My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 20 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

March 30, 2014

Reading My Way Around the World - What should I actually call this project?

Wow!  Two posts in one week!  It's a Chanukah Miracle!!  See, this project is actually going to happen, but I'm still working through the details.  Then I realized, I should work through the details on the blog so 1) you all actually know I'm doing something and 2) I could REALLY use some input.

Ann Morgan called her project A Year of Reading the World (or AYORTW) which is a GREAT title, but I can't use it.  I'm also not sure of timing.  Can I do this in a year?  I'm hoping to do a picture book, middle grade and young adult from each official language in each country.  How many books will this actually be? 

So, suggestions please.  Something that's catchy and might work as a Twitter handle (do people say 'handle'?  Am I completely dating myself by using CB language?  Am I completely dating myself by knowing what a CB (Citizen's Band radio for those youngsters out there) is?

Winning suggestion will get books from me!!  I don't know what books yet, but books, I promise will come your way if you come up with a great title for this project.

Well?   I'm waiting..................

March 24, 2014

Reading the World in Children's Literature

I am getting off my throne as Queen of Procrastination to actually 1) Blog and 2) Start a project I've been intending to start for awhile (as I always say, my road to Heck is very well paved).

So, obviously #1 is happening right now.  What's #2?

Well, I'm sure many of you heard about Ann Morgan who made it her goal to read a book from every country (196 is what she counted) over the course of a year.  More info at her site,

When I heard about her project I thought, "How cool.  I could do that with children's books."  But did I?  NO.  Did I have various friends and colleagues say I should do that? YEP.  But did I?  NO (are you starting to see the pattern?)

Well, today IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) put out their awards   so I'm taking that as a kick in the tuchus to get myself moving on this project.

My first step was to e-mail IBBY and see if I'm still a member, if my membership has expired, then I'll sign up again right away because they will be the perfect resource for this.

Why do I want to do this?  Well, I remember taking my first children's literature class 19 years ago and we were taught "If you don't know the story, you can't understand the culture." and I completely agree with this.  A people's values are often shown in their literature, especially the literature written for children.

That same teacher (shout out to Dr. Beverly Vaughn Hock) also ran a conference called Reading the World, which was an AMAZING gathering of people who created and supported multicultural children's literature, so I'm keeping her (and Ms. Morgan's) title for this project.

I love reading and I love learning about other cultures, so this is a perfect way to really expand my worldview. 

 I served for a year on the American Library Association's Mildred L. Batchelder Award Committee (for best books in translation) and truly enjoyed it.  I can't tell you what we discussed because it's one of those "If I told you I'd have to kill you."  committees (like Newbery and Caldecott). But I can tell you that I did help 're-translate' the Batchelder winner for the year before my year.  We had read it to see an example of a winner and I noticed an awkward paragraph.  Since the book, SOLDIER BEAR, had originally been written in Dutch (which is my second language, not normally a useful second language since all Dutch and Flemish speakers speak English WAY better than I speak Flemish) I was able to check it out in its original language and discovered the paragraph had been translated incorrectly.  The publishers changed the translation in the paperback edition. 

I'm wondering why I wrote the above paragraph and realized that 1) trying to establish my creds and 2) I wanted to brag (well, at least I'm honest about it)  :-)

You may also be asking "Why is everything in italics now?"  Well, I'll tell you, it's a very deep, thoughtful reason..... I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF THE FRIGGING ITALICS!!

So, signing off for now.  The next blog will be italics free (I hope).