Archive for the ‘BOOK TOURS/PROMOTIONS’ Category

Interview with Ella Johnson, Founder of Memorable Children Books & Gifts

I first met Ella through the mom bloggers club.  Her willingness to help provide free books to young readers touched me hugely.  I was so impressed with her good samaritan ways I wanted to find out as much as possible about her.  My intent is to help Ella  get some exposure so parents can find out about  what services she makes available.  I proudly present to you today, Ella Johnson.

Can you tell the readers about yourself?


I was born in England. I majored in Fine Arts and Education in Nigeria. I taught Fine Arts from nursery school to secondary school level before moving back to England. In London, I worked for Her Majesty the Queen as a Civil Servant in different departments of the Home Office for 10 years, from Administrative Assistant to Executive Officer. I then moved to the United States in 2006.

What inspired you to start Memorable Children’s Book and Gifts?

After living in the United States for a year without successfully finding employment, I decided to start my own business. Since I had experience in education, I decided to start Memorable Children Books & Gifts (MCBG). By the way, my husband came up with the name because the first products I offered were personalized books and gifts.

To date, how many free books have you been able to giveaway?

Wow! Between live events, my website and my blog  it has to be over a thousand books in the last three years. And this isn’t including my annual “Back to School” supplies giveaway I started in 2009.

Do you find it challenging to obtain books for your giveaways?

There are two parts to this answer.

1) No, it wasn’t challenging at first because I was giving away books that I had originally purchased for the business. But I always wanted to do more because we need to keep children interested in books and the joy of reading.

2) But when I started reviewing books, it was challenging to find many authors that would allow me to review their books.

As my blog and website have become more popular I’ve been blessed with many authors contacting me to review their books. After reviewing the books for the authors, I’m glad to offer the new books as a giveaway.

How do you determine which parents to give free books to?

If I had the means, I would love to give every parent that participate in my giveaways a free book. That’s why I created ‘Mymcbooks Birthday Library.’  So that all children listed between the ages of 2 to 5 will have a book once every year till they turn 5 years old on their birthday. But back to your question, I use to select the winner.

It appears that you do a tremendous amount of work with all that you do; can you explain what typical day looks like for you?

I’m in my home office at 9:00 a.m., researching for new products for my website and books to review. My day also consist of taking and filling orders from customers. My Post Office personnel know me well.

I research which events and festivals I will participate in throughout the year. I’ve built a wonderful network of friends who are vendors at these events also. We keep each other update on the best event that will benefit our businesses.

I also have online friends out of my area that have been instrumental in my success such as; Tina Peterson — The Book Lady of Ubourne Books —  and Kathy of “I’m a reader not a writer.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Reading is fundamental to whatever your children eventually want to become when they grow up. Encouraging your children to read enriches their choices and opportunity in life. Please encourage reading so all children will be more well rounded citizens of the world.

Thank you for this interview. For more infromation about Ella Johnson refer to the information below.  Thank you for your time and interest.

Ella Johnson
Memorable Children Books & Gifts
Website: mcbooksandgifts.­com
Book Store:
Phone: 813 -995-5286

Read more:…

Writing Tips from Children’s Author, Dacia Moore


Welcome to day four of Dacia Moore’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and learn valuable writing tips.

The best tip I have for anyone who tells me that they want to write a book is to get a writing coach.  I believe in coaching.  The best athletes have a coach.  A coach is someone who is outside of your circle and brings value to you in their perspective.  You want your book to be as marketable as possible and you’re writing a book from your area of expertise.  A writing coach can provide valuable insight in case you make assumptions about what the reader might know, or in the event that you miss vital details that are important to the general reader.    

Another benefit of having a writing coach is that your coach will help you stay on track.  They are your accountability buddy.  Your coach will have various assignments for you which will serve to help you complete your book. I don’t know how many people I’ve spoken with who have a great idea but are procrastinating in taking the first step.  A good writing coach will hold your feet to the fire and encourage you to get it done!  After all a finished book is ten times better than a perfect book! 

