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1. Great News from the NCBLA!

NCBLA Planning 
In Search of Wonder:
Common Core and More
Professional Development Day
October 17th, 2014 in Perry, Ohio

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance is launching a new education initiative—In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More—in  Northern Ohio this fall! This inspiring professional development day is designed for teachers, librarians, and caretakers—any and all adults who live with and work for young people!

In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More” will take place on NEOEA Day, October 17th, at the Goodwin Theatre in Perry, Ohio and will feature authors Katherine Paterson, Nikki Grimes, Tanya Lee Stone, Steven Kellogg, and a soon-to-be named YA author! 

For more information and registration details, click here

We are working with Perry, Ohio School’s chief media specialist Jodi Rzeszotarski and the Cleveland Public Library’s Director of Children’s Services Annisha Jeffries to plan the day’s schedule so we ensure In Search of Wonder addresses the Common Core needs of all teachers and librarians.

Recently, I spent time with Jodi at the Perry Schools touring their beautiful facilities and had an inspiring afternoon working with Annisha and her talented and energetic staff at the Cleveland Public Library (CPL). 

As a teen working in downtown Cleveland, I spent most of my lunch hours at the CPL, so it was with special joy that I saw all the remarkable changes Annisha and her staff have created—a new teen room, the only safe harbor for teens downtown, a beautiful arts center for creative activities, and the huge reading rooms overflowing with books, looking out onto the city and the lake. Annisha and her staff have accomplished so much in two short years! 

Mary Brigid Barrett
President and Executive Director
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

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2. Celebrate National Library Week!

Lives change @ your library:
Celebrate National Library Week
April 13-19
This week, and throughout April, libraries in schools, campuses, and communities nationwide are celebrating National Library Week as a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.  
Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Often the heart of their communities, campuses or schools, libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study.  Libraries are trusted places where everyone in the community can gather to reconnect and reengage with each other to enrich and shape the community and address local issues. 
Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them.  Whether through offering e-books and technology classes, materials for English-language learners, programs for job seekers or those to support early literacy, librarians listen to the community they serve, and they respond.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.  
To learn more, be sure to visit your local library!

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3. Celebrate Poetry Month

Share a Poem with the Kids in Your Life!

National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 with the ultimate goal of widening the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. 

Here are ten
suggestions from the Academy of American Poets for celebrating National Poetry Month:

1. Read a book of poetry.
2. Memorize a poem.
3. Revisit a classic poem. Maybe a Shakespearean sonnet?
4. Put poetry in an unexpected place...perhaps on your child's pillow?
5. Bring a poem to your place of worship.
6. Attend a poetry reading at your bookstore, library, or coffee shop.
7. Support a literary organization.
8. Take a poem out to lunch.
9. Recite a poem to family or friends.
10. Add your favorite verse to your email signature.

Visit poets.org to discover the remaining 20 ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month! Which is your favorite? What other ideas can you come up with? How can you integrate poetry into your family's daily life?

MORE Poetry Resources!

Poetry lovers who also enjoy American history may delight in reading Gregory Maguire's poetic metaphor about the White House titled "Looking In, Looking Out" and Nikki Grimes' poem about a blind student's visit to the White House titled "Staking Claim." Both are available exclusively on OurWhiteHouse.org.

Also be sure to review the diverse poetry included in the printed anthology Our White: Looking In, Looking Out, which is available in libraries and bookstores. Included in the Our White House collection are Jane Yolen's imagined conversation between John and Abigail Adams titled "The White House First Residents," Jack Prelutsky's humorous poem about the Clinton's cat titled "I Live in the White House," Jon Scieszka's rhyme titled "The White House," Lee Bennett Hopkins' poem titled "Good Nights," Kate DiCamillo's touching piece about Lincoln's death titled "In Early April," and Paul B. Janeczko's haunting "Mary Todd Lincoln Speaks of Her Son's Death, 1862."

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4. In Case You Missed It!

New York Times Article Explores the
"Word Gap" Between Children from
Low-Income and Affluent Families

In the same way that we say you should feed your child,
brush their teeth, you should be stimulating their brain
by talking, singing and reading to them
- Ann O’Leary, Director of Too Small to Fail.

In the New York Times article "Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word," Motoko Rich writes:

Amid a political push for government-funded preschool for 4-year-olds, a growing number of experts fear that such programs actually start too late for the children most at risk. That is why Deisy Ixcuna-González, the 16-month-old daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is wearing a tiny recorder that captures every word she hears and utters inside her family’s cramped apartment one day a week.

To read the complete article, click here

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5. Science and Literature Field Trip

Sherlock Holmes Exhibition
Traveling Worldwide,
Now at Center of Science and Industry
in Columbus, Ohio

We separated the science lessons from the interactive mystery
so the mystery was a place to practice and
use the information you already learned.

- Exhibition Creator
Geoffrey M. Curley 

“The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes,” a traveling exhibition now at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, invites history, literature, and science fans of all ages into the streets of Victorian London, where you can follow in the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes and work side by side with the legendary literary figure.  Featuring more than two dozen hands-on, interactive exhibits and 300 original manuscripts, publications, period artifacts, film and television props and costumes, the exhibition encourages visitors to become Holmes’ eyes and ears as he "tackles a baffling new case in a world steeped in innovation and experimentation"

To read the review by Karen Jones "Entering World of Literature's Great Sleuth" in The New York Times, click here

To learn more about the exhibit at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, click here

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6. Activist Alert

Ask Your Senators to Support Funding for Libraries and Literacy!

