Category: Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2015: Introductions

Armchair BEA is for those who can’t make it to New York for BEA, but still want to participate in the all the book blogger connecting fun. I participated last year and absolutely had a ball!


  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?

I’m Katie and at the moment I’m blogging from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One reason why I can’t be at BEA this year is because I’m moving out of my place this very week! I’m getting ready to head out West for some work and to visit family and to go to ALA at the end of June! I’m originally from Northern California, and I’ve been adventuring through the world of books for as long as I can remember. I studied children’s and young adult literature in graduate school (London & Pennsylvania) and about a year after I finished my studies, with the help of a friend, I decided that blogging was the perfect way to keep sharing my thoughts about the books I was reading. That blog, which was created in June, 2012, was originally Spirit of Children’s Literature. But, this year you may know that I changed the name of BOOKISH ILLUMINATIONS because I wasn’t just blogging about middle grade fiction, but young adult and adult titles as well, and so I wanted a name that was a little more broad.

  1. Why do you loving reading and blogging?

Reading is absolutely one of my favorite things to do, for loads of reasons! First, it exposes me to worlds, people, and situations I might not have encountered in my own life, and it helps me to understand other perspectives that I might not otherwise understand. I love that about books—it can nurture our social sensitivity and help us to grow in compassion for other people. Second, I appreciate the way that books make me want to do more—travel more, try new things, meet new people. And third, I love the art of storytelling and the way that stories can communicate meaning and ideas that just aren’t the same in any other form. It’s only through reading that I can encounter a certain form of meaning that I think only stories can communicate.

So I guess it’s been almost THREE years since I started blogging, and I absolutely love it, especially because I emphasize the spirituality of the texts I read. Spirituality in children’s literature was my research focus for my grad work so you can imagine I absolutely have a ball reading and chatting about books with these aspects in mind! And of course, one BIG reason I love blogging is the friends I’ve made chatting about books and everything else.

  1. What is your favorite genre and why?

This is a toss up between historical fiction and fantasy.

I love to read historical fiction (in children’s, young adult, and adult genres) because I appreciate vicariously experience life in another historical period through a fictional story. It’s the closest thing to time travel I’ve discovered (so far).

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  1. What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading two books right now—one adult, The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson, which is a sliding doors type story—it switches between two different realities for the MC. The other book I’m reading is an e-ARC of a middle grade book, The Book Scavenger. It’s so much fun so far!

  1. What is one book everyone should read?

Wow—this is a hard question to answer, but I had to answer it. My current answer would be a middle grade book by Kate DiCamillo: The Magician’s Elephant. I think this book appeals to young readers and older readers, and I think there’s a strong theme of connection that I just love! You might cry, but it’s worth it.

I know some of my friends are at BEA in NYC, but which of you are also participating in Armchair BEA? Are any of you going to ALA?!?

What Katie Read

Favorite Middle Grade & Young Adult Titles Read This Year (so far): #ArmchairBEA, Day 5

Favorite Middle Grade & Young Adult Titles Read This Year

Questions from our Armchair BEA Hosts: Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.

Spirit of Children’s Literature is the place to go for book talk about the spirituality picturebooks, middle grade, and young adult fiction! Today’s Armchair BEA topic is perfect: Middle Grade & Young Adult Literature! (dances around room)

Here are some favorite titles read so far this year. Some of them may have been published in 2014, but a few of them were published before 2014–I just didn’t get to read them until 2014!

Middle Grade

When Audrey Met Alice

 When Audrey Met Alice final cover

Hope is a Ferris Wheel


The Ninja Librarians


A Snicker of Magic


Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy


Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures


Young Adult





The Winner’s Curse


Dorothy Must Die


No Place Like Oz (novella)


We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

What are your favorite middle grade and young adult titles read so far this year?

What Katie Read

Beyond the Borders: Books That Changed My Perspective #Armchair BEA, Day 4

It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going! 

Books that taught me about a different culture and helped me to step into the shoes of someone different than me?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

These are all in the children’s or young adult literature genre, and two are novels while one is a wordless graphic novel.

The Arrival details one man’s journey to seek out a life in a new country, in order to escape the hardship and danger of his previous home. He leaves his wife and daughter in order to make a home for the family, with the intent that his family will follow him eventually. The wordless graphic novel’s illustrations are powerful in illuminating how foreign and strange this new country is for the protagonist. Everything is different, and the pictures adequately communicate this. What is interesting is that the reader is struck by how strange and foreign the country is—we are meant to feel as discombobulated at the protagonist does. In this way, readers are firmly set into the shoes of someone who is arriving in a foreign country for the first time. Some pictorial allusions (especially in the endpapers) connect this experience to arriving at Ellis Island in the late 19th century for the first time. In this way, some readers might reflect on how immigrants felt when they first arrived in America. Tan’s book is beautiful and is wonderful for classrooms, especially middle school ones (at least, from my own experience, I can say that!). This story changed my perspective about what it means to move to a foreign country and/or become immersed in a different culture (whether that’s classroom culture, workplace culture, church culture, etc.).


House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer is a science fantasy that engages with human cloning, greed, slavery, and what it means to be human. A darker young adult novel, the story engages with significant themes that generate rich discussions about how we should treat and care for each other. Matteo (Matt), the protagonist, discovers he is less than human upon being told he is a clone. However, there is something different about Matt and the other clones. Matt has compassion, can make his own decisions, and feels emotion. In this way, he acts more human than some of the other characters in the book (but no spoilers here). This story changed my perspective about how easy it is for us to ostracize those whom we don’t understand or are different from us. The book also really made me think about what it means to be human, and the importance of seeing people for who they are, rather than for their actions.

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A hybrid text, The Devil’s Arithmetic is both historical fiction and fantasy. It’s the late 20th century, and Hannah assumes her evening will be spent with her family celebrating a Passover Seder. What she doesn’t expect, however, is to be transported back in time to Poland, during World War II. She experiences life in a concentration camp, and comes to understand what it really means to be Jewish during one of history’s worst moments. Reading this unique Holocaust story gave me a deeper glimpse into what it might have been like for Jewish Eastern Europeans during the Holocaust (although I can never fully comprehend what that was like). Yolen has crafted an excellent story that is moving and powerful. This book taught me about a different culture and it also planted me (through the protagonist) in someone else’s shoes, shoes I can never really completely understand. However, through literature, this is a little more possible.


What books have expanded your own borders or changed your perspective?

What Katie Read
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