Q. You’ve said previously that Reading Rainbow was the hardest, most rewarding thing you’ve done in show business. Is that still true for you?

A. I had to learn a new business. I had to learn the technology business. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. When you think about reinventing a well-known and beloved brand, the thing that kept us up nights was the fear of failing to meet expectations. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…and the most rewarding. I love that I am able to focus at this point in my life on the mission, the continuing mission, of getting kids excited about literature and reading.

Flying Twice as High: Reading Rainbow 2.0 | SLJ Talks to LeVar Burton - The Digital Shift

One of the problems with mental illness is that people don’t talk about it. One in three American families face it in one form or another. I’m hoping that the book will help remove the stigma from mental illness and open up a dialogue—allow us to talk about it in more open terms, and to take away the sense of shame associated with it. Once we do that, it will help us address the issue. It will be easier for people to have a sense of pride in who they are, and to understand that mental illness is an illness, and that it is not a stain on them.

uh… me.

In my latest interview with the School Library Journal, we talk about Challenger Deep, the National Book Award, and a little series you might not have heard of called Unwind.

Read the interview here!

Isla and the Happily Ever After has received a *starred review* from School Library Journal:

“Fans will relish appearances by characters from Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door in this sweet, charming series third that will make readers feel like they’re in Paris too. Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones.”

Huzzah! Thank you, SLJ!

an interview, a backyard, and of course, a trampoline.

Here’s an interview I did for School Library Journal plus a few photos from the backyard. Forget the books – look at the blood, sweat and tears in the paint job on that cubby house…So nice talking to Angela Carstensen, and a great hour or two with James Horan. Check out his latest (and brilliant) photo exhibition, ‘Irish Horse’, here:

As for what to take out of this interview?

I’m so glad one of my dogs ate all the protective crap around the trampoline…

Persepolis’ Restored to Chicago School Libraries; Classroom Access Still Restricted | School Library Journal

Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s OIF and FTRF executive director, responded in a letter addressed jointly to Byrd-Bennett; David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education; and Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, seeking an explanation and urging that the book be returned to classrooms. “While we applaud the CPS Department of Libraries for adhering to its own very well-crafted policies on school library collection development…we remain exceedingly troubled by the standing directive to remove the book from classrooms,” Jones said.

Jones also called the directive to restrict access “a heavy-handed denial of students’ rights to access information” that “smacks of censorship.”
We Need Diverse Books and School Library Journal Announce Collaboration

The collaboration between We Need Diverse Books and School Library Journal will involve a variety of initiatives concerning diversity in children’s literature, including an event during the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

More exciting news! So much going on and it’s all great! Thanks SLJ!

Vanishing Girls Reviewed by School Library Journal!

Different as night and day, sisters Nick and Dara are practically joined at the hip. Nick is perpetually the cool and calm older one who calls the shots. Dara is always tagging along, longing to be in the spotlight. That was before the accident that left Dara injured and Nick shaken to the core. Now, the siblings barely speak to each other; they live together but never cross paths. Nick gets a job at a local amusement park and begins to interact with people again, mostly with her longtime best friend, but also with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Parker. As the summer continues, a young local girl goes missing and Nick finds herself getting more involved with the ensuing drama than she ever expected. The situation comes to a boiling point at Dara’s birthday dinner when she disappears too, and it’s up to Nick to piece the story together and discover what has happened to her sister. Like in her “Delirium” series and Before I Fall (2010, both HarperCollins), Oliver’s characterizations and background stories are well-developed and compulsively readable. The relationship between Nick and Dara drives the plot and is very realistic. The twist the author incorporates at the end is dramatic without being absurd and was completely unexpected. Recommend to teens looking for a well-written work with a juicy ending. They will not be disappointed.–Morgan Brickey, Marion County Public Library System, FL

But the opportunities are myriad if we view patrons as whole people with needs beyond what any one department or service point can offer. For example, we must collaborate with fluidity and serve college students who also need life-skill support—or even pleasure reading. If we work to create this kind of culture, provide this kind of service, everyone will benefit.

The End of Turf | Editorial, by Rebecca Miller

Rebecca’s first editorial as libraryjournal & schoollibraryjournal’s joint EIC is a fiercely intelligent thing of beauty. 

#CSforAll and librarians

The new Computer Science for All initiative is a bold step, providing $4 billion in federal funds to boost CS in schools. While not explicitly named as a project partner by President Obama, libraries can play an important role.

Take Lauren McBride, for example. “School librarians need to seek out opportunities to be prepared to support this initiative,” she says. The librarian at Riverside High School in Loudon County, VA, McBride is helping boost digital citizenship skills, particularly in the area of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use. “There is a lot of code out there that’s fair use and invaluable for future programmers to incorporate into their own software,” she says.

Public libraries can facilitate CS learning with youth and families. “Work with local agencies to support CS, figuring out where the gaps are and where libraries fit in,” urges library consultant Linda Braun. “Then help facilitate the actual learning without focusing on specific devices, but on skills and knowledge.”  

We’ll track libraries at the leading edge of CS, and then some, in School Library Journal’s new monthly newsletter TechKnowledge. Find here the latest news, best practices, reviews, and an opportunity or two.

I’m coming off a great week in Austin and TCEA and returning for SXSWEdu, where I’ll be leading a March 9 panel on a national plan for making. Our Maker Workshop kicks off then, too. - Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, SLJ



SLJ’s Karyn Peterson chatted with LeVar Burton about Reading Rainbow’s new initiatives.

Stay tuned for the article!

Swoon. Seriously. I don’t think I could handle meeting LeVar. I tried to explain this to some of my coworkers yesterday and ended up describing for like five minutes the scene in Star Trek: Insurrection where Geordi sees a sunset for the first time. So, basically:

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We Need Diverse Books™ | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents

The diversity gap in children’s books and publishing isn’t new, but 2014 saw it confronted with unprecedented energy. A group of authors for children and teens together assembled a virtual call to arms that is likely to influence the face of publishing for years to come.

Gotta admit, that’s a pretty cool team picture. Thanks again Library Journal for considering We Need Diverse Books one of the Movers & Shakers along with so many wonderful educators, librarians, and activists around the country.
An Informal Study: Do Book Challenges Suppress Diversity?

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In an informal study of the top banned books since 2000, young adult author and Diversity in YA cofounder Malinda Lo reveals that 52 percent of challenged titles have diverse content or are written by a diverse author.

In an e-mail to School Library Journal Malinda Lo comments on the reaction she received after sharing her research publicly:

“I’ve been very gratified by the positive response to the post, and I hope it makes everyone involved with censorship issues look beyond the stated reasons for a book challenge, because I suspect those publicly stated reasons are sometimes hiding ulterior motives.”