1.) What grades/age groups do you work with?
I work with grades K-2 - middle grade readers of the future!
2.) What are some of your favorite kid lit books?
I could make a very, very, VERY long list, but I'll try to keep it (somewhat) short! Some of my recent favorites are:
BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall
THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney
TELL ME by Joan Bauer
ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff
RAIN REIGN by Ann Martin
SPIRIT'S KEY by Edith Cohn
3.) What genres/topics do kids seem to ask for the most?
I love working with kids in this age group because they're so open to everything. If I tell them something is a good book, they trust me completely and try it. It's interesting to see what types of books are popular from school to school, though. It really varies based on a lot of different factors. For instance, at one school I worked at, the kids were really into all types of sports books - nonfiction, the Victory Sports Superstars series (Capstone), and anything by Tim Green/Matt Christopher. At my current school, though, the kids don't really care about sports. They love Pokemon (yes, it's still a thing!! I was surprised, too), dragons, superheroes, and Magic Tree House. The common thread I've seen at all schools? Graphic novels. Babymouse, Lunch Lady, Amulet. Can't keep them on the shelves.
4.) What book titles are the most popular right now?
Anything by Mo Willems, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Scaredy Squirrel, the Dragonbreath series (Ursula Vernon)
5.) What do kids seem to like the least or what do kids complain about when it comes to books?
I think kids get stressed out when they can't find something that appeals to them - but since they're kids, it can be hard for them to express this. I have one student who always tells me "there aren't any good books here." (Which, y'know, of COURSE there are - like 15,000 of them!) I reassure her that she just hasn't found the right book yet, and that's okay, and we're going to work together to find it. I think kids generally want to read, but if they can't find that perfect book/series they love, and/or if they don't have anyone to help them do it (one of MANY reasons school librarians are so necessary), they can become discouraged and bitter about reading. In terms of what they complain about with books they don't like, it's usually that the book isn't funny or action-packed enough.
6.) What gets kids excited about reading?
Their friends. They love my recommendations, but a second grader telling another second grader that they MUST read a certain book carries a lot more weight than me telling them. It's really amazing, watching the domino effect happen so often. Literally ONE second grader got into Amulet, then he told his friend, and soon the entire class was reading the entire series. I think the exact same thing probably happens with older students, too.
7.) If you've had author visits at your library/classroom what worked well and what didn't?
I've had a few Skype author visits and a few in person at my last school. They've all generally gone really well! It's great that a lot of children's authors are able to relate to children so well. (Which you'd think would be a given, but being a good children's writer doesn't necessarily translate to being an engaging speaker.) It works well when there's a presentation in place, when the event is promoted/organized well, and when there's collaboration and mutual respect between the author and the librarian/whomever is coordinating the event.
8.) Are there any other thoughts about children's literature or reading you'd like to share?
Books are the best.
Thanks to Abby Cooper for the interview! She lives in Madison, Wisconsin and works at a K-2 school. She also writes middle grade. Check her out on twitter!
If you are a librarian, teacher, or educator and would like to be interviewed on the blog please email MGminded (at) gmail (dot) com and put "What Kids Read" in the subject line. And if you have questions about what kids read that you'd like answered send them to the same email address.