Saturday, June 29, 2013

Books for Africa Receives Donation

I have featured Books for Africa several times on this blog.  It is such a worthwhile and noble charity, so this news is especially wonderful.

Books for Africa, the St. Paul, Minn.-based organization that collects donated books and ships them to schools and libraries in 49 African countries, has announced that the Nigerian-based Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has donated $600,000 to BFA. It is the largest cash donation BFA has received in its 25-year history. 

The money will be used to ship 1.1 million books to Nigeria, as well as to The Gambia, Somalia, Liberia, Tanzania, Namibia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Egypt, and Malawi.

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation was founded by a Nigerian business entrepreneur in the mid-1990s to “positively render assistance” to those in need, “irrespective of tribe, creed, religion and nation.” 
BFA Founder Tom Warth with students

The foundation, which emphasizes health and education programs in Nigeria and beyond, began partnering with BFA in 2010 to ship books to Nigeria and The Gambia. To date, the foundation has sponsored the shipment of 640,000 books to those two countries through BFA, including 110,000 books in 2012 as part of BFA’s “Million Books to The Gambia” campaign.

Since 1988, BFA has shipped 28 million books to Africa from the United States.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How We Can All Help Save a Timbucktu Library

A group of brave librarians are raising money to save a collection of manuscripts (some are 700 years old) rescued from Timbuktu last year. Jason Boog brings the story to light. Here is the remarkable story:

Be sure to see the amazing video at the post's end!
Timbuktu is a traditional center of peace, learning, and scholarshipIn 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss … Though removed from immediate threat, the manuscripts are still jam packed in footlockers used for their evacuation and the current environment of this precious world heritage is significantly more humid than Timbuktu. There are already signs of damage and exposure to moisture.
Tamasheq craftsmen learning book and paper conservation
Tamasheq craftsmen learning
Book and Paper Conservation
These librarians are struggling to store a set of priceless manuscripts in an “archival, moisture-resistant manner” before they are damaged by moisture. They hope to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo, but it is a flexible funding campaign–so every contribution will help.

The purpose of this campaign is to fund the preservation effort required to store the manuscripts in an archival, moisture-resistant manner during their exile from Timbuktu.  If physical harm from the current packing situation continues and if mold and mildew  spread in the corpus due to increased humidity, the damage will be devastating.

About the Libraries in Exile Project

The corpus of manuscripts is incredibly varied and beautiful
The corpus of Manuscripts
Libraries in Exile is sponsored by T160K, an international initiative forged in the evacuation of these treasures from Timbuktu and dedicated to protecting and preserving them until they can be returned to their home. It is the center of a growing global family who have pledged to this urgent effort.
Funds contributed to this project will be used to purchase moisture traps, archival boxes, and the additional footlockers required to safely store these manuscripts, as well as to cover the significant labor effort required to unbox and re-pack the manuscripts for preservation.
A book of genealogy
A book of genealogy

The libraries of Timbuktu

The corpus of Timbuktu dates back for generations, with numerous private libraries that have been handed down from generation to generation for over 700 years, creating a record of commerce, poetry, scholarship, law, and everyday life that has undiminished power to teach and inspire today. 

The libraries include manuscripts form Andalusia and Southern Europe, Arabia, Egypt, the Arab trading ports on the Indian Ocean, and Morocco and other centers of medieval learning, as well as the region of Timbuktu itself. Timbuktu is a traditional crossroads of culture and has played a peacekeeper role in the region. The manuscripts chronicle this role. They represent an astounding diversity of topics and authors, including a significant number of women’s voices.

Every additional $30 contributed is another manuscript preserved
A cultural heritage of this magnitude has incredible power to bring people together. We saw this power when people from all walks of life, whole villages, and speakers of every language in the region gave their time and effort, even under considerable risk, to help us evacuate them to the south. We believe that securing these manuscripts is a positive step towards a process of enduring peace and a reduced toll of human misery for this entire region.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

First Book Deals With Lack of Diversity in Children's Books

Who would have thought we would still have a lack of diversity in children's books today.  But have a look at this post for some remarkable statistics.

As you can see by the sobering First Booinfographic embedded above, out of 3,600 books for kids, only 3.3 percent focused on the lives of African Americans and 1.5 percent focused on Latinos.

At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI), the literacy nonprofit First Book pledged to fight these glaring statistics. The group unveiled a two-year plan to help thousands of young readers.

