Granted, using email, smartphones, and the Internet can be time-consuming. It cost some money, too. But I can’t imagine, not being connected in some capacity in 2012. The Internet is into its third decade of existence for all practical purposes and to think there are still tens of millions of adults not online in the country that is built on information and communication is mind-boggling.
But a CNN.com story this past Monday put it into perspective, quoting from a few reports on the matter:
· 60% of adults who didn’t complete high school don’t go online.
· 59% of seniors don’t go online.
· 40% of those with annual incomes of $30,000 don’t go online.
· 46% of those who have disabilities that interfere with daily life activities are not online.
So, not surprisingly, our injured, aged, and uneducated are not online because of finances, illiteracy, and physical incapability. But there are also individuals who feel that they don’t need to be online to get the information they need or to communicate with others.
If one in five won’t even go online, how many won’t buy books or can’t read books? 20% of the US adult population represents something like 45 million people. Can our nation run at full strength when so many are marginalized and have opted out of something as basic as being online?
Where possible, we need to ensure the new generation doesn’t follow the model set by the current one. We need to promote literacy and the valuing of books—and the value of the Internet—or we’ll have disconnected millions of minds.
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Interview With Children’s Book Author Judy Cox
1. What type of books do you write? I write books for children, both picture books and chapter books. I’ve had twenty-two books published in the last twelve years. You can find my books on my website at www.judycox.net
2. What is your latest or upcoming book about? I have two new books out this spring, The Secret Chicken Society (Holiday House) and Happy Birthday, Mrs. Millie! (Marshall Cavendish). The Secret Chicken Society is an early chapter book for children ages 6-9. It tells the story of Daniel, who brings home five chicks after his class hatches eggs as a science project. The laws in his hometown allow the keeping of backyard chickens, but not roosters. Naturally, his favorite chick turns out to be a rooster. The book is illustrated by Amanda Haley. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Millie! is a picture book illustrated by Joe Mathieu. Joe and I have done four books in the Mrs. Millie series, two of which were TIME magazine Top Ten Children’s books. In our new book, Mrs. Millie’s kindergarteners plan a surprise birthday party. The book is full of fun wordplay and puns.
3. What inspired you to write it? I was inspired to write The Secret Chicken Society because my family had a small flock of hens when I was growing up. We had a rooster named Herkimer. He wasn’t like Peepers, the friendly rooster in my book. Herkimer was mean! Currently, many cities are amending their zoning laws to allow backyard chickens—but most are outlawing roosters which made me wonder—what would you do if your pet chicken turned out to be a rooster?
4. What did you do before you became an author? I’ve been an elementary teacher and a reading specialist for many years. I have also worked as a musician playing bass guitar in various bands.
5. How does it feel to be a published author? I love being published because it means people will read my work, but I would be making up stories and writing them down even if no one listened. That said, it’s certainly a big thrill to see my books at libraries and bookstores.
6. Any advice for struggling writers? My best advice is to be persistent. I’ve had tons of rejection over the years. You just have to get used to it and continue to read, write, improve, and keep submitting.
7. Where do you see book publishing heading? That’s a tricky question, isn’t it? Frankly, I have no idea. I love paper and ink books. I have an e-reader, but I only use it for the newspaper and for out of print classics (so I can enlarge the font). For a satisfying reading experience, I stick with print. However, I see a lot of room for a variety of reading experiences, including e-books and interactive apps. One thing I can say for sure—there will always be storytellers. You can read more about my books on my website at www.judycox.net or follow me on twitter at @JudyCoxauthor
Interview With Historical Fiction Author Deborah Hopkinson
1. What type of books do you write? I write historical fiction picture books, nonfiction, and middle grade fiction for young readers. I am especially interested in chronicling the American experience and exploring the role of ordinary people in history. I love to talk to students in schools about the past and how we do research. My first book, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, was published in 1993 and my books include such titles as Apples to Oregon, Shutting out the Sky, Life in the Tenements of New York, A Boy Called Dickens, and Who Was Charles Darwin?
2. What is your latest or upcoming book about? This year I have three books being published. A Boy Called Dickens was released in January for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. My latest book is Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, a nonfiction account of the disaster for ages eight and up. Coming in September is Annie and Helen, a picture book about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller and how Annie taught Helen language.
3. What inspired you to write it? Many of my books for young readers are about history. Sometimes children and adults as well tend to think of history as boring. On the other hand, I continually find that kids are fascinated by the Titanic. I think it’s a fantastic topic to get students thinking about history, asking questions, and doing research. Not only that, I myself learned a lot by writing Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. That’s another thing I love about writing – I am always learning!
4. What did you do before you became an author? Actually, I have never stopped working full time! I’ve always had two careers since I first began writing. Presently I am Vice President for Advancement at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, where I am responsible for fundraising. Maybe someday I will become a full time author, but not until we finish our new capital campaign for campus expansion! Having a career in philanthropy, which is something I believe in deeply, helps me feel I am using all my talents.