Another tip I have is to just start writing and to not worry about your writing style, grammar or your vocabulary.  You can adjust all of those things in the editing process.  But the creative process of writing is to just sit down and begin to write whatever comes into your mind, regardless of whether it is in a logical order or makes sense.  I’ve met so many people who have great ideas for a book that others I’m sure would enjoy, but they procrastinate because they look at the writing process in the wrong way and it becomes intimidating.  Don’t let that happen to you!  If you have an idea, start writing!  Get your thoughts down on paper.  You can always edit later.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Moore’s tour tomorrow at

Writing Tips from Children’s Author Alison Kartevold


Welcome to day four of Alison Kartevold’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and discover your audience.

To ensure that your writing is well received you must first and foremost, know your audience. When I first started writing KenKarta: Battle of the Onoxmon, I was writing for an audience of two, my daughters. They named characters, helped develop plot lines, and kept me true to the goal of creating a story they wanted hear and not necessarily one that I wanted to tell. It only became one I wanted to tell after I experienced the joy it brought to them. As the story matured and it became clear that the audience could be larger I had to change my approach, broaden it a bit, to ensure that the story held something for all the members of my new audience. It was only then that I started to think about the story in terms of a book, and by then the adventures that princesses Veronica and Sophia were to have in the Land of KenKarta were well developed.

The next thing necessary for you to write well received material is to honestly answer this question: Am I willing to put in the time and effort to work on the mechanics necessary to make this book a success? For me, the answer turned out to be yes because I wanted my daughters to be able to hold a copy of a story they helped create in their hands. Writing a book is not a quick undertaking. If you don’t have the energy and strength to persevere, it can be highly dissatisfying. Thinking up a good story and polishing it to a point where it is fit for public consumption are two very different things. So even though you must write for someone else in order to have an audience, you should write about something you care about if you want to find fulfillment.

Even more than adults, kids only read what they like. If it’s not a school assignment, they read things that engage their imaginations and interests. That’s it, that’s all they need. If it has a deeper meaning, great! That’s a bonus, but it’s not what brings them to the story to begin with. It is we adults who always feel the need of inserting a lesson and we are often far too heavy handed in how we go about it. They may be kids, but never make the mistake of writing down to them or lecturing them. They’ll bust you on it every time.

Also never try to write for kids in a vacuum. If you don’t have access to your audience, it’s very hard to connect with and write for them. While we adults may remember what it was like to be a kid ourselves, those memories are tainted by a lifetime of experience after the fact. Kids don’t have that same depth of knowledge to draw from; therefore, their emotions and reactions are more based in the present. So when I say, know your audience, I don’t just mean define them. When it comes to writing for kids, you should really know them if you ever hope to connect with them.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Kartevold’s tour tomorrow at

Writing Tips from Children’s Author Diane Kredensor


Welcome to day four of Diane Kredensor’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and immerse yourself in the writing fun.

Well, my best advice would be to immerse yourself in children’s books. Spend time at your local library or bookstore and read the classics, the new releases, and the award winners. Get a sense of what works and why. Get inspired! Also look for books, seminars, and classes on writing for children’s books. There are plenty of good ones out there, ask around and make sure if you sign up for something it’s reputable. It’s also important to understand what’s needed when submitting a manuscript, so whether that’s through an agent or by researching publishers yourself, I highly recommend that you know what editors are looking for before sending anything out.

But most important—just start writing as much as possible! Don’t edit yourself right away. Just get it out, let it flow. I always have to remind myself that creative writing is not about the end result, it’s the journey. That reminder helps me from trying to write a “perfect” story right out of the gate. I also have to remind myself to “show” not “tell.”

And learn to embrace failure! That’s probably one of the most important lessons I’ve gotten in life. It’s okay to put something out there and have agents, publishers, or whoever, turn you down. Look at the feedback they give you and see if there’s anything useful to apply to your next idea. But don’t make it mean you shouldn’t be writing! Here’s one of my favorite quotes about failure that I agree with 100%, and I remind myself of often:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.

                                               —JK Rowling

And finally, have fun! If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Kredensor’s tour tomorrow at

Writing Tips from Children’s Author Donna McDine


It is always a true honor to learn from a master.  In 2009, I had the privilege to meet for the first time award winning author, Donna McDine.   I have grown to revere Donna’s abilities as a very gifted writer. I will forever remain grateful to Donna not only because of her friendship but more importantly she has been an outstanding inspiration to me.  Today, I am hugely honored to host Donna on my blog.  Please join me in welcoming day four of Donna McDine’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour as she discusses practicing your writing as if it’s an instrument or sport.