Appropriations season is heating up in Washington, DC. Please call your U.S. Senators by Wednesday, April 2 and ask them to sign two separate "Dear Colleague" letters that will greatly help libraries:

Support Funding for LSTA in FY 2015
Ask your senators to support funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Here's why:

  • LSTA is the primary source of funding for libraries in the federal budget
  • LSTA helps many public libraries provide services to users that include, but are not limited to: job searches, résumé building help, digital literacy workshops, access to e-government services, etc.
Your senators can sign a letter indicating their support for LSTA in the FY15 budget, here's how:
Democrats: Ask your senator/s to contact Sen. Jack Reed's (D-RI) office to sign the LSTA letter.
Republicans: Ask you senator/s to contact Sen. Susan Collin's (R-ME) to sign the LSTA letter.

Support Funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Competitive Grant
Ask your senators to support Childhood Literacy in FY 2015. Here is why:
  • Congress included $25 million in the FY15 budget for this competitive grant administered through the U.S. Department of Education to support school libraries and national nonprofit literacy organization working toward childhood literacy
  • A minimum of half of this money will go as a competitive grant to low-income school libraries to help update their books and materials.
Ask your senators to sign a letter supporting Childhood Literacy in FY 2015, here's how:
Democrats: Contact Sen. Jack Reed's (D-RI) to sign
Republicans: Contact Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-IA) office to sign

It is SO EASY to make these phone calls! On the ALA Legislative Action Center page, type your zip code into the "Call Now" box to find the number for your senator. Please ensure you call by April 2.

Thank you for supporting literacy and libraries!

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7. Print and Share Our Readers Theater Scripts

Create Drama in Your Classroom or Library Reading the Readers Theater Script
for Grace Lin's Starry River of the Sky

The art of Readers Theater provides an inexpensive and compelling way to get kids reading! Readers Theater is similar to a radio play in that no costumes or props are required. Readers simply stand on stage--or in the front of the classroom!--and read their lines from a script, using their voices to dramatize the production.

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, recently presented a Children's Literary Lights Readers Theater presentation at the 2013 National Book Festival. Following the Festival, the NCBLA created a Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, as well as several scripts, for adults to share with the young people in their lives.

Author and illustrator
Grace Lin.
In Grace Lin's
middle-grade novel Starry River of the Sky (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), the moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can't help but notice the village's peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper's son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit? But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

The Readers Theater script for Starry River of the Sky engages young people in the folktale "The Story of the Old Sage," one of many embedded in Lin's novel.

To print and share Lin's Readers Theater script for
Starry River of the Sky, click here.

To learn more about Readers Theater and to print our Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, click here.

To learn more about Grace Lin and her books, visit her website: GraceLin.com.

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8. Congratulations to NCBLA Volunteer Writer Renee Critcher Lyons

Foreign-Born American Patriots
Now Available at a
Book Store or Library Near You

The NCBLA congratulates our volunteer writer and Advisory Board member Renee Critcher Lyons on the publication of her book Foreign-Born American Patriots: Sixteen Volunteer Leaders in the Revolutionary War (McFarland), now available on shelves in a library or for purchase from a bookstore near you.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->Foreign-Born American Patriots portrays sixteen volunteers:  the writers, soldiers, merchants, farmers, sailors, guerilla fighters, pirates, financiers, and cavalry leaders, who traveled from abroad to join the American revolutionary cause. Such portraits consider Patriots John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, and Baron von Steuben, but also lesser known heroes, such as Founding Father Pierce Butler and Washington’s One-Man-Army, Peter Francisco.  Each profile discusses the personal experiences influencing the volunteer leader’s decision to fight for the fledging country, the sacrifices these brave men endured for the benefit of an American victory, and the unique talents respectively contributed to the war effort.  All chapters include a listing of landmarks (or in some instances, lack thereof) which honor these incredible visitors or immigrants who ensured the perpetuation of the ideals and values of the American Republic.
Renee’ Critcher Lyonsis an assistant professor in the School Library Media Program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, teaching children’s and young adult literature.  Prior to her appointment at ETSU, she served as a school/instructional librarian for eight years at the elementary and middle school level and nine years at the high school/community college level.  She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and the Appalachian State University Masters in Library Science Program. 

Be sure to check out these online articles by Renee on OurWhiteHouse.org:

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Celebrate Read Across America Day TODAY

Grab your hat and read with the Cat in the Hat today, Monday, March 3, 2014, for the 17th annual Read Across America Day. The Seussical celebration kicks off a week of reading across the nation as NEA members gather students, parents, and community members together to share their love of reading.

For an extensive list of resources to make the most of reading in your classroom, library, or home, visit the NEA website.  

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10. Celebrate Black History Month

Share Stories of African American Heritage with Young People

Resources for sharing the history and accomplishments of African Americans with the young people in your life abound. 

On Reading Rockets.org, discover not only reading lists, but also video interviews with such award-winning authors and illustrators as Ashley Bryan, Bryan Collier, Christopher Paul Curtis, Nikki Giovanni, Nikki Grimes, Patrick and Fredrick McKissack, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Emeritus Walter Dean Myers, Kadir Nelson, Jerry Pinkney, and MORE! Click here

On the Horn Book, check out a comprehensive reading list categorized by Picture Books, Chapter Books, Intermediate, and Older. Click here

In the NCBLA's anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, kids can dig deep into America's past and discover how slaves helped build the White House ("Slaves Helped Build the White House!" by Walter Dean Myers), read the memoir of former slave Paul Jennings' account of working in President Madison's White House ("The First White House Memoir: 1865"), and learn about Elizabeth Keckly, who served as seamstress to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln ("Elizabeth Keckly" by Patricia C. and Fredrick L. McKissack). And in the paperback version, young people can read Nikki Grimes' poem "Inaugural Morning" illustrated by A. G. Ford, which provides a poignant account of President Obama's first inauguration.

