Ode To Joy
In the famous Peanuts cartoon by Charles M. Schulz, the character Schroeder is seen playing his piano, often recreating a tune of Ludvig van Beethoven's. Many times, the same song comes out, but somehow, he hits the right series of notes to emphasize his progress or frustration.
As we begin the New Year, we too at Sharing-Books continue to play our music. Our IT department regularly meets to find ways of enhancing the site. Our Classics department scours the globe in search of material that will somehow strike a chord in the minds and hearts of our readers. And of course, our Executive Team meet with those interested in supporting literacy and raising up the next generation of readers.
Our creators have brought you lively illustrations, such as those created by Catherine York and James Stroud, as well as topical written material that addresses the human condition. And that is to only name a few of our creators! Together, we create a global publishing company that has released over 150 e-books and posters in 2009.
So just as a pianist takes a fraction of a moment before beginning the next song, we encourage all of you to consider how truly splendid that feat is! It started with a single note, followed by a second hand on the keyboard, only to be joined by yet more players and more instruments. It seems only fitting of course, to encourage you to listen to this piece by Beethoven, as we ring in the New Year. Please join us in humming, singing and conducting this rendition of Ode To Joy.
Labels: Beethoven, Catherine York, children's ebooks, children's illustrators, children's writers, ebooks, James Stroud, Ode To Joy, Peanuts
Happy Birthday - Now We Are One
A.A. Milne, Creator of Winnie the Pooh, published in 1927 a series of poems in Now We are Six.
While Christopher Robin is older than Sharing-Books, we are delighted to be one year old. This year has introduced a host of authors and illustrators from around the globe to you, the reader. In fact, we have received such attention that Sharing-Books is likely the largest publisher of new children's books in Canada.
There has been plenty to celebrate and we did so, bringing together those in the local area. Sharon Davis of Room to Read, Vancouver Chapter joined us and Pierre Lapointe, CEO turned our minds to the coming year. Of course, as any child will tell you, the most important part of the evening was the cake! Lit with sparklers and iced with lots of gooey icing, it was a grand way to celebrate our first year live, giving us plenty of sugar to fuel our plans for the future. So do join us in singing Happy Birthday and stay tuned for upcoming features to enhance your child's reading experience!
Labels: children's ebooks, e-books, e-readers, ebooks, Sharing-Books
People of the Book
"Of course, a book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand."
Written in the recent book People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks' words echo not only throughout her book, but also in the library of the Classics Collection that is Sharing-Books. Tom Brown's School Days is an example of a book, whose story is found, not only between its covers, but in the travels of one woman.
Originally a prize for attendance, the second hand book followed its current owner from the Australian sheep farm of her birth, safely escaped the destruction of World War I, through the heights of the Roaring Twenties in English upper class society, and on through the epic battle of World War II. It stayed with her during the British Raj in India where she witnessed two births: one of a blonde boy and the other, the birth of the nation that is now India. It escaped under the protection of a Gurkha lieutenant colonel and now resides in a pastoral community in Lincolnshire where the book has enthralled two succeeding generations of her family.
The next stop for Tom Brown's School Days is as a download in your home. As you read through the pages, you will notice smudges, folded pages, and traces of bits. We have chosen to capture the weathered, golden pages of all our classics that come under our protection. We thought you too would treasure reading each story, just as they have come to us.
Labels: Arthur Hughes, bullying, children's ebooks, classics, ebooks, Gurkhas, Rugby, Sydney Prior Hall, Tom Brown's School Days
Suggested Influences to Harry Potter
With the recent film release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we feel it is only fitting that we make available one of the suggested influences to J.K. Rowling's successful series to our "Potterfiles".
Many parallels have been made between Harry Potter and Tom Brown's School Days, which both depict growing up in English private schools. Only a century separates the stories but both address the issue of bullying. Harry has Draco Malfoy as his nemesis while Tom has Flashman. In Harry Potter, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is where the action happens, while it is at Rugby where you meet Tom and his nemesis. Tom and his classmates are introduced to the games of football and rugby, while it is in the very fast game of Quidditch where Draco takes on Harry.
