I Read YA!

This week, we're celebrating young adult books and people who read YA with #IReadYA week! 

I have a confession to make. Before I started working at Scholastic, over 2 ½ years ago, I didn’t read kids’ books. Or YA. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember…so I’m sure I devoured tween and teen books when I was in school. I grew up with Harry Potter, and was in college when the last book came out (which, of course, I read immediately) but after that? Like Deimosa, I have to pause to address the Twilight phenomenon: A friend sent me the series for a graduation gift, so I read those…but mostly because I felt like I had to. To be honest it really never occurred to me to even look at YA books when I was in the bookstore. I had no idea what I was missing.

When I got an interview at Scholastic, I was beyond thrilled. I remembered the books I grew up reading and loving, but I wasn't too familiar with the current popular books.After a quick search, it was clear - I needed to read The Hunger Games. Or at least be familiar with it! 

When I started at Scholastic, I wanted to be as immersed in this book culture as possible. I started borrowing books from our library so I could get an idea for the recent popular titles. I figured I would just skim some of the backlist titles. Then I started noticing interesting books on co-workers' desks, so I started borrowing those too (with their permission, of course!), and then the public library. THEN I started hearing about exciting new books. It just snowballed from there. When friends and family asked me what I was reading, I'd brush it off, saying "oh, just a new kid's book for work." Then I'd quickly move on to the last adult book I read.

I slowly realized there is nothing wrong with reading YA. I think many adults who aren't familiar with the books underestimate it. They think it's silly, or without value. But the lines between "adult books" and "YA books" seem to be blurring. And I've found so many YA books that are smart, but still fun and interesting. Books that are so creative and powerful. These are the books that keep me up at night thinking, just one more chapter and I'll go to bed (but it's never just 1 more chapter!) Books that are such great page turners, you can't wait until the next time you can stand in a line or ride the subway, just so you have a few more minutes to read. 

2 ½ years at Scholastic and I'm still devouring books for all ages - adults, middle grade, picture books, and of course, YA. In fact, a quick look at my most recently read books on Goodreads shows the majority of them are YA. The bookshelf in my apartment is mostly YA books I want to read...and that doesn't include the other 20 or so I have on my desk at work or want to borrow from the library. But now I am proud to say: I READ YA!


Celebrating Children’s Book Week

Today marks the beginning of Children’s Book Week, a coast-to-coast celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. This year Children’s Book Week is being held from May 12th through May 18th.

Started in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Each year, celebratory events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, and bookstores connecting young readers and authors. This year, for the first time ever, there will be Children’s Book Week events in every one of the 50 states!  Click here for a complete listing of Children’s Book Week related events to see if there is one near you.

One highlight of the week is The Children's Choice Book Awards Gala on Wednesday, May 14th, which is the only national book awards program where winning titles are selected by young readers of all ages. Scholastic is proud to have two finalists this year: Lawless by Jeffrey Salane and Bugs in my Hair! by David Shannon. For a complete list of finalists, click here.

In addition to great events, a group of Book Week champions like author David Baldacci have filmed fun videos that reinforce the importance of reading. Here’s the link to more videos from Book Week champions featuring Lisa Yee, Jeff Kinney, Jon Scieszka, and many others.

OOM readers, how will you be celebrating Children’s Book Week?

A guest post by author Marcel Prins

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. Holocaust Remembrance Day is today, Monday, April 28, 2014. Today on OOM, we are honored to welcome Marcel Prins, a Dutch filmmaker and author who has brought to life in fascinating detail the true stories of fourteen young people who were hidden throughout the Netherlands during World War II in his book Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival. His riveting guest post about his inspiration for his book follows below. 

My mother was sent into hiding by my grandparents in the summer of 1942. At the time, she was a five-year-old child who had no idea why she had to be separated from her parents. Being Jewish had never been an issue… suddenly it was. As a little boy, I was curious about the stories of her time in hiding. She told me about her fears, the confusion, but also about the love she received from her foster parents. It made a big impression on me.

Going into hiding was exceptional. Most Dutch Jews were hesitant at the time and reluctant to take measures to protect themselves. The general attitude was “wait and see,” cooperate with the authorities, and hope for the best. A relatively small group of 26,000 Dutch Jews didn’t trust the stories about the so-called “labor camps” where people were sent, and so they went into hiding. The most famous example is of course Anne Frank, whose diary has been read all around the world. She was betrayed and killed in Bergen-Belsen.

My mother survived the war separated from her parents in two different families. Apart from my mother’s story, I became very interested in the stories of other Jews that survived in hiding, so I started researching their testimonies. I ended upinterviewing more than twenty of them still alive in Holland. What did going into hiding actually involve? Where did you go? How did you know whom to trust? How did you find money to pay for your hiding place? What did you do when you were frightened? These are the kinds of questions that I asked men and women who are now old,but who were young boys and girls during the war.

