It's All About Children Reading . . .

How Kids-and-Books.com Was Born

My motivation behind creating a website about children reading – and everything that goes along with that (including literacy, writing, and storytelling) – stems from a love for the written word that's been with me as long as I can remember.

I memorized short storybooks my mom read to me before I could actually read them. And once I could read, I loved to read aloud to whoever would listen.

I was 9 years old when I decided that writing would be my future career. Two years earlier, it was teaching, thanks to the enthusiasm and creativity my 2nd grade teacher had for her job.

Mrs. Carrithers opened my eyes to how fun it was to "play" with words. She was a fun, loving teacher who challenged our class with spelling words like “exoskeleton.” She had us write a story each week, using that week’s spelling words.

My introduction to writing came in 4th grade, with Mrs. McKay. She introduced us to writing book reports, poems, and stories. Encouraged by positive feedback, I realized that writing was my "true calling." When I thought about children reading the stories I could create someday, I got excited.

Fast-forward 19 years. In college, I decided the most practical way to pursue my writing would be to get a degree in journalism. Although encouraged by a creative writing instructor to not give up writing stories because of my "unusual storytelling skills," I chose the safer path of writing for magazines and newspapers.

However, as most of us have come to realize if we ignore our true passions in life, the nagging feeling of something not being quite right never completely goes away.

Over the years, I've kept my love for children's literature alive in many ways: taking writing classes, volunteering in classrooms, reading to nieces and nephews (and now my son).

Which brings me to the idea for this website.

I created this site for those who, like me, are interested in children's literature. If you're concerned about children reading less these days, hopefully this website will give you some ideas on how to "make a difference" in the lives of kids you know.

What You'll Find Here

First of all, if you want to learn more about children reading, you've come to the right place.

Do you love children’s literature for its own sake, maybe even collecting early editions of classics? You’ll find links to quality books in several different genres, depending on which page you’re looking at. Children’s Classic Literature, Chapter Books for Kids, and Picture Books are good places to start.

Do you have children who struggle with reading, and you’re not sure how to get them over that hurdle? Take a look at Steps to Literacy or Get Kids Reading for inspiration.

If you’re thinking of trying your hand at writing a children’s book yourself, or maybe even illustrating one, use this website as a resource. Check out Become an Author, Become an Illustrator, and Resources.

Maybe you’re a teacher who’s concerned about children reading less and less these days. If so, I hope some of the resources I’ve listed on the Resources page will give you some ideas. Teach Kids to Write may also be helpful.

Whatever your reasons for checking out this site, I hope you’ll bookmark it and come back often. I’ll be adding more content, categories, and resources as time goes on, and will eventually offer a newsletter too. And don’t forget to check out my blog! I talk about everything from Alpha-Phonics to Webkinz, as long as it's about children reading.

Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions through our Contact page.

Now for a little more background on me, and some of the different ways I’ve gotten involved with kids and reading.

“Hands-On” Experience

My experience of sharing literature with kids has always been as a volunteer. Reading a book to a class now and then, reading to my nieces when they were young. Even creating audio books for my nieces and nephews one Christmas, complete with “dinging” a glass with a spoon when it was time to turn the page and recording it on cassette tapes. My husband and I had a lot of fun doing that (this was in 1983 – before CDs). Those books were HUGE hits with my nephews and nieces!

My first formal experience with sharing books with children was in 1996, when I took a Children and Literature class at a local community college. Several times a week, over a period of four months, I visited classrooms for the express purpose of reading aloud to kids.

Because I was reading to different age groups (preschool, kindergarten, and 2nd grade), I was able to observe the differences in reactions to the books I read. It was fun figuring out the different levels of books to read to each class.

My favorite age group was preschool, although the kindergarteners were fun too. Preschoolers sat on the floor, crowding next to me, often trying to touch the pictures in the book. The kindergarteners also sat on the floor, but not quite as close (crowd control). They enjoyed interacting too, but were more inhibited. The 2nd grade class also enjoyed being read to, although they remained in their seats, and hesitated to ask questions.

Lessons Learned

Aside from the enjoyment I got from being able to share books with so many children in such a short period of time, I learned something important. I realized that the best books for kids were probably not written in a vacuum. Authors of children’s books – successful books, that is – are people who have spent a lot of time interacting with children (or maybe just one child). They know a lot of things about children reading: how kids think and talk, and what they enjoy doing.

Over the past year, my ideas about children reading have changed a little. I've had to become a lot more creative in the ways I encourage my son to pick up a book, since he'd MUCH rather be riding a bike, doing skateboard tricks, or jumping on his trampoline!

What I’m Doing Now

Fortunately, I get to be involved with children on a daily basis, through my son (whom I homeschool) and his friends, volunteering with several children’s programs, and tutoring primary-grade students in English and writing. So I have plenty of opportunities to “test” my story ideas on young people.

In addition to my son, Ben, I also live with my husband, Tom; two cats (Columbo – our big Maine Coon, and Tigger, our quirky brown tabby); and Link, my son’s leopard gecko – the least active member of our family.

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