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1. Writing Workshops in Northern Ohio


Northern Ohio SCBWI to Host
Three Fall Writing Events

The Northern Ohio chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) invites adults interested in writing for young people to join them at their monthly workshops and annual conference. You do not need to be a member of SCBWI to attend.

SCBWI is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults. It acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people (see www.scbwi.org).

Upcoming 2014 events include:

  • In the Heart of it All – SCBWI: Northern Ohio’s 12th Annual Conference, September 19-20 at the Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel. The perfect place to learn more about writing and illustrating and meet some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field of publishing who are eager to educate, inspire, and encourage attendees!
  • Good is no longer Good Enough – Writing the Stand-out Picture Book/ Novel Workshop with Dandi Daley Mackall, October 18 at the Holiday Inn Cleveland South. Through presentations, writing exercises, Q&A and written critiques, the day's emphasis will be on striving for excellence when writing picture books, nonfiction picture books, novels and historical fiction novels. (There is currently a waiting list for this event.)
  • November 15th Critique Meeting with Michelle Houts,November 15 at the Highland Library in Medina. Bring a manuscript to share or just listen and learn from others’ critiques.
Pre-registration is required for all events. For more details, visit https://ohionorth.scbwi.org

Questions? Contact Victoria Selvaggio, SCBWI: Northern Ohio Regional Advisor at vselvaggio@windstream.net.

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2. Join Us at IN SEARCH OF WONDER October 17, 2014 in Perry, Ohio

Top FIVE Reasons to Register for
In Search of Wonder: Common Core & More

Illustration (c) Steven Kellogg
Teachers, principals, librarians, parents, students of education and library science, book lovers--you are ALL invited to register for the NCBLA's upcoming literary event
In Search of Wonder: Common Core & More
to be held Friday, October 17, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Perry, Ohio.
 

But WHY should you take a day to attend? We are so glad you asked!


  1. FIVE FAMOUS AUTHORS!
    Sit back and hear firsthand the inspiring, wise, and often witty words of five of America's most talented authors: Katherine Paterson,
    Steven Kellogg, Nikki Grimes, Tanya Lee Stone, and Chris Crutcher!
  2. COMMON CORE COMMENTARY!
    Are you wondering how you can possibly integrate Common Core into your classroom or library program in an inspired and magical way? Our expert Common Core commentators will demonstrate exactly how you can do that using books written by our five featured authors.
  3. EXPERT PANEL DISCUSSION!
    Our panel of educators, librarians, and children's literature industry specialists will discuss classic, contemporary, and brand new books that can be utilized across all academic disciplines and grade levels to enhance students’ learning experiences. Are you questioning the goals of Common Core? Wondering how to help young people identify fact in fiction? Come hear what the experts have to say.
  4. FREE BOOKS!
    Every registered attendee will receive a free hardcover copy of the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out at the end of the day, courtesy of Candlewick Press. A $30.00 value!


    PLUS, every registered attendee will have the opportunity to win one of our TEN themed book bags at the end of the day. Many of these giveaway books have been autographed by the authors!
  5. AFFORDABLE PRICE!
    The event fee is just $35. Members of NEA, AFT, NCTE, and ALA pay only $25. Employees of the Cleveland Public Library, CLEVENET member libraries, and Cleveland Public Schools also pay only $25. Undergraduate and graduate university students pay $15.
Five reasons to register for In Search of Wonder aren't enough? Here are a few more:
  • FREE educational support materials will be published online to provide creative ways you can integrate engaging and quality literature in your classroom or library using the Common Core Standards.
  • Contact hour certificates will be provided.
  • A special display of Steven Kellogg’s original illustrations will be available for you to browse, courtesy of the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio. 
  • On-site book sales and AUTOGRAPHING by all five of our featured authors! 
Convinced? To register now, click here.

Need more information? Please click here to read all the details!

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3. Back to School

Great Tips for Reducing the Stress
of Going Back to School

Grown-ups begin a new year on January 1st, but for kids the new year begins on the first day of school. Although kids love to "hate" school, many are truly eager to learn, to get back to their school, its social scene, and its reassuring routine. New kids in town, oldest children, kids transitioning from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school, or kids with learning or behavioral challenges, may feel a little anxious when the new school year rolls around.

Our job as parents is to raise our children to be independent. One of parenting's greatest challenges is learning to distinguish when and how much we should help our children and when we should encourage them to solve problems themselves. The best way to help your children or teens prepare for school this year is to teach them by example and by posing questions that will help them think through their own problems and arrive at workable solutions.

