Post 9: I don’t Like Poetry, but Children Do

Do you write poetry,

Neither do I,

In fact if I were forced to read it,

I’d probably die.

 

Poetry is for some,

adults here, and children there,

but as for me,

I really couldn’t care.

 

I read a book called “Booked”

and it was neat, though in verse,

about a boy who played soccer,

who’s parents got divorced.

 

Books like that are good for kids,

it makes poetry seem less confusing

and still tells a story,

and therefore is amusing.

 

But I still do not like poetry, not here or there, not anywhere.

 

I’m no poet, no Robert Frost

or even a John Ciardi,

but even I know,

poetry can cause a party…

in one’s head…

What does this MEAN?

Why are letters rEpEating?

Shouldn’t it rhyme… all of the time?

 

Maybe I should change my mind,

maybe the imagery could be good,

if only I could get the hang of poetry,

then maybe I could.

 

Maybe kids like to hear a rhyme,

see smelly socks stink somewhere,

or even hear the thunder go BOOM,

or a plane go ZOOM.

 

Maybe Robert Frost isn’t for me, or you,

Maybe I should read some of Fisher,

about horses’s tails swishing,

wait, what rhymes with fisher?

 

Maybe I should change my mind,

and read about how poetry loves to play

with words and exclamation marks,

…maybe it’ll make my day.

 

Maybe I should read some of Shel Silverstein,

or William Jay Smith,

throw the rules out the window,

alongside Tracy K. Smith.

 

Maybe poetry isn’t so bad,

I might even try to write some of it.

No, I still don’t like dissecting,

So I’ll stick with Chick Lit.

*With this said, you might not be surprised that I’m not completely committed to poetry, however, I can still see the value and benefits of sharing it with children. If you write poetry, or are looking for good books on poetry, here are some things to keep in mind:

Poetry that rhymes is generally appreciated more amongst the younger crowd. Think of elementary schools. Though, I like that kind of poetry more than any, despite being an adult.

Poetry that doesn’t rhyme and is without any kind of rules is called free verse and is generally more appreciated by adults and some high schoolers.

Most people think you have to dissect poetry and feel forced to find some deeper meaning. When they do this, they miss the point and become stressed and burned out with poetry. Those are the people who generally hate it. However, if you dish out some poetry for the sake of enjoying it (and I’d recommend starting with children’s poetry and working my way up) you might find that you don’t have to be keen on all of it’s conventions and still get some joy out of it.

As a writer, however, it’s going to be useful to you if you incorporate things like: assonance, personification, rhymes and rhythm, as well as hyperbole and onomatopoeia. Tutorials on YouTube cover this and make writing much more fun.

Here is a sample of a cute and fun poem that you can emulate to get the hang of writing poetry, or finding quality poetry books. Click Mommy Slept Late to find a larger version.

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Writing poetry, or reading it, is a form of expression and even though I prefer to express myself in other ways, if you want to try writing or reading poetry, besides starting small, I’d recommend researching and reading others to get a good feel for it.

In the context of poetry for young adults, or the YA audience, it helps if it’s a narrative; it’s key to tell a story. Just as the story, “Booked” by Kwame Alexander told a story, your’s should too.

Be relatable. The point of poetry besides expressing one’s self is to relate to others. If you’re looking for YA poetry, or creating it, then consider these questions: Does the poem make sense? Does it address modern day issues and conflicts? Will it engage the reader? Is it age appropriate? Most eighth graders won’t appreciate Emily Dickinson – that’s generally for an older audience.

Does your title and choice of words appeal to readers? Are they familiar with those words? Don’t forget that vocabulary is an important aspect of to which children you will and will not reach.

Are you using imagery? Imagery is important in ALL writing. Make sure they can visualize it. It’ll make for a far more enjoying and satisfying read.

Keep in mind that there are various forms of poetry; try your hand at various types. Try reading various types to kids and see what they like. Take their opinions seriously.

*I will say this: While I don’t generally have poetry as one of my go-to’s, I still enjoy and appreciate the way we can play with language. I will be keeping an eye out for good poetry and remember that it can be used to entertain, to teach, and express ourselves – these are the key elements I will be looking for when evaluating poetry.

