An amazing tween, Erik, runs a popular website called This Kid Reviews Books. He started blogging about books he had read when he was 9 and two years later, his blog is going strong and he has covered a ton of books. It's a great site to get new ideas for tween readers. Erik's parents are very involved in his blog, too. All three of them were kind enough to answer a few questions about This Kid Reviews Books blog, what it involves and what it's like being the parents of a popular blogger.
How did you get the idea to start a blog?
I got the idea for writing reviews when I was nine and my grandmom told me she was shopping for a book for me and didn’t know what to buy. A kid in the store told her to get me “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda”. He said it was a good book and that I would like it and she bought it. Well, it is a good book and I did like it. That got me to think that if my grandmom would take the advice of a kid in a store, maybe I could help other kids and grown-ups looking for books for, find books they like.
At first, I wanted to write reviews for a newspaper, but my Dad said that I should do a blog because a blog can be seen by anyone around the world and that maybe a newspaper wouldn’t hire a kid. So, I decided to start a blog. My parents helped me find a place to do it and how to set it up.
The funny thing is, is that now, I do write for a newspaper now too. I have a monthly book column in the Upper Bucks Free Press! I met the content editor at a book event I was at and she liked how I interviewed the author and asked me to write for the paper.
What has been the hardest part of writing and running the blog?
Finding the time to do everything I want to. I really love reviewing books, but I also like to respond to comments and also read other book review blogs. At first I was posting 5-6 times a week and that was too much. My parents helped me make a schedule and, especially during the school year, I usually post three times a week now (although I still have a problem of over scheduling, but I am getting better ☺ ). I also had to stop taking every book that was sent to me to review. I had to set a limit for the amount of books I say I will review. I would love to read them all, but sadly I don’t have enough time, but it also gives me the time to do other things I like and just` have time to play.
How do you and your parents work together on the blog?
Mom and Dad help me organize my schedule. They go through my comments and emails and get rid of any “junk” there. I also will ask them to read my posts to make sure they make sense. Sometimes they have to pre-read a book to make sure it is appropriate for my age (I usually don’t read YA books but sometimes they are okay). They also really support me. If I want to go to a reading festival or book signing or writing class, they try to get me there. I really appreciate how much they try to help me do the things I want to.
What's been the best part of having your own blog?
I have learned a lot about being a better writer, and how book publishing works. My greatest benefit is that I get to “meet” people from around the world and learn about how they live and what they think. I just think it is awesome that people want to know what I think about books and talk to me about books and writing.
How do you decide what books to read and review?
I look for an interesting plot. It really doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. I like to read all kinds of stories, but something has to hook me. I really like to read about characters that aren’t perfect but get better or overcome something as the book goes on. I like it when the characters are believable and seem like someone I want to be friends with or be like. I like to read books that are good for my age (not too much violence or bad language).
How has doing Tae Kwon Do made you a better reader?
I think TaeKwon-Do, and any martial art, (I also take Okinawan Karate and Jujitsu now) helps keep anyone healthy. It takes a lot of concentration and control to do a martial art. The places I study at stress more about self-control and being a good citizen than the actual fighting part of it. I do think studying martial arts helps me concentrate, so I guess it does help reading.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a ton of “favorite” authors, Rick Riordan, Jude Watson, Roland Smith, Gordon Korman, Nick Bruel, Tom Angleberger, Jules Verne, Michelle Isenhoff, Alexandre Dumas, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Cornelia Funke… (I could go on and on). My favorite series is Redwall by Brian Jacques. I love the characters and descriptions in Mr. Jacques books. My favorite book is the first book in the series - “Redwall.”
What advice do you have for kids who doesn't like to read?
You may just not like what you have been trying to read. It doesn’t have to be a book. Magazines have great articles or short stories. If you like a sport maybe try books on that. Try a comic book or a graphic novel. Many really popular books are also graphic novels. You can read Harry Potter or Percy Jackson as a graphic novel and still get the same great story!
I also asked Erik's parent, Ginny and Eli, about what they find to be the best and most challenging parts of parenting a blogger
Overall we think the blogging experience has been great for Erik. He’s a pretty precocious kid and at an early age we started to look for things to keep him engaged and excited about learning. When he wanted to write reviews we thought it was a super idea. Neither of us knew anything about blogging so it was learning experience for us. We never thought he’d still be doing it 2 years later. He’s met wonderful people through his blog. Some of them have become mentors for him. He’s blossomed into a terrific writer and he really enjoys it.
Because he interacts with the people who visit his blog and also takes email requests for reviews, we monitor his blog and emails. We are very careful about internet safety. Also, because of his age, his social media accounts are registered in our names and we monitor them. It’s pretty time consuming, but we are committed to making this the best experience for him possible.
Erik also tends to be a kid who wants to do everything. We’ve had to put limits on what he accepts to do and he’s pretty good about it. He needs time to be a kid.