Some Helpful Tips:
  • Use the two weeks prior to school starting to let your child readjust to their new bedtime. Set their alarm each night and make sure your little one is up and at em' the next morning.
  • Take time to go over your child's car pool or bus schedule as well. This way they will be aware of what time they need to be ready when the big day arrives.  In addition, you may want to go over routes and how long the ride to school will take.  Most importantly, talk to your child about car/bus safety!
  • If your child is new to town, the oldest, or transitioning from one school to another, make sure he or she has the opportunity to tour the school a few days before school begins. Encourage your child to ask questions of you and anyone he or she meets at the school. Be aware that younger children, preteens, and teens will all have different fears and concerns. And, older kids may be too insecure to ask questions for fear of appearing stupid or un-cool. For example: young children may worry about paying for lunch the first time and where the lavatories are located in relationship to their classroom. Preteens and teens may be more worried about their lockers, lock combinations, and what they're going to wear the first day of school.
  • Before any "back to school" clothing is purchased, make sure you and your child or teen know the school dress code. That knowledge will ease family tension and save you a great deal of time and trouble.
  • From kindergarten on, encourage your children to dress in a way that is compatible with his or her personality. Let them know that being true to themselves is "way" better than being trendy; in fact, the kids who create trends never copy anyone else. Peer pressure builds as kids get older and celebrating individuality through clothing style is a great way to show your kids that they do not need the approval of popular kids to survive, and thrive, in school.
  • The night before school have your child pick out a first day outfit. This will avoid adding unnecessary chaos to an already hectic event. Have them pack their backpack as well. Click here for tips on backpack safety: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/backpack.html
  • School textbooks are getting heavier and heavier. Make sure you child or preteen has a sturdy backpack that distributes the weight of books equally. You may want to invest in a roller backpack that has a luggage handle so that your child can pull his or her backpack instead of carrying it.
  • If you plan on packing them a lunch ask them what they would like to eat on the first day of school. If you aren't fixing their lunch, be sure to give them lunch money and have them put it in a safe place.
  • If your children will be participating in any extracurricular sports, they will need a physical. Schedule it as soon as possible, even before school starts.
  • If your kids had required reading over the summer, you may want to have an informal discussion with them about their reading right before school starts. Ask them to remind you what books they read and why they liked or disliked them. Don't be satisfied with simplistic explanations; ask for details about characters, place, and plot. Ask them if and why they would recommend the book to other kids. Your informal book chat will jog their memories and help them if they are assigned a report on their summer reading.
  • Share your own feelings and memories about your first day of school experiences: being the new kid in town; the first one in the family to ride a bus to school; or the forgetting your locker combination running between classes in middle school. When your kids share their worries or concerns, don't dismiss or trivialize them. Validate their concerns. Ask them if they have ideas on what they can do to alleviate their apprehensions. If they do not have ideas, brainstorm with them to come up with viable solutions and actions.
  • In this era of "kidnap fears" it is hard not to be too overprotective of your children, but try. In most of America, kids can walk to school safely. They can ride the bus safely, too. Human skin is waterproof, and dressed for the occasion, kids can walk in the rain and snow unharmed. The classroom is not the only place where learning occurs. The journey to and from school provides your kids with another situation in which to learn. If your area is "traffic safe," adequately prepare your kids with safety tips and, at an age appropriate time, stop driving them to school door and let them explore. Their self-esteem will swell with their responsible independence.
  • Make sure your child has a library card, knows his or her way around the library, and knows how to find the books he or she will need to complete assignments and read for pleasure during the school year.
  • Get into the habit of going to the library once a week or once every two weeks, regardless of whether or not your child's school assignments require it. The best way you can help your children achieve in school is to encourage them to read and become life-long readers. The best place to get free books, magazines, computer access, entertaining stories, and important information is your neighborhood library.
  • No matter how old or young your children, read through the school student handbook with them at the beginning of every year. You both need to know the school's goals, expectations, opportunities, and rules.
  • Fill out any medical and emergency forms and return them to the school immediately. If your child has any special health or physical needs make sure you put those needs in writing and that the principal, your child's teacher, and the school nurse all have copies.
  • Establish a safe place in the house where all school forms and notices can be deposited every day. Get your kids in the habit of taking all forms and notices out of their backpacks and putting them in that safe place as soon as they walk through your door. They need to learn from kindergarten on that they are responsible for making sure you receive all communications from their school. It may help to give each of your children, including your teens, a sturdy plastic folder that they can keep in their backpack to carry notices home safely.
  • Rusty Browder, the librarian at Amos A. Lawrence School in Brookline, Mass., recommends that kids of all ages acquire great "backpack habits." She suggest that kids go through their backpacks everyday, organize papers and notebooks, give parents important notices and work, and throw out garbage of any kind! Older kids who have locker breaks between classes may want to organize their heavy textbooks in groups of morning and afternoon classes so that one group of books can be left in their lockers until needed.
  • Read aloud to your children from their favorite books, every night if possible, if only for ten or fifteen minutes. And don't assume that once your child has become an independent reader that he or she no longer wants, or needs, to be read aloud to. Kids of all ages, and adults, love to hear a great story. And reading aloud increases your children's vocabulary, makes them laugh, expands their universe, and helps them to learn about human understanding and compassion. Besides- it's great fun!
  • Try to find a special time each day to talk with your children about their day at school. Sometimes that moment takes place in the car driving between after-school activities. Sometimes it takes place on the phone from home to your work place. Sometimes it takes place at the table over dinner. Wherever and whenever it takes place, don't ask the question, "How was school today?" –– it is a certainty that you will get a one word answer. Ask: what was served in the cafeteria; did you have gym outside; how did your history presentation go? –– anything to initiate a conversation. Never underestimate your impact or importance to your kids. Your taking the time to take an interest in them and their day is not only important to their education, it is something they will remember and cherish the rest of their lives.
  • Send them off with big kisses and a bunch of well wishes!
Happy School Year!!

