“What Kids Can Do to Help the Environment and Why Does It Matter?”

I’m a science geek. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine. I loved high school biology and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I think Bill Nye the Science Guy is cool – I mean who doesn’t? And now I follow Neal DeGrasse Tyson, who’s kind-of like everyone’s friendly astrophysicist, if that’s even a thing!

As part of my science geekiness I’m fascinated by the natural world around us. To me, there’s a magic and beauty to the world that science helps explain. My science background helps me to see how we’re all connected by an elegant design. This has led to my passion for the environment and it’s why I include environmental themes in my young adult novels.

Scientists have been warning us about the dangers of climate change for years. Science is a discipline. Researchers test their hypotheses again and again and revise their conclusions. It’s not an opinion. It’s based on the facts as we currently know them. To say that climate change isn’t real is to deny these facts.

There are so many people who are raising the alarm and young people are especially engaged. It’s their future we’re talking about. The future of the Earth that we live on. There is no second planet.

So, what exactly is Climate Change? What is causing it? Here’s the dictionary definition:

“a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.”

Climate change refers to dramatic changes in global climate conditions, including weather phenomena, temperature, and sea levels. It’s caused by an over-abundance of greenhouse gases, mostly from fossil fuel emissions around the world.

It’s the carbon dioxide HUMANS are putting into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. What are fossil fuels? They are the non-renewable energy sources we take from the Earth. Coal, oil and natural gas.

Burning fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide which warms the planet. Accessing these fossil fuels also harms the planet. Fracking for natural gas, which is the environmental theme in my novel, Catalyst, pumps harmful chemicals into the Earth to extract the natural gas which poisons aquifers and has been proven to cause increased seismic activity – earthquakes – in fracked areas.

Climate change adversely impacts the delicate balance of Earth’s ecosystems. Global warming has been linked to dying coral reefs, dangerous new weather patterns such as stronger and more frequent hurricanes, droughts and fires, and the extinction of plant and animal species. Teens have probably seen pictures of emaciated polar bears in the Artic. Loss of the ice covering means they can’t swim far distances to hunt for seals. There is no where for them to get out of the water to rest and wait for seals. Polar Bears are one of many animals that are endangered.

The biggest impact that humans will see might be the rising ocean levels that are already threatening costal cities. Venice is under water for many more days than at any time in the past. Miami is already taking action to address rising sea levels by raising its roads and installing pumps to deal with increased flooding.

So, what can teens do to stop Climate Change? Reducing our Carbon Footprint is one thing we can do. What is a Carbon Footprint? Here’s the dictionary definition:

“the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.”

So, what does that mean exactly? It essentially refers to our personal contribution to the carbon emissions that cause Climate Change. Here are some ways that each of us can have an impact:

  1. Plant Trees – Trees consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen
  2. Change your mode of transportation – Bike to school or a friend’s house, carpool, take the bus or the train instead of driving or flying. Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg has chosen not to fly to reduce her carbon footprint.
  3. Eat a plant-based diet or have one ‘vegetarian day’ a week.
  4. Reduce household water waste – install efficient shower heads and toilets. Turn off the faucet when doing dishes or brushing your teeth.
  5. Upcycle and repurpose clothing and household items instead of buying new or discarding them.
  6. Reduce the amount of plastic packaging in the products you buy.
  7. Use cloth re-usable shopping bags.
  8. Eat locally produced food to reduce the ‘Food Miles’ it takes for your food to travel to you.
  9. Encourage your parents to tell their legislators to act on Climate Change legislation.
  10. Join environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council or the World Wildlife Fund.
  11. Join the environmental club at your school or start one!

I’m sure you can tell I’m a bit passionate about this! I do feel like the tide is turning toward action on addressing environmental issues. We have so little time, but if we all do our part, we can have an impact.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are natural resources? Can you name two or three examples?
  2. What’s a non-renewable energy source? What is a renewable one?
  3. What is a “Carbon Footprint”?
  4. What is Climate Change?
  5. What do you already know about Climate Change? How is it impacting the planet?
  6. What small steps can you and your siblings or classmates take today to help the environment?

