Co-Reading Survey: Parents and Kids Opt for Print Books


Print books are preferred over e-books by parents as well as children when they read together, according to a new study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop that found 89.9% of iPad owners read “mostly print books and some e-books” with their children, 7.5% read both formats equally with their children, and 2.7% read “mostly or exclusively” e-books.

Almost 75% of the responding parents said they prefer co-reading print books, with more than 50% of their children agreeing. Fewer than 10% of parents or children prefer co-reading e-books exclusively.

The center noted “these preliminary findings suggest that many parents likely perceive children’s print books and e-books differently, particularly in terms the experience and expectations of co-reading. Moreover, in practice, e-books may be playing a different role in homes than print books are. Print books appear to serve as iPad owners’ preferred co-reading medium even in homes where e-books are available. E-books, on the other hand, may play supporting roles for developing kids’ literacy skills particularly when a parent can’t be around to read to them or when families are outside of the home.”

Arrrr You Ready for Adventure?

Written by Carrie L. Clickard, illustrated by Mark Meyers

Sailing into a store near you: our newest book, Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving Buccaneer, written by Carrie L. Clickard and illustrated by Mark Meyers.

Publishers Weekly says:

Clickard takes rhyme and meter seriously, achieving, at her best, a Gilbert and Sullivan–like patter…. Meyers… provides lots of pirate detail and even an ironic moment or two…. Rollicking, sea-chantey verse and slapstick humor make this a promising readaloud.

Although Victricia Malicia Calamity Barrett was born on her family’s pirate ship, this mild-mannered, book-loving girl is sick of the sea:

“I gag when my lunch is Spaghetti Tentacular,
hate when my sisters speak pirate vernacular,
want a new pet that’s not scaly or spiny,
and wish I could keep my books somewhere less briny!”

To find out more about Victricia’s seafaring adventure, her mishaps on board, and her encounter with a terrifying sea serpent, see the PDF preview of  Victricia Malicia. Check out the newly released Victricia Malicia trailer and sing-along here, and be sure to dig into the treasure trove of free printable activities and games at

Ernestine is a Winner!

Written by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister is the winner of the Comstock Read Aloud Book Award for 2012! The award was announced yesterday afternoon at an elementary school in Fargo, ND, and was read aloud to approximately 100 fourth grade students and their teachers.

The Comstock Read Aloud Book Award is sponsored by the Curriculum Materials Center at Minnesota State University Moorhead. The award is granted to the picture book that is best suited to read aloud to children from the ages of nine to twelve. The evaluation criteria of the book includes: rich vocabulary, memorability, whether the text and illustrations stimulate children to respond in a variety of ways, artistry, and more.

Congratulations  Linda Ravin Lodding and Suzanne Beaky!

By the way, last year, That Cat Can’t Stay, (written by Thad Krasnesky, illustrated by David Parkins), was selected by the Minnesota State University Moorhead as their Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor Book (for toddlers through 8 year olds).

Celebrate National Children’s Book Week!

Children’s Book Week was founded in 1919 by Boy Scouts of America librarian Franklin K. Matthiews, and is the longest running literacy event in the country. Since 1944, Children’s Book Week has been sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, a nonprofit trade association that organizes educational events, author and illustrator appearances, and other book-related events at schools, libraries, bookstores, and museums across the country.

Here are some ways to celebrate:

Visit some of the 120 blogs sponsoring book giveaways and gift card raffles! For a full list of participating blogs click here.

If you are in the New York area, come meet our author Lori Sunshine (I’m Really Not Tired), at 3:30 pm on May 10, at Stoopher and Boots, a boutique located at 385 Amsterdam Ave. between 78th and 79th Streets in New York City.

Grab your child’s favorite book and be sure to schedule some storytime. Full PDF files of all of our award-winning Flashlight Press books, plus activity guides for each book, are available on our website to extend the fun!

Monster Sweeps California!

Written by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Join us in congratulating author Amanda Noll and illustrator Howard McWilliam: I Need My Monster just won the California Young Reader Medal Primary Division, 2011-2012!

The California Young Reader Medal program is sponsored by four major literacy groups in the state:  The California Reading Association, the California Association of Teachers of English, the California School Library Association, and the California Library Association. Last year approximately half a million votes were cast for all five categories combined.

