March 11, 2020

The Marketing (and Making Friends) Part of the Writing Life

Photo Credit: Arianne Stork-Nevdahl
One of my favorite parts of authoring books is the opportunity to meet new people. Some folks I've met in person, and others I've only "met" online or through other remote communication channels. Some of the people I've met and become friends with are "potty people" (or "cowgirl people" or "pirate people") as evidenced by this darling photo.

Many of the folks I've met are "writing people." Tina Cho falls into that category. I first got to know Tina because I started following the blog she writes with a team of other members of the kidlit community. I've read and followed several writing-related blogs over the years, and the Grog Blog has consistently been amongst the most helpful and informative.

Last year, Tina contributed a guest post on my blog where she shared a story time lesson plan for one of her books, Rice from Heaven. Today, I've written a guest post for the Grog Blog entitled "10 Things I Learned About Book Marketing."

It is with great pleasure that today, I can give back to a writing community that I've learned so much from. I hope you will hop on over to the Grog Blog and read some of the great articles they have posted ... including mine, today!

(Pssst, I had so many tips to share, I couldn't fit them into one post. I'm aiming to post a follow-up article on the same topic next month. I'll add a link to it here when it's available.)

February 26, 2020

Birth Stories for Books: HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS, by Janet Sumner Johnson

One of the things I love most about the work that I do, is meeting fellow creatives. Many of the people I "meet" are folks I get to know by interacting with them online. Similar to in-person friendships, it's not unusual that "remote friends" will introduce me to someone they know, and the creative network gets bigger... and bigger ... and bigger.

Case in point: Many years ago I came to know author Kathy MacMillan because of our mutual interests in American Sign Language, libraries, and books. Last year, Kathy introduced me to Janet Sumner Johnson, a friend of hers who also writes for kids. Fun fact: Janet first "met" me, by reading a post about my books that was featured on author and Storystorm founder, Tara Lazar's blog last year. And today, I have the pleasure of introducing YOU to Janet Sumner Johnson and her debut picture book that releases in March: HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson, Capstone, March 2020).

by Janet Sumner Johnson and Courtney Dawson

Take it away, Janet!

Help Wanted, Must Love Books
by Janet Sumner Johnson

I have always loved picture books. I love how the pictures and words work together to create the story. I love how they say so much in so few words. And the stories can be so powerful!

But picture books are challenging to write (and if you write them, you know that "challenging" is an understatement). I took classes, joined picture book writing groups, and studied the great ones . . . still, I never felt confident enough in my own stories to take the next step.

One night, right before bedtime, my daughter came into our room. "It's story time, Daddy!"

(In our house, Daddy is bedtime storyteller supreme. I mean, yeah, I may write books and tell stories for a living, but whatever, our kids always wanted Dad.)

But that night my husband was busy. He was stressed. He had a presentation the next morning. "I'm sorry kiddo. I just can't tonight."

I piped right up. "I'll read you a story!" But she rejected me right away. (Good thing I've had so much practice being rejected.)

She stomped her foot. "I'll read my own story!" Then stormed back to her room.

I laughed at my husband. "Wow, Hon. I think you just got fired."

As soon as those words were out of my mouth, the lightbulb went off. "Pen! Paper! Quick!" Within an hour, I had my first draft. Yeah, I totally stayed up late for that, and boy was it worth it.

Of course, that draft needed work, but I knew I had something special. I went through several rounds of revision with my critique partners and made some key changes, but it wasn't long before I dared show the manuscript to my agent. . . . my agent who didn't represent picture books.

But she felt it, too. There was something special in it, and she agreed to represent it. We went through a few more rounds of revision, then six months on submission (and so many close calls!), until finally an offer arrived.

I still remember where I was: sitting in my kitchen, lamenting via text with my author friends that I had no good news to share (true story). My phone rang, and it was my agent. Now, I know for some people, that always means good things, but my agent will call for bad news, so I had no expectations.

"Are you sitting down?" she asked. "You have an offer."

I might have been rendered speechless.

There was still a lot of work to be done, but I've learned a lot from this experience:

First, kids are great for inspiration.
Second, you never know when THE idea will strike.
And last, but most importantly, the work you put in is never wasted.

I took classes for years. I read and read and read mentor texts. I learned to watch for story ideas in the world around me. I wrote several picture books (that will never see the light of day). I exchanged manuscripts with critique partners. All that work paid off. When the idea struck, I was prepared. I could write this book because I'd put in the time.

So, don't give up! Keep working. Because it will put you in the right place at the right time . . . whenever that is for you.


