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1. “¿Qué es deportar?”: Teaching from Students’ Lives

Guest BloggerWe at LEE & LOW BOOKS believe that high-quality bilingual books help build a solid foundation to achieve literacy in any language while affirming and validating a child’s identity, culture, and home language. We are so excited and honored to share this one educator’s example of why books featuring characters like her students belong in her classroom and curriculum.

In this guest post, Sandra L. Osorio describes using books that captured her students’ bilingual and bicultural experiences. An elementary bilingual teacher for eight years, Osorio is now an assistant professor at Illinois State University. This article originally appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine, and is cross-posted here with permission. Article is also available in Spanish from Rethinking Schools.


I was sitting around a kidney-shaped table with Alejandra, Juliana, and Lucia, 2nd graders who had chosen to read Del Norte al Sur (From North to South) by René Colato Laínez. I read the book’s introduction out loud, which included the word deportado (deported). I asked my students: “¿Qué es deportar? ¿Ustedes saben qué significa?” (What is deported? Do you know what it means?) Lucia looked straight at me and said, “Como a mi tío lo deportaron”. (Like my uncle, they deported him.)

For an inclusive bilingual classroomOur class was part of a developmental bilingual program with all native Spanish speakers. I had introduced literature discussions the previous year when I had the same students in 1st grade, but now I was carefully choosing books with themes I thought would resonate with my students’ lives, including the complexities of being bilingual and bicultural. In Del Norte al Sur, José desperately misses his mother, who has been deported to Tijuana because she doesn’t have the right papers to be in the United States. I knew that some of my students were also missing members of their families. One student’s father had been deported back to Mexico and he had not seen him in years. Another student’s father had separated from her mother and moved to a city more than three hours away. I hoped these two students would connect with José’s problems and begin to talk about their feelings. I soon learned that many other students shared similar feelings and experiences.

Although immigration is passionately debated in the media, it is an issue often ignored in schools, even though it’s central to the lived experiences of Latina/o children—even those born in the United States. This was something I didn’t realize until I created space for students’ lives in the curriculum.

I originally decided to teach bilingual students because of the struggles I had faced as a bilingual child myself. I attended a bilingual (Spanish-English) preschool, but when my parents enrolled me in a private, English-only kindergarten, they were told to immediately stop speaking Spanish to me because it would “confuse me.” This was surprising to my parents—I had not even entered the classroom yet. My parents made the decision to continue to speak Spanish in our household; they wanted me to be able to communicate with our extended family in Colombia. I am grateful for this decision because it allowed me to grow up bilingual and maintain ties to my bicultural heritage.

At school, I don’t remember ever reading a story with a main character who was bilingual or bicultural. Because Latina/o culture and people were invisible in the curriculum, I felt I had to keep my Spanish language knowledge at home and hidden from my teachers and classmates.

I did not want another generation of students to feel like I did. I wanted to help students build and nurture their cultural and linguistic pride. I wanted to make sure that bilingual students were held to the same high expectations as other students. And I wanted them to understand that they did not have to give up their home language to be successful.

So I fulfilled my dream and became a teacher. All of my students were emergent bilinguals who spoke Spanish as their home language and were born in the United States, many in the same town where our school is located. Of my 20 students, 16 were of Mexican descent, three were Guatemalan, and one child had one Guatemalan parent and one Mexican parent.

Bilingual Isn’t Necessarily Bicultural

Our program was supposed to be one of academic enrichment, using both the students’ native language and English for academic instruction. The primary goal was development of biliteracy. In 2nd grade, 70 percent of the school day was to be in Spanish and 30 percent in English. But since 3rd graders in the program were not “making benchmark” on state tests, I was pressured to introduce more English in my 2nd-grade classroom.

For the first couple of years I was a rule follower. I implemented the exact curriculum passed down from the administration without question, including the required language arts curriculum. It was a scripted basal reader program—the exact same one used by the non-bilingual classrooms—only it had been translated into Spanish. Each week we read a story from an anthology and worked on the particular reading skill dictated by the manual.

Diversity Gap in Children's Books Infographic 2015
Diversity Gap in Children’s Books Infographic 2015 – click for larger image

This was convenient for me as a beginning teacher because it is challenging to find quality texts in Spanish. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, of an estimated 5,000 children’s books published in the United States in 2014, only 66 were about Latinas/os. At least, I told myself, my students were reading in their native language on a daily basis.

Yet I began noticing that my students were not seeing themselves in the stories we read. The basal reader had more than 20 different stories, but only one that included a Latina/o-looking individual, and nowhere in the story did it talk about any of the complexities of being a bilingual or bicultural child.

My students were learning to read in Spanish that had been translated from the English, with texts that were Latina/o-culture free. The basal reader conveyed a clear message: Diverse experiences don’t matter. Every student was treated the same, given the same story to read, and taught the same skills. There was no differentiation. There was no mirror. There was no joy.

I began to question whether what I was doing was in the best interests of my students. I realized that I had to be the one to advocate for them.

I decided to bring in more literature written by Latina/o authors about Latina/o children. I began to compile a list of books by award-winning authors on such lists as the Pura Belpré, the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and the Américas Award. I also looked for additional books by authors I already knew: Alma Flor Ada, Gloria Anzaldúa, and René Colato Laínez. In addition to Del Norte al Sur, the books I chose included La superniña del cilantro, by Juan Felipe Herrera; Esperando a Papá, by René Colato Laínez; Prietita y la llorona, by Gloria Anzaldúa; and Pepita habla dos veces, by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman.

The greatest challenge I faced was getting multiple copies of the books I wanted my students to read in small groups. To clear this roadblock, I applied for and received a grant to purchase books. I also borrowed copies from colleagues and scoured the shelves of multiple public libraries around the area. One way or the other, I was able to get four to five copies of each book.

I centered the literature discussion groups around four themes: Family, Cultural Stories, Language, and English. For each theme, I gave students four or five titles to choose from. I started each unit by giving a book talk in which I shared a few passages from each of the book choices. Then I gave students time to browse through the books and fill out a ballot ranking their top choices. Each group of literature discussions was five days long, including two days of preparation and three days of group discussion that I facilitated. Students prepared for discussions by reading the story and marking the book with sticky notes. They used the sticky notes so they would remember what they wanted to say in the discussion group. To help with that process, I gave them a sheet with sentence starters.

When our classroom shifted from basal-based reading instruction to literature-based discussions, I noticed an immediate change in my students. They were more engaged in the stories. Through the personal connections they shared, I learned new things about them and their families. Our literature discussion groups became a place where we came together and shared our joys and the difficulties we were going through. It became a place where we learned that we were not alone, and that the curriculum could be a space for reflecting and holding our own experiences. Students who had been labeled with “low proficiency” in reading on the benchmark test at the beginning of the school year were often the ones talking the most during the discussions. Our conversations helped them feel more comfortable, see themselves in the curriculum, and explore their multiple identities. They were acquiring the tools and space to unpack complex issues in their lives.

Making Space for Students’ Fears

In Del Norte al Sur, one of the books in our Family theme, we read about José going with his father to Tijuana to visit his mother, who is staying in a women’s shelter while she tries to assemble the documents to return to the United States. José, who lives in San Diego, is able to go visit his mother on the weekends and help her with the garden at the shelter; his father pays for a lawyer to process the paperwork. Although the situation is challenging for José and his parents, it is far milder than the reality of most individuals who are deported. Most children are not able to see members of their families who have been deported for extended periods of time. Many who are deported are never able to return to the United States.

Even though the story wasn’t a perfect match to my students’ own experiences, they started making personal connections to the text. When Lucia shared that her uncle had been deported, I asked her to explain what that meant. “Es cuando la policía para a una persona y les toman los fingerprintes y después se fija en una máquina si los deportan o no, pero deportar significa que los van a mandar a México”. (It’s when the police stop someone, take their fingerprints, and look on a machine to see if they will deport them or not, but deporting means they send them to Mexico.)