Congratulations to the winners in the other categories:

Intermediate – Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth. Walker Childrens

Middle School – Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Young Adult – Graceling by Kristen Cashore. Harcourt Children’s Books

Picture Book for Older Reader – Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. Scholastic Press

Author Laurie A. Jacobs Spreads a Little Sunshine

image from Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie written by Laurie A. Jacobs, illustrated by Anne Jewett

Laurie A. Jacobs, author of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, participated in the Project Sunshine Book Club on March 7 at a Manhattan hospital. Laurie channeled the silly playful spirit of Grandma Tillie and did an art project with the children. 25 copies of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie were donated by Flashlight Press to the young patients.

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization bringing programming – recreational, educational, and social service – to over 60,000 children facing medical challenges in 150 major cities across the United States and in five international satellite sites: Canada, China, Israel, Kenya and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit

Words Change Worlds

Image from Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, written by Laurie A. Jacobs, illustrated by Anne Jewett

Imagine a world where everyone can read…

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

It’s time to join the Global Literacy Movement.

World of Children’s Lit Loses a Star

Caldecott Winner Simms Taback Dies at 79

By SLJ Staff December 27, 2011

Simms Taback, author, graphic artist, illustrator, and winner of the Caldecott Medal for Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Viking, 2000), died peacefully in his home December 25 surrounded by his family and friends. He was 79.

simmstaback(Original Import)
Image found with original SLJ Tribute article.

Taback (left) died from pancreatic cancer, which he had been fighting for over a year, but he managed to fulfill his dream of traveling to Israel and London before his death.

Taback wrote or illustrated more than 40 children’s books, winning many awards, including the Caldecott Medal for his adaptation of a Yiddish folk song and a Caldecott honor for There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Viking, 1997), which was designated as a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book and the Children’s Book of the Year selection from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). He also received several notable book designations from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice Gold awards, and the Sidney Taylor Award.

He designed the first McDonalds Happy Meal box in 1977.

Born in New York City in 1932, Taback grew up in the Bronx and graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art in 1953. After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked as an art director at CBS Records and the New York Times, and later as an advertising art director at William Douglas McAdams.

Taback formed a successful design studio in 1963 in partnership with Push Pin Studios’s cofounder Reynold Ruffins. He worked as an illustrator, writer, art director and graphic designer, and taught at the New York City’s School of Visual Arts and Syracuse University.

joseph.2(Original Import)
Image found with original SLJ Tribute article.

Taback also was a founding president of the Illustrators Guild, which later merged and became the New York Graphic Artists Guild, where he was a founding member and president. He was an advocate for artists’ rights with his service as author, editor, and production supervisor for the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

A lifetime member of the Society of Illustrators, Taback had three children and five grandchildren. He and his wife Gail in 2006 moved from their home in New York’s Catskill mountains to their home town of Ventura, CA.

When Taback wasn’t working on children’s books, he would often enjoy long walks along the beaches of Ventura with his dog Buddy, explore new and interesting variations of all things chocolate, and stay current with most every new motion picture with Gail.

“Simms may have wished that those who loved him would not feel such grief, but the world truly seems less bright without his presence,” says his website. “One does not meet too many quite like Simms, and if his times helped defined him, it may be that such as he will not come again. Along with the astonishing creative gifts he shared with us, he carried a contagious warmth, humor, genuine humility and kindness, and a deep abiding sense of service to others.”

A retrospective of Taback’s work is currently on display at the Museum of Ventura County until February 12, 2012, and many of his old friends from the publishing world went to see the show. At the show’s December opening, Taback’s grandson Oliver, 11, read a letter that he wrote to his grandfather, and another grandson, Nelson, knitted him a scarf.

SLJ Tribute article can be found here.

Long Island Books: Life With Dad

Image from Pobble's Way, written by Simon Van Booy, illustrated by Wendy Edelson.

by Baylis Greene

“They’re having a kid? His life’s over.”

I heard those only half-joking words at a summer barbecue a few years ago. It took me a while before I could complete the thought: “And a new, richer one begins.”