What a GREAT post, Janet. I love to hear about the moments when inspiration strikes... especially when those inspirations turn into stories... and those stories turn into books! 

Thank you so much for sharing your Birth Story for HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS

Friends, the best way you can say thank you to Janet for spending some time with us today, is to support her work. Janet's books are available everywhere books are sold. 

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Janet Sumner Johnson lives in Northern Utah with her husband and three children. She sings in the shower, attends dance parties in her kitchen, and ruthlessly beats her kids at card games. Her first picture book, Help Wanted, Must Love Books releases in March, 2020 (Capstone). She is also the author of The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society (Capstone, 2016), a middle grade novel. You can visit her website at janetsumnerjohnson.com.

Website: http://janetsumnerjohnson.com/
Twitter: @MsVerbose
Instagram: @janetsumnerjohnson
Facebook: @janetsumnerjohnson


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Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

December 24, 2019

2019 Year-End Post and Holiday Greetings

As I've mentioned before, although it seems fewer and fewer people send annual holiday greetings, I treasure this tradition each year--both the receiving of cards, letters, and photos from friends and family near and far, and the preparation of my own annual update.

Dawn, Katia, Nikko, and Sam, 2019

Each year I try to provide a relevant update embedded in some creative format. In most cases, I've also published a year-end blog post that incorporates the holiday greeting for that year. Here is a link to a summary of past years' greetings.

Reports and redactions factored heavily into 2019, and so the same have been incorporated into this year’s annual missive:


As I wrote, read, re-read, and reflected on this year’s update, what struck me most is that details matter—and when key details are blocked from view, the story feels decidedly incomplete.

May the coming year bring the details that are important in our stories, our lives, and our world into clearer view.

Warm wishes
Dawn

December 11, 2019

Have Swag Will Travel: CHICKEN BREAK! A Counting Book, by Cate Berry

I'm so EGGcited about today's guest post with Cate Berry, author of two hilarious picture books. Today we'll focus on Cate's latest release CHICKEN BREAK! A Counting Book (illustrated by Charlotte Alder, Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan, 2019). Cate's post will crack you up AND bring you a dozen or so unique promotional ideas.

Take it away, Cate:

Have Swag, Will Travel
by Cate Berry

Bawk Squawk!

Thanks so much for having me, Dawn, on your fab kidlit blog! I launched my debut picture book last year, Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! [Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins] illustrated by Charles Santoso. It was a wild and crazy and packed year. I learned so much which is why I wanted to chat today about some grassroots marketing ideas I took out for a spin with my second book, Chicken Break! A Counting Book [Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan] which just released October 29, 2019.

But first! People always ask me about how I get my ideas. And Chicken Break had an especially fun backstory.

I usually make up absurd, imaginary stories but this little nugget was ripped from the headlines of my real life!

Our family ordered baby chicks from mypetchicken.com and they provided gleeful entertainment for many months— until they grew up. Our chickens wanted to live inside the house with us! They would line up and watch TV through the window on our back door! This really made me fall in love with chickens and their hilarious personalities.

Our neighbor had politely asked us not to let the chickens near her beautiful yard until one day, they escaped. I drove up and they had de-headed her freshly planted begonias and dug a three-foot hole in her mulch. Needless-to-say it looked like a Chicken Spa Day. That night a rerun of Ocean’s 11 was showing and—voila!—the whole things blended into a picture book.

Now that you know how this whole book was hatched, let’s talk about marketing. Or in my case, how to not think about marketing but rather, have fun…

I decided this time around I wanted to celebrate my book release in connection as much as possible. I spend a lot of time alone, writing. When I launched this book, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to build community, and yes, have fun!

My publisher was wonderful with getting me into events and conferences. But I don’t think that’s enough these days. I didn’t have any illusions that I, personally, could move the needle very far regarding sales, but I could widen my audience and develop deeper relationships with book sellers, schools and libraries. That’s what matters to me the most anyway: connection (See above! It’s my theme!).

So I invited several writer friends over, that lived near me, for wine and cheese. And Team Bock Bock was born. We had a lot of fun brainstorming outside-the-box, grassroots marketing ideas. For example, we came up with the idea of #CoopTroop, where I asked other authors with chicken-related books to band together and bond with our books. Another great idea that surfaced was making a Chicken Carpool Karaoke video. We had lots of ideas, some I’ll be rolling out over the next few months. Team Bock Bock was also particularly helpful in narrowing down my focus. You can’t do everything. And friends help other friends prioritize.

