Who I am certainly impacts my choice of literature for my blog,
so here’s a small peek into my life.
Scroll down to the bottom for some specific guidelines
about what I am open to reviewing.
I’ve loved books since I was a toddler in the 60’s, and I’ve never outgrown my love of great children’s literature.
I love the old classics, and I love the new, diverse voices today.
I’m a mom to four awesome people who are now working and traveling and making homes in various places. When they were young, we had a rich time learning together via homeschooling, reading countless books over mugs of tea.
Each one of them is still a thoughtful,
I earned a degree in Writing, and find pleasure in words.
I believe in imaginative, non-electronic pastimes for children — books and paints and rain boots and hammers and bicycles and ukuleles and fresh air and the wide world — for the sakes of their bodies and minds and souls.
I think the freedom to investigate, wonder, play, and generally muck about
are priceless gifts for children (and grown-ups, too.)
I’ve lived in northern Minnesota, Philadelphia, Quebec City, West Africa, and my current home is Minneapolis. Cultural differences intrigue and delight me.
I’ve led several different book clubs and taught some writing classes for kids and am energized by hearing their thoughts.
When I’m not reading, I love camping, hiking, baking bread, the North Shore of Lake Superior, kayaking, chocolate in most forms, tea, all things British…well, not Marmite, music, snow, used book stores…
1. I’m sorry but I do not review self-published material.
2. I am especially interested in the following:
*books centering outdoor play and exploration
*books cultivating a love of nature and environmental stewardship
*books exploring cultures, written by cultural insiders
*books illuminating non-white racial experience
*books in translation or imported
3. I tend to be less interested in the following:
*books written by celebrity authors
*books primarily aimed at readers over the age of 13
*books primarily focused on death, sexuality, romance, or school cliques
I’m excited about your blog! We’re always looking for new ideas. Do you have some specific poetry books that you recommend? We’ve been using A Child’s Introduction to Poetry this year and I’m wondering what would be a good follow-up with poems that are pretty easy to understand.
Grace to you,
I’d say it depends a bit on how your kids have responded so far to poetry. If they are interested enough to absorb it without the beautiful pictures you’ve had in your book, there are a number of books I like with large collections of poetry such as Favorite Poems Old and New, The Book of 1000 Poems, or The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse by Iona and Peter Opie. If your kids prefer to see illustrations which help them enjoy the poetry, there are a number of beautiful books that I’ve seen in my library with more of the classic poetry, such as The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, or the Poetry for Young People series which are picture-book-size volumes featuring only one poet, or one with much more of a children’s poetry flavor that I own called The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky. If you are looking for a more heavily illustrated book, I’d scope some out at the library to decide if you want to even purchase them or just borrow them because I think they must be quite pricey!
LOVE the photos that you put on here! I think I TOOK the one of Little You 😉 When and where was the most recent one taken? It is a GREAT picture of all of you beautiful people!
I really like this, Mom! It’s interesting, fun, and informative. I love the pictures you chose!
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to your new about page. It’s wonderful! I’m going back through your archives today to figure out some first chapter books to get for Orison for Christmas. He just turned 6 and is a reading fiend!
Oh, Molly…I simply cannot believe you didn’t get to this earlier!! Thanks very much for your encouragement.
I am the author of a soon-to-be-released picture book. This is my first ever book and I’m working on ways to promote my work. Now I have to be honest, I have great respect for illustrators. Their work is something I could only dream to have the talent for.
My picture book profits are 100% being donated to charity. It is going to the Toledo Children’s Hospital oncology unit. My nephew was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2009. I’ve spent countless hours with him and his friends in the hospital. They are true heroes and teach me everyday what real strength is. I am using the money to buy games, toys, books, video games and things for the kids to do, whom spend weeks at a time admitted.
