I’ve always been too awkward for those icebreaker games. You know those games you play on the first day of summer camp or at a meeting or retreat. I dread those five little words: “Split into groups of three…” I know what’s coming: awkward trust falls, two truths and a lie, and probably a whole lot of information I never needed to know about my new friend Billy.
There is, however, one type of icebreaker I never mind being asked: iterations ad nauseam of “If you could have dinner with anyone/one actor/one artist…” Those answers are obvious: Oprah, Meryl Streep, and Salvador Dalí. Also Monet, but who’s counting?
Reader that I’ve always been, I wish for these questions with reference to authors or literary characters. Now this is an icebreaker that I can get on board with! Once this relief has been secured, you obviously and instantly worry whether your companions—I’m looking at you, Billy—will share your sentiments about J.K Rowling’s post-Harry Potter attempts or Thomas Hardy’s late poetry. You won’t admit this to anyone, but you kind of want these people to like you. These answers will define you in their minds for, well, forever. Choose wisely.
In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, we thought it’d be fun to imagine which authors or literary (myON!) characters you would choose to surround your dinner table. If I had my druthers, these folks would make it to the final round:
Imagining the stories that would float around this table makes me thankful for the reading journey I’ve cultivated throughout my life. I am thankful for the authors who have shaped my mind; I am thankful for the characters that have felt like real friends and family; I am thankful for every good story that motivates me to pick up another book as the final pages come to an end.
Over this Thanksgiving weekend, I ask you to consider what stories you’re thankful for: why do you carry them with you? How have they shaped your life or perhaps even made you a better person? What can you learn from them?
Log into myON.com this weekend and keep reading. You never know what stories will change your life—and there’s always imaginary dinners to be planned.
For the past week or two there has been an increasing media focus on President Kennedy, culminating on Friday the 22nd with the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I’ve seen no short supply of articles, videos, slideshows, and TV and radio spots leading up to this day of remembrance. Of course, it’s no surprise that many of these pieces have focused on the events that took place in Dallas in 1963. Kennedy’s death remains a somber, poignant moment half a century after it occurred.
Since the assassination is such a huge and emotional moment in American history, it has the potential to overshadow Kennedy’s political legacy. All of the mystery and perceived conspiracy surrounding his death is understandably captivating. But Kennedy’s three years in office came during an especially pivotal time in the 20th century. It would be a pity to miss the opportunity to discuss his policies and political maneuvers with students.
The story of the Cuban missile crisis provides an excellent opportunity to examine the 35th president—not only in action, but also while dealing with one of the most frightening moments in modern history. What led up to the crisis? How did Kennedy and other powerful players deal with it while it was happening? How was disaster averted (and how narrowly)? And what impact does the Cuban missile crisis still have on the world today? Check out this new Capstone title for an in-depth look at one of John F. Kennedy’s most interesting legacies:
-Adrian Vigliano, Editor
What do boys read? Well, comics; military fiction; action, fighting, and sports stories; crime and suspense novels; science fiction; technology. What do girls read? Fairy tales; fantasy; cook books; fashion files; realistic fiction; stories dealing with love, friendship, emotion.
At least that's what some might say. But it’s obviously not that simple, despite what the books featured in this blog post might have you believe.
The discussion about what boys and girls want to read has been heating up recently in children’s lit/YA circles (and here within the Capstone Fiction team as well!). But there are problems even in differentiating between “what boys want to read” and “what girls want to read.” There are problems in assuming that gender determines what kind of book a kid will pick up and what kind of book a kid will enjoy.
But clearly these problems don’t exist solely in the lit world. I, for one, see these problems stemming from gender roles and expectations for children in our society. As a young child, I was teased for not liking the color pink, for wearing baggy overalls and baseball caps, and preferring to dig in the mud rather than play with Barbie dolls. On many occasions, my peers made fun of me by referring to me as a “boy.” And maybe they were genuinely confused because of my interest in trucks, trains, and T-ball.
Do I blame the other children who teased me? Not one bit. Having worked with kids in many capacities — as a camp counselor, a tutor, a nanny, and now working in children’s book publishing — I have only begun to recognize the distinctions we as a society assign to gender without even noticing we’re doing it. And I’ve been guilty of it myself.
