son who loved building things when he was a little kid. Rosie and Ada grew out of David Roberts' amazing illustrations. I spent a lot of time staring at his art to find clues about the kids' personalities. Rosie hides behind her bangs so i asked "Why?" and the story grew from there. Ada is the girl standing to one side and thinking while the other kids are gathering shoestrings to build Iggy's bridge. 


What were some of your favorite books as a kid? 

GO DOG, GO! and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS were my favorite picture books. For novels, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were my faves. I think there are some great books from my childhood which still survive today, but by and large, the quality of picture books now is so much better than when I was growing up.


Typically how long is the writing process for one of your books from idea to publication?

The answer to that question is "I have no clue!"  It varies so much from book to book. I've written books in an hour (DOCTOR TED) and taken 10 years to write others (HUSH BABY GHOSTLING). My first picture book took 5 years to reach readers AFTER I sold it. Others have been published in 18 months. 


What have been some of your biggest challenges in the writing process, for any of your books?

Always, my biggest challenge is carving out time to write. I tend to let other things grab my attention and then I get off track. It's a good problem to have, but one I need to work on. 



Thank you, Andrea, for stopping by to chat with us.  You can read about Andrea’s work on her site and keep up with her latest news on Twitter.



Images courtesy of Andrea Beaty, David Roberts and Abrams Books.


the ride-by-nights

“‘Neath Charlie’s Wain they twitter and tweet,

And away they swarm ‘neath the Dragon’s feet,

With a whoop and a flutter they swing and sway,

And surge pell-mell down the Milky Way.”

In The Ride-by-Nights, children go trick-or-treating on Halloween evening as a group of mischievous little witches fly through the fantastic night sky above them.  I love getting caught up in the momentum of Walter de la Mare's poem, read aloud or silently.  Carolina Rabei captures the brilliance and energy of de la Mare’s words in her enchanting illustrations, which bear their own kind of bewitching magic.

Published by Faber & Faber.


penguin problems

"It snowed some more last night,

and I don't even like the snow."

Oh, the trials and travails of a penguin.  This little guy will go on and on about them.  But thank goodness for strange, wise walruses who shed light (albeit of the  cold and arctic ilk) on the situation.  A refreshing read and great way to start the week.

Penguin Problems is by Jory John and Lane Smith.  Brought to us by Random House Kids.