I’m writing you on behalf of my illustrator Karl A. Diaz. My picture book is his first ever published art and we are working to get both of our names and work out there. As you can tell this is very close to my heart. Karl did all 23 pages and bookmark as a donation to the charity. His work is beautiful and unique. Is it possible for you to do an illustrator piece or even an interview with him on your blog?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!
Erika: Your book sounds like a work of love. I don’t foresee doing any interviews on my blog, but I wish you all the best in your efforts on behalf of the hospital. Have you read
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
, by Jordan Sonnenblick? It’s about a young boy with leukemia, and is a fantastic story.
I love your blog. I have a new blog about children’s literature. May I put a link to your blog?
Yvonne, by all means! I am honored by any link with your blog. I am non-techno enough that I don’t even know what a button/link is! But if you know how to do this, be my guest 🙂
Do you have a button/link?
[…] February 20th, 2011Black History Month: Books for 12 and underI’ve known Jill Swanson for a long time. You’d have to look far and wide to find someone more devoted to education […]
I have made a button for you. Please email me at yvonblake(at)faithwriters(dot)net so I may send it the code to you.
I will explain how to use it on your blog (if you want to).
I found your blog via a google search for My Naughty Little Sister, and loved the trip down memory lane.
I’ve been asked to choose a story or a poem to be read out at the non-religious naming ceremony of my best friend’s daughter, who is also two that day. I won’t be there because I live abroad. I’d love to choose an extract from a children’s book that would express hope for the future, happiness, love and the importance of friendship.
If you have any ideas, I would be very, very grateful for assistance!
mountainwords (at) gmail (dot) com
Hi, Rebecca. The naming ceremony sounds like a beautiful day. I’ll think about it and see if I come up with anything. At any rate, I’d love to hear what you choose!
As I was looking for a poem for tomorrow’s blog, I came across one called “Barter” by Sara Teasdale which made me think of you. As far as a book, one that comes to mind is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. At least that has all the themes that you mentioned and there might be something in the closing couple of chapters that brings all of that together. Best of luck!
Thank you so much for introducing me to Barter – what a beautiful poem. I am going to use it – I couldn’t think of a better message to send to a child.
I’m so glad it works!
Loved stumbling across your blog as I why searching for some inspiration for a illustration/cartoon I am working on.
Funnily enough it will contain marmite, though I don’t like it myself 🙂
Claire, I enjoyed your blog! I have a great deal of trouble commenting on blogspot as I am about as techno as an earthworm, but…your site is very cool. I’ll be looking for your marmite-inclusive illustration 🙂
Thanks for popping over to my blog 🙂 I have been with blogpsot for nearly five years now and the thing I hate about it, is the ruddy comment section! I am hoping that one day they will get around to fixing it, as you are not alone (far from it) in having problems with it.
Marmite is a teeny part of it, but it made me smile after reading above thing about it 🙂
I was wondering if you had an email where I can contact you in regards to picture books reviews.
Sure. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My family and I currently live in West Africa. Senegal, to be exact. We are church-planting missionaries. I’m just curious which country you lived in, and for how long?
I found the link to your site on Molly Piper’s blog. Glad to find another good resource for great books! We are a reading family!
Nice to meet a fellow-West African-dweller! We lived next door, in Guinea, for about 5 years. I haven’t been to Senegal, but we have several friends who live in Dakar, or who used to. Living overseas and taking time to read as a family is a great way to raise kids!
I am a missionary in Senegal also – and good friends with Molly Piper. Who are you, and where do you live??? Have we met? If you have little kids, we should probably be friends!
I have just been introduced to your blog and enjoy it thoroughly! You have great book suggestions and I need all I can get with my 3 little readers. Thank you!
