Book Love: Review and Interview with Melissa Taylor

What’s better than falling asleep with a few good books? Even if her chosen titles this week push the limits of “good” in my mind (you might have spied a few sparkly princesses in the stacks), she was thrilled with the collection of Tiara Club books she scored from the library. Most of her joy came from carrying the pile around the house, periodically counting them to ensure that she still had exactly nine. I read one of them aloud, all of it, which is what finally got her down for a Saturday nap.

She’s already a book lover, interested in every title she can get her hands on, repeating back the refrains with just a few comic reversals. She rocks Pete the Cat and The Big Red Barn. She’s already coveting her brother’s books, even the ones without pictures. She’ll sit by herself, flipping through chapter books; reading, reading, reading.

Sam’s relationship with books has been rockier. We’ve always been heavy on read-alouds, and he still loves that, thankfully. The rockiness arrived last year, in kindergarten, with phonics lessons and vowel patterns and guided reading groups. He could not, would not read for twenty minutes each night. He even went on a library strike, boldly proclaiming, “The only thing I like about the library are the DVDs.” Oh my. A dagger to my heart, mainly because reading has been my preferred obsession since I was four years old.

I also assumed that my master’s degree focused on language and literacy development in young children would sort of be my golden ticket in terms of teaching my own children. Sam’s book loathing has been a wake up call, yet another reminder that raising and teaching kids has got to be a group effort. This year, I’ve been thankful for his saintly first grade teacher. Now he’s coming home quoting Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he’s beginning to check out the book shelves in the library again.

In addition to the encouragement he’s finding in his classroom, I’ve been able to implement  more interesting reading experiences for him at home, thanks in large part to the work of Melissa Taylor, a local author and founder of the comprehensive literacy blog Imagination Soup. When I found out that Melissa was looking for bloggers to assist with the launch of her newest creation, Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader, I jumped at the chance. She had me with the title, so I couldn’t wait for the chance to preview the text.

Book Love (currently released on kindle, soon to be available in print), lives up to its title. Melissa uses her own deep knowledge of literacy development, honed as a teacher, a literacy specialist, and a parent, in order to demystify the reading process. She addresses the roots of literacy and the most common challenges that kids face as they learn to read, with pertinent descriptions and examples. She avoids academic jargon, favoring clear, helpful tips that families can implement immediately.

Melissa begins the book by describing four of the main reasons that kids don’t enjoy reading. Her descriptions helped me pinpoint the areas that are most challenging for Sam. I realized that he was getting the hang of decoding words and identifying sight words, but the texts that match his reading level are very boring. The texts that he finds interesting are just beyond his grasp, so he gets frustrated and gives up. We’ve been on the lookout for compelling books that are at his reading level, and we’ve implemented many of Melissa’s innovative ideas around bringing excitement back to reading. We’re ‘breaking the rules’ and letting him read in bed with his flashlight (and he’ll be getting a headlamp for Christmas). We’ve cleared out an upstairs closet and created a secret reading hide-away. We’ve also been checking out more comics and graphic novels, as well as books based on movies.

This is a book worth owning if there’s a child in your life who is struggling with reading. Melissa includes more than a hundred tips, activities, and games that have the potential to inspire readers at any level. The work is accessible for families, but would also be useful to teachers, especially those who are new to the craft of teaching reading.

As both of my kids grow, I’ll be using many of the ideas to keep the magic in our Saturday morning library visits.  And even though the book is designed for reluctant readers, my already-enthusiastic reader is also benefitting from Melissa’s recommendations.

This is a gratitude post for the book that Melissa published, but I’m also thankful that she jumped in and answered a few “She Made It” questions, even as she was immersed in a book launch.

What do you make?

I write a blog called Imagination Soup about making learning playful, fun, and engaging. I also freelance write for websites like and magazines such as Scholastic Parent and Child

How did you begin?

When I decided not to return to the classroom, I read Strengths Finder 2.0 and it helped me focus on writing. I started taking a lot of classes and reading books on freelance writing and the craft of writing. In an entrepreneur group, someone suggested I start a blog as a way to showcase my writing ability and to promote my writing classes. The blog and my online writing eventually took off. I’m always learning and setting new goals for myself.

Why do you continue to make stuff?

I love, love, love what I do. It makes me so happy! 

What’s the best thing you’ve made lately?

I’m so proud of my new book, Book Love, it’s exciting to see this project come to fruition because I know it will help many parents and children.

How do you balance your creative life, with everything else that needs to be done?

I’m getting better at it. I really do try to be present with my kids and intentionally set time for work and time for kids. When the kids are home, I don’t work unless it’s an urgent deadline. When they’re gone, I work. But, the other stuff — house stuff – gets neglected a lot. I’d rather be writing.

What advice do you have for others, who want to complete any type of creative project?

Jump in. You’ll never be ready so don’t over think it. Just do it.

How do you know when you’re finished with a project?

Sometimes you just have to be done – usually for me it’s a deadline, and knowing that it works. But, it’s never really done – I could revise forever. 

Speed Round – The A-List

Artist: Me

Author: The Dream –almost there

Activist: Standing Strong

Aspiration: Growth and Giving

Action: Forward Movement

Advice: Therapy. It’s priceless for anyone who is creating and wants to grow.

3 thoughts on “Book Love: Review and Interview with Melissa Taylor

  1. Great post, Elise. It got me thinking of how much I take for granted my reading habit and that of so many people I know. It’s not a given but what a gift it is. I know your two kids will be avid readers, no doubt.
    Good interview with Melissa too. I’m glad to have the link to her website and blog. I intend to read more juvenile books and this will give me some areas to explore. Thanks, Melissa!

  2. Pingback: Book Love Give-Away | The Family Lab for Inquiry and Play

  3. Pingback: What do people do all year? 13 for ’12 | The Family Lab for Inquiry and Play

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s