Their stories and experiences were all very different. They hid at one address or forty-two addresses. They were received with warmth or with beatings.  They hid in the countryside or in towns, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Some were separated from their families, others stayed together. Some had to pay large sums of money, others nothing at all. Some were treated as equals, others as slaves. Some had to stay in their hiding places, others could move about freely. Some were betrayed while others were kept safe.

Despite the variety of their experiences they all share the pain of losing their homes, their families, even their own names. After liberation, the hidden children surfaced. If they were “lucky” they were reunited with one or both of their parents. But parents were faced with children who had changed and grown dramatically, and the “abandoned” children found parents they often hardly recognized. My mother, for instance, became very attached to her foster parents and wanted to stay with them when the war ended. Liberation and survival didn’t mean a happy ending, but rather a painful process of reassembling life and trying to reconstruct the most basic relations, once so natural, between parents, their children, and remaining family members.

Talking to these men and women was a very special experience for me. Most of them spoke about their experiences in the present tense when I interviewed them, as if they were back in the moment — as if they’d traveled back in time. I took a picture of each interviewee directly after the interview. It was a vulnerable moment, and I imagine you can see that in their facial expressions. For many, it was the first time that someone had interviewed them, and their trust in me felt like a gift, but also a big responsibility. The fact that they were happy with the book, and with the animated films we created and put up on www.hiddenlikeannefrank.com, was the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.

--Marcel Prins


OOM celebrates Easter

Every year my family celebrates the week leading up to Easter by coloring eggs, assembling Easter baskets, and enjoying a lot of delicious chocolate cream eggs. This year we are spending the week leading into Easter a little differently. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, my sister is expecting twins any day now, so my family is frantically stocking the nursery’s bookshelves with Easter-themed books in the event that our newest family members hop into our lives before Sunday.

Here is a selection of some books perfect for reading this Easter, and don't forget to check out our Top Picks site for even more suggestions!

A Bunny in the Ballet

By Robert Beck (Ages 4-8)

With Paris-inspired pen and ink illustrations, this charming picture book debut by an American ballet dancer stars Désirée, a spirited rabbit reaching for her dreams—inspired by the creator’s real life Parisian bunny! With the quiet charm of Madeline and the sweet sass of Eloise, here is a classic in the making. Debut author/illustrator Robert Beck brings us into Désirée’s world with graceful, playful lines and splashes of color as vivid as Paris itself, a story perfect for reading on Easter.

Easter Parade!

By Lily Karr, Illustrated by Kirsten Richards (Ages 3-5)

Easter Parade!  is a bright and lively Easter story with stickers. It’s Easter morning, and all the animals have come together to join in the Easter Parade. Follow the Easter Bunny as he leads ducks, chicks, rabbits, and more springtime animals as they wear their Easter best, carry balloons, play instruments, and march in the parade. This is a lovely springtime story celebrating family, friends, and being grand together.

Clifford’s Happy Easter

By Norman Bridwell (Ages 0-3)

In Clifford’s Happy Easter, Clifford loves to help Emily Elizabeth, but his big red paws break eggs instead of painting them. Luckily, Clifford helps Emily another way: in her dreams. A bucket of Easter-egg dye creates the most colorful Clifford adventure yet, and gets Emily ready for an unforgettable holiday. Festive Easter stickers are included in this Easter book.

OOM readers, what are your favorite Easter-themed books?


OOM celebrates National Poetry Month

Aside from one terrible acrostic poem I wrote in third grade about Mr. Squiggly, my class hamster, I have always written in prose. So to celebrate National Poetry Month, I don’t write my own poems, but instead I take the month of April to delight in the lyricism of others. Luckily for me, Scholastic has an array of books for all ages perfect for National Poetry Month. Here is a selection of some new titles that I am loving this month: 

A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Ages 8-12)

Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham, the critically-acclaimed team behind The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), What to Do About Alice, and Those Rebels John & Tom, introduce A Home for Mr. Emerson,another awe-inspiring picture book biography for young readers that’s perfect for poetry month. Before Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great writer, he was a city boy who longed for the broad, open fields and deep, still woods of the country. Then he was a young man who treasured books, ideas and people. This moving biography—presented with Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham's inimitable grace and style—illustrates the rewards of a life well-lived, one built around personal passions: creativity and community, nature and friendship.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth (Ages 4+)

