Five Hidden Kid Lit Treasures in Newton

Last Tuesday, for my first blogging assignment, I posted about five obvious gifts we enjoy in Newton when it comes to children's literature: our library, great bookstores, tech-savvy bloggers, publishers, authors and illustrators.

This week, I shared five hidden treasures that make life even more interesting for any children's book connoisseur in Newton.

#1 Kahani Magazine:

This award-winning magazine for children is edited by Newton's own Monika Jain and illuminates the richness and diversity that South Asian cultures bring to North America.

Completely ad-free, full of great stories, art, activities, and fun facts, Kahani is a must-have for any family, school, or library seeking to empower and educate global citizens.

Okay, full disclosure: I serve on the editorial advisory board, and it's a credential I wear with pride.

#2 The Foundation of Children's Books' events at Boston College:

The FCB hosts renowned authors like David Wiesner (TUESDAY), Brian Lies (BATS AT THE LIBRARY), and Jeff Kinney (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID) on the BC campus.

Here's what's coming next, so mark your calendars: on Thursday, Jan. 29, a panel of librarians and booksellers will discuss graphic novels in Walsh Hall. Are they comics or literature? Tune into this cutting-edge discussion right here in Newton.

You may also bid on original art by children's book author-illustrator Grace Lin, who is donating a painting a month to raise money for the FCB's efforts to bring authors to lower-income schools.

#3 Newton Schools' Creative Arts and Sciences Program:

Every performer who visits our schools is vetted by the widely respected Cheryl Nelson, the Newton Public Schools' Creative Arts Director, and a crew of parents with high standards. They preview the program and ask great questions. Does the program add value to the classroom? Will it serve the teachers in our schools? Will the children be engaged by this performer?

As an author or illustrator living in New England, it’s a dream to make it into the blue binder organized by the Newton Schools' Creative Arts and Sciences Department. Once you’re there, other school districts trust that your program will benefit their students.

#4 NESCBWI's Newton-based Critique Groups:

I've been meeting with a group of fellow middle-grade and young adult authors for 8 years at the Newton Free Library. Without their red-penned suggestions, I doubt I'd have finished several of my novels, including SECRET KEEPER.

We found each other through NESCBWI, the New England chapter of the national Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Joining this organization is a non-negotiable first step for anyone eager to write or draw for kids.

#5 Hospitable coffeeshops:

If you spot an Indian woman feverishly typing on a laptop and sipping a nonfat vanilla latte at Lincoln Street Coffee in Newton Highlands, Peet's in Newton Centre, or Pie Bakery and Café in Newton Centre, stop and say hello because it's probably me. I'd love to hear how your community celebrates children's books and their creators.