Expected Publication: June 2nd, 2020 by Brown Books Publishing Group

About the Book: Marcie is spending her summer working on the archeological dig that her mother runs: Angel Mounds, a site of an ancient indigenous civilization. Soon after she arrives, she meet some intriguing individuals, and becomes wrapped up in a supernaturally-charged mission to save the planet from the destruction man has brought upon itself.

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

About the Author: TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents. Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. Tracy’s upcoming novel, “Catalyst” (Brown Books Publishing, June 2, 2020) is the second installment in the Catalysts series. To learn more about Tracy’s life and work, visit:

Thank you, Tracy, for tying science and your books together–bringing science knowledge to your readers!

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Abby in Oz
Whatever After #13.5 (Special Edition #2)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Published April 7th, 2020 by Scholastic
(Series debuted May 1st, 2012)

Series Summary: Siblings Abby and Jonah have a magic mirror that leads them into different fairy tales, from Snow White to Rapunzel to the Little Mermaid. In each fairy tale, Abby and Jonah accidentally mess up the story — and hilarity and hijinks ensue!

Abby in Oz Summary: In this second Special Edition of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series, Abby and her friends enter the magical Land of Oz . . . with hilarious and empowering results!

Follow the yellow brick road . . . I’m with my best friends Robin and Frankie (and my sometimes friend, Penny) when a TORNADO scoops us up and whisks us away. As soon as we land, I can tell we’re not in Smithville anymore — we’ve been transported into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

We’re excited to meet Dorothy and Toto . . . but the story isn’t going as planned. The Wicked Witch of the East locks us in her dungeon, so we have no way of getting the magic slippers that will take Dorothy home. Plus, the Emerald City is under attack, and the Wizard himself may be in danger!

Now we have to:
– Befriend the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow
– Flee the flying monkeys
– Learn to steer a hot-air balloon
– Find the courage, heart, and smarts to save the day

. . . or we’ll never escape — and everyone knows there’s no place like home!

Praise for Abby in Oz:

“Hilarious…with unexpected plot twists and plenty of girl power.” –Booklist

“My daughter loved the young, sassy girl on the cover and I loved the premise of the book…The best part is that they mess up the story and the lead female character has to learn how to stand on her own. The feminist in me adored it, and the mother in me loved how my daughter would long to cuddle in close as we read together.” –The Washington Post

“An uproariously funny read.” –Kirkus Reviews

About the Author: Sarah Mlynowski is the New York Times bestselling author of the Whatever After series, the Magic in Manhattan series, Gimme a Call, and a bunch of other books for tweens and teens, including the Upside-Down Magic series, which she is cowriting with Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins. Originally from Montreal, Sarah now lives in the kingdom of Manhattan with her very own prince charming and their fairy-tale-loving daughters.

Review of Abby of OzI am a huge fan of this series. I already love fairy tale retellings, but this is such a unique way of telling them, and I love how each are different and do not follow a predictable pattern. 

This newest installment is a special edition of the series and is a bit different. While Abby and Jonah normally go through a magic mirror, the special editions find Abby and her friends entering books because an evil fairy is trying to trap Abby in the story. The addition of Abby’s friends’ personalities definitely makes for an interesting story and more conflict throughout the book.

Lastly, I could not review any book in this series without celebrating the audiobooks–they are phenomenal!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation (series): Immediately, when reading this series, I thought of a creative writing activity for students to take part in and would be a great introduction to the series: Have students take parts of fairy tales that they feel are wrong, unjust, dated, they didn’t like, or even something that would be fun to change; come up with a plan on how they would fix it if they were in the fairy tale; and have them rewrite the fairy tale.

