Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Study Finds the Number of Kids Reading eBooks Has Nearly Doubled Since 2010

Have a look at this interesting study from Scholastic.  Not surprisingly, ebook reading has exploded and will continue in that vein, I have no doubt.  Take a look at the material, and see what you think!

In the fourth edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report™ , a national survey released today, kids age 6-17 and their parents share their views on reading in the increasingly digital landscape and the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.
The study, a biannual report from Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and the Harrison Group, a leading marketing and strategic research consulting firm, reports that:
  • The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%).
  • Half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks – a 50% increase since 2010.
  • Overall, about half of parents (49%) feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun – an increase from 2010 when 36% of parents were dissatisfied with time their child spent reading.
  • Seventy-two percent of parents show an interest in having their child read ebooks.
Findings reveal the potential for ebooks to motivate boys, who are more commonly known to be reluctant readers, to read more.
  • One in four boys who has read an ebook says he is now reading more books for fun.
eBooks may also be the key to transition moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) to frequent readers (those who read five to seven days a week).
  • More than half (57%) of moderately frequent readers who have not read an ebook agree they would read more if they had greater access to ebooks.
Even so, the love of and consistent use of print books is evident among kids, regardless of age.
  • Eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print.
  • Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010), revealing the digital shift in children’s reading that has begun.
"We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and ebooks, yet ereading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books," noted Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic. "While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. 

The message is clear – parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium.

The report also notes that the gender gap in reading frequency and attitudes towards reading is narrowing; however, the narrowing of the gap is driven more by decreases among girls than it is by increases in boys.
  • Among girls since 2010, there has been a decline in frequent readers (42% vs. 36%), reading enjoyment (39% vs. 32% say they love reading), and the importance of reading books for fun (62% vs. 56% say it is extremely or very important).
  • Among girls ages 12-17 there was an increase in the amount of time they spend visiting social networking sites and using their smartphones for going online.
  • Among boys since 2010, there has been an increase in reading enjoyment (20% vs. 26% say they love reading), and importance of reading books for fun (39% vs. 47%). Reading frequency among boys has stayed steady, with 32% being frequent readers.

The study also looked at the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency, and parents ranked extremely high. The report found that having a reading role-model parent or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income. Plus, building reading into kids’ daily schedules and regularly bringing home books for children positively impacts kids’ reading frequency.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Namibia: Wordweaver Launches New Publishing House

Wordweaver is a new Namibian Publishing House which was launched in Windhoek the capital, in March, 2012.  The company believes that there is a world-wide audience for their stories.  So do I.  Their book offerings are bright, fresh and original.

Wordweaver PublishingWordweaver Publishing House received two gold awards at the Namibian Children’s Book Forum Awards ceremony, held in October, 2013.  An incredible achievement for the fledgling publishing house, which launched its first titles only ten months ago.  They have added another lovely title with the launch of their book 'Sumbu'.

The  beautifully illustrated story is  based in rural Namibia.  It is a tale of  Sumbu and her family at the time of Namibia's independence as they return from exile. They settle in a village, but not all inhabitants are happy about the new arrivals.  Through this magical story, the village learns the power of togetherness and caring for one another.

Author and illustrator Romeo Senkala says:

Welwitschia's World
Our stories, ancient and new, need to be told in all forms of media. Our stories sustain our identity as a people. We, the creatives, are agents of this heritage.

The book is available at all Wordweaver book stores as well as online at:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New children's Book Series on American Government

With the presidential inauguration just a couple of weeks away, the intervening time makes a great opportunity to get young people excited about the workings of American government. These new series provide access points that are engaging and informative.

The first series, “I’m an American Citizen” (Powerkids Press), features titles that provide basic information on citizenship. Written for early elementary school children, the text consists of three to five simple sentences per page. Large colorful photographs support the text.

