Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two Gifts in Two Days from Barbara O'Connor

Two days ago I was drinking my morning cup of coffee as I scrolled through my blog roll when I received my first gift from children's author extraordinaire, Barbara O'Connor. I came upon a post from Barbara's blog, Greetings From Nowhere, titled: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, Chapter 1. I thought maybe she had posted the first chapter of her soon-to-be-released new book. But, no. It was so much better than that! Barbara READ ALOUD the first chapter of the book!! And, it is amazing for many reasons:
  • First, Barbara does an excellent job of reading aloud.
  • Second, there is nothing like hearing the author read aloud his/her own work. Just think about it. The author's craft comes alive!
  • Third, what a great way to entice the potential reader to run out an buy a copy of the book as soon as it becomes available.  
I think we readers should start a new campaign. Rather than or in addition to the ever so popular book trailer, the author should read the first chapter. Isn't that what Amazon's Kindle does? You get a free sample of the book and 9 times out of 10, that sample chapter is all you need to know you need to purchase the book. The author reading a chapter aloud is even better! So, let the AUTHOR READ ALOUD CAMPAIGN begin! I can't wait to get my copy of The Fantastic Secret of Own Jester. You can watch Barbara read aloud the first chapter below:

Yesterday, I received the second gift from Barbara O'Connor. The mail person delivered the July 2010 issue of Language Arts (a professional journal of the National Council of Teachers of English). The theme of this issue is "Inquiries and Insights" and inside is an article titled, Keeping It Real: How Realistic Does Realistic Fiction for Children Need to Be? by Barbara O'Connor. Yep! How fantastic is that??!

In the article, Barbara discusses how she decides if the story she is writing is "too real" for the intended audience by examining  five story elements: dialogue, character, family relationships, economic class, and endings.

"How real is too real" is question that comes up in my children's literature courses all of the time. Barbara elaborates on her writing process and gives examples from her books on how she makes these decisions. What it comes down to is authenticity. This article will be required reading for my students next semester!

Thank you Barbara for these two gifts!


Barbara O'Connor said...

You're welcome, Denise! Thank you for your enthusiasm and your continued work and support for children's literacy!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hi Denise, what a fabulous post! It's fun to discover your blog.

Barb's a dear friend and one of my favorite all-time writers. I loved hearing her read her book aloud, too.

That's a really great idea about having authors read their first chapters, or an excerpt to promote their new book - way cheaper than a book trailer, too - having recently launched my first book trailer. ;-)

I'm chicken to get behind a video camera though - but you got me thinkin'!

Warm wishes,