What’s nice about Pobble’s Way (Flashlight Press, $16.95) by Simon Van Booy is that on a winter walk a father’s flights of fancy match his daughter’s, and the two play off each other. To him, a leaf is a butterfly raft. To her, a mushroom is a frog umbrella.

And the exercise in imagination extends to a menagerie of woodland animals who, in a furred and feathered Rashomon effect, take turns deciphering what a dropped pink mitten actually is. The options: cotton candy, a mouse house, a wing warmer, a fish coat, or a carrot carrier.

Mr. Van Booy, originally from Wales but a South Fork resident-slash-visitor ever since he earned an M.F.A. at Southampton College, is the author of a recent debut novel and story collections that range from well-received to prize-winning, and the language here is fresh: The duck comes “strutting over to the Something”; the mouse “parked her plump body” on top of it. Or simply fetching: “Dusk had stilled the creaking trees, the branches wore long sleeves of snow. . . .”

There’s comedy, too. A mitten?

“ ‘Never heard of it,’ Mouse muttered.” Rabbits are accused of engaging in gluttony when it comes to carrots? “ ‘Some do, I suppose,’ Bunny said, looking at her paws.”

Wendy Edelson’s illustrations, in watercolor glaze, capture the woods’ profusion of life. She hails, not surprisingly, from Washington’s Bainbridge Island, where the wildlife is indeed wild and the greenery so green it practically throbs.

She includes charming endpapers showing where each of the animals makes its bed. Which is where they retreat to as the story, set after dinner but before bedtime, comes to hint at the eternal parental struggle to get a child to sleep.

And the moon “pulled her white blanket across the woods.”


My Side of the Car

At last, a kids’ book that explores life in the car. It occupies so much of a parent’s time, energy, and worry — from negotiating harnessed safety seats worthy of the Space Shuttle to the use of rolling motion as sleep inducement, and what do you do when the kid’s asleep and you have to run an errand? — you’d think they’d have proliferated like so many side-impact air bags.

My Side of the Car (Candlewick Press, $16.99), by Kate Feiffer with deft pencil-and-watercolor illustrations by her father, Jules Feiffer, is about a long-delayed trip to the zoo that gets put off yet again by rain. Complication ensues when little Sadie notices that it’s falling on only the driver’s side of the car. Her dad splashes through puddles and can barely see past the wipers, but out Sadie’s window it’s all garden parties and sunflowers.

(The whimsical book, based on an actual argument the two once had in trying to get to a nature preserve on Martha’s Vineyard, is one of a number of projects the cartoonist had lined up for himself when he holed up in a rental off a quiet Southampton street not long ago.)

Is it merely wishful thinking? To investigate, Sadie steps out of the car and into mud up to her pink stockings. On his side, anyway. She relents.

But one good turn deserves another, and they don’t get far before the sunshine crosses the (psychological?) divide, enabling father and daughter to stride happily into the zoo together. At last.



You won’t find a lovelier children’s book than Claire A. Nivola’s Orani (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $16.99). It tells of a family trip she took close to 60 years ago back to the village on Sardinia where her father grew up. (Her father being the artist Costantino Nivola, who kept a house in Springs for many years.)

Like magpies, she and her Sardinian cousins “flew and settled wherever something was happening” in Orani, a small place of stucco and red tile roofs ringed by mountains. The sheer immediacy of life there renders her experiences indelible. “All I needed to learn and feel and know was down there,” she says from a perch overlooking the village.

She eats fruit and figs right off the tree. Women bake bread communally at night to avoid the heat of day; neighbors make the cheese and honey. She walks the streets and through open windows hears plates being cleared. Among the sights are a three-day wedding celebration, a nearby newborn, and, in a second-floor room open to children, a corpse laid out for a funeral, “his face rigid and white and cold with the unspeakable strangeness of death.”

She finds her return home to crowded New York City, with its height and symmetrical layout, equally strange. The book ends with her wondering what different worlds so many people might have come from. It’s a passage with all the feeling, hope, and generosity of a prayer.

Their own Oranis? They should be so lucky.

This East Hampton Star post appeared online on Sept. 29, 2011.

NY State Charlotte Award Blog interviews David Parkins

David Parkins, illustrator of That Cat Can’t Stay (one of 10 books on the NY State Charlotte Award Primary list), was interviewed by Ms. Down’s students at Town of Webb School on the NYSRA Youth Book Blog. Here’s what he had to say:

That Cat Can't Stay, written by Thad Krasnesky, illustrated by David Parkins

Did you use pictures of real cats to draw from?

