I think most writers collect bookmarks, not necessarily on purpose. Bookmarks are passed out to promote new books, so if you're supporting other authors, you'll take their bookmark. Friends and family add to the collection. What do you buy a writer? A pen, a notebook or a bookmark. I don't use most of my collection. They're just too pretty or they make dents in pages. Don't get me started on my feelings about disfiguring books! But I do love my bookmarks, no matter how dysfunctional they are. I shared pictures of my collection here several years ago, but it's grown so much, I thought it was time for an update.
Harry Potter and much loved animal bookmarks. I'm not a Gryffindor, I'm a Ravenclaw, but I don't think Hermione will mind if I use their bookmark. I know Harry and Ron won't. They shy away from books!
Bookmarks from my grandmother and favorite aunt. I use them in my Bible, my grandmother's Bible and mother's Bible. They connect me to these strong women, their faith and history.
Mementoes from museums, libraries and bookstores I haven't visited. Not in person. But these invite me to come. They invite me to imagine places I've never been.
Fancy doodads adorned with jewels, silver charms, silky tassels and dried flowers. Pure treasure!
And last are the bookmarks that promote stories. They don't sparkle or shine. They don't have magnetic grips or tassels. They're just plain, old printed paper. But I use them a lot and they work hard every day to remind me of the books they represent.
All of these bookmarks come from friends and family, so they'll always be special to me. Do you have a collection? A favorite?
I devote a lot of blog space to artists and writers. But what this blog is really about is creating stories. And where would a story be without a reader? Every writer and illustrator I know cites a love of childhood books as the inspiration for their career path. So today's post features two opportunities for readers. Both have been mentioned in LikeWise before, but I felt they were worth a second look.
Are you the type who can't be without a good read? Do you stack books on your bedside table or in your Kindle? Would you like to be the first to read the latest books and best of all, get them for free?
Then check out Teenreads Teen Board. Teenreads.com provides books reviews, author interviews, previews of upcoming books, polls, a blog and newsletter. Their Teen Board consists of thirty volunteer teens who review books, write blog posts, provide feedback and answer a monthly "Teen Board Question." Volunteer hopefuls can apply this summer for the next session. Before you do, be sure you're willing to commit to a year of service, running from September 2016 through August 2017. Potential candidates should be avid readers and good writers. You have to live in the U.S to be eligible, but those outside the country are invited to apply as blog writers. It sounds like a great place to showcase your talents and meet other book lovers.
The second opportunity empowers readers. The Harry Potter Alliance connects readers and encourages them to make a positive difference in the world. They donate books to needy children, advocate for issues important to book fans and gather to share stories, motivate and inspire. There are chapters across the globe. If you can't find one near you, HPA gives you the tools to start one. And they do have a contest. Members are encouraged to join one of the Houses from the HP story: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Hufflepuff. The Houses accumulate points by completing tasks, like donating books. The current champion is Ravenclaw, whose members accumulated over 200,000 points in the 2015 Accio Books campaign. So what are you doing this summer? Got room in your schedule for a HP chapter?
LikeWise began in January of this year, as a search for online venues that connect teen artists, writers and readers with like-minded souls. For my final post of 2015, I'm reviewing what I found.
The most impressive sites were created by fans of authors John Green and J.K Rowling. Nerdfighters and The Harry Potter Alliance connect readers like never before. They've built a legion of reader activists who use their love of story to fuel positive changes, like sending a plane load of supplies to hurricane survivors, forcing corporate giants to practice fair trade, and battling ogres who threaten net neutrality. The Nerdfighters site offers seemingly endless opportunities to connect with all creative types. And The Harry Potter Alliance continues to reach out to the reader community. Next March, they'll present The Granger Leadership Academy, where teams will help attendees develop hero skills. So readers, if you haven't checked them out, what are you waiting for?
Sites for writers and visual artists are harder to find. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is by far the most notable. It offers young novelists support and a discussion forum. Since the focus is on penning an entire novel in November, I'm not sure how long the connections and support last beyond that month. But it's certainly a place to meet teen writers and those relationships could grow beyond the event. For artists, The Art Assignment is a a fun, interactive project hosted by John Green's wife, Sarah. Guest artists present challenges and creative fans post their results on YouTube. It's ongoing, so you can participate when time allows and when it doesn't, pop in to keep up with the projects of your new online friends.