Then, I would read parts of some of the books out loud where Abby does just that: she changes fairy tales for the better! (Even if it is a bit of a mess along the way…)

Discussion Questions (series): 

  • What did Abby change in the fairy tale/story? Do you think this is a good change or not? Explain.
  • What did Abby do to make the change happen?
  • Do you think it is okay ethically for Abby/Jonah/Abby’s friends to change things in the story?
  • Do you think Abby would be as successful as she is without the help of Jonah/her friends?
  • Why do you think the magic mirror allows Abby and Jonah to go through the mirror?
  • What fairy tale would you want to go into if you were being transported into one? What would you want to change? Make sure stays the same?

Flagged Passages: Visit the Scholastic website for the series to view the series trailer. I also highly recommend listening to an audiobook sample!

Read This If You Love: Fairy Tale Retellings

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When quarantining became a reality for many of us in March, we were both looking for activities that would help keep our kids busy but also interacting with other kids. Ricki then came up with the idea of doing virtual book clubs, and Kellee was all in!

Trent & Henry’s Two Book Clubs

  • Trent and Henry, Ricki’s oldest, both were really interested in reading the Bad Guys books, so we started a chat with just the two of them. This is the first virtual book club that both kids had been in and was a great way to help them understand how to discuss books with a peer. So far they have read four of the Bad Guy books and have had a blast discussing everything from illustrations, to motive, and predictions.
  • As of this week, we are going to pause on the Bad Guys books and are moving ahead with some partner reading with some of the boys’ favorite picture books!

  • Ricki put out a call on Facebook for anyone interested in doing a Kindergarten-ish book club, and many jumped in! The kids range from age 4 to 9, and we find the mixed age group is really working! The club voted on the first book to read, and we started with Sideways Story from Wayside School by Louis Sachar and then we moved to Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz.


Trent’s Other Book Club


  • Trent also is part of a book club with one of Kellee’s colleague’s daughters. With this book club, Trent and Gabby started with picture books (The Hat Trilogy by Jon Klassen, The Questioneers by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts, and Lights! Camera! Alice! by Mara Rockliff). Next up are the Questioneers chapter books.

Ben’s Book Club

  • Ricki’s three-year-old Ben is also in a book club using Juana Medina’s Juana & Lucas. Admittedly, this book club has been trickier because the kids are ages 3 to 4. They have had great questions like, “Do you like to chew gum, too?” and are connecting with the book, but their attention span usually lasts between 5 to 10 minutes. They are also incredibly shy and have difficulty volunteering questions. Either way, it is still great to see the kids connect with each other.

The Clubs

For the larger club, Ricki sets up a Zoom meeting and leads the meeting. She ensures everyone gets to ask their questions and that everyone’s voice is heard.

The questions that kids come up with, even at age 6, are intuitive and deep!

  • Examples:
    • Bad Guys #1: Why do you think the kitty doesn’t talk but the other animals do?
    • Bad Guys #1: Why do you think those words on page 7 look like that?
    • Bad Guys #2: Do you think they would have made it without Legs helpiing them?
    • Bad Guys #3: Why did they think the ninja was a boy (she is a girl!)?
    • Wayside: Do you think it’s fair that Todd always gets in trouble?
    • Wayside: Joy’s name sounds like she should be good, but she keeps calling people dumb and stupid which isn’t good. Do you like her?
    • Unicorn: Why do you think Professor Fauna is hunting the unicorns?
    • Unicorn: Do you think the animal got tangled in the ribbon because it was a trap, or do you think it was something else?
    • Unicorn: Do you think Professor knows about the animal Elliot and Uchenna found? Do you think they will see it again?

With Trent’s book club with Kellee’s colleague, she used the teaching guides to drive the conversation (Hat Trilogy, Questioneers, Lights! Camera! Alice!), and she found that teaching guides are perfect for this as well. And their insight was wonderful!

With the smaller clubs, we use FaceTime. We’re still there while they are chatting, but it is easier for the two to chat back and forth.

Usually the club meeting lasts 20-30 minutes which is about how long they can stay on topic and discuss a book, but we think that is pretty great for kindergarten-ish kids.

We always end with “friend questions.” Kids are invited to ask their (new) friends questions about their lives. They tend to ask each other about their favorites (foods, colors, movies, books, sports teams, universities).