As always, I hope this helps, if not, send me a yelp… Okay, see why I don’t do poetry?

Anyway, happy writing!

Post 7: Should you Use Literary Elements and Devices in Your Writing?

Okay, okay, so I admit, do you really want to write with literary elements and devices in mind? I mean, isn’t that like… high school stuff? True, it is; it’s also college stuff. But, turns out, there are really good reasons to use it in your novels. Find out why below:

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Here is an in-depth look at 19 elements and devices to use in your writing: From what they are to why it’s good to use them.

An antagonist is the person or force of nature that opposes the main character. This is SO important. If your story doesn’t have this, there won’t be much to stop or hinder your main character, and this leads to a boring story. Make sure you have one, or even better, some.

Character is the main person of interest in a movie, play, or book. Some books have animals as characters, or even nature. Unless it’s non-fiction, it’s pretty important.

A story without conflict is a lost cause. Conflict is any disagreement or obstacle stopping your character achieving their goal. Always ask yourself, per each and every scene, “Where is the heat?” In other words, where is the conflict? If you don’t have that in your story, more than likely, no, guaranteed, your readers won’t want to keep… wait for it… reading.

The way a story makes you feel is the mood. Do you feel sad, happy, tense? This is mood. Does your story have one? If not, make sure you get one. Tone is the sound (inferred if reading) of the author: does the author sound joyful, professional, sarcastic? Tone is easier to pick up in first person fiction and non-fiction. Generally in fantasy, I like for the author to be invisible. So I’m not too worried about the tone.

If you don’t have a plot, your character might can save the story. Both are very important. The plot is simple and goes like this: Beginning (current status quo), rising action (due to some kind of conflict), more rising action, point of no return (it’s fight or flight), climax, because things can’t get any worse ((do you see all of the conflict here?)), and falling action, okay, things are cooling off, and resolution (new status quo). Make sure to have all of the following for a cohesive story and try not to veer off so as not to confuse the readers.

Who do you root for? We all need someone to root for or there’s no point in reading your story. Who can we relate to? Who is this story following? That is your protagonist. Have one.

Another device very important in your story is the setting. Are you reading this on a bus right now? In front of your monitor in your office or bedroom? Are there white curtains, a brown or white desk and a purring cat beside your fluffy slippers. (Let’s hope not or that’d be super surreal) but the point is, what is your surroundings like? That is setting. If a reader can’t see the setting, it’s easy to get confused and the world becomes less real and less intriguing and relatable.

Do you keep coming back to the same problem in your story? If so, good, that would make sense, after all, but what about something else, something a little deeper. Is there a lesson or moral you’re trying to impart, or is your character constantly on the verge of discovering an important lesson? Likely, that deeper meaning or lesson is your theme. This helps unite a story.

I needed a break from the text, so here’s another picture:

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That one cracked me up just a bit.

Moving on:

Ever wanted to say something without literally saying it? Did you use another story that highly resembled the one you were trying to tell? That’s an allegory, a story that uses characters or symbols to represent the real-life story.

People use this all the time when they’re trying to be sly about something or, more innocently, when they want to give reference to something they’re discussing or writing about, and that is allusions. An allusion is when you refer or reference a person, place, thing, or event. It can be a neat tactic to employ in your writing.

Archetypes are things like good vs. evil, a story wherein your character goes on a journey or quest. It is when you compare and contrast the natural world against the technological world. These are all things that are universal and understood by all that will always be a part of story-telling. More than likely you will develop this without really knowing it.

Okay, this next one is a no-no. But, don’t save your character from out of nowhere. Don’t have someone else solve your characters problem, nor any type of force of nature. Your character alone can save/solve their problems (in order to grow). If not, that’s called Deus ex machina, “God in the machine.”

I could eat a horse, or, it’s raining cats and dogs is an example of a hyperbole. Hyperbole’s are useful in showing us just how much your character feels or longs for something, etc. Depending on how creative you are with your exaggerations, the more delightful the story becomes for the reader.

