Number One Tip for Authors about Social Media from a Bookseller

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If there’s any advice I can give writers, it’s make yourself easy to find on social media!  Your handle should be your name. The same name that is on your books. Simple as that. If your name is taken, put author or writer or books or whatever after your name! Not in front of your name!!

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I have worked at Penguin Bookshop as a Storytime leader and bookseller for three years now. I love to post about the books we use during Storytime as well as events and other new books I love in the store.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to tag an author when I post about their book, but I can’t find them. And we all know time is limited. So when I post about a book on Instagram or Twitter, I type in the @ symbol and the author’s name as it appears on their book. If it doesn’t pop up immediately or isn’t clear which social media handle is theirs, I don’t have time to search for them. So they don’t get tagged.

Why does this matter? Because the business of writing is all about relationships. And if you know who is posting about you, you can thank them, chat with them, form a relationship. Not to mention it’s super easy marketing to retweet or repost an unsolicited post about your book from someone else. It not only makes them feel good, but it also helps get the word out about your book.

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So save booksellers the trouble of trying to track you down. Make yourself easy to find. If you already have an account with a confusing handle, it’s easy to change! Remember, booksellers want to help promote the authors they love. So make it as easy as possible to do so!

Interview with Samantha Steiger Smith

I’m so excited to start a new feature of interviewing authors and illustrators on my blog! Today we welcome Sam Smith, a local Pittsburgh children’s book writer. Sam’s book, Cate’s Magic Garden, is about a little caterpillar that brings a garden back to life through the power of positive thinking and kind words.

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Can you tell us a little about yourself?

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I grew up in Randolph, NJ (about an hour outside of NYC) and went to college at the University of Virginia, where I earned my bachelor’s in English. I started my career in advertising in Baltimore, MD and then Capitol Hill, DC, working for several ad agencies as a media supervisor. Then I finally got brave and made the jump to copywriter; writing had been my passion since I was a little girl. I enjoyed working for an agency, but when I had the chance to strike out on my own, I did! I became a freelance writer in 2006, and in 2008, my husband and I and our 2-year-old son moved to Pittsburgh so my husband could follow his dream to work in his family’s business, a 117 year-old foundry in the heart of the city. We love the area, and I recently fulfilled another childhood dream, which was to publish a children’s book! I live with my husband, sons Sutter (12) and Graham (8) and kitten Penelope.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes! Pretty much since I was six and told my parents I wanted to be Robert Frost when I grew up. My dad gently told me that it might be a difficult living. I’m happy to report that writing can be a great and exciting profession these days, especially since you can work from anywhere! Funny story: when I was ten, I wrote a poem about a butterfly….and my book is about a very similar one—I did not remember this coincidence until very recently.

How did Cate come about?

CATE was not born the way children’s books usually are—she came about rather backwards. My step-sister, Megan, put me in touch with my now co-author, Betsy Coffeen. Betsy is a dedicated Childhelp Wings Advisor and wanted to create a fundraiser for the organization, which helps prevent child abuse. We started with a story about a bunch of kids on the playground and a bullying situation, since that aligned nicely with Childhelp’s mission, but the story just didn’t feel right yet. Then the garden idea just popped into my head. First, we explored a world where a grumpy group of bugs dug holes with their negativity, literally. But this theme started getting too dark for a children’s book. That’s when my publisher had a great idea that turned the book and the entire message around. She harnessed the power of positivity and kindness. And we made the connection that words change worlds, which is a very powerful and exciting message.

We were grateful to have Ginger Seehafer join our team and truly bring the story to life through her beautiful illustrations. And Rachel Eeva Smith helped create this inspiring book with her expert book design. Amy Cherrix of Two Hoots Press finally brought CATE’S MAGIC GARDEN out into the world, and she continues to be a huge champion of its message.

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Cate was published in connection with Childhelp. Can you tell us more about that?

Childhelp is an amazing organization, founded in 1959 by two actresses, Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara from the popular tv show, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. Since its inception, Childhelp has helped over 10 million victims of child abuse and neglect and is internationally renowned. Yvonne and Sara have both been honored by almost every president since Carter and were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize eight times, among other important recognitions. Their work is vitally important, and I’m honored to support them. A portion of proceeds from the book go to Childhelp.

