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Raising Readers - Young Reader-Writers!
February 12, 2010

My name is Steve Barancik. Welcome to Raising Readers, the official newsletter of Best Children's Books.

Our goal: to help YOU raise better readers.


1) Kids who write, read

Show me a good writer and I'll show you an experienced reader. In this issue, meet two child authors!

How a Young Reader Became a Writer

Mom Kay Trail and daughter Sara Trail tell how this 14 year old became a published author...and more.

3) Reading-Writing Project for You and/or Your Family

Getting started creating a successful website is suddenly very much less expensive! (And still quite easy.) I'll explain.

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This email was designed to be read in an email reader that reads html. If you don't have one or yours is turned off, this letter might not look great but I'm guessing you're still smart enough to make sense of what I'm saying!

1) Kids who write, read

Recently, I heard from the mothers of two young authors. Both had daughters who had published books! Both books have the word "sew" in the title!

Nothing warms my heart more than children who can write well, because I know that children who write well are readers. You can't be a good writer without doing a lot of reading. If you don't read much, it shows!

Natalie Tinti wrote Sewing a Friendship (reviewed on the site) at the age of 10. She illustrated it too!

It's a remarkable piece of work that I can't recommend highly enough. The story will likely enthrall female readers of a certain age. And the fact that a 10 year old created it will likely inspire writers of ALL ages. Kudos to Natalie's parents for recognizing that she'd created something truly special.

14 year old Sara Trail wrote Sew With Sara beginning when she was 12. This young lady was actually recruited by a publisher to write this book!

You don't have to take it from me that these young ladies are reader-writers. In the feature article below, you'll get to hear from Sara's mother herself about what a voracious reader she and her husband raised, and how. You'll also get to hear from Sara herself.

How a Young Reader Became a Writer
by Kay Trail (Mom) and Sara Trail

14 yr old author Sara Trail, author of Sew With Sara, lives in Northern California with mother Kay and father Eddie. First we'll hear from Kay:

Sara first expressed a desire to write books at a very young age, around 5 years old. Sara, an avid reader, was frustrated at the age of 4 and we remember her crying and exclaiming, “I’ll never learn how to read!!” Although Sara loved to be read to by us, she was always eager to learn how to read “by herself” and would finally learn to read all of the Dr. Seuss books without assistance by the time she was nearly 5 years old.

Sara typically reads 2 or three books a week and loves mysteries and scary Stephen King novels.

The hallway in our home on the second floor has at least 1,000 books that Sara has read over the years including at least 200 Archie Comics, her favorite even to this day! Sara has read

  • The entire Nancy Drew series
  • The Hardy Boys series
  • The Boxcar Children series
  • The Goosebumps series
  • The American Girl Doll series and

...all of the Mary Higgins Clark books that her parents allow her to read according to the content.

As parents, we routinely took Sara to Barnes and Nobles Bookstores and sat with her while she read many, many books (while we enjoyed reading time as well). As parents, we have always scouted out used book stores and purchased many books second-hand in order to save money and still provide Sara with the books she loves. Sara is well known at the local used bookstores and likes reading books even more than she does sewing.

As parents, we were and still are careful to allow only a limited amount of television watching and video game playing. Typically, Sara is not allowed to watch more than 2 hours of television per week on school nights. Sara is allowed, however, unlimited reading whether on a school night or weekend. Sara stays up many nights until the wee hours of the new morning because she hates to put down any book until she is done.

Because of Sara’s love of reading, she is able to read books written by experts in the sewing/fashion/quilting industry and teach herself many new techniques that she might never know about without professional instruction.

As a high school student, Sara has been known to sneak a book within her text book to read while the teacher is giving a lecture. Although Sara has been warned not to do this, she typically has already read ahead in her class and already understands what the teacher is lecturing on! Sara attends a Christian high school where the class work is extremely demanding and she manages to keep a 3.7 GPA.

Sara is encouraged to try and earn straight A’s by her dad and me and in this way, Sara knows that should she meet that mark, she is rewarded with a fantastic gift of her choice.

When Sara was in 1st grade through 4th grade, although she received pretty good grades, she was unmotivated and preferred to play and talk with other children during class. Once Eddie and I started rewarding Sara for every “A” on her report card, Sara’s grades became much more consistent. Now that Sara is a high school student, she enjoys competing with herself and receiving all of the positive feed-back from her instructors regarding her hard work and good attitude.

Reading isn't always fun. Sara is African-American.

Sara currently is working on a 4 week project in English reading the classic, Huckleberry Finn. Sara is disturbed and embarrassed by the use of the “N” word in this book (over 200 times) and all of the negative references made to African-Americans, and she is looking forward to writing her essay and describing her thoughts about this dark part of American History and how she feels about it living in an age where we now have an African-American President.

Many times, some of the boys in her class laugh at the use of the “N” word and although her teacher only allows that racial slur to be read aloud as “Negro,” it is still painful to read about how African Americans endured so many unjust and cruel events given that the children in the book were around Sara’s age. As her parents, we are not pleased that Sara must attend school and deal with the many emotionally charged statements made in Huckleberry Finn, however, we are convinced that the lesson learned by America regarding slavery is one that should never be forgotten or ignored.

Now let's hear Sara's story from Sara!

I have always enjoyed using my hands and making arts and crafts, beading, sculpture and particularly sewing.

At the age of 4, I begged my mom to let me help her while she sewed many quilts. Although my grandma disapproved, my mom allowed me to sit on her lap and help her feed the fabric into the sewing machine for hours at a time.