A story will be quite bland if it does not have imagery. Think of this when you write: What do you See, Feel, Smell, Hear, and Taste? Make your readers experience them by being very detailed in description. Ex.: “Elaina sat in the booth, waiting for her food to be delivered. She could smell the savory battered chicken and seasoned fries from the table beside her. The biscuits, soft and shining with butter were warm and mouthwatering.”

We all use metaphor, though I sometimes think people get a little intimidated by that word. Basically, if I say, “You are thorny rose of red velvet.” I am saying flatly that you are something, or that something is something, and as a result am comparing you to that rose that can prick you despite it’s beauty. The difference of a simile compared to a metaphor is that instead of saying you are something I am saying you are like something. For example, “You are like a red, velvet rose with thorns.” While you don’t want to use very common ones, as that’s overdone and often void of deep affect at that point, making up your own can be very powerful and aesthetic. You should try it. It can make writing more fun.

Some books, if you’ve noticed, have symbols on the front, like a symbol, a motif is a central idea through a book or set of books that the author keeps alluding to. A symbol on the cover of a book of an engraved sword could be a motif for a family that continually kills by that sword therefore reaping upon themselves whatever comes as a result. Basically, it is a theme guides the arch of the book and is therefore reoccurring.

Point of view is a powerful tool to convey the type of book you’re aiming for. With first person p.o.v it’s easy to get in the head of your character whereas third person is dependent on how much the narrator tells you. Second person narratives exist but or less occurrent or desirable in my opinion. Books in first person are more prudent for reaching a contemporary fiction YA audience whereas fantasy fiction in third person is more effective. Check out various books in various categories to get a feel for the right p.o.v. for you.

I don’t really use symbols in my books, but if I did, I’d have a reoccurring image that stood for an important idea or event. That’s what a symbol is, and symbols can be very effective in conveying a message.

And there you have it. Try some of these out for more quality writing.

As always, happy writing!

#amwriting #yabooks #writingtips #writerslife

Post 6: How to use Adolescent Development in your Writing

If you write for young adults, it’s important to know a little bit about how they develop so that your book is relevant. So lets get to know our readers:

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There are many changes that adolescents go through that come in the form of physical change, intellectual change, and changing needs.

  1. We all know about this one: puberty. Tweens turning into adult means there is one huge question circling in their head, which is, “Am I normal?” From developing physically (chests for the ladies, voices for the men, etc) to the time in which it takes to develop, it can be difficult for teens to know if their own transformation is normal, or even happening. That is why books that focus on such elements can be both assuring and enlightening. Self-reflection in a book will always both grow and captivate your readers.
  2. Who hasn’t heard something like this > Adolescent’s brains aren’t fully developed until they’re 25. Well, who knows for sure, but with this comes the concept of concrete thinking verses abstract thinking. The younger you are, the more concrete your thinking supposedly is, which means right is right, and wrong is wrong. The more developed you are, the more you are able to think abstractly. This is important when it comes to understanding theme and other important actions on the behalf of your characters. If you’re looking to address certain issues, think about the audience you’re writing for and the possible affects that your writing will, or will not, have. For many, as they grow and develop, this adolescent phase is where they decide their own morality as well as other philosophical ideas. Will your writing challenge their thinking?
  3. Ever-changing needs: As those middle graders and high schoolers grow and climb the cliff that is adolescence, it is important that they have a safe place, a place to belong, and for others to show interest in them. It’s something to think about when you’re writing. In “Booked” by Kwame Andrews, Mr. Mac is a librarian who takes an interest in the main character and becomes a source of support. While a real adolescent may have a difficult time finding someone to cheer them on, they may just find them in your book, as a good YA book can do.
  4. Adolescents grow as readers: So we know that reading can develop their empathy; believe me, this is a good thing. Most readers read for the delight, or joy, of reading in part because we recognize a part of ourselves in them, or even others in them. Not only can we begin to understand ourselves, we can begin to understand those around us better. Plus, let’s face it, I really, really wouldn’t have minded getting out of my high school Chemistry class to board the Hogwarts express; it’s vicarious living at it’s finest, and people, especially teens, need that. And then, sometimes your readers just want to really enjoy some lovely writing. So when you put that pen to paper, or finger to key, think about what kind of effect you’re having, and take some pride in your work; it very may well be helping someone.