Where can readers find you and your book?

Me? Probably in a library, at my computer or on the soccer field! But seriously, CATE and I have been fortunate enough to visit several Pittsburgh area schools to talk about the power of positivity and kindness. I’ve done a number of readings/signings at local bookstores, including Penguin Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Riverstone Bookstore, Learning Express at the Galleria and Learning Express of Bakery Square. My books are also available at Malaprops in Asheville, NC; How To Live in Beach Haven, NJ; Cover to Cover in Columbus, OH and Book Soup in LA! You can find them online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Thanks for joining us, Sam! Be sure to check out her book!

Storytime: Letter Q

Welcome Song:

(to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter Q.

            Sing “The Q says q, the Q says q, every letter makes a sound, the Q says q.”

 

Book 1: Little Quack by Lauren Thompson and Derek Anderson

 

Activity: Sing “Five Little Ducks” and emphasize the quacking part!

 

Book 2: Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

 

Activity: Quilting!

Talk about quilts and bring in lacing cards. Have the kids practice “sewing” a quilt by lacing the yarn through the lacing card.

 

Book 3: The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter Q quail

 

 

Storytime: Letter X

Welcome Song:

(to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter X.

            Sing “The X says x, the X says x, every letter makes a sound, the X says x.”

 

Book 1: What’s that Sound? Instruments

 

Activity: Bring a xylophone and let the kids take turns playing it.

 

Book 2: Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

 

Activity: Talk about x-rays!

Pretend to take x-rays of the kids arms and wrap them in ace bandages.

 

Book 3: The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barracca

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter X x-ray

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Storytime: Letter Y

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter Y.

            Sing “The Y says yyy, the Y says yyy, every letter makes a sound, the Y says yyy.”

 

Book 1: Good Night Yoga by Diane Kovanda and Adam Gamble

 

Activity: Yoga!

Teach the kids easy yoga poses.

 

Book 2: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

 

Activity: Yarn Play

Give each kid a long piece of yarn – what can they do with it? Swirl it? Make a snake? Wrap it around something?

 

Book 3: What Color is It? by Agnese Baruzzi

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter Y yak

 

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Storytime: Letter E

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter E.

            Sing “The E says eee, the E says eee, every letter makes a sound, the E says eee.”

 

Book 1: We’re Going on an Egg Hunt

 

Activity: Egg Hunt!

Write letters on the outside of plastic eggs, and have the kids find eggs with the letter E on them.

Book 2: Do Your Ears Hang Low by Jenny Cooper

 

Activity: Relay race!

Put plastic eggs on plastic spoons and have the kids walk across the room.

 

Book 3: 10 Easter Egg Hunters by Janet Schulman and Linda Davick

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter E egg

Storytime: Letter K

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter K.

            Sing “The K says k, the K says k, every letter makes a sound, the K says k.”

 

Book 1: What Color is a Kiss? by Rocio Bonilla

 

Activity: Types of Kisses

Print out the following pictures and when you hold them up, have the kids do that kind of kiss:

Grandma (grab cheeks and squeeze)

Fish (purse lips and move them)

Movie star (blow big ones)

Rabbit (wiggle nose)

Dog (stick out your tongue and lick)

Butterfly (bat your eyelashes)

 

Book 2: Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

 

Activity: Lock and Key Match

 

Print out a set of keys and locks that match by color. Pass out the keys to the kids and place the locks on your flannel board. Call out a lock by color and have the child with the matching key come place it on the flannel board.

 

Book 3: The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter K kite

 

Storytime: Letter N

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter N.

            Sing “The N says nnn, the N says nnn, every letter makes a sound, the N says nnn.”

 

Book 1: Goodnight Numbers by Danica McKellar

 

Activity: Number Match

Write the number 1-10 on notecards. Bring objects and have the kids count out the objects and find the matching number.

 

Book 2: Noisy Night by Mac Barnett and Brian Biggs

 

Activity: Noise!

Using shakers or rhythm sticks, have the kids make noise when you hold up “Go!” and be quiet when you hold up “Stop!”

 

Book 3: Night Animals by Gianna Marino

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter N night

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Storytime: Letter Z

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter Z.

