What I did on summer vacation

Ah, the perennial first homework assignment of the new school year … at least back in the day!

Even before the pandemic, I suspect that the task of writing something about your summer has gone by the bye. For some of us, though, it represented a pause: a chance to look back at the last chapter and get ready to start the next one. 

Things have been pretty quiet around here, so I hope you don’t mind if I fall back on an old habit and let you know what I’ve been doing this summer.

  • Not as much reading as I had hoped. In May, I started Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari. I absolutely adore Mira and Nana (among other characters). Yet, as much as I love the story, I struggle to pick it up and keep reading. 
  • Creating a new mindfulness habit. I repurposed an old notebook to be something of a “planner.” Not in a calendar sense, but in a reflective sense. I jot down the first word that expressed my emotion at that moment. I’d look out the window or go to the door to capture something about the weather. I pick up to 3 things I wanted to do/think about, and last, I note what physical activity I had planned for the day.

Coffee with a friend sparked a new idea. Instead of my one-word feeling, I now have a prompt. Something to think about and answer (doesn’t have to be on paper) or a task like writing down 3 Gratefuls or making a doodle. 

  • Posting book reviews. Even though I am not reading as much, teen volunteers are still sending LOTS of reviews. There are 225 new reviews on the website so far this year, with another dozen in the queue). I always look forward to hearing their thoughts about books that are “supposed to be” popular and discovering books that I have never heard of (but now want to put on my TBR). Let me just say that there are some amazing young writers with keen eyes for detail and expressiveness.
  • Thinking about the Reading Tub and what its future will look like.  The Reading Tub is about to turn 18. My love for the Tub is unyielding, yet there is this thing called “life” that is pulling my energy in new and different directions. It isn’t all about the pandemic, but the changes wrought by COVID-19 have created a pause to reflect on and consider what’s next.  

Surely that didn’t fill your whole summer, Terry! You’re right. I have been part of the Children’s and Young Adult Book Bloggers’ Literary Awards (aka CYBILS Awards) for many years as panelist, judge, and category chair. For CYBILS 2018 I took on the role of Social Media Coordinator, and in late 2019, I was invited to join the Board. I currently serve as Board Vice President.

I spent a lot of time this summer creating tailored book lists with reader-nominated books built around a theme. Some were read-alikes for CYBILS finalists, too.  Every week for nine weeks I shared a collection of books for all ages. The two most popular: Shark Week and All Things Baseball

The Awards cycle runs from mid-August and the Call for Judges through February 14, when the winners are announced. 2021 marks the 16th year of the CYBILS Awards, which is pretty amazing in and of itself. But what I am most passionate about – and where I am putting my energy – is in our efforts to ensure that reviewers of all children’s and teen reading communities know we want them to be an active part of the CYBILS Awards.

book award kidsWe recently put out a call to specifically invite readers whose lived experiences represent marginalized communities. It is our intention to ensure their voices are part of the decision-making panels which are, as Tanita Davis (award-winning author and Board member) so eloquently said “the backbone of the CYBILS Awards.” Here’s an excerpt: 

We want to invite our whole reading community to participate in the CYBILS Awards in 2021, and to especially extend the invitation to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color intersectional communities, whose lived experiences will broaden the viewpoint of our panels.

Read Tanita’s open invitation here. Better yet, share it with someone you know who is not only passionate about literature for children and teens but actively seeks out diversity and positive representation so that readers can see themselves and learn about others, too.

My hope is to return to more regular blogging in September. Until then, happy reading!