© 2013 Mary Brigid Barrett

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4. Back to School

Teachers!
Set The Stage for Great Writing

Many kids think of writing as a burden and a chore rather than as a pleasurable experience. Here are some suggestions to help you motivate your students to get them writing. 

   Professional writers choose their own topics and story ideas; they write about things they care about. In our current test oppressive culture, students have little opportunity to choose their own writing topics. Whenever possible, offer your students choices within a given writing assignment. If, after being given a writing assignment, a student comes up with a legitimately better idea, be flexible; allow them to bend the assignment to meet their interests.

 Fight to keep creative writing projects in your classroom and your school’s curriculum. With state testing mandates, many teachers have little time to spend on creative writing projects. Your students need to experience writing for joy and pleasure, just like they need to experience reading and books in a pleasurable atmosphere.

 Introducing kids to rich and entertaining children’s literature is the best way to get kids excited about reading and books. Creating their own stories is one of the best ways you can get your students excited about writing.

 The esteemed writer Virginia Woolf suggested that a writer needs "a room of one’s own." Writers need privacy in order to work and school is, conversely, a communal experience. What’s to be done? First, buck the team work trend and have your students work independently on their own writing projects and assignments. Second, see if there is some way you can allow your students to find their own writing space either in the classroom or in the school library, even if they can only use the space on occasion. Third, contact your students' parents and ask them to help their children find a special place at home to write. You may want to print and make multiple copies of Creating a Home Atmosphere That Supports Great Writing, and give a copy to each of your students’ parents. It will help them create an atmosphere at home to support their children’s writing.

 Be a role model. If you want your students to think that writing is a pleasurable activity, then you should try to write, too, and let them see you writing. Participate yourself in the creative writing projects you give your students and let them hear the results of your attempts, after they have completed their assignments. If you have the courage to share your writing, they will follow your example!

For more great tips and articles about encouraging literacy in the classroom and at home, visit the NCBLA's Teacher Handbook and Parent & Guardian Handbook

©2004 Mary Brigid Barrett

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5. On Censorship

Interview with Two Literacy Experts Delves into Censorship Issues in Children's Literature

Illustration courtesy of FairObserver.com.
Recently NCBLA President and Executive Director Mary Brigid Barrett and children's literature specialist Maria Salvadore talked with  Anna Pivovarchuk of the Fair Observer. The interview is published in an article titled "Banning Children’s Literature: The Right to Read." Here is an excerpt:

Pivovarchuk: Children’s books — or literature for young adults — have been the most frequently challenged throughout history. From Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, to the Harry Potter series that topped the list over the last decade, and now to Captain Underpants, which pushed the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey off the top spot in 2013. What it is about these books that makes parents so angry?
Barrett: I think sometimes, on a surface level, parents feel that exposure to certain books challenges the beliefs and values they are trying to instill in their children, and they feel threatened. As a parent and teacher, I totally understand those feelings, especially when talking about age appropriateness issues. Over the last three years, visiting schools and working with children, I have found a number of kids as young as third grade who read The Hunger Games books. No matter how intellectually precocious a third grader is, few, if any, third graders would have the experience level and the emotional maturity to deal with the violence level in those books.

But banning The Hunger Games is not the answer. I found, as a parent, the best way to handle a situation where your child is adamant about reading a book, which you are worried is inappropriate, is to read it aloud with your child, so you can comment on it; your child can share his or her reaction to what is read; and you can then have a discussion with your child, sharing your values, your feelings about what is read and, in turn, your child can share his or her concerns and ask you questions.

