Thursday, December 10, 2009

Connecting Storytelling to the Classroom: Books to Tell 2009

Tonight I am speaking at USD about using literature in your classroom. It's a storytelling class so I will talk about connecting stories with reading, writing and curriculum. You can look through the blog and see what I did last time, but this time, I will show them a family story I made on Spaghoake Night. Using Photo Story and pictures I took of my family, I created a story in just a few minutes. Here is the video I made.


video


Here are the books that I suggested that they use:

Picture Books to Tell
14 cows for America -- Deedy, Carmen Agra. {IL K-3, 327.676207} -- Peachtree, 2009., RL 3.7, 38p
Presents an illustrated tale of a gift of fourteen cows given by the Maasai people of Kenya to the U.S. as a gesture of comfort and friendship in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Auntie Tiger -- Yep, Laurence. {IL K-3, -E-} – HarperCollins Publishers, 2009., RL 2.7, 32p
A retelling of the classic fairy tale, "Little Red Riding Hood," in which Big Sister sets aside her differences with Little Sister to rescue her from a tiger in disguise.

The boy who invented TV : the story of Philo Farnsworth -- Krull, Kathleen. {IL K-3, 621.388} -- Alfred A. Knopf, 2009., RL 5.5, 34p
Presents a picture-book biography of Philo Farnsworth, who created the world's first television image in 1928.

Chicken and Cat clean up -- Varon, Sara. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Scholastic Press, 2009., 36p
A wordless story in which Chicken opens his own housekeeping business with Cat as his partner; but when Cat's clumsiness forces chicken to send him out, Cat listens to his inner-species and ends up saving the day.

Chicken Little -- Emberley, Rebecca. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Roaring Brook Press, 2009., RL 2.8, 32p An illustrated retelling of the story in which Chicken Little becomes convinced the sky is falling after being hit on the head by an acorn.

Crow call -- Lowry, Lois. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Scholastic Press, 2009., RL 3.5, 32p
Nine-year-old Liz accompanies the stranger who is her father, just returned from the war, when he goes hunting for crows in Pennsylvania farmland.

Epossumondas plays possum -- Salley, Coleen. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Harcourt Children's Books, 2009., RL 2.2, 34p
Forgetting his mother's warnings, Epossumondas goes into the swamp alone then must pretend to be dead time and again as he hears frightening sounds and fears they are being made by the dreaded loup garou.

Foo, the flying frog of Washtub Pond -- Yang, Belle. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2009., RL 2.9, 24p
When Foo Frog starts to outgrow his fellow web-footed creatures, Sue-Lin Salamander and Mao-Mao Mudpuppy, his new found attitude puts their friendship to the test.

Food for thought : the stories behind the things we eat -- Robbins, Ken. {IL 3-6, 641.3} -- Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, 2009., RL 5.3, 45p
Photographs and text explain how commonly consumed foods were introduced to the human palate, and provides brief histories on apples, oranges, corn, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, pomegranates, grapes, and mushrooms.

Goldilocks -- Sanderson, Ruth. {IL K-3, 398.22} -- Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 2.3, 32p
After finding the bears' cottage in the woods and making a mess inside, Goldilocks helps the family clean up and enjoys a nice meal.

Goldilocks and the three bears -- Spirin, Gennadii. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009., RL 1.5, 32p
A simplified retelling of the adventures of a little girl walking in the woods who finds the house of the three bears and helps herself to their belongings. Includes a note on the history of the tale.

Hansel and Gretel -- Isadora, Rachel. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Putnam's, 2009., RL 2.9, 32p
An illustrated retelling of Grimm's fairy tale that depicts two children who are left in the woods by their parents, but manage to find their way home after escaping from a wicked witch and her delicious cottage.

Homework -- Yorinks, Arthur. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Walker, 2009., RL 2.8, 32p
Tony's pens, along with his pencil and eraser, come to life and begin to squabble as they try to complete Tony's neglected homework.

How many donkeys? : an Arabic counting tale -- MacDonald, Margaret Read. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Albert Whitman, 2009., RL 1.5, 32p
When Jouha counts the ten donkeys carrying his dates to market, he repeatedly forgets to count the one he is riding on, causing him great consternation. Includes numbers written out in Arabic and in English transliteration, as well as the numerals one through ten, and a note on the origins and other versions of the story.

The king who barked : real animals who ruled -- Jones, Charlotte Foltz. {IL 3-6, 636} -- Holiday House, 2009., RL 6.7, 40p
Relates the stories of fifteen animals from throughout history who were appointed to or ran for government positions.

The lion & the mouse -- Pinkney, Jerry. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Little, Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2009., 34p
In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when he rescues the King of the Jungle.

Lousy rotten stinkin' grapes -- Palatini, Margie. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 1.9, 31p
Retells the fable of a frustrated fox that, after many tries to reach a high bunch of grapes, decides they must be sour anyway.

The mitten -- Aylesworth, Jim. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Scholastic Press, 2009., RL 2.9, 32p
A retelling of the traditional tale of how a boy's lost mitten becomes a refuge from the cold for an increasing number of animals.

New Year at the pier : a Rosh Hashanah story -- Wayland, April Halprin. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 2.7, 32p
On Rosh Hashanah, Izzy and his family make lists of the wrongs they have committed over the past year, and after they have apologized, they throw pieces of bread into the water to "clean their hearts" in a ceremony called tashlich.

One fine trade -- Miller, Bobbi. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Holiday House, 2009., RL 2.3, 32p
Georgy Piney Woods, the best peddler who ever lived, makes several trades so his daughter can buy a wedding dress.

Otis -- Long, Loren. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Philomel Books, 2009., RL 3.4, 40p
When a big new yellow tractor arrives, Otis the friendly little tractor is cast away behind the barn, but when trouble occurs Otis is the only one who can help.

Pig-Boy : a trickster tale from Hawai'i -- McDermott, Gerald. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009., RL 1.8, 32p
Pig-Boy, a dirty, hairy trickster, uses his shape-shifting talents to get out of all sorts of troublesome situations.

Pigling : a Cinderella story : a Korean tale -- Jolley, Dan. {IL 5-8, 398.2} -- Graphic Universe, 2009., RL 3.3, 48p
A Korean adaptation of the Cinderella story told in graphic novel format, featuring Pigling, a young girl whose stepmother and stepsister treat her badly.

Rapunzel : the graphic novel -- Peters, Stephanie True. {IL 5-8, 398.2} -- Stone Arch Books, 2009., RL 2.5, 33p
A graphic novel adaptation of the classic fairy tale of "Rapunzel."

The snow day -- Sakai, Komako. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009., RL 1.7, 32p
A little rabbit enjoys having a day off from kindergarten and spending time with his mother during a snowstorm, but his father's flight home is cancelled until the snow stops falling.

Sparrow girl -- Pennypacker, Sara. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009., RL 3.5
Ming-Li vows to save as many sparrows as she can after her village tries to kill them all.

Tsunami! -- Kajikawa, Kimiko. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Philomel Books, 2009., RL 2.9, 32p
A wealthy man in a Japanese village, who everyone calls Ojiisan, which means grandfather, sets fire to his rice fields to warn the innocent people of an approaching tsunami.

The twelve dancing princesses -- Cech, John. {IL K-3, 398.22} -- Sterling, 20
09., RL 5.7, 22p
Every day twelve princesses mysteriously wear out their shoes, but neither the king nor their suitors can figure out why, until one simple soldier tries.

The underground gators -- Casey, Tina. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Dutton Children's Books, 2009., RL 3.3, 32p
Humorous illustrations and text describe what is really living in the New York City sewer system.

When I wore my sailor suit -- Shulevitz, Uri. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009., RL 1.7, 32p
A young child spends the day imagining himself to be a sailor on a grand adventure.

Word builder -- Paul, Ann Whitford. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 1.6, 31p
Text explains how putting letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters ends up creating a book.

You never heard of Sandy Koufax?! -- Winter, Jonah. {IL K-3, 796.357} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009., RL 3.7, 32p
Offers a brief overview of the life of Sandy Koufax, discussing the obstacles and physical challenges he faced, his successful career, his retirement, and other related topics.

Yours truly, Louisa -- Puttock, Simon. {IL K-3, -E-} – HarperCollins Publishers, 2009., RL 3.2, 32p
Louisa the pig, unhappy with conditions on the farm, starts an anonymous letter writing campaign to get Farmer Joe to fix things up, but when she goes too far she gets a letter of her own.

Yummy : eight favorite fairy tales -- Cousins, Lucy. {IL K-3, 398.21} -- Candlewick Press, 2009., RL 2.1, 121p
Simple text and bold illustrations tell eight classic fairy tales, including "The Three Little Pigs" and "Little Red Riding Hood."


