I have an issue with the “literacy” movement. We are bombarded with statistics about how students are lacking in literacy skills and how boys especially are falling behind. At the same time, school boards across the country are cutting back on teacher-librarians and school library services. And while school libraries and teacher-librarians are becoming an endangered species, the “literacy” movement is alive and well.
You may think that the literacy movement and the quest for more teacher-librarians is the same thing but you are wrong. The one eats the funds for the other. And the one sucks the life out of the other. The problem with the literacy movement is that it reduces reading and books to a skill that needs to be learned instead of a forbidden pleasure that should be savoured. In other words, the literacy movement thinks of books and reading as broccoli while the teacher-librarian movement sees it as chocolate.
I’ll take chocolate any day.
Are you interested finding out more about teacher-librarians and school libraries? Here are some sites that may be of interest:
I run a free Writing for Kids critique group within an online forum. Go here:
You will have to register a screen name, but it is free. Make sure to
write down your password. Once you get a password and sign in, it will
take you to Books and Writers Community home page. On the upper right hand
portion of the forum page, you’ll see a welcome message to you in red
and a clickable thingie to “Post a message”. Click on it, then scroll
the spinner down to “YA/Children’s Literature” and post a message to me or to
“all”. Make sure to put something like “Hi Marsha” in the subject so
I’ll see it.
See you there!
My son Neil, who is in his third year at Brock in a co-op in computer science, has written an online RPG that I am totally addicted to. Here it is:
hint: If you play, become a Mage. They’re much more powerful than Fighters. Also, if you want to buy some better armour etc, make me an offer. I’m Rachel3.
I did an author visit at the White Oaks branch of the Oakville Public Library yesterday. The wind was incredible during the drive down. White Oaks is a very nice library — all open concept and with lots of outdoor light. There were about 50 grade six students and their teachers in the audience. At the beginning of my talk I asked who hated books. At first no one put up their hands, but then after some grins and nudging, two boys put up their hands. I asked them why they hated reading and both stated that it’s because books are boring. How true. So many are! And a dream book for one reader can be as boring as all get-out for someone else.
I talked about how I hated books too when I was a kid and how one book turned it all around for me. One thing that I like to point out is that if you can’t see the action in your head as you’re reading a book, that’s a good sign that the book is not enjoyable. I let the kids vote about what selection from my three young adult novels they’d like to have read. I have nicknamed those three portions Vomit, Bullying and Abduction. They voted for Vomit. As I read the vomit scene from The Hunger, there were groans and guffaws from the audience. I kept on peeking up from my reading to see how those two book haters were responding. Both sat with rapt attention. Once I was finished, I asked them if they could see the scene in their head. Both grinned and nodded. Nothing like a graphic vomit scene to make a movie play in your brain!
The kids asked fabulous questions and after the presentation the librarians took me into a back room and much to my delight and surprise, they had prepared a beautiful luncheon! I couldn’t stay long because I was meeting with Andrew Gregorovich, a Ukrainian historian par excellence, in Toronto later the same afternoon. However, in between showing the librarians some fabulous preliminary pencil sketches that my illustrator Muriel Wood has done for Aram’s Choice, I managed to scarf down a tasty sandwich and some lovely desserts!
Oh, and I got to use my brand new chattervox for the first time. It worked like a dream. Here’s what I’m talking about:
The other day I had an interesting question via email:
“In your writing tips, you warned against submitting photos or pictures with the text — commissioning your sister-in-law to paint some pictures for the book, for example, is a bad idea.
However, what if the pictures are your own drawings, and you want to be an illustrator as much as you want to be a writer?”
Here is my answer:
There is one exception to never sending in illustrations, and that’s if you’re a professional artist. Even so, the best way to handle it is to submit the story without illustrations, but to mention in your cover letter that you are an artist. If you have a sample that can be viewed online, give them the url.
Another way around it is to submit your art portfolio without your story.
If you’re an illustrator, consider making up postcards and sending them out to editors.
The reason you don’t want to submit both at the same time is because it gives them two reasons to reject you. What if they hate the story but love the illos or visa versa? That said, there are some publishers who specifically request submissions from people who are both author and illustrators. Those ones should be on the top of your “to submit” list.
Good luck with your submissions!
I think I’m getting used to this.
Hmmm, let me try something. I’ve already got a picture up (thanks Maggie)
The wand is because I can wave it to let people into private kidcrit or I can unwave it to kick them out. Ditto for the canscaip listserv. Must not let the power go to my head.
Here’s a link re my September whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan (my eyes don’t really glow like that — honestly!):
I have never done this before and I have no idea what I’m supposed to write. I have checked other people’s blogs. Hmmmm.
Went out to dinner with a friend a few days ago. After, when we were at my place, she was looking through my bookshelves and said, “You know that folk tale book I loaned you ten or fifteen years ago?”
I didn’t remember…
“I’d really like it back.”
I am a read-aholic. And I do love folk tales and have quite a collection of folk tale books. I tore through all of my bookshelves but couldn’t find her folk tale book. I do vaguely remember reading hers years ago but I thought I had given it back.
Now I feel like a very bad friend.
A young adult novel set in WWII Ukraine and contemporary Canada
by Marsha Skrypuch
isbn 1-895681-19-7 Continue reading “Hope’s War Teacher’s Guide”