As you read on, more similarities between the two books will come to light. We look forward to receiving your input on one of our latest additions to the Sharing-Books Classics Library.
Labels: bullying, classics, e-books, ebooks, Harry Potter, Hogwarts, School Days, teacher resources, Tom Brown
The Importance of Reading - An Interview with Susan Cunningham, Early Childhood Educator
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan Cunningham, a Registered Child Educator, and Childcare Supervisor of Sheridan College's Mississauga Civic Centre Day Care Centre. She is frequently interviewed by the Today’s Parent magazine, and in our time together, she shared these insights on how to engage children in the process of reading.
Why is reading important to children?
Reading is so important for brain development. In fact, children need to see and hear words before they can begin to read. Importantly, when a parent or grandparent reads to them as the child sits on their laps, studies have shown that children begin to build a template that fosters closeness. Eventually, when a child is ready, they will go from 3-4 words in their vocabulary to 2000 words in a very short period of time. You can see how key it is to respond to your child’s request to be read to. By developing reading skills, in turn they will also develop concentration skills.
It is difficult for new readers in the beginning, so don’t be surprised if after you read to them, they will want to ‘read’ it back to you. They may not be reading it quite yet but they will remember what they heard about the pictures. When a child wants to read the same book, it helps them to build patterns around words. So despite you as the parent or grandparent wanting to groan at another reading of the same book, rest assured that you are indeed helping your child’s development!
How do you encourage children in your centre to start reading?
At our Centre, we provide books in abundance. There are books on display everywhere, in baskets and facing outward on shelves so children can see the cover page. Children don’t get bored if a book is within easy reach. Reading is particularly good for calming children down, so we often read before nap time.
Ms. Cunningham highly emphasizes the importance of taking time to create a rich text and image environment. If your child lives in one, your child will read when they are ready. If the home is absent of them, their growth will be delayed, if not stunted.
When you set up their room, be sure to provide crayons and pencils. Perhaps write their name and your name. When you draw a cat, write the word ‘cat’ beside the image. Repeat the process again on the same page. Label things around the house, like the cookie jar, or the bath tub, a door or the shoe rack. Children will associate the images with the text. As children grow up, I recommend taking children to the library. Help them to select four or five books, because they do like quantity.
Another way we encourage children to read is to host a Literacy Day where just the fathers, uncles or grandfathers join us. It is crucial that children hear the male voice as well as the female voice, and in our society, men often don’t involve themselves in their child’s reading. This way, the act of reading and being read to builds bonds of closeness between our children and key male role models.
What qualities do you look for in a book when selecting one for your classroom?
When selecting a book, it is important to remember that reading for children is very age specific. For example, for those under two years of age, it is key that the images are of everyday life, and not impressionistic. Over time, they will develop an ability to understand different image styles.
Not all stories need to rhyme. Find stories about different family mixes, cultures and different celebrations. If your child is going through temper tantrums, find a book where they can see how a child of their age group handles one and then they know how to handle it.
As for other topics, their and your choices will depend on the child’s interest. If you have plans to take them swimming, find a book about children swimming in a pool or a lake. If your child is nuts about dancing or soccer, find them a book with children participating in those activities. The children will begin to approach life knowing that they can turn to a book when they want to learn something new.
How much do you spend on books for your children care centre per month?
Each month, I make a point of taking advantage of school discounts so that I spend about $30 per month. Titles include information books and picture books. That doesn’t include frequent trips to the library. If something grabs my attention, I buy it. When a book wears out, I don’t hesitate to buy it again.
One great feature about Sharing-Books is that you can download the same book as often as you like, and the titles are always available. In book stores, because of the limit in space, book titles come and go so quickly that I don’t know when I will see it again.
Labels: child development, children's books, e-books, e-library, early reading, ebooks, library
The outdoor season, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, is upon us. It can be a time for rejuvenation from school, work and the other countless responsibilities. Some of us will make pilgrimages to cottage country, while others will find peace on their patio.