Although I was excited that my students were discussing this topic and I asked questions to further the conversation, I wanted to make sure I didn’t push them into an uncomfortable or upsetting space. I paid close attention to everyone, looking for cues about how they were feeling. My ultimate goal in the introduction of these literature discussions was to get my students to develop their critical thinking skills, but first I had to make sure they felt safe enough to share their stories. Before we began the literature discussions, we had developed community norms. Two of our norms were “we feel safe” and “we respect and listen to others.” When we created and reviewed the norms, my students and I talked about not making fun of each other, not laughing at individuals who were sharing, and not interrupting.

When Lucia shared her uncle’s story, it opened up a group discussion. Alejandra told us about a time her father was stopped by the police while they were driving to a nearby city. She also told us about a time her family was driving and her mother spotted a police officer. Her mother said, “Bájense porque ahí está la policía y qué tal si nos detiene”. (Get down because the police are there and what if they stop us.) Alejandra demonstrated how she slouched down in her chair. Her mother told Alejandra and her sisters, “No escuchen lo que está diciendo el policía”. (Don’t listen to what the police officer says.) Alejandra said, “Entonces no escuchamos”. (So we didn’t listen.) As Alejandra talked, we just listened. I made sure not to ask questions because I wanted to allow Alejandra the opportunity to share just as much as she wanted to.

Staying silent took lots of practice. I was so accustomed to jumping in and guiding my students in a particular direction. The pressures I felt to cover the curriculum and raise test scores made me want to push my students along at a faster pace. I had to change that mentality. I wanted my students to do most of the talking because I wanted to open up space for their lives. I didn’t want them to feel judged. I wanted our discussions to be a place where they felt safe discussing any topic. Too often, I found my students waiting for me to speak so they could agree and repeat what I said. I wanted to move away from the idea that teachers were the only ones with answers. My students had important things to share. I wanted them to realize that their experiences could help us understand each other and the book.

Alejandra finished her story by saying that the police officer followed them home and talked again to her father when they arrived. She explained that she and her younger sister were born in the United States, so they are allowed to stay, but her parents and older sister don’t have this advantage. If they are stopped again by the police or ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), her family might be split apart. I had never seen her so vulnerable.

I turned to Juliana and asked if she had anything she wanted to share, or if she knew anyone who had been deported. She fidgeted with her hands, staring at the table, before looking up and saying “Sí, mi papá”. (Yes, my dad.) Lucia nodded. “Oh, sí, ella ya nos contó la historia”. (Oh, yes, she already told us the story.)

Taking Time to Listen

At one point in our discussions Lucia announced, “No me gustan los Estados Unidos para nada.” (I don’t like the United States at all.)

This caught me off guard. “¿Por qué?” (Why?)

Lucia said that here in the United Stated she felt enclosed, but in Mexico she was free to go outside every day.

Alejandra added, “Mi mamá dice que no le gusta aquí”. (My mom says she doesn’t like it here.) She told us about a lady who helped her mother fill out some paperwork and told her mom to call her if she ever got stopped by the police. The lady told Alejandra’s mom that the police had gotten harder and that they didn’t want people from Mexico. They wanted to deport everyone.

Lucia jumped in. “Sí, están mostrando mucho de eso en Primer Impacto, que tratan de sacar a los mexicanos”. (Yes, on First Impact, they are showing lots of that, that they are trying to get rid of the Mexicans.) Primer Impacto is a popular Spanish-language, daily news program. My students were watching the media alongside their parents. This is where they were getting a lot of their information about the current political context in the United States, including hostility toward immigrants, harsh deportation policies, and family separations.

Although I felt pressure to keep the students reading and to move things along so that they could answer specific questions about the text, I resisted the temptation and asked, “¿Cómo se sienten ustedes con eso, ustedes siendo mexicanos y americanos?” (How do you feel about this, being both Mexican and American?)

Alejandra answered: “Yo me siento mal ser mexicana y americana porque mi mamá dice que si la van a deportar que no sabe a quién llevarse, porque le toca llevarse a Perla pero puede dejar a mi hermana y a mí. Y dice mi mamá que si llegan a pararla, que puede que ya nunca la veamos”. (I feel bad being Mexican and American because my mom says that if they are going to deport her, she won’t know who to take because she’ll have to take Perla, but can leave my sister and me. And my mom says if they stop her, we might never see her again.)

Hearing Alejandra talk this way made me extremely sad. Why did a child this young have to deal with issues normally reserved for adults? When I was growing up, I didn’t realize my parents were undocumented. They had overstayed the tourist visas they used to enter the United States, but I only learned about it when I was 10 years old and my parents became U.S. citizens. Both of my parents were given amnesty under the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986 signed by President Reagan. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to worry about my parents possibly not coming home.

My students’ narratives shed light on the complex lived experiences they navigate on a daily basis. On the one hand, they want to be in Mexico or Guatemala with their extended families; on the other hand, they know how hard their parents are working to stay here. As a child, I had many of the same contradictory feelings. My entire family, other than my parents and brother, were in Colombia. I felt like I didn’t belong here in the United States. At the end of one trip to Colombia, I cried and begged my father to leave me there to continue school. He said no, that there were more opportunities for me in the United States, but I’m not sure he realized the impact of the fact that none of my teachers or classmates acknowledged the difficulty of being in a learning environment that ignored and devalued my language and culture.

Embracing Complexity

While Lucia, Juliana, and Alejandra were reading Del Norte al Sur, the other literature groups were reading La superniña del cilantro and Esperando a Papá. (So many students wanted to read La superniña del cilantro, we ended up with two groups working with that book.) Both of these books also raised issues of family separation and the border.

1. Recognize that bilingual isn't necessarily biculturalStudents in the group reading Esperando a Papá told personal stories about family members crossing the border. One day, I explained that, according to the U.S. government, it’s against the law to cross the border without the right documents. I asked them what they thought about that—was it a fair law? Was it OK to break that law? Camila said, “Mi mamá y mi papá nomás cruzaron, porque querían a lo mejor ver lo que estaba aquí, pero si tú matas a alguien y te vas entonces eso es como no seguir la ley”. (My mom and dad only crossed because maybe they wanted to see what was over here, but if you kill someone and then you leave, then that’s not following the law.) Camila was talking back to the dominant discourse that says it is “wrong” to cross the border without papers and expressing a more complex view of the moral issues involved.

When I brought up the same question to the whole class, the children saw both positive and negative aspects to crossing the border illegally. In terms of positive aspects, they knew and retold stories about family members coming over to find a better life or get a better job. But many of them experienced the constant fear of family members being deported, and they had heard stories about hardships in crossing the border. For example, one child said her female cousin had to cut her hair like a boy for fear of being hurt as she tried to cross over. When Eduardo talked about how hard it was for his dad to climb over the fence, Carlos looked confused. I pulled out my iPad and showed the class pictures of the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Together, we read stories about immigrants to the United States from other parts of the world and the difficulties they faced, including In English, of Course, by Josephine Nobisso;I Hate English!, by Ellen Levine; and No English, by Jacqueline Jules. I wanted my students to understand that they shared experiences with people from other cultures, places, and times. I wanted them to see the injustices and prejudice they faced as part of a bigger pattern of power and marginalization. I tried to help them better understand these aspects by connecting them directly to the stories they shared.

For example, one day Camila told us about a conflict she and Lucia had during recess with English-speaking students from another class. Camila and Lucia were playing on top of the play structure when two girls started pushing them and calling them names. Camila said she told them “That’s not right,” but they continued. Then, Camila told us, “Yo le dije a Lucia en español que mejor nos vayamos de ahí y nos fuimos.” (I told Lucia, in Spanish, that it would be better if we left and we did.) After we gave Lucia and Camila support, we talked about the lack of integration between the bilingual students and non-bilingual students at the school. We discussed what they could do to make friends from other classrooms.

Soon these conversations influenced my planning across content areas. I realized I had to make space for students’ stories beyond literature discussions—in writing, math, and social studies. In social studies, for example, students and their parents became experts as we studied their home countries.

My students’ stories were different from my own. Lucia’s, Juliana’s, Alejandra’s, Eduardo’s, and Camila’s stories have similarities, but also differences. I realized the importance of not grouping all Latina/o narratives into one stereotypical box. Giving my students voice and exposing them to a range of multicultural literature gave us the opportunity to dig deeper and see broader vistas.


