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Fashion . . . a 4th grader wants books about fashion

Earlier this week I was doing a PeRL with a fourth grader–she’s not a big reader but has a lot of opinions about books. Chapter books are not very interesting and she doesn’t like Babymouse, but she likes books about fashion. I immediately knew that I would need to focus on nonfiction and look beyond […]

May 30th, 2013

Resentment, adoration, ambivalence, love: siblings

In the three years that we’ve had this blog, we have never had a post explicitly about siblings. Which is surprising given that siblings are such a dominant part of childhood and an enormous part of almost all children’s books. So here are five siblings books from J Fiction that, with their mixed-up and conflicting […]

May 2nd, 2013

Just write! National Poetry Month

April was declared National Poetry Month 17 years ago by the Academy of American Poets. I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer Benka, the Academy’s executive director, and I was thrilled to hear her on PBS the other day. I was excited that she didn’t focus on all the reasons that poetry is important! meaningful! crucial!. […]

April 5th, 2013
yolen my uncle emily

Women’s History Month: Emily Dickinson

In thinking about Women’s History Month, I have been contemplating some of the great women writers–selfishly focusing on the ones who are most meaningful to me.  Because I have been in a fever of reading adult poetry, I’ve been thinking about adult authors in the Children’s Room. Particularly Emily Dickinson. She’s a great poet to […]

March 7th, 2013

Falling in Love with Jerry Pinkney: African American History Month

Thinking about African American History Month, I went through a range of topics–notable biographies of African Americans (Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed America is a particularly great new one) or issues in African American history or contemporary life (like We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson) or […]

February 8th, 2013
Over and under cover

Brrr! Wintery books, books about winter, books to keep the chill away

January–when the holidays are done and it still months until spring–can be a dreary, cold month. As readers we have so many ways to combat the winter blahs, here are a few of my favorites: Bury yourself deep in a snowdrift: The Long Winter, part of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, […]

January 23rd, 2013


There is always a flurry (ha ha) of excitement when we bring out the holiday books: for book lovers returning to our favorite holiday books is one of the great traditions of the season. Christmas and Hanukkah books can be anything from inspired to insipid. Many Christmas books retell classic stories–The Night Before Christmas, Twelve […]

December 5th, 2012
Half Magic

Classic Read-Alouds

Here is a list of read-alouds that are classic but might not be at the top of your mind. For the sake of this post, I’m defining a ‘read-aloud’ as a J Fiction book that parents would read aloud to their kids (not a picture book) and, in terms of what makes a classic, I’ve […]

November 28th, 2012