However, if you are facing 24/7 parenting and a possible long trek to the wilderness, you may find yourself dreading the coming summer months. Here then is a tip to the wise: many a mother gained a few hours of tranquility as their children silently listened to a story coming from the car radio. These days, you can now download an audio version of The Railway Children for your child's iPod. They will be entranced for hours!
If your children have excess energy, why not download the new poem by Jennifer Poulter so they can sing and dance outdoors? Back decks are the perfect place for budding actors intent on creating an amateur theatre production. For your young artists, Dandi Palmer's beautiful illustration is an example of the many wonderful colouring pages available to download from the site.
We'd love to hear how Sharing Books has been part of your summer so drop us a line or two and fill us in. All of us at Sharing Books wish you a wonderful summer experience filled with lots of reading, and plenty of fun!
Labels: children's books, coloring page, colouring page, ebooks, kid's songs, Railway Children, summer fun
Cast Your Votes ...
Now that the final entries for the Simone Wood Children's eBook Contest have been received, we are pleased to announce that there are five works for our readers to choose from:
- Whop Bop Menagerie is a series of three short stories, inviting readers to join in the rhythm of JR Poulter's rhyme as they whop-bop-about.
- August RoDent is another rhyming story about a sculptor of abundant talent, who finds love in the arms of a witty and dancing fan.
- Timothy Schenk creates a story about the magic each aspiring ballerina experiences when they see their first pair of satin covered pointe shoes in My Pretty Pointe Shoes.
- No Matter is a delightful poem that depicts the magic of a free spirit as it bursts through civilized conventions.
- Zoo Dance offers young readers an insider's look at the funky and fresh moves of the animal kingdom.
Each story adds depth to Sharing Books and we look forward to awarding three prizes to those with the most downloads. Be sure to log on and vote for your favourites!
Just a word of caution: don't be surprised if you find you and your young readers grooving and bopping, or as Simone Wood used to say, jiggering and pokering, on your front yard, in the kitchen or in the water. Indeed, wherever the moment strikes. Check out what these dancers did at the Antwerp Belgium train station
. After all, dance is one of the most moving experiences you will ever have!
Labels: children's books, dance, ebooks, Simone Wood
You Are Welcome
We at Sharing-Books want to make you feel welcome to enter our Children's eBook Contest. It is our way of encouraging you to give birth to that character who is aching to be noticed, but who is too often drowned out in the hurly-burly light of day.
This season, a favourite grandmother is being honoured. Simone Wood shared the dream of reaching out to others. Whether she befriended a field mouse with bits of cheese on her back stoop, or resurrected used books in her Oxfam shop, this Grandmother would have welcomed you.
For us, a contest is simply another way that our book creators can reach out to their audiences. Prize money is an added incentive to depict that character and share his or her story. In the children's book world, it is common to charge a fee of $25 to entrants for competing. We would rather not. We simply want to award three buckets of cash - not just one - to those who contribute to our community and share the dream of giving books away free to children.
So come on, join in the fun. Answer that little voice. When you participate, it tells your audience that you are sincere in your wish to publish. It allows your audience to encourage you by voting for your work. At Sharing-Books, you are in the community of friends, one who supports the act of creative writing and illustrating. Our community is around the globe, and each of us look forward to tuning in to read the lastest development in the children's book world.
Labels: Children's books awards, children's illustrators, children's writers, contests, ebooks, Simone Wood
Words of appreciation for Poster Poems by Jennifer Poulter
At Sharing-Books we love to tell the story of how Jennifer Poulter innovated with our publishing model and introduced to us the idea of a one page book - the poster poem. This is a format that Jennifer perfected for the purpose of helping children learn. Jennifer engaged a number of her illustrator friends into collaborating for posters covering a wide range of topics. The poems address issues affecting all children and Jennifer includes in the description of the poster-poems ideas on how they can be used. Jennifer's works have received a lot of praise and we are pleased to share with you some of the kind words acknowledging Jennifer creativity.
"As fourth grade teacher, I love Jennifer Poulter's poem posters. My class loves them for their richness of language and rhythm. Jennifer's topic selection is varied and great. There is something for every interest. The children enjoy being able to find and download new poems!" Teacher USA Feb 09
"This is a great resource."