The book clubs have been such a highlight for our kids. They look forward to it each week! They love sharing the reading experience with others, specifically now when interaction with other kids is so limited.

An unexpected highlight: they’ve made some good friends. Henry and Trent have never chatted for more than a minute or two and last saw each other when they were babies, so it has been wonderful to see them bond these last few weeks!

We highly recommend virtual book clubs! Let us know if your kids have taken part in any virtual clubs!


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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!


Updated Often: The Big List of Online Learning Resources for COVID-19 and Quarantine

Tuesday: Online Tools Recommended for Digital Teaching

Thursday: Everywhere Book Fest

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Anatomy of a Middle Grade Manuscript” by Laurie Smollett Kutscera

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**



  • Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte: “Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves an Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century. Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard… But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness.”
  • Abby in Oz by Sarah Mlynowski: I love this series so much–I look forward to reviewing it on Thursday!
  • Max Meow: Cat Crusaders by John Gallagher: Fans of Dog Man, Captain Underpants, and Lunch Lady are going to love this new addition to the graphic novel superhero world! Max Meow accidentally gets powers, and he is so excited to save the day, but Agent M, an evil rat, will do anything to sabotage him. I will definitely be getting this one for my school library and for my son!
  • Bad Guys: Attack of the Zittens by Aaron Blabey: Bad Guys is such a silly story! I feel a bit bad for Wolf as he continually really does try to be good while the others aren’t always on the same page. The Shark was once again my favorite in this one.
  • Trent has been reading to his 1-year-old cousin a couple of nights a week (so cute btw!). This last week he read One Lonely Fish, Brown Bear, I’m a Librarian, and Nibbles Numbers. 
  • Virtual Read Alouds: Mac Barnett, Oliver Jeffers, Greg Pizzoli, Josh Funk, Michelle Obama, and Levar Burton.
    • I am so thankful for these virtual read alouds! Since March 30th, Trent has read 91 titles. A huge majority is because of these virtual read alouds (and his teacher reading a book a day!).
    • The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers is Trent’s go-to book since Oliver Jeffers read it. He has read it independently a few times since then.

To learn more about any of these books, check out my 2020 Goodreads Challenge page  or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.


My one-year-old (He turned one this week!) can now crawl across the ground with a book in his hand. He thinks he’s absolutely brilliant and grins broadly when I lift him into my lap to read a book.

The boys and I finished Bad Guys: Attack of the Zittens by Aaron Blabey. The 6yo has a book club with Trent, and I am excited to hear them chat about it tomorrow!

The 6yo read Mac and Cheese by Sarah Weeks to me, too. He found it on his bookshelf and was intrigued. It was an adorable story. Now, whenever my kids are grumpy, I tell them not to be a “grumpy grump” like Cheese. 🙂

I didn’t read anything else new this week (but re-read many, many, MANY picture books), but I did submit a chapter to my editor for my book!



  • Reading: Doodleville by Chad Sell
  • Listening: The Chupacaras of the Rio Grande by Adam Gidwitz and David Bowles
  • On Deck: Act by Kayla Miller & One Last Shot by John David Anderson
  • Listening with Trent: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz


Reading with the 6yo: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz

Reading (a chapter a week) with the 3yo: Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina for his book club.

Reading for myself: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. I am loving this debut so far.


Tuesday: Virtual Book Clubs with our Kids During Quarantine

Thursday: Abby in Oz and the Whatever After Series by Sarah Mlynowski

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “What Kids Can Do to Help the Environment and Why Does It Matter?” by Tracy Richardson, Author of The Field and Catalyst


Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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“Anatomy of a Middle Grade Manuscript”

Lightning Strikes!

Inspiration has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably experienced that moment when you’re involved is some unrelated task and your suddenly overwhelmed by an idea with nothing to write on! I was sitting in a movie theatre watching the opening credits of a film- where these playing cards filled the screen. I was hypnotized by the faces of the King and Queen of Hearts. I felt them calling me. The next morning, I opened my laptop and began writing a story about a boy who discovers an animated deck of cards in his father’s old desk.

