Activity BOOKS!

I’ve spent the past six weeks working pretty much every waking moment on a project that I haven’t yet been able to share about. But I finally got the go-ahead today to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! So, here you go:

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That’s a (heavily doodled-upon) contract for not one, but TWO activity books! They’ll be published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, and the first book, Give This Book a Title, will be out THIS October 27th. Starting today, however, you can preorder it wherever books are sold!

To be making a pair of books that will directly help kids explore and develop their creativity is a DREAM. And to do so with my incredible team at S&S/Aladdin is a DREAM on top of a DREAM. And none of it would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for the support of all of YOU!

The love and support you showed my activities and approach to kids’ creativity this spring meant the world to me, and always will. It also signaled to my publisher that these activities could be a hit in book form. So, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I have no plans to remove the activities on the ACTIVITIES page of this site. Those will be there (free to all to use for educational, not-for-profit purposes) in perpetuity! And I’ll be sharing more about Give This Book a Title in the coming months, both here and, especially, on social media.

THANK YOU once again!

~ Jarrett

This School Year…

For many kids, teachers, and librarians, the school is coming (or has just come) to a close. And what a strange school year it was. Especially the last quarter of it. None of us could’ve foreseen that we’d be told to cancel all our plans, to stay at home — and to figure out how to teach a country full of kids remotely.

Last week, Amy Holmes — an educator from Waterford, Michigan — reached out to ask me whether I was planning to create some sort of “end of the school year” activity sheet. I hadn’t been, but thought it was a great idea. I figured both kids AND adults could benefit from some solid reflection after the past few months.

And so, I created this activity sheet:

this school year

My hope is that the prompts are broad and open enough to get anyone’s brain churning, and that they lead to some positive, productive thinking. You can download a free, printable version of the activity sheet by clicking HERE. You can also find it at my ACTIVITIES page along with all my other activities.

Here’s hoping next school year is as “normal” as it safely can be. And here’s to never again taking for granted the time we get to spend teaching (and learning from!) kids in schools and the wonderful spaces — the classrooms, libraries, hallways, and fields — that they contain.

~ Jarrett

MORE The World Needs Your Story Shirts!

the world

Last week, people began receiving my The World Needs Your Story T-shirts that they ordered during my fundraiser for the Author Experience and continued kids’ book access efforts. Lots of people reached out to me to say that they forgot to order a shirt, and wanted one, or were just seeing the design for the first time and would love to get one.

So, we’re doing another round of fundraising! This time, however, proceeds from sales will be evenly split between the Author Experience and We Need Diverse Books, an incredible “non-profit…grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry.” We Need Diverse Books’ aim is “to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”

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If you’re not familiar with We Need Diverse Books and all the wonderful work they do, I highly encourage you to visit their site and social media feeds and learn more. You can also, of course, donate directly to We Need Diverse Books — now, or after this T-shirt fundraiser ends.

In case you missed the link up top, click HERE to get to the T-shirt fundraising page. And as always, THANK YOU!

~ Jarrett

Get to Know… Sam Wedelich!

My name is…

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I am… a Jill-of-all-trades, which is a silly way of saying that I do a lot of things. I used to be sort of shy about this, or afraid that people would think I was bragging. I’m really not, I just like to be creative in LOTS of ways. I’m not great or even good at ALL of them, but I don’t really care. I enjoy learning and growing and trying new things! Oh, I’m also a mom and wife and eater of gluten-free foods (dang allergies!).

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As a kid… I was pretty normal. Nothing special honestly. Just loved making things and using my imagination…. usually to excess. Hmm… Not much has changed actually. Except that I wear shoes now. Even inside, I always have house slippers on.

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Writing is… crafting feelings and emotions and events into words so that other people can live in your imagination WITH YOU. AHHHHH!

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Drawing is… play! No, more seriously… For me, it’s a way of showing how I see and process the world and my life and times into images. Like writing, it’s taking a subjective reality and putting it into a framework that makes it accessible to a wider audience. If you do this well, it’s pure MAGIC!  If not, keep going at it. We’re all works in progress!

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Reading is… an adventure!  It’s the other end of the journey… being in someone else’s imagination, benefitting from their perspective and knowledge and craft in writing. You can travel, you can be other people, you can love, laugh, cry… I mean, is there anything better?!

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Books are… hard work to make, but worth it in the end! Books take so many rounds of changes and edits. So, so, so many. So, if you want to make books, you can’t be too impatient. I’ve always been pretty impatient and I’ve learned to slow down  and stay with the process in book-making. If I can do it, you can probably do it too.

You can and should have FUN and see where the story takes you.

Did you know… that it’s never too late to learn something new?

You can find me… on Instagram @samwedelich.

“Generosity, Social Media, and Living Your Mission as a Writer”

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This past week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Dan Blank for his podcast, the Creative Shift. Dan is a supremely talented interviewer — I’m pretty sure we could’ve spoken for hours. However, we kept the conversation to just over 50 minutes, and you can listen to the whole thing by clicking here. Dan also wrote an essay sharing his reflections on our conversation, and you can check that out by clicking here.