I’m sure we have met a couple times, but I doubt you remember me. My husband and I are missionaries in Senegal, and I just want to tell you that I ADORE this blog. Julie Steller told me about it a while ago, and I devour it. Thank you for writing it, and for putting up pictures of all the books. I have two two year olds who would possibly sit and read all day if they didn’t have to eat and nap, and your blog is my guiding light. Whenever people ask what they can send us for the kids, I have a list of books ready from your blog. There is so much junk out there, I would have no way to discern, from this distance, what I should request for my kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Cara, I do remember you, and have had updates on you from time to time from Julie, the Networking Queen! Thank you so much for your encouragement. I love that your kids are itty-bitty book worms! And having lived overseas, I do understand the difficulty of knowing just how to use those precious pounds of shipping or baggage allowance! All the best to you as you head into hot season…
Thanks for the lovely words about my blog! I am so excited to have come across yours. My friends and I have recently been talking about trying to compile lists of some great children`s books for our little ones so we can start our collections – this is an amazing resource that I will definately pass along to them. Would love to link to you when I put together a post on our bookcase? Warmest regards, Carys.
Sounds great. I’m clicking follow on your blog so I can get in on your creativity and eventual booklists!
Hi Jill, I’m glad I found your blog, I just love your “about me” page! Sounds like we have some common interests, and I saw you were in the Lake District which I adore! I’m an artist who loves to paint nature and I sometimes teach Nature Sketching in the field. I also love to write fun poems and stories for children and am now working on illustrating them! Yay! Please have a look at my website, I just started adding some of my children’s illustrations in the Gallery. On my blog there I do a lot of posts about my sketching outdoors in nature. http://www.marymcandrew.com
Great to meet you!
Hi Mary, Thanks for introducting yourself and your beautiful blog! I enjoyed looking through your galleries, and especially loved your watercolors. Best of everything as you keep pursuing your art. If you are interested in children’s illustration, I’d particularly recommend the blog Seven Impossible Things which is an amazing treasure store of illustration work and interviews with illustrators! The link is here: http://www.blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/ Warmly — Jill
Hi, Jill– I have just taken a brand new job, teaching students with severe learning disabilities in grades 4 through 8. Most of them are boys, and I am scrambling to find them some good options for novel studies. They have already done “The Giver”, “Frindle” and “Maniac Magee”… Any suggestions from the expert on some Classics they may enjoy?
Many thanks for all you do– your references have been invaluable for my primary classes! xo CGF
Hi Candy — Congrats on your new job! It sounds tremendous! The titles your group has tackled already are terrific, and what could be better than sharing great literature with these guys! Thanks for what you do~
I’m not sure how “classic” you are reaching for here. A few old classics for this age group would be “The Children’s Homer:The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy” by Padraic Colum (a great prose retelling of these epics), “The Epic of Gilgamesh” retold by Geraldine McCaughrean (very well done for this age group), and “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London (I did this with a similar age group of boys and was astonished at how they loved it! Challenging, but it’s a classic for good reason.) Other, more recent “classics” I would recommend for your group: “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park, “The Midnight Fox” by Betsy Byars, “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George, “The House of Sixty Fathers” by Meindert DeJong. A couple of new titles that I’d throw out are “Wonder” by R.J. Polacio, and “Heart of a Samurai” by Margi Preus. A couple of lighter reads for this age group would be “By the Great Horn Spoon” by Sid Fleishman, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” by Ian Fleming. All these have male main characters. Two with female leads that would still appeal to boys would be Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, and Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan.
Hope you find great titles that work for your students. FYI, I think I’ve reviewed most of these except for the oldest classics. Best of everything to you! — Jill
Hi there, I love your site and was trying to recommend it to friends, but when I go to your home page, I get a message that says “jillsbooks.wordpress.com is no longer available.” But I can still get new posts from you via my Google Reader (until Google Reader gets eliminated by Google in a few months…). Any idea what’s up?
THANK YOU for posting so many great book recommendations. I regularly request books from the library that you have recommended and you have never let me down yet!
Esther, thank you for your encouragement and thanks very much for passing my blog along to friends. I did not realize that message was still plaguing my blog. There was a day when I could not even get on the blog, when WordPress had accidentally deactivated it, but when I wrote to them, they apologized and said they had fixed that. Hmm…I guess I’ll check with them again.