Our White House is available in both hardcover and paperback. Ask for it at a library or bookstore near you! 

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11. Celebrate Presidents Month!

Play Presidential Trivia!

Do you know which president was the first to live in the White House? (Hint: It wasn’t George Washington!) Do you know which president served the shortest term? (Hint: He was president for 31 days in 1841.) Do you know which presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Find these answers—and make up your own presidential trivia questions to ask young people!—by digging into the NCBLA’s Presidential Fact Files on the NCBLA's education website OurWhiteHouse.org, the companion website to the NCBLA's art and history anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

The Presidential Fact Files is a treasure trove of information for every one of our nation’s presidents that includes the dates of each president’s terms, party affiliation, family information, as well as legacy summaries and famous quotes. Using the information on each president’s page, you can quickly make up a list of questions regarding a president’s accomplishments or failures, an event that took place during the president’s term, or a famous line from a speech. Each presidential page also includes a “Did You Know?” category, which features additional facts perfect for a trivia game, such as the fact that George Washington was the only president to be elected by a unanimous vote and Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jot down questions, type them up, or create questions on the fly by reading the Presidential Fact Files web pages from your smartphone or tablet computer. You can choose to play presidential trivia with just a couple people, or you can play with a large group divided into teams. Encourage kids to review the presidential and first lady facts and write their own trivia questions to share with friends and the adults in their lives.

If you plan to play with a group of kids who are different ages, you might want to consider creating a rating system for your questions, such as Easy, Average, and Advanced. Or, consider awarding bonus points for a particularly difficult question.

You can expand your trivia coverage by creating some questions based on America’s first ladies using the NCBLA’s First Lady Fact Files. You can also create questions based on the informative essays and stories in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Be sure to take a look at the presidential images and notes in Bob Kolar's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Who's in the House?" Kolar's illustration is featured above.

Sample Trivia Questions and Answers

• Which president was the first to live in the White House? (Answer: John Adams)
• Which president served the shortest term? (Answer: William Henry Harrison)
• Which president is famous for having said, “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you––ask what you can do for your country?” (Answer: John F. Kennedy)
• Which president was the first to use electricity in the White House? (Answer: Benjamin Harrison)
• Before the passage of the 22nd amendment, presidential terms were not limited to two. Which president served FOUR terms? (Answer: Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
• Almost any adult American citizen is qualified to become president. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the exact qualifications. What are they? (Answer: Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes that anyone who is a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and has lived in the United States for at least fourteen years can become president.)
• Which presidential candidate was the first to promote his candidacy using television? (Answer: Dwight Eisenhower)
• Which president proclaimed "The Star-Spangled Banner" to be our national anthem? (Answer: Herbert Hoover)
• Which president campaigned successfully in 1840 using the populist slogan "Log Cabin and Hard Cider?" (Answer: William Henry Harrison)
• Which president was so well-known for his silent nature that during a dinner party a guest teased that she had bet a friend she could entice the president to say more than five words during the meal, to which he answered, "You lose?" (Answer: Calvin Coolidge)
• Which first lady worked with the Library of Congress to create the National Book Festival, an annual event first held on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2001? (Answer: Laura Bush)
• Who was the only presidential candidate to ever be elected by a unanimous vote? (Answer: George Washington)
• Which president considered himself to have been a "sissy" as a child, having said, "If there was any danger of getting into a fight, I always ran?" (Answer: Harry Truman)
• Which president was the first one to throw the first pitch in a major league baseball game? (Answer: William Howard Taft)
• Which president met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to improve relations and negotiate a treaty to eliminate a substantial number of nuclear missiles? (Answer: Ronald Reagan)
• Who was the first First Lady to sit in Cabinet meetings? (Answer: Rosalynn Carter)
• Which president was honored for his pioneering work in the discovery and study of fossils by having a species of mastodon named for him? (Answer: Thomas Jefferson)
• Which modern president is credited with passage of the Family Medical Leave Act? (Answer: Bill Clinton)
• Who assumed the presidency upon President Lincoln's assassination? (Answer: Andrew Johnson)
• Which president, in the wake of 9-11, took time off from his duties at the White House to throw the first pitch at a Major League Baseball playoff game in Yankee Stadium to show his support for New Yorkers? (Answer: George W. Bush)
• Which first lady hired a French chef to run the White House kitchens? (Answer: Jacqueline Kennedy)
• Our 43rd president, George W. Bush, is the son of former President George H. W. Bush, who served as America's 41st president. Who was our country's first father and son pair to both be elected as president? (Answer: John Quincy Adams served as our sixth president. He was the son of our nation's second president, John Adams.)
• Which president, having been thrust into the position following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, made the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan as a means to end World War II? (Answer: Harry S. Truman)
• Who is the only vice president to have assumed the presidency for a reason other than the president's death? (Answer: Gerald R. Ford)
• Who was the first and only president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? (Hint: He served from 1921 through 1930). (Answer: William Howard Taft)

For more activities to help you celebrate Presidents Month, click here

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12. Family Field Trip!

