BEA (Book Expo America): A Recap

Bookworms go to the BEA! This is a day by day recap from our June Spring at Sage Independent Project:


Today was our first day at the BEA! We can honestly say that everything surpassed our expectations. We got to meet publishers and authors from all over the country and the world as well as obtain advanced copies of books, posters, and other reader paraphernalia. We rode the subway back to our hotel with a suitcase and three tote bags each filled with free books. The highlight of the day was definitely getting to meet some of our favorite authors among them, Lemony Snicket, Veronica Roth, Maria V. Snyder, Ridley Pearson, Brandon Sanderson, and Sarah J. Maas. As avid readers it was amazing to experience a convention of thousands of other bloggers, readers, publishers, and authors who love to read, write, and share stories with each other. We can’t wait for even more tomorrow.


Day 2 of the BEA was just as packed, awesome, and enlightening as the first day. Our inventory of the day is estimated to be about 20 free books apiece (10 of them signed), 5 tote bags, 2 shirts, 20 bookmarks, and 7 pins each. We looked rather strange riding the subway back each with about seven bags filled with books and bearing incredibly aching backs and sore feet for our age. Today we met several authors including RICK RIORDAN, Kat Zhang, Paula Deen, Brandon Sanderson (again), Richelle Mead, and Obert Skye as well as glimpsed Ann Romney, Jim Carrey, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Cassandra Clare, and Giada de Laurentiis. Overall, it was a super action-packed, amazing and exhausting day and we had so much fun meeting some of the greatest people on the planet.


Yesterday was not only the final day of the BEA but it was also the only day open to the public.  Power Readers Day opened up the show floor to hundreds of avid readers that wanted to experience the expo.  Publishers lined up some of their most anticipated authors for in-booth signings and unpacked the final boxes of advanced copies and buzz books.

In the attempt to excite readers, which made Power Readers Day a nice conclusion to the convention, publishers did not hold back.  Authors like Jim Carrey (Comedian, actor, author), Sarah Dessen, Alexandra Bracken, D.J. McHale and many others made appearances and signed books.  Signed posters and lots of tote bags were handed out daily throughout the event.  The internet star, Grumpy Cat, also stopped by Sourcebooks books to promote one of the company’s new titles.

The past four days have been an experience that we will never forget.  The convention reaffirmed our love for reading and taught us more about the industry.  We look forward for the opportunity to attend in a couple of years (and not as rookies). Our overall BEA experience was a GREAT one!



Mariah’s Reflection

I have always had a love for reading, but year after year, I was plagued with the question, why?  When I was in elementary school, many of my friends did not have the same passion for reading that I did.  They read because their teachers required them to, not because they enjoyed it.  At the beginning of this year, I did not know what I wanted my group to be about, but we were required to attend workshops that would help us form our own service group.  I remember the one idea that every panelist reiterated was to find and focus on your passion.  I realized that I am passionate about reading and would love to share my passion with others.

With the assistance of Brenda, Sonya, and Kimaya, we created The Society of Bookworms, a group focused on promoting literacy and a love for reading among elementary and middle school children.  This year has allowed us to build the foundation for our senior year.  When we go to schools to speak, we have a variety of different activities planned to engage and excite the students.  We make connections between other forms of popular media- television, movies, and video games- and books.  Although we have not accomplished all of our goals, time was the only restriction, and with more of an opportunity to achieve our goals, I am confident we will complete much more.

Over the course of this year, our biggest accomplishment has been our meeting with two fourth grade classes at Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary School.  It was our first event that we were doing.  In the beginning, we were nervous, but once the kids came in, our worries were quelled.  Working with the librarian, Mrs. Rausch, we talked with the kids and helped them pick out a book during their library time.  The kids were excited and engaged, and I felt as though I was making a difference.  During every meeting with our service learning panel, we were able to focus and narrow down our goals.  The panel helped us enforce our original ideas in ways that were applicable and could be enforced.

Overall, this experience has been invaluable.  I am excited to make contacts that can assist us in the upcoming year, and I look forward to making an even greater influence on the community.

Brenda’s Reflection

As a high school student, I have been around books long enough to have developed a strong devotion to them. Books and reading have played a prominent role in who I am now and started to before I could even register the affect they were having on me. Knowing that I wanted to share that with others was the easiest part of this Service Learning Project. The workshops that I attended over the first half of the year gave me some idea of what the next year and a half would entail. It was impossible to be fully prepared to start a project about my love of reading through just workshops but they did help. Even with the workshops, the challenges of the starting a project became blatantly obvious to me when my groups and I started our to plan out our project.

