I’d like to start this, my inaugural blog post for Lit World Interviews, by expressing my gratitude for my friend Ronovan and his invitation to share a wee bit of my perspective on reading and writing as part of his beautiful, Indy author-supporting website and blog. Ronovan does a fantastic job of keeping things lively and focused on a cause near and dear to our hearts: applauding and supporting Indy authors and making sure that we do all that we can to connect readers with great books and new authors. I’m so pleased to be a part of this mission.
As a new children’s author I find myself asking the kids I meet in my life a simple question at every opportunity (I call it market research, for free!). To the friends that sleep over with my kids, to those I meet at the elementary school during my volunteer hours as a reading helper, to the kids I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with on the floor of the kids’ book section at the local library, I ask: What’s your favorite book? I started noticing a pattern in their responses and an idea for this series of blog posts was born.
You see, as an Indy author, we all know how hard it is to compete with the steady stream of titles churned out daily by big publishing houses. As a children’s Indy author, I find it uniquely challenging to market my children’s books because social media – an Indy author’s best friend – is geared towards adults and keeps children just out of my reach. Kids read what they see in stores, on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and Costco, or the books they see in the Scholastic catalogs sent home from school, the books with intriguing cover art that catch their attention and prompt them to beg their adult to buy these books for them. And if you’ve ever tried, as I have, to get a teensy bit of shelf space at Barnes and Noble or Costco or get in Scholastic’s catalog, you know how hard that is. So, it’s no surprise to me anymore when the kids in my world tell me their favorite books are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, any number of Rick Riordan’s books, or the Warriors series. These are the books in front of them, so these are the books they read.
I am thrilled for the authors of successful kids books, I truly am. I’m a fan of Rick Riordan, he is brilliant. My only problem with the fact that kids only read what they see is that I believe kids are missing out on the breadth of creativity that is afforded to them in the world of Indy children’s books. Let me put this into grown up terms for you to illustrate.
Are you a foodie, like me? Sure, we buy our food staples at the local grocery store, but what we really love is the farmers markets. Only in a farmers market can we find the small batch goat cheese from a local farm, local and raw honey carefully crafted by the beekeeper up the highway, the jams that were lovingly jarred from sun-kissed strawberries in the tiny garden of a widower with a big heart. You don’t find those things in the local chain grocery store, but you love those wonderful products just the same. In fact, your palette would be woefully underwhelmed if you didn’t have those artisan-crafted treats to keep things fun and new and exciting.
Books are the same way, I think. Kids don’t know what they’re missing when they read books they see in the big stores. They don’t know that they’re missing out on the small-batch, carefully crafted words of an author who hasn’t made a big name for herself and probably never will. It’s up to the grownups in the world to bring their kids to the farmers market and show them what they’re missing. So, it is my heartfelt passion to be part of the group of grownups that highlights the books kids are missing out on. Your job as grownups is to help unite kids with the wonderful books of no-name authors who don’t have big house publishing contracts.
Starting with this post, I invite you to take a stroll down the lanes of this kids-book-loving farmers market I’ve prepared for you. The authors I highlight here have not compensated me in any way for mentioning their books and I bought their books myself.
This month, I’ve read three books by Indy authors that I think kids will love (I’m a kid at heart, and I loved these books!).
For Dr. Seuss Fans: Go Baby, Go! (Author and Illustrator: Beth Davis)
From a talented author and illustrator comes this super-fun book, perfect for new readers or parents/guardians/teachers reading aloud to young children, ages 4-6. The author’s illustrations are as colorful as the rhyming tale of a baby carriage on the loose. I laughed out loud in many spots and was completely entertained by the witty encounters the runaway baby has with the police, artists, old men and even a band, to name a few. Very clever, very fun, I completely enjoyed this book.
Amazon Link: Go Baby, Go!
For Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables Fans: Through the Fields to School, My Life in Montana (Author: Maxine Albro Pogreba)
A heart-warming and poignant story of a woman growing up on a large Montana ranch, this book was every bit as comforting as sitting down with my grandma and hearing stories of the “old days.” Through short vignettes, the author tells the story of running through the fields to school, her large family of nine kids, and some of the stories she recalls from childhood. I particularly loved that this isn’t a long book and it’s written in a simple style that an elementary school-age child would appreciate. This would be a read aloud friendly book for bedtime or classroom story time, maybe as part of a history curriculum. I love giving kids the opportunity to see the truth of what simpler times were like – it’s great for their imaginations to recall that, not too long ago, families didn’t have so many of the luxuries we have to today. This is a priceless perspective that goes a long way towards instilling an appreciation for today’s modern conveniences. This is a well-written, delightful read.
Amazon Link: Through the Fields to School
Harry Potter Meets Game of Thrones: Son of a Dark Wizard – The Dark Wizard Chronicles Book 1 (Author: Sean Patrick Hannifin)
This newly published first book in a promising new series caught my eye because of its stellar cover. It intrigued me and I simply couldn’t resist reading the first page…which led to finishing this book in one sitting. Prince Sorren is the son of a dark wizard who has recently been killed by a boy believed to be the Chosen One of prophecy. Intent on avenging his father’s death and retaining his right to the throne, he sets out in search of the Chosen One and prepares for an epic battle. With an array of interesting characters, this book was remarkably well-written, well-rounded, and a page turner. So many times I have seen fantasy books become completely distracted by intricate back story and overly-detailed descriptions of setting, but not this book. For readers aged 9-13, this will be a riveting adventure that leaves them rooting for an unlikely hero. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
Amazon Link: Son of a Dark Wizard
I’m so pleased that I found these wonderful new Indy children’s books to share with you, especially because I enjoyed reading them immensely! I look forward to updating you again soon with more books your kids are missing out on! Until then, remember, take your kids to the farmer’s market from time-to-time so they too can experience bounty by reading non-mainstream, excellent children’s literature.
About the author: Monica LaSarre is a ghostwriter and the author of Jasper Penzey: International Boy Detective, an 8-book mystery/detective chapter book series for 8-12 year olds. Read more about her on her website, http://www.monicalasarre.com. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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