My mom told grandma that even if I were to run my fingers under the machine that she would take me to the emergency room and get them taken care of by a doctor! My mom said that as long as my heart, brain, liver and kidneys and eyes were not at risk, that she was okay with it!

By the time I was 8 years old, I was interested in taking sewing classes at the local fabric store. I asked my mom to sign me into a class when I saw a it advertised in the window, but my mom said no. My mom said that the classes were for adults and that I was probably not welcome to sit with the older ladies because I would talk too much.

I asked my dad to take me to the store and ask the owner and so my dad did! When I asked Mrs. Bernie to let me sign up for an adult class, she told me that it was really an advanced class and she asked me if I was able to sew already and I told her yes!

I took many classes from Queen B’s Fabric Store and learned many of the sewing techniques I use today. There were times that Mrs. Bernie would call my mom on her cell phone and tell her to come and get me from the class early because I was out of my seat and talking with the other ladies and “helping” them too much! As I grew older, I was better able to stay focused and stay in my seat and only talk a little bit.

My mentor, Mrs. Eleanor O’Donnell, is an older lady who volunteered to help me and my mom set up a sewing studio at my church, “Grace Temple Church of God in Christ.” At this point, I was 9 years old and getting pretty good at sewing.

Sometimes I would try and sneak and sew late at night when my mom and dad were asleep. Soon they figured out why I was so tired in the morning so my dad just shut off the circuit breakers to my sewing room and that killed that.

Mrs. Eleanor and my mom and I would spend many hours at the church teaching the other kids how to sew and it was a lot of fun!

One day, Mrs. Eleanor took me to a clearance book sale at C and T Publications in Concord, CA. There at their warehouse were lots of “how to sew” books that I love! The books were really cheap and I gathered up plenty of them to buy when I noticed a lady sitting at a table. The lady worked for C and T and Jan is her name. Jan had a sign that said, “Talk to me if you want to find out how to write a book for C and T Publications.”

I went over to Jan and I told her that I wanted to write a book teaching kids how to sew! Well, Jan asked me lots of questions and Mrs. Eleanor waited for me to finish talking with Jan and I came home with Jan’s business card and gave it to mom. I told mom to call Jan because she wanted to talk to mom about my writing a book for kids who want to learn how to sew!

My mom told me later that she did not really want to call Jan because she thought that I had bugged Jan and that Jan might not really want me to write a book but that she might have been being polite.

Well, it took my mom 2 weeks to call Jan and when she did, Jan was really excited and invited me and mom and Mrs. Eleanor down to meet with the Editor and all of the staff of the publication company. After that, all of the staff got to see the many quilts and clothes I had made. I was 12 years old at that point.

It took me almost 9 months of hard work to write the book and make all of the projects in my book, Sew with Sara. (Click to see the book on Amazon.) It was really hard work and I hated all of the deadlines and I really did not like having to sew one project over and over again so that the photographers had the project in lots of different stages of development for the photoshoot for the book.

Whew! I never knew how much work it takes to write a book, but I know now and I am working on a 2nd book and I know better how to do it and pace myself so that it doesn’t get too stressful.

Later on when I was 13 years old, C and T Publications asked me to make a DVD that included projects for beginners to sew. I had to work on the projects ahead of time and I had to sew many of the items while the cameras were rolling! At first I was nervous, but then after a while I was fine and not nervous at all.

The DVD is called, “Cool Stuff to Sew With Sara.” (Available from Sara's website, link below.) I worked 12 hours a day for 2 days straight on the weekend so that I did not have to miss school. It was a lot of fun but the lights were hot and we had to do so many takes because sometimes I would say the wrong things and need to start over! It was worth it and I get lots of good comments from people who have purchased my DVD and Book.

I love hearing from the people all over the country and even from Europe how they like making my projects! They contact me on my website and I always send them a return email so that they get to hear from me what I think about their new project. I have made so many friends from all over that love to sew like me.

I am now 14 years old and a 10th Grader and I still love to sew! Right now, I am working on my winterball gown and it is looking good!

There is a retired professor of fashion and architecture, Prof. Laverne Edwards, who goes to my church and she always helps me learn more about how to make clothes that look as beautiful as something from Macy's!

I have enrolled in The Academy of Art in San Francisco for Saturday classes. I will take those classes for 12 Saturdays and learn how to better sketch fashion designs and I am really excited about that!

I have a management team called Associated Talent Management from Los Angeles. These guys represent Christopher Lowell, the HDTV home décor guru! Now they also represent me and they are working on lots of really neat deals for me for the future! Guess what? I really want to have a television show where I can show people how to sew clothes, quilts and accessories! I hope that one day soon I can have an opportunity to do a television show! In the meantime, I am just going to keep on sewing!


Sara Trail (aka Sew Sara!)

Amazing, huh? Visit Sara (and have your kids visit) at Sew, Sara, Sew!

3) Reading-Writing Project for You and/or Your Family

Creating your own website is the ultimate reading-writing experience.

Writing, because the website is filled with information that you convey in words.

Reading, because the first step is digesting a 10 chapter booklet that instructs you how to do it, step by step.

That's how I did it. (Within the next couple weeks, Best Children's Books will add its 1000th page.) That's how YOU can do it.

I wake up every day with a new writing assignment, because every page I add to my site brings more traffic...and more traffic brings more income.

YOU can start anytime you like, but I can give you one reason to start NOW.

The Site Build It I Love SBI Valentine's Day Special ends at the stroke of midnight on February 14th. Until then, you can get a 2nd site for a third of the price.

That's two new businesses, two potential new incomes, for your family. (I myself have three sites!) Act now. Questions? You can put them to SBI directly.

Here's wishing lots of love to you and your family from us at Best Children's Books!


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