A dear friend, author Katherine Paterson, has often found her books on the most challenged children’s books list. One of those, The Bridge to Terabithia, is often challenged for a variety of reasons. Amongst challenger claims are that it contains offensive language, promotes secular humanism, new age religions, cults and witchcraft. But Katherine thinks that in some parents it ignites a much greater parental fear — the fear of your child dying. One of the main child characters in the book dies, and not from an illness or premeditated act, or adult abuse or error, but from a total accident where no one is at fault and no one is responsible. Katherine feels that the real reason the book is challenged is that parents want to feel they are in control, and have the ability to keep their children safe. But deep down, we all know that no matter how much we love our kids, no matter how we try to protect them, anything can happen at any time. The Bridge to Terabithia reveals the deepest, darkest fear we all have as parents: that we can care for our children, but we cannot control the universe — it can take them at any time.

To read the entire article, vist FairObserver.com.

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6. Attention Coaches, Counselors, Mentors!

Great Ideas for Connecting Kids
to Books this Summer,
Especially for Coaches,
Counselors, and Mentors

Grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, neighbors, coaches, scout and camp councilors, youth volunteers—all of you have far more influence on the kids in your life than you know. And you have enormous influence on the children and teens that have parents who, for whatever reason, are unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Your position is free of even ordinary parental/child/teen tension, and because of that, your leadership and friendship are hugely meaningful, especially to preteen and teens that are naturally looking beyond their own backyards for mentors. Don’t be afraid to exert your influence encouraging kids to read, to write, to stay in school and learn.

Young and single adult mentors’ words are gold – especially to teens – so share what you’re reading with the kids. The next time you visit or meet with kids, bring magazines that you enjoy and magazines you think they would like, too. Mention articles in newspapers that interest you, as well as online materials. Share a book – a mystery, romance, biography, fantasy, or information book – that you have found especially entertaining or helpful. You are much cooler than any old parent or guardian, and if you suggest something to read, the kids will be eager to read it themselves.

Coaches and youth organization leaders schedule an informal “rain” practice or meeting in the children’s or young adults’ rooms at your local neighborhood library. Make sure to email or call your library to let them know when you will be coming to visit. And give them an idea of how many kids will be coming. If you, or your kids, do not have library cards, take the opportunity to get a library card and show the kids how to use it. Ask the librarian to show the kids where books and magazines are located that relate to their interests: sports, scouting, camping, arts and crafts, games, etc. Make sure the librarian introduces them to picture books and novels, to great stories that relate to their interests. And be sure that the kids know that they can also borrow audio books, music CDs, and video and DVDs of their favorite movies – all for free. The example of a coach or scout leader borrowing books from the library will have a far greater impact on kids than any literacy entreaty delivered by their parents or teachers.

Write up your team’s, group’s, or organization’s activities and email or fax your report to your local community paper to get your kids reading newspapers. Community papers are eager to report town activities. If your report gets published, make sure you bring the newspaper to the next practice or meeting to share with your kids. Read the blurb or report out loud and show the kids other sections of the paper that may be of interest to them. If you work with tweens and teens, rotate the “reporter’s” duties through various members of the team and let them write up the information about the game or group activity. They will be thrilled to see their words printed in the local paper. If you live in an urban area that supports a major newspaper, be sure to bring that newspaper to a meeting and point out the sports and life style sections that echo the kids’ interests.

Explore how you can connect the kids in your team or group to reading and books. When kids join America SCORES Soccer, they commit to learning how to be great soccer players and to reading and writing poetry. America SCORES is a nationwide program that uses poetry and soccer as tools to teach literacy, life skills and the importance of community service to inner-city elementary school children. The children participate five days a week for ten weeks each fall and spring. They spend two days a week learning poetry and implementing a community service project; the remaining three days per week are devoted to soccer instruction and games played against other area SCORES teams. “SCORES student-athletes improve their reading and writing skills, learn to express themselves, help their community, make lasting friendships, and learn valuable life skills that will help them advance in the classroom, on the playing field, and in society.”

SCORES was originally designed to be both a literacy and sport program, but your team or organization need not totally overhaul its mission in order to connect kids to books. If you run a scouting or recreation program, you might consider starting a book discussion group that meets regularly at a local spot kids enjoy, like a burger joint, ice cream parlor, local park, coffee shop, or neighborhood library. Your local librarian can suggest age appropriate books that work well for kids’ book discussion groups. You may create an incentive program with an award or certificate for the kids on your team that read a designated number of books during the season. Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson gave his players a reading list at the beginning of each season. You may choose to read a humorous poem at the beginning of your youth organization meetings. A Big Brother or Sister can take their charge to a great kid’s movie inspired by a children’s book, then go to the library or bookstore and get the book that inspired the movie and read it together. The opportunities to connect kids to books are limitless!