Assistant Director, Assessment Resources Branch, Teaching & Learning Division
Queensland Studies Authority
"Materials super.......will activate people within QSA to develop some literacy enrichment learning materials around your work."
Teacher, assessment package writer /senior education officer Australia
"I will forward this on to my boss as he may like to forward it to schools in our district! Looks like really great stuff!"
AVT Behaviour Management Teacher & outgoing Artistic Director QPF
"I'm going back to work next week to teach two days a week in a grade 2/3 so these will be most helpful in my ideas and programming.
Australian primary school teacher
"I loved your poems. I shared them with the fourth graders in my class, and they enjoyed them too.
Thanks for sharing!"
"Now at school we're having an English week. And I gave your poems to children to work with them as translators - to translate in poetical style. They like this type of work - so creative! So this way I use your poems, they are funny, I love people with the sense of humor, and I hope the students and I will laugh together listening to the kid's (your) poems in our native language."
"You know, today we've had a lesson using your poems - and my kids' translations (Expelling Spell, Pandamonium, Ten of Them and Little People...), if you could hear and understand Russian, it was brilliant, fabulous and funny, of course... lots of laughter!
They (age-11) translated the poems themselves and did not only translate, but rewrote them in rhyme. To my delight they caught the heart of your works, and some of their works were not worse than the originals :) And they asked me for more! I've just downloaded your other posters….
Thank you from me and from my students.
All the best!"
"The kids and I did the Expelling Spell poem on Friday and they LOVED it as well as the illustration…"
American teacher, preschool and lower primary grades
"I downloaded your posters, thank you. Most of all I liked the ones about pandas and cats. My little daughter will be in a rave - she's a fan of animals, especially cats. Susie Dreaming is very nice and cute."
Parent /Teacher from Ukraine
"I have to tell you that I took it to school with me to read to my preschool students and they LOVED it! (So you know it's good now! They are truly the best sounding boards!)
The poem was a hit with the three and four year old age group, good job!"
Teacher review, USA
"I enjoy the poem very much, [I saw an Angel…]. Especially for children. Last week our topic in class was "Earth in danger", we were talking a lot about this,…. So your poem will be a good continuation."
"I read some of your work on Sharing Books. One poem I was particularly taken with is Susan Watching Clouds. It was really kind of sad--it stirred something in me."
Speech & Language Pathologist USA
"I absolutely love the sharing-books.com resource. Seriously, thanks for all you do."
Response from a parent [USA] on “Pandamonium” free teacher, librarian, home-schooling resource
"Jennifer Poulter skips and skims,
her words awake the free spirit within.
One laughs and giggles, but pauses some time,
To ponder the rhythm, the prose and the rhyme.
They create a world where ideas play,
But dance to the sound with the words that they say.
A heart filled with colour, spectrum, and fun
To frolic and spin in the warmth of the sun
Jan Ramage,[primary teacher and double award nominee CBCA]
"I have just worked with Jennifer Poulter, writing one of her poems in calligraphy and placing the finished item, Zoo View, on the site. I understand that ISBN numbers are gradually being added to books/posters on the site, always good for publishing credit – Sharing Books is the publisher. If you investigate the site, you will see that Jennifer has been very creative and productive there lately, and teamed with many top illustrators – I’m sure to everyone’s advantage."
Peter Taylor, SCWBI Queensland Organiser, teacher, writer, calligrapher, illustrator
Labels: children books, ebooks, teacher resources, teaching english
UNESCO'S World Book & Copyright Day
Today at Sharing-Books, we are celebrating UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day! April 23rd was selected as a date shared by several authors such as William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. On April 23 2009, we will join thousands around the world to pay respect to book creators and their achievements. As many of our book creators already know, Sharing-Books shares one third of its revenue with its book creators - a generous offer in the world of children's book publishing. Plus when you create, you also contribute to a growing library of online books available for free to our world's children. We publish stories in French as well as English, and are sourcing Japanese titles. All our classics are copyright-free as well, continuing to be on the forefront of the digital publishing industry. Come join us and register online - for free!
