Shaping Youth: Freecycling Kids Books Throughout December

Dec. 4, 2010 Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Bah.

Other than maybe beach towel joke gifts (silly kilt wraps, hula skirts for our wakeboarding tribe) they didn’t get much outta me this round, as I continue to purge more than splurge. So to continue this “simplify life” theme to FREECYCLE and gift myself some joy this season, I’m passing along a bounty of kids books to you, FREE for the asking. (I’m registering at too, see links to similar sites after the jump)

Some of the FREE books are K-5, others tween and teen. ALL are either regifted, brand new unopened classics (like Black Beauty complete with horse charm tchotchke, reminding me of how much their book fairs have become more toy joy than Scholastic) or gently used book club picks long past their ‘read and discuss’ days of now defunct Zany Brainy activity-based fun (I hear ZB creators have opened a teen Five Below store, expanding en masse thereafter)

So, here’s how it works…just for gifting us with your OPINION (what you’d like to see more/less of on Shaping Youth, we’re overhauling/expanding the site for 2011) we’ll pick a daily recipient for each book and freecycle one a day through the holidays and maybe even more if supplies last!

Each week I’ll post the line up of kidlit along with the ages and stages as apropos; just leave your comment on the blog (or tweet your book pick preferences/site suggestions to @Shaping Youth) and you’re in the freecycle loop.

I’m eager to hear what media messages resonate, which platforms and topics need more coverage, what features/navigation buttons (social media tools/twitter feeds, bookmarks, live chats, :60 video convos etc) appeal, and curious about your own ‘hot buttons’ of likes/dislikes in the media mix.

What makes you nuts? (in hair-ripping, foot-stomping, how can this BE kids’ media moments)

What makes you smile? (in ‘the kids are alright’ reassurance from mobile/social digital ditties as global citizens)?

How would you like to take action? I’m big on collaboration and alignment with other orgs to amplify the positive and take action on the negative rather than ‘reinvent the wheel’ (e.g. we’re working on a “friends of Shaping Youth” section for advocacy, affiliations, gaming for good, innovation, to spotlight orgs we adore and team up in a coLAB approach to elevating the collective IQ as Doug Engelbart would say).

So, sound off and you’ll be signed up to win, it’s that easy. I’ll even cover media mail costs to keep the FREE in freecycle…(though I’d like to compare notes and hear suggestions on sustainable funding too, as this self-funding goodwill gig of mine can’t last forever)

Hot off the press, Reading is Fundamental hung on to their funding by a thread (congrats on key senate vote and social media outreach!) about to get budget whacked despite the fact that research studies continue to show reading to kids pays off!

In fact, to participate fully in society/the workplace in 2020, “citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that until now have been achieved by only a small percentage of the population” so now is NOT the time to become vidiots but instead, embrace reading on multiple platforms, imho!)

If you know of other FREE events using freecycling or even crowdsourcing to gift new perspectives let me know too and I’ll give ‘em a shoutout! (great video, btw, on ‘what IS crowdsourcing’ here)

One not to miss is Send, a very cool KIDS crowdsourcing creation bridging online and offline creativity with kids’ crafting to “create Felicity from thin air” Hopefully I’ll get time to blog it with my next week’s freecycle book offerings, as it’s a perfect example of digital storytelling and 21st innovation to engage in a mashup of tactile and tech

It’s akin to why I love sites like kids collaborative online book community Storybird so much—bridging reading, writing, and hands-on creative new media fun. Here’s Send Felicity’s write-up in Wired for the interim, join in the fun with creator Ian Chia and team NOW through year’s end!)

Meanwhile, here are the FREE books up for grabs from Shaping so far:

Dec 1: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

New/unopened shrink wrapped w/horse charm, paperback classic

Dec 2: Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan

Our book club pick, historical story of stagecoach Charlie aka Charlotte Parkhurst (he was a she!) Fem forward peek of life as a woman pre-suffragette movement

Dec 3: Abe in Arms by Pegi Deitz Shay

A poignant teen tale of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from war-torn Africa, which can uncork all kinds of heavier chats with teens. Highly recommend these media literacy resources to open up further convos far beyond ‘child soldiers’ extending to teen dating violence and various forms of adolescent stress (see ‘lesson plans’).

As our friends at describe, it’s a “suspenseful, action-filled book that will open teens’ eyes and hearts to the lives of young people exposed to violence around the world.”

Dec 4: Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell

Brand new and beloved, I bought and extra copy and know MANY readers of SY will covet, so get your suggestions in early to be in the running for this one. Especially with Disney’s ‘Tangled’ Rapunzel tale running at the holiday box office, this is the antidote, as this coloring page quips, “This time, she had some power tools, a pair of scissors, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album and a bus pass.”

Also of note, TODAY if you’re in the SF Bay Area, our friends at (transforming the world through teachable moments) are holding their annual Peace and Social Justice toy/book fair in San Jose.

