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.

EMMANUEL'S DREAM is available for pre-order!

EMMANUEL'S DREAM cover

EMMANUEL'S DREAM cover
 
My first picture book, EMMANUEL’S DREAM, will be published in January, but it’s available for pre-order now!
Here’s the description from the publisher’s web page:

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
Thompson’s lyrical prose and Qualls’s bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.

To order your copy from an independent bookseller, visit Secret Garden Bookshop (if you add your personalization request in the comments section, I’ll sign it for you!) or check out IndieBound for a local bookstore near you. Of course, you can also find it on Amazon.com or BN.com.
And, of course, you can always add it to your Goodreads shelf:

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah


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.

Be a Changemaker introduction video

To my delight, I’ve had several teachers contact me about speaking to their students at the kickoff of a unit using Be a Changemaker in their classrooms. While I’m always thrilled to do a quick, live Skype call if the timing and permissions work out, so far it’s been easier for everyone if there’s a pre-made video that they can just have preloaded and ready to go.
So, here’s an informal “hello” video that anyone can use to introduce me and my how-to book for teens, Be a Changemaker. Enjoy!

Author event: the Stratos Oktoberfest open house

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being the special guest at an incredible event, Stratos Product Development‘s annual company open house. The company is mentioned on page 138 of my book Be a Changemaker, because they were one of the original funders of Edward Jiang’s StudentRND venture, which I profiled in chapter 12.
Stratos Oktoberfest banner
As you can see, this year’s theme was Oktoberfest, and they went all out with decorations, food, beverages, and even a polka band!
polka band
It’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to dance, but I was having too much fun talking with Stratos employees and guests.
photo of author talking with attendee
I was warmly welcomed, and folks seemed pretty excited about Be a Changemaker, too.
attendees with Be a Changemaker
At one point, a storm picked up and we had to (quickly!) move everything inside, but that just made it easier to mingle.
mingling with attendees inside
And as attendees left for the evening, there were piles and piles of books for them to take home, all of which I signed and, if desired, personalized (yes, my hand was tired!).
stacks of Be a Changemaker books
What a wonderful evening! I left feeling thoroughly impressed with everyone I had talked to–and with the company itself for bringing them all together.
I’m ever so grateful to Stratos Product Development for including me. They’re the perfect example of a for-profit business that is committed to doing good in the world, and it was such an honor to participate.
Click here to check out all of the great photos from the event, and here to see what this totally awesome company is all about.

Review: THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert

THE SCRAPS BOOK cover

THE SCRAPS BOOK cover
THE SCRAPS BOOK: NOTES FROM A COLORFUL LIFE
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, March 2014
72 pages

There have been several picture-book autobiographies of children’s book authors and illustrators over the past few years. Sadly, most have left me feeling just a little underwhelmed. While I personally enjoyed them, I felt like they were aimed more at their long-time adult fans than at contemporary child readers. While I, as an adult, was able to appreciate the rich context and interesting personal histories, I wondered if children would be able to relate to the stories and find directly relevant meaning within the pages. So, although I myself am a fan of Lois Ehlert, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I picked up THE SCRAPS BOOK. Boy was I in for a delightful surprise!
Despite the high page count, there is nothing in this book that feels the least bit self-indulgent. Every page seems lovingly designed to encourage and instruct young artists. (And aren’t we all artists when we’re young? Perhaps with this book, more of us will remain so.) Throughout, Ehlert generously shares her inspirations, her processes, her notes and journals, even her messes and mistakes, giving readers insights into her books as well as her life as an artist.THE SCRAPS BOOK excerpt
I think this is truly a book people of all ages can enjoy, and the world is definitely a better place for having THE SCRAPS BOOK in it.
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

(Disclaimer: Review copy was checked out from my local library.)

2014 Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) Conference

I had a wonderful time presenting with Mary Cronk Farrell at the 2014 WLMA Conference last Saturday! The title of our talk was “Fostering 21st Century Learning with Today’s Nonfiction,” and we delivered it to a room overflowing with teacher/librarians (aren’t t/l’s the best!?) who were looking for new ideas and book recommendations.

Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL
Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL

Our presentation discussed how much of the nonfiction being published now is so much more than “just” its subject. There are innovative formats, emotionally-charged stories, cross-discipline explorations, etc. A just-the-facts approach simply won’t be published these days, as kids have easy access to information in a variety of formats AND are faced with so many options competing for their attention. This makes nonfiction a particularly compelling choice for students in and out of the classroom or library setting.
Mary presentingMary and I took turns sharing some of our favorite recent nonfiction titles–including Mary’s PURE GRIT and my BE A CHANGEMAKER and EMMANUEL’S DREAM– and how we felt they could be used in the library or classroom to achieve multiple learning goals simultaneously, including covering core curriculum subjects, social-emotional learning, problem solving and critical thinking, creativity and innovation, information and media literacy, and technology skills. We got the librarians talking to us and to each other, and we even had them try out some exercises they might use with their students. (Let me tell you, those librarians can write, too!)
Since several attendees asked for our slides, here is the deck we used in our talk, and, since we ran out of handouts due to the overwhelming attendance, here is the handout that we passed out with the list of books referenced.
Speaker goodie cup
Speaker goodie cup!
Thanks so much for having us, WLMA! Thanks so much for the book love and dedication you put into your work each and every day, teacher/librarians! And, thanks, Mary, for being such a great co-presenter and making everything easy!

My dog, Prim
My dog, Prim, catching up on some lap time
Of course, no matter how much fun I have speaking at conferences like this, it’s always good to be home again.

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