  • Get 30% Off Magazine Subscriptions Purchased on Rethinking Schools Magazine Website with Discount Code: LLJ15 (discount taken at checkout!)
  • Buy From North to South/Del Norte al Sur
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  • Teacher’s Guide for From North to South/Del Norte al Sur by LEE & LOW

0 Comments on “¿Qué es deportar?”: Teaching from Students’ Lives as of 11/2/2015 8:23:00 AM
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2. The Books With No Limits: Exploring Child-Centered Storytelling

"...individual readers can make the experience more child-centered by engaging kids in a dialogue."

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3. The Perfect Picture Book for the Last Day of School

The Perfect Picture Book for the Last (2)Your last day with this class is here. You have one last time to share the moment when you gather for a read aloud. How will you honor the moment?

The last day of school is hectic, a blur, a blast, sweet, and wistful.


Will you pick a book you already read this year with your students to live again in that moment? Or will you pick a book to launch your students toward their summers and the rest of their education journey?


Will your last read aloud be nostalgic or hopeful? 

We’ve gathered some of our favorite Lee & Low titles to conclude and celebrate a year’s worth of reading with your students. Let us know what you recommend (any book!) and your reading tradition on the last day of school!


Amazing Faces

An anthology of universal poems focusing on the human experience–emotions, perceptions, and understandings–as expressed by poets of diverse heritage and reflected in illustrations featuring people of all ages and backgrounds.

Confetti: Poems for Children

The renowned poet Pat Mora celebrates the culture and landscape of the southwest through the eyes of a Mexican American girl. 

I and I Bob Marley

A biography in verse of reggae legend Bob Marley, exploring the influences that shaped his life and music on his journey from rural Jamaican childhood to international superstardom. 


My Steps

An African American girl shares her private world of playtime on her front steps over each of the four seasons. 

Quinito’s Neighborhood/El Vecindario de Quinito

This bilingual book takes readers around the buildings, streets, shops, and people that make up Quinito’s neighborhood. 

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy

A biography of William “Dummy” Hoy, one of the first deaf major league baseball players. 

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

The inspirational true story of Sammy Lee, a Korean American who overcame discrimination to realize both his father’s desire that he become a doctor and his own dream of becoming an Olympic champion diver. 

Strong to the Hoop

A boy finally gets to play basketball on the main court with the older boys, and has to prove he can hold his own. 

Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon

Ruth Forman offers a poetic testament to childhood, language, and play, bringing to life the streets of South Philadelphia. Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon is a celebration of city summer memories, and of African American culture and community.

Drummer Boy of John John

A joyous picture book set in the Caribbean  during Carnival, based on the childhood of one of the inventors of the steel drum. 

The Power of Learning and Education

Armando and the Blue Tarp School

The story of a young Mexican boy living in a colonia (trash dump community) who takes the first steps toward realizing his dream of getting an education. 

Chess Rumble

A story in free verse about a troubled boy who learns to use his mind instead of his fists through the guidance of an unconventional mentor and the game of chess. 

How We Are Smart

Readers will learn that being smart is about more than doing well in school. There are eight ways to be smart, and they are reflected in how a person uses his or her body, relates to the natural world, responds to music and art, and more.

Love to Langston

This inspiring biography on Langston Hughes celebrates his life through poetry. 

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace

A picture book biography of scientist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman–and first environmentalist–to win a Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004) for her work planting trees in her native Kenya.

Yasmin’s Hammer

A young Bangladeshi girl who helps support her family by working in a brickyard finds a way to make her dream of going to school and learning to read a reality. 


George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

An account of the life and career of George Crum, a biracial chef who is credited with the invention of the potato chip at a Saratoga Springs, New York, restaurant in 1853. Based on historical records. 

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, this story is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy. A fun way for children to learn about the cultural traditions and foods of India. 

Jazz Baby

A celebration of music and movement, this story in verse is inspired by the riffs, rhythms, and freedom of jazz.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina

A mestiza Peruvian American of European, Jewish, and Amerindian heritage, renowned author Monica Brown wrote this lively story to bring her own experience of being mismatched to life.

Sunday Shopping

Every Sunday night a young girl and her grandmother go on an imaginary shopping trip in this delightful picture book.

The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen

A spunky African American girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood–young and old alike–joins in on the fun.

Where On Earth is My Bagel?

A young Korean boy gets a craving for a New York bagel and goes on a journey to fulfill his hunger. 

Believe in Yourself

Allie’s Basketball Dream

Basketball is Allie’s favorite sport–she’s loved it ever since her father took her to her first game at Madison Square Garden. 

Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol

An imaginary  tale of self-discovery told by a child who grows, learns about the natural world, embraces others, and is free to become who he or she is meant to be–a child as unique as a tree. Gender neutral.  

Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream

The spirited story of Marcenia Lyle, the African American girl who grew up to become “Toni Stone,” the first woman to play for an all-male professional baseball team.

Cora Cooks Pancit

Cora and Mama work together to cook up pancit for the family in this celebration of Filipino heritage and foods. 

Crazy Horse’s Vision

The true story of the great Sioux warrior who, as a young boy, defies tradition and seeks a vision on his own in hopes of saving his people. 

Poems to Dream Together/Poemas para soñar juntos

A bilingual collection of poetry by acclaimed Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcon celebrating family, community, nature, and the positive power of dreams to shape our future.

The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story

Meena, a young Asian Indian American girl, grows in self-confidence when she learns to practice yoga and apply the underlying principles to her performance in the school play.

Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree

The true story of the famous writer, who as a young girl, learned about hope and strength from her mother.

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

0 Comments on The Perfect Picture Book for the Last Day of School as of 6/22/2015 8:52:00 AM
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4. Weekend Links: The Importance of Reading Aloud & The Last Day on the Giveaways!

Welcome to Weekend Links!

I don’t know about you but summer is has been crazy-busy so far! We have mountains of books to read, travel plans galore and I am enjoying yet another batch of baby fox kits who have taken up residence at my house. As always I am determined to provide booklists, activities and giveaways to keep the whole family pulling books from shelves and stories from pages during the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Speaking of giveaways, did you know I have TWO wonderful ones that will be ending TODAY??!! (6/21)

One is a Linda Sue Park Booklist Giveaway. Linda Sue Park has written many children’s books, many of which one lucky reader will win! You can view the booklist and giveaway HERE.

Linda Sue Park book giveaway

The second giveaway is my Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series Secret Garden Booklist giveaway. More chances to win great books! Read the booklist and view the giveaway HERE.

The Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series

I have another awesome giveaway running right now that will end June 27th. Again, this booklist and giveaway is based on yet another amazing female children’s literature author. Pam Muñoz Ryan is the author of more that thirty books for young readers, including four beloved novels, Riding Freedom, Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, and Paint the Wind, which collectively have garnered, among countless accolades, the Pura Belpré Medal, the Jane Addams Award, and the Schneider Family Award. She lives in Southern California with her family. You can visit her at www.PamMunozRyan.com.

ONE winner will receive a copy of  each of these Pam Munoz Ryan books: Esperanza Rising, Echo, Riding Freedom, Becoming Naomi Leon. The Dreamer and Paint the Wind. Giveaway begins Wednesday June 17th and ends June 27th, 2015. You can enter the giveaway HERE.

pam munoz ryan collage

All three are great opportunities to get some wonderful books into the hands of your young readers.

Reading at any age is soooo important. I recently found some great articles that reinforce this fact so I will post them here for you to read and enjoy:

Why Keep Reading Aloud in the 5th Grade? Monique at Living Life and Learning offers up a great perspective.
Reading Aloud

@NerdyBookClub Parenting, Bonding, and Reading Aloud by Jenny Houlroyd

@NerdyBookClub Reading Aloud by Debbie Shoulders

TOP TEN Read-Aloud Books for Students with Special Needs by Aimee Owens

Slow Reading Family Style by…ME!

reading aloud

Read Aloud to Ignite a World of Possibility at Huffington Post


Do you read aloud in your family? Which books are the best for reading aloud?