Nicole, it’s an honor to be here with you today. We met several years ago and I’ve been enjoying watching your own writing career blossom.

Just like taking up an instrument or sport – practice, practice and practice some more practice is essential in honing your writing skills. Participate in writer’s workshops in the genre you are interested in is a key component in developing your unique voice. Many times people think writing for children is a snap, when it is the complete opposite. Children are quite intuitive and know when you are preaching or speaking down to them.

Studying the market and what publishers want is imperative. If your goal is to write for children’s magazines, taking the time out to read back issues will provide you with insights on the direction of a particular magazine. For children’s book publishers, review their catalogues for what they are currently publishing. You may just find a niche that needs to be filled. And whether you are submitting to children’s magazines or children’s book publishers reading their submission guidelines is imperative. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the specific guidelines to the “letter.” Even if you go over the word count by a few words it can mean instant rejection.

Never be afraid to ask questions. We all have something to learn each and every day and you’ll be surprised how many people have the same question as you.

Happy writing to you all and let your voice soar.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. McDine’s tour tomorrow at

Literacy Tips for Teachers from Literacy Specialist Carol Boles


Welcome to day three of Carol Boles’ 6-day NWFCC March Specialist Showcase tour and learn how “Peer Tutoring” is essential to reading success in our young muses by the National Writing for Children Center’s Literacy Specialist, Carol Boles.  


Peer Tutoring

The value of students teaching one another is often overlooked by teachers.  Paired Reading is a peer tutoring strategy teachers can use in their classrooms, to help their students become better readers.

Paired reading is a practice reading (the same story or text) activity where more capable readers are paired with classmates who are less capable readers.

There are many ways to organize a paired reading activity. Here are the steps to a one-on-one arrangement for elementary school teachers – using the reading literature book.

-Identify who your top readers are—either from fluency scores or informal reading inventories. Then, rank your readers from the most capable, to the middle and then the bottom readers.

-Divide your class into two groups.

-Pair students with a student who is at the same rank. For example: the top reader in group one, is paired with the top reader in group two, and so on.

-Group 1 reader, reads first by modeling aspects of fluency such as; pace, expression, voice, and accuracy; group 2 reader, then reads trying to match the fluency of his or her partner.

To become fluent readers, children need to participate in a variety of oral reading activities. Paired reading is just one technique used to help children achieve fluency.

Follow Day 4 of Ms. Boles’ tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


Homeschooling Research Tips for Parents from Homeschool Specialist Amy M. O’Quinn

Homeschooling  Research Tips for Parents from Homeschool Specialist Amy M. O’Quinn

Welcome to day three of Amy O’Quinn’s 6-day NWFCC February Specialist Showcase tour as she discusses her personal homeschooling experience and tips.

As opposed to twenty or thirty years ago, homeschooling options are almost limitless these days. There are countless companies, catalogs, and websites available to help new homeschooling parents navigate their way through uncharted waters. Curriculum choices abound, and there is a homeschooling ‘method’ or style for everyone. Although I utilize much of both the Charlotte Mason and Classical methods, I guess our homeschool style could be labeled eclectic, as I pull ideas from many different places. In fact, I would venture to say that most homeschooling families are eclectic to some degree!

We use a variety of curriculum and resources, but with a specific end in mind. I definitely see the value in acknowledging the different stages of the trivium, and I remember these as I’m planning goals for our school year. But I am also drawn to the gentle art of learning associated with Charlotte Mason, and I like to incorporate art, music, and nature study. I especially like to use narration and copy work. And we read a lot! I also believe in fostering self-education (autodidactic) and independent learning. For when I’ve finished my years of teaching, I still want my children to continue learning and growing in many different  areas—not because they have to—but because they want to!

I truly believe that if parents feel called to homeschool their children, they have a responsibility to provide the best education possible. Homeschooling can be as expensive or as inexpensive as families want it to be or are limited to, but a good education is NOT dependent on lots of money or a costly curriculum. Time invested by the homeschooling parent and wisely and effectively using whatever resources are available makes all the difference in the world when teaching a child. Consistency and dedication are a must!

One of the best starting places to find information on how to begin homeschooling or review a list of frequently asked questions is at the Homeschool Legal Defense website at There are links to state laws, homeschool publications and periodicals, research information, organizations, etc.