Louise Erdrich
Hyperion, 1999
The push began in March In March 2013, First Book bought “$1 million worth of culturally-diverse content” from Harper Collins and Lee & Low Books. Here’s more about the initiative, from the release:
As part of its CGI commitment, over the next two years, First Book will: 
Add another 30,000 Title I classrooms and community programs to its network, giving them permanent, ongoing access to First Book’s resources.
Buffalo Bird Girl
S.D. Nelson
Abrams, 2012
 Provide matching grants resulting in 600,000 culturally-relevant books and resources to kids in need. Create 9,000 collections (50 books each), featuring a wide array of culturally diverse titles.
 Conduct a landmark assessment of educators in underserved communities to determine exactly what resources they need most. Convene authors, illustrators, and other leaders to inform new content selection and inspire new and diverse artists to approach publishers with their work.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bestselling Children's Books of 2012

How about a look at the bestselling kids' books of 2012.  Some surprises and some, not so much...

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1)For children’s books, without a doubt, the Hunger Games was the story of the year. Its performance far exceeded all other books for children and teens.

 In 2012 Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy sold an astounding 27.7 million copies: 15 million print books and 12.7 million e-books. Of that print number, 8.8 million was for hardcovers, since only the first of the three books is available in paperback. 

prgrsvimg the Hunger Games was already a huge phenomenon before the March 2012 release of the Lionsgate film, the movie launched book sales into the stratosphere. Back in 2010, Hunger Games books sold 4.3 million copies, which jumped to 9.2 million in 2011; that number tripled in 2012, making for a 201% increase over previous year sales. 
Rick Riordan’s books show a different sales pattern, because a movie is not currently driving sales (the first film from his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lightning Thief, was released in 2010; Sea of Monsters is due in theaters this August).

 Riordan’s various myth-based series sold a combined 5.6 million copies in 2012 (2.52 million in hardcover, 1.79 million in paper, and 1.27 million e-books). Those numbers are up slightly over 2011, when five million books were sold, though still down from 2010’s high-water mark of 10 million.

Twilight - New Moon - Cover - PosterOther bestselling franchises of note: a combined 2.7 million copies sold of James Patterson’s assorted series; 2.1 million copies sold of Rachel RenĂ©e Russell’s Dork Diaries; two million copies of the first two books in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy (#3 is due out this October); and 1.4 million Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce. 

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series may have declined from its glory days, but it still sold 1.1 million in 2012, with almost half of that coming from e-books. Harry Potter, however, is virtually gone from the lists, with just one title (the first in the series) appearing on our paperback backlist chart.
Figures were supplied by RandomHouse in confidence for ranking purposes only; Penguin supplied e-book figures in confidence for ranking purposes only.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bookstores in America, 2013: A State-by-State Guide

Now this is a fun post, if I do say so myself.  Here's material produced by Publishers Weekly with Gabe Habash.

Be sure and see the state by state graph at the bottom of the post!

California and Texas may have been the states with the most bookstores in 2012, but the state with the most bookstores per capita was Montana. That was one of the findings of PW’s look at the health of bookselling around the country. PW collected figures on the number of bookstores in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a total that includes every branch of bookselling: chain stores, big-box stores, independents, and the Association of Christian Retailers’ CBA stores.

Wyoming and Vermont came in second and third in terms of bookstores per capita. In 2007, the last time PW surveyed bookselling by state, the Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont were #3, #1, and #2, respectively, indicating long-term bookselling stability. Despite the fact that none of the three have many chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million), these states rank at the top because of relatively low populations and relatively high independent bookstore numbers. Perhaps most impressive is Vermont: of its 38 bookstores, only one is a big-box retailer and one is a chain; the rest are indies.

 The takeaway: a large number of traditional bookstores alone isn’t enough to ensure a high per-capita ratio—it must be supplemented by big-box stores.

In general, states with relatively low populations ranked highly while states with high populations didn’t fare as well. 
(Click on a state's name to get a more detailed breakdown of its bookselling stats.)

StatesPopulationTotal StoresPer Capita
14Washington, D.C.632,3233418,598
15South Carolina4,723,72325118,820
17West Virginia1,855,4139719,128
20North Carolina9,752,07348620,066
23New Mexico2,085,5389721,500
25South Dakota833,3543821,930
28New Hampshire1,320,7185524,013
34North Dakota699,6282725,912
49New York19,570,26150538,753
50Rhode Island1,050,2922738,900
51New Jersey8,864,59021740,851


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Malorie Blackman the New Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom

Parents can be put off buying a book if it has a black character on the front cover, the new Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom has said.

New Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman plans to use her two-year tenure to 'bang the drum' for diversityMalorie Blackman, the 51-year-old author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teenagers, has said there was still a need for 'more ethnically diverse literature in this country'.

The author, from London, has said she will use her two-year tenure to 'bang the drum' for diversity.
She said there was a lack of black and Asian children in picture books and described feeling 'totally invisible' when she was younger due to never reading a book that featured a black child, The Telegraph has reported.

