Friday, October 17, 2014

Reaching Reluctant Readers, Poetry Friday, and a CWIM Giveaway!

Happy Poetry Friday, Everyone! Today I'll be sharing a fun, "spooky" poem by David L. Harrison. But first I'll tell you about my latest publication, an article in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), edited by Chuck Sambuchino. Then, at the end of this post, you'll find instructions for how to enter to win your very own copy of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market!

If you're not familiar with the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (also known as the CWIM), here's an excerpt from the book's blurb.
"If you write or illustrate for young readers with the hope of getting published, the '2015 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market' is the trusted resource you need. Now in its 27th edition, 'CWIM' is the definitive publishing guide for anyone who seeks to write or illustrate for kids and young adults. Inside you'll find more than 500 listings for children's book markets (publishers, agents, magazines, and more)--including a point of contact, how to properly submit your work, and what categories each market accepts." 
In addition to the market listing, the CWIM includes great articles, interviews, and success stories. This year's edition features my interview roundup article, "Writing for Boys (and other 'Reluctant Readers')." The piece contains advice and insights from four award-winning authors known for writing books that appeal to reluctant readers: Matt de la Peña, Lenore Look, David Lubar, and Steve Sheinkin

Although  these authors write a wide variety of books, and everything from picture books to young adult novels, there was one bit of advice they all agreed on: If you want your writing to appeal to boys and other reluctant readers, don't try to target this particular audience. That's right, DON'T target them. Instead, write what moves, excites, or interests YOU. Then, "revise it over and over until it hums," as Matt de la Peña said. All four of the authors shared additional, specific advice on how to reach reluctant readers, especially boys. So be sure to enter our giveaway below for a chance to win your own copy of the CWIM!  

In researching "Writing for Boys (and other 'Reluctant Readers')," I discovered some very discouraging statistics about boys and reading. Not only do girls, on average, score higher on reading tests than boys, but the gender gap is widening. Fortunately, the news isn't all dire. As Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador of Young People's Literature and founder of Guys Read points out on the GuysRead website
". . . the good news is that research also shows that boys will read—if they are given reading that interests them."
Poetry can be a great way to hook boys (and other reluctant readers), especially if it's short, funny, and/or focuses on boy-friendly topics, such as sports, adventure, animals, and the supernatural. You'll find some wonderful books that fit this bill on the GuysRead list of poetry books. I also recommend just about anything written by David L. Harrison. His book Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things (Wordsong), illustrated by Rob Shepperson, is chock-full of poems with lots of boy-appeal. Here's one example: 

              cicada ghosts

              Haunted skins
              to the rough bark
             of the hackberry

             and farther up
             where I can't 
             ghosts are 

          © David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

If you'd like to see the wonderful illustration that accompanies this poem in Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things, visit this page on David's blog (after you enter our drawing below!). Also, David is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his Word of the Month ("W.O.M.") poetry challenge.  This month he's hoping for 100 poets to share poems inspired by this month's word: "spree."  Adults who'd like to participate may post their poems here. Young poets may post their poems here.

For additional resources on poetry and reluctant readers, see the Poetry Foundation article "Against Slogging: Engaging Poetry in the Classroomon" and the WBEZ piece, "Writing Poetry Improves Reluctant Readers." If you're a parent or teacher, you may also be interested in Literacy Connects compilation of activities to use with reluctant reader

Finally, before you head over to check out these resources or the other great poems in this week's Poetry Friday round-up at Today's Little Ditty, you'll want to enter to win your own copy of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. You can do that via the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. You may enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options. For option 2, "Leave a Blog Post Comment," you must share a comment to TODAY'S blog post and include your name!
(If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com. )

The giveaway ends on Oct. 31. 

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I read your posts every month! Look forward to your insightful articles and great links. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  2. Congratulations on your article in CWIM, Carmela! That's quite a nice feather in your cap. I can't wait to read it!

    And David's poem is wonderful, of course– love "haunted skins."

  3. Hi, Carmela, it's my first time visiting your blog. I homeschool my four sons and can attest to the fact that boys will read when given something good to read. Unfortunately, I find most reading lists have very few high quality works for boys beyond age 10. We are having to find some on our own by trial and error. My fifth grader just finished reading the Mistmantle series, which he loved.

  4. Congrats on your article, Carmela! Thanks for sharing David's poem and some great links. :)

  5. Congrats on your article, Carmela! Thanks for sharing David's poem and some great links. :)

  6. Thanks, Michelle and Jama. Welcome, Connie. I hope you'll become a regular follower here. I also encourage you to check out our Wednesday Writing Workouts for writing exercises you may want to use with your boys. You can access them all via this link:

  7. Congratulations on the publications of your article, Carmela - looking forward to reading it, too. And thanks for sharing David's gem of a poem.

