Cybils Progress

Hello! I am coming to you from the other side of Thanksgiving. I hope yours was wonderful. Our celebration felt very festive because we had some guests -- enough guests that we could set up a puzzle. I think that's the measure of a holiday gathering in my mind. "Are there enough people here that we could set up a puzzle and someone would always be working on it, even if people are coming and going?"

Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on the Cybils! Things are going swimmingly. At least, I'm enjoying myself. I've read 20 nominees so far, and hope to read many many more of the 107 on the list.

We're reading everything from Pokemon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire, Vol. 1 to Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Everything from Noodlehead Nightmares to Neil Gaiman's How to Talk to Girls at Parties. It is really a vast range and I'm thankful that we get to pick two shortlists, one for ages 13+ and one for ages 5-13.

We'll narrow down the 56 Elementary & Middle Grade nominees to a list of 5-7 top titles, and hand those to next round's judges. Same story for the 51 Young Adult nominees.

It's fun to read all the books of course, even the ones that don't turn out to be gold, I'm glad I've read them. It's fun to get a bunch of books in the mail, when publishers are able to send copies. It's fun to go to the library and have a giant stack of titles waiting for you. It's fun to check them off the reading list (we have a Cybils database we have to keep up to date). And it's fun to discuss the books with other panelists.

The other panelists I'm working with this year are Lexie who publishes lots of reviews from a wide variety of genres at For the Sake of Reading, Amy who contributes to No Flying No Tights and isn't the only one there writing about graphic novels, Benedict Hutchinson who blogs easy-to-read reviews between his high school classes at A Goblin Reviews Graphic Novels, and Liz Jones at Lizjonesbooks, who is our category organizer.

All of us judges work to pick the best quality literature that is also highly interesting to kids -- the Cybils criteria are 1) literary merit and 2) kid appeal.

Ok, now I'm off to read! But before I begin I'd love to hear what you're reading these days. Leave me a comment. And if you have any questions about the Cybils, I'd be happy to answer!

Telling Stories Together This Thanksgiving

Hello, friends! This last week I quietly launched Story Club, my quick-start guide to storytelling with kids ebook. Because families are coming together this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving, I wanted to tell you more about it.

Story Club is literally the perfect thing to do with the kids this weekend. I designed it with weekends like this in mind. I would argue that you don't even have to have kids around to enjoy it. Story Club has a ton of great ideas for stories to tell -- everything from new stories that you (and the kids) haven't heard before, to old favorites, to story starters for telling your own family's stories.

That's what I want to focus on for a second. Isn't getting to know each other better the whole point of spending time together during the holidays? We want to get together, share gratitude, and have FUN! But in the end we don't want it just to be the kind of fun we could have had any weekend. We want it to be the kind of fun that couldn't have happened if we weren't together. Story Club helps you have that kind of fun.

Buy Story Club

Is it easy to download Story Club? Yes it is. I walk you through the process on this page; but it's so easy I can sum it up here. 1. Click on the buy link, a window comes up right over the top of Everead. 2. Put in your name, email, buy it with PayPal. 3. Download link pops up and also goes to your email in case you want to put Story Club on multiple devices.

Is it easy to use Story Club? Yes. So easy. Within five minutes of opening it up you can be telling stories. I'm not even joking. I timed it. And if you put ten or more minutes into it you'll be full of more and more story ideas. It really is a quick-start guide.

Is it worth the price? Yes. I had a friend the other day say "I think I read some of it on your site already," and I was like "Nope, this is all new stuff." The only story I've ever shared on Everead is the one that started it all, and trust me, that's just the tip of the iceberg. See, I knew if I wrote an ebook I was going to have to sell it. So I didn't write something I'm not proud to sell. It's completely worth $8. I am a cheapskate and I would pay $8. That said, I think in the spirit of Black Friday and holiday sales we'd better have a little sale, don't you? So from now until Dec 1, 2016 Story Club is $5. So cheap. And so much good stuff inside. No coupon necessary, the discount will be automatically applied.

Even more info over on the official Story Club page.

I love you guys and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families, telling stories about when you were young, cooking together and laughing together and having a great time.


Story Club

The 2016 Holiday Recommendations Post!

This is the post in which I will be answering your book recommendation questions this holiday season. I had fun with this in 2014 and 2015 so here we go again! If you would like a book recommendation leave me a comment or send me an email (alysa@evereadbooks.com) Images will link to the Amazon page for each book, and if you shop through these links I earn a small commission.

Queen of Books? Me? Oh I don't deserve it. Thank you, thank you.