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

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7. Helping Your Kids Find the Right Books

Summer Reading Recommendations  from Authoritative Sources Abound

Would you like to visit your local library or bookstore with a list of summer reading books for your kids in hand? Then check out inspiring recommendations from the following expert sources:
And don't forget to ask the librarian at your local library for help in finding just the right book for your child! He or she can help you find the perfect books for your kids based on their interests and reading levels.  

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8. Prevent the Summer Reading Slide!



To Spark Summer Learning,
Start with a Book!

Need help coming up with ideas to keep your child reading and writing over the summer? Reading Rockets’ Start with a Book has some cool ideas to jump start your summer learning adventures:

  •  Strengthen kids’ literacy, inquiry, and problem-solving skills with a combination of great books and the easy hands-on activities Start with a Book offers in these science-themed activity packs.
  • Use Start with a Book themes to plan reading and learning adventures in your own community. Take advantage of the related books, activities and apps selected to extend the learning.
  • Encourage kids to write about their learning adventures using this fun, downloadable Adventure Tracker
  • Can’t get to the library? Create your own summer reading program and let kids log all of their summer reading with the Start with a Book Summer Book Tracker
  • Sign up for Summer Reading Tips to Go and get more great ideas for reading, writing and hands-on summertime fun texted right to your phone, in English or Spanish.

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9. Katerine Paterson On Set for GILLY

Behind the Scenes During Filming of
The Great Gilly Hopkins

Sophie Nelisse and Toby Turner act out a scene in the bus station.
S. E. Hinton did it in the film adaptation of her novel The Outsiders. And Louis Sachar did it in the film version of his book Holes. Now Katherine Paterson has done it--she has filmed a cameo role in the movie version of her novel The Great Gilly Hopkins, the story of the brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable 11-year Gilly who is shuffled from foster home to foster home until she meets Maime Trotter. 


Katherine Paterson and Sophie Nelisse get direction for their scene.
Katherine admits on her website that her childhood dreams did not include wanting to become a writer, "The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary." And now, with her cameo role in The Great Gilly Hopkins, Paterson has attained her childhood wish!

Toby Turner, Sophie Nelisse, and Katherine Paterson.
The title role is played by the young Sophie Nélisse. "Best Actress" Oscar winner Kathy Bates plays Maime Trotter. The star-studded cast also includes Julia Stiles, Octavia Spencer, Glenn Close, Toby Turner, Clare Foley, Bill Cobbs, Billy Magnussen,  Zachary Hernandes, Salvatore L. Rossi, and Sammy Pignalosa. 

The movie is tentatively scheduled to play in theaters in early 2015, but don't wait for the movie! Why not visit your local library and share the joy of this National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner with the young people in your life today?

Clare Foley and Sophie Nelisse.

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10. Massachusetts! Your Libraries Need You!

A Call to Action to Massachusetts Residents from Library Advocates

Dear Massachusetts Library Supporters:

A Conference Committee – their names and contact info are at the end of this letter – has been appointed to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions of the FY15 State budget. Now is the critical time for all of us – librarians, trustees, friends, library users, anyone – to let members know it’s important to reverse some long-overdue library funding deficits. This year is a big opportunity. We must act, even if you never have before!!!

The Western Massachusetts Library Advocates (WMLA) urge funding of the Senate version of the FY15 State Budget for Mass Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) accounts:

7000-9401: State Aid to Regional Libraries:
Senate $9,883,482 vs. House $9,805,978

7000-9501 State Aid to Public Libraries:
Senate: $9,989,844 This amount restores state aid to the 2009 funding level. This is the increase the library community has needed for many years. The Conference Committee should support this increase. The House called for $7,223,657. While any increase is helpful, we feel the State should be able to return funding for this account to the amount it had 6 years ago!

7000-9506 Library Technology and Resource Sharing:
Senate: $2,867,823. Provides an increase of $938,585 over the FY 2014 budget. This increase over the House’s $2,129,238 will help end the Digital Lockout that really needs addressing.

Center for the Book:
In this case, WMLA supports the House Budget that created line 7000-9508 For the Center for the Book, Inc., chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; provided, that the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc. shall be established as a public- private partnership charged with the development, support and promotion of cultural programming designed to advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach of potential of public libraries within the Commonwealth $125,000. The Senate did not pass the amendment.

Conference Committee Members
If you live or work in one of these communities, please consider taking 5 minutes to contact your legislator to ask for their support of these important line items. If you don't live in the communities, please write to your State Senator and State Representative and ask them to contact the committee to urge support.