  8. Another wonderful post! love the poem - want more!

  9. Thanks so much. I'm enjoying this and appreciate the nice comments.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Congratulations on the article, Marti! Such an important topic!

  12. Thanks, Tara.
    Beverly, glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you'll check out David's books.
    Thank YOU, David, for allowing me to share your terrific poem!
    Thanks, Bobbi. I agree!

  13. Looking forward to reading your interview in CWIM, Carmela! Love the poem from David Harrison, as well as the reminder that boys love poetry.

  14. Hope you enjoy the interview, Patti. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Congratulations on your article, Carmela! I agree that David's poem is a great one to share with reluctant readers--and with non-reluctant readers. So much kid-appeal.

  16. cool - an article in the Market! Looking forward to reading it - and the others. Great post - I like the Guys Read book. Guess I was lucky because my two guys loved to read books of all types.

  17. I have a haunted skin hanging out on the wall by my back door. What a fun poem! Thanks for the give away. Winning may be just the impetus to get me moving forward.

  18. Thanks for all these poetry resources. Looking forward to exploring your site some more.

  19. Thanks for all these poetry resources. Looking forward to exploring your site some more.

  20. The interviews are my favorite part of CWIM! Can't wait to read the newest edition. TY

  21. Awesome! Can't wait to read it! CWIM is essential.

  22. Great tips on writing for reluctant readers--particularly the advice on using poetry-writing to boost reading.

  23. Congratulations on the article, Carmela. Poetry is a great way to improve reading skills, writing skills, vocabulary, and memory skills. Poetry can even cure the common cold if you keep taking it for 7 days.

  24. First off, I love David's poem. Second, congrats on your article. And third, Happy Poetry Friday (though I'm reading on Saturday). =)

  25. Thanks, Buffy. Glad you like David's poem.
    Thanks, Sue. You were lucky! After a certain age, my son didn't want to read fiction anymore, but he's a big nonfiction fan.
    Margaret, I'd love to help give you some impetus! :-)
    You're welcome, Wendy.
    Welcome, Sylvia.
    Cathy, I agree.
    Laura, I'm really savoring this edition of the CWIM.
    And thanks for taking time to comment, Sarah H, Joy, and Bridget! Now I'm off to read the other posts in the roundup. (I'm a little behind too, Bridget.)
    Oh, Joy, I almost forgot to say, this made me laugh:
    >>Poetry can even cure the common cold if you keep taking it for 7 days.<<
    Thanks, all!

  26. Ah, would love this. Looks good.

  27. What a chock-full post, Carmela. Congratulations on the article!

    "Cicada Ghosts" are fascinating. I remember hunting for the shells with my brothers when we were little.

  28. Thanks for stopping by, Braddharris.
    And Laura at Author Amok, the image of the cicada "ghosts" is what grabbed me about the poem too. Though I can't imagine hunting them!

  29. So glad to find this site via KidLit411.

  30. We're glad you found us, too, aneducationinbooks!

  31. Loved everything! The reluctant reader info will be very helpful. I'm work on a historical fiction about a boy and his family traveling west on a keelboat. Thanks!
    Susan Barker

  32. Thanks, Susan. Good luck on your historical.

  33. Laura is right: this post is chock full--in a good way.

    It's comforting to read that they all agree we write from our place of passion.

  34. Thank you for your post and congratulations on your article! Love the poem by David Harrison...

  35. Thanks, April. Hope, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and poem. Thanks for the congratulations. :-)

  36. Great article. I am actually new to the blog but am a writer and educator. Joanna

  37. Thanks for a great giveaway! It looks like a great resource for someone who's just starting out!

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. I'm a new follower, but love this post. You hear so much about writing for reluctant readers. that this is refreshing.

  40. I follow by email and read regularly even if I don't often comment. This is a really generous giveaway. Thanks for the chance.

  41. Love this post! I've always been interested in sharing my writing with reluctant readers, but I haven't done much research into that market. Good advice here! Thanks, Carmela. Leanne Pankuch

  42. I'm new to this blog. Thank you for guiding me to it.

  43. Wowza, Carmela! CWIM is fortunate to have you on their pages. And yes, it's vice versa too.
    I will enjoy an extra special spree to reading with the
    new edition, racing to your article, whether Rafflecopter picks me or another.
    And so cool that you are looking out for the reading skills of our future men.

    Appreciations to you & to Teaching Authors for this post.

  44. AND I forgot to mention that MAMMOTH BONES & BROKEN STONES is one of the best books about the N.A. continent's First Peoples & it is also by David L. Harrison.
    Not a poetry book but a mighty fine reference for the kiddos & everyone.

  45. Thanks for stopping by, Leanne, Priya, and Jan. Thanks, also, for mentioning David's MAMMOTH BONES book, Jan.
    Good luck to all who are entering the contest!


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