Personally, knowing these things for me as a writer is very informative, but as a reader and someone evaluating YA books, it’s helpful to me for the same reason it is helpful to me as a writer. I know what it takes to reach young adults. I will know the type of book(s) to recommend to someone I see struggling. Keeping this in mind as I read will be a really good tool to keep in my arsenal. Books that don’t do this, I won’t be as likely to support. As always, I hope this helps and,

Happy Writing!

#amwriting #amreading #yabooks #ala

Book Review 2. “Speak”

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I hated this book in high school. All I remembered for the longest was this scene of a girl and her bed with stuffed animals, going to scream in her closet. When I think about it now, I know it’s because I’ve always hated to be forced to read books, as I was at the time.

Summary: “Speak” is about a girl named Melinda who has a secret… At a party the summer before her freshman year, Melinda is raped by one of the most popular boys at school. Only, no one knows, and she’s afraid to tell her parents. This is normally not a book that I would pick up, but after reading it again out of high school on my own (and no I’m not sure why I picked it up), I fell in love with it. I suppose for me it was the aesthetics; the book was so beautifully written relatable because of Melinda’s voice. She was real. Not only that, despite such a dark and lonely book, it was funny and interesting. We had to watch as Melinda navigated through her freshman year being hated by the populars, the mediocre crowd, and even those who pitted themselves against the popular and the lowest of the lowest. She became THE outcast, sure and to the point, and had NO ONE to confide in. With the help of her teacher, an outcast in his own rights, she learns how to open up.

Now: I love this book.

Recommended Audience would be middle school and high school students, and is even applicable for adults.

It is difficult to find weaknesses in this book. I just wish the boy who raped Melinda would’ve gotten more than he did in the terms of punishment. As for strengths, this book has a very distinct voice, as do most of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books. You can get a sense of her voice in the very first sentence of the book, “It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new note-books, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache” (Anderson, pg. 3).

My Reflections: This book relates to teens who have a hard time opening up about something traumatic that has happened to them. Not only does it teach others how to overcome and express themselves in times of great trial, it also teachers readers how to be sympathetic as well as have a sense of what may be going on to their peers who resemble people like Miranda in their life. I think people enjoy it for those reasons, but it’s also in the sense of YA entertainment, a good read. It delivers relatable characters, suspense, and wit.

When I see other YA, or even middle grade books, I can evaluate them based on books like this one to see if they deliver. I can see if they’ll be helpful to young teens and be more cognizant about where they belong in a library as well as acknowledge these type of books monthly just as when we acknowledge Black History Month or other important events.

Laurie’s Website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/

EXCERPT taken from Laurie Halse Anderson’s website:

SPEAK

Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

FIRST MARKING PERIOD
WELCOME TO MERRYWEATHER HIGH
It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

The school bus wheezes to my corner. The door opens and I step up. I am the first pickup of the day. The driver pulls away from the curb while I stand in the aisle. Where to sit? I’ve never been a backseat wastecase. If I sit in the middle, a stranger could sit next to me. If I sit in the front, it will make me look like a little kid, but I figure it’s the best chance I have to make eye contact with one of my friends, if any of them have decided to talk to me yet.

The bus picks up students in groups of four or five. As they walk down the aisle, people who were my middle-school lab partners or gym buddies glare at me. I close my eyes. This is what I’ve been dreading. As we leave the last stop, I am the only person sitting alone.

The driver downshifts to drag us over the hills. The engine clanks, which makes the guys in the back holler something obscene. Someone is wearing too much cologne. I try to open my window, but the little latches won’t move. A guy behind me unwraps his breakfast and shoots the wrapper at the back of my head. It bounces into my lap—a Ho-Ho.

We pass janitors painting over the sign in front of the high school. The school board has decided that “Merryweather High—Home of the Trojans” didn’t send a strong abstinence message, so they have transformed us into the Blue Devils. Better the Devil you know than the Trojan you don’t, I guess. School colors will stay purple and gray. The board didn’t want to spring for new uniforms.