Looking for more ways to not only get your youngsters reading, but get them OUTSIDE as well? Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale for a limited time! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE! http://amzn.to/1DTVnuX

A Year in the Secret Garden

The post Weekend Links: The Importance of Reading Aloud & The Last Day on the Giveaways! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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5. How to Read With Your Rising First Graders and Kinders This Summer

For parents of soon-to-be kindergartners and first graders, helping their children be prepared for the start of school can be exciting and daunting (and not just for students).

What can parents do over the summer to help their children maintain the growth they made this past year in preschool or kindergarten and be ready to tackle new topics and skills in the fall?

Below is one way parents can read and explore books over the summer. This model can be adapted for both fiction and nonfiction texts and follows how many teachers practice guided reading, which children may experience the first time in the upcoming school year.

I’m going to model how parents can practice reading using the text, David’s Drawings.

We do not need to, nor should we, ask every question for every book during every reading time. We may have only four minutes of our child’s attention one day and maybe twenty on another. The goal is not to drill our youngest learners in Common Core standards by the start of school.

Rather, the ultimate goal here is to show our beginning and soon-to-be readers how reading can be a joyful, positive experience. This mindset will set them up for the best start to their school journey.

Getting Ready to Read

1. Questions to ask and talk through with our rising kinders or first graders about the book:

  • Who is the author? / Show me where the author is on the cover. What does an author do?
  • Who is the illustrator? / Show me where the illustrator is on the cover. What does an illustrator do?
  • Where is the front cover? The back cover? The title page of the book?
  • As we read, which direction do we read the words?

2. Practice making predictions:

  • Together, look at the front cover. Using the title and picture on the cover, ask: what might happen in the story? What makes you think that?
  • Take a picture walk through the book. Ask: What do you think this story will be about? What do you notice when you look through this book?

3. Build background schema and draw on your child’s past experiences:

  • What do you know about drawing, or making a picture?
  • What types of things do you like to draw?
  • Where do artists get their ideas for drawings and paintings?
  • Who might help you draw a picture?

Reading the Book

  • As you begin to read, make sure the book is between both of you so your child can clearly see the text (and illustrations) and be in the position of the reader (rather than a regular listener at a group story time).
  • Make sure to point your finger to each word as it is read aloud. In doing so, your child can follow the text as well as the storyline and learn that we derive meaning from print—we in fact are not just making up a story to match the pictures we are seeing!

Video examples of parents reading with primary grade students:

After Reading

Discuss the meaning of the text. Here are some questions to check comprehension during and after the reading. (CCSS Key Ideas and Details)

  • Who is the main character? Or, who is David?
  • Where does the story take place? When does the story take place?
  • Where does David get his idea for his picture?
  • What details do his classmates add to David’s tree?
  • How does David feel when the other children draw on his picture? Share a time you felt the same way.
  • Why do you think David decides to make another drawing when he arrives home?
  • What does this story remind you of?
  • Could this really happen?
  • Do you think David is polite? Why or why not?
  • If you were to add one more page to the story, what do you think would happen next?
  • Why do you think the author, Cathryn Falwell, picks the title, David’s Drawings? Do you think this is a good title for the book? Why do you think so?
  • What do you think might happen the next time David starts a drawing in class?
  • Why do you think David isn’t shy anymore at the end of the story?
  • What was an interesting part for you in the story? Or, what part of the story made you smile? Why?

Video examples demonstrating book comprehension:

rising kinder readingExplore foundational skills and language:

  • Please show me a word that starts with the uppercase letter D. Show me a word that starts with the lowercase letter p.
  • Put your finger on a word that starts with b. Put your finger on a word that ends with e.
  • Can you think of another word you know that rhymes with day?
  • Can you show me a sentence that has a question mark at the end? A period? An exclamation point?
  • Can you show me a word that ends in –ed? –s?
  • Find a word that starts with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that ends with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that has a letter that is in your name.
  • Can you show me the (high frequency) words: the, of, and, a, to, you, on, I, me, my? Many primary grade classrooms build reading fluency with sight word practice. For a review for rising first graders or a peak for rising kinders, here are kindergarten high frequency word lists:

Post-Reading Activities

Done with sitting still? Time to move but keep the connections going!

1. Write or draw an answer to this question: Would you be friends with David?

2. Find a tree near school, at a park, or near your home. Sketch it using a pencil and then later decorate it.

3. Re-read the story or have another adult read the story—re-reading stories is great for helping children practice fluency, make predictions, retell events, and build confidence in eventually reading parts on their own.

For more further ideas on early literacy:

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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6. What is Día de los niños/Día de los Libros? 5 Questions for Pat Mora

Día de los niños/Día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is an annual celebration of books and literacy that takes place each year on our near April 30. The American Library Association says:

Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.

Pat MoraDía’s founder, and one of its biggest proponents, is award-winning author Pat Mora. We asked her 5 questions about the holiday and how to celebrate it:

What is bookjoy and how do you hope Día will cultivate it in young/early readers?

I coined the word bookjoy to convey the private and delicious pleasure of enjoying time with books. Little ones can thoroughly experience bookjoy long before they’re readers if the adults around them share excitement about books.

What impact is Día having on communities where it is celebrated?

Día strengthens communities because it brings diverse children and families together to celebrate all our children and to connect them to bookjoy. Día is a year-long commitment to share literacy creatively with culminating celebrations held in April on or near How to Celebrate Día de los niños/Día de los LibrosApril 30th.

Do you feel that the recent push for more diversity in publishing (especially with the We Need Diverse Books community campaign) has sparked renewed interest in Día?

I hope so. We celebrate Dia’s 20th Anniversary April 2016. For years, I’ve written and spoken about the importance of a national book community, including publishers, authors, illustrators, and award committees, and reviewers that reflect the diversity of our children. Those of us in this community need to participate in creating a body of children’s literature that honors our plurality.

What would you say to a library or school that wants to celebrate Día but doesn’t have many resources at its disposal?

Those of us committed to Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish El día de los niños, El día de los libros are creating a tradition in the same way that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are traditions in our country. Exciting: honoring all children and sharing bookjoy with them. Some April observances are small and some are big, but the important element is annually sharing this tradition. Literacy is essential in a democracy. Let’s celebrate kids and books!

What role does community play in the celebration of Día? How can individual readers support or celebrate Día?

Readers enjoy sharing an important value in our lives: books! We can ask our nearby or local schools and libraries if they celebrate Día and be prepared to explain what it is and why it’s important. We can volunteer to help or provide a donation. Many Día celebrations include book-giveaways and books as prizes. Schools and libraries welcome our support. When diverse groups of diverse ages join together for children, it energizes communities.

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7. Don’t stop the readin’…hold on to that read aloud feeling

Don’t stop the readin’…hold on to that read aloud feeling | Storytime Standouts

Don't Stop the Readin'  Hold on to that Feeling A Guest Post by @1PrncsSome days I’m more “quirky” than others. This is one of those days. Instead of just telling you that your middle grade children (grades 4, 5, 6, 7) are not too old for you to keep up that nightly ritual of reading, I’ve made some alterations to a classic Journey song. You can laugh or roll your eyes, but the message will be the same. They’re getting older, but it doesn’t lessen their enthusiasm for books. Nor does it mean they don’t need us there to help them navigate some of the issues that their favourite characters are facing. Bottom line? Take fifteen minutes at the end of the night, curl up on someone’s bed, and keep reading.

Don’t Stop the Readin’ (adapted from Journey’s Don’t stop believin’– hardcore Journey fans…I’m sorry :) (ps: it helps if you listen to the song in the background softly so you can read with the beat)

Just a grade five  girl
Readin’ bout’ a wizard  world
She read the whole series
Loved the characters
Just a grade six boy
Thinks he doesn’t like to read
He found The Outsiders
Thinks he’s Ponyboy

His father comes into the room
The moon is out the day is done
For a while they can read tonight
It goes on and on and on and on

Parents reading
Learnin’ bout the Hunger Games,
Heroes like Percy
Quests and danger
Find out what your kids are lovin’
Read with them every night

Workin’ hard to pay the bills
One on one time is such a thrill
Read a story, talk about your day
It’s worth the time
Picture Book
Doesn’t matter what you read
Graphic novels, Patterson
The list can go on and on and on

They aren’t too old
Even in the middle grades
Let them read to you
Read to them
Make it matter
A great way to stay connected
Just fifteen minutes a night

Don’t stop the readin’
Hold on to that feelin’
With your children
Don’t stop the readin’
Sachar, Judy Blume
They keep you readin’
Keep on reading!

