Writing and Reading with Children

Mary Marchi About Writing for ChildrenI don’t write for children, but I love reading to children. Last week I attended an event sponsored by Delta Kappa Gamma, an international organization that supports the professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. The event was titled Celebrate Reading, and included a short presentation on Little Free Libraries, a selection of reading-themed gift baskets, a “Buck a Book” table for charity, a story teller, and a featured speaker, Mary Marchi, the author of several children’s books, including The Web in the Halo, The Golden Pumpkin Crown, and The Littlebits.

Learning about the origin of the Little Free Libraries that seem to be popping up in every neighborhood I visit was fun (click on the link to learn about these gems of international wonderfulness), I found two books to take home for bedtime reading, and I thoroughly enjoyed the tale told by the skillful storyteller.   The luncheon, which consisted almost entirely of desserts washed down by lovely strong coffee, was delicious.  However, the highlight of the day for me was meeting Mary Marchi and comparing our thoughts about writing and reading.

I was quite moved by Mary’s professional approach to writing children’s books.  Since we were exhibiting and autographing our books at the same table,  I saw at once that hers were attractive and beautifully illustrated.  We talked about why we write, what we write and how we feel about writing.   Mary self-publishes her books, but that does not diminish her contributions to the world of children’s literature, nor her passion for excellent writing.Mary Marchi author

Self-publishing was a pragmatic decision for Mary.  As she quipped later that day – “I didn’t start writing until after I retired from teaching, so  I didn’t have time to wait around for a publisher to discover my manuscripts in the slush pile — I needed to get them into the hands of children as soon as I could.”

Mary believes as I do that children’s books should be of the very highest quality. She strives for her books to be rich in words, rich in meaning, and rich in imagination.  She likes stories to have a purpose and to carry a message. They should be read for pleasure, of course, but the written words should also stir the minds and hearts of the young listener or the young reader.

Her words have stayed with me all week, and each time I selected a children’s book from my personal library to read to my granddaughter, I found myself examining it to see if it met Mary’s criteria.

Here are five books that did — and our little girl liked them, too.   Some are new; others are classics.  That part doesn’t seem to matter.

The Poky Little Puppy, by Janet Sebring LowreyLittle Free Library

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

Ten Oni Drummers, by Matthew Gollub

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone, by Ann Droyd.


What books would you add to this list?

Who are some of your favorite children’s book authors?  If you are a bit out of touch, I encourage you to spend an hour in the children’s section of the public library, or of an independent bookshop.  You’ll be amazed at the number of wonderful, entertaining, and powerful children’s books on the shelves.  Share them with all the children you know!


6 Responses to Writing and Reading with Children

  1. Della Smith March 31, 2015 at 6:17 am #

    Thank you Marlene, for sharing your thoughts on our Celebrate Reading conference. I’m glad you found it meaningful and rewarding. I will definitely make time to read all 5 of your recommended books! I enjoyed “Good Night iPad” and am looking forward to its iPhone companion book. I hope you caught the pun in the author’s name!

  2. Marlene Bumgarner March 31, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    Thanks very much for your comment, Della. Yes, I did catch the pun in the author’s name — as you probably know, David Milgrim is the author of those two books published under the name Ann Droyd. I enjoy his wit. I hope you enjoy reading the other books I suggested.

  3. Toni Cook March 31, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    Marlene, this is such a wonderful capturing of the spirit of our recent conference. May I use your information to send to Delta Kappa Gamma members in other parts of the state?

  4. Marlene Bumgarner March 31, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    I am so glad you think so, Toni. Of course you may refer this post to others — I am always happy to share!

  5. Marge Ulrich March 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    HI Marlene,
    I am so glad you are joining our DKG chapter, Gamma Omega, because you will be a wonderful addition. As a retired school librarian I love children’s books and especially good ones. The recent conference was great with with reading, story telling, and little libraries!

  6. Marlene Bumgarner March 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Thank you, Marge! Yes, it was a lovely conference, wasn’t it?

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