Titles in this series include “The Many People of America” by Joanna Anderson; “Our Country’s Holidays” by Janice Charleston; “Electing Our Leaders” by Earl McGraw; “Let’s Volunteer” by Richard Pickman; “What Are Rules and Laws?” by Ellen Ripley; and “The Songs We Sing: Honoring Our Country” by Harriet Wesolowski.

A Kid's Guide to the Voting Process (Vote America)Another series, “Vote America” (Mitchell Lane Publishers), is geared for third- to fifth-graders. This series focuses on political parties and the voting process. Information covers how the Electoral College works, voter qualifications, election platforms through the years and ideas for youth involvement in politics.

Colorful illustrations complement the concise, accessible text perfectly. Titles include “A Kid’s Guide to the Voting Process” by Tammy Gagne, “A History of the Republican Party” by Jane Amie, “A History of Voting Rights” by Tamra Orr and “A History of the Democratic Party” by Russell Roberts.

I hope you may take a look at some of these books or others that have been published in advance of the new term of the US presidential inauguration and administration.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Avoid the Feeling of Isolation by Conducting Author Visits by Donna McDine

I am delighted to resume our monthly guest posts with author and Editor-in-Chief of Guardian Angel Kids, Donna McDine.  Welcome, Donna!

Your writing career is moving at a steady pace, but from time-to-time, the feeling of isolation overwhelms you. What is a writer to do to get one’s self out into the world of the living, but not neglect your writing goals?  One of the best ways to get yourself known locally as a serious writer would be to participate in author visits to elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in your area - depending on what genre you write for. Also check out your local library and bookstores – they too may be interested in having you conduct an event. Presenting your short story or non-fiction article for children’s magazines can be fun way to present the creative writing process to children of all ages without overwhelming them. And since you are writing for children, why not spend time with them? 

It can be daunting to research school visits, considering the Internet comes up with over 2 million hits when typing in “School Author Visits.”  Why not check out the following resources:

1.      Local Schools –Contact an elementary school in your area and find out whom you need to present your school visit request to. The school secretaries are happy to point you in the right direction, whether it is the principal, PTA or program coordinator of the school. IMPORTANT: Keep in mind you don’t necessarily need to have a published book to conduct a school visit. You may be able to present a published short story or non-fiction article to the class. In addition, let the school know that you can meet with respective teachers and conform the event to coincide with their ELA State Assessment Guidelines.

One of Donna's Author Visits
2.      Your network of fellow writers – We are all cheering for one another and I’m sure your network would be happy to discuss their ideas of school visits. If you are just starting out, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators –, has a wealth of information on all topics for writing for children.

3.      Local Librarian – I have had wonderful success in becoming “buddies” with my local librarian. They are a chock full of information when it comes to conducting events for children. You never know, they may be so impressed with your initiative that they may request that you conduct a visit at their library. What better way to keep children inspired to read by meeting a local writer living in their midst?

4.      Local Bookstores – Approach the manager or owner to see if they would be interested in having you conduct an author visit. If they are, obtain their guidelines for conducting such a visit and tell them that you will get back to them with your proposal / school visit kit. Be sure to leave your business card with them.

Put yourself out there…it will not only be fun for the children but for yourself!

Bio: Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions,  Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Predators & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway
Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has four more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, is Editor-in-Chief of Guardian Angel Kids, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. Visit

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Children’s Book Helps Empower Kids to Find Their Voices

S. Renee Mitchell hopes to boost children’s self-esteem with her new children’s book The Awakening of Sharyn: A Shy and Brown Supergyrl.

The Awakening of Sharyn - Portland, OR“The book is about finding your voice,” says Mitchell. “If they’re going into the 1st or 2nd grade not feeling like they have that confidence, they don’t really have what it takes sometimes to do the work because they already assume they aren’t worthy.”

The book, written and illustrated by Mitchell, includes a parent workbook that attaches artwork with discussions on concepts like teacher bias, facing your fears and birth order. She says the book is more than just a “cute story." It offers the opportunity for parents to have conversations with their kids, as well as increase children’s literacy.