Best Laid Plans

I hadn’t planned on writing a middle grade book. I started out writing what I thought was a picture book. I even worked on a number of illustrations. But once the first draft was completed, a dear friend, who was a librarian at a middle school read it and suggested I consider revising for a middle grade audience. I knew very little about the genre and was grateful for her guidance. She suggested I read what has become one of my all-time favorite books: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, by Kate DiCamillo.

Read, Read, Read!

I immediately began reading as many books in the genre as I could get my hands on—Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman, Richard Peck, Jennifer L. Holm. I was moved by their heartfelt novels—each one so beautifully crafted. The more I read, the more I began to understand the age group. Their thirst for humor, adventure and authenticity, freed me to become more expressive in my own writing. And, so it began—I would craft a middle grade novel from my picture book draft.


When I began writing MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, I knew right away certain aspects of my main character Alex would be similar to mine. He questions everything and can get lost in his own thoughts. We both lost a parent at a young age and both of us were bullied. I felt comfortable tapping into my own journey as an awkward 12-year-old to build his world. But Alex, who reluctantly follows in his father’s footsteps, is also a talented magician. On the subject of magic tricks, I knew very little, and needed to do some serious research.

While the internet offered helpful information, I felt strongly that I needed a one-on-one experience. Enter Joel, a young magician I spent quite a bit of time with. Pen in hand, I asked countless questions while he enthusiastically shuffled his cards, did flourishes and made them fly from one hand to the other. He described each maneuver while I scribbled notes and took plenty of photographs. I also shot video that I watched over and over which helped me translate the card tricks onto the written page.

As the novel progressed, I visited Joel on several occasions loaded with more and more questions. “Could Alex do this? What about a trick like this?” After a while, I realized what I was doing was basically asking permission. Joel helped me realize, when it came to magic, anything was possible!  This was a huge turning point for me. I had permission to take the story where it wanted to go.

Pulling It All Together

I had just completed a writing workshop at Media Bistro in NYC when I discovered they also offered a YA/MG writing-critique workshop. I immediately signed up! Led by a remarkable agent/author Kate McKean, the group of eight was filled with talented writers, screenwriters, playwrights and me! This was the real deal and quite honestly, I was a bit intimidated. But they were all so supportive and the feedback was spot-on. I learned how to build tension, flesh out characters and move the story forward. It still remains one of the best experiences I’ve ever unknowingly put myself into!

Edit, Edit, Edit.

By the time the critique workshop had come to an end, I had received written feedback from each member of the group on my entire manuscript–chapter by chapter–which I organized in separate folders. With the understanding that I needed to get the word count up around 35,000-40,000, I began another draft.

I found this stage to be the most cathartic. Deleting blocks of text for a concise sentence. Elaborating on an emotional moment. Heightening suspense by using short quick sentences. I was molding and reshaping the story like clay on armature.

Step Away.

This is some of the best advice I can share. After a few months of focusing on another project, I came back and was able to review what I had written with a fresh perspective.

Edit some more!

After another round of edits, a few minor changes were made and I was ready for submission.

MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON became a personal adventure from picture book to middle grade novel that will be released by Blue Whale Press on April 1st 2020.

About the Book: Misadventures of a Magician’s Son tells the story of 12-year-old Alexander Finn’s personal journey dealing with the death of his father, a celebrated magician, and the extraordinary gift he left behind. Uprooted from his childhood home for the seemingly hokey town of Orchard, Maine, Alex refuses to unpack and wants nothing to do with his new surroundings. But when he discovers an unusual deck of animated cards tucked in the back of his father’s old desk, things begin to unravel and Alex’s true adventure begins.

About the Author: Author/illustrator, Laurie Smollett Kutscera grew up in NYC’s Greenwich Village. She studied fine art and children’s book illustration at Queens College with Caldecott medalist Marvin Bileck. She is a published children’s book illustrator, an award-winning graphic designer and toy designer.

Her passion for writing began 14 years ago while cruising the eastern seaboard from Nantucket to the Virgin Islands. She is an active member of the SCBWI, 12×12 Picture Book Challenge and StoryStorm.

