Radio Interview: Sister Jenna's America Meditating

I had the great good fortune to be on another radio show a couple of weeks ago, this time with Sister Jenna on America Meditating.
I come on at about 15:28, talking about my writing journey, Be a Changemaker, and Emmanuel’s Dream.
I hope you enjoy listening!

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with America Meditating on BlogTalkRadio

 

Thank you to Sister Jenna and her assistant, Antonia, for the interview and also for their wonderful, positive energy throughout. It was a pleasure to participate!

 

Radio Interview: Brooke Taylor's A Special Connection

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Brooke Taylor on her inspiring radio show, A Special Connection on WHKW AM1220 in Cleveland, Ohio. Brooke just happened to have stumbled across one of my books at her local public library and was moved by it, so she reached out to me to talk about it.
The whole show is fantastic, but if you’re in a rush, we start discussing Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah at about the 31:58 mark, and Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters at about 45:37.
I hope you’ll enjoy listening!
https://soundcloud.com/living-the-word/a-special-connection-with-brooke-taylor-july-25th-2015
What fun! Huge thanks to both Brooke and her producer, Brett Crowe, for making it such a pleasure.
I’ve got a couple more radio interviews in the works as well, so please stay tuned for more audio in the coming weeks!

Be a Changemaker wins a Crystal Kite Award!

Be a Changemaker cover

Be a Changemaker coverIt’s a huge honor to announce that Be a Changemaker has won the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ (SCBWI) Crystal Kite Award for the West division, which includes Washington/Oregon/Alaska/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota! This award is voted on by other SCBWI members, who are also authors and illustrators, so it’s especially rewarding to be recognized.
Winning is a bit bittersweet, though. First, there were so many great books in the overall list of eligible titles (including the one I voted for, which didn’t make the finals). Second, the other three finalists are all fantastic books, written by a trio of lovely authors whom I’m glad to call my friends. I honestly would’ve been just as happy to see any of these fine books win as I am to see my own. If you haven’t seen these yet, please check them out!

This year’s Crystal Kite Award announcement was exciting for another reason, too. My friend and agent-sister Tara Dairman won the Southwest division with her book, All Four Stars! I love All Four Stars, and I’m thrilled to see it get this recognition. Congratulations, Tara!

It was also pretty great to see so many awesome nonfiction books making the list this year. Here are some of my favorites:

California/Hawaii New England New York

 
Thank you to all who voted! For a complete list of all the 2015 winners, click here.

Announcing the book giveaway winners!

Be a Changemaker cover

A couple of weeks ago I announced giveaways here and on Goodreads for both Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream. We have winners!
From my list of newsletter subscribers, chosen by Random.org, the winners are…
Be a Changemaker coverJim McGinley wins a signed copy of Be a Changemaker! I swear it was completely random, but this is just so perfect. Jim was one of the very first people to help and encourage me on my quest to write this book, and his early support meant a lot to me. He’s even mentioned in the acknowledgements. Sometimes fate is hard to deny, you know?
Emmanuel's Dream coverThe winner of a signed copy of Emmanuel’s Dream is Lindsay Fouts! This seems like a great fit, too, since Lindsay is both a picture book writer and the mother of a young son. I hope they enjoy the book.
And on Goodreads, the winners were far flung: Adage from Romania won Be a Changemaker, and Jessy from India won Emmanuel’s Dream. Yes, it’ll cost me a little extra in postage, but it’s exciting to know that my books will be traveling around the world!
Finally, in case anyone is curious, some giveaway stats from Goodreads…

  • 1004 people requested Emmanuel’s Dream and 464 added it to their To-Read shelf, and
  • 1441 people requested Be a Changemaker and 610 added it to their To-Read shelf.

 
 
 

Let's celebrate with a giveaway (or four)!