5. How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? I feel very fortunate to be able to work with truly outstanding editors and to be able to create books for young readers. I think the more aspiring writers learn about the business of publishing the better. I began writing for magazines and that experience of meeting deadlines, setting deadlines for myself, and working with editors on revisions was invaluable. In some ways, my work in fundraising has informed my writing too. We get lots of rejections when we apply for foundation grants, for instance. We just pick ourselves up and try to do better. So don’t let rejection get you down!
6. Where do you see book publishing heading? I wish I knew. I can say that while I think it’s great that people can self-publish, I think that the best writing – whether it is a funding proposal for a foundation grant, a novel, or a nonfiction work – benefits from skilled editorial input. I would not be where I am without some incredibly talented editors who ask questions, critique, and push me to push myself. I sincerely hope this aspect of publishing does not go away.
Interview With Author Caroline Arnold
1. What type of books do you write? I write books for children, primarily nonfiction books about animals and the environment, but I am also fascinated by the weather, dinosaurs, ancient cultures, and more. I write about anything that I find interesting, and that is most everything! I also write the occasional fiction book. I have been writing since 1980 and have published nearly 150 books. You can see them at my website www.carolinearnold.com.
2. How and when did you know that your destiny was as a writer? My writing career began with my love for reading, which was fostered by my parents, who read to me from the time I was very small. But even though I loved books, I never imagined that I would be writer when I grew up. I studied art in school and planned to be an artist and art teacher. After I had my own children I read stories to them. I realized that perhaps I could use my training in art to be a children’s book illustrator. I started to write stories so that I could illustrate them and soon discovered that I enjoyed writing very much. Now I am primarily an author, but I occasionally illustrate as well.
3. What is your latest or upcoming book about? My newest book is A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife (Charlesbridge, 2012) illustrated with colorful, rich collage art by Jamie Hogan. Over the past several decades, our world has been warming at a faster rate than ever before. Winters are shorter. Sea levels have risen. Territories of predators and prey have shifted. To survive in this new environment, animals everywhere have had to adapt–or face extinction. Intended for children ages 7 to 10, this book offers a close-up look at the effects of climate change on animals around the world.
The text of A Warmer World has two levels: the main principles of climate change and how it impacts animals, and examples that illustrate those principles. The examples are treated as sidebars within the larger story. Throughout the book, all the sidebars are printed on what look like torn notebook pages and the labels are printed on tags. This was the idea of the designer of the book. She wanted to make the book feel like the notes of a field scientist. The illustrator has done a wonderful job of integrating the “journal” pages with her vibrant illustrations of the animals.
4. What inspired you to write it? A Warmer World tackles some serious issues and explores the consequences of global warming. It grew out of a suggestion from my editor, who knew of my interest in animals and the environment and my concern for the Earth we live on. Many subjects in the book–polar bears, walruses, penguins, sea turtles, migrating birds, coral reefs–are topics that I have written about previously. In doing the research for those books I had learned how environmental changes are threatening their ability to survive. This book gave me the chance to focus on those issues.
5. How does it feel to be a published author? I love being a published author. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing my name on the cover of one of my books, whether it is my first book or my one hundredth. Then I know that the book is ready to go into the hands of a child, who I hope will learn something new, just like I did when I was doing the research for the book. One of the bonuses of being a published author is the opportunity to do school visits. I enjoy meeting children and teachers and sharing my books and writing process with them. School visits also give me the chance to find out how kids are using books like mine in libraries and classrooms.
6. Any advice for struggling writers? For writers interested in publishing for children, I suggest that they look at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators website (www.scbwi.org). The SCBWI is one of the best sources of information for new and established writers of children’s books and sponsors conferences and workshops all over the world. I also suggest reading books about writing for children at the library or a large bookstore. They will guide you through the steps of getting your manuscript polished and ready to send to a publisher. It is also useful to take a class, either in your community or online. Joining the SCBWI and taking classes at UCLA Extension Writer’s Program were the two most important things I did when I was getting started as a children’s book writer. Today I belong to a critique group. We meet once a month and share news and give feedback to one another on our manuscripts.
7. Where do you see book publishing heading? While there is increasing emphasis on the e-book, I don’t think that real paper books are going to disappear anytime soon, especially for children. While you can have a small child on your lap and scroll through the pages of a story on a device, it just isn’t the same as turning the pages of a real book. Many picture books have been turned into apps with all sorts of bells and whistles providing sounds, interactive choices, games, and what-not. What gets lost is the ability of the child to read or hear the words of the story and use his or her imagination. A Nook or a Kindle may be handy to carry around, but it can’t compare to opening up a beautiful picture book where the double page spread measures more than 20 inches across. I see a role for e-books, particularly as an avenue for bringing back out of print books at low cost. And they are ideal for longer children’s books without illustrations. But I think that real paper books will always be with us.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s leading book publicity firm. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person
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