Now about that video…

I’m a huge James Corden fan. When we thought of Chicken Carpool Karaoke, I really worked hard to make that a reality. I hired Diem Korsgaard to film and edit the video. She mounted several cameras to our windshield for close up action shots. A Team Bock Bock member had a friend who volunteered her chickens. As the filming day approached, I’ll admit I was nervous. The reality of all that chicken poop in my van, the thought of them going crazy inside the vehicle while I was driving, the sheer mayhem of it all, had everyone on edge. I know my husband, who played ukulele in the video, was sweating it. But amazingly, they were very chill! And there was hardly any poop.

I will say, we had some hilarious out takes getting the chickens out of the car. Perhaps I’ll post those one day.

They really wanted to break out for a spin!

Another thing I did this time around was to host a Pub Day Party.

I invited friends and family over for an open house on the actual publication date, Oct. 29, 2019. It was an all-day affair from 8 AM until 6 PM. I wanted a slow steady stream of guests, so I’d have time to sit down and really talk with people. And thank them for all their support.

Sometimes your release date can come and go and it feels a little anti-climactic. But this was very special, having people drop by all day long and celebrate in a very real way.

I also set up a Review Table. Friends and family could log onto Amazon, Goodreads, Indiebound and other retailers offering customer reviews, and leave a quick review for the book, right there! As we all know, reviews are so important for a book, especially during the first week of sales. It was a fun way to connect with folks, especially those who wanted to buy but couldn’t make the official launch at Book People.








Oh! And my kids took initiative and wrote several “ready-made” reviews which we cut up and put in a jar in case anyone got stuck composing a review on the spot. Most of them were silly but it added to the fun.



Some sites did block a few reviews (they are very particular about who they verify!) but that didn’t matter. The spirit of the idea made the day a success.

And then came… #CoopTroop.

I reached out to several women authors (I love funny female authors!) who released chicken books this year (2019). Everyone was game to join forces, boost our books and shake a tail feather on social media.

#CoopTroup consists of Tammi Sauer (Tammi Bawk Bawk), Martha Brockenbrough (Party Fowl) and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Her Egg-cellency) and myself (Hen Solo).



Watch for giveaways, chicken boost and general fowl play on social media. I’m hoping we’re all at a conference soon so the whole coop can peck and play together—in costume!

So how has all this been received?

So far, so good! I’m getting quite a few requests for school visits already, as well as speaking engagements, and I’m on several panels at Texas Library Association conference in March. I also just found out that Chicken Break is listed on the NBC (Today Show) Today.com Holiday Gift Guide website!

I guess this second book really did feel different release than my debut book, Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! that pubbed in 2018.



Debut years are crazy. I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks otherwise. You don’t know anything, you’re worried, you’re excited, you’re a mess.

I made a point to do as much as I could to promote my debut. I didn’t want to feel any regrets the following year. I can honestly say I’m very proud of my accomplishments. I did in-store signings locally, statewide and in bigger cities out of state. I rocked a lot of school visits. I made a promo video with Harper Collins. I presented at the Texas Book Festival and other conferences. I was on faculty for the Austin SCBWI annual conference.

I also think I ran the risk of burnout and overspending (I confess to both of these). I think the thing I’d love to share with other debuts is that mistakes are unavoidable. How can you know what you don’t know? Don’t try and be perfect, try and connect.

Books come and go but the people you meet: booksellers, authors, librarians, teachers are a delight. Don’t forget to enjoy your book with others. Let others help and thank them for their support.

Also keep an open mind. I never dreamed I’d find a deep love for teaching, both online and privately. My book gave me this opportunity, along with finishing my MFA in Children’s Writing, and I’m forever grateful for this unexpected love affair with my students and their work.

Writing, marketing, teaching and promoting is challenging. But the small moments, especially sharing your book with kids, is worth everything.

Just keep going.


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There are so many EGGcellent ideas in this post, Cate (and I can't believe how scrumptious those launch coop-cakes look!) Congratulations on your latest book, and thank you for sharing your "bag of chicks" with us! I especially love the idea of hosting an all-day open house on Pub Day, including a Review Table. I will definitely incorporate something similar for my next launch, which is about 18 months out. I also agree that the best part of this business is the people you meet along the way. I'm so grateful we've had the opportunity to connect through our mutual affection for humorous kids books. Thanks again for stopping by!