Laurie lives on the north shore of Long Island with her husband Nick and rescue doggie, Cody. She and her husband own and operate an 85ft classic yacht for charter in NYC and Long Island Sound.

Thank you, Laurie, for taking us through your process in the creation of your novel!

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The Everywhere Book Fest, a virtual children’s lit festival available on May 1 and May 2,  is proud to announce an all-star group of speakers and panelists. Award-winning graphic novelist Gene Yuen Lang joins bestselling author Nic Stone to keynote for the inaugural festival. Other acclaimed speakers include Jacqueline Woodson, Jason Reynolds, Meg Medina, Marie Lu, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Daniel José Older, Raúl the Third, Erin Entrada Kelly, Libba Bray, Linda Sue Park, Gail Carson Levine, Grace Lin, and more.

Streaming technology will make it possible for fans of children’s and young adult literature world-wide to ask questions at a number of live panels, just as they would at a traditional book festival. Live panels include a graphic novel drawing panel and an illustrators’ “doodle duel.” Other panels and speakers will be pre-recorded and available asynchronously. “With over 215 panel submissions, we were overwhelmed by the quality of the proposals,” says Christina Soontornvat, Everywhere Book Fest co-founder. “It made choosing the final line up incredibly difficult, but our panel selection team, led by author Kat Cho, did an incredible job. Our final program is full of panels that are fun, dynamic, important, and engaging.”  

The festival will be free and viewable from the Everywhere Book Fest website and YouTube channel. Follow Everywhere Book Fest on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated on announcements of exciting new panels, speakers, and more. Festival organizers encourage everyone to share using the hashtag #EverywhereBookFest. If you’d like to be an event sponsor or FMI please contact Ellen Oh at

The Everywhere Book Fest has received robust support from the kidlit publishing community. Monies raised from sponsorship will make the event free to participants; support livestream technology; provide viewers with access to dynamic panels with all-star, diverse speakers; fund ASL interpreters for live panels; and give books to readers in need through the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books. 

Publishers who have pledged their support include: Abrams, Candlewick, Chronicle, HarperCollins, Levine Querido, Little Brown, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and GooglePlay are also funding the effort.

Arthur Levine, Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of Levine Querido, said, “One of the cornerstones of our publishing philosophy at LQ is that great stories, great art comes from everywhere. It isn’t located in one community, one part of the country, one part of the world. We are so grateful … for the opportunity to let our authors inspire readers, writers, artists, librarians, booksellers, teachers, and kids, wherever they might be right now.”

“[Everywhere Book Fest] is giving children an opportunity to stay personally engaged in reading the books they love,” said SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver. “Especially in this time of isolation and fear, the children’s book community once again rises to the occasion, reaching out to our audience to show our most human face.”

About Everywhere Book Fest: Founded by authors Melanie Conklin, Ellen Oh, and Christina Soontornvat, the aim of Everywhere Book Fest is to bring the celebration and joy of the book festival experience directly into the homes of readers everywhere. Everywhere Book Fest will direct online sales to independent bookstores, particularly those hard hit by the event cancellations. The festival has partnered with We Need Diverse Books to distribute books to schools, libraries and community-based literacy programs in need around the country. 

