Kidsmomo is dedicated to motivating kids to read for pleasure.
When we’ve turned the last page in an amazing book, the first thing we do is go back to the beginning and start reading all over again. But the second thing we do is evangelize that book to as many people as possible. With books for adults, there are numerous sites that allow us to recommend a book to other adults. But we mostly read kids’ books and want to recommend the best ones to, well, kids. So we created Kidsmomo to share our individual book recommendations and musings directly with young readers (ages 8-13). And we’ve also included a way for kids to share their personal book recommendations and musings with each other.
We’re not trying to sell books or market particular brands. Our goal is to curate an online experience that motivates kids to read for pleasure and connect with peers around a shared enthusiasm for books. After all, that’s how kids interact with the TV shows and music that they love — and it shouldn’t be any different with books.
Of course, we’re familiar with the research that documents the decline in adolescent reading frequency and “the 4th grade slump,” and it cannot be ignored. But at the heart of that research is the finding that self-selection and variety are critical to engaging kids in reading and writing. So we’ve developed an editorial structure that conveys the breadth of good books ripe for the picking, with the aim of empowering children to feel excitement and ownership of their experience with books.
But ultimately, we’re communicating directly with kids as fellow readers — two people who just can’t shut up about how much they loooooooooooooooooooooove children’s books. And our mission is to get kids to join us in that mania: we’re the cult of Kidsmomo, and we want to indoctrinate children with a fervor for books.
Nancy Tsai and Karen Wang have over a combined decade of experience in the children’s and educational online space. Karen is currently Product Manager for the Kids Channel at Scholastic.com. Nancy currently works at Barnes & Noble.com and previously worked as a Web Producer, Special Projects for Scholastic.
Nancy and Karen were the chief architects of THE STACKS, Scholastic’s safe online community for tween readers (www.scholastic.com/kids). They also launched and managed Ink Splot 26, Scholastic’s blog for kids focused on popular books and media (http://blog.scholastic.com/ink_splot_26/); Karen served as editorial director and Nancy as platform manager. Nancy also led the redevelopment of the online registration and art submission system for the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.
(Please note that all views expressed by Nancy Tsai and Karen Wang on Kidsmomo are solely those of Nancy and Karen as individuals and should not be taken to reflect or represent the views of Scholastic and Barnes & Noble.)
Over the past 10 years, Karen and Nancy have also gained related offline experience through a variety of internships and volunteer opportunities: Nancy formerly worked for Los Angeles Family Magazine, and Karen previously worked for Parenting Magazine and Family Life Magazine. Karen also spent a summer at Tricycle Press (the children’s book imprint of Ten Speed Press), and for the last three years, she has been one of three volunteers sorting children’s books donations at the Housing Works Used Book Cafe, a nonprofit in New York City. Through New York Cares, Nancy has volunteered with youth at a local community center. In addition, both Karen and Nancy have served as judges for the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers’ annual student writing awards and the Do Something Awards, and volunteered their time at Do Something’s Social Action Boot Camp in New York.
On a Personal Note…
I’ve always been inspired by children’s books. My parents report that I wrote my first story at the age of 2. I dictated it to my mom, who dutifully played the role of stenographer, and it had something to do with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. A few years later, I devoured the Baby-Sitters Club books and penned my own version of the series about a group of girls who called themselves “the Wild Horses” (I can no longer recall what the Wild Horses actually did as a club; I have a feeling it was odd jobs, since I obviously couldn’t make them baby-sitters and apparently couldn’t figure out anything else for them to do). Now, decades later, I still can’t get enough of kids’ books — when you pull the latest Meg Cabot book out of your purse and the guy you’re dating says you have the mentality of a middle grader, then you know you’ve reached a new level of obsession. And you know what? I’m good with that.
I compulsively re-read: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstein, Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes, Buffalo Brenda by Jill Pinkwater
All-time obsessions: Harry Potter, The West Wing, Disney Channel’s Jonas, SYTYCD, sushi — actually, food of any kind
Some of my favorite memories growing up:
Reading my Little House book set until it literally fell apart. I eventually saved up $35 dollars for a new set, and that set is in about the same state as the first set now. Listening to my 2nd grade student teacher read The Secret Garden out loud, complete with a variety of British accents. This was over the course of a school year, but of course, I read ahead. Creating the “Puppy Club” in elementary school, which was essentially the Baby-Sitters Club. Minus the baby-sitting. Compulsively re-shelving my books once a month with a new organizational system — sometimes by author, by series, by style of the spine design, by publisher… I was 9.
I’d like to have in my reading circle: Frances Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Harper Lee, J.K. Rowling, Meg Cabot, and Jane Austen. (Roald Dahl’s a lucky man!)
All-time obsessions: the Internet; science fiction movies; robots; and worrying about what would have happened to me if I didn’t live in the age of the Internet, science fiction movies, and especially robots
If you have questions for Karen and Nancy as Kidsmomo founders, please feel free to contact us.