Children will go with any story as long as it's good but white adults sometimes think that if a black child's on the cover it is perhaps not for them.
'Books teach children to see the world through the eyes of others and empathise with others. It's about the story.

The author said she will use her position to be an 'advocate' for public libraries and campaign against 'short-sighted' closuresShe also told the paper she wanted to spend her time as laureate focusing on older children and teenagers.

The mother-of-one, who worked as a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she will use her position to be an 'advocate' for public libraries and campaign against 'short-sighted' closures.

She said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London.

I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea which in 2012 initiated a programme to actually build 180 libraries and Russia are building libraries and we seem to be closing them and I just think its a very short-sighted move.

The author, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was 'a real honour' to be chosen for the role and that children's books needed a champion.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Elementary School Kids Exchange Toys for Books

In Hayward, California, an elementary school had kids exchange their toy guns for a book during “Strobridge Elementary Safety Day.”

According to Mercury News:
Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously.  He has devised a way to help kids think seriously about gun control in their own way:
All youngsters attending will be given a ticket to exchange for a book.
The event has drawn criticism from conservative corners, but nobody seems to be talking about the book part of the day. 
 No matter what one thinks about the political statement behind the event, remember that reading books over the summer can help kids of all backgrounds beat the summer slide that can be so devastating to a young reader.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Tiger Baby Strikes Back!

Author Kim Wong Keltner writes about why she won't be a Tiger Mom to her daughter, Lucy.

Photo: Kim Wong Kelt …
 In her controversial memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Yale law professor Amy Chua defended her parenting methods, explaining how being a controlling "Chinese-style" parent drives Asian-American children to succeed in ways that permissive "Western-style" parenting does not.  But a recently released decade-long study of 444 Chinese-American families shows that the effect tiger parents have on their kids is almost exactly the opposite.
When Chua's book came out in 2011, Su Yeong Kim, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, had already been studying the effects of tiger parenting on hundreds of Chinese-American families for more than a decade. Her report, "Does Tiger Parenting Exist? Parenting Profiles of Chinese Americans and Adolescent Developmental Outcomes," was recently published in the Asian American Journal of Psychology.

Compared with the supportive parenting profile, a tiger parenting profile was associated with lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as less of a sense of family obligation," Kim explained in her report. "It was also associated with more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation.

"I don't have scientific hard evidence," Keltner told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. (Her book, which came out April 30, is based on her own experiences.) "But I'm 43 years old and my entire life I've met Asian kids who were under so much pressure or were so ashamed that they got a B, because no matter how hard they tried they felt they could never measure up."

The tiger-parenting style espoused by Chua has caused more problems in the Asian-American community than it has prevented, Keltner says. "Everything bad that is happening in American society as a whole is also present in the Asian-American community," she points out. "Date rapes, drug use, cheating in school, political embezzlement, and on." Other studies have shown that high-achieving, tiger-parented Chinese-American students experience higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety than their less-intensely controlled peers.

But don't expect authoritarian parents to embrace the Kim's findings or change their extreme parenting style, Keltner cautions:

Chinese people don't want to hear that tiger parenting produces 'messed up losers,' " Keltner tells Yahoo! Shine. "Shame and saving face are so important in Chinese culture. No one in my culture is talking about this.

Raised by a strict and emotionally distant tiger mom, Keltner has chosen to bring up her own daughter, Lucy, 9, in a more intuitive, more "Western" way. In "Tiger Babies Strike Back," she writes about the loneliness and anxiety she says was caused by her tiger childhood; harsh words from her mother still resonate, more than 30 years later.

"These incidents from my childhood really influence how I'm raising my daughter," Keltner tells Yahoo! Shine. "I never want her to feel rotten inside. I knew that I wanted something different for my daughter.  We Chinese-American offspring of authoritative parents are all falsely imprisoned by our elders expectations and fears," she explains. "Our cultural tradition of 'not making trouble' keeps us from seeking help for mental illness, suicide rates are high, and still we live in denial."

"Not every Asian kid can be number one," she adds. "What happens to the rest of us?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Boston Globe-Horn Book Winners Announced-2013

The winners of the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were revealed, honoring the best children’s picture book, fiction and and nonfiction for the year.

Building our House written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean won the picture book award.  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell won the fiction award. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin written and illustrated by Robert Byrd won the nonfiction award.
We’ve included all the honor winners below. The judges included Horn Book reviewer Sarah Ellis, children’s librarian Pamela Yosca and retired school librarian Karen Kosko.
BUILDINGOUR HOUSE From the Ground Up | Jonathan Bean and the Art of the Story

The Horn Book’s editor in chief Roger Sutton had this comment:
The Boston Globe-Horn Book awards have always had an independent spirit and this year is no different … Each of the judges brings a unique perspective on children’s literature, which combined always makes for a wonderful variety and high quality of winners and honor books and almost always provides us with a few surprises as well.
Open this Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books)
Black Dog written and illustrated by Levi Pinfold (Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Books for Young Readers)
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.)
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building written and illustrated by Christy Hale (Lee & Low Books)
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ernest Hemingway's List of Books to Read

Jason Boog, editor of GalleyCat and managing editor of AppNewser, has written an interesting piece on Hemingway's list of books to read.

