Hello readers and welcome to Kid Lit Village blog where I interview authors and illustrators of children’s books. I’m thrilled to feature feature Canadian author, Nikki Bergstresser and LILA LOU’S LITTLE LIBRARY, illustrated by Sejung Kim, published by Cardinal Rule Press.
What is a girl to do when her house is filled to the brim with books? Build a library from a large tree stump in her front yard, of course!
Lila Lou loves to read, morning, noon and night. Books are everywhere in her house. Lila Lou has so many books, she makes forts out of them! But when her mom decides that Lila Lou has one too many books, will Lila Lou be forced to get rid of her cherished books?
Find out how Lila Lou uses her creativity and activism to save her books and inspire a community.
This book comes with a free Reader’s Guide for children. The guide is available for free download from the publisher website. Lesson plans, activities and discussion questions to allow parents, teachers and caregivers to explore the topic further and deepen comprehension.
Hello Nikki, and welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog! It is a pleasure to interview you.
Q. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
A. There hasn’t been a time in my life where I wasn’t surrounded by books. Both of my parents were teachers and love to read. Sharing a love of books was a beautiful gift they passed onto me. One of my favourite things to do when traveling, is to seek out the bookstores in the places we visit. I get really excited when finding a book I know one of my friends or family would love. I can hardly wait to share it with them. There’s also treasures to be found by seeking out books at garage sales and antique shops. So needless to say, I have a plethora of books at home. Just like Lila Lou, “there are books piled here, books piled there, books piled everywhere!” My husband and children have often commented that I have too many books. But can one REALLY have too many books? Maybe. What good are all our books just sitting on the shelves collecting dust, when they could bring joy to others as well? When there are adventures and stories just waiting to be discovered between the pages of a book. Books are meant to be shared. And that’s where Lila Lou came to be. Here was a spunky girl who loves to read and she loves her books. But when the quantity of books in her house became a problem, she took initiative and shared her love of reading with her community. Her enthusiasm and generosity was contagious. To truly share a gift from the heart with others, it connects us. And right now, we need connection in our community, with each other. If Lila Lou’s story would continue past the pages in the book, I see her creating neighbourhood and school book clubs because you can’t just read a book, you need to talk about it too!
This summer, I planned a little library in my front yard with three shelves; one for picture books, another for middle grade novels and then a third shelf for YA and adult novels. Since I love nature, the theme around the little library will have little planted pots, a fairy garden and tree stumps for stools to sit and read and hopefully next summer I’ll add a water feature. I can hardly wait to look out my window and see others enjoying the books that had once been collecting dust on my shelf.
Nikki, I love the picture you’ve painted of the little library in your front yard. It sounds lovely.
Q. Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
A. Rejection. That is a tough word. There are many different seasons in the journey as an author. But the season when the rejections first start rolling in can be a difficult one. I have a notebook where I write and keep track of submissions and rejections. Many authors keep track using a spreadsheet and I’m all about the love of technology, but there is something beneficial for me about handwriting down submissions in a notebook.
When I first started submitting, it took me a while to press “send” on my email.Nikki Bergstresser
It was sharing a piece of my heart with a complete stranger on the other side of the screen. It was scary. I was filled with doubt and nerves. Needless to say, my first rejection was read and reread through the blur of some tears. There was one time when I was quite discouraged to receive one rejection in particular for a submission that I had been quite optimistic about. I opened my notebook to record the rejection and there in the corner of the page was a printed phrase, “You can do it!”. I turned the page and there was another printed comment, “Don’t give up.” Flipping through my notebook, it had more encouraging statements such as “I believe in you.”
It turned out my then 11 year old daughter was the mystery writer throughout my notebook. In your writing journey, surround yourself with cheerleaders! Those that celebrate your victories, but also who lead the cheers when you feel like you’ve fumbled the ball or have been tackled to the ground. At times when it feels daunting, seek out those who cheer you back on your feet again and believe in you when there are seasons where it is hard to believe in yourself. Also, chocolate….lots and lots of chocolate! You’ve got this!
Ha! I have been known to rely on chocolate myself. And what a supportive daughter you have.
Q. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
A. I hope readers will be inspired by Lila Lou’s initiative, creativity and problem solving to make a difference in her community.
We all have gifts and passions that can be shared to make the world a better place.Nikki Bergstresser
Just look at the little libraries around us, many do not just have books to share with the community, I’ve seen some share food, there was one with yarn to share with knitters, packets of seeds or plants to share with gardeners, and even one for dogs with chew balls and sticks. At first, Lila Lou’s idea did not get noticed, but she did not give up. She found a way to get people’s attention and share her books. Persistence and hard work. Lila Lou knew what needed to be done, she made a plan, took action, rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
I keep discovering new little libraries. There are some new ones near the early childhood centre where I work. On my lunch time walks, I love to check them out. It is wonderful for children to have this story and Lila Lou to introduce them to the idea of the free libraries and the spirit of sharing books with your community.
Nikki, thanks for spending time with us today on Kid Lit Village. We wish you the best with your book!
Pre-orderLila Lou’s Little Library
Thanks for stopping by Kid Lit Village! I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. Please stop by for another interview and children’s book feature next week.
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