22 December 2008

Read, Kiddo, Read! (a Mother Talk Review)

I've loved to read as long as I can remember. My parents' stories suggest I loved reading even before that: my father would stand up in the kitchen, reading the newspaper at the counter, trying to carve out some time for his own reading, knowing that as soon as he sat down, I'd be climbing into his lap and saying "book! book!" One of the pleasures of the blogosphere is book recommendations. Between Library Thing, book blogs, and just posts about books by the bloggers I read, there are tons of sources of info about all kinds of books. Live and learn!

Turns out that despite my personal love of reading and my professional focus on reading and writing, there are a few major trends in the current fiction world that I've missed. Take James Patterson, for one. I discovered today (on his website) that Patterson (whose name did sound familiar, at least) has sold 1 out of every 15 hardcover books in the US (in 2007) and has written two of the most popular detective series in recent years (Alex Cross, and the Women's Murder Club). Mysteries were the first genre I really got immersed in, and I don't think I've read any Patterson.

But I'm blogging tonight about one of James Patterson's other achievements: Read, Kiddo, Read!, a website designed to make it easy to find basic book recommendations for children. (Patterson also writes young adult fiction.) RKR is a nicely organized site--the front page lets you select from great illustrated books, great transitional books, great pageturners, and great advanced reads. Each area is then further subdivided (so the great illustrated books, which focuses on books for the 0-5 or 6 set, lets you browse books for babies, story books, transitional books, and nonfiction books). The site's visual presentation is great--it loads quickly, and it gives a lot of info. For each book there's a good summary, links to places to find the book (independent booksellers as well as big box stores), snippets of published reviews--and my favorite part, the "if you liked this book, you might like...." list.

The books themselves are good. I like the detailed plot summaries (once I hit publish, my next click will be to the town library to request a copy of Keiko Kasza's The Dog that Cried Wolf--the plot sounds great, and we love a couple of his other books, like A Mother for Choco) The "if you liked this book..." lists contain lots of books I don't know. So I'm looking forward to checking out a few new-to-me-books (like Sara Swan Miller's Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog).

Patterson has also established a Read Kiddo Read ning community. I don't regularly use ning, so maybe I'm missing something, but the community portion of the site seems underactive at the moment. There are a few groups set up, without a lot of activity in them, and there are a few blogs associated with the site. There's an interesting post with suggestions for books for boys--I'm not sure I buy the gendered logic about boys' reading preferences, but the books listed there are superb (and there are, indeed, tons of gendered issues about boys and literacy). It's not easy to see how to get back to the RKR main page from the ning community (you have to understand that the "back home" button on the community page means "back to the main RKR page" and not "back to the ning community home page."

Another quibble--I always have a quibble--I wish the "if you liked this book, you might like...." lists didn't list multiple other books by the author of the first recommended book. Wouldn't readers of Knufflebunny figure out pretty easily that they might enjoy Knufflebunny Too as well as various other works by Willems? (all of which rock, I should add. He and Kevin Henkes are two of our current favorites around here.) I suppose "find another book by the same author" is a good strategy to teach people about how to find other new books, but still.

All in all, a good site. I'll be browsing it when looking for good book suggestions (especially for kids who are much older than CG, where I'm not so familiar with the new literature). So put Read, Kiddo, Read! into your bookmarks, along with the Cybils site, and Librarian Mom, and maybe Chicken Spaghetti, and you'll soon be pulled away from the computer and into some wonderful books at a library, bookstore, couch, or bed near you.

Happy reading.

This review was sponsored by Mother Talk; I received an Amazon certificate for the review. While most Mother Talk blog tours are summarized on the MT Blog, this one doesn't seem to have a page up yet--but if you google Mother Talk and Read Kiddo Read, you'll find plenty of other posts, like Art Sweet's.


kathy a. said...

i passed along a link to this review, to my sister who has a library project going at her local public schools.

hope your holidays are lovely, susan!

Ms Jewl said...

I'm always looking for good book recommendations. Finally, Lyra is showing a true interest in reading. She seems ready to try the sounds of words and is patient to work it out. Before, she used to just say to me - No, you read it mommy.

Kudos to the neighbor kids next door who love to read and I think are also giving Lyra encouragement. Nothing like peer pressure to spur her on!

Cloudscome said...

I reviewed this site too and joined the ning community. It looks like a good resource among others. I didn't find much diversity there but maybe with action in the ning that will broaden...

I agree the hype about boys and books puzzles me a bit cause I don't see that with the boys I know. They love to read!