Should you want to find the conversations and/or essay in the future, you can always find it at my PRESS page. And if you enjoy the conversation or Dan’s essay, I highly encourage you to further explore his blog, podcast, and book, Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. You can find them all here.

Thanks again to Dan for having me on his podcast, and for the great conversation and wonderful essay!

And thanks to YOU for checking it all out!

~ Jarrett

Get to Know… Mae Respicio!

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Mae and her newest novel, Any Day With You.

My name is… Mommy or Mom—but yelled super loudly from the opposite end of the house! That, or Mae Respicio (Res-pee-cee-yo). You can hear a pronunciation here!

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Picture of Mae’s skateboarding 12-year-old, because he thinks it’s cool that Jarrett Lerner, whose books he loves, also skateboards.

I am… an author of middle grade fiction, an avid cupcake eater, and a proud Hufflepuff. My newest MG novel is called Any Day With You.

As a kid… my mom made me write in a journal so she could check my spelling (she was a teacher) and while it wasn’t my favorite thing at first… eventually that practice stuck! I’m still an avid journaler, which helps me in so many ways—from processing life’s moments, to finding little gems of inspiration that I can expand in my work.

Writing is… the thing I’ve always done and have always wanted to do. I’ve done every kind of writing imaginable—communications writing for different companies, writing personal essays (mainly around the joys and perils parenthood), and writing on-air promotions for news stations… but I’m so happy to have found a voice in writing books for kids.

Reading is… joy!

Books are… everything. They’ve been a part of me ever since I can remember—they’ve given me escape, entertainment, laughs, cries, and support in every part of my life from childhood through adulthood. It was probably inevitable I’d end up working with books in some capacity. One of my greatest #MomBrags is how much my kids love reading. Honestly, it thrills me every time I see them immersed in a book!

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One of Mae’s kids during DEAR (“drop everything and read”) time.

Did you know… the record for eating the most cupcakes in the shortest time is 29 cupcakes in 30 seconds?! I wonder if that person was a writer on deadline…

You can find me… posting about #MGLit and #MomFails (with the occasional #MomBrag) on Twitter and Instagram—or please reach out and say hello via my website! I love hearing from readers.

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Mae’s son, who without prompting from Mom, book-talked Any Day With You during his class Zoom (definitely a laugh-cry joyful moment!).

“For all my teachers, both past and present”

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This week is Teacher Appreciation week, and so it seems like a particularly good time to share the dedication to my next book, Geeger the Robot Goes to School:

For all my teachers,
both past and present

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible teachers — both in the classroom and outside of it. And because this first book in the Geeger the Robot series is, among other things, about Geeger learning just what school is all about, it felt right to give him an incredible teacher. Once you get a chance to read Geeger the Robot Goes to School, I hope you’ll agree the Ms. Bork of Amblerville Elementary School is one of the good ones.

The book hits shelves in a few months — on August 25th — but is available for preorder now wherever books are sold. As always, I encourage you to preorder and purchase books from your local independent bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area, two other great options are online retailers IndieBound and Bookshop. I’ve placed links to my books on both sites below:

IndieBound

Bookshop

THANKS!

~ Jarrett

The World Needs Your Story T-Shirt!

A few months ago, I shared this drawing:

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And now I’m excited to share that this drawing is on a whole bunch of T-shirts:

Even better, funds from the sales of the shirt will help support The Author Experience, as well as other organizations and efforts that work for book access equity:

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To purchase a shirt and/or donate, click HERE. And to learn more about the Author Experience, head to their site (linked up above), or see below.

THANKS!

~ Jarrett

. . .

The Author Experience is an organization that works to support the literacy growth of students in communities facing economic challenges. Through a unique collaboration with schools, The Author Experience delivers a sustainable program grounded in the transformative power of story.

Our goal is to build a lasting culture of literacy—one in which students, their families, and educators craft their stories and develop their voices together. The pillars of The Author Experience are author partnerships, family engagements, and targeted professional development.

Participating students demonstrate increased confidence, self-efficacy, and literacy proficiency. In addition, the students and adults in the greater school community become more connected.

Thank Your Teacher!

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I strongly believe that teachers deserve more appreciation and support all year round — and that’s in normal times. But these past six weeks or so have been far from normal. The demands on teachers — already enormous, and of enormous importance — have increased exponentially, ever since they were forced to figure out pretty much overnight how to teach their students remotely.

And so, if any time is a good time to show a teacher a little extra appreciation, now is an especially good time. Which is why I created this Thank Your Teacher activity sheet.

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I hope the activity causes kids and adults alike to reflect on all the time and energy that teachers devote to their work, and all the compassion and creativity with which they do it. I hope it also helps those same kids and adults brighten some teachers’ days.

Click HERE to download this activity sheet, or find it on my ACTIVITIES page along with all my other activity sheets.

And lastly, a big heartfelt THANK YOU from me to all the teachers out there who do what they do every day and deserve all the appreciation they can get — and then some!

~ Jarrett