Making the transition from a structured project which was planned out for me to having the freedom to articulate my own interests into a service project opened my eyes to the challenges of community service. Having to plan out and implement my own goals gave me a new sense of appreciation for my first two years of Service Learning. This was probably the largest challenge we faced as a group this year. In my group we are all extremely passionate about reading and spreading that fondness among younger generation who seem to have lost that same spark when it comes to reading. We were however unsure of the how to spread our message. Our panel was helpful in overcoming this roadblock by offering up countless possibilities for us to explore. 

Once we figured out that the best way to go about spreading the love of reading was to have direct contact with children so that we could have some first hand experience. Our visit to Jim Thorpe Fundamental was the perfect way for us to do that. After talking to two fourth grade classes, I realized just how worthwhile this project had the potential to be. Helping them choose books and giving them recommendations for what to read next was especially rewarding. That is why in the future I want our project to continue to accomplish more of this one on one interaction with the children we want to have an affect on.  

Over the next year as a senior Service Learning Project, I hope that we continue to have contact with the children we want to influence and expand on the ways we do that. The idea of attending the Orange County Children’s Book Festival has become increasingly appealing to my group. There are other book festivals later on that we can also attend and hopefully participate in.  We also have the idea of a book drive at our school so that we can then donate those books. As a group we also want to talk to more children though visiting schools or reading at a local library. Overall, I cannot wait to continue this project over the next year. 


Sonya’s Reflection

Service Learning this year has taught me a lot about the responsibilities that come with starting and executing a service project. I really enjoyed working on our project because I am a very passionate reader that wants to foster this same love in younger kids who don’t have the resources or ability to read whenever they want. I believe that reading is an incredibly valuable skill and a tool that can be used for both entertainment and education.

            I think this year was a good start to our far-reaching goals. Our visit to Jim Thorpe Elementary School was incredibly successful. After we presented our poster and talked to the fourth graders, they were much more excited about reading and sharing books with each other. Hearing our stories instilled a greater passion in them because young kids really look up to high school students. This is a useful strategy that we will definitely implement into our plan next year.  

Though our presentation at Jim Thorpe was a huge success, we weren’t able to go to any other schools because of the lack of time. We only had half a year and school visits require a lot of preparation that we didn’t have enough time for. Next year, we will be able to do a lot more because we will have a full year to expand our horizons and do more influential things like go to the LA Times Children’s book fair and hold book drives. Our goals remain the same but our outreach and focus will be much stronger next year after a summer of planning and more Service Learning dates.

Overall, the half-year we had provided a good start to build the foundations for next year. Our panel and the workshops were really helpful in giving us ideas and more resources to aid us in our project. Our goals for next year include: running a book drive, hosting a bake sale/book sale to raise money, have a booth at the LA Times Children’s book fair, attend more schools, and find more contacts, foundations, or other Service Learning groups to partner with.

Kimaya’s Reflections

            This year in Service Learning has really benefited me as a person. The opportunity to create and participate in a project of our own making has taught me several necessary skills such as leadership, teamwork, and organization. Also, this project has built my confidence, showing me that I am capable of planning events and making things happen. I feel as though our group has accomplished many of its goals, and hopefully will continue along this good path as we enter next year.

            Our service learning group is called Society of Bookworms, and we aim to cultivate a love of reading in younger generations. As of now, our target group is third through fifth grade children in the local public schools. We have reached out to several schools in the area, including Newport Coast Elementary and Jim Thorpe Fundamental in Santa Ana. We even visited Jim Thorpe one day and helped the children pick out books. Finally translating our ideas into action showed us the viability of our project, as well as providing us with a springboard for future school visits. Next year, we hope to have a booth at the Orange County Book Fair, we hope to visit more schools, and we hope to work with public libraries to host readings.

