This is the first post in what will become a regular monthly feature on my blog, “In The Spotlight.” During the last full week of each month, I will devote all three regular posts to spotlighting the work of one particular author or organization, or will focus on one particular topic. This inaugural “In The Spotlight” week features a double focus (plus a bonus!)

One day last spring while I waited to board a plane in Minneapolis, I sat reading Emma Walton Hamilton’s book Raising Bookworms: How to Get Your Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment. A man sitting near me got my attention by asking, “Are you a teacher?” (No, although I certainly considered teaching as an option.) He then said, “I wish I’d had that book when my son was growing up.”

He told me that when his son was very small, he loved books. He loved being read to, he loved reading – until he got to school, where somehow he got the message that real boys don’t like reading. The man in the airport told me, with more than a tinge of regret in his voice, that his son was only now starting to read for enjoyment again. His son is 30.

I, too, wish that Raising Bookworms had been available to that man to counteract the wrong thinking that so influenced his son.

I’m featuring this book today for a couple of reasons. One I’ll get to shortly. First and foremost, this Friday, January 27th, is Family Literacy Day in Canada. In recognition of the importance of literacy, all my blog posts this week will focus on literacy, as well as turning the spotlight on literacy advocate Emma Walton Hamilton.

Raising Bookworms is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to make sure their kids (or grandkids, or others) grow up reading, and finding joy in reading.

I sometimes think I must have come out of the womb with a book in one hand, so I find it difficult to understand when kids say, “I hate reading” or when adults say, “I never read books.” But there are many who say these things. Emma has suggestions to help.

The meat of the book is in the section titled The Strategies, in which Emma looks at different ages/stages in a child’s life, and suggests both strategies for encouraging a love of books, and a list of books designed to appeal to a wide variety of children in each age group. The chapter headings themselves give you a good sense of the richness you’ll find in each chapter. (To me they also suggest that Emma was raised not only to be a bookworm like her mother, but also to be someone who loves gardening as much as her mother does!)

Babies and Toddlers: Sowing the Seeds for a Love of Reading

Preschoolers: Cultivating the Joy of Reading

Elementary School: Nurturing the Budding Reader

Middle School and Beyond: Deepening the Roots

Special Situations and Frequently Asked Questions (including “How do I Know if My Child Has a Reading Problem?” “ Reading to Older Kids” and “No Time to Read.”)

Emma writes in an approachable and enthusiastic style, and gives a wealth of suggestions that would be fun to do with your kids even if your kids are already voracious bookworms.

James Patterson said, in the “Praise for Raising Bookworms” blurbs, “Raising Bookworms does something rare – it recognizes that to get a kid reading means lighting an internal fire, not just applying an external push. This book shows you how to make reading a habit they’ll want to form all on their own.” James Patterson is, himself, an advocate for getting kids reading. The link behind his name will take you to his ReadKiddoRead website.

Are you wishing you could just sit down and read Emma’s book right now? Well you can. Almost. I have TWO copies of Raising Bookworms available to give away, and there are two things you can do to make yourself eligible to be part of the draw I’ll hold next Monday, January 30, 2012.

Each time you do one of these, your name will be added to the entrants’ list, and on Monday, random.org will help me select two winners. So the more times you participate, the more chances you have to win.

  1. Leave a comment, mentioning something that particularly resonated with you in the post, on any (or all!) of my blog posts from today up to and including Friday of this week.
  2. Write a post about literacy on your own blog, and link back to this post. Be sure to let me know, so that I can read your post, and so that I put your name on the entrants’ list.

Either of these will enter you in the draw for one of the two available copies of Raising Bookworms. Doing more will enter you more times (for instance, if you read and comment on all of the posts this week, you’ll be entered that many times). (Note: you’ll only be able to win one copy — once your name is drawn, it will be removed from the second draw, to give others a chance.) Through it all, we’re all supporting the cause of getting kids reading, and getting books into kids’ hands.

If you want to do something concrete to get books into kids’ hands (although this won’t affect your entries into the giveaway) I’d urge you to go to We Give Books (http://www.wegivebooks.org), sign up (it’s FREE), and read one of their ebook picture books. Simply by doing that, you will have enabled them to donate a book to a child who wouldn’t otherwise have access to books.

Okay, let’s raise some bookworms!

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