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Caldecott Honoree and New York Times bestselling author/artist Jon J Muth is a fresh take and exciting new look at the four seasons. This is a stunning companion to the beloved and bestselling picture books Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Zen Ghosts. Jon J Muth was inspired by his young twin son and daughter as he wrote and illustrated Hi, Koo! With a featherlight touch and disarming charm, Muth—and his delightful little panda bear, Koo—challenges readers to stretch their minds and imaginations with twenty-six haikus about the four seasons.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (Ages 10-14)

Award-winning author Ann E. Burg delicately weaves together an elegant and emotional narrative in Serafina’s Promise, an exquisitely crafted novel-in-verse about a determined young girl living in poverty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Eleven-year-old Serafina has a secret dream. She wants to go to school and become a doctor. But in their rural village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, many obstacles stand in Serafina’s way—little money, neverending chores, and Manman’s worries. More powerful even than all of these are the heavy rains and the earthquake that test Serafina’s resolve in ways she never dreamed. Her unwavering and buoyant spirit in the face of daily hardship is heartbreaking and inspiring. Serafina’s resilience is tested, yet her hope prevails.

OOM readers, how do you like to celebrate National Poetry Month?

The Iron Trial cover and excerpt reveal

Yesterday, USA Today revealed the cover and an excerpt of The Iron Trial – the first book in a new fantasy series for middle-grade readers co-written by bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare hitting stores on September 9!

The series centers on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, 12-year-old Callum Hunt comes to the Magisterium against his will―is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

You can read the prologue and first chapter of The Iron Trial on USA Today, along with a special note from authors Holly Black and Cassie Clare. We can’t wait to read the rest September 9!

--Sheila Marie Everett, Publicity Manager

Celebrating National Goof Off Day

National Goof Off Day is this Saturday. Since I have been telling the same three knock-knock jokes for years now, I think it’s time to find a new way to celebrate this holiday. Lucky for me, Klutz has an array of offerings to bring out my inner goof. Here are some of my all-time favorites:

The Encyclopedia of Immaturity (Ages 8+)

This is the ultimate how-not-to-grow-up guide. The Encyclopedia of Immaturitycontains more than 300 entries: How to Skip a Stone, How to Do a Wheelie, How to Hang a Spoon from Your Nose, How to Really Annoy Your Older Sibling — all painstakingly explicated and illuminated with full-color photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and the occasional footnote.

The World According to Klutz (Ages 8+)

Help defend today’s youth against the painful consequences of growing up, with this three-book boxed set that captures our ever-so-slightly subversive streak. This is pure, unfiltered Klutz, in a conventional paperback format.
The Encyclopedia of Immaturity: This is lovingly referred to as the “Short Attention-Span Edition,” presenting the best and most essential life skills and activities from the best-selling two volume set of Encyclopedias.
The Klutz Book of Inventions: This is the Hall of Fame Edition, featuring the most mind-blowing contraptions culled from our immature take on engineering.
The Greatest Facts in the History of Facts: This is a book full of mind-blowing realities, guaranteed to provide a lifetime of conversation starters. It’s the truth’s greatest hits, according to Klutz.

Straw Shooter Jets (Ages 8+)

Fold an air force powered by your own air. Straw Shooter Jetscomes with everything young aviators need to make a fleet of puff-propelled flyers. Once the jet is mounted on a special launch straw, it only takes a concentrated breath to send it soaring.

OOM readers, how will you celebrate National Goof Off Day?

Scholastic announces 'Worlds Collide' Initiative

Today, Scholastic announces Worlds Collide, an exciting new initiative bringing together authors and fans of The 39 Clues, Infinity Ring, and Spirit Animals. Check out more details about this campaign in Publishers Weekly.

The virtual experience on the Worlds Collide online hub is amazing, but it’s only getting bigger and better.

During the month of April, fans will have special access to tons of new content, creating the ultimate online experience. Mash-ups where book characters and story lines will cross paths, writing tips from editors, videos and behind-the-scenes access to authors are just a few of the awesome digital experiences kids will have.

Along with these online experiences, Scholastic will also be bringing authors and readers together. Literally. We introduce you to the most epic events of the year: the Worlds Collide #1s Live Tour.

Superstar authors James Dashner (Infinity Ring #1: A Mutiny in Time), Gordon Korman (The 39 Clues Cahills vs Vespers #1: The Medusa Plot), Brandon Mull (Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born), and Jude Watson (The 39 Clues Unstoppable #1: Nowhere to Run) will headline a multi-city tour across the U.S.

The tour kicks off on April 22nd with events in Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and concluding with an event in Exeter, New Hampshire, featuring special guest Rick Riordan, Maze of Bones author and series architect for The 39 Clues series.

For more information on these larger-than-life events, see below or contact the store directly.

