Ten Reason Your Kids Should Participate in a Summer Reading Program

by Rebecca J. Gomez When my kids were young, summer reading programs were a sure thing. For the most part, my children were avid readers, especially my girls. A summer reading program wasn't necessary to encourage them to read, but we participated because it was a fun addition to summer. And the free pizza, books, and water park tickets definitely didn't hurt! There are lots of reasons to participate in a summer reading program or challenge, and here are ten of them: 1. Many summer reading programs offer prizes. And while we all know that reading is its own reward, some kids haven't figured that out yet. For those kids, a prize is just the incentive they need to stick their noses in a book now and then over the summer. 2. It's a fun way to reward those kids who will be reading no matter what! 3. For some families, trips to the library may help break up summer monotony.  4. Summer reading programs promote reading together as a family, especially for those with very young

Interview with Author Laura Sassi

By Mindy Baker

Today I am excited to talk with Laura Sassi about her latest book, Bunny Finds Easter, which just released on February 1, 2022.

MINDY: I have really enjoyed my advanced copy of this book. It is such a delight! Can you tell us, what was your inspiration for this book?  

LAURA: As a young child I was confused about what we were celebrating at Easter. I loved coloring Easter eggs and hunting for jelly beans, but it wasn’t until I was a tween that I made the connection that Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. Inspired by that memory, I decided to write a board book for preschoolers and toddlers that would celebrate those fun Easter traditions and, at the same time, serve as an introduction to the real gift of Easter - Jesus! I decided to do this through the eyes of a sweet bouncy protagonist named Bunny who wakes up Easter morning determined find out what Easter is all about.

MINDY: I personally loved the way you directly stated in the book that the real gift of Easter is Jesus. That is something I would not want a child to misunderstand. And with so few words available to use in a board book, you really made each word count. As a writer, do you prefer to write board books or picture books? How does your writing process differ for each? 

LAURA: The short answer is I like both, but the process does indeed differ just a bit. I wrote each of my five picture books with a 32-page format in mind, figuring out story arc and page turns for that layout. My story structure for each involved an instigating event, a problem that the character or characters had to overcome, varied and fun action and engaging language. I didn’t worry too much about word count because I tend to write succinctly and it was easy for me to stay well within the 500 - 600 word suggested picture book limit.

The board book format tested those limits, which was an enjoyable challenge. Board books are shorter than picture books - with at most 10 spreads. Bunny Finds Easter has only nine. The language is simpler with only a short sentence or two per spread so that the text doesn’t crowd the smaller size of the pages themselves. The story must simple, concrete, and succinct (Bunny has only 167 words). And even more so than for picture books, the author must leave room for and trust the illustrator to fill in all the rich illustrative details that bring the story to full life. In the case of Bunny Finds Easter, where the action was unclear, I added concise art notes that conveyed the situation in a general way, always leaving the specifics to the illustrator. I really loved the challenge of telling a story in this short, short format and look forward to writing more board books in the future.

MINDY: You have a wonderful way with words, and the illustrator also did a fabulous job! I have heard you mentioning on social media about some fantastic freebies that accompany this book. Can you tell us how we can take advantage of these opportunities?

LAURA: Yes, Zonderkidz has created two great resources for BUNNY FINDS EASTER. The first is an activity kit that includes coloring pages, a maze, a printable Easter card and more. Here’s the link for that: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/2022/02/03/parents-teachers-kidmin-download-your-free-activity-kit-for-bunny-finds-easter-2/

The second is an instruction sheet for a BUNNY FINDS EASTER book walk, an intergenerational event in which participants walk from station to station to read spreads from the story and have an activity at the end. Here’s the link for that: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/2022/01/24/host-a-bunny-finds-easter-book-walk-free-printable-resource/

All of this sounds wonderful, Laura. I’m sure your new book and these fabulous resources are going to be a hit with families everywhere this Easter! Congratulations on a job well done!

To learn more about Laura Sassi and her books, visit her website, Laura Sassi Tales.