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Cate Berry is the author of Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime! (Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins) illustrated by Charles Santoso. It was pinned a Junior Library Guild selection and Publisher’s Weekly called it, "A buoyantly subversive anti-bedtime book.” Her second book, Chicken Break! A Counting Book (Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan) illustrated by Charlotte Adler was praised by School Library Journal as, “Full of wordplay and an extra dose of cuteness, this is a definite first purchase for all children’s collections.” Cate holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches private students as well as classes at the Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. She was a featured author at the Texas Book Festival, West Texas Book Fest, Austin SCBWI Conference (faculty) and the Literacy Library Round-up (Victoria). She speaks at schools, libraries, book stores and conferences year-round. Visit her at www.cateberry.com to learn more.

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Have Swag Will Travel is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

November 25, 2019

The Blog Tour Part of the Writing Life

Photo by Dawn Prochovnic
Yard Sculpture in Delft, NL, Artist Unknown
One of the many enjoyable aspects of being an author is getting to know other authors and illustrators. I've made many new friends at conferences and online, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to feature the work of other authors/illustrators on the Birth Stories for Books series on my blog.

Likewise, over the years I've had the opportunity to connect with several members of the KidLit community who have been kind enough to invite me for a guest post or interview on their blogs.

With the recent launch of my new books, the past few months have been a flurry of guest posts and interviews on others' blogs. Although I've shared those posts and interviews on social media, I thought it would be nice to have them linked from one spot on my own blog. I'll keep this space updated as new guest posts and interviews are added.

Here goes:

3/11/20: Guest post on the Grog Blog, co-hosted by author Tina Cho (where I share ten tips about book marketing).

10/8/2019: Interview by author, Carol Gordon Ekster, on the Writers' Rumpus blog (where I share what excites me most (and scares me most) about being a children's author).

10/2019: Interview in SCBWI Insight (where I share my thoughts on "boy books" and "girl books" and my general advice for SCBWI members).

10/2019: Brief video introduction of my two latest books (where I share the best way to find out where DOES a Cowgirl go potty?).

9/28/2019: Interview for the "Will Write for Cookies" feature on author, Vivian Kirkfield's, blog (where I share some of my favorite childhood books and a favorite cookie recipe).

9/22/2019: Interview with Annie Lynn on author Michele McAvoy's My Messy Muse Podcast (where Annie shares some insider info about our recent collaboration on the song for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?)

9/8/2019: Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? book trailer featured on KidLit TV.

8/27/2019: Joint interview with musician, Annie Lynn, on author Tara Lazar's blog (where we share the story of our collaboration for the song that backs up the book trailer for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?)

8/20/2019: Guest Post on author Kathy Macmillan's Stories by Hand blog (where I share the story of collaborating with singer/song writer and performing musician Marshall Mitchell, and I share "Sign Language Sing-Along Resources" for Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?).

8/19/2019: Interview on author Aimee Reid's blog (where I share my thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with kids).

8/14/2019: Guest Post for the "Five Fun Facts" feature on author Laura Sassi's blog (where I share the origins of my Pirate and Cowgirl books and my affinity for sticky notes).

5/31/2019: Guest Post for Rain City Librarian's blog (where I share a sign language lesson plan called "Cowgirls Don't Wear Diapers").

11/6/2018: Guest post on author Tara Lazar's blog (where I share how one key revision resulted in two new books).

Last but not least, although not a guest post or an interview, SCBWI Oregon does put together a nice flyer of newly released books from member authors and illustrators that gets updated once or twice a year. It was nice to be included in the 2019 Edition of this resource. The most recent version of this resource can always be accessed here:  https://oregon.scbwi.org/pal-new-release-flyer/. Likewise, SCBWI International also puts together an annual reading list, and it was nice to be included in the 2019 Edition. The most recent version of this resource can always be accessed here: https://www.scbwi.org/recommended-reading-list/.

November 14, 2019

Have Swag Will Travel: untitled, by Timothy Young

One of my favorite aspects of hosting a blog is hearing from other members of the kidlit community about their experiences and processes. Today's guest is author/illustrator, Timothy Young, who has written and illustrated multiple books for kids, including his latest titled, untitled (Schiffer Publishing, 2019).

Timothy has visited hundreds of schools and libraries, and he has found unique ways to create lasting mementos and memories for the kids he's visited.

So let's hear from Timothy:


Have Swag, Will Travel
by Timothy Young

This is the 10th year that I’ve been doing school visits. My first book came out in 2008 and I had no idea about school visits. I did a few events like the Baltimore Book Festival and I met some school teachers. They asked if I visited schools and I said sure, why not? My first few visits were simple. My first book was a pop-up book called I’m Looking For A Monster!, and it only took about 2 minutes to read. I spent a lot of time drawing for the students those first couple of visits. A number of students asked about how pop-ups are done so for future visits I created a blank pop-up mechanism that the kids could decorate and put together with tape. I had the 3 pieces die-cut by a local printer. So the pop-up cards and bookmarks were my first swag.