Longer Works to Share
Also known as Harper -- Leal, Ann Haywood. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Henry Holt, 2009., RL 4, 246p
Writing poetry helps fifth-grader Harper Lee Morgan cope with her father's absence, being evicted, and having to skip school to care for her brother while their mother works, and things look even brighter after she befriends a mute girl and a kindly disabled woman.

Born to write : the remarkable lives of six famous authors -- Cotter, Charis. {IL 5-8, 809} -- Annick Press, 2008., RL 5.7, 167p
Looks at the childhoods of six celebrated authors, including Madeleine L'Engle, E. B. White, L. M. Montgomery, Philip Pullman, Christopher Paul Curtis, and C. S. Lewis, and discusses how their youthful experiences influenced their writing.

Dying to meet you -- Klise, Kate. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Harcourt, 2009., RL 4.4, 147p
In this story told mostly through letters, children's book author, I. B. Grumply, gets more than he bargained for when he rents a quiet place to write for the summer.

The giant-slayer -- Lawrence, Iain. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Delacorte Press, 2009., RL 5.4, 292p
When her eight-year-old neighbor is stricken with polio in 1955, eleven-year-old Laurie discovers that there is power in her imagination as she weaves a story during her visits with him and other patients confined to iron lung machines.

Over my dead body -- Klise, Kate. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009., RL 5.1, 116p
A story told mostly through letters in which busybody Dick Tater tries to ban Halloween and ghost stories, as well as to break up the popular writing team of I. B. Grumply, ghost Olive C. Spence, and eleven-year-old illustrator Seymour Hope.

Serendipity Market -- Blubaugh, Penny. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Laura Geringer Books/HarperTeen, 2009., 268p
When the world begins to seem unbalanced, Mama Inez calls ten storytellers to the Serendipity Market and, through the power of their magical tales, the balance of the world is corrected once again.

Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew : stories and essays from a writing life -- Morpurgo, Michael. {IL 5-8, 828} -- Candlewick Press, 2009, 2006., RL 5.7, 263p
Collects various stories by English author Michael Morpurgo, including "The Giant's Necklace," "My One and Only Great Escape," and "Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew," with essays in which the author discusses his inspiration for each and details of his craft.

The storm in the barn -- Phelan, Matt. {IL 5-8, 741.5} -- Candlewick, 2009., RL 3.3, 201p
Eleven-year-old Jack Clark struggles with everyday obstacles while his family and community contend with the challenges brought on by the Dust Bowl in 1937 Kansas.

Walking backward -- Austen, Catherine. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Orca Book Publishers, 2009., RL 4.5, 167p
After twelve-year-old Josh's mother dies in a car crash he is prescribed to start writing in a journal, but he reaches a better understanding about loss when he chooses death as his research topic for school and begins to research and experiments with the mourning practices of various religions.

Professional Title
Literacy development in the storytelling classroom -- {IL PF, 372.67} -- Libraries Unlimited, 2009., 342p
Presents plans and activities for enchancing literacy development, with articles that focus on curriculum storytelling techniques and experiences in preschool, kindergarten, primary and elementary grades, middle school, and beyond.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's New in Children's Books 2009?

This week I am at CLSA Annual Conference in Ontario, CA. (That's California, not Canada!) In the morning I will speak about my favorite books (so far) of 2009. The list was over way 100 titles, but I narrowed it down to the one hour I have to speak. Is your favorite missing? Post a comment. And don't despair. The year isn't over; stay tuned for my final favorites to be posted in January. And the (current) winners are...

14 cows for America -- Deedy, Carmen Agra. {IL K-3, 327.676207} -- Peachtree, 2009., RL 2.5, 38p
Presents an illustrated tale of a gift of fourteen cows given by the Maasai people of Kenya to the U.S. as a gesture of comfort and friendship in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Al Capone shines my shoes -- Choldenko, Gennifer. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 4.6, 274p
Moose Flanagan, who lives on Alcatraz along with his family and the families of the other prison guards, is frightened when he discovers that noted gangster Al Capone, a prisoner there, wants a favor in return for the help that he secretly gave Moose.

All the broken pieces : a novel in verse -- Burg, Ann E. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Scholastic Press, 2009., RL 5.6, 218p
Two years after being airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975, Matt Pin is haunted by the terrible secret he left behind and, now, in a loving adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events forces him to confront his past.

Anything but typical -- Baskin, Nora Raleigh. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 5.3, 195p
Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world.

Ashley Bryan : words to my life's song -- Bryan, Ashley. {IL 3-6, 818} -- Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 6.5, 58p
An illustrated biography in which African-American author Ashley Bryan describes his life.

Birds -- Henkes, Kevin. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Greenwillow Books, 2009., RL 2.1, 32p
Fascinated by the colors, shapes, sounds, and movements of the many different birds she sees through her window, a little girl is happy to discover that she and they have something in common.

Burn my heart -- Naidoo, Beverley. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Amistad, 2009, c2007., RL 5.1, 209p
While the Mau Mau rebellion threatens the British settlers living in Kenya during the 1950s, Mathew and Mugo maintain their friendship, despite their different races, but during these tense times, a single act of betrayal could alter everything.

Button up! : wrinkled rhymes -- Schertle, Alice. {IL K-3, 811} -- Harcourt Children's Books, 2009., RL 2.1, 33p
A collection of poems about clothes and animals wearing them.

Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith -- Heiligman, Deborah. {IL YA, 576.8} -- Holt, 2009., 268p
A biography of English naturalist Charles Darwin that provides an account of the personality behind evolutionary theory and the affect of his work on his personal life, such as his relationship with his religious wife.

Chicken Little -- Emberley, Rebecca. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Roaring Brook Press, 2009., RL 2.8, 32p An illustrated retelling of the story in which Chicken Little becomes convinced the sky is falling after being hit on the head by an acorn.

Claudette Colvin : twice toward justice -- Hoose, Phillip M. {IL YA, 323} -- Melanie Kroupa Books, 2009., RL 7, 133p
Presents an account of fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, an African-American girl who refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks, and covers her role in a crucial civil rights case. National Book Award Winner

Coretta Scott -- Shange, Ntozake. {IL K-3, 323} -- Amistad/Katherine Tegen Books, 2009., RL 4.4, 32p
An illustrated biography of Coretta Scott King, describing her childhood in the segregated South, her marriage to Martin Luther King, Jr., and her civil rights work.

Dinothesaurus : prehistoric poems and paintings -- Florian, Douglas. {IL K-3, 811} -- Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 3.9, 43p
Presents illustrated verse about various carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs, including the Iguanodon, Spinosaurus, and long-necked plesiosaurs.

Duck! Rabbit! -- Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Chronicle Books, 2009., RL 1.4, 34p
Two unseen characters argue about whether the creature they are looking at is a rabbit or a duck.

The evolution of Calpurnia Tate -- Kelly, Jacqueline. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Henry Holt, 2009., RL 7.5, 340p
In central Texas in 1899, eleven-year-old Callie Vee Tate is instructed to be a lady by her mother, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.

Fire -- Cashore, Kristin. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Dial Books, 2009., 461p
In a kingdom called the Dells, Fire is the last human-shaped monster, with unimaginable beauty and the ability to control the minds of those around her, but even with these gifts she cannot escape the strife that overcomes her world.

A foot in the mouth : poems to speak, sing, and shout -- {IL 3-6, 811} -- Candlewick Press, 2009., RL 4, 61p
Collects over three dozen illustrated rhyming poems, with tongue twisters and bilingual pieces, drawn from contemporary and classic literary sources and anonymous authors.

The forest of hands and teeth -- Ryan, Carrie {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Delacorte Press, 2009.
Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

The frog scientist -- Turner, Pamela S. {IL 5-8, 597.8} -- Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009., RL 6.9, 58p
Discusses the work of Tyrone Hayes and his efforts to study and protect frogs, and follows Hayes into the field with his students to perform experiments with various types of frogs.

Heroes of the valley -- Stroud, Jonathan. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009., RL 6.4, 483p
Halli Sveinsson, a mischievous young man who does not fit in with his peers and siblings, plays a trick on Ragnor that goes too far, forcing him to embark on a hero's quest in which he will face highway robbers, monsters, an intriguing girl, and truths about his family and the legends he grew up with.

Hurry up and slow down -- Marlow, Layn. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Holiday House, 2009, c2008., RL 2.7, 24p
Hare likes to hurry through the day, unlike Tortoise, but manages to slow down for his favorite bedtime story.