Another good site is Here you will find discussion boards for all homeschooling methods and topics and even a place to buy/sell used curriculum.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine website at also has many links, product reviews, and articles for anyone interested in homeschooling.

In fact, just doing an internet search on homeschooling will yield more hits than you can possibly use. But one of the best ways to find out about home education and how it ‘really’ works is to find another homeschooling family or mom who is willing to answer questions and share opinions about the good, the bad, and the ugly! Finding support is vital, because there will always be days when new homeschoolers (and veterans) feel overwhelmed, when they just need encouragement, or when they want to share their success stories. We’ve all had our great days and our ‘not so stellar’ days of homeschooling, but it really helps to talk to those who’ve walked the path before us!

Follow Day 4 of Ms. O’Quinn’s tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


ESL Tips for Teachers from ESL Specialist Dorit Sasson

Welcome to day three of Dorit Sasson’s 6-day NWFCC February Specialist Showcase tour as she presents “Ways to Use Children’s Books to Build Oral Literacy and Vocabulary Skills for ESL Students.”

Before they even begin school, ESL children have already absorbed the grammatical structures, sounds, and vocabulary of a language. This assumption takes into account that parents speak with their children in their own mother tongue from a very young age. But what about building literacy skills for a second language? Research shows that ESL students are not reaching the same levels of reading proficiency as their native English speaking peers by the time they reach third grade.

Using children’s trade books (i.e. read-alouds) is a great way for parents and teachers to help build literacy skills for ESL students.

Bridging Oral Work with Vocabulary Development

Teachers and parents can make sure specific aspects of oral instruction correspond to vocabulary development and story comprehension of their respective curriculums. Young ESL students at the first stage of reading development (ages 6-7) are generally aware of sound-letter relationships, can map speech to print and sounds out words, attempts to break code of print and uses decoding to figure out words (Roskos, Less skilled readers however, do not have the automaticity in lower-level process (i.e., letter, word levels) to process information at the vocabulary level without expending a great deal of cognitive effort.

Use Language Scaffolds

In a read-aloud context, teachers and parents can provide a range of language scaffolds so that ESL students can map out the basic story components of plot and character and understand basic vocabulary integral to the read-aloud.

Such language scaffolds that naturally bridge the oral and written aspects of the curriculum include:

  • Using simple and concrete language to introduce and discuss new vocabulary
  • Using modeling strategies to help facilitate with comprehension
  • Anticipating and predicting further content
  • Encouraging ELLs to make connections with what they have heard

In order to ensure that ESL students understand 99% of a spoken text, teachers need to provide opportunities to discuss vocabulary in context, otherwise ESL students may spend an inordinate amount of their cognitive energies trying to guess at the word’s meaning thus losing the flow of the story. The read-aloud story gives teachers a framework with which to teach the letters, words or other stories.

Before teachers focus on new vocabulary words, they may need to check students’ familiarity with the context. In the story Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, for example, the word gloves should be associated with cold and hands. Teachers will want to teach new vocabulary, such as the word gloves, in the context by providing contextual clues to help students recognize the meaning either independently or with the teacher’s help.

Other examples include:

  • Teacher discusses the word ‘grouchy’ as the underlying theme for Eric Carle’s The Grouchy Ladybug using a picture of a grouchy face.
  • Teacher explicates the word ‘snores’. What does the bear do when he is sleeping?

Non-verbal (i.e. gestures) and verbal clues (i.e. pictures) facilitate the process of scaffolding between hearing words and seeing them in their respective contexts before students have the necessary reading skills to acquire vocabulary independently.

The stages for discussing new vocabulary should follow several teaching principles relating to a particular pattern of development.


  • Passive exposure using techniques such as brainstorming as in the example of the word birthday. Teacher asks: What happens on a birthday? Teacher asks for dates of students’ birthdays.
  • Active exposure using presentation techniques such as showing pictures, guessing, and simulation.


Practice has important implications for vocabulary retention. Opportunities should be provided for reinforcing the meaning following the read-aloud.

  • Use questioning techniques for ‘snore’ in Bear Snores On. Parents and teachers can ask: Where is bear snoring? Who comes in the cave while bear is snoring?

While every teacher’s approach to oral work is different, strengthening performance is promoted through constant recycling, repetition and review of sound/symbol correspondences, phonics and vocabulary.

