Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet a Book Blogger: Becoming Sarah

For the first Meet a Book Blogger post of 2011, let me introduce you to Sarah Christensen. Her blog, Becoming Sarah, features beautiful photographs, slice-of-life posts about parenthood, and reviews of children's books (including Chicken, Pig, Cow!). Here she is with her adorable daughter Charlotte:

1. When did you start book blogging, and what was your motivation?
My blog was always intended to keep family and friends up-to-date about our growing family. I began blogging about books a year ago when I discovered that many of the fellow mothers I had come to know as a first-time mom did not read to their infants or young children. Most of them said they couldn’t find books they enjoyed or that they didn’t know how to read to their children. My daughter, who was named after E.B. White’s famous spider, was five or six months old at the time and I had read to her every day of her life.  Reading has been an activity I have loved since the day my father sat me down and told me it was high time I learned; I cannot imagine my childhood without the magic of books. It occurred to me then that if I could encourage just one family to read more frequently with their children or try out new books they had not heard of... it would be worth all the trouble.

2. How often do you post?
I try to post regular blog updates several times a week, but I only post about books and reading four to six times a month.

3. Which kinds of books do you like to review?
Thus far, I have only reviewed children’s books. Since most of my readers have kids near my daughter’s age, I stick to books aimed towards young children. In 2011, I will also be discussing books related to food, crafts, parenting, and the like on different sections of my website.

4. Where do you get the books you review?
Because I host a regular story-time playgroup in my home, I always approach the publishers for review copies first. The children in the story-time range in age from infants to eight-year-olds. We read the review copies that publishers send so that I can get a good idea of how different ages respond to each book. If I cannot get a book from the publisher, then I approach authors or explore used book sales, garage sales, and book shops. In a pinch, I will go to the library. I love the library, but I try to steer clear of library books for review purposes because there are so many books floating around the playgroup that some are bound to get lost.

5. Where do you find out about new books?
I ask for suggestions from fellow parents and children’s librarians. Parents always know which books their children love best and which books do not drive them insane. Children’s librarians always know which books appeal to a variety of ages and which fit specific family preferences or needs. They also have access to hundreds of books, so they know which ones are duds.

6. Do you read other book blogs? If so, which are your favorites?
YES! I can’t pick a favorite, though. I read several publisher blogs, a few author blogs, and many MANY individual blogs. I usually tend towards food and children’s book blogs.

7. What’s one of your favorite books? How about the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
One of my favorite books is Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. The way to my heart is clearly through humor writing. The best book I’ve read in the past six months was probably Richard Louv’s The Last Child in the Woods. It isn’t the best-written book or the most entertaining book, but it completely revolutionized the way I think about children and their interaction with their environment. Sometimes the best book is the one that makes me reconsider my choices and perspectives.

8. What’s the most enjoyable part of book blogging? What’s the worst part? Do you blog about other topics too?
The most enjoyable part of book blogging is the feedback, hands-down. I love hearing from people who have just discovered the joy of reading with their children and I love picking up reader suggestions at the library. The worst part of book blogging is remembering to write the post! The rest of my blog is personal topics – parenting, gardening, marriage, home ownership, friendship, learning, and the like. Mostly parenting. And mostly tongue-in-cheek.

9. Do you have an ereader? If so, do you like it? If not, do you want one someday?
No, I do not have an e-reader and no, I do not want one. Part of the magic of reading is curling up on the couch, smelling the pages, bending the binding, hearing the rustle of paper. My husband and I try to make environmentally-friendly choices so I am certain that one day we will consider e-readers, but in the meantime I still love books.

10. What do you do when you’re not reading?
As a full-time mother, I spend a lot of time on the go with my daughter. We spend quite a bit of time hiking, taking nature walks, creating art on the kitchen floor (and the walls), gardening, visiting the library, having play-dates with friends, taking the train to visit her father for lunch, visiting places like the zoo, chasing the dog around the yard, and similar activities. Outside of motherhood and reading, I love the outdoors (my first date with my husband was rock-climbing) and I love the kitchen. My husband and I are both big fans of cooking, baking, and having family over for dinner. We do it as often as possible.

Thanks, Sarah! We look forward to many more adorable pictures of Charlotte enjoying books!

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