Celebrate Presidents Month
by Taking Young People to a
Presidential Library or Historic Site

More than twenty states boast presidential birthplaces, historic homes, libraries, and museums. Many of these very special places include extensive exhibits profiling events from the campaign trail and include not only samples of campaign posters and other memorabilia, but also audio and video exhibits that enable you to hear or watch the key events from the president's term in office.

Before visiting a presidential museum or library, be sure to check out the special activities calendar by calling ahead or reviewing the website because many libraries offer child-friendly and family-oriented activities to engage young people. For a comprehensive guide to finding presidential sites and museums, listed by state, check out the NCBLA’s Field Trip Guide for Presidential Birthplaces, House, and Libraries on the OurWhiteHouse.org website. 

Veteran educator Marcy Prager of the Brookline Public Schools enjoys taking her students on a field trip to the John F. Kennedy home in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Kennedy was born. Upon returning to school, Prager asks her students to each sketch a favorite room in the Kennedy house and write about the activities and events they learned used to be held there.

If visiting a presidential museum or library in person is not possible, you can visit one virtually by checking out content on the library’s website. Many presidential museums and libraries offer articles, curricula, and other resources you can download and use free. For example, the Jimmy Carter Library website (www.jimmycarterlibrary.org) is now offering a multi-disciplinary educational curriculum titled “The President’s Travels” with content for students in grades 2 through 12. And the research section of the George Bush Library’s website (http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu/) offers online access to some of its print and audio-visual archives. Included in the visual archives are photographs from Bush’s life, including his time in public office. The photos are organized by topic, such as Various Campaigns, US Vice President, US President, and Presidential Transportation.

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13. Connect Kids with Presidential History This Month

Engage Kids in Presidential History
Using the NCBLA's
Presidents Month Activities

"From the Foundation Up" by Bagram Ibatoulline
in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
Copyright (c) 2008.
The month of February and its focus on presidential birthdays provides the perfect opportunity to engage kids in presidents past and present and to get them excited about American history! The NCBLA has created a toolkit filled with fun and engaging activites you can use TODAY in your classroom, library, club meeting, or at home after dinner. Several of our activities were contributed by educators from across the country.

Our Presidents Month Activities toolkit includes the following:

Visit a Presidential Historic Site or Library
Make a Presidential Monument
Does the Shoe Fit?
Play a Game of Presidential Trivia
Host a Presidential Pet Parade
Great Moments in History: The Movie
Read, Research, Question, Learn!

To visit our Presidents Month Activities page on OurWhiteHouse.org, click here.

Here's a sneak peek at the Make a Presidential Monument activity:

Maryland teacher Michele Kinnear recommends that students create a presidential monument. Ask students to decide which president they wish to honor and explain why in a brief paragraph. Their next step is to brainstorm the monument. Ask students: Will you make a statue? Fountain? Museum? Park?

Additional questions to ask are: Where will the monument be located? Washington, DC? The president’s birthplace? A landmark of an important event of their presidency?

And finally instruct the students to determine what materials will be used. Marble? Brick? Trees?

Once the details have been decided, students should draw a rough sketch of their monument and label the important details. This can be done by hand or computer.

The final step is to create a 3-D scaled model of the monument. Students can choose their materials. Options to consider include: clay, Styrofoam, legos, wood, cardboard, sugar cubes.

This assignment can be completed independently or with a partner. 

To check out the details on all the NCBLA's Presidents Month activities, click here

For stories, essays, poems, and artwork to share with young people during Presidents Month, be sure to check out the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, which provides a perfect resource for learning more about American and presidential history.
Our White House was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance as a collaborative effort by over one hundred award-winning authors and illustrators to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive.
Ask for Our White House
at a library or bookstore near you!

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14. Keene State Announces Speakers for Children's Literature Festival

Keene State College
Children's Literature Festival
Scheduled for October 25

Mark your calendars now for the 38th Annual Keene State College Children's Literature Festival to be held Saturday, October 25, 2014 on the campus of Keene State College in Keene, NH. This year's festival will feature the following speakers:

M. T. Anderson is the author of picture story books, pre-teen books, and young-adult novels. He won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006 for THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, volume one of the "Octavian Nothing" books which are set in Revolution-era Boston. Other well-known novels are FEED, a National Book Award finalist about a future world where internet connections feed directly into the consumer's brain and language has gone into a steep decline, and THIRSTY where a boy appears to be turning into a vampire. Learn more about him and his books at www.mt-anderson.com.

Diane deGroat has illustrated over 130 books. She began her career illustrating others' books, then decided she wanted to write her own. Her first chapter book that she wrote and illustrated was ANNIE PITTS, ARTICHOKE, published in 1992. The first picture book that she wrote was ROSES ARE PINK YOUR FEET REALLY STINK. CHARLIE THE RANCH DOG was a #1 book on the NY Times Bestseller List. Diane donated an original from CHARLIE AND THE CHRISTMAS KITTY to the Festival Gallery Collection, along with the steps leading up to it. Diane's web site is found at www.dianedegroat.com.

Oliver Jeffers was born in Australia but soon moved to Northern Ireland where he lived until he moved to Brooklyn in 2008. His unique books have been translated into over 30 languages and have won numerous awards. His most recent book, a NY Times bestseller, is THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT. THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY won an Irish Book Award in 2007 as did THIS MOOSE BELONGS TO ME in 2012. LOST AND FOUND the animation has won more than 40 international awards. In 2007 Oliver was the official World Book Day illustrator. Oliver's web site is located at www.oliverjeffers.com.

