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By March 22, 2020May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog


Children’s Book Creators, Publishers, Librarians, Teachers

A pandemic was announced. Schools were closing. People were asked to stay home.

Not surprising

Children’s book creators-writers and artists

Educators-teachers and librarians

Children’s book community- publishers and bookstores

wanted to provide the best literature and activities for those at home.

And in a short few days, they did.

Authors and illustrators

reading aloud and creating workshops in writing and drawing.

On Facebook they were sharing their books in read aloud videos.

We are sharing as many of these “virtual author visits” as possible at a group #OperationReadAloud.

On Blue Ox Review, I will be selecting videos of books that lend themselves to off the page responses in writing and art. I will be suggesting ways for the adults to guide those activities.

I have been asked to also break-out projects from the Writing Box book.

I’ve been told that parents and caregivers might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by choices and suggestions for educational activities on the web.



I will be posting author/illustrator read-alouds, publishers policies, writing and art prompts and STEM activities for children and young adults. I encourage teachers and librarians and children’s book creators to post their own work or cool web-based discovers on the #OperationReadAloud group Facebook page. I guess this is what they mean by crowd-sourcing.

Floyd Cooper reading aloud Max and the Tag-Along Moon

Kate DiCamillo has launched a #writewithkate video series on her Facebook page

On the Kennedy Center website, author/illustrator Mo Willems is inviting viewers into his studio every weekday for the next few weeks to create lunchtime doodles with him.

lunch-doodles with Mo Willems

On Instagram, children’s authors like Oliver Jeffers and Mac Barnett are using the live function to do daily readings of their picture books.

Nikki Grimes is reading aloud chapters of Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel: Chapter 1 “New Kid”

Activities like how to make kimchi

Authors of Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix June Jo Lee and Jacqueline Briggs-Martin demonstrate how to make kimchi.

YA authors Tiffany D. Jackson and Nic Stone are chatting with readers and other authors; Molly Idle and Dan Santat are giving drawing and history lessons; and

Gene Luen Yang is “touring as a cartoon” after having to cancel his “in-person” tour.

On the Kennedy Center website, author/illustrator Mo Willems is inviting viewers into his studio every weekday for the next few weeks to create lunchtime doodles with him.

The Everywhere Book Fest, founded by authors Melanie Conklin, Ellen Oh and Christina Soontornvat, is an entirely online children’s book festival scheduled for May 1-2. Their “aim is to bring the celebration and joy of the book festival experience directly into the homes of readers everywhere.”

Shelf Awareness
has a good round up of what is going on in Children’s Book World.

Buying Books

Booksellers and Children’s book creators are suffering right now. Author visits and tours have been canceled. Conferences and bookstore appearances have been canceled.

How can you help? If you love a book that is being read aloud, buy one if you can. The publishers and authors have been exceedingly generous allowing these videos of full book read-alouds. That is why we are including links in the Blue Ox postings to the creators’ favorite independent bookstores. Buying books will make a difference.

Counting Birds by Heidi Stemple

As Heidi Stemple wrote

 “You may notice that many of us are posting videos that start with “with the permission of my publishing company…” That is because, reading an entire book online messes with two things–it makes for copyright problems and it can do terrible things for our sales. Who wants to purchase a book if you can go to Youtube and have the author read it to your kid or class for free? We are doing this because school-aged children are our people. Parents and teachers of those children are our people. When children need something–like when they are stuck at home without school–we jump in to help.

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. Despite the hard parts. Despite the monetary aspect of it (we’ll sort that out later). Despite it all, we want to help give the kids who are distance learning have as much “content” each day as possible. Artists are doing art lessons, writers are reading their books, next week, I’m posting a week of bird-related activities based on my book Counting Birds.

HOW CAN YOU HELP creators of books and bookstores during these times, too? This is not a plea for you to buy my book. This is a reminder for all books. Did you love the art tutorial your kid had every day last week? Buy that artist’s books–now or later, whenever. Love the author who is reading at noon everyday for your kids so you can have a short break? Seek out her books for purchase. Amazon is convenient, but please, instead, contact your local indie bookstores and they will ship you that same book. Local Indies are really in danger right now. But, it is not necessary to purchase a book yourself–just as good is requesting that your local library purchase our books. Look–I didn’t even know how to video myself until yesterday–I think you can tell that most of us aren’t out there in front of cameras a lot–we would rather be writing. But, we support you. Help us support the book industry in turn. Thank you!”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Bookstore of the Day: Hicklebee’s Children’s Books


Valerie Lewis and Monica Holmes of Hicklebee’s Children’s Books in San Jose.

More about Hicklebees

A Message from Hicklebees:

Keeping Our Distance; Sending Our Best

Social distancing is a perplexing new experience for all of us, and Hicklebee’s has closed its doors in accordance with the Santa Clara County efforts to prevent the growth of the COVID-19 emergency. But although our doors are closed, we will continue to work to get the right books into your sheltered-in-place hands.

We are taking online orders through our website and telephone orders at 408-292-8880. If you call outside of our operation hours, please leave a voicemail and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Through April 7th, we are offering free media mail shipping. We will also have curbside pick up available at the store from 10:00-2:00pm, Monday-Saturday. If you have particular needs, please contact us at, and we will do our best to arrange delivery. We’re all in this together and ideas from you about how we can best serve you, are welcome.

Don’t know exactly what you need? Our knowledgeable staff is eager to help you find books, toys, puzzles, and gifts that will make staying at home more educational and more pleasant. For personal assistance, call the store or email Carol Doup Muller at

Thank you for your deeply appreciated support of Hicklebee’s.

Carol is the Hicklebee’s book buyer for its adult sections, some of its children’s books and is the writer/editor of our newsletter. For years she was the book review editor for the San Jose Mercury News and served as a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. She created the popular Worth the Candle ensuring our favorite books from the past are not forgotten.

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