Don’t Stop Believin’ at Amazon.com

Don’t Stop Believin’: the Best of Journey at Amazon.ca

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    8. A Dog Isn't Just For Christmas . . . by Anna Wilson

    I have written quite a few books which include canine characters and thus often find myself asked to do strange things in the name of publicity. I have judged dog competitions, judged short story competitions about dogs, been to visit a veterinary surgery with a reader, taken my own dog to an event to publicise my books and "meet" my readers. However, by far and away the strangest event I was invited to was one sponsored by the Kennel Club called "Bark and Read".

    In schools where there are a number of children who have difficulty reading aloud, specially trained dogs from the Pets As Therapy scheme can be sent in at lunchtime to sit and listen to children read. I was asked to attend such a session at Vallis First School in Frome in Somerset, near where I live. I took some of my books and was asked to read some of my stories to the visiting dog, Percy, a Clumber Spaniel. Percy was adorably gentle and quiet and sat and listened attentively as I read about my fictional dogs having adventures, getting into scrapes, and solving mysteries. When I finished, Percy patted an electronic button which announced I had done a "Good Job!" The children, who were extremely shy at meeting me, relaxed when they saw Percy listening to me read and were soon clamouring to have a go themselves. The teacher explained to me afterwards that the children in the group all had learning difficulties or were suffering with tricky home lives, and that this time with Percy once a week was giving them a quiet space in which to practise reading aloud and enjoying stories without worrying if they were making mistakes or reading books that were "too babyish" for them, etc.

    Recently my sister mentioned that my nephew was not enjoying reading aloud and was becoming quite anxious when asked to do so at school. His teachers had suggested he practise at home, but he was reluctant to do that too. I told her about the Bark and Read scheme as my sister has two lovely Labradors who I thought might be good listeners. She immediately jumped at the idea of her son reading to the pets. And it has worked! My nephew now asks if he can read aloud to Scooby and Teasel, the Labs (and the cat, Wormy, not to be outdone, has slinked his way in on the act as well).

    I would highly recommend this approach to anyone who has a child struggling with reading. I have a feeling that any pet would enjoy a good book. I know our tortoise is not averse to a bit of bedtime storytelling. So if you have a reluctant reader and can get your hands on a willing pet, put the two together and you might just see something magical happen.

    If you are interested in the Bark and Read Scheme or Read2Dogs with Pets As Therapy, visit these websites:

    Anna Wilson

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    9. Reading Paired Texts to Increase Student Engagement

    In the fall of 2012 a news story emerged that astronomers had discovered a planet largely made out of diamond. Third grade at my school spent the first two quarters studying the solar system; therefore, this news was received with irrepressible glee in my classroom. Although the media nickname “Lucy” was lost on my students (as in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), the wonderment and rejuvenated commitment to the content was obvious.

    Seeing that scientists were still studying and discovering facts about our solar system and distant others was exciting to my students and made them feel like they were on the frontier learning alongside real astronomers. Pairing the news article with The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System spurred very creative journal entries throughout the unit, including envisioned future discoveries of all sorts of substances for planets: kitten fur, gold, bubbles.

    Incorporating current events and news stories into the classroom can engage students with a renewed sense of purpose and interest. Pairing a news article with a book on a similar topic or theme offers students greater context and a sense of relevancy for the content they are learning, and perhaps a jolt to the creeping apathy over a curriculum students had little input in selecting.

    Seven Miles to Freedom (1)So, what does it look like to use paired texts in the classroom?

    One example is using the picture book biography, Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story. In May 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it had discovered the Civil War ship of Robert Smalls. Pairing one of the articles with the picture book biography provides students opportunity to practice comprehension and the third component of the Common Core reading standards: integration of knowledge and ideas.

    Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

    The following example can be adapted for grades 3–7. Read the picture book, Seven Miles to Freedom, aloud to the whole group or have students read to themselves depending on their reading level. Focus questions may look like this:

    1. How does the picture book describe Robert Smalls?
    2. What character trait would best describe Robert Smalls based on what he says, does, thinks, feels and what other characters say and think about him?
    3. Why do you think the author of the picture book wants to share this story with young people?
    4. How does this story help us better understand the events in Robert Smalls’ life?

    Read the news article second. If the news article is above students’ reading level, read the article aloud as they follow along with individual copies. The questions for the article will mirror those questions for the picture book:

    1. How does the article describe Robert Smalls?
    2. What character trait would best describe Robert Smalls based on what he says and does and what other people quoted say and think about him in this article?
    3. Why do you think the NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program wants to find and rescue the ship/signify the ship’s location now after all these years?
    4. How does this news article help us better understand the events in Robert Smalls’ life and the picture book Seven Miles to Freedom?


    Follow up questions looking at both texts together:

    1. What events and details do both texts agree on?
    2. Create a timeline of events using both the picture book and news article.
    3. How are these texts both examples of nonfiction? What sub-genres of nonfiction are they? How do they present information similarly and differently?


    Resources about Robert Smalls:

    • Explore a reading guide and learning activities for Seven Miles to Freedom from OurStory, a website created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to encourage adults and children in grades K–4 to read historical fiction and biography together
    • Read about Robert Smalls’ ship, Planter, and a report about the discovery from the Voyage to Discovery, a multi-media initiative to highlight African American maritime history from the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program and the National Association of Black Scuba Divers


    Resources for connecting Lee & Low titles with news:


    Bonus: A fragment from Amelia Earhart’s airplane was recently identified. What book would you want to pair with this news story for students? Share with us!

    Jill Eisenberg

    Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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    10. Books to Celebrate and Teach about Adoption

    Adoption image

    National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family.

    Picture books provide a medium to discuss, celebrate, and learn about adoption and exploring the definition of “family.”

    Book recommendations:

    Bringing Asha Home

    Journey Home

    The Best Thing

    Chinatown Adventure

    Discussion Questions during and after reading:

    • What does “family” mean to you? How might the word mean something different to people?
    • What does it mean to be adopted? What might be some challenges for a family with an adopted child or for a child who is adopted? What might be some benefits for a family who adopt a child or for a child who is adopted?
    • How is this character’s family similar to and different from your own family?
    • How do this character and family share and have fun together? What do you enjoy doing with your siblings and family members?
    • How does the character feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the story? How does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?
    • How would you describe this character’s relationship with his/her parent in the story?


    • Learn more about the country from which the character is adopted. On which continent is the country located? What countries border this country? What language is spoken there? How many people live in that country? Who are some famous people from that country? Find a recipeof a food from this country to make.
    • Share and reflect on this list of famous adoptees or adopters from TeacherVision by Beth Rowen.
    • Draw a family portrait of your own family.
    • Write a paragraph describing what makes your family unique and why you are proud of your family.

    Further reading about adoption:

    Jill EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations Tagged: Adoption, children's books, diversity, Educators, holidays, multicultural books, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, Transracial adoption

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    11. Choosing the World Our Students Read

    13089CT01.tifteaching toleranceEmily Chiariello is a Teaching and Learning Specialist with Teaching Tolerance. She has 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, professional development and curriculum designer in public, charter and alternative school settings, as well as with non-profit organizations. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy and social policy and is certified in secondary social studies.

    Here she discusses Teaching Tolerance’s new curriculum tool, “Project Appendix D,” that empowers educators to identify texts that both meet the demands of the Common Core Standards and reflect the world in which our students live. This blog post was originally posted at the Teaching Tolerance blog.

    Teaching Tolerance image (2)

    by Emily Chiariello

    Does the Common Core limit what texts teachers can use? While many people think so, we don’t. Teaching Tolerance believes it is possible—and important—to choose texts that are both rigorous and relevant. Read on to learn about a new approach to text selection: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. This exciting project goes beyond the resources offered in Appendices A and B and offers a new world of possibilities within literacy instruction.