If I stay : a novel -- Forman, Gayle. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Dutton Books, 2009., 201p
While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weights whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

The lion & the mouse -- Pinkney, Jerry. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Little, Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2009., 34p
In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when he rescues the King of the Jungle.

The magician's elephant -- DiCamillo, Kate. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Candlewick Press, 2009., RL 5.8, 201p
When ten-year-old orphan Peter Augustus Duchene encounters a fortune teller in the marketplace one day who tells him that his sister, who is presumed dead, is in fact alive, he embarks on a remarkable series of adventures in an attempt to find her.

Marcelo in the real world -- Stork, Francisco X. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009., 312p
Marcelo Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of a corporate law firm.

The negro speaks of rivers -- Hughes, Langston. {IL K-3, 811} -- Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, 2009., RL 3.2, 32p
Watercolor illustrations by E.B. Lewis accompany Langston Hughes' classic poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

Read it, don't eat it! -- Schoenherr, Ian. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Greenwillow Books, 2009., RL 1.8, 32p
Rhyming text and illustrations of animals reading offer advice on how to take care of a library book.

Red sings from treetops : a year in colors -- Sidman, Joyce. {IL K-3, 535.6} -- Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009., RL 2.4, 32p
Illustrations and simple text combine the senses of sight, sound, smell, and taste to describe the colors of the seasons.

Redwoods -- Chin, Jason. {IL K-3, 585} -- Flash Point, 2009., RL 4.8, 36p
While reading a book about redwood trees on the subway, a young boy travels as he learns, all the way to the forests of California.

A savage thunder : Antietam and the bloody road to freedom -- Murphy, Jim.{IL 5-8, 973.7} -- Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009., RL 6.7, 103p
Discusses the bloody battle of Antietam, in which General George B. McClellan faced off against General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in Maryland in September of 1862.

A season of gifts -- Peck, Richard. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 4.9, 164p
Relates the surprising gifts bestowed on twelve-year-old Bob Barnhart and his family, who have recently moved to a small Illinois town in 1958, by their larger-than-life neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel.

The snow day -- Sakai, Komako. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009., RL 1.7, 32p
A little rabbit enjoys having a day off from kindergarten and spending time with his mother during a snowstorm, but his father's flight home is cancelled until the snow stops falling.

Sparrow girl -- Pennypacker, Sara. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009., RL 2.1
Ming-Li vows to save as many sparrows as she can after her village tries to destroy them.

Stitches : a memoir-- -- Small, David. {IL AD, 818} -- W.W. Norton, 2009., 329p
A graphic novel that chronicles the life of American author and illustrator David Small, detailing his sickly childhood and teenage years, relationship with his parents, his cancer, and more.

The storm in the barn -- Phelan, Matt. {IL 5-8, 741.5} -- Candlewick, 2009., RL 3.3, 201p
Eleven-year-old Jack Clark struggles with everyday obstacles while his family and community contend with the challenges brought on by the Dust Bowl in 1937 Kansas.

Tales from outer suburbia -- Tan, Shaun. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009, 2008., 92p
Contains fifteen illustrated short stories, some humorous and some haunting, set in the Australian suburbs.

Thunder-boomer! -- Crum, Shutta. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Clarion Books, 2009., RL 2.1, 32p
A farm family scurries for shelter from a violent thunderstorm that brings welcome relief from the heat and also an unexpected surprise.

Tsunami! -- Kajikawa, Kimiko. {IL K-3, 398.2} -- Philomel Books, 2009., RL 2.9, 32p
A wealthy man in a Japanese village, who everyone calls Ojiisan, which means grandfather, sets fire to his rice fields to warn the innocent people of an approaching tsunami.

When you reach me -- Stead, Rebecca. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Wendy Lamb Books, 2009., RL 5.6, 199p
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Where the mountain meets the moon -- Lin, Grace. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Little, Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2009., RL 5.7, 278p
Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.

A whiff of pine, a hint of skunk : a forest of poems -- Ruddell, Deborah. {IL K-3, 811} -- Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009., RL 4.8, 33p
An illustrated collection of whimsical poems about life in the forest through the seasons.

Wintergirls -- Anderson, Laurie Halse. {IL YA, -Fic-} -- Viking, 2009., 278p
Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

Written in bone : buried lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland -- Walker, Sally M. {IL 5-8, 614} -- Carolrhoda Books, 2009., RL 8.3, 144p
Reports on the work of forensic scientists who are excavating grave sites in James Fort, in Jamestown, Virginia, to understand who lived in the Chesapeake Bay area in the 1600s and 1700s; and uncovers the lives of a teenage boy, a ship's captain, a colonial officer, an African slave girl, and others.

The year the swallows came early -- Fitzmaurice, Kathryn. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Bowen Press, 2009., RL 5.9, 277p
After her father is sent to jail, eleven-year-old Groovy Robinson must decide if she can forgive the failings of someone she loves.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It Is What It Is

One of the most overused expressions these days is “It is what it is.” But after reading the new book, Thunder-Boomer! by Shutta Crum, that’s exactly what I thought. The story of a thunderstorm in the Midwest is full of onomatopoeia. A perfect book to teach “it is what it is.” Full of description, a family rushes to safety during a surprise storm. Sounds from the storm are highlighted in the beautiful watercolor illustrations. From the ping pang of the hail to the bawk squawk of Maizey the chicken, the storm comes to life as we see a family hunker down (might as well use another overused phrase) for the brief shower. Even if you don’t live where storms like these are familiar, the perfect pairing of story and illustration will take you there.

And speaking of chickens, I read another book this morning, Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson, illustrated with photographs by Ben Fink. Almost “I Spy” in feeling, this story of a hen that lays her egg wherever she wants is a charming story that uses days of the week and a search and find technique to show where eggs come from. Surprise! It’s not the Winn-Dixie. Where will Tillie lay her next egg? Read it and find out.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Those Darn Squirrels

Most people have something that they love more than anything else. Maybe it’s anything pink or it’s shoes. Maybe it is the fall or maybe it is the beach. Old Man Fookwire loves birds. He loves to paint birds too. He hates everything else- puppies, pie. How can you hate pie? I love pie!! Birds were the only thing he liked. So he built beautiful birdfeeders for his beloved birds and filled them with delicious seeds and berries. The birds loved them. So did the squirrels.

Old Man Fookwire was not happy. He shook his fist and yelled,”Those darn squirrels.” Something must be done. He builds higher feeders, but those squirrels are clever. In one of the cutest books I have seen this year, Adam Rubin has created a wonderful story to read over and over. Check out Those Darn Squirrels. You will laugh out loud. Who doesn’t need a good laugh?


If you haven't read Melanie Watt's series about Scaredy Squirrel. He, too, will make you laugh out loud.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Read It, Don't Eat It!

Looking for a just right book to share with the Littles at Storytime or during the first week of school? I just finished a wonderful new story by Ian Schoenherr, Read It, Don’t Eat It!

Simply told in rhyming couplets, adorable animals tell the “book care rules.” On the title page, a bear gently holds and looks at a book. On page one he holds the book close to his chest, closes his eyes and smells. Turn the page. “Read it, don’t eat it!” it says. Bear has the book in the corner of his mouth.

The story goes on to show the reader how to care for a book. Charming illustrations and easy rhyming couplets make this book a winner and a classic in the making. Read it to your class or with your grandchildren. As my mother would say, “ a good time will be had by all.”

Look for other ideas about library orientation to follow in future blogs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where in the World is Deborah 2009?

It’s that time of year again. Show season! Every year I pull myself off the road and do something for myself. (A lesson we could all learn.) Surprise for you newbies: I do theater. This year I took a back seat and stayed on the production crew side of Bye Bye Birdie. I was Costume Mistress for a cast of 45. Begging from the cast, borrowing from Junior Theatre and stealing from my own stash, we put on an almost sold out run of 10 shows which closed on Sunday night. Vanguard has been doing shows at Westminster for more than 40 years, drawing families together and building new friendships within the community.

In the last few years, I have taken the opportunity to encourage storytelling and reading with the Littles, Middles, and Young at Hearts during the run of the show. I lug in a suitcase of mostly picture books and do booktalks, read stories and tell original stories to the cast before the director gives notes and the musical director does warm ups. The Littles and Middles can read the books in between scenes. We talk about their favorites. It’s a nice gathering time that eases nerves and gives me an audience to test out my favorites.

This morning I read a book, Celestine Drama Queen by Penny Ives, that I wished I had read before closing night. I hope that they will read about it here instead. (And then of course, rush out to the library to read the entire book.)

Celestine is a Drama Queen. Complete with tiara, Celestine prepares for her big part in the school play. Never lacking in ego (she is a princess after all!), she learns that even stars have much to learn.

