by Kourtney LaFavre
Hello Dear Readers! I'm so happy to be here and sharing about one of my loves: STEM and STEAM books!
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. STEAM includes an “A” for Arts. STEM is the more prevalent acronym used in education. Here’s some reading about the differences and the debate over integration of arts into STEM: https://stemeducationguide.com/stem-v-steam/
And also STEM VS STEAM, a comparison guide for educators: https://artsintegration.com/2022/07/13/stem-vs-steam/
STEAM/STEAM books are an important component of kid lit. They not only help develop literacy skills, but also deliver info and knowledge to readers that leads to learning STEM/STEAM content. My favorite books also take it a step further and invite readers to develop their inquiry and thinking skills. It's an opportunity to plant a seed that maybe the reader will discover something incredible or be the world's next great scientist, inventor, mathematician, artist, or engineer!
If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your STEM/STEAM kid lit writing here are my three biggest tips:
#1 Pay attention, be curious, ask questions, and get involved. We can’t expect children and our readers to do these things, if we don’t do them ourselves. Curiosity and wonder are the keys that open the door to STEM/STEAM thinking! From my book IF SUN COULD SPEAK, "There are remarkable things happening all around you. Be sure to look around and ask yourself, “Why is this happening?
How did it come to be? The search for truth never ends as long as you keep seeking."
Seeking out STEM/STEAM ideas requires you to utilize your thinking and questioning skills about the world around you and your place in it. What do you wonder about? What do you observe? These inquiries just might lead to your next idea!
#2 Find ways to stay up to date on things happening in the STEM and STEAM world through books, magazines, blogs, documentaries, etc. Use social media to follow organizations such as NASA, National Science Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Find and follow professionals working in the fields of your interests. When something piques your interest, that just might be the beginnings of a great story! Here's a list of professional organizations in STEM fields: https://www.neiu.edu/academics/our-centers-and-programs/student-center-science-engagement/professional-organizations-stem-fields
#3 Read, read, read children's books. And then read some more! I average 30-50 children's books a month, with a good blend of newly published books and old favorites. It is important to read what’s currently being published, not because you want to write to a trend (write the story you love and write it well) but rather to get a grasp of what publishers are producing and help you understand the industry. Visit your local library and take advantage of inter-library loans to get your hands on as many recently published books as you can.
For further reading and recommendations for your reading list, check out these resources:
I hope you’ll join me next month to continue talking about STEM/STEAM and I’ll share some ideas for finding or deepening your next great story!
by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s a new year and, for many, that means trying new things. A lot of my friends in the kid lit community and considering trying their hands at writing a graphic novel. My advice is always the same: “Do it!”
As a kid, I loved reading graphic novels (yes, graphic novels count as reading). The Uncanny X-Men and Detective Comics were among my favorites. When I started writing for kids, I knew that, one day, I wanted to write at least one graphic novel. I wrote my first, and it’s currently on submission. I plan to complete my second this year. So, for any of you who may be interested in taking a crack a graphic novel of your own. I thought I’d share a few great examples of the genre and a couple of resources that can help you get started.
If you’re interested in writing a graphic novel in the chapter book space, check out COOKIE & BROCCOLI: READY FOR SCHOOL by Bob McMahon. One book in a fantastic series, it features Cookie and Broccoli who become friends and learn to navigate social situations together. It’s both funny and touching and a perfect example of how simple illustrations can go a long way in a graphic novel.
For the middle grade crowd, check out Dana Simpson’s PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN. It’s hilarious. Phoebe meets a unicorn and decides they’re going to be best friends. It takes some time though, as this particular unicorn is pretty egotistical. Perhaps that’s not too surprising since her name is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils Still, over time, the two become close as Phoebe learns all about unicorns and Marigold learns all about humans, particularly kids. If you’re looking for an example of great middle grade graphic novel, check out PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN.
If you’re looking for a mentor text for YA readers that’s a bit darker, check out DAYBREAK. Written and illustrated by Brian Ralph, it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. What really makes this book interesting though, is that the reader is the main character in the book. Every panel shows the action through the reader’s eyes. Also, Ralph does an excellent job of letting the looming danger drive the action. This isn’t a breakneck race through a horde of zombies. Instead, it’s a careful trek through a world that has obviously been decimated by something awful that still lurks in the shadows. It’s an amazing read, all the way to it’s stunning conclusion.
If you want to dive into writing graphic novels, there are no shortage of books to guide you on your way. I’d recommend checking out MAKING COMICS by Scott McCloud and COMICS AND SEQUENTIAL ART by Will Eisner. Both will give you a crash course in writing comics and will no doubt inspire you to push forward.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month!
Bryan Patrick Avery is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children. His middle grade collective biography, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, illustrated by Nikita Leanne, was released in 2022. Bryan is also the author of the middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, which appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra and the picture books EARL LEARNS A LESSON and MAX’S MAGIC CHANGE, both illustrated by Roman Diaz.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is an Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation. Bryan lives in northern California with his family.
Happy New Year! Cheers to creativity in 2023!
Here is an exercise that will hopefully help you set intentions and formulate concrete plans to start off the upcoming year with ideas and writing goals.
Write out numbers 1-23 with a line next to each.
Credit: Canva Image
On each line, write out something that will help you in your writing journey this year. For example, you could include a course/workshop/webinar/challenge you will participate in during the upcoming months. Include any books you will read (either a book about the writing craft or a book in your genre). Include favorite story lines or illustrations. List #kidlit blogs you follow or will read. Write down any writing podcasts you listen to. List critique groups you belong to or critique pals you exchange stories with. List libraries or bookstores you will visit. List any ideas you have already that you want to prioritize this year.
Cheers to creative productivity in 2023! Let me know in the comments how you used this list and if you included any additional categories.
Melissa Stoller writes to bring connection, joy, and a bit of magic to her readers. She is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island, and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; Sadie’s Shabbat Stories; Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom; and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Lovvorn and Shirin Rahman). Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story Judge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, a Book Meshuggenahs member, a Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Advisory Council member, and a past school and synagogue Trustee. She also interviews authors and offers resources on her blog. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer/editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Central Park walks. Melissa is represented by Jonathan Rosen at The Seymour Agency. www.MelissaStoller.com
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break