            Sing “The Z says zzz, the Z says zzz, every letter makes a sound, the Z says zzz.”

 

Book 1: My Grandparents Love Me by Claire Freedman and Judi Abbot

 

Activity: Sing “Zany Z’s are Zipping By” to the tune of “London Bridge”

 

Zany Z's are zipping by, Zipping by, zipping by.
Zany Z's are zipping by, Zip! Zap! Zoom!

 

Book 2: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

 

Activity: Clue Zoo

 

Bring a bag of plastic zoo animals. Give clues about each animal and have the kids guess what it is.

 

Book 3: Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter Z zebra

Storytime: Letter J

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter J.

            Sing “The J says jjj, the J says jjj, every letter makes a sound, the J says jjj.”

 

Book 1: Jamberry by Bruce Degen

 

Activity: Sing “Jump for Joy” using shakers or scarves

 

Book 2: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales

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Activity: Jungle Sounds

Pull a jungle animal out of a bag and have the kids make that animal sound and pretend to be that animal.

 

Book 3: In the Jungle

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter J jellyfish

Storytime: Letter D

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter D.

            Sing “The D says ddd, the D says ddd, every letter makes a sound, the D says ddd.”

 

Book 1: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

 

Activity: Sing “Where, Oh Where did the Little Dog Go?”

 

Book 2: Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein

 

Activity: Dance like a dinosaur using shakers and scarves

 

Book 3: No, David! by David Shannon

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter D duck

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Storytime: Letter L

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter L.

            Sing “The L says lll, the L says lll, every letter makes a sound, the L says lll.”

 

Book 1: Lucy Lady Bug by Sharon King-Chai

 

Activity: Sing “London Bridges”

 

Book 2: Pete the Cat Five Little Ducks by James Dean

 

Activity: Play a memory game!

Place a bunch of “L” items on a tray. Cover it with a towel and take one item away. See if the kids can figure out which “L” item you removed.

 

Book 3: Llama Llama Wakey Wake by Anna Dewdney

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter L lion

Storytime: Letter U

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter U.

            Sing “The U says uuu, the U says uuu, every letter makes a sound, the U says uuu.”

 

Book 1: A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young

 

Activity: Sing “The Grand Ol’ Duke of York” – emphasize “up”

 

Book 2: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems

 

Activity: Play the under game!

Put out a bunch of upside down cups. Place a small object under one of the cups. Have the kids take turns picking a cup to see if they can find the object.

 

Book 3: Mix it Up! By Herve Tullet

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter U underwater scene

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Storytime: Letter W

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter W.

            Sing “The W says www, the W says www, every letter makes a sound, the W says www.”

 

Book 1: Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora

 

Activity: Sing “The Wheels on the Bus”

 

Book 2: What Will Hatch? By Jennifer Ward and Susie Ghahremani

 

Activity: Make weather

        Use shakers, rhythm sticks and scarves to make wind, rain, snow, and sunshine.

 

Book 3: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter W watermelon

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Storytime: Letter V

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter F.

Sing “The V says vvv, the V says vvv, every letter makes a sound, the V says vvv.”

 

Book 1: Peppa Pig I Love You Game

 

Activity: Sing “We’re Going on Vacation” (to the tune of She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain)

Oh, we’re going on vacation in a plane (zoom zoom)!
Oh, we’re going on vacation in a plane (zoom zoom)!
Oh, we’re going on vacation,
We’re going on vacation,
We’re going on vacation in a plane (zoom zoom)!

Oh, we’re going on vacation on a train (choo choo)…

Oh, we’re going on vacation in our car (beep beep)

Book 2: Happy Valentine’s Day Curious George!

 

Action Rhyme: Valentine, Valentine

 

Valentine, Valentine run in place

Valentine, Valentine touch your face

Valentine, Valentine turn around

Valentine, Valentine touch the ground

Valentine, Valentine touch your nose

Valentine, Valentine touch your toes

Valentine, Valentine jump and hop

Valentine, Valentine time to stop!