Richard Michelson is a poet, children's book author, and owner of Michelson Galleries. He was born in Brooklyn in an area that was 90% Jewish but 12 years later was 90% African-American. As a result, many of his books deal with racial issues and interactions between races. AS GOOD AS ANYBODY, about the friendship between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Herchel and how their friendship promoted the message of love and equality for all, won the Sydney Taylor Gold Medal. BUSING BREWSTER was one of the 2010 New York Times Best Illustrated Books. Other well known books include LIPMAN PIKE and TWICE AS GOOD. More can be learned about Richard at www.richardmichelson.com.

Pamela Zagarenski has received two Caldecott Honor Awards: in 2010 for RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS and in 2013 for SLEEP LIKE A TIGER, both by Joyce Sidman. Her most recently illustrated book is WHAT THE HEART KNOWS, CHANTS, CHARMS & BLESSING by Joyce Sidman. Other titles include THIS IS JUST TO SAY and MITES TO MASTODONS. Pamela had said: "I paint to discover a secret code which needs to be cracked in order to better understand myself, the mysteries of life, the soul, God and even the mysteries I don't yet know exist." Learn more about Pamela and her work at www.pzagarenski.com.
Additional details and registration information are available on the festival website: keene.edu/clf
Keep up with additional festival news on the Festival Facebook page.

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15. February Is Presidents Month!

Get Kids Excited About Presidential History Using the Award-Winning Anthology
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Exciting stories, informative essays, humorous poetry, and extraordinary art can help kids engage in the past and make connections with our present and future. A perfect resource for learning more about American and presidential history that provides all of this and MORE is the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

With Our White House, kids can learn about the building of the White House--and why it once burned. They can engage with intimate stories of those who have resided in the White House over the years, including presidential pets and ghosts! And kids can also discover the joys and sorrows that have faced our nation and the often gut-wrenching decisions needed to be made by our presidents.

Our White House
was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance as a collaborative effort by over one hundred award-winning authors and illustrators to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive.

The Our White House anthology is supported by a companion educational website, OurWhiteHouse.org, which expands the book content with additional stories, primary sources, articles, activities, and discussion questions related to book topics. The website also includes printable education resource guides on the OWH Plus page to help you make the most of the book's content in your classroom and library. 

Learn more about how you can inspire young people using the Our White House resources in the online article "For Educators: Using Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and OurWhiteHouse.org in the Classroom."

Our White House is available in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press.

Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review!
“Eight years in the making, this anthology of White House history convenes an all-star roster of 108 children's authors and illustrators, as well as a few scholars and former White House employees and residents and it is a blue-ribbon choice for family sharing during an election year. Chronologically ordered, the entries range from poems to presidential speeches, satirical cartoons to stately portraits. . . . The volume makes the invaluable point that history does not have to be remote or abstract, but a personal and ongoing engagement.”
The Horn Book Starred Review!
“With something for adults and children alike is the sumptuous new anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. . . . The contributors are all luminaries of the children’s book field. A fascinating, eminently browsable, and accessible entrance into the People’s House.”

School Library Journal
Starred Review!
“This handsome compendium is rich with excerpts, poems, and other writings about the historic residence, many of them personal in tone and subject. With artwork as eclectic as the text, the book offers glimpses into the presidents, their concerns, their families, and the mansion itself.”

Featured on the “Martha Stewart Show” as One of The New York Times “Eight Great Books for the Holidays”
On the December 15, 2008 “Martha Stewart Show,” Martha advised procrastinating audience members and viewers to “Think books! I do!” as ideal holiday gifts. With that in mind New York Times book review editor Sam Tanenhaus shared recommendations of eight great books. Our White House was one of those books—the only children’s book on his list!

L.A. Parent
“This is the definitive White House book for history buffs young and old. Whether you seek ghost stories, architectural details, or personal accounts . . . you will not be disappointed. With amazing artwork and entries spanning more than 200 years from literary luminaries ranging from Charles Dickens to Walt Whitman, Gregory Maguire to David McCullough, there is material enough to keep you coming back for more.”
  • 2009-2010 National Endowment for the Humanities We the People “Picturing America” Bookshelf Award
  • 2009 American Library Association Notable Children’s Book for All Ages
  • 2009 National Council for Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
  • 2009 International Reading Association Teachers’ Choices Booklist Selection
  • Amazon.com Best Books of 2008 Top 10 Editors’ Pick for Middle Readers
  • Parents’ Choice Foundation Recommended Book Award, Fall 2008
  • School Library Journal Best Books of the Year 2008
  • The Horn Book Fanfare, Best Books of 2008
  • Publisher’s Weekly 2008 Best Books of the Year, Children’s Nonfiction
  • Publishers Weekly 2008 Cuffie Award, Best Nonfiction Treatment of a Subject, Honorable Mention
  • Scripps-Howard News Service Favorite Children's Book of 2008
  • www.ourwhitehouse.org named a 2009 American Library Association “Great Websites for Kids”

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16. NBF Webcasts Live on LOC.GOV

No Funds to Sponsor
an Author Visit to Your School or Library? 
Watch Webcasts of Favorite Authors for Young People on the Library of Congress Website

Author and illustrator Grace Lin talks about her books
at the 2013 National Book Festival.
Each year dozens of award-winning authors make their way to Washington, DC to meet and speak with book lovers from all over the country at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. To ensure that those who are unable to travel to DC can enjoy the authors' presentations, the Library of Congress records on video every one of the book festival's presentations. 