If I have to draw something I don’t know well, I would always gather lots of pictures of the thing so I get it right. It’s easy to do this nowadays with the internet. I didn’t need to research cats, though, because we have kept cats as pets for years. At one stage we had six, but right now we have just three: a big grey one (very like the big grey cat in That Cat Can’t Stay), a black one and a tabby who is quite old (about 19 years, I think) but very sprightly still. I see them all the time, so I sort of know how they look.

What about people? 

Again, I didn’t need to research or gather reference for the people, because I have drawn so many over the years I just seem to know how to do it now. Sometimes, if I need to draw someone in a very difficult position, or they are, say, playing a sport I’m not completely familiar with, I may have to look that up. But I don’t think I needed to do that for this book.

Were any of the characters based on people you know?

No, I don’t know anyone quite like these characters. Although memories of how someone might have stood, expressions they may have had in certain circumstances, that sort of thing will have informed the drawing. It’s important to be a good observer when you are an illustrator. Always notice how your friends stand, what faces they pull, how they react to things. Then you will know how to draw people in similar circumstances. And you can always exaggerate a bit if you want to make it funny.

How long did it take you to create this book?

I didn’t get all that long to do this particular book. I think it took about three months to do the final art, but I was doing other work as well. If I had been able to sit and do just the book, and nothing else, it would have probably taken about six weeks. Add maybe another couple of months for the roughs and discussions, so perhaps five or six months in all.

Were you responsible for the use of white backgrounds and using text as part of the picture?

Sort of. I am given a manuscript, and I know how many pages I need to fill. Sometimes I decide which bit of text will go on which page, and sometimes a designer or editor will tell me (I think that’s what we did with That Cat Can’t Stay). Then I produced a set of rough pencil drawings that went with the text. After I had done that, it was the designer at Flashlight that had the great idea of changing the layout of Dad’s rants, so that sometimes it was boxed like a comic strip, and sometimes the words snaked around the page. She re-sized and re-positioned my sketches to fit, and then I used that new layout when I did the final art.

Did you like drawing for a children’s book?

I always enjoy doing pictures for children’s books. Well, nearly always. Except when I’m a bit behind with my work, then it just seems like work that has to be done. A bit like homework.

We liked the expressions on the character’s faces, esp. the Dad’s. How did you manage to get the expressions right?

Remember that thing about watching your friends’ expressions? I’ve been doing that a long time. But also, drawing is a bit like acting. You have to imagine what the person is feeling, and what that would make them look like. And I’ll let you into a secret: when I draw faces I am usually acting the expression that I’m drawing. I sit scowling as I draw a scowl, and grinning when I draw a grin, trying to feel what it is to be the person I’m drawing. When I was doing all Dad’s expressions, I think my wife must have thought I was quite bonkers.

Did you mean to have the Dad look harsh?

I didn’t want Dad to look harsh, exactly, but he had to look disapproving and completely determined. If he had not, it wouldn’t have been as funny when the rest of the family kept winning, and the cats kept staying. And in the end, we know he’s really an old softy, don’t we?

What is your favorite style of illustrating?

Such a difficult question. I have done quite a few children’s books, and each time I approach it differently. I always try to make the style of the pictures fit the text as best I can. My favourite style is the one that works best with the writing. But I know that’s not really a proper answer to your question, so I will confess that I do like to draw slightly cartoony characters with lots of energy and exaggerated body language and facial expressions. Like Dad, in That Cat Can’t Stay.

Do you like reading books?

I love reading books, but I always feel that I should be working and not sitting enjoying a book because I have so little time. So when I don’t have enough time, I love to listen to audible books. I do that while I work. I find I can listen while I am drawing without any problem, although I can’t if I have to think. So if I am working on roughs, and I’m thinking about the text I’m illustrating, I can’t listen at all. It distracts me. But once all that is done, and I’m just concentrating on the final drawing, I can listen to another book and it’s fine (I really enjoy Charles Dickens). Maybe drawing and listening occupy different parts of the brain.

David Parkins, November 2011

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