We recently discovered ReFoReMo. It’s not an easy acronym to say and harder to divine still if you do not already know what it is. But nonetheless, it’s one of those discoveries that we found not only interesting but very much worthwhile. Worthwhile for those of us interested in writing, illustrating, publishing, reading and, perhaps, curating children’s books. Both in the context of indie and traditional publishing.
ReFoReMo stands for Reading for Research Month and, according to founder Carrie Charley Brown and coordinator Kirsti Call, the ReFoReMo Challenge was founded in 2015 “to help picture book writers reform writing by reading and researching mentor texts in the month of March.” This means that in March, children’s writers and those involved in children’s publishing take on the challenge of reading lots and lots (you aim for 5 a day) of children’s books in order to learn something from them – about writing, story-telling, design and layout, interaction of text and illustrations … These are the “mentor” texts.
During the month, the ReFoReMo website hosts daily posts from contributors who share their mentor texts or their ideas on how looking and researching other children’s books can inform your own children’s book project.
Today’s ReFoReMo post at the website, for example, is from Sterling Children’s Books editor Meredith Mundy, who shares with readers the story of how she compared and studied various children’s biographical titles when she was trying to build a case for publishing a new children’s book about computer scientist Grace Hopper.
For those of us called to children’s books, the idea of “research” sounds oddly fun. But then we’ve always been the sort who have been proud to be called bookworms.