Author Susan Cooper spoke about her early work, as well as
her most recent book Ghost Hawk.
The Library's webcast library enables you and the young people in your life to watch and listen to their favorite authors. To check out the webcasts from the 2013 National Book Festival, click here.  Webcasts from previous years are also available, providing videos of hundreds of authors talking about their books for readers young and old!

Former National Ambassadors for Young
People's Literature Jon Scieszka and
Katherine Paterson.
And you won't want to miss the video of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance's Readers Theater presentation, which featured two former National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature--Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka--as well as award-winning authors extraordinaire Susan Cooper and Grace Lin! Also participating were special guests Carol Rasco, President and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, and literacy advocate Lynda Johnson Robb, a founding board member and Chairman Emeritus of RIF. NCBLA President and Executive Director Mary Brigid Barrett introduced the presentation, which was created for adults and children of all ages. 

To watch the Readers Theater presentation video, click here. And to learn all about Readers Theater AND download easy-to-print copies of our scripts that you can use in the classroom, click here

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17. Lemony Snicket's "The Dark" Awarded

Congratulations to Lemony Snicket, Honored with the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award for Outstanding Writing in a Picture Book

The Dark, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is the winner of the seventeenth annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book. The award is given by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, a library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and will be presented in Madison this spring.
According to the Cooperative Children's Book Center's blog, "Lemony Snicket’s playfully serious picture book personifies one of the most common fears of childhood. Laszlo doesn’t like the dark, which lives in his basement during the day. 'At night, of course, the dark went out and spread itself against the windows and doors …'   One night, the dark, which has a voice “as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows,” lures Laszlo out of his room. The narrative builds anxiety and anticipation as Laszlo hesitantly descends through the house. Then a wonderful cascade of language creates a sudden shift in pace, mood and perspective, inviting readers and listeners to consider the dark in new light—as a presence with purpose. Lemony Snicket never trivializes children’s fear of the dark. Instead he acknowledges that fear while elegantly traversing the tension it creates to arrive at a point of reassurance and humorous possibility, where the dark is both illuminated and illuminating. The Dark was edited by Susan Rich, editor-at-large, and published in the United States in 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers."

To read more about the award from the CCBlog, click here.  

To read more about Lemony Snicket and his books, visit his website LemonySnicket.com.

Snicket is a contributor to the NCBLA's progressive story game The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, created as a national reading and writing initiative in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

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18. Conference for Teachers and Librarians at JFK Museum April 3

JFK Presidential Library and JFK National Historic Site to Present Conference for Teachers and Librarians of Grades 3-8
"To Light the World:
Stories of Hope & Courage
for Challenging Times"
April 3, 2014

When bad news dominates the headlines and children are bombarded with frightening images from streaming media, we find ourselves looking for ways to explain and reassure. In these times, stories of hope, courage and resilience can offer an inspirational counterbalance.

This year’s conference features conversations with award-winning authors whose books inform and inspire young readers. Workshop sessions present strategies and resources for helping students engage with issues of concern, encouraging them to believe that they, too, can make a difference in the world.

To Light the World: Stories of Hope and Courage forChallenging Times will be held at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts on April 3, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The program will include Walter Dean Myers, Doreen Rappaport, and Susan Campbell Bartoletti as featured speakers. 

The registration fee is $100 and includes handouts, morning
coffee,and lunch. Registration form and payment must be
received by March 12, 2014.

For more information, including complete registration information, visit the To Light the World webpage on the JFK National Park Service website.

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19. Help Kids Become Lifelong Readers

Kids See, Kids Do!
Become a Literacy Role Model

by Mary Brigid Barrett
Many kids hear what you say. Some kids do what you say. All kids do what you do. This year, whether it is your child's first year of school or last, show them you support reading and education. As parents we all have goals and expectations for our children. The best way to help our children achieve their educational goals is to stop telling them what to do and begin showing them what to do.

An effective way of helping your children or teens become great readers is to read yourself. Read in front of them. Read newspapers, magazines, books, the backs of cereal boxes, the directions on a cake mix. Read aloud the song lyrics from your favorite CDs. Read in the bathroom and at the breakfast table. Read at the beach and keep books on your nightstand. Take your kids to the library and make sure they see your pleasure checking out reading materials for yourself.

When they interrupt your reading with requests and questions, make them wait until you've finished the page or the chapter before you respond. And, once in a while, after a hard day at work, let them see you turn off your favorite television program and relieve your stress and exhaustion by reading an entertaining book, one you just can't put down. More than words, that one act alone will make them understand that reading and books are not only a valuable experience, they are a desirable experience.

Very often a child or teen will participate in an activity or develop an interest if it gains them attention from the adults in their lives whom they respect and love. That's a great deal of power, and if we adults are smart we will use it wisely. Don't just tell kids that school and education are important, show them:

When educational issues are up for a vote in your community, take your children with you to the polls and let them see that you care enough about their education to take the time to vote.

Make sure your children's and teens' teachers know who you are and that you care about the education your children receive. Support and attend your kids' school activities as much as your life commitments permit.

If you are a single working parent and time considerations limit your classroom participation, talk to your children's teachers and investigate other ways that you can support your children and their classroom activities at home.

Be curious. In the course of your daily life let your children see you asking other adults questions, even "dumb" questions. Ask questions of your dry cleaner and grocer, your doctor and dentist, your auto mechanic and plumber. Your children will learn not to be afraid to ask questions. They will see that they can benefit from asking questions. They will learn from you that in reality there are no "dumb" questions.