Here is a list of all of the authors who will be presenting virtually at the festival: Abigail Hing Wen, Adam Rex, Aida Salazar, Aiden Thomas, Amerie, Amy Alznauer, Andrew Eliopulos, Anna-Marie McLemore, Anne Bustard, Anne Nesbet, Annette Bay Pimentel, Ashima Shiraishi, Bethany C. Morrow, Brandy Colbert, Carole Lindstrom, Chloe Bristol, Christina Soontornvat, Chirstine Lynn Herman, Claribel A. Ortega, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Daniel José Older, Daniel Miyares, Daniel Nayeri, Danielle Page, Debbi Michiko Florence, Donna Barba Higuera, Ellen Oh, Erin Entrada Kelly, Erin Yun, Ernesto Cisneros, Gabby Rivera, Gail Carson Levine, Gene Luen Yang, Gina Klawitter, Grace Lin, I.W. Gregorio, Isabel Sterlin, Ismée Williams, J. Anderson Coats, Jacqueline Woodson, Janella Angeles, Jason Reynolds, Jennifer Baker, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, Jennifer Li Shotz, Jessica Kim, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Juana Martinez-Neal, Kamen Edwards, Karen Strong, Karin Yan Glaser, Karyn Parsons, Kat Cho, Katy Rose Pool, Kayla Miller, Kelly Yang, Kim Hyun Sook, Kwame Mbalia, Liara Tamani, Libba Bray, Linda Sue Park, Lisa Brown, Mae Respicio, Mahogany L. Browne, Marcie Colleen, Marie Lu, Max Brallier, Mayra Cuevas, Meg Medina, Melanie Conklin, Michaela Goada, Mike Jung, Molly Idle, Natalia Sylvester, Nathan Hale, Ngozi Ukazu, Nic Stone, Raúl the Third, Ray Jayawardhana, Remy Lai, Renée Watson, Robin Ha, Roseanne A. Brown, Samira Ahmed, Sarah Allen, Sarah Mlynowski, Sayantani DasGupta, Shannon Wright, Somaiya Daud, Stuart Gibbs, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Swati Teerdhala, Teri Kanefield, Tom Lichtenheld, Tonya Bolden, Vashti Harrison, and Yamile Saied Méndez.

Hope to “see” you there!


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Most school districts have moved completely to digital learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, so I wanted to share some of mine, and my colleagues’, favorite online tools since we’ve been 1:1 for quite a few years now.

Gimkit is a gamification system created by a high school student. He loved the games in class but his teachers didn’t use them very often, so he interviewed his teachers to find out what would help them want to use a gaming system in their classrooms, and VOILA! He created Gimkit based on their suggestions. I love Gimkit and so do my students.

I use Canva in my personal life and in my classroom. Canva allows you to create posters, flyers, infographics, etc. In my classroom, I’ve had students create book recommendation flyers and infographics. A new feature that Canva has that I cannot wait to try out is Story Boards! This tool would allow for a sequenced creation for so many different classes.
YouTube: What is Edpuzzle?

EDPuzzle allows educators to make interactive videos. The videos can be filmed or an external video can be used. Then throughout the video, you can add check ins, quizzes, etc. for students to complete. Also, you receive a report of who has and has not completed the video and data of how they did on the check ins.
YouTube: Screencastify Overview

Screencastify allows you to record your screen with audio or video of yourself.

Quizizz allows educators to create a quiz or pick from an already created quiz for many different subjects. The quizzes are student-paced yet still a gamification system.
YouTube: What is Nearpod?

Nearpod takes a PowerPoint and moves it to the next level! Create or upload a presentation and add many different options such as videos, quizzes, images, drawing boards, web content, activities, etc.

Quizlet is a study tool that allows educators and students create study guides and flashcards. With each set, there are study games like matching, tests, and educators can even assign a game called Quizlet Live.
YouTube: Getting Started with Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a website where videos are the discussions and assignments. Teachers create grids to allow for video discussions. The grids have topics and students create videos to reply to the topic.
YouTube: How Pear Deck Works

Pear Deck makes any Google Slide or PowerPoint presentation interactive and allows students to see the presentation on their own device. AND it pairs directly with Google Drive.
YouTube: Sutori in Under a Minute

Sutori has so many uses! Students can create timelines or stories collaboratively or individually, teachers can created to share as a lesson, or teachers can create assignment templates for students to complete. This is the tool that my students used to create their interactive timeline about the fight for equal rights in America.
YouTube: Introduction to Padlet

Padlet is like an interactive bulletin board! It has multiple ways it can be set up and can include likes or responses if the moderator wants it to. Padlet is what my class used to discuss focus questions when they were reading the same book as another class in a different state

Any other digital tools you find super useful you want to share?
And good luck for the rest of the year! 



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