Valentine, Valentine pat your knees

Valentine, Valentine sit down please

 

Book 3: Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! By Lloyd Moss

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter V Valentine

Storytime: Letter O

Welcome Song: (to the tune of Farmer and the Dell)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

 

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

 

Introduce Letter:

            Show kids a flashcard of the letter O.

Sing “The O says ooo, the O says ooo, every letter makes a sound, the O says ooo.”

 

Book 1: Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli

 

Activity:

Print out picture cards with opposite on them. Play memory on the floor or using the flannel board.

 

Book 2: Orange Fish, Green Fish by Linda Kranz

 

Activity: Open/Close Eyes

           I brought in a little octopus toy. I had the kids close their eyes while I hid the octopus and then open their eyes to find the octopus.

 

Book 3: Octopus Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort

 

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

 

Craft: Letter O Ostrich

Storytime: Letter H

I run Storytime at the Penguin Bookshop and thought it would be fun to share my Storytime plans. While my Storytime is open to all ages, I do gear toward the younger crowd because a lot of 1 and 2 year olds attend. A few of these ideas are my own, but the majority I borrow from my favorite Storytime websites, which include Storytime Katie, Sunflower Storytime, Dog Earned Storytime, and Library Village.

We did this Storytime the week of Halloween, so it was Halloween-focused.

Welcome Song:

            (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at Storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

Introduce Letter:

  • Show kids a flashcard of the letter H.
  • Sing “The H says hhh, the H says hhh, every letter makes a sound, the H says hhh.”

Book 1: Pete the Cat Five Little Pumpkins

Activity: Five Little Pumpkins

            (I used a flannel board version of this)

            Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate

            The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late.”

            The second one said, “There are witches in the air.”

            The third one said, “But I don’t care.”

            The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.”

            The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.”

            “Oooo-oooo” went the witch

            And out went the lights

            And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Book 2: Peppa’s Halloween Party

Activity: “If You’re a Ghost and You Know It”

            (to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know it)

            If you’re a ghost and you know it, just say BOO

            If you’re a ghost and you know it, just say BOO

            If you’re a ghost and you know it, and you really want to show it,

            If you’re a ghost and you know it, just say BOO

(If you’re a witch and you know it, just say [evil crackle], if you’re a black cat and you know it, just say hiss)

Book 3: Spooky Pookie

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

Craft: Letter H haunted house

Storytime: Letter G

Welcome Song:

            (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at Storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

Introduce Letter:

  • Show kids a flashcard of the letter G.
  • Sing “The G says ggg, the G says ggg, every letter makes a sound, the G says ggg.”

Book 1: Goodnight Gorilla

Activity: “If You’re Grateful and You Know it, Clap Your Hands!”

            If you’re grateful and you know it, clap your hands!

            If you’re grateful and you know it, clap your hands!

            If you’re grateful and you know it, then you’re face will really show it,

            If you’re grateful and you know it, clap your hands!

            (stomp your feet, shout hooray)

Book 2: Giraffes Can’t Dance

Activity: Go! Stop!

  • I made “go” and “stop” signs and gave the kids shakers. When I held up GO, they had to shake. When I held up STOP, they had to freeze.

Book 3: The Thank You Book (we talked about gratitude)

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

Craft: Letter G giraffe

Storytime: Letter F

Welcome Song:

           (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

            We clap and sing hello,

            We clap and sing hello,

            With our friends at Storytime,

            We clap and sing hello!

            (wave, stomp, march, wiggle, blink, waddle)

Alphabet Song: Use shakers while singing!

Introduce Letter:

  • Show kids a flashcard of the letter F.
  • Sing “The F says fff, the F says fff, every letter makes a sound, the F says fff.”

Book 1: Fire Engine No. 9

Activity: “Hurry, Hurry! Drive the Fire Truck!”

            Hurry, hurry, drive the fire truck

            Hurry, hurry, drive the fire truck

            Hurry, hurry, drive the fire truck

            Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

            (climb the ladder, shoot the water)

Book 2: Footloose

Activity: Fishing

  • I brought in a fishing pole (a wooden dowel and string with a magnet at the end) and laminated fish with paper clips on each of them. The kids had to catch the fish. They loved it!

Book 3: Farm Friends

Review: Show letter flashcard and say the sound again

Craft: Letter F Fireman