Erika Romero

a student and teacher of children's and young adult literature

Tag: ChLit

New Year, New Reading Challenge: 40 Book Prompts to Inspire My Reading in 2018

 

Last year, I completed the Ultimate PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017 with one day to spare. I actually read about ten books during the first half of my winter break in order to reach that goal. I’m hoping not to cut it so close this year. For 2018, I’ve designed my reading challenge as part of my Christmas gift to my brother. He had challenged himself to read 12 books last year, I challenged him to do 40 with me instead, and he ended up at 30 (here’s his list from 2017). As he wanted to try again this year, I created reading prompts that have connections to each of us, along with more general prompts that can inspire us to branch out from our usual genres and topics. A few of the prompts were inspired by challenges I saw online while creating the list. So, without further ado, here’s the “Romero Sibling Reading Challenge of 2018.”

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Time to Head Over to the Theater? Movie Review #1: Disney/Pixar’s Coco

 

This week is finals week here at Illinois State University. The children’s literature folks in our program tend to get together at least once a month to catch up and relax after weeks of work and personal responsibilities. Last Friday, a few members of our group decided to head to the theater before dinner. The movie we went to watch, of course, was Coco. As ChLit readers, viewers, and scholars, it’s hardly surprising that so many of us were interested in checking out this new children’s movie that has received such great reviews from most people who have watched it (the movie has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes). I’ve broken down my review into three parts, just like with my book reviews. I do include major spoilers in this review (especially in the “viewer” section), so if you don’t want to know about any major plot points yet, I suggest coming back once you’ve watched the movie.

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PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017: An Update with Star Ratings and One Line Reviews

 

If today’s featured photo looks familiar, it’s because I used it a few months ago for my reading challenge post. I’ve decided to share an update on my progress, as there are only about two-and-a-half months left to complete the challenge. While I have updated the original post with the books I’ve read since I began, in this post, I’ll provide my star ratings of each book along with a one line review. If you need another book for your TBR list, perhaps this list will inspire you. I’ve listed the books in order of how many stars I gave each book. The last two books are still in progress, which is why I’ve put them at the end with no star ratings (yet). I’ll update this post as I continue reading more books.

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Looking for a Classic Read? Book Review #2: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

 

The majority of my recent blog posts have focused on school-related topics. As such, I thought this week was the perfect time for another book review. There’s still some pedagogical considerations in this post, but I’m hoping that this review inspires teachers and non-teachers alike to give this children’s classic a chance, if they haven’t already done so. My last review was for a very new and trendy YA novel, but today’s is all about one of my favorite children’s novels: The Phantom Tollbooth. I won’t say this book is perfect, as it isn’t (see: colonization origin-story for the secondary world). However, just because a book has its issues, doesn’t mean it’s not worth a read. This motto is definitely the case for Phantom.

So, if you’re a lover of fantasy novels, allegories, puns, or educational tales, click on the link below to…

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How to Teach the Writing of Literary Analysis? My Approach to This Challenge

 

It’s been over a month since my fall semester began. The introductory material for my ENG 170 class – background information on the always-changing and fluid concept of “childhood,” the history of children’s literature, some basic literary terminology – have all been covered, though not to the extent that I would like. Introductory courses call for so much material to be covered and sixteen weeks is never enough time to accomplish that task to the degree I would wish for my students. Nevertheless, my class has moved on to the next major section of my course design: learning how to write literary analysis. Of course, this assumes we are also working on another primary goal: learning how to analyze children’s literature in any mental, verbal, and/or written form.

As I’m about two weeks into this second unit of my course, with two more weeks ahead devoted to this specific skill, I thought I’d break down my approach to teaching the writing of literary analysis. I’d really love to hear back from any teachers and students reading this post. Teachers, how do your approaches to teaching this task differ from my own? Students, what was the most effective learning experience you’ve had in relation to learning literary analysis? I’d love to hear from all of you, but I’ll start by sharing my own process.

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“Fandom Spotlight” Introduction: My (Current) Top Five Fandoms

 

If you want to spend more time in your favorite story-worlds, all you need to do is go online and search for some fanfiction. Or, if you prefer watching rather than reading, some fanvids or fanart. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last few years, fanfiction, fanvids, and fanart are stories, videos, and images created by fans of certain works using elements of those works. So, for example, a fan of Lord of the Rings writing a version of the trilogy in which Frodo is female or a fan of Twilight writing a story about Bella and Edward in a BDSM relationship (and if you’re E.L. James, making millions by changing the characters’ names and publishing the story as an original trilogy). In the case of fanvids, there are many different types of videos including those that tell alternate stories, those that focus on a particular [relation]ship, those that compile favorite clips, and more. Finally, in fanart, fans can create new visual scenes between characters, change characters’ identity markers (like race, age, gender), or recreate iconic images from the source material using their own artistic skills and media. If you’re not familiar with basic fandom terminology, check out this link before continuing.

As part of my blog, I’d like to have the occasional “fandom spotlight” post. In these posts, I can recommend some of my favorite fanfics (I’m not much of a fanvid or fanart person), talk about trends that are happening in my favorite fandoms, and potentially interview some of my favorite fan writers. Before I experiment with these spotlights, though, I thought it important to share with you the current fandoms that I spend most of my time in. I’ve been reading fanfic for more than 15 years, so I’ve been a part of many fandoms in the past. For this post, though, I’m going to focus on my current top five fandoms and the particular elements of them that I enjoy the most. I thought this short intro would help give readers a sense of whether or not they’ll be interested in my future fandom spotlights.

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Touring “Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic” with the Author/Illustrator

 

Growing up in Miami, Florida, I’ve always had many opportunities to participate in some amazing cultural experiences. We have quite a few museums in town, for example, including the Lowe Museum that is operated by the University of Miami. This summer, this museum is exhibiting the retrospective of award-winning children’s writer and illustrator, Walter Wick. If you can’t place his name immediately, he’s the illustrator of the I Spy series and the writer/illustrator of the Can You See What I See? series and Hey, Seymour! (amongst other works). The exhibit opened on June 22 (an auspicious day, considering it’s my birthday), and will continue on until September 24, 2017. For those who will be in the area during this time, here’s the link to the museum’s website if you’d like more information.

As someone who studies and teaches children’s literature (ChLit), and who has a particular interest in visual rhetoric, having the chance to see the exhibit in person (it’s been showcased in various museums over the past decade or so) was amazing. Having the chance to tour it with Walter Wick himself, though, was even better than I imagined. While I don’t want to give too many details away (definitely go see it yourself if you have the chance), I thought I’d devote this blog post to sharing a few of my favorite pieces from the exhibit as well as a few behind-the-scenes details I learned from Walter* throughout the tour.

*Side note: How I was able to tour the exhibit with Walter is a long story that also ties into why I’m referring to him as “Walter” and not “Wick”, as is usual when talking about authors/illustrators in this context. 

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How to Read More? Take On a Reading Challenge!

 

When planning what types of posts to include in this blog, I knew that one category had to be ChYALit book reviews. Reviews are so easy to find online and can be so helpful when deciding what to read, either for fun or as a potential booklist addition for one of my classes (or both). Luckily, one of the goals I set for myself (and my brother) this year is to complete a reading challenge: the 2017 Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge. As I spend most of my free time reading fanfic rather than ChYALit, I decided I would give my challenge the theme of children’s and young adult literature. While there will be an exception or two on the list, the ones that do fall under my ChYALit theme are perfect candidates for my book review posts.

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