But just because we don't notice we're doing it doesn't make it okay. So I’d like to put forth a challenge — let’s confront the conventions of gender roles and let’s question before accepting traditional expectations for boys and girls. In the kid-lit world, let’s be more aware of the character of the reader we are aiming to reach, rather than the gender. Let’s try to influence kids to better themselves in ways that don’t necessarily abide by society’s perceived barriers between what interests boys and what interests girls.
— Eliza Leahy
Editorial assistant, Capstone Fiction
Last week Capstone exhibited at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Hartford, CT. What a great time and a great group of people! School librarians from all over the country come to the biennial event to learn best practices and explore their roles as education leaders.
There was much excitement and energy on the exhibit floor. Specifically in our booth, librarians shared with us over and over again how much they love our PebbleGo databases! Of course, our author signings in our booth were popular events, as was our reception at the Connecticut Science Center for Capstone Rewards members.
Here’s a few fun photos from AASL! For more photos, check out our Facebook page.
Authors Michael Dahl and Gwendolyn Hooks.
Author Kristine Carlson Asselin with a fan!
Dessert Designer author Dana Meachen Rau.
We all love a good milestone: a casual birthday (happy birthday, Lynn Walker!), a nice graduation, and a beautiful wedding. These events punctuate our lives as we know them outside of the office. They are evidence of a life well-lived; these milestones might even be the only things to persuade us to look up from our rapidly-filling Outlook calendars and remind us to smell the roses. These milestones are important. Why else would our mothers insist on taking those embarrassing family photos (with, of course, the obtrusive, too-bright flash) in that nice, dimly-lit, crowded Italian restaurant each and every birthday?
To take oneself out of the hustle and bustle, however briefly, to appreciate life’s big moments is what makes all of the hard work worth it. This Friday, we’ll be celebrating myON’s Big Moment with the entire Edina office. We’ll look forward to a brief reprieve from our work to hear from Todd about myON’s journey and growth throughout 2013. In an effort to maintain a nugget of mystery about this momentous occasion, I’ll only leave you with this: Since July of this year, our readers have logged 742,035 hours on myON. Let me put that in perspective for you: that’s 84 years, 258 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes.
That’s a lot of myON moments. And we couldn’t be more pleased.
What are your own myON milestones? Maybe you’ve worked behind the scenes in support of the myON mission since its launch in 2011, or maybe you’ve been reading with your kids on myON since July of this year, contributing to the incredible usage noted above. Maybe your myON milestones start now as your hometown districts sign on with winter pilots. My personal myON milestone is that, tomorrow, I will have worked in this new Marketing role for a full month. I look forward to celebrating many more milestones with the myON team.
Congratulations to everyone who has contributed in some way to reaching this myON milestone. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the road that brought us here—and let’s use this big moment as fuel to bring us toward our next milestone. Read on, myON.
--Megan Swanson, myON Marketing
As each new publishing season approaches at Capstone, designers look forward to their new assignments. The anticipation includes everything from who they will work with to what new design ideas they can implement to make a really great book.
I have been at Capstone for nine years and this last season presented me with not only my greatest challenge, but my favorite one so far: Designing Planning Perfect Parties, the Girls' Guide to Planning Fun, Fresh, Unforgettable Events. The really cool thing is that it's being paired with a party-planning website just for teen girls! My initial research easily brought me to the conclusion that this was going to be something really big. Every search I did to try to find a guide for teen girls to plan their own unique party came up empty. I know when I was a teen I would have loved to have something like this, with so may great ideas all in one place, all for me.
This project hasn't been easy and was a lot of work. I am so thankful for the editor on this project, Mari, who has been right there beside me throughout the whole process, and Marcy, Sarah, and Karon, our in-house studio team, for all their hard work scheduling shoots, styling, and creating the crafts and recipes for the thousands of shots that were taken.
One important part of this project was to find a group of girls to come in for an all day photo shoot. We needed to get as may outtakes and lifestyle shots we could of girls setting up, getting ready for, and being at these parties. Here at Capstone, we like to use models and shoot our own images whenever possible. With the help of social networking, a group of girls from my small town of Madelia were brought on board. Not only were these girls cute, but they were friends already. What better way to get natural shots of girls at a party? I presented the girls to the book team and we were good to go!
