At Lee & Low Books we are always interested in biographies of unsung heroes. Stories of lesser-known individuals who used their talents and overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams and serve their society fill our shelves of published titles. Each year our New Voices Award judges consider dozens of biographical submissions on the lookout for a winning combination of compelling characters and well-researched storytelling. But how do these components come together to create a manuscript? How does a writer condense someone’s entire life into a picture book? Does the writer or editor decide what information goes in the story and back matter? What is back matter, anyway? To answer these questions, and for an inside look at the editorial process, we interviewed Andrea Loney, author of the 2014 New Voices Award-winning biography Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! and Jessica Echeverria, our Senior Editor who helped turn Andrea’s manuscript into an absorbing debut!
In this guest post, originally posted on author Donna Janell Bowman’s blog and reposted here with permission, Donna Janell Bowman shares her beliefs about the extraordinary skills of Jim Key, a horse who learned how to read, write, and do math.
Teachers, let’s talk about a popular topic across education blogs and Pinterest: the classroom library. A quick search on the Internet results in numerous tips, tricks, and ideas for different ways to configure and organize your classroom library. It’s an intensive and thoughtful process that involves thinking about genre, reading levels, interest levels, grade-level content, categories, and themes.
Unfortunately, we often see classroom libraries that group diverse books into categories that isolate or limit their use. Simply having a book bin labeled “cultures from around the world” or “black history month books” does not mean your library is culturally responsive. We need to think critically about how these books reflect the diversity of our students, their backgrounds, and the communities in which we live while exposing them to new ideas and concepts. Does your classroom library contain books that include main characters of color or with disabilities? Do your books featuring people of color only focus on issues of race, prejudice, or discrimination? Do they go beyond ethnic heritage months? Do they only focus on cultural traditions and foods? Continue reading
Today is the release day of Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, a middle grade historical novel about nine-year-old Maria Singh who longs to play softball. To celebrate, we interviewed author Uma Krishnaswami to find out more about her writing process and her inspiration behind Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh.
Summer is right around the corner! That means the eighteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD is now open for submissions. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award recognizes a picture book manuscript by an unpublished author of color. It was one of the first (and remains one of the only) writing contests specifically designed to help authors of color break into publishing, an industry in which they are still dramatically underrepresented. Continue reading
In celebration of National Poetry Month, Emma Otheguy, the author of the forthcoming title Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad created an amazing activity guide for readers. Modeled after a poem by José Martí, readers can create their own poem after reading his inspirational story as well as excerpts from his seminal Versos sencillos.
Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day, an internationally recognized day that celebrates the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. To honor Earth Day and celebrate National Poetry Month, we gathered ten poetry books that are inspired by the joy and wonder of being outdoors and that bring the sight and sounds of nature to life.
For your next read aloud, how about adding in some lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and an award-winning storyteller?
April is National Poetry Month. With so many forms of poetry to explore and share with students, what will you choose? Here are 4 ideas for using mentor texts to guide students in poetry study. And an additional bonus: a letter to teachers from author and poet, Pat Mora, on the power of poetry.