I recently signed up to follow your blog and love what I have read so far!
I am an author of a new children’s recipe adventure book series called Kitchen Club Kids and would like to find out if you would be willing to review my first book, End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad and share with your readers.
Please let me know how I can get in touch with you and thank you for your consideration to review my first children’s book.
Thanks for following me. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. You can e-mail me: email@example.com to talk more about your book.
Jill. Why did I not know all this about you? We are kindred spirits in so many ways. I come from a family of storytellers and writers and my passion/obsession is children’s literature. I collect it treasure it and share it with anyone who will listen. I am so happy that you are writing this blog. What a delight! I love hearing/discussing children’s books with others. We are not a book only family, but love story in the form of movies too, though I would say with certainty that good movies are much harder to come by than books. Music also brings us together as a family. There is so much to explore and enjoy in that realm as well. My oldest is a CA girl who is stranded in the inner city. Music and books are her passion and escape. My second oldest is a nature girl who springs to life life when there is a tree to climb or rocks to flip with creepy crawlies to find. My third is an introverted sponge who observes and absorbs all that happens around her. She is excelling at learning Mandarin. My fourth is a ray of sunshine who bursts onto the scene with enthusiasm for any adventure. Such a joy and challenge to parent such these wonders of creation! Anyways….It is not fair that I have had more contact with Kurt than with you….Book lovers are often less extroverted than I…. Anyways I look forward to knowing you more and learning from you as you write……
Thank You, Rachel Mew Maves
Such a great intro to your family, Rachel! Thank you! Yes, Kurt is definitely the extrovert, so you are not alone in knowing him best 🙂 But we book-lovers can always find plenty to talk about when we meet each other, can’t we?!
I am in a Children’s Literature class and we are to pick a blog we like and follow it through the semester. I was curious what you would say your book age range would be.
Glad you stopped by. I aim for ages 12 and down, though many of the books I review would be enjoyed by older children or adults as well. I don’t include much that would only be enjoyed by those over age 12. Hope you have a great semester!
Thank you so much. This blog is so wonderful and I plan on picking up a few books that you have posted on this page. As a future teacher I think they would work great in the classroom and as family books. I can’t wait to see what else is in store!
Your blog is so unique and I love the reviews. I have a 7 month old and get book titles from this blog so she will have interesting and varied books to enjoy. Where do you find all of these books???
Thank you! I’m glad you’re finding good books 🙂 Reading with my kids was one of the very best parts of parenting. I find titles from lots of places — other book blogs, award sites, bookstores, and most of all the library! I really don’t have any particular secret 🙂
🙂 We do have one local bookstore that posts book reviews (childrens and adult books) on tags next to the book. I guess you might call them “staff picks” with some details about the story. I have always found the best books this way, I think that is why I am drawn to your blog. That and because your love of books radiates.
It has been discussed among many experts that early childhood development is enhanced when the learning process is engaging for both parent and child. Hey, Baby, Look! is a new children’s board book, created especially for the zero-to-three, infant and toddler market. Written by Kate Shannon and illustrated by award-winning Morgan Owens, Hey, Baby, Look! is steeped in brain-based research and meant to optimize interactive learning in a positive and playful way.
As a nominee for the 27th Annual Minnesota Book Awards, “Hey, Baby, Look! applies the most current academic and brain research to maximize your child’s learning in a fun and interactive way,” according to Dr. Rita Brodnax, a PhD in Educational Leadership and the Application of Neuroscience to Teaching and Learning.
We would love for you to read and review this book for your followership. Is there a preferred mailing address for your receipt of materials? If so, I would like to send you a gratis copy of Hey, Baby, Look! If you’d like to speak with Kate or Morgan, I would be very happy to put you in touch with either.
