One of the things I love most about running this website is all of the wonderful people it has brought into my life. Bianca Schulze is one of those people, and her site, The Children’s Book Review, is one of the best resources for children’s literature on the internet. Bianca is also the author of a fantastic reference for parents, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up.
TCBR is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, and I am thrilled to be part of the celebration. Bianca was kind enough to talk to me a bit about who she is as a reader and what led her to start The Children’s Book Review:
Tell me a little bit about yourself as a child. What kind of reader were you? What books did you love?
The truth is, as a child, I don’t think I ever considered myself a “reader.” However, when I look back, books were always in my life. We were very lucky and had plenty of books around our house: Fairy tale collections, Golden Books, books on tape and record, joke books, magic trick books, a set of encyclopedias, a giant Webster’s dictionary, and novels. One of my fondest memories of books is an unconventional interaction: building houses for Barbie out of Golden Books (complete with sliding doors). Since I now consider myself a reader, my mom, probably without knowing it, did all of the right things when it came to raising a reader:
- She provided access to a variety of books in our house.
- She took my sister and I to get library cards.
- She allowed us to pick books of choice from the Scholastic Book Club catalog when it came home in our school backpacks.
- She read to us.
- She modeled reading by reading her own books often.
- And, we were allowed to go the library with friends to get our homework done.
As for the books I loved throughout my childhood . . . are you ready for it? In no particular order, these are the 16 books or book series that float to the front of my mind:
- A Hans Christian Andersen fairytale collection
- The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
- The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
- Dr. Seuss books
- The Labyrinth (Book and record with photos from the original movie)
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
- Superfudge by Judy Blume
- Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
- The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
- The Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal
- The Where’s Waldo? series by Martin Handford
- Animalia by Graeme Base
- Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
- The Twits by Roald Dahl
- Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
What inspired you to start TCBR?
I was working as a children’s bookseller at an indie store in Washington, D.C. and I couldn’t stop talking about the amazing new books that would come in every week. I needed an outlet and TCBR was born. However, the ultimate answer to your question is passion!
- Passion for children and there wide-open eyes and ready-to-learn minds
- Passion for art
- Passion for storytelling
- Passion for creativity
- Passion for seeing life from the perspective of another through a good book
Do you have an all-time favorite book?
The answer to this question varies from day-to-day. Right now I would say that Katherine Paterson’s The Bridge to Terabithia had a profound and lasting affect on me. She trusted young readers to be able to cope with loss. She trusted readers to be brave. She trusted that we would see a rainbow after the storm.
What are your favorite books to read with kids?
Funny ones! Especially books that hit the spot in unexpected ways like the Charlie and Mouse books by Laurel Snyder—they are picture book/ early reader crossovers that connect with the reader through the relatable characters and their little nuances. I love hearing laughter from a child, especially my own, and Charlie and Mouse had my 6-year-old, 12-year-old, and I giggling.
I’m always interested in building a diverse multicultural library for my boys. What diverse books would you recommend?
Here’s a list of 15 amazing books (picture books through novels) with a diverse set of multicultural characters:
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
- Love by Matt de la Pena
- It’s Ok to Be Different by Todd Parr
- Skin Again by Bell Hooks
- The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
- Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
- Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
- Lon PoPo by Ed Young
- Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
- Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle
- The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
- The Watson’s Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
- A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
- Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Children’s Book Review with an AMAZING giveaway!
Enter for a chance to win a special prize pack that will help a lucky reader create a fun kids reading nook—including a framed TCBR original print created by children’s author & illustrator Alexandra MacVean.
One (1) winner receives:
A framed and matted TCBR original “Growing Readers” print. Frame size: 12.25 X 12.25
A Black Stripe Teepee from Crate and Kids
A copy of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up, autographed by Bianca Schulze
A $20 Target gift card
Giveaway begins March 30, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends April 30, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.