Mitchell’s book focuses on a brown girl, Sharyn, who goes to school with mostly white kids who assume she’s not as smart because of the color of her skin. Sharyn feels invisible because other kids see her skin and her hair but don’t see her as a person beyond the stereotypes. Once she gets tired of being bullied, she finds her voice and becomes a “supergyrl."

“Not a ‘supergyrl’ in the sense that she can fly or walk through walls but super from a strength based perspective,” says Mitchell. “The things that I have inside of me right now that I exhibit like kindness, courtesy, compassion and sense of humor, all of those are superpowers we should celebrate in kids. It lets them know they can do something really great right now.”

Cover Photo
The idea for the book came about when Mitchell was working with first graders at King School. She was doing a name exercise where she would have students attach a positive adjective to their names. Mitchell says she was giving children suggestions but some couldn’t connect because they were so shy.  She went home heartbroken and decided she wanted to do something. The result was a children’s book.

Mitchell says she can relate to Sharyn because she was a shy girl too.

I was shy to the point that if you looked at me too long I’d start crying. At the same time I felt invisible. People would overlook me unless they wanted someone to tease.

Writing the book was personally healing, says Mitchell. In addition to the personal nature of the story, it is also the first thing she has illustrated as an adult.  Although she used to draw when she was younger, she says it was more of her brother’s interest. Whatever made drawing exciting to her was lost.

Photo: Some more of my favorite people in Portland support the Sharyn empowerment project!
In her efforts to empower kids, Mitchell has made paraphernalia to accompany her book, including buttons, earrings and affirming cards that say things like, “Sharyn says: Courage is my new bff”.  She is also in the process of recording the book for pre-readers.

Mitchell hopes to bring a superhero awakening ceremony to Kwanzaa celebrations this year. During the ceremony, kids are provided capes and masks and asked to select a superpower. Once they’ve done that, they perform a ritual where they pose in a way that fits with their superpower and the adults gather around them to sing superhero songs.

Although she hopes to empower Black and Brown children in particular, Mitchell says the universal message can appeal to everyone.  “Even though it’s a children’s book I think it has a lot of relevance for adult women,” she says. “It talks about facing your fear. Fear is something we all have at any age.”

“The Awakening of Sharyn: A Shy and Brown Supergyrl” is available at:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year's Eve, Unplanned

Happy New Year's Day to you all!  Today is a quiet one for me, packing up the beach condo and leaving for Tampa later this evening.  No lingering memories of a lovely New Year's Eve party, no gathering up champagne bottles to be recycled, no pesky stains on a favorite tablecloth waiting to be tackled--once again.  My New Year's Eve was of a different nature this year.  And it was just fine. 

Leah and Paige
(And Lucy)
My family and I spent the last of the holidays with our son and his family in Los Angeles.  Every moment of it was wonderful.  Our two granddaughters, Leah and Paige, were and are so much fun and uplifting in every way.  We reveled in being together, entertained in their beautiful new  (old) house and felt valued to have such a family.

Uncle Brian, Paige, Leah
  At the end of our time, I had a sniffle or two, but it was the holidays, after all.  Our daughter-in-law, Ali, an emergency room doctor, called in a prescription--to be sure.  And was she right!  No details, but I feel terribly sorry for the people sharing the plane with me...

As to holiday plans, they evaporated like the holidays themselves.  My husband and Louie, our Shih-Tsu and Bichon mix puppy and I sat on the sofa and watched an old film  (not quite sure Louie understood the nuances).  We opened a bottle of Prosecco, a gift from a friend, and shared it.

All this to say my New Year's Eve was a good one, even though unanticipated.  A sinus infection is just that, nothing serious or life threatening.  One recovers and moves on, and so I am blessed.  With good health, a loving family and fine and constant friends.

I wish the same happy situation for all of you.  Here's to the best of 2013!