In 1934, the great novelist Ernest Hemingway made a list of books that all aspiring writers should read. Below, we’ve linked to free copies of most of the books on his massive list.

Open Culture has an article about how a young hobo and aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson ended up getting writing advice from Hemingway himself. Check it out:
Hemingway advised Samuelson to avoid contemporary writers and compete only with the dead ones whose works have stood the test of time: “When you pass them up you know you’re going good.” He asked Samuelson what writers he liked. Samuelson said he enjoyed Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. “Ever read War and Peace?” Hemingway asked. Samuelson said he had not. “That’s a damned good book. You ought to read it. We’ll go up to my workshop and I’ll make out a list you ought to read.”
Free Books Recommended By Ernest Hemingway Himself:
The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane (Part of The Monster & Other Stories collection)
The Open Boat by Stephen Crane (Part of Men, Women & Boats Collection)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Dubliners by James Joyce
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
The American by Henry James

If you want to get a real glimpse into the literary life of Ernest Hemingway, find a book or two in this list.  Be a Hemingway voyeur of sorts, and have fun!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Peter Rabbit and the Tale of a Rogue Publisher

Many of us enjoyed the film, Miss Potter, and the rise of Beatrix Potter to fame and glory.  We watched Warne Publishers take her from virtual unknown to super star of the literary world. Today brings a different slant to the Warne victory. 

tale of peter rabbit Peter Rabbit and the Tale of a Fierce Bad PublisherThe tale of consumer culture is an interesting and sad one, indeed. This is true especially in the children’s market, where the almost unimaginable monetary value of derivative merchandise, sequels, and spinoffs, and the control and manipulation of original creations through copyright and trademark, can degrade the very characteristics that distinguished the work in the first place.

Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, has brought out the worst in companies trying to make as profit out of it.  Born in London in 1866, Potter was an assiduous student of animal anatomy and behavior from childhood on. She and her younger brother Bertram furnished their nursery with exotic pets, wild and domestic, bringing home mice, lizards, bats, frogs, birds, and, of course, rabbits. The children became determined amateur naturalists, documenting their finds in sketchbooks, never squeamish about studying dead specimens.

Potter first told the story of Peter Rabbit in 1893 in a picture-letter sent to the bedridden son of her former governess. Its simple line drawings introduce the principals — Peter and his siblings; his mother; and his nemesis, Mr. McGregor — while its tiny tale of temptation and trial in an English garden unfolds in simple perfection. She quickly secured a contract with publisher Frederick Warne, agreeing to redo the illustrations in color.

The book proved an immediate success on publication in October 1902, rapidly selling out a first printing of eight thousand copies.To her dismay, the firm failed to register copyright in the United States, leading to piracies and loss of revenue. Although she helped save the company in 1917, after embezzlement by another Warne brother nearly bankrupted it, she scolded them on quality, condemning a copy of Peter Rabbit’s Almanac for 1929 as “wretched.”

After Potter died in 1943 at the age of seventy-seven, Warne cast itself as the guardian of her legacy. But eventually the guardian began behaving badly, seeking to wring profits from its most famous long-eared property. In 1983, Warne was acquired by Penguin, itself owned by the international conglomerate Pearson, the largest book publisher in the world. 

Warne has applied for trademarks here and in the EU for every imaginable Peter Rabbit–related item that might feasibly be sold, from “books and texts in all media” to “toilet seat covers” and “meat extracts.”

further tale of peter rabbit Peter Rabbit and the Tale of a Fierce Bad PublisherWarne’s zealous pursuit of its rights has not deterred it from crass acts of its own. In 1987, the same year it published its painstakingly remade edition, the firm allowed Ladybird Books, a purveyor of cheap paperbacks owned by the parent company, Pearson, to market The Tale of Peter Rabbit with bowdlerized text, eliminating Potter’s dry wit, and replacing her illustrations with photos of stuffed animals.

 Warne was excoriated in The Times of London, which condemned the new edition as “Hamlet without the ghost, Othello without the handkerchief.” Undaunted, a few years later Warne took out an advertisement in The Bookseller — “Peter Rabbit™ Packs a Powerful Punch” — threatening those who wandered into its garden with “expensive legal action."  Have a look below:

 peterpackspowerfulpunch Peter Rabbit and the Tale of a Fierce Bad Publisher