Book Tips

When it comes to Book, we've been there, done that, now serving 249 tips in 24 categories ranging from Audiobooks and E-Books to True Crime.

Where can I find children's books read aloud online?

Engaging Stories Read Online by Actors

Storyline Online at is a fun website where actors read children's stories aloud via online video streaming. There are 25 books for young children, read in their entirety by actors and other celebrities.

You’ll find books as diverse as “The Polar Express,” read by Lou Diamond Phillips, to “Brave Irene,” read by Al Gore, to “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House” read by Tia and Tamara Mowry. Each book comes with related activities and an activity guide for parent and teacher use.

The website visuals are bright and fun, and the video shows the readers sitting comfortably, turning the pages to show the illustrations. The audio portion is also an excellent resource for the visually impaired.

Storyline Online is a children’s literacy outreach project of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation ( Since 1993, SAG Foundation has been committed to championing children’s literacy. Through a link, visitors can purchase the books directly from the Foundation, as well as sign up for periodic newsletters.

What online resources are available for children's books?

A Library for the World's Children

Imagine reaching for your computer and finding a world of children’s books right at your fingertips! The International Children's Digital Library ( is a free online resource with over 4,600 multicultural children's books available online.

The website’s format has vibrant colors and graphics and is extremely user-friendly. Visitors can browse through featured books, or use the search feature to search the library by age group, book length, author, illustrator, language. To search by country, just click on a continent on a graphic of the Earth to see regional lists of works.

All book genres are represented, including fairy and folk tales, animal stories, science and nature, adventure tales, mysteries, fantasy and science fiction. In addition to fiction, there are plenty of other literature forms such as non-fiction, poems, short stories and plays.

The International Children’s Digital Library is an invaluable resource for children, parents and librarians. Teachers can incorporate web content into their school lessons, and there is a complete teacher training manual available.

Books are available in more than 60 languages, ranging from Afrikaans and Amharic to Vietnamese and Yiddish. Other features of this digital library include fun activities such as a website scavenger hunt. Visitors can explore special exhibits such as Celebrating Differences and Seasons of Change.

The International Children’s Digital Library Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Manchester, Massachusetts. Its mission is to support the world's children in becoming effective members of the global community - who exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas -- by making the best in children's literature available online free of charge.

What is a good science fiction book for children?

Timeless Science Fiction in "A Wrinkle in Time"

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Madeleine L'Engle's classic science fiction work for children, "A Wrinkle in Time." This Newbury award-winning book is the first of a series of five works known as the "Time Quintet."

In "A Wrinkle in Time," Meg Murry, an awkward, extremely bright 13-year old, embarks on a mission to rescue her father, a government worker who is being held prisoner on another planet by the evil presence IT. She is accompanied by her genius brother Charles Wallace, who is only five years old, and Calvin, a new friend and high school basketball star.

The children travel through many planets and dimensions, aided by three magical and colorful presences: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. A time wrinkle, otherwise known as a tesseract, is a mathematical phenomenon similar to a wormhole. This action-filled story is full of interesting characters and lots of suspense, and exposes children to real science in an intriguing atmosphere.

Interspersed throughout the children's adventures are themes of the triumph of good over evil, and the power of love and family. Meg is one of the few female heroines of children's science fiction written at that time.

L'Engle's novels are suitable for ages 11-16.

What has John Irving written?

John Irving

Author John Irving was born in 1942 and has become one of America's premier novelists in the years since his first publication.

Although "The World According to Garp" seemed to launch him onto the literary scene, it was actually Irving's fourth book. His first novel, "Setting Free the Bears," was published in 1968 when Irving was 26 years old. The critical and commercial success of "Garp," however, is what made him a household name. The 1978 book, later made into a motion picture starring Robin Williams, was among three novels considered for the Pulitzer's 1979 Award in Fiction.

As of 2012, Irving has published 13 novels, several of which were made into films. One of those, "The Cider House Rules," earned Irving an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Other films from his novels include "The Hotel New Hampshire" and "Simon Birch," an adaptation of his bestselling "A Prayer for Owen Meany." He chronicled his experiences with the film industry in the non-fiction "My Movie Business."

Irving is known to use themes repetitively in his novels, including New England settings, fatal accidents, missing parents and wrestling -- a sport he played and sometimes coaches at the high school level.

Who is Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Pynchon: Read V. First

Thomas Pynchon is one of the most celebrated American writers living today. His career has spanned over fifty years, and his novels have received numerous awards, including the National Book Award. His most famous book, Gravity’s Rainbow, was included in TIME’s “All-Time 100 Greatest Novels” (though it should be noted this list was limited to English-language novels published between 1923-2005).

The problem with Pynchon, however, is that he may be one of the most difficult writers to fully understand. Books like Gravity’s Rainbow and Against the Day are massive tomes that clearly required years of research and plot structuring to even envision, let alone write, and they can often prove difficult for readers who are unfamiliar with Pynchon. His penchant for tangents and bizarre jokes may leave some readers feeling lost and frustrated. Consequently, the many readers often abandon the endeavor of reading one of these huge and masterfully written books because they do not feel it to be rewarding.

The novel V., on the other hand, is accessible enough for any avid reader, and is focused enough to not intimidate. Published in 1963, V. was Pynchon’s first book. It was awarded the William Faulkner Foundation’s award for best debut novel, and was very warmly received by critics. Like Pynchon’s larger books, its plot is not linear, but there is a general overarching theme that readers will understand, though they will often find it difficult to explain. After finishing V., one will be able to follow Pynchon’s style, and will be likely to persevere through the more difficult material that comprises such masterpieces as Gravity’s Rainbow and Against the Day.

How do I write a book review?

How to Write a Book Review

When it comes to writing book reviews, there are a few standard elements that always need to be in place. Knowing and having a basic understanding of these elements is the best way to get your book review off to a good start. The first element that is necessary and that should open your review is a short summary of the plot. This can include any ideas or lessons you learned, any main characters, any plot twists that won’t ruin the story, and any other plot elements that may help the reader understand what you are talking about. You can also include a brief biography of the author to help establish credibility and expertise. Next you need to have a basic argument, was the book good or bad, did it meet the goals that were set by the author, did the book make sense, and so on. After you have determined your argument, you need at least three pieces of supporting data to back up your claim. Say for instance you read a book and you said that the main character was too scared and that it hindered the reading of the story, finding three instances in which the main character was scared or unable to do something because of fear would be a great way to support your central argument. Having ample information to help support your argument is very nearly the only way that you can convince your readers that your interpretation is correct or at least well supported. The last thing that you need is a conclusion that wraps up your argument and brings the reader back to the central focus which should always be the book that you are reviewing. This conclusion will tie up your argument, bring readers back to the book, and offer a bit of food for thought for readers to take away from your review.

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Sheri Ann Richerson