You’re also invited to follow our story on FaceBook at /katesbluedream, on Twitter @katesbluedream, or via Pinterest /katesbluedream. A sincere thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Education & Outreach Coordinator
Blue Dream Books, LLC
If you would like my mailing address, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What a lovely review of Audrey of the Outback – thanks a million! A good and thoughtful friend sent it on to me, cos I did the pictures. There are two sequel Audrey novels, and a prequel picture book where Audrey loses her first tooth and plans for a visit from the tooth fairy, even lives him a bowl of water in case he’s thirsty. I love the way you think and write, makes me want read and read.
Thanks so much, Ann. How lovely to hear from you! I thoroughly enjoyed the way you brought that spunky gal and her world to life for us in the drawings.
Like you, I love Children’s Literature
Especially the classics which I began a lifelong passion for reading. As a former Librarian and Elementary school teacher. I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on reading books. Children are not exposed to the Arts in this age of Public Education. Too much emphasis on technology and test taking, it made me feel outdated so I finally just gave up.
I refuse to teach without Interdisciplinary Lessons based on Literature.
The days when I was allowed to teach with this approach my students always scored much higher on standardized tests..but most importantly, they learned the love of books. Reading is my passion and it’s helped me in so many ways. Not only do I learn when reading, I also forget about problems and concentrate on characters in the novels. I adore historical fiction. Edith Wharton, the Bronte’s, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Chekov, Dostovesky I can go on forever. Sometimes I have to go back and read them again…if current authors are providing enough good material.
I enjoy your blog and will continue to follow you. Thank you. It’s good to know I’m not alone in my opinion about Children’s books!
Thanks, Suzanne. It’s always nice to meet a fellow book-lover! I think there are always too many good books to read, and never quite enough time 🙂
I am writing to you to let you know about Book &ME, It is a platform for a printed children’s book that comes with an interactive experience in the form of a photo app. The Book&ME platform includes an illustrated children’s book that comes with a blank sheet of stickers and photo app. Once they have downloaded the app, the child takes photos using the various shapes as frames. The app then sends the shapes to your email where you can print them and use them to customize your story. It blends traditional and digital media in a way that pushes creativity and turns storytime into an engaging experience. Book&ME brings together the charm of reading tactile books with the excitement of a digital app, thus bridging the gap for families that face this digital dilemma. The pictures then can transform from digital to analogue through mobile iOS devices. It is a fun way to combine digital and print publishing and it lets children create tangible memories from what they see around them. Here’s our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1030826619/bookandme-inspire-create-personalize
Sounds like an intriguing idea, Inbal. Best of luck to you!
Have been a follower for a couple years. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful books with us all. We can feel your passion and joy in every post you write. When I discovered you lived in my home state MN, I jumped for joy. After 10 years in OH, I just returned to Mpls and am thrilled to be back home. I hope we get the chance to meet live some day. I love what you’re doing and the delight you bring to it! Your fan, Kristen Heimerl
So nice to hear from you, Kristen! And welcome back to Minnesota!! You’re just in time for monsoon season, apparently…
It’s such a pleasure to read the reviews you write, and then to read the books inspiring them! I met you once as part of Katie (Devine) Hayward’s small group, when we made dinner for your family. It’s been nearly 20 years now, so I don’t expect you would even remember that, but I remember that evening fondly! We were just a few young gals trying our hardest to bless your family, when we hardly knew how to cook at all! I love seeing pictures of your husband helping Katie and David and family in Guinea now. I have my own kids that I homeschool and reading your recommendations gives me great ideas for reading with them. Thank you for continuing to write!
Thanks so much for your encouraging words! And what a fun memory from a powerhouse group of women 🙂 Yes, it has been lovely for my husband to be able to keep up with Katie and David and get to know their little crew over the years. Happy reading to you all!
Thank you for your amazing book lists. I started following when my son was a preschooler. Now he is 16 years old and reads aloud online to a young friend from church each week. We use your book lists to find books to share.
Oh, so wonderful to hear from you! I love what your son is doing, and how books and reading-aloud expand and delight wherever they take root.