    Appendices A and B

    Teachers are expected—per the CCSS’s Appendix A—to select more complex texts, teach more nonfiction and ask more text-dependent questions. But do they feel less empowered to choose readings about social justice or to locate texts that reflect the identities and histories of their students and communities? We’re concerned the answer is yes. We know that teachers want texts that mirror their students’ lives. And to achieve equitable outcomes, the Common Core must be implemented in culturally responsive ways that address social emotional learning as well as academic goals. Yet, this kind of implementation is not happening in most districts.

    At first glance, one might think that the “Reader and Task” portion of the text selection model in Appendix A makes room for culturally responsive instructional decisions. Instead, there’s only a brief and bland mention of “reader variables”—motivation, knowledge and experiences—ultimately eclipsed by the other two measures: hard Lexile scores (quantitative) and subjective interpretations of meaning and purpose (qualitative).

    pull-quoteAnd then there’s the stark imprint of privilege found in the gaps and silences of Appendix B, a list of “text exemplars” that meet the aforementioned approach to text complexity, quality and range. Too many publishers—and districts, too—have interpreted the text exemplars listed in Appendix B as a required reading list.

    Woefully few examples of cultural relevance can be found in “Common Core-aligned” materials and trainings, including Appendix B. Jane M. Gangi, professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College, has analyzed Appendix B and found that, of the 171 texts recommended for children in K-5, only 18 are by authors of color, and few reflect the lives of children of color and children in poverty.

    Appendix D

    We believe that educators—teachers, librarians and literacy specialists—who work in classrooms every day are in the best positions to identify texts that engage diverse students.

    That’s why we’re excited to share our new project: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. Traditionally, tools that support text selection have focused on quantitative and qualitative measures only. But Appendix D promotes a multi-dimensional approach to text selection that prioritizes complexity as well as critical literacy and cultural responsiveness.

    Appendix D empowers educators to rely on their knowledge of their students, rather than a prepopulated lists of titles, when selecting texts. The tool walks users through four distinct—but interconnected—text-selection considerations: complexity, diversity and representation, critical literacy, and reader and task. And it’s an editable PDF, allowing folks to document, save and share their text-selection process. (Be sure to download to unlock the editing capabilities.)

    So, why a tool and not a list? There are commendable lists out there. Gangi and the Collaborative for Equity Literacy Learning (CELL) assembled an alternative list of multicultural titles, but they are not leveled for teachers to assess text complexity. Others, like publishers LEE & LOW, work to bring more diversity and representation into classroom libraries, and to the task of text selection. However, none of the lists we’ve investigated encompass texts that are both culturally relevant and meet the Common Core’s requirements for complexity. And, unless it is dynamic, any list of diverse books is only as diverse as the person—or people—who made it.

    We hope the TT community will use Appendix D to help us grow a dynamic and diverse list of texts based on the four considerations and on the diverse needs of our students. We’ve started with the titles currently found in Perspectives for a Diverse America, our new anti-bias curriculum. In the months to come, as you use the Appendix D tool in your own practice, think of which complex, culturally relevant titles you think your fellow social justice educators would want to know about—and be on the lookout for an invitation to submit your texts to the ever-growing, ever-changing TT community list!

    Paulo Freire wrote that, when we read words, we read the world. Don’t we owe it to our students to consider them when choosing those words?Gracias

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books, Guest Blogger Post, Race Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, multicultural books, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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    12. Rediscovering Sueño. La Palabra Wraps for 14. GF Chicano.

    Review: Martin Limón. The Iron Sickle. NY: Soho Press, 2014.
    ISBN: 9781616953911

    Guided serendipity led me to find a Martin Limón novel on the new books shelf of the library and in a flash I realized I hadn't seen a Sueño and Bascom novel in a while. Turns out I've missed two since enjoying 2009's G.I. Bones. Finding The Iron Sickle went ahead and made my day.

    Reading a Sueño and Bascom crime novel comes with everything, and more, readers find in the best cop novels: Intriguing setting, local color, irrepressible heroes, insurmountable odds, ingenious plotting. The add-ons include an outcast Chicano detective, Korea, and the U.S. Army in the 1970s.

    Martin Limón weaves all the elements together in The Iron Sickle, latest novel in the long-lived cop series. One needn’t have read other titles to enjoy everything The Iron Sickle offers, but Limón consistently alludes to events happening in earlier novels, head-turning, momentous stuff, dropped into a paragraph in passing. Limón gives a reader plenty of motivation to seek other titles in the series.

    The Korea and Army setting will be completely foreign to all but a tiny fraction of U.S. readers. This makes the author responsible for a lot of explaining about language, culture, and attitudes, both Korean and Army. Limón uses that as a way to enrich the novels with fascinating local color and military slang.

    George Sueño is the only Chicano in the novels, so his East LA background is noted only spottily in the series—he has no contemporaries at work, no one to talk to, so it doesn’t come up. Such is the life of being “the only one.” Plus, he’s a cop. But Limón isn’t glorifying cops shooting U.S. civilians. The cops in The Iron Sickle battle the Army as much as criminals.

    In the novel, it’s been twenty years that events spun out of control on a remote mountainside during war, launching a murder spree for revenge and ruining lives. Sickled necks and a butchered rat lead the CID agents to a remote commo site in the middle of nowhere to discover a morally ambiguous criminality.

    Bilingualism singles out the agent for going against the Army’s monolingual grain. In series novels, he speaks a little Spanish, but that’s not the issue. Sueño is the only CID agent in country who speaks and reads Hangul. Knowing the language inevitably leads to cracking the case while providing interesting insights into local language and culture. It’s also a signal that Sueño not only is a lifer, he’s addicted to Korea. Sueño’s so alienated from The World, as overseas GIs call the US, he’s never coming home.

    Military culture puts obstacles in the investigation’s path. Hardheaded Officers and Senior NCOs follow the Army way which is uniformity and chain of command. Sueño and Bascom hold that in contempt and are the opposite of STRAC troopers expected of high headquarters minions.

    Their results make them immune to all but spite, no matter how wild and impetuously the detectives act. Limón gives them lots of ways to act up; Bascom, a ville rat and short-fused jerk, Sueño, the oddball who thinks too much and hooks up with the wrong woman. When Sueño’s thinking too much he misses clues or gets his ass kicked.

    When the boss or some general gets a case of the ass, the pair catch their ration of shit details, like arresting housewives for buying too many toothpastes. What really irks the chain of command is having the Koreans request Sueño and Bascom work a case.

    Limón tirelessly exposes mindless military rivalry between US forces and local authority. These cops are righting wrongs despite established power, not to further the military’s goals. Solving crime often gives a well-deserved black eye to military politics. Higher ups prefer to keep matters quiet and tidy. Sueño and Bascom are loud and unruly, and that’s only half the fun of reading a Sueño and Bascom mystery.

    The Iron Sickle treads on forbidden territory, cannibalism. While fiction can take readers into the most perverse territory, it won’t stop them from getting queasy at the horror of the crime, the imperative of revenge, and the unasked question, “how many wrongs make a right?”

    The Iron Sickle is a great companion for a winter read. Curling up next to a fire and whiling away the hours until 2015 might be just the ticket for mystery readers with a hankering for off-the-wall travel writing.

    Korean farmer at DMZ 1970. foto:msedano

    La Palabra Has Last Word

    Gente crowd into the main gallery at Northeast Los Angeles' Avenue 50 Studio. Here for the final La Palabra reading of 2014, the prospect of hearing three of the city's most distinctive poetic voices draws them in well after the Open Mic is underway. Late-arrivers line up against the wall between the art or step gingerly into the space between the circled chairs to sit on the floor. SRO means "sitting room only" for Poet Laureate Luis J Rodriguez and friends Peter J Harris and Hector Flores.