Labels: children's books, children's illustrators, children's writers, digital publishing industry, ebooks, UNESCO
5,000 BOOKS DELIVERED!
We had to interrupt our Easter egg hunt to watch the books downloaded counter tick towards 5,000. 5,000 books downloaded is another exciting milestone for Sharing-Books. We thank all the book creators who believe in this project and we are glad that thousands of children from over 70 countries have enjoyed their books.
This milestone is for us a confirmation of the value of our publishing model. We can now claim to have delivered a solid proof of concept and we are ready to advance the development of new features to enhance our book creators' and readers' experience.
I personally want to thank our Sharing-Books team members who persevere in our mission with dedication and passion. When you count all the book creators, the various technical colleagues led by Marcus Riedner, our investors and our executive team, you have a surprisingly large number of people who have committed time and resources to this idea.
Onwards to 10,000 books!
Labels: children books, e-books, ebooks
Giving things away to make money
Pierre passed a fascinating article from the CBC to me this morning on Sita Sings The Blues by Nina Paley. The reason I am doing a blog post on Sharing Books about this article is that it shows how absolutely powerful giving away your content can be. There is a fantastic quote in the article from Nina Paley:
'The more I let go, the more money seems to be heading back toward me. There's enormous untapped power in the audience. ' — Nina Paley, filmmaker.
This notion that giving your content away, that allowing your creative works to freely move and distribute rather then clamping down, is critical to the Sharing Books business model. It is also critical to the success of our book creators. By giving the work away you open yourself to tens of thousands of potential readers, far more then you would ever hope to get with traditional print and distribution. You have the ability to link to your own personal websites, where you can sell merchandise and grow your brand. Sharing Books offers a platform for authors and illustrators to publish their work, develop their work, and grow their brand.
As the world gets increasingly digital, and media content gets further separated from the media container the ability to let your work flow freely is going to become increasingly critical. Some of our creators get this already, developing Poster Poems ( one page books ) and mini-books ( six to 8 page teaser books ). These are works that a traditional publisher would never consider as viable, but in the world of container-less content these are the exact sort of user generated ideas that have so very much potential.
Labels: business philosophy, content, ebooks
What's with the Classics?
Sometimes people ask what the significance of classic literature is. Why not just focus on the up and coming works?
Classic literature remains alive today, in part, because it touches on the universal themes that affect us all, no matter what part of the world we live in. A child in Australia can read about bullying in Tom Brown’s School Days set in 19th century England, and suddenly know that they are not alone in this experience. A pre-teen in India can read Persuasion by Jane Austen and may share in the lament of caring for someone outside of their caste. Whether we are experiencing love or dangerous times, classic literature gives us a safe place in which to understand the inner workings of humanity that are so often missed in the glare of the day. Of course classic literature is not all serious, as adults who recall Mother Goose rhymes can testify by their giggle upon review of a political cartoon in the morning’s paper.
Classic literature flavours our world, giving us quiet companionship and a safe place to explore worlds unknown. It allows us to transcend our daily experience, perhaps dream of traveling while teaching us of foreign peoples, real or imagined.
As a French Canadian illustrator, Michele Lemieux did not grow up with the English writer Edward Lear and his stories, but as a child at heart, she has no problem laughing over his zany fictitious characters. Over the weekend, we had a chance to catch up with Canadian illustrator who illustrated the 1994 edition of Edward Lear’s poetry in There Was An Old Man… A Collection of Limericks. She was one of the guest speakers for Serendipity 2009, an annual event hosted by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable. Ms. Lemieux was delighted to see his original illustrations. Now, Sharing-Books readers too have a chance to share her delight in our recent re-release of his 1888 edition.
Here at Sharing-Books, you will find some of your favourite stories and discover new ones. This week, illustrator E.R. Stanton shares her wonderful watercolour that illustrates Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, “To the Seaside.” Doesn’t it dispel a gray day and make you long for summer by the beach?
Labels: classics, ebooks, Lear, Lemieux, limericks