MY DOG IS THE BEST cover

I’m so happy about the recent accolades my books have received that I’ve decided to host not just one giveaway–but FOUR!
To celebrate the fact that BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS was a finalist for the Cybils awards, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of the paperback edition on Goodreads, here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson

Be a Changemaker

by Laurie Ann Thompson

Giveaway ends April 02, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


To celebrate the starred review from School Library Journal for EMMANUEL’S DREAM: THE TRUE STORY OF EMMANUEL OFOSU YEBOAH, I’ll be giving away a signed copy on Goodreads, here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Emmanuel’s Dream

by Laurie Ann Thompson

Giveaway ends April 02, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


AND, I’ll give away a signed copy of either one (winners get to choose!) to two random subscribers to my mailing list. If you’re not a subscriber yet, just sign up below. (I only send a short newsletter once/month.)

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required



Email Format

MY DOG IS THE BEST coverFinally, School Library Journal recently called my upcoming release “well-executed and charming.” I can’t give this one away just yet (it will release on June 9, 2015), but feel free to share the MY DOG IS THE BEST love by adding it to your Goodreads shelf and/or pre-ordering it at one of the following links:
My Dog Is the Best


Be a Changemaker is a Cybils award finalist!


I woke up this morning to news that Be a Changemaker made the list of finalists for the 2014 Children’s and Young Adult Blogger’s Literary Award, better known as the Cybils, in the Nonfiction for Young Adults category. What a way to kick off 2015!
The nominations in this category were varied and impressive, and the books that made the finalist list are truly among the best I’ve read all year. It’s an incredible honor to have my book in such amazing company!

Alice + Freda cover Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe
Be a Changemaker cover Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson
Beyond Magenta cover Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Popular cover Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
Family Romanov cover The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Freedom Summer Murders cover The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell
Port Chicago 50 cover The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Thanks, Pat Zietlow Miller, for nominating it in the first place. Thanks, Stephanie Charlefour at Love. Life. Read., for the finalist write-up, and to the entire panel (also including Aaron Maurer from Coffee for the Brain, Michelle Lockwood from Blogs Like a Girl, Karen Ball from Mrs. B’s Favorites, and Danyelle Leach from Bookshelves in the Cul-de–Sac) for reading, considering, and ultimately selecting it. I’ve been a first round Cybils judge twice and am a second round judge in a different category this year, so I know what a lot of hard work and dedication goes into it! Finally, thanks to the people who keep the Cybils running. It’s one of my favorite awards in children’s books as a reader, author, and judge. I’m always glad to be a part of it, so having my own book make that finalist list means even more to me. Kidlit bloggers ROCK! 🙂

Need a gift idea for a teen in your life?

Be a Changemaker gift wrapped

Last Friday, I had the great pleasure of participating in the Annual Holiday & Benefit Party at Parkplace Books, a lovely independent bookstore in Kirkland, WA. The event was festive and well attended, and I had the chance to talk with some of my favorite local authors as well as many of the customers who came in to see us.
I also got to sign a lot of books: it seems Be a Changemaker is a hit for holiday gift giving!
Be a Changemaker gift wrapped
For the teens (and adults) on your list, you can buy BE A CHANGEMAKER at your local independent bookstore (find them on IndieBound), or online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s.
And, if you need more bookish gift ideas for teens this holiday season, check out this post from the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox on how to buy books for the teens (or anyone, really) on your shopping list.
Happy holidays!

Bow image originally from Joanne, on Flickr: “02/05/2014: Brown bow tied onto package”.

 

Quote: "You are the changemakers and the change."

Monique Coleman quote

Monique Coleman quote
Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net

Quoted in BE A CHANGEMAKER, chapter 1, from a speech given at We Day Seattle on March 27, 2013, attended by the author. Visit Monique Coleman’s official web page for more information about her speaking and humanitarian activities.

Fan mail: a teacher email about Be a Changemaker

I recently received this email from a middle-school teacher:

I wanted to let you know that one of my students has taken your book to heart.  He’s been carrying it with him for six weeks, and he is in the process of trying to start a nature club at school.  He is a super hard worker, and a wonderful, bright, sensitive 12-year-old boy–the type who might really make a dent in some of this world’s problems. He is passionate about this endeavor, but he doesn’t feel that he’s being taken seriously: adults are assuming he’s not going to work hard enough, he feels like things aren’t moving fast enough, and he’s disheartened. Still, he recently cited your book to me, saying, “She says sometimes it can take forever, and then sometimes things happen out of the blue,” so your words matter to him.