Older students are allowed to roam until the bell, but ninth-graders are herded into the auditorium. We fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big Hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders. I am clanless. I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn’t go to the mall, the lake, or the pool, or answer the phone. I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don’t have anyone to sit with.

I am Outcast.

#amreading #ya #books

FROM THE AUTHOR:

A BOOK REVIEW:

Post 10: Elements of Historical Fiction

Do you write YA? Do you write Historical Fiction? Laurie Halse Anderson writes contemporary, as well as historical fiction. If you are thinking about doing it, here is a general summary as to what is included as the norm:Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 10.13.35 AM.png1. It must feel like history to the intended audience. Generally, this means that it has to feel like the events happened in a different place and time. Events from three years ago, or even ten, hardly qualify. The key here is having a setting, cast of characters, and way of life that is unique from today.

2. Make sure your facts are accurate. Many schools use these books to teach about history, so it only makes sense to use factual information, giving your books credibility. The Council on Books for Children procure a list of such books to ensure that the public is getting quality information.

3. Values and roles. How have they changed? Realizing that values have indeed changed and capturing them in your book will aid in positioning your story in a historical context. The way women dressed is an example of change and the role of women at an earlier time. Tying right into this is speech. Northerners have a different dialect than Southerners do. And, in time, the slang we use and regular vocabulary we use changes across culture. This, too, needs to be reflected.

4. Setting. Were there cars, if so, what kind, what did they look like? Were there cellphones? If so, were they big and bulky or razor thin? How did they make their coffee? How did they wash their clothes. They key to historical fiction is that you have to ask, and answer, these kinds of questions.

5. Theme. Still, despite the vast span of time, humans are fundamentally the same. What common desires take place? Events, conflicts? Has someone lost a loved one? If so, how do they heal? Did someone find themselves without any money or food? What did they do? These are common and relatable events that connect us to our ancestors. These themes and conflicts are universal and last through time. The key here is to connect the past events’ issues to todays similar issues. That’s what truly invests a reader in your book.

My Thoughts: I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction. I suppose I just wasn’t intrigued by the books available to me at the time. However, I am a big fan of supporting them and would love to see more of them in our libraries. This comes with a caveat; I want them to be of good quality in their writing style, story-telling, and accuracy. One really neat thing about historical fiction that I find both important and intriguing is that they can still, despite their many contextual differences, relate to us today.

Though it is not a book, Downton Abby is an example of Historical Fiction in the form of a television series that one, I completely adored, two, learned from, and three, appreciated.

All in all, historical fiction is quite neat and valuable.

#historicalfiction #ya #ala #books #writingfiction #amwriting

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Book Review 1: “Period 8”

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Book Review Numero 1 out of 25!

Brief Summary: Paulie is a part of Period 8, a group that gathers to discuss any and everything… truthfully. When Paulie comes out with the truth that he cheated on his girlfriend, Hannah, it doesn’t go quite as he has planned. Meanwhile, another member of the group, Arney, has his own plans and is behind one of the disappearances of another girl in their group, Mary.  As Paulie and Hannah explore what it means to be faithful, honest, and forgiving, they face judgements based on little to no knowledge, a friend turned enemy, and teen questions galore. In the end, Paulie and Hannah come away with a better understanding of themselves and others.

Response: I did not enjoy this book due to the excessive curse words and sexual language. The lack of respect towards God at the end of the book was a turnoff, and in general, I did not feel that the characters ever really grew that much as a result of their trials. Nor did I like the nod that boys are animalistic towards sex and that it is okay, quite similar to the saying, “Boys will be boys.” I did, however, appreciate the viewpoints of not just the protagonist, Paulie, but that of Hannah, Mary, and Logs, the teacher. The book addressed concerns faced by teens and adults today and made an attempt to reflect the natural state of society. The book heavily focused on telling the truth and facing it’s repercussions. It did that successfully.