            We have faced some obstacles this year, such as coming up with the appropriate funds for our project. Next year, we hope to overcome this obstacle by holding fundraisers such as book drive bake sales, in which we sell baked goods in return for books. Also, we would like to raise some money in order to buy space at the Orange County book fair. We also initially had some trouble narrowing our goals. After a lot of collaboration with each other as well as the invaluable advice of our service learning panel, we narrowed our field to local upper elementary school students and realized that we wanted to focus on getting children interested in reading, rather than focusing on simple literacy. This decision is evident in our creation of a booklist and a three-step plan for picking the favorite book, both of which are on our blog.

            My group and I have been very fortunate to have the support of our panel and of our school as they have really helped us make our ideas into something tangible. First of all, the workshops at the beginning of the year helped me see what specifically would have to be done in order to make a project into a reality. Hearing from Karina Hamilton and the head of the Civil Rights Tour really gave me a lot of inspiration. Ms. Hamilton gave me a lot of insight into what skills I specifically need in order to succeed, and I plan to use those skills both in my Service Learning process and in future endeavors. In regards to our panel, they have been very helpful in giving us ideas. We have taken several of their suggestions, from creating a book list to reaching out Alex Uhl at Whale of a Tale. I am very thankful to both my panel and the leaders of the workshops and hope to work with them more in the next year.

This year in service learning has been truly rewarding to me. I have learned various skills in leadership, organization, and collaboration, all of which I feel will serve me well as I continue with this project and with my life in general. I feel like our group has been very productive this year and I am optimistic for what next year will bring.

Editing the First Draft

Today, we tried to focus on developing a concrete goal for the future. We decided that, in order to be effective and truly work to our best ability, we needed to get our name out there. So, our next step is to try to gain some publicity. We had heard about the OC Bookfair and we thought that would be a great opportunity to gain support and recognition.  Also, in addition to helping ourselves, getting a booth would allow us to help the huge amount of guests in finding the perfect book. We would have access to a large audience to which we could spread both our brand and our message. Therefore, we are hoping to gain entry into this fair. A booth is 295 dollars, so the next step for us is to brainstorm and carry out some fundraising.

A Great First Chapter

Today, we finally got to put our plan into action. We visited Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary School in Santa Ana, and it was quite the experience. We worked with Mrs. Rausch, the librarian, and we spoke to two fourth-grade classes, each of about 35 kids. In order to plan for our first “outing” we made a poster describing the three general steps to pick out the perfect book. To be completely honest, we were so nervous before going to this presentation. We were worried that the kids would get bored quickly, or that none of them would show any interest in reading or what we were telling them. So, you can imagine our relief when, upon being asked how many kids were interested in reading, almost every student in both classes  raised their hands. After talking to them about why books are so awesome and how to pick out the perfect book, we helped the kids find books in their library. It really excited us to see how eager these children were about reading and books. Overall, this day has definitely been a success. So here’s our process for picking out the perfect book!

  1. Consider your favorite books, movies, television shows, or video games. If you like a book by one author, then consider reading another book by the same author. If you like a movie, chances are that that movie was either based on a book or there is a book with a very similar plot line. If you like a certain television show, sometimes there are spin-off books based on that television show, especially if the television show is aimed at younger kids. Stick with genres that you know you like, and you can be sure to find a book that will satisfy your interests!
  2. Consider the cover. Sure, we all have heard the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And this is true . . . to a certain extent. But the fact is, if you really don’t like anything to do with baseball, and the book cover is a picture of a kid playing baseball, chance are you won’t like the book. 
  3. Read the summary. This one is probably the best way to figure out if the book is for you. A great way to figure out the general subject and plot of a book is to read the summary. If the summary sounds interesting, then try the book. If it doesn’t sound interesting, then the book is probably not for you. 
And remember, don’t be afraid to try something new! Take advantage of your public library. You can get tons of really cool books for free, so if you don’t like something, there’s no loss. Feel free to reference our book list, or ask your librarian for suggestions. Also, feel free to send us a quick e-mail or comment and we would love to give you a suggestion. 