Senator Stephen Brewer:
Ashburnham, Athol, Barre, Brookfield, Charlton, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Hubbardston, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Petersham, Phillipston, Rutland, Spencer, Sturbridge, Templeton, Warren, West Brookfield and Winchendon, Brimfield, Holland, Monson, Palmer and Wales, Ware, Ashby
Email: Stephen.Brewer@masenate.gov.
State House: 617-722-1540, District: 978-355-2444

Senator Jennifer Flanagan:
Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Sterling, Westminster, Townsend
Email: Jennifer.Flanagan@masenate.gov.
State House: 617-722-1230, District: 978-534-3388

Senator Richard Pat Ross Ferry:
Millis, Needham, Norfolk, Plainville, Wellesley, Wrentham, Attleboro, North Attleborough, Natick, Sherborn and Wayland
Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.
State House: 617-722-1555

Representative Brian Dempsey:
Haverhill
Email: Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov.
State House: 617-722-2990
Thank you,

Sharon Shaloo
Massachusetts Center for the Book

MassBook.org

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11. A Tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou



Photo courtesy of the Maya Angelo website.
My Morning with Maya

Nervous and expectant, I stood outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in the rain waiting for Maya Angelou’s car to arrive. I had been corresponding by mail and phone with Professor Angelou’s assistant for months making sure everything was in order for this speaking engagement. Ms. Angelou would need a private room with fresh fruit and bottled still water where she could wait alone before she spoke, and retreat to later, for there was to be no interaction with the audience before or after her speech. Each week’s phone call with Professor Angelou’s assistant outlined new criteria and demands for the visit. I had begun wondering, and worrying, that one of my life heroes was a high maintenance prima donna.

—Later, I was to learn why her assistant had wanted a private room for her after her speech. The crowd that gathered in the lobby, awaiting her after her presentation, was like my Uncle Mike who when overjoyed, grabbed you, crushing you in a huge bear hug, completely unaware that his embrace was so tight you couldn’t breath. I had grown up around a lot of politicians and was used to crowds, but I had never seen anything like this. I knew I had to get Dr. Angelou out to her car fast. I nabbed my friend and assistant Sally Truslow and told Ms. Angelou I wanted to get her to her car swiftly and safely. She was trembling, the emotion from the crowd was that intense. Sally and I put one arm around each side of her, a wonderful security guard held an umbrella aloft, and we pushed through the crowd out to the car for her get-a-away. It was my first experience with crowd crush, I gained a whole new respect for those who work to protect notable people and dignitaries.—

The event being held was The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance’s first major production, a national symposium entitled “Children and Books at Crossroads," Friday, October 9, 1998. I had worked hard to get a high quality venue—the Kennedy Presidential Library— and worked even harder to get First Lady Hilary Clinton on board as the Honorary Chair of our event. I knew I needed a major presence, a person of depth, quality, and experience to anchor our roster of speakers, a person who knew and understood the power of the written word, a person who understood the transformational power of story and books in young people’s lives. I had long admired Maya Angelou and when I first mentioned to our board that I wanted to go after her as the morning keynote for our symposium, they were enthusiastic, but doubtful of her availability. But I knew if I could “get” Professor Angelou, she would be the solid cornerstone upon which I could then build the whole day’s quality content.

Thankfully, miraculously, Maya Angleou said yes. And because she said yes, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough said yes. And education activist and author of the powerfully moving book, “Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun,” Geoffrey Canada said yes. And CBS “Sunday Morning” host Charles Osgood said yes. And Harvard astrophysicist and literacy advocate Margaret Geller said yes. As did author Sven Birkerts, and Harvard professors Catherine Snow and Jeanne Chall, publisher Lisa Quiroz, and literacy advocates Dr. Perri Klass, William Truehart, and Elizabeth Segal. And Mrs. Teresa Heinz-Kerry honored us by personally chairing our symposium. They all joined the party because Maya Angelou was the first to say, yes, I will come.

A big black sedan pulled up in front of the library’s main entrance. I opened the door for Professor Angelou, introducing myself, welcoming her, helping her from the car, reaching high to hold an umbrella over her head. She immediately engaged me in conversation as we walked into the library and up the elevator to her private room, asking me in-depth questions about our organization and our goals. I get rather passionate when I talk about kids and books and reading, and as I shared information not covered in my correspondence, my nervousness disappeared. It was only later that I realized her interest and considerate questions were meant to put me at ease. The room the Kennedy Library had provided for her was lovely and quiet. She asked where everyone else was, and I explained our board members, with family and guests, were in a large, communal “Green Room” downstairs. She asked me to take her there, to meet everyone, and suggested we bring the bowl of fruit along with us. Before we stepped back onto the elevator, she stopped, placing her hand on my shoulder—even though her posture was curling forward and she leaned on a cane, she was so very tall. Why, you’re passionate believers, she said, a grassroots group reaching up, reaching out.

