Kids Lit Talk

Kids Lit Talk

by Jennifer Silverwood, June 29, 2018

When you look for a children’s book, either to read to your classroom, or buy for your kids, what do you look for? Is it the title or author name that jumps out at you? The subject matter? If you’re visually minded like us, or namely, like kids, it’s the illustrations that draw you in.

 

A Little Backstory

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jennifer Silverwood, author of fantasy/sci-fi fiction. But writing is my nighttime gig, after the little guy is asleep (or at least in bed, looking at his books). By day, I’m a mother, and when I’m able, both an illustrator and project manager for Qamber Kids. I also happen to be a former learning center teacher, after-school programmer, and an aunt to kids of all sizes.

Reading this, you may be asking how I ended up here. Well, let me tell you. 😉 I first met Najla Qamber years ago, when we were still starting out professionally, and I had commissioned her to do my book covers. We quickly became friends, and eventually she asked me to help them manage the growing business that is now Qamber Designs & Media. When Najla and her sister Nada asked me if I was interested in becoming the project manager for Qamber Kids, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ve been looking after kids since I was one, as my family likes to tell. I was always helping to watch the younger kids, or to comfort injured kids on the playground. As I grew up, I was often volunteered, then later asked, to babysit. It was only natural that my first full-time job was at a children’s learning center. I say learning center because, unlike a daycare, centers are under very strict state standards, and require constant continuing education for workers. I spent over five years forming curriculum and working with kids of all ages, from infants, to music classes and an after-school program. It was like a kids summer camp, only every day.

Books for the Classroom

I started shopping for children’s books when I began forming an after school program for the school-agers. These are kids that would get dropped off at the learning center after school, until their parents could get off work. So I was constantly looking for new books to share and help entertain them with. I’m a picky children’s book shopper. Since I’m also a former art student, I prefer books with color and creative text. For kids 5 and up, the more complex look & themes work very well. Here are a few examples of past classroom favorites:

    

*images & links from Goodreads

Books for Pre-K

I started out working with toddlers and 3’s & 4’s, when I first joined the daycare crew. I spent as much time with them as infants and the after-schooler’s. This opened my naive eyes to complexities I had never imagined to exist in the busy minds of toddlers. For example, toddlers (and 3’s and 4’s to a point) are much like teenagers, struggling with big new emotions and how they fit into the world. Which is why they constantly test and push against the boundaries, and need constant reminding of the rules. Yet their brains are growing at amazing rates, and they understand a whole lot more than most adults give them credit for. When working with this group, we did units on vehicles, the body, families and the world. Most of all, we help teach them how to manage those big feelings and how to safely treat their friends (biting and hitting were daily occurrences in a room of 8 toddlers…) Their books tend to be simpler, but the ones that hold their attention best share their need to explore. Here are some of this age group’s favorites:

   

   

*images & links from Goodreads

Books for Babies

I can’t say enough how important it is to read to babies. True, infants and 1’s are more likely to eat a book than listen to you read it. But I can promise from experience, both in childcare and as a mom to a toddler, start early. Train them how to handle the books one-on-one as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to introduce older books occasionally. And yes, always start with board books or soft books.

While working with infants, we were often so busy with their schedules and diapers and lessons (yep, it’s a real thing), we didn’t have much time to spend reading to them individually. But when I had my boy in 2015, I knew I wanted to start him young. Before he could do much, other than slap his hands at the covers, I read him board books. Eventually, he could help me turn the pages. Any time he started to try and chew or eat on them, or step on his books, I corrected him. Now he’s two, and books are his favorite besides trucks and dinosaurs. He enjoys older, Pre-K level books as much as the old board books. He has never ripped off a cover or torn a book to pieces. And it’s been wonderful passing on that love of reading to him, the same way my mom did for me. Here are some of our past (and still current) favorites:

  

*images & links from Goodreads

Some of you reading this are parents or grandparents, some of you are authors or teachers, or professionals. All of us have little ones in our lives. Something I think adults often forget, is to look at reading, and the world for that matter, from the perspective of a child. We forget to listen to them when they speak. But I can tell you, from my experience, they are the purist souls, and their lack of filter allows them to be completely genuine. Which is why kids are my favorites. 🙂

Stay tuned for future posts by me (Jenn) as we share current and upcoming #kidslit titles, along with marketing and industry news. Hope to see you there!

We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below! What are some of your childhood favorite reads? What do you read to the little ones in your life? Let’s talk books!

 

 

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