Books on Gratitude what about a children's book on gratitude for Thanksgiving?

Does I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen count? That bear says "Thank you anyway" an awful lot. hehe. Just kidding. 

I really enjoyed Let The Whole Earth Sing Praise by Tomie dePaola. The text is based on Old Testament scripture, though it's more paraphrased than quoted. I think it's beautiful and interesting. The cover gives you a good idea of what the interior illustrations are like, a little different from his other books that I've read.

Silly books for under 5 Any funny/silly books for kids under age five?
Loads! There are so many of these. I won't say The Book With No Pictures because: overplayed. How about Bedtime for Mommy? Really almost any picture book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal fits the bill. That one is particularly silly and sweet. Little Pea is about a little green pea who hates eating his candy. Little Hoot is about an owlet who wants to go to bed. Little Oink is about a piglet who wants to clean up. My kids love all of these because of the way they flip the narrative. Shh We Have a Plan is listed below. Dragon Puncher is truly wacky and every under 5 I've ever read it to loves it. I love it, because it's obviously a labor of love from father to son, but it really is quite stupid. I mean that in the best possible way. :D I bought it and the sequel. 


Books for a 10 year old boy: specifically a boy who is and advanced reader and "loves science and fantasy and is getting into some sci fi."

At the Scholastic book fair I happened upon Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like? and remembered what a good book it is. It goes into detail about the science behind dinosaurs. Though it looks like a picture book when it's sitting on the shelf, the text is deep and complex and the illustrations are great. Did you know that scientists have found some preserved dinosaur skin? I did not know that before I read this book. I loved how it showed the evolution of what scientists thought dinos looked like in the early days (quite funny), more recently (what I remember!) and now (so much more complete). 

Books for a 7 year old boy:
specifically a boy who loves science and fantasy and is an advanced reader.

Have you heard of Adam Shaughnessy's FIB series? It starts with The Trickster's Tale; and book two, Over the Underworld, is also out. I confess I haven't yet read these myself, but my eight year old loves them, and the author was a teacher at his elementary school. They follow Pru and Abe, who have to save their town from Viking gods and giants wreaking havoc.

Books for a 6 year old girl:
She is reading chapter books like Junie B Jones and is really into science and animals. 

No Monkeys, No Chocolate is a non-fiction picture book in our collection. It talks about all the connections between the cocoa tree and it's environment. From midges and maggots to lizards and monkeys, all the pieces are needed to get that chocolate to us. Pair this book with a chocolate bar, of course!

Books for a 2.5 year old girl who is not very picky, so maybe just a good children's book we should add to our collection. We have a lot of classics but almost no new new books. 

I have to recomment Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton. It follows four siblings who are trying to catch a bird in the forest. Simple text and hilarious illustrations make it easy for kids to read and fun for parents to read to them. 

I also have to recommend  I Am The Wolf and Here I Come by  Bénédicte Guettier. I talked about it and put up some pictures here. It is just so much fun. Jubilee was right around 3 when we discovered it and I wish I owned it. 

Books for a 6 year old boy: reading chapter books, he loves Magic Tree House, graphic novels, science and adventure. 

My kids have loved The A-Z Mysteries at about the same time they were loving Magic Tree House. Have you found those yet? Really any of the books on my list of 9 First Chapter Books would be fun. 

The Pablo and Jane graphic novel is one we checked out of the library recently. Levi (age 6) enjoyed it for the story, but said the seek and find part of it was probably better for 7 year olds. :D  

Books for a 4 year old boy who loves to flip through and loves to be read to. He struggles with speech, so maybe something that can practice speech sounds? 

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli is an absolute favorite of the 6 and under crowd at my house. As far as practicing sounds, I don't know if it would help with that, but it's been one of their favorites to read alone and one of their favorites to have me read. The book only has two words: "Higher" and "Hi." So once I had read it to them a couple of times I would find them reading it on their own all the time. 

Do you have a favorite body book that talks about the different parts/systems?


 Hmm, we have a body book that we bought at the book fair some years back, but it's a real pain to read and came with parts that got lost all over the place. I can't recommend it. The book I like about bodies is Who Has What? by Robie Harris. I bet I would like other books by her if I read them. 

Books for a 9 year old boy average reader, likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Plants vs. Zombies, but not Big Nate

I can't say enough good about Doug TenNapel's books. I recommend starting with Ghostopolis or Cardboard. They're well-done graphic novels with good storytelling and positive messages. 

Books for a 6 year old almost 7 year old who reads comfortably at a 4-5th grade reading level. Series recommendations would be great.