In August, I presented a Plethora of Artistic Links, including contests and opportunities to submit writing and art for publication. When I couldn't find more venues for artists and writers to connect, I drifted toward sites for creative minds: The Maker Movement, inventors, young and old, using technology to fabricate wondrous things; Imagination Foundation, collaborators who create with cardboard, and TED, the place to view and hear people with big ideas. They're fascinating places that feed the mind and fuel creativity.
To be sure, I'm not the most experienced researcher, or the most patient. While fantastic websites may have escaped my feeble fingers, I was thrilled to find an abundance of regional programs, many of them offered through libraries and museums. Nothing beats physical connections. What's important is finding people you trust to share your work with. Whether it's in person or online, I wish you rewarding relationships in 2016.
School's out. Two months of freedom from school work. What will you do with all that freed up brain space? Read, of course! You'll want books at the beach, books for lazy afternoons on the porch or under a tree, books on long car rides and late nights in bed. So this month, LikeWise features sites dedicated to readers.
First up is teenreads.com. Teenreads offers the Ultimate Reading List of 400 books, interviews with authors and publishing professionals, polls, contests, a blog and monthly book and screen reviews. What I liked most about this venue was the Teen Board. Thirty teens from around the country are chosen by staff for a year long commitment to provide reviews and blog posts, as well as answer reader questions. The site's recommendations include non fiction and adult books.
Next up is Readingteen.net. It features similar content: book reviews, giveaways and blog. But it's run by two mothers and their young adult children with part time reviews by a handful of teens. While there are adult, motherly opinions being offered on their blog, I thought the content was thoughtful and invited discussion. I especially liked this post urging book banners and the banned books' supporters to stop fighting and start listening:
Child Corruptors vs. Nazi Book Burners
At The Library of Congress, you'll find booklists, poetry and free resources. They feature fantastic author webcasts and a gazillion links that probably lead to a gazillion more links so there's no telling what sort of treasure you'll dig up.
Finally, there's Reading Rants, a blog hosted by Middle school librarian Jennifer Hubert. She reviews books for teens but doesn't stick to the YA section and she accepts book suggestions from readers. I love her listed links, which include book reviews by topic, blogs for teens and out-of-the-ordinary authors.
These are just a sampling of the sites I found. Try them out, start a reading list. If you're the type who likes to share books with friends and those friends are away for the summer, join a book club. You can find them at libraries, Nerdfighters, Goodreads or The Guardian. And if you love a book so much you're eager to share it with the world, create a YouTube review. Who knows, you might gather a following, like Jesse the Reader who offers brief book reviews for summer reading below.
This post introduces my blog's new venture, LikeWise. Once a month, LikeWise will feature places where like-minded creative teens can connect. I hope throughout the year to offer an eclectic mix of programs, some known and others more obscure. I'm starting with a big one.
By now, most people on the planet know of John Green, the contemporary YA author who wrote The Fault in Our Stars (recently made into a movie) and Paper Towns (movie soon to follow). And many will have heard of John's brother Hank who helped form the Nerdfighters website. Together, they have created an army of dynamic fans. Nerdfighters is "A place where nerds gather to play. We fight to increase awesome and decrease suck."
Nerdfighters is like a warehouse full of rooms for creative brains. Behind every door, there's an invitation to join in a project or discussion or intriguing challenge. Like collaborative YouTube videos and almost 3000 Nerdfighter subgroups (writers, poets, artists, readers, Iowans, no kidding, Iowans). Once a week, The Art Assignment (produced by PBS) introduces artists from around the country who present assignments. The Sci Show features short, funny videos that inform about everything science, and Crash Course teaches history, anatomy, astronomy and politics. See what I mean? Doors galore!
John and Hank Green used YouTube to unite and ignite a community of creative young minds. Nerdfighters is a powerful force making positive changes in the world. Every year, the Project for Awesome raises money for worthy causes. Last December over one million dollars was donated! It's hard to imagine what the Green brothers will do next. This month, Hank interviewed President Obama and he included fan's questions. Their voices were heard by an ever-expanding online audience. Artists, writers and readers spend a lot of time alone with our passions. But that doesn't mean we can't also be part of a community.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor