Kathy Manos Penn is a native of the “Big Apple,” who settled in the “Peach City” – Atlanta. A former English teacher now happily retired from a corporate career in communications, she writes a weekly column for the Dunwoody Crier and the Highlands Newspaper. Read her blogs and columns and purchase her books, “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday” and “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” on her website theinkpenn.com or Amazon.
Kathy Manos Penn with Lord Banjo
I discovered this program when I read Jean Gill's "Someone to Look Up To," a novel written by a Great Pyrenees dog, as is my book "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch." The difference is the dog narrator in "Someone to Look Up To" has a much more serious tale to tell than Lord Banjo does. Lord Banjo's fans know he is rarely serious.
I loved everything about this book and began to follow the author on Facebook. When I read she'd won a LitPick award for her book, I set out to learn more about the LitPick program. Here's what the LitPick team has to say:
Our Team is passionate about our Student Book Review Reading and Writing program. [Our] mission is to inspire students of all ages - preteens, teens, and young adults - to read books and to become better writers.
How do they do this? Authors provide free copies of their books, and LitPick offers them to students to read and review-for free. Students must first apply to become LitPick student reviewers, and once they're accepted, they can select free books to review. Students from third grade through college may apply. By providing free books, authors have the opportunity to get free book reviews. I took advantage of the program, and Lord Banjo was delighted to get his reviews.
Here's how the cycle flows: 1) From the list of available free books, a student selects/requests a book to read and review. 2) The student writes and submits a review online including a summary of the book and his/her opinion. 3) An adult sponsor or LitPick team member with an education background evaluates the review. As needed, the adult reviewer provides writing feedback to the student. 4) When the review is accepted and posted online, the student may choose another book to review.
Students get to keep the books and can review an unlimited number of books. I find this an amazing concept whereby authors of pre-teen, teen and young adult books get to find out what their target audiences think, and of course, the kids get free books to read. Teachers, libraries, and parents also get to find out what this age group enjoys reading.
Teachers can sign up individual students or whole classes to be reviewers. Libraries can create book clubs and do the same. LitPick even offers a LitPick Educator Interface to make it easier for teachers to "manage a student reading group or book club, watch each student's progress, evaluate and provide valuable feedback to them about their book reviews, [and] approve their reviews." All of this is available to homeschoolers too.
LitPick has a special reviewer signup offer underway now just in time for summer vacation. Any new student reviewer who signs up by June 15 and completes at least one review of an eBook by July 15, will receive a free 6-month subscription to review print books too. The e-book subscription is free, but the one-year subscription to review e-book and print books runs $15. What a fantastic way keep kids engaged in reading and writing over the summer. You can sign up now at https://litpick.com/student_book_reviews.
I highly recommend you visit their website to learn how this idea grew from a father and son fourth-grade project to a Harvard student working with college friends to turn it into what it is today https://litpick.com/about-us/story. It's a fascinating and inspirational story.
Kathy Manos Penn is a Georgia resident. Her latest book, "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch," and her collection of columns, "The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday," are available on Amazon. Contact Kathy at email@example.com.