Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SARA "Squared" Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

I'm pleased to host Sara Kocek and Sara Polsky for the Sara "Squared" Blog Tour. I've asked them to share the books that made them fall in love with reading. Please welcome as they share their bookish memories and then check out the giveaway for signed copies of their books below.

Welcome to day #3 of our debut YA blog tour, in which Sara and I discover that we have way more in common than just our names! Today’s subject: the books that turned us into readers. In talking about our favorite, most formative reading experiences, we realized a common thread—the books that we read out loud with our parents (or that they read out loud to us) played a huge role in instilling a love of reading that was instrumental in our becoming writers.

SK: My parents and I read so many books together growing up that it’s hard to pick out my favorites. But there are three children’s books in particular that I credit with planting in me the seed of a desire to become a writer.

1. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – My mom read me Harriet the Spy even though I was old enough to read it myself. And that’s a good thing—if I had read it to myself, I probably would have gobbled it up too quickly to appreciate all the gems in the writing. Reading Harriet’s sharp, quirky, and often-hilarious observations convinced me that I could be a writer too. I started keeping a notebook just like her, only instead of jotting down notes about real people, I made up stories and characters out of thin air. To this day, I still play Harriet’s game in coffee shops: I try to guess what the people behind me look like, just based on overhearing their conversation. I even used that exercise as a homework assignment in a college-level creative writing class I taught. Thanks for the idea, Harriet!

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Like Harriet M. Welsh, Jo March played a major role in my imagination growing up. I remember my feeling of abject horror and indignation when Amy threw Jo’s manuscript pages into the fire, burning all her hard work. While I had never written anything longer than a 5-page short story—5 handwritten pages, mind you—the writer in me instantly empathized with Jo. If you’re an aspiring writer who hasn’t yet read Little Women—all I can say is run, don’t walk.

3. House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne – My copy of House at Pooh Corner is frayed at the edges, inscribed by my grandfather to my mother at age 6. He read it to her when she was little; she read it to me. My favorite memory involves sitting on her lap, choking with laughter as she read in Piglet’s squeaky voice, “Help, help, a horrible Heffalump! A herrible Hoffalump!” Not only was it the first time I realized that books could make people laugh; it was also the first time I realized authors were allowed to make things up out of thin air. Like Heffalumps. I wanted that kind of power for myself!

SP: My parents and I read together, too -- I would usually have one book in progress with each of my parents at any given time. Before I went to bed, we would read a little more of the current book. There are a few I particularly remember:

1. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. I have always loved strong, independent female characters, and I’m sure Nancy Drew set me on that path. Some of the Nanc Drew volumes we read were my mom’s copies from childhood, and that taught me something else important about books: that they are a way of building connections.

2. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My dad and I read these together. The thing I loved most about these books was the description, which pulled me right into Laura’s life, the red mittens and wool dresses and wagon and fiddle. The little house, sitting forlornly in the big woods while the family rode away. I can only hope to make my own writing so vivid!

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I don’t remember which parent first read Charlotte’s Web with me, but I remember everything else about reading this book. I was always the smallest kid in the class, so I identified with Wilbur, the runt of the litter, and with Fern’s sense that killing Wilbur would be a tremendous injustice. (And for aspiring writers, I highly recommend The Annotated Charlotte’s Web, which is full of notes about White’s revision process.)

Thanks for following along on our blog tour, and thanks for reading!

For the complete tour schedule, GO HERE.

Tomorrow's Stop
Joint Q&A and Signed Books Giveaway

This Is How I Find Her
by Sara Polsky
Available: Fall 2013
Pages: 262
Physical copies available from Albert Whitman & Company
E-books available from Open Road Media

This Is How I Find Her 
by Sara Kocek
Available: Fall 2013
Pages: 320
Physical copies available from Albert Whitman & Company 
E-books available from Open Road Media


          About the Authors

Sara Kocek is the author of Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman Teen, 2013). She received her BA in English from Yale University and her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. A freelance editor and college essay coach, Sara has served as the Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas, a literary nonprofit. She is also the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, a team of freelance editors and writing coaches based in Austin, Texas.

 Sara Polsky’s debut YA novel, This is How I Find Her, will be published by Albert Whitman in fall 2013. Her fiction has appeared in Fictitious Force and Behind the Wainscot. She is represented by Suzie Townsend. Sara is a writer and editor at Curbed NY, and her articles and essays have appeared in The Christian Science MonitorThe ForwardPoets & Writers, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

Now is your chance to win!!

Signed copies of Promise Me Something and This is How I Find Her

Giveaway Details 
Enter by Rafflecopter below
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must be 16 or older to enter 
prize provided by publisher
one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter


  1. The book that made me love reading was Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I've had to buy replacement copies because my first one got loved into pieces!

    1. A lot of people have said this was their childhood favorite. Unfortunately I didn't read it as a child (and still haven't). I think I missed out on something really special.

  2. So, so many. I don't think it was a particular book, I just loved books for as long as I can remember. I used to love the Little Golden Books, my favorite picture book was probably Where the Wild Things are or Very Hungry Caterpillar. When I got a little older I read my copy of Where the Sidewalk ends until it fell apart.

    1. I had a Little GOlden Book called We Love Kindergarten - that was a favorite of mine when I was really young. That one and The Monster at the End of this Book - loved them.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. The first books that I can remember reading are the Betsy, Tacy, Tib series by Maud hart Lovelace - so I would have to say those. My mom has told me though that I was "reading" her all of our Dr. Seuss books to her - because they had been read to me so much, so they are the ones that truly probably gave me my love for reading

  4. Oh gosh, I don't even know; I used to have an obsession with animal books when I was young.


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