A New “Letter Blocks” Blogger Has Come To Town!

Hello, fair readers and fellow enthusiasts of all things literary for middle-grade readers!

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newest blogger for B&N’s “Letter Blocks” blog. I’ll be joining you every Thursday, bringing you (hopefully) helpful tips and friendly suggestions (nudges, perhaps?) regarding what to read and/or buy for the tween-ish crowd in your life. I, by no means, have a fully comprehensive knowledge of what’s out there on the library or bookstore shelves, so if you have any recommendations or comments for me, or, if there’s a specific post you’d like written, please feel free to pass on the info and/or request. I welcome and appreciate feedback anytime.

But before I get to the weekly business of blogging about books, I’ll tell you a wee bit about myself and a few of the reasons why I continue to read and cherish books that are supposedly “too young” for me to read at my age. (The truth is, of course, that there is no such thing as a book that is too young for anyone at any age. In fact, many of the books written for youngsters are just as suitable for us elder folks to read. But I’ll get to that in a minute.)

For what seems like eons, I’ve had my foot in the publishing business, whether it was publicizing kids’ books, reviewing adult books, editing short stories written by celebrated authors for an in-classroom language arts magazine, serving as a judge on a literary awards panel, or doing a bit of writing myself. While I would never say I’m an expert, I do try my best to stay aware and current and keep my nose in what’s cooking. And there’s so much cooking!

So, why an interest in middle-grade books? It’s an easy answer: What a strange time to be a kid! When I was that age, not only was I goofy looking with freckles, curly red hair, and braces on my buck-teeth (yes, everyone called me either Pippi or Annie), but I was also kind of shy. I didn’t always understand how I should express myself or behave in front of other kids my age. Sure, I had friends, but I wasn’t always sure about how to . . . be. Books and their worlds I could plop into and bolt out of were the ultimate pacifiers. They had all the answers. Thankfully, they are—and still do—to this day.

I’ll put an end to my prattling on for this week, but before I go, I’ll say this. Yes, the world is vastly different than it was just a decade ago as far as books are concerned. There are all sorts of new technologies available to kids these days . . . technologies I’m sure most of you reading this blog didn’t have when you were growing up. And yes, kids do spend an awful lot of time plugged into their gadgets doing who knows what aside from their homework. But the good news is that there are so many fantastic books out there, most of which are available in e-book form—some even have funky apps to boot! Whether it’s a physical book or an e-book, the salient point is that kids are reading.

As for the oodles of quality books out there, I’ll start with a simple list of ten favorites (not in any specific order . . . that’s too hard!). Some are from way back when. Others are from now. One is a picture book I think every kid and adult should read. A few of them are so well-known, it’s almost redundant to even include them on the list. But they’re all—yes, I’ll say it—gems and worthy of merit, each in their own way.

Blubber by Judy Blume
For any kid who has body-image issues or knows a friend who does, this book is a life-saver. You can’t ever go wrong with Judy Blume. She’s a children’s books author extraordinaire for a reason.




Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
I had a crush on Jess. I wished I was Leslie. I cried so hard at the ending. Like E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, I could read this book a million times and it would still have the same punch of a hold over me.




Heidi by Johanna Spyri
When I was younger, I had an old hardcover of this book, complete with gorgeous illustrations on tattered, paper-thin pages, that was given to my mother by her mother. My grandmother had gotten it from my great-grandmother. The book itself had special meaning for me personally, but that doesn’t negate the complex beauty of the overall story.



Lily’s Crossing or anything else written by Patricia Reilly Giff
OK. I confess. Mrs. Giff was my next-door neighbor when I was a wee girl and I absolutely adored her. Hanging out with her in her kitchen and listening to her spin stories was one of my favorite past-times by far. Even though I know how special she is as a person, Mrs. Giff’s books speak for themselves.



To read the rest of the post, please visit  Letter Blocks: The B&N Parents and Educators Blog.

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