    Today's reading culminates the first year of emcee Karineh Mahdessian's service organizing the monthly series. La Palabra at Avenue 50 Studio has enjoyed a thirteen-year run showcasing high calibre art and engaging an Open Mic poetry community nurtured by the social churn of working class eastside L.A.
    Karineh Mahdessian
    Mahdessian's high spirits spark the already energized crowd as she gets the Open Mic started. The day offers wonderful examples of the "community" in "poetry community." Visitors today include people from Arizona and the U.S. midwest. One reader is making her debut in front of an audience today. People exchange abrazos and introduce new friends.

    The first speaker doesn't read. He's a social scientist with a book and rambles for awkward minutes before audience members interrupt him with applause. He's reluctant to finish but the relieved Mahdessian steps in and the fellow fills his chair. The presentation offers one of the awful moments in an emcee's role, how to use the hook.

    Rudy Calderón
    Rudy Calderón works from memory, in Spanish and in rhyme. The packed house and floor eliminate the lectern and lets speakers choose reading in situ or using the constricted bit of open space.

    Calderón stands and projects with excellent resonance. There's so much energy in his body aching to break loose if allowed a stage. He controls it well and redirects much of that energy into the reading.

    C.E. Jordan
    C. E. Jordan is the fourth poet after Calderón. Jordan stands in place to share a holiday piece that makes an appreciated change-of-pace. That microphone is ironic because Jordan projects sonorously with crystal clear enunciation that serves her words well. One reader uses the mic and it doesn't go over well. No reader uses the mic again.

    Juan Carlos Valadez
    Juan Carlos Valadez follows Jordan in one of those change-of-pace presentations that keep audiences coming back to La Palabra.

    Mahdessian announces the next reader. From his chair, Valadez introduces his wife and daughter. He walks into the open space, and asks the teenager's permission to read a poem letter he wrote her from prison.

    Rosalio Muñoz
    Rosalio Muñoz is the final Open Mic reader. He selects a few paragraphs from the Laguna Park section of Stella Pope Duarte's movimiento novel, Let Their Spirits Dance. Muñoz is sitting next to me so I point and shoot hoping for a good moment. This is approximately the perspective the crowd had of Rosalio up on the podium that day in Laguna Park.

    Muñoz is the final name signed to the Open Mic. A number of poets have asked for a slot so Mahdessian announces a second Open Mic after the three featured readers.

    The featured poets have conferred and adapted to the setting and audience. Rather than do three stand-ups, Hector Flores, Peter J. Harris, and Luis J. Rodriguez will do a round-robin. Harris goes first.

    Peter J. Harris

    Peter J. Harris
    The round-robin is a wonderful way to treat an audience. People universally appreciate variety, whether within a single poem or a set. The three featured writers each performs with unique voice and distinctive style. Harris and Flores read so deeply moved by their own emotions that their words come out as heartfelt music.

    Hector Flores
    Hector Flores
    Luis J. Rodriguez greets his audience today as a proud father, local poet, and Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. The Laureate vows to infuse LA with poetry during his tenure, though the exact program remains in development. Today's reading signals an important development.

    It's not that Luis forgot his stuff back at the house and will read old stuff. Rodriguez' good stuff is timeless and he keeps working on them, if not in the craft in the performance.

    Rodriguez has rarely read these poems with the kind of sustained energy he displays in the packed space today.

    He's loud, he's angry, he's emotional, ya se cansó. Thoughts and emotions in words come out in his arms, eyes, brow, posture. He fills the space allowed. He reads today focused on content over form, breaking at thoughts instead of lines.

    Media aren't the Laureate's friend today. One poem comes from an orange quarter-fold booklet, another from a telephone screen, two from a book. He needs his anteojos, plus he's getting off the floor every third reader.

    Rodriguez, like Harris, works to personalize the reading through eye contact. Reliant upon their text, it's sparse and momentary. Their work has enough power that audiences don't miss what they're not getting. But because these poets could do these poems from memory without the prop, there's a lost opportunity to magnify their audience's enjoyment of the work.

    Luis J. Rodriguez

    Luis J. Rodriguez

    Luis J. Rodriguez

    The Gluten-free Chicano
    Good Mexican Girl Hits the Spot

    Earlier in December, The Gluten-free Chicano sat around feeling sorry for himself that gluten-free analogs are crummy and he needed a snack. The Gluten-free Chicano, in a fit of antoja, wrote about a gluten-free bakery that sounded like it would hit the spot, the Good Mexican Girl's cookies.

    The Good Mexican Girl herself took the column as a challenge, to get some of her cookies to The Gluten-free Chicano. She did it. And he's glad.

    GMG gluten-free Mexican Wedding Cookies aren't quite the powdery puro butter and wheat flour nuggets of yesteryear, but GMG Mexican Wedding Cookies are number hana, as they say in Korea, number one.

    They hit the spot.

    GMG discovered the secret to a velvety texture on the tongue. Other GF treats have a raspy grit to them like 440 sandpaper on the tongue. Yuck. Bite into the crumbly texture of a GMG Mexican Wedding Cookie and all the flavor and a pleasing tooth greet one. Savor it and allow the crumbs to work their magic. Smooth all the way down. Next: GMG chocolate chip cookies.

    ¡Ajua! Good Mexican Girl. Te aventastes.

    Late-breaking News!


    Click link to get your tickets.

    Floricanto for Michele Serros
    Sunday, January 4, 2015at 6:00pm
    Alumni House, UC Berkeley
    1 Alumni House, Berkeley, California 94720

    La Bloga encourages readers to purchase tickets to support Michele Serros' challenges during her health crisis. Gente in the Bay area will want to appear in-person for this important event. Here is the latest organizer report.

    Joseph Rios- friend of Michele and poet
    Jennie Luna- friend and Cal State Professor of Xican@ studies at Cal State Channel Islands

    Readers/Friends of Michele: 
    Melinda Palacio- author and friend
    Joe Loya- author and friend
    Cindy Cruz- close friend of Michele and professor of education at UCSC
    Alberto Ledesma- friend, UC Berkeley professor and DREAM artivista

    Silent Auction at the event with works by: 
    Malaquias Montoya
    Maceo Montoya
    Melanie Cervantes
    Mitsy Avila Ovalles
    Santos Shelton
    Lalo Alcaraz
    Ester Hernandez
    Jessica Sabogal

    Signed vinyl records from the band, Chicano Batman 

    0 Comments on Rediscovering Sueño. La Palabra Wraps for 14. GF Chicano. as of 12/26/2014 10:08:00 PM
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    As we wait for the snow to melt

    and SPRING to arrive, it's a great time to enjoy READING!

    I usually highlight story books, but today I'd like to celebrate
    some fun research sites.

    DK Publishing has a free online encyclopedia: FIND OUT
    The site is for simple searches on a variety of science-related
    topics. Results provide a colorful illustrated page with brief
    explanations and related topics. Of course, if one of the topics interests you, check at your local library for a corresponding DK book on the subject.

    Another free online site, available through public and school libraries, is EBSCO Kids Search. This is a more in-depth database of magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, web articles, biographies, books, newspapers, and photos. A handy tool to have at your fingertips.

    Kids Info Bits from Gale/Cengage Learning is search resource available through some libraries as well. It's a more simplified database of sources, including magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and maps. It includes advanced search capabilities and is geared toward elementary school students.

    So during this month focused on READ ALOUD time, choose a topic of interest (I know my grandson would pick Monster Trucks); use one of these kid-friendly sites or a book and read together for 15 minutes.

    Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter--every season is just right for READING!

    0 Comments on March is NATIONAL READING AWARENESS MONTH as of 3/2/2015 2:22:00 PM
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    14. The Joys of Reading through Windows

    We all know that when it comes to stories, children need both mirrors and windows to understand their place in the wide world.

    This never ending winter has given my life a different pace. Curtailed from Saturdays scheduled with errands and voice lessons, sewing lessons and play dates, my children and I have been reading aloud. They are both independent readers and have been for some time. My son is 16 and my daughter turns 11 this month but the joys of reading aloud are even richer than when they were little. Our options are more varied and their views of the world are wider. As librarians we have always known and advocated for reading aloud to older children but at least for me, making the time has been a challenge.

