The 2013 Read Across Lawrence for Kids Book

I’m excited to announce that the Lawrence Public Library’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids (RAL Kids) title for 2013 has been selected! The Newbery Honor winning, William Allan White shortlisted

TURTLE IN PARADISE by Jennifer L. Holm!

(cheering, screaming, back-flips!)

Last year was the inaugural year for Read Across Lawrence for Kids (full recap here & on the ALSC Blog), in which the kids of Lawrence got “on the same page” by reading the same book during the month of September and participated in activities offered through the public library based around that book. The partnership between the public library and the schools was what made this program so successful and it’s already shaping up that this year we will bind together once again and build on that success for our town’s young readers. Preparations will be in full swing over the summer months and I’m beyond ecstatic for this year’s book and featured author! Haven’t read the book? Here’s a little background info:

“In Jennifer L. Holm’s New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.”Random House

About Jennifer L. Holm:
“Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series — the popular Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly praised books, including the Boston Jane trilogy and Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf. She lives in California with her husband and two children.” – Goodreads

A common question I received after the first RAL Kids was, “How do you select a book for an entire community to read?” Well, it’s a tough decision and there is a laundry list of reasons, so I thought I’d give you a little background behind why Turtle in Paradise is the featured pick this year.

Is there a tie-in with the adult Read Across Lawrence book?

The adult Read Across Lawrence book and KU’s Common Book for 2013, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, is about The Great Depression, so this year’s RAL Kids book was chosen with that time period in mind.

Is it a book teachers and school librarians will want to incorporate into their curricula?
Since this program was tailored to collaborate with the schools, I reached out to several teachers and school librarians across the country inquiring as to what books have been successful in their classrooms and are approachable for both boys and girls. Turtle in Paradise was on the top of their lists!

What’s the author like?
So far, I’ve picked books with living authors solely because it lends the unique opportunity for the kids to actually meet the author of the book they’re reading. Jennifer Holm is smart, funny, and kids and adults love her! I mean… Have you ever seen her in person? She’s adorable. I was lucky enjoy hearing her speak at ALA Midwinter. If you have time to watch the video, do it. All authors present were phenomenal to hear AND Nancy Pearl was their moderator to boot!

Does it have some cred?
Like I mentioned earlier, this book is chosen for the kids and the schools. It’s always nice when a book has some cred with the rest of the world and the higher ups. Turtle in Paradise is a Newbery Honor Winning book, a WAW shortlist title, but its also a New York Times Bestseller, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, an IRA Teachers’ Choice, and an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice. Awards and honors certainly aren’t necessity, but it does helps validate the selection.

Can you build an entire month of programs around it?
When I read Turtle in Paradise, like when I read last year’s book, The Cabinet of Wonders, programs and ideas just started coming to mind. More so than other books. Even as I re-read some of the other contenders I was considering, they didn’t come close to inspiring me as much as Turtle in Paradise did. Currently, I’m having to weed ideas because the library can’t possibly produce them all in one month. This is a good problem to have.

Does the book come in paperback?
Purchasing all those books costs a lot of $$$, yo! We intend to purchase as many books as we can to give away, and that only can happen if the cost per book is low. Most publishers also give libraries an extra discount since we are giving the books away and their intended use is educational.

Do kids like it?
The most important question of all the selection process! Librarians, teachers, and parents could love a particular book, but it won’t go far if it isn’t a book kids grades 2nd-7th, of different genders, different backgrounds, different reading tastes, will find themselves enjoying. I’ve asked kids at the library what they thought of the book if they’ve read it, and also asked teachers what their students’ reactions were after reading it. As much as LPL is thrilled to feature Turtle in Paradise for our RAL Kids pick, I have a feeling our patrons will enjoy it just as much, if not more.

RAL Kids 2013 announcement on the Lawrence Public Library website.


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  1. […] L started attending preschool in June. She goes for half the day and is loving it. Since she is in school now, my schedule has changed quite a bit. Instead of working nights a weekends, I work one full day and then mornings the rest of the work week. I actually get to see my husband. It’s awesome! Over the summer, I’ve been conducting the library summer club for kids 5-6, hosted an early literacy event, a few author talks, and the rest of my time goes towards planning for Read Across Lawrence for Kids. […]

  2. […] in Key West. The selection was announced back in May (you can read more about that process here) and ever since preparations have been underway. The library, the kids, and the teachers and school […]

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