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Jason Boog

Jason Boog is the editor of GalleyCat and managing editor of AppNewser. His writing has appeared at The Believer, NPR Books, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Peace Corps Writers. Click here to email. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The Legacy of Ursula Nordstrom

9780064462358You probably enjoyed Charlotte’s Web or Harriet the Spy at one point in your life. But do you know who edited those great kid’s books?

After covering the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference last weekend, I caught up with the New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist Betsy Bird and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blogger Julie Danielson, co-authors of the brand new book, Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (co-written with Peter Sieruta).

Q: Could you tell us more about the life and work of the great children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom? What are some of the books you recommend from this great editor?

Betsy Bird: ”Ursula’s list begins to resemble nothing so much as a Who’s Who in children’s literature after a while. She had this crazy sense of humor that went well with her ability to spot potential children’s literature talent.

I mean, seriously, who would have looked at Shel Silverstein‘s rather explicit cartoons in Playboy and thought ‘There’s the man that children everywhere will love!?’”

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Editors Share Secrets for Aspiring Authors

scwbi304Hundreds of writers gathered at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend.

The annual “Editor’s Panel” featured a star-studded collection of editors, including Dutton Children’s Books publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel–she’s worked with Ally Condie, John Green and John Grisham, among many others. Strauss-Gabel snapped that photograph of her view from stage during the panel. GalleyCat was there, gathering advice for aspiring writers…

1. You need to send the manuscript to the right editor. Strauss-Gabel explained: “I’m very attentive to fit both the imprint and if it is a good manuscript for me. We mean it when we say ‘this is not the right manuscript for me.’ I know another editor could bring something to that manuscript that I couldn’t.” She advised writers to read an editor’s body of work and understand what kind of books they love.

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Should You Quit Your Day Job?

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Many writers dream of quitting their day job to work full-time as an author. Author Tracy Barrett is one of the rare writers who managed to take this momentous step.

Barrett (pictured, via) taught Italian at Vanderbilt University for 28 years, but decided to leave her day job and write full time in 2012. At the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend, she shared lessons for writers considering the same step.

“Leaving your job is like having a baby, you can’t wait for the perfect time,” she explained. “The time is never perfect.” She had tried to balance her busy writing life with teaching, but discovered “I only had a certain amount of creative juice, it burned up the spark.”

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Science Fiction Picture Books for the Youngest Readers

Cosmo_and_the_Robot__Brian_Pinkney__9780688159412__Amazon_com__Books Science fiction books supercharged my imagination as a kid. Everything from Star Wars storybooks to Ray Bradbury radio adaptations to The Black Hole – Read Along Book and Record inspired my childhood attempts at telling stories.

I want my 4-year-old daughter to have the same kind of experience, so I turned to the brilliant Goodreads “Science Fiction Picture Books List” for inspiration. It was created by Amanda R. Von Der Lohe who studied children’s literature at Hollins University—writing a scholarly paper about science fiction picture books.

I caught up with Von Der Lohe recently, and she had a simple message for GalleyCat readers: “Authors, illustrators and publishers, please please please please please include more girls in science fiction picture books. Parents, read science fiction with your daughters.”

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Early Reading Apps for Kids

mystoryAt the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas last weekend, librarians from around the country showed how apps and digital media can encourage literacy–dispelling fears that digital media will destroy our love of reading.

Chip Donohue, the director of the Technology in Early Childhood Center at the Erikson Institute, reminded readers that technology presents a powerful opportunity to expand children’s reading experiences:

It’s not either/or. It’s books AND iPads. These are the tools of the culture, these are the tools of their world. Show parents how this can be used wisely.  We are not talking about the end of books as we know it.

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Guerilla Storytime Raids ALA

storytimelargeAt the American Library Association annual conference in Las Vegas over the weekend, youth service librarians from Storytime Underground hosted a series of “Guerilla Storytimes.”

Around 50 librarians gathered on Sunday morning, sharing techniques for dealing with storytime challenges. They also taught songs, dances and rhymes that will make any storytime more interactive.

The interactive event launched at last year’s conference, reminding librarians, parents, teachers and caregivers how important it is to share stories with kids. We caught up with the team to pick up some storytime tips…

 

 

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Join the #DadsRead Campaign

dadsreadWhat books did you read with your dad?

My dad introduced me to J. R. R. TolkienSir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and other classic authors. My grandpa had a bookshelf loaded with Reader’s Digest Condensed Books and National Geographics.

I inherited my life-long love of reading, but I was lucky. The organizers of the #DadsRead Campaign shared some startling statistics:

There are studies suggesting that only 19 percent of 16-24 year-old fathers say they enjoy reading at bedtime with their children. What’s more, data from Pew Research and other sources demonstrate that fathers are significantly less involved than mothers when it comes to the reading lives of their children.

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Best Writing Music of 2013

What’s your favorite writing music from 2013? I’ve rounded up my annual list of the best music that helped me write this year.

Follow the links below to listen to the instrumental songs we’ve picked so far this year. Share the instrumental songs or albums that inspired you in the comments section.

Follow this link to read our Best Writing Music of 2011 list and our 2012 list. If you want more inspiration, check out Largehearted Boy’s annual list of Year-End Music Lists and Open Culture’s timeless Best Music to Write By list.

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Thank You for Five Wonderful Years

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After five years, I am leaving Mediabistro and GalleyCat.

I am moving on to the True Pictures film company, where I will lead the story investigation department and build an online community.  You can keep track of my writing projects or connect on my personal page.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with this lovely group of readers and writers. Every single day I woke up and discovered something new. No writer can ask for anything more than that.

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Free Scary Books for Halloween

Looking for some scary books to prepare for Halloween? Below, we’ve collected 25 free scary books you can download right now.

In 2010, novelist Neil Gaiman created the “All Hallow’s Read,” literary holiday, a night to give someone you love a scary book. The writer explained the new tradition in the video embedded above–here’s more from the official site:

Obviously, we support bookshops and authors, but more than that, this is about making a holiday tradition of book-giving. So feel free to give second-hand books or books from your own shelves. And feel just as free to buy a beautiful new book from a small independent bookseller, or from online or… look, there’s no wrong way to buy a book. You can even gift it to their Kindle … If you do not know what scary book to give someone, talk to a bookseller or a librarian. They like to help. Librarians will not mind even if you admit that you are not planning to take out a book, but instead you are going to buy one and give it to someone.

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