In the rush and hurry of getting through my inbox, this message brought me to a full stop. I’ve always said that I will feel like I’ve achieved success when I hear from one reader that my work mattered to them. Though not directly from the reader himself, this message from such a caring, dedicated, clearly amazing teacher on her student’s behalf feels every bit as wonderful. Reading this email was an even grander “first” for me than seeing my name in print for the first time, or holding the final book in my hands, or signing stacks of books at an event. This was a real connection with a young reader, a potential shift in the trajectory of this young man’s life that might not have occurred without my work. It’s both humbling and validating.
I have no doubt in the world that this student is indeed the type who might really make a dent in some of this world’s problems. It worries me, though, that even with this supportive teacher clearly on his side, he stills that one of the obstacles he faces is other adults assuming he’s not going to work hard enough. I mean really, what have we got to lose, adults? If they encourage him and he later quits, there’s no harm done: He feels valued and respected, he learns something about himself, and things go back to the way there were before. If they encourage him and he succeeds, the outcome really isn’t all that different: He feels valued and respected, he learns something about himself, and things get a little bit better.
I know that I’ve been guilty of similar reactions with my own children and their ideas. I’ve been too quick to point out what challenges I see and the reasons why their ideas might not be perfectly feasible. I questioned their long-term commitment to the projects they proposed. What I thought was helpful realism, however, wasn’t really that helpful at all. Indeed, what if my “realism” was actually cynicism, and maybe their “fantasies” could have actually worked? We’ll never know, because countless times I’ve inadvertently stopped them in their tracks before they even got started, all in the name of thinking things through and not embarking on something they couldn’t finish.
I think many of us (adults, especially, but kids, too) have become so goal-oriented that we don’t want to do or support anything that doesn’t seem very likely to succeed. We’re overly focused on the results, when so many of the potential benefits come from the process itself. We don’t want to waste time on something that might fail, but we forget that we learn by making mistakes.
If I’d focused on the likelihood of ever getting an email like this one, I would probably never have stuck with the process of honing my craft, revising my drafts, putting myself out there, etc. But if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I wouldn’t have received an email from a teacher that brought me to tears.
I’m going to try to do better for my own kids and other young people I interact with, and I hope you’ll commit to trying to support the young changemakers in your life as well. Let’s value their ideas and intentions for what they are, and let go of our expectations or concerns over the results. I have no doubt that, given the right encouragement, they are all the types who might really make a dent in some of this world’s problems. And we need each and every one of them to try.

Changemakers in the classroom

I’ve been hugely gratified by the responses I’ve gotten from teachers around the country about using BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS in their classrooms. The very first of these was a lovely 8th-grade ELA teacher from a private Catholic school in Louisiana. She reached out to me before the book was even released, and let me tell you, her enthusiasm was a much-appreciated soothing balm for all of my pre-release jitters!
She is using the book for her students’ “20% projects,” an idea adapted from the corporate world where companies allow employees to spend 20% of their time working on a pet project that interests them. They’ll be using the books throughout the school year to choose self-directed projects and bring them to life. Isn’t that exciting? I sure think so!

8th graders in class 1 with their new books
8th graders in class 1 with their new books

As part of her curriculum, she was able to purchase a copy of the book for each and every one of the students, and she even got them personalized! It was a huge pile of books for me to sign, and such an incredible honor for me to write each student’s name in his or her own book.
8th graders in class 1 with their new books
8th graders in class 2 with their new books

These pictures are from the day she handed the books out to all of the students. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I do!
The students also watched a video I made for them to help kick off their project. I posted about that video earlier this week. Check it out here if you missed it.
I can’t wait to hear about these students’ ideas and follow their progress throughout the school year. I’ll post updates here as I get them so you can follow along, too.
I love hearing about young people using the book, whether on their own or through a class or other organization, so if you’re using (or thinking about using) BE A CHANGEMAKER on your own or with your students, scouts, children, youth group, etc., please let me know! My email address is at the bottom of this page, or you can reach out on my Facebook author page or on Twitter.

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