The nice thing about being an author/illustrator is being able to easily create Swag. In my other job I’m a graphic designer and so I have the resources to create all kinds of promotional and display stuff. Whenever I have new books come out I update everything. I get new bookmarks printed with all of my book covers. I’ve handed out thousands of bookmarks over the years.

When my book The Angry Little Puffin came out I had an idea. One of my other skills is sculpting. I’ve sculpted animation models for shows like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, created 3-D illustrations for magazines like Popular Science and made toy prototypes including the very first Simpsons toys. I sculpted my Puffin character and made a mold so I could make multiple copies. I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds so that I could give each school I visited that year their very own Puffin. At the beginning of the year I figured I would make about 10 of them (That was how many visits I had done the prior year.) I ended up making 23 of them which was a lot of casting and painting.



Since that was so successful I thought I should continue to give each school a gift when I visit. I needed something unique for each school but something I could do more easily than casting and painting sculptures. I created a poster with all of my characters reading each other’s books. Do Not Open The Box! had just come out and so I drew Benny and some of the animals from the book along with the Puffin, Max from I Hate Picture Books! and a monster from I’m Looking For a Monster!


I have a large-scale printer so I individualize each poster thanking the school I am visiting. I frame them and present them to the school at the end of my assembly. Many schools have them hanging in their library so the students can remember my visit. Since I had the poster designed I also printed a few thousand generic ones that I gave out at events. Every child that buys a book at a school visit had one tucked into their book.



I have also drawn coloring pages from my books. I sometimes print them out for book festivals and bring crayons. They are also on my website where anyone can download them and print out as many as they want: https://creaturesandcharacters.com/ColoringPages.html

Last year I was running low on posters. I decided to update the poster illustration. Since the first one was printed I had a number of new books come out. I expanded the image and moved the original characters back. I put Luis and some of his alien friends from I’m Going To Outer Space! into the picture. The Puffin was already there so I didn’t add anyone from If You Give the Puffin a Muffin. I did decide to add Carlos and Ignatz from untitled even though the book would not come out for another 8 months.

So now all of the schools I’ll be visiting will get the updated poster thanking them for my visit, kids who order books get a smaller version of the new poster but I give out signed copies of the bigger poster at events. I also still do bookmarks and postcards to give away. I’m looking into having a plush toy of the Puffin made so stay tuned. I still have available dates for visits through the fall and spring of this year, so if you’d like a framed poster for your school, get in touch!

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Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Timothy! How wonderful that each school you have visited has received a unique and personalized gift of artwork that features the characters in your books and creates a lasting memory for the children at the school. It sounds like the casting and painting was a lot of work, but gosh those little puffins sure are cute! The posters of your book characters reading each others' stories is priceless. So. Much. Fun!

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Timothy Young always wondered as a child who made the toys he played with, who wrote and illustrated the books he read and who made the cartoons he watched. He grew up to be one of the people who got to do all of them.

Aside from being the author/illustrator of 11 books including I Hate Picture Books!, If You Give the Puffin a Muffin, Do Not Open The Box! and I’m Going To Outer Space!, (a winner of the Family Choice Award) he has worked in animation, toy design and other creative jobs. Among his career highlights include being the Head Model-Maker for the Penny cartoons on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, designing and building Muppets for Jim Henson Productions and sculpting the very first Simpsons character toys. He was design director for two toy companies and worked under contract with dozens of others.

He has also illustrated books for other authors and has written and illustrated two creative drawing books. His newest picture book is the unusually titled “untitled.”Tim has visited hundreds of schools and libraries and finds that doing presentations with students is one of the most fun and rewarding things he now gets to do. He loves passing on what he’s learned to kids like himself.

You can find more about Tim and his books at https://creaturesandcharacters.com or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Have Swag Will Travel is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

November 4, 2019

Silly Books in a Serious World

In a recent interview on another blog, I was asked what scares me the most about being a children's author. I replied, "There isn't anything that scares me about the work that I do, but I do have a worry."
Cowgirl Dawn at PNBA, 2019

I worry that maybe it's not "right" to create silly books during such serious times in our world. I worry that maybe I should use my gifts for more serious subjects.

