Many picture books aim to spur conversation around the quirks of English spelling, but Beth Anderson’s An Inconvenient Alphabet is a class above. While alphabet books like the popular P Is for Pterodactyl highlight unconventional spellings without illuminating the why’s behind them, An Inconvenient Alphabet goes much deeper. It brings to life some of the history and power dynamics responsible for English spelling—in ways that intrigue adults and children alike. The book explores the true . . .
As adults, we know that the professional world judges spelling mistakes severely. Errors in a job application, resume, or email bias recruiters against candidates and significantly harm career advancement. What we parents may not fully appreciate is that the consequences of spelling woes emerge in elementary school, long before students enter the workforce. Here are four things you need to know now about how spelling impacts your child—and how you can impact their spelling: Spelling errors . . .
The reassuring authors of raise-a-reader books often prescribe a chill pill and a nightly dose of bedtime stories to parents anxious about their kids’ reading. They devote page after page to poignant stories of family reading, complete with shared laughs and smiles, the warmth and comfort of a parent’s lap, and the smell and feel of a book’s spine cracked open for the first time. I love the joy-of-reading sentiment and the moving accounts of family memory-making around books, but I worry . . .
We’ve all heard about how good it is to read aloud to our children, and the many ways it benefits them. Kids can gain oral language skills, new vocabulary, familiarity with foreign worlds, and the undivided time and attention of an adult through storytime. But moms and dads can experience powerful and lasting benefits, too, when they commit to and revel in reading with kids. Here are five parents’ reflections on the fresh perspectives, fond memories, and cherished connections they gained . . .
At any writers’ conference you’ll hear about how important a captivating book proposal is for wooing agents. But there’s one proposal section that’s seldom discussed and little understood—yet which warrants more attention if you want to succeed. That’s the section listing “comps” for your book. The name alone invites confusion. Ask three agents what it means and you could get as many responses. Competitive books, one might say, while the others suggest comparative or complementary titles. And, . . .
Thanks to Austin Woman for featuring me on the cover and highlighting the great work of the Texas Book Festival, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, and I Live Here I Give Here. It's an honor to work within such a vibrant nonprofit community, fighting for more equitable distribution of our region's vast resources. . . .
Grandparents’ Day may be in September, but a new crop of picture books is here to help us celebrate grandmas and grandpas and nanas and paw-paws year-round. That’s only fitting, because there are more grandparents today than ever before, according to The Census Bureau. And the special ways they love, teach and relate to their children’s children is proven fodder for vivid, powerful storytelling. Look no further than these three titles I discovered at the Texas Book Festival. May they remind . . .
Emphatic and unsparing, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy explores the weight of wellness in a culture obsessed with lean. His expansive intelligence and fluid prose bear up to haunting family secrets and American deceptions with deep, potent wells of beauty, humor, and empathy. Initially conceived as a weight-loss story chronicling his family’s struggles with food and violence, the writing of Heavy, which was recently named a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, got murkier when relatives . . .
The stunning Austin Central Library, already a finalist for the International Federation of Library Associations’ Public Library of the Year, leaped in prestige by winning LEED Platinum Building Certification this summer. The award confirms that the space’s design and construction exemplify the utmost concern for human and environmental health. The library scored high marks for its green power, water-recycling systems, daylight use, views and community connectivity. Yet, we should feel . . .
Dark and absorbing, Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ debut story collection, Heads of the Colored People, explores the unstable moorings of black identity and citizenship in blistering stories peopled with indelible characters. The title derives from a series of 19th-century literary sketches of free black laborers penned by Dr. James McCune Smith. That Smith, a black abolitionist, intellectual, and elite, chose washerwomen and gravediggers for literary representation and pondered them as “heads” of . . .