Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cleaning the Tub

If I were a patient person, I would have held onto my New Year's Resolution post and published it on the new and improved blog. But, my talents lie elsewhere.

Over the past few days I've been working on the new-and-improved Scrub-a-Dub-Tub blog. We're over at Wordpress now, and except for the fact that I can't get flash widgets (like the Cybils), I'm lovin' life. TubTalk is also being merged into the blog with its own page. Just our way of helping you clean out your reader!

The toughest part has been getting the links categories together. I've expanded the categories to include booklists and podcast reviews. If you're a children's book or literacy-related blogger, you may be listed in multiple categories. I did that on purpose ... you have many talents, so they should all be highlighted. The goal is to make it easy to find great resources in the category that comes to mind first.

There are still tweaks to come. I copied all of my existing blogroll friends, but have not cross-checked with the reader [which I haven't opened since Monday morning.] If I have you in the wrong category, or you are missing from a category, please let me know. Just email me at thereadingtub [at] gmail [dot] com. If I don't have you on the blogroll, please leave us a comment ...

Last but not least, be sure to update your reader with the new address. This will be the last post from here.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Diversity Rocks! Book Challenge

When I started the Reading Tub, I wrote the tag line "Turning a page ... opening the world." I thought it captured the potential and reach of reading. There is so much to explore between the covers of a book. Reading can transport you to new places (of this earth and beyond), introduce you to new people (real and not), and expand your everyday world. That idea is what drew me to Ali's Diversity Rocks! book challenge.

One of the things I like about the challenge (aside from the flexibility) is that it will help me take a more thoughtful approach in selecting books I read. Frankly, I don't think about ethnicity or race when I look at a book. I am drawn to a book because the story sounds interesting. Sometimes it is because the illustrations or photographs draw me in without reading a word. Taking the time to learn more of the back story or pay attention to the origin of the stories will round out my reading experience. And that's cool.

Here are the books I've selected for the challenge. Update: In my previous post, I said I would commit to six books. In my original comment on Ali's post announcing the challenge, I have committed to reading nine books ... and secretly hoping to read 12. Here are the first six books on my list (in no particular order). You may recognize a few of these from my TBR pile ...

Give a Goat written by Jan West Schrock, illustrated by Aileen Darragh. This may be a stretch, but it offers a true-life story about a 5th grade class and their effort to think beyond themselves to help a family continents away. From the publisher's website: "Give a Goat is a template for adults and children who want to work together to experience the satisfaction of giving to others and making a difference in the world. "

Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope
by Beverley Naidoo. I love Naidoo's work. I read Web of Lies, several years ago and she got me hooked on stories that let you tap into the struggles of immigrant kids and their families. This is a collection of short stories about apartheid in South Africa. This was a book that caught my eye last September.

The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island
by Lawrence Yep with Dr. Kathleen S. Yep. This is a middle-grade story about immigration that one of our parents already reviewed. Their review is compelling, and I want to read it myself.

Mountains to Climb written by Richard Wainwright, illustrated by Jack Crompton. From School Library Journal: "A gentle story about a boy from the Andes mountains and his pet llama, born with one eye, who sail to America to live with his aunt and uncle for 'a year or two.' He helps his fellow Explorers Club members find shelter on a stormy mountain top and rescue their injured advisor. Before he returns to South America, Roberto convinces the Explorers to admit two new members--one boy who is blind and another who has two artificial legs. The portrayal of the two physically challenged boys and their interaction with the others on the camping trip is the book's strength."

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing
written by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann. This is a book that arrived in the office last fall and was in my last Reading Ahead column. This middle-grade novel is set in in Beijing, China, in 1966. I wsa three in 1966, and I know very little about the Cultural Revolution. The author is a contemporary, and I would like to see how his story unfolds.

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story
written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Duane Smith. This is the story of an escaped slave's journey to freedom. What captured my interest in reading this book was this statement in Cloudscome's review at A Wrung Sponge: "You don't often get exciting stories of heroism and resistance by smart, brave, persistent African Americans who spent their lifetime working for justice and freedom. Robert Smalls is such a man and Seven Miles to Freedom is a thrilling biography for elementary age children."

Rather than pre-select all of my titles just to "fit" the challenge, I am going to opt to add some later. That will allow me to explore and get suggestions from other readers and take advantage of new titles that come in for review.

The Diversity Rocks! book challenge is, well, diverse. There are no genres or age ranges involved. I'm sticking with children's books because that's (a) what I read the most; (b) that's my audience; and (c) it's easy. If you're looking for ideas, read Ali's posts about children's picture books and middle-grade titles.

Read more!

Friday, January 02, 2009

CYBILS Shortlists and Other News

The office is technically still closed until Monday, but I've been periodically sneaking in to check the Reader and keep up with the Email. I promise to keep this short and sweet.

Yesterday the Cybils short Lists were announced. Head over to the Cybils blog to see the lists of finalists in each of the nine categories ... or at least your favorite genre. I had the honor of reading and chatting with the panelists for the Easy Readers. Now it will be fun to see what the judges think. I am still making my way through each of the lists.

Ali, over at the blog Diversity Rocks! is organizing a challenge to encourage us to diversify our reading this year. The idea is to have a more rounded portfolio of books by reading authors whose culture, ethnicity, or nationality are different from ours. I am not one for joining challenges, but I am always up for learning, reading new authors, and being inspired, so I'm going to try this. Look for my challenge list (I'm going to commit to 6 books) in the next few days.

If you're not interested in challenges but want to "do more" with your reading and/or try your hand at blogging about books this year, head over to the Well-Read Ladies blog. In December, Jill Tullo of the Well-Read Child created the Well-Read Ladies book club as a tribute to her aunt. Here is a link to book club's inspiration and her ideas for this virtual conversation.

I feel like I'm forgetting one other item. When I think of it, I'll sneak back in the office!

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