When I'm troubled with this concern, I remind myself that light-heartedness may, in fact, be "just right" for this serious world. I'm bolstered by my firm belief that igniting a child's desire to read is serious business, and I'm hopeful that my silly books (and the many fun resources I've developed and curated to support these books) will bring laughter into lap time and snickers into story time, setting a joyful foundation for a lifetime of reading.

I can't think of a better time to celebrate books and reading than the 100th anniversary of Children's Book Week, which is November 4 - 10, 2019. This year's theme, Read Now - Read Forever, couldn't be better.

I also think that silly books can set a foundation for deeper learning when paired with meaningful learning extensions. Case in point, the Educators' Guides for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? go well beyond the silly potty humor portrayed in the books. The guides provide pre and post-reading discussion questions along with learning extensions that support science, math, and language arts, as well as interactive activities such as word searches and Reader's Theatre scripts.

Silly books can also provide an opening to educate young readers about more serious issues that tie into the books' themes. For example, a book about a Pirate (or a Cowgirl) in search of a place to go potty provides an excellent opportunity to bring attention to World Toilet Day, coming up on November 19th. The intent of World Toilet Day is to inspire "action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030. Established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001, World Toilet Day was made an official UN day in 2013." (Source: World Toilet Day Website).

The 2019 theme of World Toilet Day is, "Leaving no one behind," with the idea being that no one should be left behind without sanitation. The World Toilet Day website has great resources to support those who want to take action to bring about positive change. There are links to fact sheets to help you learn more, social media resources to help draw attention to the issue, info about events being planned around the globe, and even a toilet privilege game.

One organization that works to address the global water sanitation issue is Water1st International. They support sustainable clean water projects and toilets for the world's poorest communities. They also provide helpful curriculum guides and information about clubs and other youth leadership opportunities related to this issue on their website.

Other organizations that support clean water initiatives may also offer curriculum support (or in some cases, program offerings in your local area). One such example is the Northeast Ohio Sewer District, which offers in-person programming and has made their programming available in a seven-part series that can be accessed via YouTube.

Similarly, The Illinois River Watershed Partnership in Arkansas has detailed lesson plans for educators on their website, including a comprehensive program called Clean Water Raingers, complete with downloadable resources including a Watershed Adventure Workbook, Watershed Songs, and Watershed Videos. (Incidentally, the Watershed Songs and Videos are written and performed by Marshall Mitchell, the same artist who co-wrote and performed the song that accompanies the book trailer for Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? and who regularly performs for children and families (quite often in libraries) in Arkansas and surrounding areas).

In an effort to bring attention to Children's Book Week and World Toilet Day, and in an effort to get more books into the hands of young readers, I will match YOUR positive actions with donations of my books to the Children's Book Bank, while supplies last. Here are the details:

Photo Credit: Stephanie Shaw

It's not required that you choose my books to participate (though I won't object if you do). It's also not required that you participate in my Call to Action in order to bring some positive attention to the issues of concern surrounding World Toilet Day.

If you're a librarian, you could host a potty-themed story time that's all fun and games (you'll find loads of support resources, including book lists and lesson plans here--just follow this link and search on "potty-themed"), and wrap up the event with a brief mention of the issues surrounding World Toilet Day.

If you're a teacher, you could read Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and/or Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, and use the related Educators' Guides to incorporate curriculum-aligned discussion questions and activities (you'll find the guides here/Pirate and here/Cowgirl), and wrap up the lesson with an exploration of / discussion about the issues addressed on the World Toilet Day and/or Water1st International website(s).

If you're a parent, you could view the humorous book trailers for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and/or Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? with your child, sing (and sign) the theme songs that go along with the book trailers (you'll find support resources here/Pirate and here/Cowgirl), and then shift the conversation to the more serious issue of water sanitation by playing this game.

If you plan to support my Call to Action by purchasing a book, I hope you will consider supporting your local independent book store. If you plan to support my Call to Action by suggesting a book be added to your public library's collection, most libraries have a book request process on their website. You can locate your nearest library by visiting this link.  If you plan to support my Call to Action by donating to an organization that supports water sanitation and/or literacy and need some suggested organizations, here goes:

-Water 1st International
-The many organizations listed at the bottom of the World Toilet Organization home page
-Children's Book Bank
-SMART Reading (Start Making a Reader Today)
-Your local library

I'd love to hear about your World Toilet Day plans and/or experiences. Comment below, or connect with me on social media (TwitterFacebookInstagram).

And last but not least, if you need a toilet flushing sound loop to brighten your day, you'll find one here.