Story Universe Writing Prompt for Young Writers

15793136Recently in an interview about BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! on the Mom Read It Blog I was asked  –

MRI: You’ve also written a book called ALL THROUGH MY TOWN that features animals as the main characters. Do you think these two books could take place in the same storytelling universe? Could the kids from All Through My Town come and play at the new playground built in Busy Builders, Busy Week?

And I answered –

JR: Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea! I love unexpected connections, surprises and meta moments in storytelling. So let’s play that out. ALL THROUGH MY TOWN is loosely modeled after the Chicago suburb in which I grew up—a self-contained town with its own shops, library, gardens, fire department and only thirty miles from Chicago. The Chicago and Northwestern train line—now called the Metra—whistled through multiple times each day, taking commuters to and from the Windy City. BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! takes place in an urban area where the characters transform an old empty lot. So yes, let’s have our town characters hop on their train and visit their city friends—all meeting up at that brand new playground. Bloomsbury, how ‘bout it? Readers, toss me a title! Let’s do this!

BusyBuilders_CvrHeck yes, this IS a brilliant story idea. But it would be much more fun coming from a classroom of young writers, wouldn’t it? So for all you teachers out there, consider this. Can your students write stories – and if they’re illustrated even better – somehow combining  or inspired by the characters or setting from ALL THROUGH MY TOWN with the characters or setting of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK? Then how about a Skype date so that your students can read their stories to me? I promise to offer them my “What I love most!” critiques!

Ready to set up our Skype date? Everything you need to know – including other visit ideas – is right here on my Time Out for Teachers page. 

Hope to hear from you soon!

Engaging the Picture Book Crowd

img_1912Whether it’s through quiet, cuddle time, conversation or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!

I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up.  So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories – including their own – that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.

img_1910I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.

Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.


I’m thrilled to be featured on so many fabulous teacher, librarian and mommy blogs over the next two weeks. I hope you can stop by to say “hi” and to read reviews, news and interviews.

Mon, Aug 22 Cracking the Cover
Tues, Aug 23 Literary Hoots
Wed, Aug 24 NC Teacher Stuff
Thurs, Aug 25 Mom Read It
Fri, Aug 26 Unleashing Readers
Sat, Aug 27 Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 29 Bluestocking Thinking
Tues, Aug 30 Jean Little Library
Wed, Aug 31 Geo Librarian
Thurs, Sept 1 Mrs. O Reads Books
Fri, Sept 2 Where Imagination Grows


BusyBuilders_CvrOh what a fun week it was! And as promised, today I’m excited to announce the winners from my BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Book Bash giveaways:

Sunday! Dream Day! – Kendra Minadeo wins an autographed copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!

Monday! ‘Doze it Day! – Cathy Mealey wins a picture book manuscript critique.

Tuesday! Mix Day! – Tammy Lozano wins a BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Bundle for her favorite classroom or teacher.

Wednesday! Load Day! – Cathy Ogren wins an autographed copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! for her favorite school or library.

Thursday! Fill It Day! – Sarah Azibo wins an autographed copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! and a Lego gift certificate for her favorite little builder.

Friday! Last Day! – Audrey Vernick wins a tree from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Saturday! Hey! Hey! – Jennifer Bertman wins an autographed copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!

Hooray for all of you! Winners, please e-mail me at to claim your prizes!

Don’t forget to join me at The Tattered Cover Aspen Grove for a BUSY BUILDERS Family Friday Night on August 26th! And mark your calendars for the BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Blog Tour, 8/22 – 9/1. Tour stops will be listed and linked right here!

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! including reviews, activities, curriculum extensions, autographed stickers OR to purchase your copy, step this way to my book page! 

Thanks so much for spending last week with me!

Happy Reading!


Busy Builders, Busy Week! Book Bash Day 7

BusyBuilders_CvrWelcome, friends, to Day 7, the last day, of my BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Book Bash.

In my latest book, each day of the week features a colorful cast of animal characters and a different construction activity as the digging, dumping and ‘dozing lead up to one stupendous surprise!

So, it seemed only fitting that for a days-of-the-week book I celebrate with a week-long bash including –


Saturday! Hey! Hey! Smiles? Check! Step this way!

 It’s time to cap off our celebration with smiles. Lots of them!

Here’s your chance to help build a dream playground for some lucky school or community!

KaBOOM! works to bring balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. We do this by creating great places to play, inspiring communities to promote and support play and driving the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives.” 

Today, for every blog comment, Tweet, Instagram, Facebook message or social media post with a link to my blog and the hashtag #BusyBuildersBusyWeek, I will donate $1 to KABOOM – helping build playgrounds for kids, schools and neighborhoods that need them – and YOU earn a chance to win an autographed copy of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!

Here are some tweets to get you started –

And here are some more exciting events to keep the party going!

BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Goodreads Giveaway 6/18 – 7/17

I’m giving away 5 copies of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! on Goodreads. The Giveaway runs from 6/18 – 7/17.  Here’s the link:


Please join the live celebration and bring the kids for an interactive reading, a fun photo-opp, autographing, songs, and sur-PRIZES! I’m adding new bookstores every day!

July 16, 2016  – TODAY! – 10:30 am – 11:30 AM Second Star to the Right Bookstore in Denver.

August 26, 2016 – 6:00 PM – Tattered Cover Aspen Grove

BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! Blog Tour, 8/22 – 9/1

Tour stops will be listed and linked right here!

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! including reviews, activities, curriculum extensions, autographed stickers OR to purchase your copy, step this way to my book page! 

Thanks so much for spending the week with me!

Happy Reading!



All materials © 2020 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.