As the costume mistress in this year’s show, I learned several lessons myself. You don’t have to be on the stage to be part of the family. It takes a team of people to pull off a big production. There are no small parts. If everyone does his part, we all win. One of our cast members tore his Achilles tendon during the run. Down to one leg, he could no longer pitch in like he had with set moving. This theater family that I love so much, just jumped right in and delegated. He, on the other hand, still came to the show and stood when he could. Many parts and helpful hands created a show that brought joy to hundreds of people- even if we did have to sing “We Love You Conrad” 4,723 times.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Reading 2009

This summer I created a list of some of the best books of 2008. I looked at other consultant best lists, award winners, all time favorite writers and series, and of course, my own favorites. Whether you are a teacher, librarian or parent, share these wonderful books with your kids. The more the merrier. (Note- This list is K-3, 3-6 and 5-8. I am working on a 6-12 list that I will post next week.)

Interest Level- K-3 (Actually of interest to most people)

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek : a Tall, Thin Tale (introducing his forgotten frontier friend) -- Hopkinson, Deborah. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 3.4, 36p
In Knob Creek, Kentucky, in 1816, seven-year-old Abe Lincoln falls into a creek and is rescued by his best friend, Austin Gollaher.

The Apple-Pip Princess -- Ray, Jane. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008, RL 4.5, 32p
In a land that has stood barren, parched by drought and ravaged by frosts since the Queen's death, the King sets his three daughters the task of making the kingdom bloom again, and discovers that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Are You Ready to Play Outside? -- Willems, Mo. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.3, 57p
Elephant, who is cautious and pessimistic, and Piggie, who is optimistic and sometimes reckless, go outside to play in the sun and hope that it does not rain. (Read the series- Elephant and Piggie!)

Bats at the Library -- Lies, Brian. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
Bored with another normal, inky evening, bats discover an open library window and fly in to enjoy the photocopier, water fountain, and especially the books and stories found there. (You may want to read the first book, Bats at the Beach.)

Before John was a Jazz Giant : a Song of John Coltrane -- Weatherford, Carole Boston. {IL K-3, 788.7} -- Henry Holt, 2008., RL 3.8, 26p
A biography of John Coltrane that focuses on his childhood and adolescent years and discusses his inspirations, influences, family, the development of his musical talent, and more.

Beware of the Frog -- Bee, William. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 2.2, 42p
Sweet old Mrs. Collywobbles lives on the edge of a big, dark, scary wood, but has a pet frog to protect her from greedy goblins, smelly trolls, and hungry ogres.

Big Plans -- Shea, Bob. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.4, 42p
An unrepentant little boy, sent to the corner for bad behavior, thinks about his very big plans for the future.

The Blacker the Berry : Poems -- Thomas, Joyce Carol. {IL K-3, 811} -- Joanna Cotler Books, 2008., RL 2.9, 32p
A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.

Chicken said, "Cluck!" -- Grant, Judyann. {IL K-3, -E-} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL .8, 32p
Chicken wants to help Earl and Pearl plant their pumpkins, but she only manages to get in the way, until grasshoppers invade the pumpkin patch and Chicken is the only one who can stop them.

A Couple of Boys have the Best Week Ever -- Frazee, Marla. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Harcourt, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
Friends James and Eamon enjoy a wonderful week at the home of Eamon's grandparents during summer vacation.

Fly High, Fly Guy! -- Arnold, Tedd. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Scholastic, 2008., RL 1.2, 30p
When Buzz, his parents, and his pet fly go on a road trip and get lost, Fly Guy comes to the rescue to help them find their way home. (Read the series, too!)

Goose and Duck -- George, Jean Craighead. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Laura Geringer Books, 2008., RL 1.7, 48p
A young boy becomes the "mother" to a goose, who becomes "mother" to a duck, as they learn about the rhythms of nature together.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt! : Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems -- Stevens, Janet. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Harcourt, 2008., RL 2.3, 50p
Dogs across the United States write to Mr. Mutt, a people expert, for help with their humans.

The House in the Night -- Swanson, Susan Marie. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 1.7, 40p
Illustrations and easy-to-read text explore the light that makes a house in the night a home filled with light.

How I Learned Geography -- Shulevitz, Uri. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author's childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II.

Just Grace Walks the Dog -- Harper, Charise Mericle. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 3.6, 163p
Eight-year-old Just Grace and her best friend Mimi embark on a campaign to convince Grace's parents that they are responsible and dependable enough to get a dog. (Read the rest of the series, Just Grace.)

LaRue for Mayor : Letters from the Campaign Trail -- Teague, Mark. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Blue Sky Press, 2008., RL 3, 32p
Mrs. LaRue's dog, Ike, decides to run for mayor of Snort City after realizing the front-runner, Chief Bugwort, wants to enforce leash, curfew, and other laws for dogs. (Read other adventures of Ike by the same author.)

Look Behind! : Tales of Animal Ends -- Schaefer, Lola M. {IL K-3, 590} -- Greenwillow Books, 2008., RL 4.7, 32p
Looks at the characteristics of different animal butts and how their owners use them, featuring one rear end for each letter in the alphabet.

Maybe a Bear Ate It! -- Harris, Robie H. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Orchard Books, 2008., RL 1.5, 36p
At bedtime, a young boy who cannot find his favorite book imagines the various creatures that might have taken it from him.

The Moon over Star -- Aston, Dianna Hutts. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 4.8, 32p
On her family's farm in the town of Star, eight-year-old Mae eagerly follows the progress of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and moon landing and dreams that she might one day be an astronaut, too.

Nic Bishop Frogs -- Bishop, Nic. {IL K-3, 597.8} -- Scholastic, 2008., RL 3.7, 48p
Full-color, illustrated photographs describing the characteristics and behaviors of a variety of frogs around the world. (Part of series, Nic Bishop Animals.)

One Boy -- Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Roaring Brook Press, 2008., 42p
A boy creates ten paintings in this counting book that also explores the relationship of words within words.

Our California -- Ryan, Pam Munoz. {IL K-3, 979.4} -- Charlesbridge, 2008., RL 3.7, 42p
Colorful illustrations and rhyming text describes the sights and sounds of California. (Also available in Spanish.)

Papa and Me -- Dorros, Arthur. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Rayo, 2008., RL 2, 25p
A bilingual boy and his father, who only speaks Spanish, spend a day together.

Piano Starts Here : the Young Art Tatum -- Parker, Robert Andrew. {IL K-3, 786.2} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 2.2, 34p
Explores early twentieth-century jazz pianist and virtuoso Art Tatum's passion and talent for playing the instrument, and includes illustrations and biographical information.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! -- Willems, Mo. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.2, 34p
The pigeon really, really wants a puppy, but when a puppy arrives the pigeon changes its mind. (Read other books about the pigeon by the same author.)

Planting the Trees of Kenya : the Story of Wangari Maathai -- Nivola, Claire A. {IL K-3, 333.72} -- Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008., RL 3.3, 32p
Relates the story of Wangari Maathai, a native Kenyan who taught the people living in the highlands how to plant trees and care for the land.

The Retired Kid -- Agee, Jon. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 2.6, 32p
Although he enjoys some aspects of his retirement, eight-year-old Brian gains a new perspective on his job of being a child after spending time in Florida's Happy Sunset Retirement Community.

Silent Letters Loud and Clear -- Pulver, Robin. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Holiday House, 2008., RL 2.8, 32p
When Mr. Wright's students express a dislike for silent letters, the offended letters decide to teach them a lesson by going on strike.

Sisters & Brothers : Sibling Relationships in the Animal World -- Jenkins, Steve. {IL K-3, 591.56} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 3.2, 32p
An illustrated picture book that investigates sibling relationships within the animal kingdom.

Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express -- McDonald, Megan. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 3.2, 118p
Stink Moody, friends Webster and Sophie, and Mrs. Birdwistle visit tourist attractions in Virginia as they try to give away 101 guinea pigs rescued from a laboratory, although Stink is very reluctant to relinquish his favorite, Astro. (Read the rest of the series about Stink, as well as books about his sister, Judy Moody, by the same author.)

Stinky : a Toon Book -- Davis, Eleanor. {IL K-3, 741.5} -- Little Lit Library, 2008., RL 1.7, 40p
Stinky, a monster who lives in a swamp, comes up with all kinds of strange ways to get rid of a kid who has wandered into his territory. (Beginning reader, graphic work)

The Storyteller's Candle -- Gonzalez, Lucia M. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Children's Book Press, 2008., RL 2.6, 30p
During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood's first Three Kings' Day fiesta.

