Since yesterday, I've read at least 20 books. Mind you, they were all picture books that averaged less than 500 words. But, lest you think I just zipped through them (like my 9-year-old son does), let me explain: I read them for research, not merely for pleasure.
This year, for the first time, I'm taking part in Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMO), an annual online activity that challenges participants to read a daily list of five to 10 books, along with a blog post about them from an expert in the kidlit field. On the first day, I read a wide range of books defined as "bibliotherapy," a term I didn't even know existed for the type of book that can be used therapeutically to help kids deal with different experiences.
It's only day 2, but I've already discovered a few new books that I love and likely wouldn't have read otherwise. One such example is Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré.
I know that picture book biographies, especially of lesser-known figures, are hot right now...but I don't usually enjoy them. Planting Stories is different. It's lyrical, engaging and written like a fictional story with sparse, carefully-chosen text.
Beyond discovering good books, Reading for Research is about using mentor texts to "truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them." I've come to realize the value of reading many picture books in order to grow as a writer. While I've been reading a lot of picture books on my own (and tracking them in my handy-dandy spreadsheet), Reading for Research gives me a focused way of reading a curated list of books throughout March.
I'm excited to keep reading and discovering books that will help me along my path to publication. And now if you'll excuse me, I have another 30 or so books to pick up from the library!