• These Words Matter: Ava Dellaira

    I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. As a child, I spent summer mornings buried under my blankets with the latest from The Baby-Sitters Club. Kristy, Marianne, Stacey, Dawn, Mallory and Jesse felt like friends, but it was Claudia whom I most idolized, with her artistic nature and hidden stashes of junk food. I even tried to emulate her wildly cool fashion choices with selects from Goodwill. I was a kid who spent a lot of time alone, in private imaginary worlds. When I escaped into a book, I was part of something bigger. I fell in love with children’s classics—the Wizard of Oz series, Tuck…

  • Q&A with Amber Smith

    Earlier this month Amber Smith, author of The Way I Used to Be and The Last to Let Go, joined me for a Twitter chat about her writing, editing, and publication experiences. As promised, for those who missed it, you can find the full Q&A below. Enjoy! Bree: Welcome, y’all! Tonight I’m chatting with @ASmithAuthor about her new book #TheLastToLetGo, which published yesterday! We’re going to be talking everything #amwriting, #amediting, and #ampublishing. Welcome, Amber! Amber: Thank you for having me! Amber wrote a beautiful debut novel called #TheWayIUsedToBe about a girl who keeps her rape a secret. It is a stunning look into the mind of a young woman who has been…

  • These Words Matter: Amber Smith

    My mom used to read to me every night when I was a child, so books played an important role from a very young age. I vividly remember the way I would follow along, studying the illustrations long before the words made sense. I immediately fell in love with storytelling and became mesmerized with the idea that words could paint pictures. Books fed my imagination, and imagination was my saving grace as a kid. (As an adult, too, now that I think of it.) When I was a little older, in elementary and middle school, I chose books that could take me out of my ordinary life, where I often…

  • These Words Matter: Sara Barnard

    I can’t remember when I first read my first Sweet Valley book. You’d think, given all the things I’m about to say about this life-shaping series, that I’d remember every detail of my first journey into this sunbleached piece of American perfection, but I don’t. What I have is this sense of always reading Sweet Valley Twins books, in that same way you always played with Sylvanian families or Lego; it was just a part of your life, until that day when it wasn’t. The end of something beloved in childhood has a clarity; a shape. The beginning is, at best, blurred. I loved Sweet Valley with the ardent passion…

  • “These Words Matter” At a Glance: 2017

    I can’t believe we’re three years into the “These Words Matter” segment. This year, another 12 fantastic authors contributed, and their choice titles were sometimes surprising (and often not widely popular). What’s the book that was transformative for you? This year was the first time that the “These Words Matter” segment encountered some obstacles. The roster changed slightly as the year progressed. I’m so happy with how the list turned out. These authors are so kind, generous, and talented. I can’t wait to get into another year of editing this segment. We’re 36 contributors in, and we’ve got another year of writers coming up. Maybe your favourites will be contributing…

  • These Words Matter: Brendan Reichs

    The question of which book turned me into a reader is complicated for me. The concept of reading for enjoyment broke through in fourth grade. My father forced nightly sessions of The Hobbit down my throat, despite all my “books-are-stupid” protests. Night after night, I went from obnoxiously pretending not to listen, to grudgingly accepting the readings as unavoidable, to secretly looking forward to them, and finally to skipping school one day to finish the novel all by myself. The Hobbit opened my mental doors to the magic of books. However, it wasn’t the book that made me a truly insatiable reader. That one came years later. In 1990, I was…

  • These Words Matter: E. Lockhart

    At age nine I was a member of a community that operated through the reading nook of my Montessori classroom. My three best friends and I would press worn Yearling editions into one another’s hands: “This one is so good!” If a book was beloved by one of us, it would be beloved by all. We would all four read it, one after the other. If it were especially adored, we would “play” the book during recess, acting out important scenes and making up new stories for the characters. One of my friends, a kindred spirit, had a lending library that operated out of her bedroom. She had index cards…

  • These Words Matter: Michelle Hodkin

    Ask a writer to name the book that shaped her and you’re likely to get a list instead of a single recommendation. It’s hard to resist the temptation. There was The Joss Bird, which my mother lovingly read and reread on demand when I was two. Then The Velveteen Rabbit, at four. “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness, Amos & Boris by William Steig followed. Given my obsession with animals, it was no surprise that I graduated to the Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell, The Wild Mustang and The Black Stallion books. I wanted a horse almost as much as I wanted a dog. (I…

  • These Words Matter: Calla Devlin

    Writing didn’t come easily. School didn’t either. Reading, however, was my greatest challenge. Letters took on their own shape, and I didn’t see them as my classmates did. For them, jumbled lines named “C” and “A” and “T” somehow flowed together. Other students read aloud, at first sounding things out, but eventually the words rolled off their tongues. I marvelled as they moved from beginner books, slim paperbacks with simple sentences, to chapter books. For me, letters were backwards, flipped around, mirror images. They didn’t assemble into words or stories. My classmates moved on while I was called into an office, then another classroom where they tried to turn the…

  • These Words Matter: Danielle Paige

    These Words Matter: Danielle Paige

    It was three o’clock in the morning when my mother caught me. My lights were on–I knew I was well past my usual bedtime, but I couldn’t go to sleep. The arch sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth–would not let me. Little Women was the first book that I stayed up after bedtime to finish. My mother stood in the doorway and caught me. “Oh, Little Women,” she said with a sigh of great affection and, more importantly, permission. She kissed me on the forehead with a look that said she knew exactly what I was feeling. One night a long time ago she had had to stay up to find out…

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