Works Cited

Carle, E. (1996). The Grouchy Ladybug. HarperCollins.

Wilson, K. (2003). Bear Snores On. Simon and Schuster.

Roskos, Kathleen A., Tabors, Palton, O., Lenhart, Lisa. Oral Language and Early Literacy in Preschool. Delaware: International Reading Association. 2004.

NOTE: This article is only part of a presentation regularly offered by Dorit Sasson as part of her in-service training programs for teachers of English language learners. For more information about speaking engagements and in-service, contact Dorit Sasson at or visit the Teachers’ Diversity Coach, at and click on the “speaking” page.

Follow Day 4 of Ms. Sasson’s tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.

Tips for Teachers from Author Suzanne Lieurance

Tips for Teachers from Author Suzanne Lieurance

Thank you for following me on Day 3 of my 6-day virtual tour for my middle grade historical novel The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire from Enslow Publishers. Obviously, this book was designed for classroom use as a way to supplement the regular social studies textbooks when it comes to helping students learn about events in American history. But I think readers enjoy the book mainly because they get to know and like the main character, Galena, a young Russian-Jewish immigrant who lived in New York City with her family in 1911. This was an interesting time in American history and I wanted this book to help readers get a feel for what life must have been like for struggling immigrants back then.

I have also written a nonfiction book about this tragic fire called The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and Sweatshop Reform. It is part of the In American History series from Enslow Publishers, Inc. When I visit schools across the country I sometimes talk to students about using real events in history as the basis for creating fictional stories. I even have a workshop about this, so I can guide students to choose historical events to research so they can create fictional characters who witnessed these events and tell their stories.

I love to visit schools, libraries, and bookstores to talk about my writing and my books. I particularly enjoy helping teachers and school librarians see how they can use nonfiction to help students write better fiction. Teachers and librarians can find out more about this at my website at, too.


Follow Day 4 of Ms. Lieurance’s tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Sherrie Madia

Welcome to day three of Sherrie Madia’s 6-day NWFCC February Author Showcase tour where she discusses a Preschool Lesson Plan for her children’s book, Bumblelina.

Preschool Lesson Plan

Teachers can read this book to preschoolers as part of several different possible thematic units, including:  spring, bumblebees, the preschool experience, drawing, learning colors and the importance of trying.  The following lesson speaks specifically to spring and bumblebees.

Two underlying elements within the book are repeated sounds (“Bumblelina fumbles.  Bumblelina stumbles.”) that enable teachers to get kids thinking about these elements as an essential part of learning to read.  Also fun to include is a lesson on colors.  Each page of the book has one “hidden” spot of color, so it is fun for children to find the spot and identify the color.  Because the book is illustrated in line drawings, teachers might talk with children about using their artistic ability to draw their own bee character.  This can be a wonderful way to engage preschoolers in the story by having them draw their own bumblebees, using their imagination.

Another worthwhile exercise based on the notion of trying is to have children draw a picture of themselves trying to do something that was hard (e.g., buttoning a coat, zipping a zipper, pouring a glass of milk, writing their letters, etc.—and then draw the picture of them succeeding at the task).  The teacher might offer a story of something he or she had trouble doing as an adult—but succeeded at by practice and hard work. 

This exercise is a wonderful way not only to demonstrate to children the importance of trying, but also an exercise in enabling them to celebrate past accomplishments, thus serving as a means of building self-esteem and to reinforce the message of how important it is to try until you succeed.

Pages to Color

Here is a fun coloring page that also includes practice with the letter “B”:

Children will also enjoy this bee-hive coloring page, which lets them spend time imagining what it might be like inside a hive:


Rhyme and Movement

Every child like a hand rhyme, and learning simple rhymes and movements is an important component in teaching preschoolers. Children can pick up the rhyme and movement easily, and this reinforces both the topic of the book about a bumblebee, but the more important underlying theme, which is the importance of trying.  When used prior to reading Bumblelina, a rhyme and movement activity can help to focus children and settle them in for story time.

Here is The Beehive Hand Rhyme, which is a brief, easy-to-learn rhyme with hand movements:

To accompany your reading of Bumblelina during story time, here are some fun bumblebee crafts to make:

Paper Plate Bumblebee

Thumbprint Bees

Follow Day 4 of Ms. Madia’s tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.