Well I have to say that any kid who reads that well is obviously reading for pleasure! So if I'm you I'm not going try to find a series that challenges their reading capability. Instead I'm going to try to find a series that broadens their horizons and helps them learn more while staying age appropriate. You could definitely check into this post I did for a third grader -- lots of good series there.  That said I just have to highlight one of my favorite series for kids, The Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look.

These books are laugh-out-loud funny, and I have been known to read them aloud to a group of teens and adults with good success. My kids also love them. They follow first-grader Alvin, who has "so-so performance anxiety disorder" and therefore can't speak at all at school. The series only has 5 volumes at the moment, but trust me, they're worth reading. 

Want your own recommendation? Leave a comment below or email me at alysa@evereadbooks.com 

Happy Reading!

A new kind of textbook: Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I really like a lot of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books. I haven't read them all, because she's pretty prolific, but I definitely enjoyed Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and I love her picture books Spoon, Little Pea, Bedtime for Mommy and others. If I spot a book of hers I haven't read, I stop and check it out.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal was no exception: I really liked it. I think I will probably pick it for my book club pickmy turn is coming up in January.

About the book:
The book is divided into sections: Geography, Social Studies, Art, Science, Midterm Essay, Romance Language, History, Music, Math, Language Arts and Final Review. In each section there are short pieces that could loosely fit in that category. Some are diagrams or charts, others take up a page or two, some are short enough to be a status update.

The most unique element of the book is the texting (SMS) component. At certain spots in your reading you're invited to pause and text something to the number given, and you're promised something in return. For instance in the Language Arts section, she shares a favorite poem and invites you to text if you'd like to hear the author reading the poem -- she recorded him reading it over 15 years ago.

click to shop

About my reading:
I found this book very easy to read. I read it straight through, but you could definitely skip around in it, if you like. I read a good chunk of it while on a trip to NYC with my friend and former roommate Hilary. I ended up reading section after section aloud to her, because they amused and amazed me and, since we were sitting on hotel beds just a few feet apart, I saw no reason to keep the fun to myself.

I also had to read some passages aloud to Jacob. It's just such an easy book to read that it almost feels like cheating. Some pages have very, very little text on them. But I loved it. I suppose if I had bought the book I might have been miserly and thought that less paper would have made it less expensive. I didn't buy the book though; the publisher sent me an advance copy for review. And I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a book, regardless of how little text was on any given page.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal came out August 9, 2016, and I recommend it. While there is no content in it that I'd be uncomfortable sharing with my kids, I think it will appeal most to adults who like thinking about life and art.

Book Jeopardy! by Benjamin

On Sunday night my eight-year-old, Benjamin, made us a jeopardy game. I have got to record it, because it was adorable. The categories were his favorite fantasy book series: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, The Unbelievable FIB by Adam Shaughnessy, Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by RIck Riordan, and Dreamdark by Laini Taylor.

The questions were not strictly Jeopardy style, in fact they were quite the opposite. I don't think Benjamin has ever watched an episode of Jeopardy. He has taken a lot of AR quizzes though.

Here were the questions:

100 Who is the main character?
200 Who is the Magruwen's champion?
300 Who is the Magruwen?
400 What dragon was the last to die?
500 Who is Magpie's favorite person and why?

Percy Jackson
100 Fill in the blank: Camp ___ ____
200 Double tragedy, lose 200
300 Who is Annabeth's mom?
400 What is the name of Percy's sword?
500 Where is Kronos's throne room?

Harry Potter
100 Name Harry's 2 best friends
200 What do dementors guard?
300 How many times has Harry faced Voldemort?
400 What kind of tart is Harry's fave?
500 What is a bezoar?

building the game
100 What book does Alcatraz use 2 lies?
200 Is Bastille a Smedry?
300 What is the High Library?
400 Do 10 jumping jacks or lose 100 points.
500 What Smedry has the talent of making rude noises?

100 Tragedy, lose 100
200 Who is the trickster?
300 Special, gain 300
400 Mister Fox's looking glass has a ____
500 Daily Double: Who is Fay Longintime?

Levi and I had a great time playing the game, even though we both ended up with a negative score. I haven't read the Alcatraz or FIB series, and it's been long enough since I read the others that I was a bit rusty.

Benjamin wanted me to be sure to post the answers to the questions for you, in case you wanted to play for yourself. I'll put those in the comments.

If you're curious about any of these series, Benjamin and I are happy to answer your questions. Also, I linked to their Amazon pages above, for your convenience. If you shop through my affiliate links to Amazon I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Did some of this money go toward purchasing the last Alcatraz book, The Dark Talent? Yes it did.
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