Share your living skills with your kids. Show them how you balance a checkbook and keep a household budget. Have them read a recipe when you cook, or read and interpret directions and manuals when assembling household equipment and when making household repairs. And when you engage your kids in these activities, demonstrate how the skills you learned in school — reading, math, and thinking skills — help you accomplish a particular activity.

Whatever your occupation, take your children to your workplace and let them know how the knowledge you acquired in school applies to your line of work. Show them how you use acquired knowledge on the job. Kids of every age need to see that what they learn in school does have vast practical applications.

Take a chance and share your life passions with your children. Share your feelings of wonder. If you fish, fish with them. If you knit or sew, spend time teaching them to knit and sew. Let your kids see you contemplate a summer night's sky and wonder aloud at its magnificence. Education should be about discovery, about the joy in learning about one's self and the world. Some of our children do not find that joy in their classrooms, but as loving parents we can instill a joy in learning with our kids at home.

For more great articles and tips to help the young people in your life become lifelong readers, visit the NCBLA's Parent and Teacher Handbook

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20. DiCamillo Named New National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Named Fourth National Ambassador
for Young People's Literature!

Platform to be "Stories Connect Us"

Kate DiCamillo has been named the fourth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in January 2014. The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.

DiCamillo will serve in the position through 2015. She succeeds Walter Dean Myers, who served in 2012-2013; Katherine Paterson, who served in 2010-2011; and Jon Scieszka, who served in 2008-2009.

The award-winning DiCamillo has chosen “Stories Connect Us” as the theme for her platform.

DiCamillo is the author of many books for young readers. Her books have been awarded the Newbery Medal (The Tale of Despereaux, 2004), the Newbery Honor (Because of Winn-Dixie, 2001), the Boston Globe Horn Book Award (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, 2006), and the Theodor Geisel Medal and Honor (Bink and Gollie, co-author Alison MdGhee, 2011; Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, 2007). DiCamillo's most recent book is the novel Flora & Ulysses, illustrated by K. G. Campbell and published by Candlewick Press. 

DiCamillo is a contributor to the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. She also contributed two stories to the NCBLA's progressive story game The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, created as a national reading and writing initiative in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; the Children's Book Council (CBC); and Every Child a Reader (ECAR), a 501 (c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children, are the sponsors of the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature initiative.

Learn more about DiCamillo and her work on her website. And learn more about the National Ambassador program on Read.gov.

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21. Resolve to Read to Your Kids in 2014

Start the New Year with a GREAT Book!

The wealth and joys of reading cannot be made any clearer than in the words of beloved American poet Emily Dickinson:

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Why not make a resolution this year to share the world with the young people in your life by reading to them every single day?!

Reading aloud is an experience to be shared not only with toddlers and preschoolers, but also with infants, elementary school kids, and even teenagers. Blustery winter evenings provide the perfect opportunity for a family of all ages to snuggle together and take turns reading chapters from an engaging novel or stories from a favorite anthology of folktales. And fear not the "oppressive toll!" A world of books is available free of charge to all when you indulge in the stacks of your local library.

For reading lists and fun ideas to help the young people in your life become lifelong readers, be sure to check out the literacy resources available on the NCBLA's website, including The Parent/Teacher/Mentor Notebook. Be sure to take a minute and read our informative article "Why Do Kids Need Books?"

Check Out These Lists
to Begin Your Search for the Right Book

Remember:  your local librarian is the perfect resource for guiding your search for the best books for your kids of all ages! Following are some authoritative lists to assist your search:

The NCBLA wishes you and the young people in your life
many happy reading adventures in 2014!

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22. The NCBLA Needs You!

Help the NCBLA Help All of Our Kids!

The NCBLA needs you! In this season of giving, we ask that you please consider making a donation to the NCBLA. The NCBLA is a not-for-profit organization with 501-C3 status, so your donation will be tax deductible.

We need you to help us fight the good fight, making sure that all of our nation's kids have equal and ready access to school libraries and healthy neighborhood libraries.  

We need your help in educating the adults who live and work with children and teens to the literacy needs of the young people in their lives.  We need your help educating the United States Congress concerning the literacy and library needs of all of our young people. 

We need your help raising our nation's awareness to the fact that a democracy can only survive and thrive if its citizens, young and old, are literate and educated. 

We need your help so we can continue to create innovative national literacy outreach projects that reach millions of children across our nation and the world, such as the multiple award-winning book and companion website Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and OurWhiteHouse.org; and our Internet reading/writing world-wide initiative with the Library of Congress, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure story game, book, and educational support webpages.
We need your help to ensure our authors and illustrators can visit more classrooms, libraries, book festivals, and museums to work with our kids, exciting kids and their families about reading!

Please consider making a donation this holiday season to the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Large or small, we value, and honor every dollar, every donation.

In 2014 we hope to launch a new education initiative for educators and other adults who live and work with young people that focuses on using outstanding fiction and nonfiction literature to expand students' knowledge and improve their reading and writing skills in all subject areas. We need your help to make it happen! 

To make a donation by credit card using our secure credit card service, click here then click the Donate button.  

To send a check or money order, please mail your donation to:
Mary Kemper, Treasurer
The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance
P. O. Box 1479
Brewster, MA 02631
If you are making a donation in honor or memory of a colleague or loved one, please be sure to include that person’s name and any additional information you would like us to know.

