All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Anita Silvey

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Bio

Anita Silvey grew up with stories. One of her early memories is listening to her mother read poetry aloud as Silvey washed the dishes; somehow that chore seemed to be more pleasurable than not as she soaked up all that beautiful language. Her 'desert island book' is The Secret Garden, and to this day, she keeps a first edition on the desk where she writes.

As Editor of Horn Book from 1985-1995, she read several thousand books a year, looking for those of exceptional quality that children would return to again and again. As publisher of children's books for Houghton Mifflin Company from 1995-2001, she worked with many well-known authors and illustrators, including H. A. and Margret Rey, Virginia Lee Burton, David Macaulay, Lois Lowry, Allen Say, David Wiesner, Karen Cushman, Linda Sue Park, and Chris Van Allsburg. With all her work, Silvey says that her guiding principle has been this: "only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young."

In one of Silvey's latest books, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book, more than 100 leaders from the arts, sciences, business, and politics recall a children's book that they loved and discuss its impact on their lives.

Currently a member of the Editorial Board of Cricket Magazine and the Board of Directors for the Vermont Center for the Book, Silvey also teaches courses at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library Science in Boston and at St. Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont. She lectures throughout the United States on children's books and reading.

Silvey's hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana honored her with an official award during the town’s bicentennial celebration in 1994. She is also the winner of the Women's National Book Association Book Women Award in 1987 and, in 2008, the Ludington Award of the Educational Paperback Association for her lifetime of dedication to children and books. The Association of Educational Publishers gave their Distinguished Achievement Award to Silvey's School Library Journal article, "Has the Newbery Lost Its Way."

Selected Books

from Anita Silvey


I'll Pass For Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War

Age Level: 9-12

Though they joined the Confederate or Union armies for a variety of reasons, women fought during the Civil War. What they experienced, how they hid their true identities, and the conditions faced by everyone is presented in lucid text and archival material. Thoroughly researched and well documented, this is a little known aspect of women in the Civil War.

Buy I'll Pass For Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War


Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot

Age Level: 9-12

Knox was a Boston bookseller in Colonial America who would go on to join the Continental Army and later the young country's first Secretary of War. Silvey presents the "dramatic story of his achievements [which is a…] little-known episode in the history of the American Revolution. Source notes, time line, bibliography, [and] map" are included. (Quoted from the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt site)

Buy Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot


The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators

Age Level: Adult

The update of Children's Books and Their Creators (1995) presents biographies about the creators, overviews of history, issues; and genres in the field; and includes "voices" of 30 authors and illustrators. The information is easily accessible in an alphabetical arrangement to make a range of information available from A to Z. You may also want to read editorials on a variety of topics that Anita Silvey wrote as editor of the Horn Book Magazine.

Buy The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators


Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Wallks of Life

Age Level: Adult

In her introduction, Silvey asserts that "Children's Books change lives. [This book] provides insight into how they do this." The organization suggests how books have touched people (e.g. in career later choice or developing a deeper understanding). An excerpt, a bit of background, and the cover of each book discussed are included with each essay. Contributors represent a wide range of fields from science to business to well known children's book creators. This fascinating glimpse at the power of literature is sure to inspire, intrigue, and inform.

Buy Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Wallks of Life


100 Best Books for Children: A Parent's Guide to Making the Right Choices for Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen

Age Level: Adult

Silvey's years of experience reading, evaluating, and publishing children's books combines with her passion for literature that endures over time and generations comes together in this insightful glimpses at 100 books. These are both time-tested and modern classics that have and will continue to delight children from birth to about 12 years. Intriguing stories about the books and their creators are included with each short, descriptive essay. Additional titles are suggested as is a suggestion to keep a reading journal.

Buy 100 Best Books for Children: A Parent's Guide to Making the Right Choices for Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen


500 Great Books for Teens

Age Level: Adult

Recognizing a "golden age" of young adult literature, Silvey combines her considerable experience and a love of literature to identify and write about books for young adults. Many were written specifically for that audience; others were published as adult books but of interest to younger readers. The books are organized by subject that appeal to young adults (e.g., humor, horror, historical fiction) and that represent a level of quality. Additional titles are recommended, including audio books. Additionally, books are listed by geographic location and by suggested age ranges (up to 18).

Buy 500 Great Books for Teens