Book List (For Grades 3rd to 5th)

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

At birth, Ella is cursed by a young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life seems to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s perennial bestseller about a boy’s magical journey across the sea, James and the Giant Peach, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2011. When James, a boy stuck living with his cantankerous aunts, is given magic crystals by a sympathetic wizard, he accidentally drops them at the foot of the peach tree outside his house, causing one of the fruits to grow the size of a house. Inside he finds the oversized insects who promise him deliverance from his aunts, and soon the giant peach is rolling downhill, bound for the Atlantic Ocean and beyond on a magnificent adventure that will take James and his new friends far indeed.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message all come together…in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
An affectionate pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, White reminds readers to open their eyes to the wonder and miracle found in the simplest of things.
The Lightning Thief  by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last, and only five lucky children will be allowed inside. But what they find is even wilder than any of the wild rumors they’ve heard!
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
The fabulous powers of the Red King were passed down through his descendants, after turning up quite unexpectedly, in someone who had no idea where they came from. This is what happened to Charlie Bone, and to some of the children he met behind the grim, gray walls of Bloor’s Academy.Charlie Bone has discovered an unusual gift-he can hear people in photographs talking! His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for genius’s where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead.
Matilda by Roald Dahl

A grouchy couple are parents to a very sweet girl, Matilda. Unlike her bratty brother and mean parents, Matilda becomes a very sweet and extremely intelligent girl, who is very keen to go to school and read books. After a while, her parents send her to school with the worst principal in the world, a very sweet teacher, and good friends. While trying to put up with her parents’ and principal’s cruelty, she starts to unwittingly unleash telekinetic powers, destroying a television and making a salamander fly onto the principal. With enough practice, Matilda starts to learn to control her telekinetic powers and soon using them on her principal so she can drive her away from the school.

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

When Liza’s brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.

She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.

To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers’ nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests–or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.

The Field Guide by Holly Black

Twins Jared and Simon Grace, and their older sister Mallory, move with their mother to a decaying Victorian house. There they discover a secret room, and clues which eventually lead them to an old, handwritten and illustrated book, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.

The book is filled with details about faeries, boggarts, brownies, and the like, but these are not your Disney fairies — for the most part they are neither cute nor friendly. At first only Jared is interested, but strange and destructive things are happening around the house, and though their mother blames Jared, his siblings aren’t so sure.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Dear Reader,

The book you are holding in your hands is a short-lived edition of a book that will likely make your life shorter as well. The tale of three Baudelaire children, who find themselves thrown into an unhappy situation containing a treacherous villain with an evil scheme and bad manners, becomes more and more dreadful on each page, and everyone so foolhardy as to read it will find themselves weeping and moaning by the end of the book.

This book is offered at an introductory price, but it introduces the reader to such unpleasantries as a disastrous fire, itchy clothing, a baby trapped in a cage, a plot to steal an enormous fortune, and dusty curtains.

I made a solemn promise to write down these wretched tales, but you have no such promise, and if I were you I would put down a book this terrible, no matter how reasonably priced.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

Thanks for reading,
Society of Bookworms

Turning the First Page

Today, we really honed in on our goals and hopes for this year’s service learning project. After some deliberation, we decided that we first wanted to really focus on elementary schools because the younger the kids are, the more potential there is to install a love of reading. Luckily, the first school that we called, Jim Thorpe Fundamental, was receptive to our project and we set up an appointment for next Service Learning, February 13, to talk to fourth graders. With a reading officially scheduled, it was time to get to work. We spent a while coming up with a book list with books we felt would be enjoyable for fourth graders. Then, we brainstormed ideas about what we could do for our first appointment to really get the kids interacted and involved. We are so excited for this opportunity to really kick of our Service Learning project, so hopefully it will all go well!

Our Goals

1. Who are the students participating in this project?

Sonya Mital, Mariah Wilson, Kimaya Gokhale, Brenda Orozco

2. What is your area of interest, and why?

We are passionate about reading and would like to share our passion with others.  Reading fosters creativity and knowledge and we hope to expand this ability to more kids.

3. Who are the potential partner organizations you may utilize throughout this project?

ReadOC, local public libraries, Barnes and Noble booksellers, our club (Society of Bookworms), fellow Sage Service Learning groups

4. What is the specific community need(s) that will be addressed? Why do they need to be addressed?

The dependency on technology and media is moving new generations further away from reading and towards TV and movies. Reading is becoming less and less influential among kids. We want to reverse this trend and stimulate interest in reading.  This issue needs to be addressed because reading aids students in being successful in both an academic and personal setting. It also allows students to improve their communication skills. Studies have shown that reading promotes better writing, analytical skills, and mastery of language.

5. What are possible activities/opportunities you may execute within the scope of this project beyond fundraising?

Book readings, sending books to schools, book drives, authors/speakers, informational sessions, book signings, selling books and bookmarks