  • University Bookstore (Seattle, WA) – April 22
  • Barnes & Noble The Woodlands (Houston, TX) – April 23
  • Anderson’s Bookshop (Naperville, IL) – April 24th
  • **Water Street Books (Exeter, New Hampshire) – April 25th (**with special guest Rick Riordan, series architect and author of The 39 Clues #1: Maze of Bones)

If you have the opportunity to ask your favorite authors anything, what would you ask them?

 --Stephanie Smith

Spring into reading this season

After “springing ahead” last weekend (I can’t believe we lost an hour of precious reading time!), buying my first allergy spray of the season, and taking the wool lining out of my trench coat, it’s clear that spring is here. Here is a selection of books for all ages to celebrate the end of the polar vortex and the beginning of picnics, playing outside, and blooming petals.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth (Ages 4+)

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Caldecott Honoree and New York Times bestselling author/artist Jon J Muth is a fresh take and exciting new look at the four seasons. Thisis a stunning companion to the beloved and bestselling picture books Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Zen Ghosts. While all of the seasons are beautifully depicted through stunning imagery and twenty-six haikus, the images and poems about nesting birds, puddles, and reading outside have me most excited for spring.

Game Changers #3: Heavy Hitters by Mike Lupica (Ages 8 – 12)

One of the most prominent sports writers in America,Mike Lupicais a New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers. In Heavy Hitters, the third book in his New York Times bestselling Game Changers series, the gang is on the baseball field. Ben and his friends, the Core Four Plus One, are so excited to play in their town’s All-Star Baseball league.Like good teammates do, The Core Four Plus One support each other on and off the field.

Klutz: Tissue Paper Crafts by April Chorba (Ages 8+)

Tissue Paper Craftsis tissue paper like you’ve never seen before. Add a little Klutz ingenuity and even the most familiar craft supply turns into something spectacular, from traditional flowers to fluffy birds, complete with a punch-out bird cage. This book is packed with step-by-step instructions for all the projects, along with essential supplies like glue, string, wire, a sturdy stencil and, of course, a rainbow of beautiful tissue paper so that you can celebrate spring in style.

Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty (Ages 12+)

The Cracks in the Kingdom is the second installment in award-winning author Jaclyn Moriarty’s wildly imaginative and widely acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Colors of Madeleine. This literary treasure is a celebration of seasons and in one scene, there is a particularly vivid description of characters embracing a rain shower that made me eager to put on my rain boots and stomp in puddles.

OOM readers, what books do you like to read to celebrate the arrival of spring?

OOM celebrates Women's History Month

As a graduate of a women’s college, Women’s History Month has always been near and dear to my heart. In March, in addition to revving up my informal recruiting efforts for Barnard College, I love sharing books about empowered heroines with my friends and loved ones. Today, I am sharing a selection of those books with my OOM friends.

Clara and Davie by Patricia Polacco (Ages 3-5)

Bestselling author Patricia Polacco brings to life the story of her inspirational relative, Clara Barton. With beautiful illustrations of the simple life of a country girl, Clara and Davie is the true story of young Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, and her older brother Davie. Tying together the importance of family support, believing in yourself, and staying true to your strengths, Clara and Davie is an uplifting story that is sure to inspire readers everywhere. 

Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Ages 5+)

In Here Come the Girl Scouts! readers are introduced to Juliette Gordon Low, known as Daisy to her friends and family. Daisy was not like most girls of the Victorian era – she loved the outdoors and yearned for adventure. Born into a family of pathfinders and pioneers, she too wanted to make a difference in the world and nothing would stop her. Combining her ancestors’ passion for service with her own adventurous spirit and her belief that girls could do anything, she founded the Girl Scouts. Over one hundred years later, Girl Scouts continue to have adventures, do good deeds, and make a difference in the world. (Fun fact: author Shana Corey is a graduate of Smith College, another women's college).

Scholastic: When I Grow Up series: Sally Ride by Annmarie Anderson (Ages 6-8)

This brand-new easy reader series provides perfect introductory biographies for young readers. Each book features a recognizable face and name and will take the reader on a journey from a historical figure's childhood to famed adulthood. This installment chronicles the life of Sally Ride, the acclaimed physicist and astronaut who remains the youngest American astronaut to travel to space.

Dear America series (Ages 8-14)

Written by an array of award-winning and bestselling writers, the Dear America books are presented in diary format from the perspective of girls living at different times in American history. Whether it is telling the tale of a pilgrim voyage across the treacherous Atlantic, or a young girl fighting for Japanese equality during WWII, the authors of the Dear America series transport you both emotionally and historically to a different place and time. As a child, the Dear Americabooks sparked my interest in women’s history, a passion which I developed further as a women’s history major in college! 

OOM readers, what do you like to read to celebrate Women’s History Month?


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