It’s hard to believe that 2021 is just around the corner and with it, WRAD 2021.
For World Read Aloud Day 2021, I will provide free 20-minute virtual classroom visits on the platform of your choice (Meet, Zoom, or Skype).
Our WRAD virtual visit will go something like this:
1-2 minutes: Kirsten gives a quick intro and talks a little bit about her books.
3-5 minutes: Kirsten reads aloud a portion of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane.
5-10 minutes: Kirsten answers a few questions from students about reading/writing.
1-2 minutes: Kirsten book-talks a couple of books she loves (but didn’t write!) as recommendations for the kids.
Ready to sign up? Click on the Sign Up Genius icon below to secure your spot. Please do not sign up until you can commit to a 20-minute time slot (one per school).
I read as many new nonfiction/STEM books as I possibly can, thanks to the library. And I miss reviewing them. But I don’t have the time to craft lengthy blog posts or create lots of pretty Instagram graphics. So, I’m trying something new.
Whenever I get a new library stack, I will:
- Read the books.
- Change out of my gym clothes, fix my hair, and MAYBE put on a little lip gloss.
- Record some 2-minute video book reviews in a single take.
- I’ll post the videos to YouTube as well as my IGTV channel. I’ll also share the links on my Facebook page.
So, here’s an initial batch of reviews:
- The Big Bang Book
- Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
- We Are Water Protectors
- Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
- And, coming tomorrow, Unbeatable Betty: Betty Robinson, the First Female Olympic Track & Field Gold Medalist
Enjoy! And if you have 2020 NF/STEM book recommendations, let me know.
|Despite my serious look in the above photo, I adored playing Wonder Woman as a little girl with my sister Stephanie (left). I mean, just look at our ultra-hip Underoos plus homemade tiaras, bracelets, and lassos. We meant business.
When I read historian Jill Lepore’s SECRET HISTORY WONDER WOMAN a couple of years ago, I was intrigued to learn the origin story of my favorite childhood superhero. First, Wonder Woman was developed as an antidote to parental and teacher complaints about comic books (something we still hear today). For a time, Joye Hummel, a woman!, co-wrote scripts with Wonder Woman’s creator (and I got to speak with her on the phone). Plus the character was a powerful influence on Gloria Steinem and appeared on the cover of Ms. Magazine. And there’s so much more!
Though I typically write biographies of people, I knew I could write a biography of a superhero and the evolution of what she’s meant to people over eight decades.
I am so delighted my editor, Jennifer Greene (a true fan!), has paired me with illustrator Katy Wu, who will be illustrating in comic book style. Stay tuned for more early next year.
(And shout out to my mom for this awesome photo circa 1981, which will appear in my author’s note.)
Here’s the book announcement:
WOOD, WIRE, WINGS has been out in the world for nearly three whole months. In celebration, I’m giving away an autographed copy of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS, along with a copy of Vicky Fang’s HAPPY PAWS. To enter, sign up for my monthly newsletter here. That’s it! Giveaway ends 5/25 at midnight PDT. Sorry, US entries only.
Taking action in the time of COVID-19
Was it just over a month ago that WOOD, WIRE, WINGS finally took flight? It seems like an eternity after four weeks at home. With many of my book events postponed or canceled over the coming months, I’m focused on what I can do right now, both physically and emotionally.
- Continuing to create – I’m revising a graphic novel and researching a new STEM picture book. For me, creating is an anchor in turbulent times.
- Reading books for inspiration (and reviewing them) – I was lucky enough to pick up a stack of print books two hours before my library closed its doors. I’ve read and reviewed most of them already, so I’m also reading ebooks/audiobooks via Amazon Prime Reading and Libby/Overdrive linked to my library account. (I love listening to audiobooks on Libby while working jigsaw puzzles or baking). Audible is another source for free children’s audiobooks, and countless creators are offering readings and book clubs online. I review as many books as I can on Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads. Since book creators can no longer host in-person events, book reviews are more important than ever for helping readers discover new books. If you’ve read WOOD, WIRE, WINGS, I would be deeply grateful if you would leave an honest review on the book platform of your choice.
- Boosting booksellers – Local bookstores are suffering terribly right now, though many remain open for online and phone orders, often with curbside pickup or inexpensive delivery. You can contact your bookseller directly or shop your local indie at Bookshop.org. Don’t need books for yourself? Consider placing an order to stock a local Little Free Library or buying a gift certificate for later use. Audiobook-lovers can support indies by buying through Libro.fm. Finally, if you are an Amazon fan, the good news is physical books have been reclassified as “essential” with faster ship times and deep discounts (WOOD, WIRE, WINGS is currently discounted to $14.34).
- Connecting with readers online – I’ve created a YouTube version of my engineering design workshop, and have done a few Zoom/Skypes with classes who have read my book. It’s always a delight to connect with young readers, especially when the opportunities are scarce. If you are trying to keep kids busy at home, the number of resources available is overwhelming, but you can find many wonderful ideas from my debut picture book group, The Soaring 20s, on our website.
Here’s hoping you are able to stay safe at home, while your dreams soar in books.
Oh, the places I’ve been (virtually)
It’s been a busy couple of months with lots of podcasts, guest blog posts, and media appearances. Here are a few of the places I’ve been.
- I discussed my Top 5 Tips for (un)Writing Narrative Nonfiction as the April featured author on the 12×12 blog.
- I shared an engineering design activity for kids on Patricia Newman’s LitLinks blog.
- Several Soaring ’20s pals and I revealed little-known facts about our protagonists on KidLit.tv.
- I was featured on the University of Maryland’s Maryland Today, where I recounted my journey from NASA to business school to writing children’s books.
- For Women’s History Month, fellow authors Elisa Boxer, Lindsay Metcalf, and I discussed “Filling in the Gaps” when it comes to writing women’s history.