Traction Man Meets Turbodog -- Grey, Mini. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Alfred A. Knopf, 2008., RL 3.4, 32p
Traction Man braves the evil bin things in order to save Scrubbing Brush, who had been thrown away by the little boy's father and replaced with a battery-operated dog. (You may want to read the first book, Traction Man, before reading the sequel.)

What Can You Do with a Rebozo? -- Tafolla, Carmen. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Tricycle Press, 2008., RL 2.9, 25p
A spunky, young Mexican American girl explains the many uses of her mother's red rebozo, or long scarf.

What to Do about Alice? : How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy! -- Kerley, Barbara. {IL K-3, 973.9} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 4.8, 44p
An illustrated biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth that focuses on her experiences while her father was president of the United States.

Wolfsnail : a Backyard Predator -- Campbell, Sarah C.{IL K-3, 594} -- Boyds Mills Press, 2008., RL 4.4, 32p
Close-up photographs and simple text describe how a wolf snail hunts, attacks, and eats it prey.

The Wolves are Back -- George, Jean Craighead. {IL K-3, 599.773} -- Dutton Children’s Books, 2008., RL 2.5, 32p
Describes the ecological benefits brought about by the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

Interest Level 3-6

Alvin Ho : Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things -- Look, Lenore. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 3.8, 172p
A young boy in Concord, Massachusetts, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything. (First book in a new series.)

Bird -- Elliott, Zetta. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Lee & Low Books, 2008., RL 3.8, 42p
Bird, an artistic young African American boy, expresses himself through drawing as he struggles to understand his older brother's drug addiction and death, while a family friend, Uncle Son, provides guidance and understanding.

The Calder Game -- Balliett, Blue. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 5.4, 379p
When seventh-grader Calder Pillay disappears from a remote English village--along with an Alexander Calder sculpture to which he has felt strangely drawn--his friends Petra and Tommy fly from Chicago to help his father find him. (Third book in a series)

Clementine's Letter -- Pennypacker, Sara. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 4.7, 150p
After learning that her favorite teacher will be leaving for a trip to Egypt and will be absent for the remainder of the year, Clementine devises a plan to get rid of the substitute and get Mr. D'Matz to stay. (Second book in a series of 3 books.)

Coraline -- Russell, P. Craig. {IL 3-6, 741.5} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL 5.8, 186p
Coraline, who lives with her parents and some other people in a strange old house, explores the garden, grounds and eventually the inside of the mansion, where a door leads her to another universe that darkly mirrors the one she arrived from. Graphic novel adaptation. (You may also want to read the original novel version by Neil Gaiman.)

The Discovery and Mystery of a Dinosaur Named Jane -- Williams, Judith. {IL 3-6, 567.912} -- Enslow Publishers, 2008., RL 5.2, 48p
Tells the story of the tyrannosaur Jane, from her discovery and excavation in the badlands of Montana to her display at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois, and explores the mysteries of her life millions of years ago.

Farmer George Plants a Nation -- Thomas, Peggy. {IL 3-6, 973.4} -- Calkins Creek, 2008., RL 6.3, 40p
Describes how George Washington built his farm at Mount Vernon, discussing his experiments with seeds, fertilizers, and tools and presenting related letters and diary entries.

Hate that Cat -- Creech, Sharon. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Joanna Cotler Books, 2008., RL 5.2, 153p
Jack is studying poetry again in school, and he continues to write poems reflecting his understanding of famous works and how they relate to his life. (You may also want to read the first book, Love that Dog.)

I, Matthew Henson : Polar Explorer -- Weatherford, Carole Boston. {IL 3-6, 910.911} -- Walker, 2008., RL 6.5, 32p
Shares the story of Matthew Henson, an African-American man who vigorously pursued his dream to reach the North Pole along with explorer Robert Peary.

If You're Reading This, It's Too Late -- Bosch, Pseudonymous. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Little, Brown, 2008., RL 5, 385p
Cass and Max-Ernest discover the Museum of Magic, unscramble more coded messages, and solve new mysteries in their attempt to thwart the Terces Society's ambitions of discovering immortality. (You may want to read the first book- The Name of this Book is Secret, before reading this sequel.)

The London Eye Mystery -- Dowd, Siobhan. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- David Fickling Books, 2008, RL 6.1, 322p
When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye Ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together--Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat--to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim.

The Maze of Bones / (39 Clues, book 1) -- Riordan, Rick. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Scholastic, 2008.
Amy and Dan, members of the powerful Cahill family, try to uncover the thirty-nine clues which will reveal the secrets of their lineage and find out what really happened to their parents. (There are others in the series too!)

Masterpiece -- Broach, Elise. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, 2008., RL 5.3, 292p
After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as an eleventh birthday gift for James, a human with whom he shares a house, the two new friends work together to help recover a Durer drawing stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My One Hundred Adventures -- Horvath, Polly. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 5.2, 260p
Twelve-year-old Jane, who lives at the beach in a run-down old house with her mother, two brothers, and sister, has an eventful summer accompanying her pastor on Bible deliveries, meeting former boyfriends of her mother's, and being coerced into babysitting for a family of ill-mannered children.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey -- Stewart, Trenton Lee. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Little, Brown, 2008., RL 6.8, 440p
Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance, all graduates of the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and members of the Benedict Society, embark on a scavenger hunt that turns into a desperate search for the missing Mr. Benedict. (You may want to read the first book, The Mysterious Benedict Society, before reading this sequel.)

Nightmare at the Book Fair -- Gutman, Dan. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 3.3, 230p
On his way to lacrosse tryouts, the president of the PTA asks Trip Dinkelman to help her with the book fair, resulting in Trip sustaining a head injury which causes him temporary amnesia and makes for an interesting journey home.

Pale Male : Citizen Hawk of New York City -- Schulman, Janet. {IL 3-6, 598.9} -- Knopf, 2008., RL 5.8, 34p
Recounts the true story of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk living in New York City who has become one of the city's most-watched celebrities and bird watchers, tourists, and residents admire the bird and his nest, built on a Fifth Avenue apartment building.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon -- Barry, Dave. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 5.9, 482p
Fearing that the sinister Lord Ombra was not destroyed, Peter and Molly travel to the land of Rundoon, which is ruled by the evil King Zarboff. (This is the 3rd book in the series.)

A River of Words : the Story of William Carlos Williams -- Bryant, Jennifer. {IL 3-6, 811} -- Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 4.6, 34p
Presents a picture book biography of American poet William Carlos Williams, who studied to become a doctor, but still found time to write poetry.

Sipping Spiders through a Straw : Campfire Songs for Monsters -- DiPucchio, Kelly S. {IL 3-6, 782.42164} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 3.2, 32p
A collection of creepy critters sing their favorite campfire sing-alongs, slightly altered for little monsters.

Ways to Live Forever -- Nicholls, Sally. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008., RL 4, 212p
Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him before he dies.

We are the Ship : the story of Negro League Baseball -- Nelson, Kadir. {IL 3-6, 796.357} -- Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2008., RL 6, 88p
Explores the history of Negro League baseball teams, discussing owners, players, hardships, wins, and losses; and including illustrations.

Interest Level 5-8

Ain't Nothing but a Man : My Quest to Find the Real John Henry -- Nelson, Scott Reynolds. {IL 5-8, 973} -- National Geographic, 2008., RL 6.4, 64p
Historian Scott Nelson introduces children to the life of the real John Henry, drawing on songs, poems, and stories to describe the man behind the legendary African-American hero.

The Battle of the Labyrinth -- Riordan, Rick. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Hyperion, 2008., RL 4.1
When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. (4th book in the Percy and the Olympians series. Final Book is also out.)


Bird Lake Moon -- Henkes, Kevin. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Greenwillow Books, 2008., RL 6.6, 179p
Twelve-year-old Mitch, spending the summer with his grandparents at Bird Lake after his parents' separation, becomes friends with ten-year-old Spencer, who has returned with his family to the lake where his little brother drowned years earlier, and as the boys spend time together and their friendship grows, each of them begins to heal.

The Diamond of Darkhold -- DuPrau, Jeanne. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Random House, 2008., RL 5.3, 285p
After obtaining an ancient book with only a few pages remaining, Lina and Doon return to Ember seeking the machine described in the book that might be able to aid their new community, Sparks, through the winter.

Diary of a Wimpy kid : Rodrick Rules -- Kinney, Jeff. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Amulet Books, 2008., RL 5.7, 216p
Greg Heffley tells about his summer vacation and his attempts to steer clear of trouble when he returns to middle school and tries to keep his older brother, Rodrick, from telling everyone about Greg's most humiliating experience of the summer. (Book 2 in a series. Book 1 is free online at http://www.funbrain.com/)

Found -- Haddix, Margaret Peterson. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 5, 314p
When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time. (First book in new series, author of series, Shadow Children.)

