Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GUEST POST AND GIVEAWAY: BART KING

Today, we're joined by Bart King:

BART KING writes funny books for younger readers and immature adults. He’s sold over a half-million books, and Bart’s work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Australian. While his title The Big Book of Boy Stuff was once Amazon.com’s #5 overall bestseller, Bart’s greatest achievement to date has been incorporating his name into the actual title of one of his books, namely Bart’s King-Sized Book of Fun (by Bart King).

Bart has been kind enough to share how he got started writing for kids and how he approaches writing for reluctant readers:


Picture a scene that would warm your heart: a class of 7th graders reading a variety of novels, e-books, comic books, and even catalogs. But wait! As charming as this is, you notice there is a handful of kids idly flipping pages or looking out the window. They’re clearly just marking time until the Sustained Silent Reading period ends.

This tableau is a lingering memory from my 15 years of teaching middle school. During that time, I focused my attention on my reluctant readers. Some claimed to find books “too boring,” which usually just meant they needed a good book referral. Others needed to work on their reading skills, and I was happy to help with that as well.

Over time, I found that the best way to appeal to these kids was to give them short snappy pieces. That way, the students didn’t feel they had to start on page one and then plow through hundreds of pages after that . . . which is a daunting task, come to think of it!

And the goofier the material, the better my students responded—and of course, illustrations were always a plus. For example, ones about the pitfalls of various superpowers!


That’s the quick version of how I got into writing for kids. I wanted my books to be so irresistible, even a reluctant reader could open up to any page and be hooked. And while the topics of my books vary wildly (e.g. Cute! A Guide to All Things Adorable and The Big Book of Gross Stuff), they all share the same pacing. Like my best classroom lesson plans, they contain these elements:

—something to do
—something to think about
—something to laugh at

It's a recipe that seems to work. And kids don’t notice (or mind) that they’re learning about history, science, and tractor beams. That’s why there’s even a chapter on ethics in my newest title, The Big Book of Superheroes.


It’s packed with activities—everything from avoiding costume wedgies to self-defense against preschooler super-villains. It’s filled with thought-provoking questions—and a chapter devoted to getting superpowers in the first place.


Of course, there’s LOTS of silly jokes, bad puns, and high-flying hijinks. So when I saw that the School Library Journal review called The Big Book of Superheroes “a highly browsable book [that’s] an excellent addition to library and classroom collections”, I got chills.

I’M NOT KIDDING. Because I felt confident that somewhere out there, a reluctant reader was reading my book—and he or she might actually be disappointed when SSR ends.

And if that’s not a superpower, I don’t know what is!

Bart has also graciously offered two signed copies of SUPERHEROES to US / Canadian Residents.  The giveaway runs through June 11:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

6 comments:

  1. I live with not 1 but FOUR reluctant readers, all of the male variety... so yes, looking forward to this book very much! And love the do/think/laugh rule. Something for all writers to think about.

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  2. Anything that gets a child to read is wonderful. Add the fun factor and you've got a winner. Thanks for a great post.

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  3. We would love to add to our Bart King book collection for our family of voracious readers!

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  4. Great philosophy of incorporating your lesson plan ideas into your books. I look forward to seeing how this works out! As a teacher I love to make learning fun.

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  5. Thank you for the kind word—as we know, having a fun, effective lesson is as good as good as teaching gets. :)

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