She entered the Green Room quietly, without fanfare or drama, but everyone riveted toward her anyway. She chose to sit at the table’s end, between a charming young intern from the Kennedy Library and my two daughters Elizabeth and Emily. Introducing herself, she engaged all three young women in conversation, asking them about themselves, their interests, their schools. They were entranced, and my mother heart overflowed with emotion, my mind and eyes making a mental snapshot of the moment for a life memory. CBS’s Charles Osgood was good-humouredly helping my husband Dick and our son Patrick hand-letter panelist name plates—a last minute rescue of an overlooked detail. The room was filled with board members and their spouses—Katherine and John Paterson, Patty and Bob MacLachlan, Sally and Bob Truslow, Natalie and Sam Babbitt and their daughter Lucy, David Macaulay, and Stephanie Loer, and dear friends and supporters Libby Rock and Grant Oliphant. Our organization, the NCBLA, has always been a family affair. Everyone mixed and mingled, introducing themselves and each other to Margaret Geller and Geoffrey Canada and other panelists as they joined us. Maya Angelou was just one of the NCBLA gang.

When Mrs. Heinz-Kerry arrived; it was game time. I escorted both Dr. Angelou and Mrs. Heinz up to stage left, where they could have a bit of privacy before their presentations. I got them some comfortable chairs, then headed to the podium. My job was to welcome attendees, set the tone for day, hopefully providing a bit of humor and inspiration, then introduce Mrs. Heinz-Kerry. Beyond teaching in front of my class at RISD, or giving a presentation at an SCBWI conference, I had very little public speaking experience. There I was, the girl from Cleveland’s West Side, standing at the podium in the Kennedy Presidential Library, in front of Congressional aides, literacy activists, children and family television producers and executives, professional educators, academics, major magazine editors, reporters, and one of my heroes, Maya Angelou—and I was terrified. Without a typed copy of my speech, I would never have remembered later what I said. I only remember that when I finished, after greeting Mrs. Heinz as she walked to podium, Maya Angelou was waiting in the wings. She cupped my face with both her hands, soft and warm, and told me, nicely done little chicken. Always, always follow your heart. We stood there together, her very tall, me very short. She held my hand tight as she waited to go onstage for her speech. And of course, she soared, the tempo and beat of her words and wisdom creating a song of inspiration and hope.

Thank you Maya Angelou for your courage and the many gifts you shared with the world. You were an incandescent flame of hope in weary world. Thank you for a morning of lovely memories.
Mary Brigid Barrett
President and Executive Director
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

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12. In Search of Wonder: Common Core & More to be Held October 17

Educators, Librarians, Parents, and Students of Education and Library Science!
Have You Registered for the NCBLA's Professional Development Day
In Search of Wonder:
Common Core and More?



YOU are invited to attend a very special event with five renowned authors to learn about new and classic fiction and nonfiction literature that can be used in the classroom across a variety of academic disciplines.  We will discuss ideas, voice concerns, inspire each other, and work together to demonstrate the power and magic of books and how outstanding literature can be used with and beyond Common Core

In Search of Wonder will take place Friday, October 17 in Perry, Ohio and will include not only presentations by our featured authors, but also an expert panel discussion titled Great Books for Classroom Use, Common Core tie-in instructions, book sales, autographing, book raffles, and MORE! For details and to register, click here.

Five Featured Authors!


KATHERINE PATERSON, United States National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Emeritus and author of Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, and The Great Gilly Hopkins.

STEVEN KELLOGG, a recipient of the prestigious Regina Medal for his lifetime contribution to children’s literature, the author and illustrator of Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, and the illustrator of Is Your Mama a Llama? and Snowflakes Fall.

NIKKI GRIMES, recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and author of What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin's Notebook, Talkin' About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings.

TANYA LEE STONE is the award-winning author of the the young adult novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl; picture books Elizabeth Leads the Way and Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?; and narrative nonfiction Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream; The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie, and Courage Has No Color

CHRIS CRUTCHER is a recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award and two Intellectual Freedom awards, one from the National Council for Teachers of English and the other from the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the author of young adult fiction including Period 8, Angry Management, Deadline, and The Sledding Hill

The First 100 Registrants Will Receive a Copy of
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Through the generosity of Candlewick Press, the first 100 people who register will receive a free hardcover copy of the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out at the end of the conference. A $30.00 value! Our White House is the perfect book for Common Core highlighting American history, literature, science, and art!

To read all the details of the day, click here.