This leads me to share my favorite experience throughout this whole project: The opportunity I gave these girls. The day of the photo shoot the girls got their hair and makeup done, picked out their favorite outfits, and met at the shooting location. These girls had so much fun! They were so happy, pleasant, funny, and natural. Each was showcased at "her" own individual party, and, by the statements from the girls, fit their personalities perfectly! I was so thrilled to that my employer and myself could give this opportunity to these three awesome girls. Their faces will adorn our cover, be seen throughout the book, and also in our website! The models we bring in at Capstone are always thrilled when they see themselves in books about the community, or science books, or playing sports. But this is something completely new, and of a much larger scale! Now they'll see themselves in chains across the country!
My daughter may only be two years old, but I know which book I will be most proud and excited to pass along to her! You're never too young to come up with your own great party!
-Tracy McCabe, Senior Graphic Designer
Any readers out there attending the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference this week? If so, we have a special offer for you!
Tell us why you love Capstone books and you could win a fun prize pack of goodies! We’re selecting winners today, Friday, and Saturday. Enter on our Facebook page or Tweet us @CapstonePub using the conference hashtag #AASL13.
I had the pleasure of attending the 11th Annual Education Partners Luncheon hosted by AchieveMPLS yesterday at The Depot in downtown Minneapolis. AchieveMPLS, which began in 2002, is a nonprofit partner of the Minneapolis Public Schools. They work with the goal to support education and lead students to a successful life after high school. As part of their mission, they seek to be a bridge between Minneapolis Public Schools and the broader community in the Twin Cities. They surely succeeded in this goal at yesterday's luncheon. It was a great time of communion between educators, adminstrators, city and state leaders, and many more poeple who work to support education in diverse ways.
After hearing from Mayor R.T. Rybak and a young woman for whom the support of AchieveMPLS has been truly lifechanging, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro delivered the keynote speech, entitled "Building Brainpower Cities: Bold Leadership for Urban Public Education." Mayor Castro's message was incredible. When he took office in 2009, he challenged his city with this simple, but shocking question: What kind of city do we want to be in ten years? How can we make this vision for 2020 possible? He endorses—and has actively and successfully implemented—a community model that engages all citizens to improve education and thus improve the holistic future of the city.
Café College was one such goal of Mayor Castro's that has since come to fruition, making education initiatives literally central to the whole city and moving San Antonio closer to their vision for 2020. Café College—a café like any other—is a place where every high school student in the city, whether they attend public or private schools, can go to receive free and consistent support at any stage of the college admissions process. Because I was ever so diligently tweeting about the event, I neglect to remember the specific statistic Mayor Castro offered, but it was something along these lines: in most public schools, the ratio of students to guidance counselors in general (and thus in terms of assistance in the application process) is a staggering 400:1. It is clear that successful initiatives to improve education cannot be the schools' responsibility alone. This must be a community goal. Creating channels of support for all San Antonio students in the city center unites education and community in a remarkably innovative way, much in the vein of the AchieveMPLS mission.
The reminder that we can do more together than alone was enough to bring the room to a standing ovation. And it was enough to inspire me to think about my own goals and my daily work and how I can use both to contribute to this city that is becoming my own. What can myON do to improve the city in which its vision was born? How will myON change the world? We'll see you in 2020.
--Megan Swanson, myON Marketing
Capstone is starting a new partnership with Bernie's Book Bank! Based out of Lake Forest, IL, Bernie's Book Bank "facilitates the collection, processing and redistribution of new and gently used children's books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland." Today alone, the book bank will distribute over 15,000 books to children in four Chicagoland schools! That's something to brag about!
We're thrilled to support their mission of increasing low-income children's access to print. PLUS, they make a REAL event in the schools where they give the books away (you can watch a video on their website). Capstone's book donation program, the Wonder of Reading, promises to donate books to Bernie's on a regular basis. We hope that our Chicago employees will enjoy participating in some of these book giveaway events! I sure hope I can attend one!
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