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A Family of Readers

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“wonderfully meaty” *

“an indispensable guide” **

A Family of Readers
The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s
and Young Adult Literature

By Roger Sutton
and Martha V. Parravano
Foreword by Gregory Maguire

Published by Candlewick Press

For reading parents interested in passing on their love of reading to their kids, A Family of Readers is the definitive guide to selecting books for children — from board books to the most controversial young adult novels.

Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano, along with The Horn Book Magazine’s respected reviewers and children’s book authors and illustrators offer insight into how books are read to (and eventually by) young people and how to nurture the reading lives of children.

The book is organized into four sections.

  1. Reading to Them
    Choosing and sharing board books and picture books with babies and very young children.

  2. Reading with Them
    Launching the new reader with easy readers and chapter books.

  3. Reading on Their Own
    Exploring what children read — and how they read — by genre and gender.

  4. Leaving Them Alone
    Respecting the reading privacy of the young adult.

To see a list of contributors and for ordering information, click on the widget below or buy from your favorite bookstore.

Interviews and press

Betsy Bird's A Fuse #8 Production

The Huffington Post

Mitali Perkins's Twitter chat

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Reviews of A Family of Readers

Although lots of fine children’s books are surveyed here, what Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano (editor-in-chief of Horn Book Publications and executive editor of the Horn Book Magazine, respectively) wanted their contributors to address is what makes terrific books tick, or, in the case of the creators themselves, their tickings. The results are wonderfully meaty: exploring humor with Jon Scieszka or existentialism with Maurice Sendak, the narrative DNA imprinted by picture books and the know-how, guts and detail conveyed by the best adventure books. The collection cuts a broad swath through picture books, early readers, fantasy, historical fiction, nonfiction, science and poetry, making room for both past brilliance and contemporary awareness. “The title went through more revisions than anything else in the book,” says Sutton. “It was The Reading Parent’s Horn Book for a while, stripped to The Reading Parent, bulked up to The Reading Family. Don’t get me started on the subtitle.” Abundance is difficult to epitomize.

Kirkus Reviews *

Not a children’s book, but a book for anyone who has ever loved children’s books, this collection of essays and interviews is designed to help parents foster a love of reading in children, while providing insight into the craft of children’s bookmaking. Collected by Sutton and Parravano, editors of the Horn Book (where some of the book’s content previously appeared), the contributions — Jon Scieszka on book design, Sarah Ellis on writing humor, Bruce Brooks and Virginia Euwer Wolff on Holden Caulfield, among others — are grouped into sections that mirror the reading life of a child: reading to children becomes reading with them, which gives way to their growth as independent readers. “By the time a kid is ready to ready on his own, he’s ready to . . . read on his own,” writes Sutton. “Your job is, essentially, to let him.” Sutton and Parravano also contribute commentary, discussing the best books for all ages and reading levels, and what makes them so. It’s an indispensable guide at a time when, as Sutton writes, “debates about what qualifies as ‘reading’ are as noisy as the concurrent fights over what can be called a ‘family.’”

Publisher’s Weekly **

Editors of The Horn Book Magazine Roger Sutton (also former editor of the Bulletin) and Martha Parravano join forces with a host of children's literature authors and critics to offer a comprehensive, accessible guide for parents selecting books for their children and teens. The resulting compilation of essays and interviews, most previously published in the Horn Book, is both an informative and entertaining resource that covers a wide range of books, from the effective alphabet book to the controversial young adult novel, and that highlights that tricky relationship between parental authority and reader autonomy. Among contributors such as Charlotte Zolotow and Maurice Sendak is our very own Deborah Stevenson, current editor of the Bulletin, who offers an insightful look at scary books for children. Other topics include books for boys, the significance of book design, and bilbliotherapy, and each chapter concludes with a list of recommended reading for its specific age group. A bibliography and index are included.

The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

As a professional review journal with eighty-five years of experience, The Horn Book Magazine is uniquely qualified to offer expert advice on juvenile literature. Editor-in-chief of the journal, Roger Sutton, explains, "this is a book that features informed opinions from passionate readers, not bland lists of dos, don'ts, and surefire recommendations." Eminently readable and often humorous, each entry speaks ardently to what children long for and need at each stage of their development. It should be required reading for every youth services librarian.

Voice of Youth Advocates

Unlike other guides, this authoritative title is more than an extensive annotated bibliography: “[T]his is a book that features informed opinions from passionate readers, not bland lists of dos, don’ts, and ‘surefire recommendations.’” The book is divided into four parts: “Reading to Them,” “Reading with Them,” “Reading on Their Own,” and “Leaving Them Alone.” Each part is divided into chapters discussing types of books (picture books, easy readers, humor, nonfiction, young adult books, etc.). Parts and chapters contain introductions and/or overviews of each type or format, plus pertinent articles from the Horn Book family of contributors. Original essays include Betty Carter on historical fiction (“When Dinosaurs Watched Black-and-White TV”), Vicky Smith on adventure books (“Know-How and Guts”), Marc Aronson on nonfiction (“Cinderella Without the Fairy Godmother”), Alice Schertle on poetry (“Up the Bookcase to Poetry”), Nancy Werlin on books for teens (“What Makes a Good Thriller?”), and many others. Annotated bibliographies featured throughout are supplemented with a concluding list of recommended titles and suggestions for further reading. This book presents literature for youth within historical, pedagogical, and practical contexts, but, like an inspirational teacher, that presentation is fueled by a fervent, articulate love for the subject at hand. Librarians, teachers, parents, writers, and readers will find their own passion for books and reading eloquently reflected here.

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