Name: Myles McDonnell
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, New York
Website: You Know, for Kids
Kids: Dashiell (6) and Griffin (3)
Remember that cool kid in high school who knew everything when it came to pop culture? They had read all the great books, listened to music — only part of which you really liked, knew all the movies by heart, and were that all-around cool kid? Meet Myles McDonnell. He might be all grown up, but he's still into all things entertainment. He writes a fabulous blog to shares information about the latest and greatest in books, movies, games, and music geared to kids and parents alike. We think it's one of the coolest place on the internet for parents that you may or may not know existed.
Myles used to be the Editor of Entertainment for the now defunct Cookie magazine. He's taken that love and passion and since turned it into his own blog, You Know, for Kids. It's an amazing corner of the internet where he tells it like it is and shares reviews of all the good stuff you should know about. His blog is just over a year old, but the information in it is all fabulous and updated often. Need a birthday present? Want to have cool parent status? Just want a bedtime story that you can stomach reading 1,000 a week? Myles can help you with that. Here's a bit of what he had to share with Ohdeedoh:
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started You Know, for Kids in May 2010. It was originally an attempt to remain in denial that my great job as entertainment editor at Cookie magazine was over. (The magazine had been shut down the previous October.) I'd been lucky enough to land a new job pretty quickly, but I really missed being on top of all the new children's books and music and such—I felt I was losing track of it all quickly, and I didn't like that. So after talking to some of my former colleagues, and to some people on the PR side of those industries, to see if it would be feasible, I took the plunge.
How do you find time to be a Dad, businessman and run a successful blog at the same time?
I've never thought of myself as a "businessman"! But to stop avoiding the question: It's not easy, and I often feel like the blog suffers because of the time pressures. It's got to come last, after home and work responsibilities, and I'm never able to post as often as I'd like. I've also never been great at self-motivated deadlines, so when I agreed to cross-post at Momfilter every Friday a few months ago, that was a great help. Once I've made a promise to someone else, I have to keep it!
Where do you go in the blogosphere for inspiration?
For parenting, the aforementioned Momfilter, certainly, as well as my friend and former colleague Jenny Rosenstrach's Dinner, A Love Story. Jenny is my blogger role model — she never seems to run out of ideas and new avenues to travel — and I really, really miss her as an editor. And while her blog is nominally aimed at foodie parents, its scope is really far greater, covering just about every aspect of parenting at one point or another, frankly and often hilariously.
Among fellow children's-entertainment bloggers, first of all there's Out with the Kids — like Jenny, Jeff Bogle is the type of super-comprehensive blogger I aspire to be in my more optimistic moments, and one of the very few others covering all of kids' entertainment, rather than focusing just on books or music, say. When I'm in a more reflective mood, I turn to Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves, a great place to wallow in nostalgia, and to hatch plans to force some of it on my own kids.
And to keep in some kind of vague touch with my pre-parenting self, I turn to Alex Belth's Bronx Banter, a great mélange of writing on sports, photography, food, and all things New York City.
What do you hope your impact is on others?
I'd like to help parents find good books, music, etc., for their children, especially beyond the well-known classics. It's a big market out there, and I started to realize in those months before starting the blog how daunting it can be to navigate. There's so much great stuff, but also just a mountain of stuff period, and parents have so little time to sort through it all. So I hope that reading about the stuff my family has enjoyed helps winnow things down for others.
What do you wish you had more time for?
So many things! To post more often, for one thing; between the full time job and home responsibilities, I haven't been able to commit to more than twice a week. The crazy thing, too, is that this blog has made me wish I had time to launch more blogs and write endlessly about other subjects. So far I've managed to resist that insane notion. And it sounds corny, and I know I have it better in this regard than many, many people, but I still find myself wishing I had more downtime to spend with my wife and sons. It's never enough, really.
It's easy to grasp your sense of style from your writing and the things you share. That said, if you had to make a top 10 list when it comes to books, music and movies, what would be on it?
I presume we mean books, music, and movies for kids, right? (I mean, I'm ready to slap down The Third Man if you want, but…) I'm sure these would change if you caught me on a different day, but here goes:
1. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
2. In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak
3. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
4. The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney
5. Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog, Mini Grey
6. The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, George Saunders/Lane Smith
7. Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina
8. Who Needs Donuts?, Mark Alan Stamaty
9. John, Paul, George & Ben, Lane Smith
10. Shadow, Suzy Lee
1. "Here Comes Science", They Might Be Giants
2. "Underground Playground", Secret Agents 23 Skidoo
3. "Children's Concert at Town Hall", Pete Seeger
4. "Flying!", Recess Monkey
4. "Mind of My Own", Frances England
5. "Family Time", Ziggy Marley
6. "Original Friend", Lunch Money
7. "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions", Bruce Springsteen
8. "No!", They Might Be Giants
9. "Rocket Ship Beach", Dan Zanes & Friends
10. "The Johnny Cash Children's Album", Johnny Cash (just because it's so…wrong, somehow)
3. The Secret of Roan Inish
4. The Cat Returns
5. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
6. The Incredibles
7. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
9. The Princess Bride
10. Finding Nemo
What do you love most about being a Dad?
It's hard to put just one thing at the top, unless you go very abstract with something trite like "the wonder of it all." Watching your kids discover new things is pretty amazing, though, whether it's butterflies or Where the Wild Things Are or how to pet the family cat so she doesn't run away. And there's something very, very special about sharing your own favorite pieces of music or art or literature with your kids and watching them get the same rush you remember the first time you saw them.
Finally, what is one great piece of parenting advice someone has shared with you?
Our editor in chief at Cookie, Pilar Guzmán, is a beacon of sanity to all who work under her, but I think she was a particular source of wisdom for fellow parents of young children. I'm not sure she ever put it in exactly these terms, but all of her counsel tended to come down to: It's going to be okay. It's so easy, especially in the first years of parenthood, to panic about anything and everything—and there's so much out there encouraging panic. (Are you breast-feeding? Did you get the developmental toys? Are you sending your child to the right kind of preschool?...) And panic…well, panic never helps anything, I find. Except perhaps being chased by a tiger, but happily that comes up rarely in parenting nowadays.
Thanks Myles! Readers, find Myles' entertainment reviews at You Know, for Kids.
(Images: Myles McDonnell)
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