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Author Showcase

MEET THE BOOKLIGHTS TEAM: Gina Montefusco, Jen Robinson, Susan Kusel, Pam Coughlan, and Ann Neely

It took just about a year for everything to come together for Booklights, a collaborative project sponsored by PBS Parents. The team is as dynamic as it is passionate about sharing easy-to-use tips and ideas for connecting kids with books.

Gina Montefusco, who works on the PBS KIDS Raising Readers initiative, is the pivot person for the team. Before coming to PBS, she worked for Reading Is Fundamental, where she produced reading games, activity calendars, and author and illustrator interviews. She participates in several book clubs and writers' groups and also helped teach creative writing to high school students through the Young Writer's Workshop at the University of Virginia. As she explains, "I have never outgrown my childhood love of books."

Gina is joined by three powerhouse bloggers who are well-respected, go-to sources for all things related to children's literature.

Jen Robinson has been blogging at Jen Robinson's Book Page since 2005 ... and she's loved children's books for as long as she can remember. Her passion for reading and paying forward a love of reading knows no bounds. In fact, she is the Literacy Evangelist for the Cybils (Childrens and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards). Mention the words reading, kids, and helping parents in a sentence and watch Jen's face light up!

Susan Kusel credits her mother for sparking a lifelong love with books. Now a mom herself, she reads with her son and is thrilled to see how much he enjoys books. "I have the two best jobs in the world: children's librarian and mom." Susan's blog Wizards Wireless (est. June 2007) is her virtual spot for sharing a love of children's books, comics, and Harry Potter. In her "spare time," Susan also runs the DC Kidlit Book Club, a group of librarians, authors, bloggers and parents who meet monthly to talk about children's literature.

Pam Coughlan is MotherReader. She is mom, children's librarian assistant without portfolio, and the creator (with the help of her husband) of Kidlitosphere Central. Pam is currently organizing the annual Kidlitosphere Conference (Arlington, VA 15 to 17 October). Once again, Pam will be sharing her tips and ideas for building your blog. She should know: her first post got 13 comments. Unheard of!

Ann Neely, the newest member of the team, joined Booklights in June 2009. Ann teaches introductory and advanced seminars in children's literature professor at Vanderbilt University. Her expertise complements the bloggers' efforts and she writes a monthly feature that pulls together the themes from their posts and offers additional ways to build on those ideas to raise readers.

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