The Graveyard Book -- Gaiman, Neil. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL 5.7, 312p
After Bod’s family is murdered, the orphaned Bod, short for Nobody, is taken in by the inhabitants of a graveyard as a child of eighteen months and raised lovingly and carefully to the age of eighteen years by the community of ghosts and otherworldly creatures. Winner of the Newbery 2009

Savvy -- Law, Ingrid. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, Walton Media, 2008., RL 6.5, 342p
Recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her "savvy"--a magical power unique to each member of her family--just as her father is injured in a terrible accident.

The Underneath -- Appelt, Kathi. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 5.6, 313p
An old hound that has been chained up at his hateful owner's run-down shack, and two kittens born underneath the house, endure separation, danger, and many other tribulations in their quest to be reunited and free.

I would also suggest you read the CYRA nominees for next year or whatever state reader's choice awards you have.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Books to Tell 2008

One of the great things about books is that so many of them "retell" almost as well as they read aloud. Teachers and librarians can use many of these books to match the curriculum and supplement their textbooks. Books can be used in a science or social studies class.

I remember one of the best teachers I ever had was Janie Putnam at Boiling Springs High School. She was my 11th grade history teacher. I couldn't wait for that class each day. Why? Because she told stories. Stories about Abe Lincoln using his hat for a desk. Stories about Adams losing his clothes to a reporter who wanted an interview. Stories that I used to control the boys I babysat. They were wild boys who would do anything if only I would tell another story. Mrs. Putnam gave me those stories.

How do you know a book will retell?
As you look at books, read them aloud. Many times a story that retells well, reads well aloud. It may have a pattern in the style. There may be repetition of a phrase. When you try retelling it to others and you see their interest almost as soon as you begin, you may have a winner. A picture book can work if you can read the story without looking at the pictures. Sometimes illustrations complement the storyline, while other times they add details that the story cannot live without. You may be able to add something to the story that fills in the illustration gap, but it may not always work.

Look at picture books. Look at fairy tales (398.2). Look for short stories. Scary stories, of course, often retell well. Stories that have a surprise ending, like Beware the Frog (William Bee) for example, often tell well.

I found a story, now what?
Once you find a story that may work, you can practically memorize it or you can make it your own. Identify words or phrases that must be told exactly. Fill it with your own style. Tell it to your students.

You can also use these books without telling them. Give potential books to your students. Give them the criteria on how you know a book will retell. Ask them to write key phrases. Identify characters, plot and setting. Ask them to look for details that are missing without illustrations. What part of the setting, plot or character will have to be filled in with words? A worksheet may make it easier for them to flesh out their notes.

Then have students decide which story to tell. Students can use the sheet as a guide to learning their story. Practicing in groups or with partners can also be beneficial to learning new stories. Using stories written by others can be a big step towards learning to tell stories that work before you try telling your own.

Some stories that work from 2008
Abe Lincoln crosses a creek : a tall, thin tale (introducing his forgotten frontier friend) -- Hopkinson, Deborah. -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 3.4, 36p
In Knob Creek, Kentucky, in 1816, seven-year-old Abe Lincoln falls into a creek and is rescued by his best friend, Austin Gollaher.

Ain't nothing but a man : my quest to find the real John Henry -- Nelson, Scott Reynolds. -- National Geographic, 2008., RL 6.4, 64p
Historian Scott Nelson introduces children to the life of the real John Henry, drawing on songs, poems, and stories to describe the man behind the legendary African-American hero.

The apple-pip princess -- Ray, Jane. -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 4.5, 32p
In a land that has stood barren, parched by drought and ravaged by frosts since the Queen's death, the King sets his three daughters the task of making the kingdom bloom again, and discovers that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Bats at the library -- Lies, Brian. -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
Bored with another normal, inky evening, bats discover an open library window and fly in to enjoy the photocopier, water fountain, and especially the books and stories found there.

Beware of the frog -- Bee, William. -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 2.2, 42p
Sweet old Mrs. Collywobbles lives on the edge of a big, dark, scary wood, but has a pet frog to protect her from greedy goblins, smelly trolls, and hungry ogres.

The cow that laid an egg -- Cutbill, Andy. -- HarperCollins, 2008, c2006., RL 3.8, 32p
The chickens at the farm hatch a plan to help Marjorie the cow feel special, but some of the other cows get suspicious.

The fisherman and his wife -- Isadora, Rachel. -- G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2008., RL 2.6, 32p
The fisherman's greedy wife is never satisfied with the wishes granted her by an enchanted fish.

How I learned geography -- Shulevitz, Uri. -- Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author's childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II.

I, Matthew Henson : polar explorer -- Weatherford, Carole Boston. -- Walker, 2008., RL 6.5, 32p
Shares the story of Matthew Henson, an African-American man who vigorously pursued his dream to reach the North Pole along with explorer Robert Peary.

Look behind! : tales of animal ends -- Schaefer, Lola M. -- Greenwillow Books, 2008., RL 4.7, 32p
Looks at the characteristics of different animal butts and how their owners use them, featuring one rear end for each letter in the alphabet.

Maybe a bear ate it! -- Harris, Robie H. -- Orchard Books, 2008., RL 1.5, 36p
At bedtime, a young boy who cannot find his favorite book imagines the various creatures that might have taken it from him.

The McElderry book of Greek myths -- Kimmel, Eric A. -- M.K. McElderry Books, 2008., RL 5.2, 96p
Contains illustrated retellings of twelve classic Greek myths, including the stories of Pandora, Icarus, King Midas, and others.

The moon over Star -- Aston, Dianna Hutts. -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 4.8, 32p
On her family's farm in the town of Star, eight-year-old Mae eagerly follows the progress of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and moon landing and dreams that she might one day be an astronaut, too.

More bones : scary stories from around the world -- Viking, 2008., RL 4.8, 162p
A collection of scary stories collected from civilizations around the globe and throughout history.

Pale Male : citizen hawk of New York City -- Schulman, Janet. {IL 3-6, 598.9} -- Knopf, 2008., RL 5.8, 34p
Recounts the true story of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk living in New York City who has become one of the city's most-watched celebrities and bird watchers, tourists, and residents admire the bird and his nest, built on a Fifth Avenue apartment building.

Planting the trees of Kenya : the story of Wangari Maathai -- Nivola, Claire A. -- Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008., RL 3.3, 32p
Relates the story of Wangari Maathai, a native Kenyan who taught the people living in the highlands how to plant trees and care for the land.

The race of the century -- Downard, Barry. -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 2.8, 32p
Fed up with his incessant taunting, Tom Tortoise challenges Flash Harry Hare to the race of the century, which turns into a worldwide media event, complete with television and newspaper coverage, photographers, and many other distractions.

Rapunzel -- Isadora, Rachel. -- G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2008., RL 3.6, 32p
An illustrated adaptation of the familiar fairy tale that describes the story of a beautiful African girl with extraordinarily long hair who is imprisoned in a lonely tower by a witch.

The retired kid -- Agee, Jon. -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 2.6, 32p
Although he enjoys some aspects of his retirement, eight-year-old Brian gains a new perspective on his job of being a child after spending time in Florida's Happy Sunset Retirement Community.

Snoring Beauty -- Hale, Bruce. -- Harcourt, 2008., RL 2.9, 44p
An adaptation of the traditional tale, featuring a sleeping, snoring princess who is rescued by a prince after being cursed by a bad fairy.

The storyteller's candle -- Gonzalez, Lucia M. -- Children's Book Press, 2008., RL 2.6, 30p During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood's first Three Kings' Day fiesta.

There's a wolf at the door -- Alley, Zoe B. -- Roaring Brook Press, 2008., RL 3.5, 34p
As his plans are spoiled over and over again, the wolf keeps trying to find his dinner, in this retelling of five well-known stories and fables.

Way up and over everything -- McGill, Alice. -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 4.3, 32p
In this retelling of a folktale, five Africans escape the horrors of slavery by simply disappearing into thin air.

What to do about Alice? : how Alice Roosevelt broke the rules, charmed the world, and drove her father Teddy crazy! -- Kerley, Barbara. -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 4.8, 44p
An illustrated biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth that focuses on her experiences while her father was president of the United States.

The wolves are back -- George, Jean Craighead. -- Dutton Childrens Books, 2008., RL 2.5, 32p Describes the ecological benefits brought about by the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

For links to these and other great books, see my website Best Books. For other ideas about storytelling in the library or classroom see Vicky Reed's website at Filamentality, Stories to Tell.

