Bethany Armstrong on Kid Lit.

Confession: I've saved nearly every book I loved from my childhood.

Well, actually, let's give credit where credit is due: before I became keeper of the books, it was my mom that saved them for me.

Understanding their precious value in my eyes, having directly passed down a love of books from her own heart to mine, my mom anticipated that I'd not just want, but need these books for the rest of my life.

 Artemis Fowl, ALL the Roald Dahl books, Dr. Seuss, the Bernstein Bears, Bud Not Buddy: all my childhood books fit inside two old army trunks that used to belong to my paternal grandfather. I've dragged them along with me for every move I've ever made since the first time I moved out at 17 to start college and live in the dorms. 

Kid Lit, Children's Lit., YA novels, whatever you want to call it, these were the formative stuff that molded me into the reader, writer, and thinker I am today. 

That's why I'm so excited to introduce you to Bethany Armstrong, the Book Review Mama. Bethany took the time to chat with me on Kid Lit. and what makes it special: 

Tell me a little bit about the kinds of books you like to read to/with your kids

"We read all sorts of books from fictional picture books to chapter books to nonfictional. We also listen to audiobooks. I love books that make them laugh. I especially love books that they go back to after we've read it aloud. That is always how I know we've found a gem of a book."

I always returned to Beauty and the Beast, I think my mom had to read it to me every night for nearly a year! What kinds of books did you read when you were a child, and why did they make an impression on you?

"I read everything. Fiction, biographies, self-help (decidedly NOT children's literature, but I was definitely an avid reader!), classics, etc. I have distinct memories of abandoning my friends while they played so I could "shop" their bookshelves. Reading was (and is) my favorite thing to do. I've always loved how books made me think, inspired me, or took to places I may never visit without a book. I also love how good books stir up emotions in me. I think the older I get, the more a good book makes me emotional. For instance, reading Where the Wild Things Are made me feel brave as a kid. I've given that book to many kids as gifts because I want to inspire them to feel brave too. I loved reading Charlotte's Web because of Fern's courage to stand up for what she believed in and, of course, I LOVED the friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur. I remember reading Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and how it showed me a new way to look at the world. It left a profound impact on my life; one that I still reflect on even as an adult. I loved reading the classics of Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Martha Finley.  I would be remiss if I didn't talk about Bruchko, Boxcar Children Series, Elsie Dinsmore, Trixie Belden, Little House on the Prairie...the list goes on and on of books that I cherished reading as a child.  Each book and series made created such depth and richness in my life." 

I identify with many of the books you listed, especially the Boxcar Children and Where the Wild Things Are. What do you think is special or unique about YA or Children’s Lit. that makes it different from other types of fiction?

"YA and Children's Lit is not just about fun (although there are so many hilarious books), it's about inspiring the next generation. I love how kids think and how they process the world. Kid Lit takes sophisticated adult philosophy and logic, turns it upside down, gives it a good shake and leaves us all feeling impacted. That's inspirational." 

Well said! Last question - what books do you look forward to sharing with your kids?

"What a great question! I can't wait to share Harry Potter with my kids. We watched the movies, but haven't read the books yet. I get giddy thinking about when they get the humor of Amelia Bedelia or dive in to Magic Treehouse on their own. I am looking forward to reading Roald Dahl and Kate DiCamillo with them. Those are two incredible authors that I'm excited for my kids to read." 

A big thanks to Bethany for stopping by to share her insight and vetted recommendations! 

Bethany spends her days with her three kids (under 5) and four dogs. She and her husband make their home in Georgia. When she isn't doing laundry or chasing kids, she can be found reading to her kids, drinking coffee, and reading for her own enjoyment. An avid lifelong reader, there is nothing she likes more than a good conversation about books. Bethany has a degree in Mass Communication. To follow her book adventures, go to: www.bookreviewmama.com. 

Erin E BarrioComment