Thank you! We hope you and your family have a delight-filled holiday season and a joyous New Year!

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23. Celebrating the Holidays at the White House

Help Kids Discover December Holiday Traditions at the White House

The December holidays provide a perfect opportunity to help young people learn about their own history and heritage, as well as the history, heritage, and traditions of others. 

The 2013 White House Christmas Tree
You can share the story of how the Christmas tree became a White House tradition and how farmers across America compete to grow the “Grand Champion” selected to adorn the White House each year in "Grand Champions of the White House" by guest writer Renee Critcher Lyons on OurWhiteHouse.org. Read on for an excerpt:

A tree has not always graced the White House at Christmastime. In fact, Franklin Pierce (1856), our 14th president, became the first to embrace the 500-year old tradition of bringing a tree into the home to celebrate the hope of Christmas morn. And, the practice did not become a yearly event until the 1880’s. Only one president since has frowned upon the use of an official White House Christmas tree, Teddy Roosevelt. Our 26th president (1901-1909), at a time before Christmas tree farms were prevalent, believed the harvesting of Christmas trees might deplete our national forests, and thus banned the practice from the White House.

President Ronald Reagan receives a menorah in the
Oval Office to mark the lighting of the menorah
on the Ellipse
President and Mrs. Barack Obama have continued the tradition of hosting Hanukkah celebrations at the White House as established by previous administrations.
To read about Hanukkah traditions at the White House, visit the article titled "Hanukkah at the White House" on the White House website WhiteHouse.gov

Discover More About the White House and American History in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
For even more information and stories about White House holiday traditions, the presidents and first ladies, and American history, check out a copy of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out from your local library and share the extensive fiction and nonfiction pieces and plethora of original art illustrations with the young people in your life. To learn more about White House holidays, you might choose to read how the American hostage crisis in 1979 affected the lighting of the national Christmas tree during President Carter’s term in office in “From Christmas in Plains: Memories” by Jimmy Carter.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is sold in hardcover and paperback at bookstores everywhere. LEARN MORE about this anthology at OurWhiteHouse.org.

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24. Holiday Gift Book Buying Tips

Finding Just the Right Book for Holiday Giving
Suggestions for Your Family

When you buy a special book for a child at Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, it helps your child to create emotional connections linking family, tradition, and reading. It also sends the message that receiving books is as pleasurable an experience as receiving toys.

I asked Natacha Liuzzi, librarian and book buyer, for some age-pertinent book suggestions for gift giving this year. Natacha's youthful appearance belies the fact that she has years of experience connecting kids to books. For eight years, Natacha was the Children's Services Librarian at the Hinesburg Public Library in Hinesburg, Vermont. There she was responsible for buying all the children's, middle grade, and young adult materials, servicing children from toddlers through to high school students. Currently, Natacha is the children's book buyer for the independent Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. For the past four years she has served on a committee that nominates picture books for the Red Clover Award, Vermont's annual student choice awards. She is also the RIF coordinator for the Hinesburg Community School, providing each student with a free book three times yearly, and she was the Hinesburg Literacy Team coordinator working with area preschool and reading teachers throughout Chittenden County.

Finding a special book for the child you love can be an overwhelming task given the selection available at your bookstore. Natacha offers the following advice:

  • Find out what the child or teen has read already. Ask them what authors they like to read.
  • Discover the subjects and topics that interest them.
  • Find out if they prefer fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or reality.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your neighborhood children's librarian or children's books seller for suggestions and advice.
  • Read your local newspaper's book section. Many newspapers and magazines feature book suggestions this time of year.
  • Be consumer savvy. The books with biggest marketing budgets are not necessarily the best books for you child or teen. And conversely, a book you've never heard of may contain the story that changes your child’s or teen's life. Natacha says, "Just because a book jacket may look promising does not mean the story is going to live up to it. We all fall victim at one time or another to 'judging a book by its cover.'
  • Take into consideration the content and age recommendation. I think great care needs to be taken, especially if a young reader is at a higher reading level. Even though the child can read the material the content is not always appropriate.
  • No one is ever too old for a picture book!!
Consider all possibilities: great literature and fun, entertaining books. Says Natacha, "Think of books in terms of chocolate mousse and a Hershey kiss. There are moments for both!"

(c) 2005 Mary Brigid Barrett, The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

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25. Print and Share Our Readers Theater Scripts

Just in Time for the Holidays!
Help Kids Create Christmas Drama by Performing the Readers Theater Script for Katherine Paterson's Christmas Story
"The Handmaid of the Lord"

The art of Readers Theater provides an inexpensive and compelling way to get kids reading! Readers Theater is similar to a radio play in that no costumes or props are required. Readers simply stand on stage--or in the front of the classroom!--and read their lines from a script, using their voices to dramatize the production.

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, recently presented a Children's Literary Lights Readers Theater presentation at the 2013 National Book Festival. Following the Festival, the NCBLA has created a Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, as well as several scripts, for adults to share with the young people in their lives.

Katherine Paterson's Readers Theater script for her Christmas short story "The Handmaid of the Lord" provides an opportunity for young readers to share the suffering and joy of a minister's young daughter who never gets any good presents for Christmas. The story's protagonist Rachel Thompson hopes to change her luck by playing the part of Mary in the church's annual Living Nativity. Paterson's story is included in her newly published collection A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season (Westminster John Knox Press).

To print and share Paterson's Readers Theater script for "The Handmaid of the Lord," click here.

To learn more about Readers Theater and to print our Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, click here.

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