Thursday, March 8, 2012


 LA Times Kid’s Reading Room

 It is hard enough these days to 
HOOK Kids on READING. . .
Without newspapers like the L A Times
killing off the popular


I have permission to post these comments PLUS the student's letter below.

Clarissa Ngo, Founder and Teacher of Magic Pen Kids,
sent the following to the people notified regarding the
LA Times Kids’ Reading Room

Hi everyone,
My students have been published in the Kids' Reading Room over 300 times since 2005, and written the main story nine times, so I have seen the inspiring effect being published in the L.A. Times has on children. I am very sad the Main Story is being discontinued and that only half as many poems will be published. I think if the L.A. Times wishes to lure kids to read the paper, the children should have more of a voice in the paper, not less.

            I am including a funny, touching letter from my student, Sydney, about the demise of KRR. Sydney says you can use it to save the Kids Reading Room.
           I have contacted a bunch of libraries in O.C. and L.A. about this issue.
          Clarissa Ngo - Teacher


Dear Mr. Hartenstin and Ms. Thomson:

Now that the Kids' Reading Room is mostly gone, my thoughts slump in plain wooden chairs with not a hook to hang them on. The silence slithers. Cardboard plasters my tongue as the gray overcast clouds cling to the neurons of my mind.

I am stomping bull mad about it, with a scorching scarlet thunderstorm on my tongue. How can this be? The Kids' Reading Room is practically the only place a kid can get published!

Without the Kids' Reading Room, my life is an empty ice cream cone, I think as I gaze at the quiet midnight sky. Why? Why do they think puzzles would be better than stories? My thoughts curl into balls, crawl, then limp from my brain like tired old men into the lonely Arctic where nothing lurks.

Every time I was published, it became one of those warm sweet red velvet cupcake days, when your thoughts skip over fields of golden sunflowers and the sky is as clear as a sheet of aquamarine glass.

If you bring back the Kids' Reading Room, my thoughts would whirl in weightless wonder. It will be butterfly weather in my heart.


Sydney, age 12 


 So wonderfully written for a 12 year old, and so sad
there can’t be more markets that encourage
imaginative minds like this.


                          Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques             



  1. Oh my heck... that is a tragedy. Seriously, though, that's the question - where will kids get published?

    Blogs, I guess. But it's just not the same as something in print.

    Tell Sydney that I WAS TOTALLY IMPRESSED with her imagery. Wow. Some of the most unique ways of saying things that I've heard in a long time.

  2. Joseph, thanks for the comment. Sydney's teacher has my Blog address, so I am sure she will read your comment.

    If enough people care something will be done.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  3. Excellent blog post! I'll just say that it seems sad to see the demise of such a worthy column in the L.A. Times. It made that section stand out as unique and original. The L. A. Times is being penny wise and pound foolish.

    But this is symptomatic of a larger problem.
    The printed word is disappearing in favor of digital. This would be all right if writers were properly paid for their digital efforts. Journalists and writers in general have taken hard hits and their professional ranks have been decimated in recent years.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    STACY'S SONG--YA coming of age novel
    A DEVIL IN THE PINES--picture book

    NOTE: I copied and pasted Jacqueline's e-mail comment because her browser would not let her post it here.
    Margot Finke

  4. What a shame. It seems that anything good or positive for kids eventually gets taken away. I hope the L. A. Times gives great consideration to Sydney's letter and reconsiders their decision.

  5. Margot, thank you for posting Sydney's letter.

    In addition to writing for children (including stories in the LA Times)and adults I also work part-time in an elementary school library. School libraries and school music and art programs are also being cut back, or, in some school districts, disappearing entirely. Since the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow what are we doing? The arts encourage imaginative thinking and problem solving, things we need more of, not less.

    Guy Belleranti

  6. SUSANNE, I hope you are right.

    GUY, you are absolutely right. These cuts in schools and elsewhere are very shortsighted - and harmful to the intellectual maturity of the coming generation.

    The L. A Times, particularly, should now better!!!

    Thank you both so much for your comments.

    BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques

  7. Wow! What a creative child. Such beautiful language and right to the point.

    It is sad that they're doing this. Maybe if enough people complain they'll have a change of heart. I hope so.

  8. I guess I missed the point. I thought the stories in there were written by adult writers for children? But from your letter it seems the kids were writing the stories? I thought some of the stories seem very sophisticated and do not believe that children wrote them. I was all set to get my writing group posting and e-mailing letters to the times but I think our beef was that it took away a market for writers - not for children to get a byline. So, I guess the whole thing is not as it was presented to me by people who should know better. Taking a market away from professional writers is a whole different protest than taking away a place for young school age kids to be in print.