Book Trailers

Want to put some new technology in your book reports? Try using video. Perhaps you have seen Scholastic book trailers at In the Stacks. Kids can get a sneak preview of the hottest books in a video trailer- just like the movies. These videos are slick and enticing. They make you want to run to the library or bookstore to read these books. Students can use these techniques to either retell the story or as a book teaser.

Movies without a camcorder
You can also create your own videos to encourage reading. Microsoft has a free product that students can use to create movies without a video camera. Photo Story for Windows is a downloadable, easy to use product. Using digital images, students create a storyboard, add narration, text and music. Royalty free music is included in the free software. The software adds the transitions, including zoom and panning. You can fade to black. Users can also adjust the “camera work” if you don’t like what Photo Story creates.

Dr. Mark Geary has worked with students to create examples of these Photo Story book trailers. These "movies for literacy" are arranged by early elementary, late elementary and adolescent trailers. Complete with a tutorial on how to make it, students can make their own. You can use a few scans from the original book or allow students to use their own photographs. You can use Google Images to find photos that will work. Students can even create their own artwork, scan it, and use the saved digital images. Photo Story is so easy, even an adult can do it.

Other resources for digital storytelling can be found at this Filamentality website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Books in the Digital Age

Books have really changed in the last few years. Now you can see and hear books in ways you could only read about in science fiction. From entire books online to books on tape and video, there are a multitude of choices for you and your students. Some are even free. Those that charge often have compelling reasons to purchase them. Many also come with support material. (Always check with the publisher!) Tonight's two cents is a round up of some of the digital media you might use with your students.

Complete books online
Perhaps you were a fan of Lookybook.net. Sad to say, its pages are now closed. Tumblebooks, however, is still available at a subscription rate. There are 3 categories of ebooks: TumbleBookLibrary (picture books), TumbleReadables (late elementary to high school) and TumbleTalkingBooks (for public libraries). These ebooks provide narration, music and highlighted sentences in the reading of the books. Subscribers also have access to games, quizzes and teacher resources. A free 30 day trial subscription is available.

Another resource for videos and books is provided by the Screen Actors Guild Program Foundation. Storyline Online is a non profit site, with original funding granted by Verizon. They have a website that posts videos of actors reading some of your favorite books. Related activities and downloadable guides are available. Hear James Earl Jones read To Be a Drum, for example.

If you have a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming (formerly known as United Streaming), you have access to some of the best made movies of children’s literature- Weston Woods videos. Now owned by Scholastic, Weston Woods animates the book’s illustrations, adding music, and using professional actors to narrate the story. Use the subtitles to give your ESL and struggling readers another tool for comprehension. Check out the extras, as they often have illustrator or author interviews as part of the film. You can also buy them individually from Scholastic or your book wholesaler.

Books on tape
I am a huge fan of “books on tape.” Listening to a book being read can be a lovely thing. When I drove across America to San Diego, I listened to Jim Dale read most of the Harry Potter books. I'm not sure I would have made it over those scary mountains into California without the soothing voices of Jim Dale. Many of the adults I know listen to books on their commute to work. However, we can also use these digital books to help our students.

At the IMC where I work, our readalongs are one of our most popular items. We include the book on CD or tape and 5 books. Teachers can group students to share the reading of a book at a listening center. Listening Library and Recorded Books offer great books on tape.

Playaways are another option. These small audio devices have the books recorded on them. Each Playaway is a different machine. They automatically bookmark your stopping place. Costing from 30 to 60 dollars, these teen-friendly digital books, are a cool way to listen to everything from the classics to Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. You can use earbuds or connect them to speakers and fill the room with the sound of a wonderful book. You can order them from Follett, Recorded Books and BBC America. Some publishers of the stories sell the Playaways on their sites as well (Live Oak Media and Weston Woods, for example). For more information see the Playaway site. Canadian libraries have a link on the Playaway site.

Which books to buy?
Start by looking at award winning books. ALA publishes a Notable Recordings list every year. These Best Recordings are chosen by a team of librarians who listen to the best of the best and selectively choose the best audio books. The Odyssey Award is given to the best audio recording of a book. That may be another selection if it fits your age group.

For books on video, try the Notable Video selections. Like the Notable Recordings, librarians watch a multitude of videos each year to select the best. Many of these are books that are animated.

YALSA, a division of ALA, has an Awesome Audiobook list. This notable list was renamed in 2009. It was previously called Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults. The awards list goes back to 1999 and selects the best books of the last two years.

Last but not least
The Kindle and the Sony Reader. No, I don’t have either. Easy to use, these digital readers allow you to download entire books into a large paperback sized tablet. The new Kindle will even read to you- not James Earl Jones, but it is reading aloud. It’s not the same as curling up with a paper book, but after hauling 8 books across Canada so I wouldn’t run out of things to read this week, I am really close to at least trying it. I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Parent Connection

This week Aunt Betty was invited to speak to children and parents at two of our local schools. At Field Elementary, they celebrated Dr. Seuss’ Birthday with a Literacy Night. After Aunt Betty’s storytelling, parents and children rotated to three different activities: bookmark making, reading as a family and listening to stories in the library. The Cat in the Hat made a special visit.

At Loma Portal Elementary, after Aunt Betty told stories, the students went by grade level to areas around the school where they listened to books. After they left, Aunt Betty was able to meet with the parents to talk about how to get their children to read. She offered two bits of advice.

Advice Number 1: Let Them Read
One of the best ways to get them to read is to let them read- whatever they want to read. Adults have a tendency to want children to read “good literature.” Bottom line is that readers read- everything. From menus to manuals and newspapers to cereal boxes, real readers read. By allowing children to choose what they like, parents can lessen the pressure that often happens at school. Let them read too hard, too easy, or books they have read five million times. Let them read about underwear and bugs. Let them read books that were adapted from movies. Let them stop reading a book that doesn’t interest them. Life is short. Reading- especially at home- should be a pleasure, not a punishment.

Advice Number 2: Don’t Give Up.
Sometimes kids get into a reading rut. They read the same book over and over. I once taught a boy who checked out There’s a Nightmare in my Closet the entire year he was in kindergarten. Then there are kids who read the same series- and only that. There are kids who “never finish a book.”

In my experience, I have found that time changes most things-even reading patterns. Eventually the kindergarten child went on to read books about eagles. He read every book about eagles. Of course, he only read about eagles, but this too, eventually passed. Kids will only read Captain Underpants for so long- not that there's anything wrong with that. As their interests change, as their friends grow, their reading patterns adapt.

So...Be Patient
When you have a child who doesn’t finish reading a book, perhaps it’s time to investigate. Perhaps he doesn’t have enough time to properly choose a book. Perhaps it’s too hard or easy, so he loses interest. Perhaps the cover was misleading or he didn’t know enough about the book before he chose it. Ask questions about his library visits. Take him to the library or bookstore and watch him select. Then you can ask more questions and perhaps determine how to help him select. Your librarian or book seller can help you guide him to good choices.

Maybe your children are different ages and bedtime stories are difficult. Perhaps you can allow the children to take turns selecting the books. You might choose books from the list of 100 books everyone ought to know. From time to time offer separate story times. Allow your older child to read to the younger. Allow your younger child to “read” to the older. He can picture walk through the story. You may want to discuss this idea with the older child so he doesn’t try to “correct” his sibling. Remind him that he began to read in much the same way. You may want to vary your reading time. Perhaps you can read after dinner instead of just before bedtime. Read in the doctor's office while you wait.

Solutions

□ Allow children to stop reading a book.
□ Do some legwork as to how your child selects books.
□ Find out more about the newest and best children’s books.
□ Read shorter picture books with multi-age groups.
□ Use booklists. Nancy Keane has “if you liked this” kind of lists on her wiki. Your public or school library may have a database like Novelist.
□ Take your child to the school or public library.
□ Ownership is important. Add to your family bookshelf as often as you can.
□ Look for reading opportunities in your every day life. Read menus, road signs, cookbooks, the newspaper.
□ Be a role model.
□ Real readers read and real writers write.
□ Don’t give up. Everyone has spurts of “non-reading.”

For Further Reading
Backes, Laura. Best Books for Kids (who Think) They Hate to Read, Prima Lifestyles, 2001
Codell, Esme. How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, Algonguin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003
Trelease, Jim. The Read Aloud Handbook, Penguin, 2006

Friday, February 20, 2009

African American Read-In

Thursday morning I had the opportunity to read to a class of fourth grade students at one of our schools. The 8th Annual African American History Month Read-In appeared to be a great success. Readers from the community met in the library where the library tech, Mrs. Jackson, had placed some of her best titles by and about African Americans. Sorting them by interest level was helpful to the folks who came to read. A welcome was given by the principal, Ms. Dean, and everyone was invited to have some refreshments before walking to the classrooms.