I’m out of town right now, still in the Sierras, so will shop online or visit their new store in San Mateo when I get back this week–I tell ya, their site is “one stop shopping” for intelligent picks. Right up there with the commercial free CCFC holiday gift guide and (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) Now:

PLEASE don’t be shy about leaving critical comments about what you’d like to see in the Shaping Youth site overhaul…

I’m the first to tell you, I can’t find a flippin’ thing anymore in my archives and have to “Google myself” to search my own work.

“Hit me with your best shot, fire away.” Appreciatively, Amy

p.s. Enjoy the freecycling to receive free kids books, and let us know if we can lend a hand with a mention of yours. (several orgs/links below to get you started in keeping ‘stuff’ out of landfills)

Related Resources for Recycling/Freecycling:


No Impact Project

Book (drop-n-track!)

Operation Teen Book Drop

Paper Back

Books Through (prison literacy)

Altaff (connecting authors/libraries)


Related Reading on Shaping Youth

Operation Teen Book Drop on Shaping Youth

Shaping Youth: YA Books Become a New Media Experience

Shaping Youth: Ideas For World-Changing: Go Overboard!

Shaping Youth: 31 Flavorite Authors4 Teens: readergirlz Teams w/ YALSA!

Shaping Youth Interviews YALSA President for Teen Read Week

Shaping Youth: A Vision of Students Today: Digital Ethnography Video

YALSA Book Lists & Book Awards

ALA: Best Books for Young Adults



  1. Thanks SO MUCH for mentioning the “Girls Are Not Chicks” coloring book! I’d not heard of it before, and it looks like something my husband and I would love to give our five-year-old daughter.

    As far as suggestions go, I love your site and the work you do here. A lot of the stuff you post, though, fits in the “file for future reference” category for me, since it seems to address issues encountered mostly be older-than-kindergarten kids. I would love to see you offer suggestions that would work for really little kids–particularly in how to manage the onslaught of images/messages they are hit with then they get to elementary school.

  2. Thanks, Marsha, really good point, the K-5 crowd was once my MAIN radar focus (particularly when working on the Body Blitz: Media Shaping Youth film capturing kids interactions on the playground and at the lunch tables—it’s still in dev due to funding tanks low) Now, with a heavy teen scene/social media slant I guess it’s what lands in my lap a lot, so need to pay more attention to even-handed coverage of all ages/stages!

    I’d really like to get YOUR take on the K-5 sphere too, so will lob it into your court to kick it off with, what are YOU seeing among kinder/peers parents and such as positives/negatives or just ‘wow, this is changed’ uses of media? During Body Blitz my primary focus was age compression, peer pressure and coolness cache…I’m hearing a lot about relational aggression now a bit too…but also some really healthy eco/organic food trends and greening of the schools (toxins/cleaners used with wee ones etc) Might be regional focus…any reports from the trenches on your end?

    What’s your biggest + or – trend that’s surrounded your sphere? (cells phones/apps? digital storytelling? interactive picture books? is there ‘nature deficit’ or is there free play/outdoor balance? Still have recess or budget cuts?)

    As you can tell, I pick the brains of all parents I meet to let me know what’s relevant for THEM…esp being based in the SFBay area, since we’re in the ‘S. valley’ tech bubble that often isn’t normative elsewhere…

    Thanks for entering the comment pool.

    p.s. Oh! And btw, if you like the coloring book, you might also like this age apropos (K-2nd) picture book called “My Name is Not Isabella” about a little girl who shifts her persona throughout the day introducing early readers to famous women in history! Fun stuff!

  3. Posting the next week of books up for grabs:

    Dec 5: So B. It by Sarah Weeks
    Dec 6: The Middle Moffat by Eleanor Estes
    Dec 7: Dovey Coe by Frances O’Roark Dowell
    Dec 8: A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken
    Dec 9: Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater
    Dec 10: Love Among the Walnuts by Jean Ferris
    Dec 11: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
    Dec 12: Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
    Dec 13: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

    Congrats to Marsha (above) who received week one freecycle of “Girls are not chicks” coloring book…Despite the many tweeters/RTs there’s not a lot of ‘feedback/commentary’ (which is what we need, so fire away!) We’ll be posting a list for this week soon, including Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne of the Magic Tree House series…

    So start lobbing your critiques and input my way…What are the features that are most helpful? What topics concern you the most? Sound off, speak up!

    🙂 Thanks again, Amy

  4. Young adult/tween kidlit freebies continue!!

    FREE for the asking, just give us feedback on what you want to see with our site expansion (features, topics, concerns, the more critical the better!)

    Dec 14: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    Dec 15: Flush by Carl Hiaasen
    Dec 16: Ragweed by Avi
    Dec 17: Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House series)
    Dec 18: Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

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