Connections: YA books boast characters that are or become independent. While Paulie asked his teacher, Mr. Logs, for advice, in the end, he was left to think and act for himself, becoming more independent. As with most YA books, this book also deals with common issues faced by teens today such as: do all boys really just care about sex, as questioned by Hannah (Crutcher, 2013).

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElflM95j4i4

Censorship: From the Author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kccTXaLyi8

Teen Book Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCbnY_v_oCU

Author Website: http://www.chriscrutcher.com/

#amreading #yabooks #bookreviews

Post 5. What is YA Literature?

 

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Ever thought about writing YA, or reading YA? Want to know what it is? Here are the essential elements that make a book fall under the format of young adult literature as inferred from Mertz and England 1983:

1. Most of these books involve having a young protagonist. Realistically, they’re usually between the ages of 13 and 18 so that we can relate to their later years in adolescence.

2. Point of View. Most of the times it’s written in such a way that you, the reader, are given the best advantage of feeling and empathizing what the character is going through. For example, right now I am reading “Period 8” by Chris Cructcher (which I will be doing a review on, by the way) and this story is told in 2nd person. It not only gives us insight into the main characters heads but those of other relative and pertinent characters. Most of these YA books, usually, will fall into 1st person, where as fantasy will fall into 3 person… normally.

3. In all, as we read these books, we’re not looking for static characters. We’re looking for round characters, characters who evolve, learn, and grow from their trials. Expect to see that in YA. Conflict is one of the biggest driving forces in these types of books.

4. Hence the high-stakes conflict, a huge life change is inevitable. It is uncommon for any YA protagonist to still remain the same after experiencing the turmoils and trials of adolescence and the many conundrums it offers.

5. Independence. We all know most people above the age of 13 want independence, so expect it in these YA books. Again, anything else is uncharacteristic. That doesn’t mean that the characters can’t be needy in some areas, but that overall, they are somewhat alone in and facing their problems.

6. Concerns from contemporary issues. Books today often face issues that we see in everyday life, from poverty, to abortion, to religion. All of these issues compromise the “conflicts” that challenge the young protagonist to learn and grow.

7. “You made your bed, you lie in it.” That’s right, the characters reap what they sew. If your favorite protag cheats on his girl, you better bet he’s going to have a hard time afterword facing all of the conflicts waiting for him on the other side. All actions have big repercussions.

8. Some fully developed characters. Most YA needs a well-rounded main characters along with 2 or 3 minor characters, also round, who can give depth and meaning to the work. Don’t expect to have parents who are highly involved, not at least in a good way.

As I continue to read YA, I know I’ll be looking for these elements. One, it’s a great tool for honing the writing craft, and two, it helps me to be mindful of what my readers are reading and dealing with in real life. It’s always important to be relevant, and that’s what YA books are… relevant; relatable.

Would you read YA? What are your thoughts on it? What are some other common elements in YA?

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#YA #yalit #amreading #writerslife #ala

Post 4. What is Genre, Really?

Did you know that Paranormal Romance is not a genre? Nope, neither is Supernatural Horror. No, afraid not. Those are sub-genres or format. Here are your main genres: fiction and non-fiction.

Let’s break FICTION up a bit:

Realism: historical, realistic, modern, and contemporary.

Fantasy: Modern, traditional

 

And now let’s break up NON-FICTION:

Autobiographies, memoirs, biographies, infographics.

Here is an example of a genre and format: Contemporary Fiction – Paranormal Young Adult

Did you also know that libraries categorize their books by grouping them in their respective genres? I did, but not to the extent of really being mindful of it. While I believe it is useful to categorize libraries so that readers can easily find the type of books they enjoy, if you put Twilight with Romance (a format) instead of under Fantasy, you risk losing readers who would otherwise never look under the romance section. Same goes with a “Hunger Games” book. If you put it under Science Fiction and not under Action, you risk losing readers who do not like science fiction.

Personally, I would have the larger genres, but I am not fond of categorizing them by sub-genre or format. I want to make sure that young kids find a variety of books that they can explore and grow to love. However, I am on the side of having one or two showcase sections of a popular author and his/her entire works with an infographic, etc.

Would you classify libraries by genre? What are your thoughts?

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#amreading #ala #writerslife #books