The organizers (Mrs. Jackson and Ms. Leach) of the annual read-in had arranged for students in grades 4 and 5 to escort us to our assigned classes. What a polite group they were! They walked up to perfect strangers, extended their hands and introduced themselves. The former principal, Ms. Madden, along with their community partner, the US Navy, were among the many adults who would be reading to the students. Mrs. Jackson’s own husband and older sons and one of their friends were among the many men who were readers. I overheard an officer encourage his people to visit the school more often. I hope they will.

When it was time to go to our classes, our escorts led the way. My class was a fourth grade class whose teacher is Ms. Snow. Students quickly gathered at my feet for a story. Today I chose (and choosing is always the hardest thing) to read about the Negro Baseball League. I read Floyd Cooper’s new book, Willie and the All-Stars. I talked to them about Cooper's form of art-subtraction process. He has a very distinct look to his award winning works.

We talked about how times were different. They had so many questions about the time, the players and Wrigley Field. This was obviously a class of good readers and writers. They were thinking as I was reading. Of course, one student told me that maybe the book was too difficult for me when I stumbled on the words. I told him, No. That’s just age and vanity. I ought to have on my classes when I am reading.”









Another book I shared with them is the Sibert winning We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson, one of San Diego’s own. This is a sure fire hit and must-read for all ages. The students actually said “Wow” when I opened the book to the first painting. I have listed the other books I shared at the end of this entry. Be sure to check them out.

Ms. Snow has apparently been working hard, as students knew about hyperboles and third person narratives. The students talked about the author’s purpose. We talked about the details of the story and what they liked. One young lady talked about how she liked how Willie could visualize himself playing ball, even while walking in the street. Students had lots of prior knowledge about Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges. They wanted to know if the story was in the time of Martin Luther King. So many questions!

I talked about my job- both at the school district and “on the road.” We talked about writing and where writers get ideas. I keep a notebook and pen with me all the time. Age and a full plate do not add up to a good memory. When I have an idea for a story, I jot it down. For example, just this week I got an idea for a story. As I was gardening in my window box, I found more than dead plants- something with reptilian skin. It turned out to be a big lizard, hibernating in the dirt. So, quick as I could breathe again, I jotted it into my notebook. I suggested that they do the same with things that they think about or things that happen to them. Stories come from things we see. Things we hear. Things we think about.

In the end, this visit was one of the brightest spots in my over-full week. The program was organized. It was well supported by the community. So many men came to read to the students. We were welcomed and guided to our classes. Students were interested and full of knowledge. It did my heart a world of good. Now when can I go back??

Here’s what I read and/or shared:
The blacker the berry : poems -- Thomas, Joyce Carol. {IL K-3, 811} -- Joanna Cotler Books, 2008., RL 2.9, 32p
A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and African American identity. Winner of the CSK Illustrator Award 2009





Satchel Paige : don't look back -- Adler, David A. {IL K-3, 796.357} -- Harcourt, 2007., RL 4.5, 32p

Colorful illustrations and simple text tell the story of the life and baseball career of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige from his time with the Negro Leagues to his years with the American League.

Satchel Paige : striking out Jim Crow -- Sturm, James. {IL 5-8, 741.5} -- Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2007., RL 5.6, 89p

A graphic novel account of the career of Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige, discussing the show he put on as a popular player, as well as the respect he demanded as an African-American.




Stealing home : Jackie Robinson, against the odds -- Burleigh, Robert. {IL K-3, 796.357} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007., RL 5.9, 32p

Presents a brief biography of legendary baseball player for the old Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, who, in 1947, became the first African-American to play in major league baseball.



We are the ship : the story of Negro League baseball -- Nelson, Kadir. {IL 3-6, 796.357} -- Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2008., RL 6, 88p

Explores the history of Negro League baseball teams, discussing owners, players, hardships, wins, and losses. Winner of the Sibert Award, CSK Author and Illustrator Honor 2009



Willie and the All-Stars -- Cooper, Floyd. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Philomel Books, 2008., RL 3.3, 32p

Willie, a boy growing up on the north side of Chicago in 1942, is disheartened when a neighbor tells him his skin color prohibits him from ever realizing his dream of playing professional baseball, but his hopes are revived when he sees an exhibition game at Wrigley Field between an all-star Negro League team and players from the Major Leagues.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Connecting Parents, Kids and Books

In our school district, one of our most successful projects has been our Parent Child book clubs. Even in the dead of winter we have had 40 parents and students in a middle school attend so that they can talk about books they don’t even have to read. There’s no grade. There’s no test… When I talk about the clubs on the road, usually the room goes still. It’s that moment during the day when you know you have everyone’s attention. So before I head out again (I leave for Pittsburgh on Sunday.), I thought I would write about how our book clubs work.

How do your book clubs work?
Once a month on a Thursday at 6:30 one of our middle school book clubs meets for “an hour.” It is never only an hour. Usually folks drift off by 8:00. We read one or two books each month. The Teacher Librarian at the school sends an email reminder a day or so before the meeting. Group participants are now bringing a snack to share and we provide a drink. (It’s a good way to try new recipes and gives ownership to our members.)

What do you do on Book Night?
When they arrive, they sign in using Survey Monkey, which gives us records that we can read, emails and the like. They get a snack and wander over to our activity area. Each month, we choose an activity that correlates with the books. Then we spend the rest of the hour talking about the books we read. There is no set list of questions. It's very informal. At the end of the hour (or so) we booktalk the next titles and talk about what we will do then. Participants pick up the new titles and return the current ones.

Last month we read only one book, Schooled by Gordon Korman. We played sixties music as they entered and left the library. We asked them to bring a healthy snack to share and wear hippy clothes if they would like. I taught them how to make a beaded bracelet- using hemp rope, of course. Then we talked about the book. I thought with only one book, we would be out pretty quickly. But nope, we were there until 8:00, talking about one book.

What if they don't want to talk?
We have observed that some people want to comment, but are shy about speaking in front of a group. We have addressed that in a couple of ways. One is that we provide pencils and paper for comments and “pass the jar.” We randomly read comments or questions before we leave. Sometimes we do door prizes. The teacher librarian also set up a blog so that parents and students can write what they think throughout the month.

What do you read?
At this particular school, we start with the ALA award winners for middle school. You might also look at the Notable Lists. Then we move onto the nominees for our state book award program- CYRA. After that we read student suggested books and other books that are just fun to read. On our last meeting of the year, we take time to make a list of what we might like to read next year.

Where do you get the funding?
The PTA truly supports this program. Parents can see the impact this program makes because they are there. We use proceeds from the book fair. We have an Instructional Media Center in our district which orders class sets of books for everyone to check out. That’s another potential place for getting multiple copies. Another middle school recently worked with the public library to round up enough copies for her program. We usually choose books that are in paperback. We don't always barcode and check them out. Sometimes we contribute to the "literacy of the neighborhood."

You can also try Scholastic Literacy Partnerships. After registering you can receive up to 75% off the cost of their books. Visit their website to learn about the benefits. You might also try a grant from Donors Choose. They are very easy to complete when you keep in mind that what you are asking for benefits the students.

Do you have to read the same book?
No, you don’t. Some book clubs just meet to talk about what they are reading. They swap books with each other. The most important thing is choice and that they are talking about books. You might even try a virtual book club by using a blog. Go to a site like Blogger.com to sign up for a free site. You can also meet before school, at lunch or after school.

Final tips
1. The most important thing is choice. Choice to read. Choice to attend. Not every club member will read for every meeting. Attendance can’t be mandatory. It's not a class.
2. Invite ownership by allowing them to suggest titles, bring food, lead in activities.
Send reminders a day or so before.
3. Monitor success. Perhaps it isn’t well attended because of the time of day. What else would work?
4. Advertise. The more who know the more you will grow.
5. Feed them and they will come. Who wouldn't want to eat in the library??
6. Allow them to write, draw or create while you talk. Not everyone can listen and “be still.” It’s a club, not a class.
7. Have prepared questions in case there is a big lull, but don’t rush the silence. Usually someone else will fill it in.
8. Have a related activity.
9. Booktalk books that are similar. If you like this one…



Print resources

Read The Kids’ Book Club Book: Reading Ideas, Recipes, Activities, and Smart Tips for Organizing Terrific Kids’ Book Clubs by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.

See other ideas in Esme Codell’s book, How to Get you Child to Love Reading.