Coming soon: appearances on Jedlie’s Reading With Your Kids podcast (4/21), Matthew Winner’s Children’s Book Podcast (week of 4/27), Chris Wood’s STEM Everday Podcast (TBD), and much more. Follow me on Twitter @kirstenwlarson or follow my Facebook page so you don’t miss my upcoming appearances.
Books I’m Over the Moon About
For those who have students home from school due to COVID-19, children’s book creators are putting together a number of resources to keep your students occupied and engaged. Aside from creator content, I am also sharing some of my favorite sites for kid-friendly activities and content. My goal is to keep this site updated as I find out about more.
- YOUR LIBRARY! Remember, you can likely access many books from your local library (audiobook or ebook) using resources like Overdrive/Libby (my personal favorite) and Hoopla. Many also have online classes available to cardholders through sources like Lynda. com Finally, don’t forget free online homework help for at-home learners.
- I’ve uploaded a hands-on engineering design activity to my YouTube channel based on the book WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane. https://youtu.be/f1MK69KNA6I This activity also appears on the Soaring 20s educational site. More content added soon! https://www.soaring20spb.com/teachers-librarians
- Each Tuesday, the STEMTuesday team shares a booklist centered around a single topic (week 1), related hands-on activities (week 2), language arts connections (week 3) and an author interview. Check out our archives https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/stem-tuesday/
- Patricia Newman has a wonderful blog feature called LitLinks, which connects books with hands-on learning. https://www.patriciamnewman.com/blog-4/
- Kate Messner has put together a site with online learning and read alouds: https://www.katemessner.com/read-wonder-and-learn-favorite…/
- Looking for STEM activities to do with your students at home. NASA’s JPL has launched Learning Space. jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learning-s
- Two of my favorite sites for hands-on activities for kids are:
What do we do all day? https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/author/mom-and-kiddo/
- and Pragmatic Mom: https://www.pragmaticmom.com/
- Librarian Betsy Bird has a rundown of 90-Second Newbery Videos to engage your students: http://blogs.slj.com/…/ghosts-of-newbery-past-present-and-…/
- The new StorySeeds podcast (just for kids) is also up and running: http://blogs.slj.com/…/a-new-podcast-for-your-children-sto…/
- And speaking of podcasts, 6 Minutes is my son’s favorite: https://app.kidslisten.org/pod/Six-Minutes
- Write. Draw. Create. Community. with Authors’ Everywhere. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCowhHSUaWp3KJDcuI0nR0vw
- Khan Academy is a great source of online learning: https://www.khanacademy.org/
- They also have partnered with Pixar for PIXAR in a Box series on storytelling, animation and more: https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar
- Common Sense Media has a roundup of kid-friendly content and resources: https://tinyurl.com/vk84rhj
- Many museums have virtual tours. You don’t even have to leave your couch. https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
Wood, Wire, Wings
|Thanks so much to everyone who came to my Barnes and Noble book launch and helped raise money for Valley View Elementary School. It was such a thrill to see so many family, friends, and young readers. It’s not too late to support Valley View’s school library by buying a book of your choice at BN.com and using the school’s bookfair ID at checkout. See the graphic below for where to enter the ID. The fundraiser ends 3/7.|
Support books you love without spending a dime
|I know that not everyone will be able to buy my book, but please know there are SO MANY other ways you can help authors like me. Here’s a great post from LitReactor about how to support your favorite books without spending a dime.
I’ll be honest, I have so many author/illustrator friends, and I can’t buy all of their books. BUT these are some of the things I do to support them.
|I’m thrilled to announce my true picture book, WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, will take off Monday, March 2nd at Barnes & Noble in Palmdale, CA. Join me at 6 p.m. for a storytime, a STEM activity, and book signing. A percentage of purchases (of any books, plus, music, games, and toys) will support the school library at Valley View Elementary School. Just mention the Valley View Bookfair and/or bring a copy of the flyer above. You also can donate books from teacher wishlists for their classroom libraries.
Not local? You can still help me celebrate by ordering merchandise online (gift cards and ebooks excluded) and using Bookfair ID 12584280 at checkout between March 2 and March 7. Let’s celebrate literacy together by raising money for our school libraries! Learn more about Bookfairs at B&N.
Books I’m Over the Moon About
I just finished two wonderful nonfiction picture books that reveal how two classic children’s books came to be. And that made me think about what fun it would be to pair these picture book biographies with the children’s classics in the classroom.
First up is FINDING NARNIA by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Jessica Lanan (Roaring Brook, November 2019). In our schools, students read C. S. Lewis’s THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE in fifth grade. A magnificent companion, FINDING NARNIA is the story of (C.S. Lewis) and his brother Warnie, the imaginative world they invented as children, and how those childhood stories grew into the world of Narnia.
Next, MIEP AND THE MOST FAMOUS DIARY by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Jordi Solano (Sleeping Bear Press, August 2019), explains how Miep Gies rescued Anne Frank’s diary when Anne and her family were taken by the Nazis. This book pairs perfectly with Anne Frank’s DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL, which our students read in 7th grade.
For younger readers, Melissa Sweet’s SOME WRITER! THE STORY OF E. B. WHITE (HMH, 2016) could be read alongside E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB (approximately 3rd grade).
Finally, I’m looking forward to the forthcoming BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST by Lindsay H. Metcalf, illustrated by Junyi Wu forthcoming in September from Albert Whitman. What a great book to read alongside THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT.
The takeaway: if your classroom is reading a classic work of literature with students, check your library to see if a picture book biography is available about the author. PB bios and classic children’s books are always better together.
If you have other great pairings, please share them in the comments. I’ll add them to the Pinterest Board I’ve started.