Book blogger spotlight: Children’s Books Daily
Queensland-based blogger and teacher-librarian Megan Daley has a longstanding involvement with children’s and YA literature, which gives her blog a unique viewpoint. ‘I feel like I’ve been wandering around the children’s literary industry for a long time,’ says Daley. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.
Describe your blog in under 50 words.
Children’s Books Daily is my own little space on the interwebs where I connect with other parents, teachers, creators of books and readers about all things children’s and YA literature. There are reviews, author/illustrator interviews, giveaways, bookish products and tips for encouraging a love of words in young people.
What makes your blog unique?
Probably that I am a practising teacher-librarian, working in the most beautiful school around—St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School. There are lots of great book bloggers in the Australian blogosphere, but as a practising TL I probably blog from a slightly different angle to other reviewers. I’ve also been working behind the scenes in the Australian literary industry for too many years now, mostly in voluntary positions (oh the Arts industry!) such as being a former national vice president of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, a current judge for the Queensland Literary Awards, on the committee for the StoryArts Festival Ipswich and an editor for the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network (IDTLN) Book Week publication. I feel like I’ve been wandering around the children’s literary industry for a long time. I’m good friends with many creators of children’s literature (my children didn’t bat an eyelid when Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton sat down next to them for lunch in the green room of the StoryArts Festival) and I work in the library/education industry, so my blog is an eclectic and sometimes chaotic mix of some of my observations of the industry, reviews and educational insights. I’ll never be mistaken for a mummy blogger because parenting advice is not my shtick … in fact I need all the advice I can get.
When and how did you get started?
I started blogging when my family friend and ‘web dude’ extraordinaire Tom De Spiegelaere of Mango Matter set my blog up for me and presented it to me on a virtual platter, telling me to stop reviewing all over the shop and keep reviews all in one place. My brother had just passed away and my blog filled the long night-time hours when I couldn’t sleep. I owe so much to Tom, but I’m sure he rues the day he ever set me up because I still have no idea what I’m doing. Six years later, the poor guy still gets hysterical emails, texts and phone calls from me when something goes wrong. I’m sure I’m his most ridiculous client—he’s a dear thing to keep me on his books.
How do you find out about new books?
The most common way I find out about new books is through the little people in my life—my students at school. They are my eyes and ears for what is new, on-trend and what’s totally not a happening thing. I also keep up with a lot of authors, offline and online, and love to find out about their upcoming projects and any literary goss I have missed, as I’m not getting to as many conferences and events these days. Nowadays, I receive many review copies of books in the mail and PudStar (age 9) has been known to loudly wail at the letterbox, ‘Books … just BOOKS. Why don’t we EVER get other things in the mail?’ Some would say she is spoilt for choice with books, and her younger sister recently received a parcel of soft cheeses in the mail, which upset her even further. One day she hopes to find something interesting addressed to her.
What audience do you reach?
My audience is mostly Australian and from what I can tell it comprises parents, grandparents, teachers and readers of all ages. I love that some of my students from school read my blog and social media, and am ever conscious of this in how I post, as I do talk at school about being your authentic self online, and being kind and considerate in all postings. I’m not one to look at the numbers on my blog and just had to phone a friend to find out how to see my page views in Google analytics. I seem to average 10,000 page views a month and I have approximately 11,000 followers on Facebook and 8000 on Instagram—which are my favourite social media sites.
What other book blogs do you regularly follow?
What has been your most popular post?
One of my most popular blog posts ever has been my Top 20 Gift Books for Babies, which I regularly update. It always surprises me as I don’t think it’s particularly well written but it’s obviously gained traction through Pinterest where it was re-pinned relentlessly for months. More recently, I’ve had two posts that have had ridiculous views: the post where I announced that UQP has contracted me for a book (about books!) and the hardest post I have ever written, announcing the death of my husband, Daniel Daley. The support myself and the girls have received from my online tribe, publishers, authors and illustrators has been overwhelming and has reaffirmed why I love blogging—for the sense of community. I am forever indebted to author Allison Tait who quickly pulled together a beautiful team of people (affectionally called Team Megan’s Blog #TMB) who have kept my blog ticking along while I have attempted to find our new normal (still have not found it).
What’s your favourite social media platform, and what recent trends in social media have you noticed in book blogging?
My happy place on social media is Instagram, although I’m so sad about the new algorithm—why can’t just one social media space stay the same? I try to keep my social media authentic and while I do share much of my life online, I do hope that my blog readers are aware that my online self is but one facet of my life. I’m much more introverted in real life than how I think I come across online—I’m always ‘me’ online, but a more extroverted me!
What are you reading now?
I’m reading grief books galore (would it be weird to write a post on my top ten grief books?) such as Option B, The Young Widows Guide to Home Improvement, and Life is Like the Wind for the girls, along with a number of other books on grief written for children. To balance this, I’m also reading the latest ‘Treehouse’ title, the latest David Walliams and the very beautiful How To Bee, which I cannot put down. In picture books, I’m enamoured with I Want to Be in a Book, the last book written by the gorgeous Narelle Oliver.
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