To register now, click here

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13. Chris Crutcher to Speak at IN SEARCH OF WONDER

YA Author CHRIS CRUTCHER to Speak at
In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More
October 17th in Perry, Ohio

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance is thrilled to announce that esteemed author for young adults Chris Crutcher will be joining Katherine Paterson, Nikki Grimes, Steven Kellogg, and Tanya Lee Stone as a keynote speaker for In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More, an interdisciplinary, professional development day designed for educators, librarians, parents, and students of education and library science to be held October 17 in Perry, Ohio. Together we will share information about new and classic fiction and nonfiction literature that can be used in the classroom across a variety of academic disciplines ~ a semester’s worth of information in one day! 

Chris Crutcher was raised in Cascade, Idaho, a lumber and cattle ranch town located in the central Idaho Rockies, a two hour drive over treacherous two-lane from the nearest movie theater and a good forty minutes from the nearest bowling alley. In high school he played football, basketball and ran track, not because he was a stellar athlete, but because in a place so isolated, every able bodied male was heavily recruited. “If you didn’t show up on the first day of football practice your freshman year,” he says, “they just came to your house and got you. And your parents let them in.” His early interest in stories came principally from reading Jean Shepherd and other fine authors in the Playboy Magazine delivered monthly to his house because, as he overheard his father saying to his mother, “Some of the very finest contemporary American literature graces the pages of that magazine.” Full disclosure, there is justified suspicion that he may have perused some of the photography before settling down to serious reading. 

Crutcher’s years as teacher, then director, of a K-12 alternative school in Oakland, California through the nineteen-seventies, and his subsequent twenty-odd years as a therapist specializing in child abuse and neglect, inform his thirteen novels and two collections of short stories. “I have forever been intrigued by the extremes of the human condition,” he says, “the remarkable juxtaposition of the ghastly and the glorious. As Eric ‘Moby’ Calhoun tells us at the conclusion of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, ‘Ain’t it a trip where heroes come from’.” He has also written what he calls an ill-advised autobiography titled King of the Mild Frontier, which was designated by “Publisher’s Weekly” as “the YA book most adults would have read if they knew it existed.” 

Chris has received a number of coveted awards, from his high school designation as “Most Likely to Plagiarize” to the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award. His favorites are his two Intellectual Freedom awards, one from the National Council for Teachers of English and the other from the National Coalition Against Censorship. Five of Crutcher’s books appeared on an American Library Association list of the 100 Best Books for Teens of the Twentieth Century (1999 to 2000). A recent NPR list of the Best 100 YA and Children’s books included none of those titles. Time flies. Crutcher no longer listens to, nor contributes to, NPR. 

Learn more about Crutcher and his books on his website ChrisCrutcher.com.  

To learn more about In Search of Wonder and to register, click here.

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14. Getting Young People to WRITE!

Creating A Home Atmosphere
That Supports Great Writing
 
The following article, written by NCBLA Executive Director Mary Brigid Barrett, comes from the NCBLA's Parent and Guardian Handbook:
 
Some tweens and teens have a natural compulsion to write, but many kids would rather clean their room, the kitchen, and the garage than complete a writing assignment. Providing your kids with a comfortable, supportive atmosphere is one of the best things you can do to help them become strong writers.
  • Writing is hard work, consequently, many kids put off writing assignments to the last possible moment. If your tweens or teens dread writing, encourage them to do their writing assignments first, before they do their other homework. Writing with a tired, fried brain only compounds the challenge. If your kids are given an assignment that spans a length of time, encourage them to address it early on to avoid the last minute "all nighter" syndrome.
  • Writing is an activity that is done alone. If your teens do not have a room to call their own, provide a space that they can claim as their own. It should have a comfortable chair to sit in and a surface on which to write. Some teens will write better while sitting on the floor or sprawled across their beds. What is important is that they have their own space.
  • Make sure you have ample writing materials on hand. Keep pencils, pens, erasers, lined writing paper, and computer paper in an accessible place in your home.
  • If you do not have a personal computer your neighborhood public library will have computers that your kids can use free of charge. Call your library and ask what times the computers are likely to be open without a long wait.
  • Turn off the television. Writing involves a great deal of concentration, and when writing informational essays and reports, a great deal of research reading, too. Television is a distraction your kids can do without.
  • Some kids write better in total silence and some kids write better with music playing lightly in the background. If your teens insist that music be playing while they write, suggest that they experiment with different kinds of background music. Make your kids aware that writing is both an internal and an external auditory experience, and the rhythm of their written words may be influenced by the music they play while they write.
  • Make sure that you have a dictionary and thesaurus in your home that is readily accessible. Encourage your teen to use them daily.
  • Great readers make great writers. Encourage your kids to read great books and magazines. And make sure you let them see you reading! Your example will be more powerful than anything you say.

Check out more helpful information to make literacy a priority in your home in the NCBLA's Parent and Guardian Handbook.

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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21.

Celebrate Read Across America Day TODAY
and KEEP READING!


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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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