    My pledge is that after the snow melts, I will still suggest and make space for Saturday morning readings that start our day with ideas, passion and a look into other worlds. This ability to glimpse into other worlds and gain greater empathy for others is the kernel of our concern and commitment to diversity in all its forms in our profession. While this is a personalized call to action and one I tend to avoid, having time to share books with my children in this amazing and profound way, reading aloud, makes me grateful for our public library and all its offerings. I really have everything I need in our literary backyard.

    For our families, El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), celebrates the stories in our communities. Our libraries are the perfect place of acceptance, inclusion and harmony. While we celebrate Día on one special day, April 30th, its name also stands for Diversity in Action and through this work, we reaffirm our daily commitment to ensure that all families have access to diverse books, languages and cultures. Without access to stories from other cultures, places and passions, we are a lesser world.

    The post The Joys of Reading through Windows appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    15. 83% of Kids Love Being Read Aloud To: Scholastic

    Most parents of small children know the benefits of reading to kids, but older kids can also benefit from the activity.

    In fact, 83 percent of kids ages 6 to 17  say they love being read aloud to, according to Scholastic’s \"Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th edition.\"

    The report found that parents often stop reading to their kids as they get older and can read independently, yet 40 percent of kids ages 6 to 11, said they wish their parents kept reading aloud to them, mainly because of the special time together. Ninety-one percent of kids said they prefer books \"I picked out myself\" and 70 percent like books \"that make me laugh.\"

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    16. Weekend Links

    weekend links

    So far this month has been jam-packed with insightful education, Booklists, Activities and Resources for Kids and parents interested in raising global citizens.  I would like to share them this weekend as my Weekend Links Round-up. Enjoy!

    Marie’s Pastiche ALWAYS has amazing information for cultivating global citizens and this one caught my eye:”We really enjoyed getting a glimpse into Ashanti royalty and customs from Ghana – have you ever seen anything like it?”

    Using and Creating Art to Explore World Cultures at Art Curator for Kids


    Episode 41: A Bilingual Avenue-Strategies to help you navigate multicultural and multi-ethnic family relationships with Harriet Cannon | Bilingual Avenue

    Episode 41

    Randomly Reading: The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle

    Spring is in the air! Let’s get outside and MOVE! Outdoor Games, Crafts & Nature Activities for Kids at KCEdventures.

    outdoor crafts

    Third Culture Mama has a wonderful list of Beautiful Multicultural Books for Children.


    Read Aloud to Ignite a World of Possibility  via @blackvoices


    How are you celebrating Music In Our Schools month? Free E-book here for MIOSM during March from the amazing Daria Music.

    Have you seen the “Cultural Iceberg”…Fascinating! {Thanks to Languages Around the Globe for sharing on Facebook)

    cultural iceberg

    Sign up to receive your Free copy of Read Your World Multicultural Books Activities for Kids! downloadable eBook.  It’s my free gift to YOU. Click here for more details.

    The post Weekend Links appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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    17. Why I Love to Read Sad and Dark Books to Children (and You Should Too)

    • Gleam and Glow written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Peter Sylvada
    • Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
    • Hiroshima No Pika written and illustrated by Toshi Maruki
    • Fox written by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks
    • The Harmonica written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Ron Mazellan
    • Peppe the Lamplighter written by Eliza Bartone, illustrated by Ted Lewin
    • The Shark God written by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon

    What do they all have in common?

    1. They have very sad and dark themes
    2. I love to read them to third graders

    According to the What Kids Are Reading report from Renaissance Learning and Kids & Family Reading Report from Scholastic, it seems pretty clear that funny books are the most popular when choosing books for unassigned reading. In the Kids & Family Reading Report, 70% of 2,558 parents and children look for a book that “makes me laugh.” As you scroll across the top fiction titles per grade of the 9.8 million students from 31,633 schools nationwide who read more than 330 million books during the 2013-2014 school year tracked in the What Kids are Reading, you see the same lighthearted, amusing titles appear over and over again.

    Although these reports do not encompass all the books students read or measure all the students in the United States, these do provide useful snapshots into the homes and schools of today’s young readers.

    I get it: Light humorous fiction provides much-needed escape and reminds readers not to take the world or ourselves too seriously. These books offer an escape from harsh realities and a place to dream and imagine another, better, or different world.

    Sad and Dark Books for ChildrenWhile I encourage all readers to choose their own books based on their interests, needs, and experiences, our unique roles as educators make us critical influencers on exposing students to a wide variety of texts they might not have considered for themselves.

    Some of my most meaningful teaching moments and conversations came when the 27 of us would be clustered together on the carpet reading one of those texts. When we read Fox, my students were disturbed at the Fox-Magpie-Dog relationship and were dismayed by Magpie’s actions. This led us to a discussion (and away from the day’s read aloud lesson plan…) about betrayal they had experienced in friendships and families.

    The world is messy, sad, and dark. Kids face racism, poverty, homelessness, neglect, violence, hunger, sexism, divorce, disempowerment, and more. Sharing sad or dark books with students starting in elementary school, like A Shelter in Our Car and When the Horses Ride By, challenges students emotionally and recognizes their realities and capacity to empathize.

    Using books with dark themes or settings in the classroom can give students the language to express their emotions, models for how to discuss and engage on these topics with adults and peers, and a safe space to explore difficult topics. When students read about characters struggling with abuse, bullying, or poverty, they also see how the characters found strength and resources to cope and thrive.

    Think of your most memorable texts from middle school, high school, or college. The further students advance into social studies and literature they engage with darker subjects and content. Incorporating such texts early on stretches the types of books young readers can see themselves reading and liking, as well as prepares students for analyzing complex themes and characters.

    Next read aloud, choose a sad, dark book because it can:

    • provide an opener into difficult conversations and topics
    • offer complex themes, characters, and motivations worthy of multiple readings
    • give young readers words to express what they are feeling or experiencing
    • model how we act and talk about tough situations, including the grieving process, processing anger, witnessing trauma or violence
    • reinforce the development of the whole child: we want children to explore the whole human condition and develop empathy
    • prepare young readers for the world they belong in and will someday lead
    • prepare them for profound, challenging books to come in middle school and high school  (hello, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Metamorphosis, Their Eyes Were Watching God among so many others)

    When I look for a meaningful text, I am on the hunt for authors and illustrators who have tackled difficult topics with not only respect, but also with honesty and with the perception that even the hardest topics like racism, sexism, poverty, and war can be understood by children.

    Things to think about when selecting a sad or dark book:

    1. What is the purpose of introducing a sad, dark book?
    2. Is this the best book for the unit’s content or skill?
    3. Where do parents fit in this?
    4. What background information do students need beforehand to handle, appreciate, and comprehend this book and its message(s)?
    5. What follow-up discussion or activities should I organize to help students process and appreciate this book?

    There are many authors and illustrators who are finding powerful stories, communicating difficult subjects to children, and treating young people with respect and dignity. Looking for your next thought-provoking book to explore with students? Try…

    What are the saddest, darkest books your students love? Share with us!

    Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    6 Comments on Why I Love to Read Sad and Dark Books to Children (and You Should Too), last added: 3/18/2015
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    18. 4 Mentor Texts and Activities for National Poetry Month

    April is National Poetry Month. With so many forms of poetry to explore and share with students, what will you choose? 

    Here are 4 ideas for using mentor texts to guide students in poetry study.

    Additional bonus: a letter to teachers from author and poet, Pat Mora, on the power of poetry.

    Poetry MonthPoem type: FOUND POETRY

    Mentor Text: Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet

    Activity with students: Students select words and phrases from a primary text and use those words to create their own unique poems.

    As “Primary Sources + Found Poetry = Celebrate Poetry Month” suggests, the Library of Congress proposes an innovative way to combine poetry and nonfiction. Teaching With The Library of Congress recently re-posted the Found Poetry Primary Source Set that “supports students in honing their reading and historical comprehension skills by creating poetry based upon informational text and images.” Students will study primary source documents, pull words and phrases that show the central idea, and then use those pieces to create their own poems.

    This project not only enables teachers to identify whether a student grasps a central idea of a text, but also encourages students to interact with primary sources in much the same way as Etched In Clay’s Andrea Cheng. When researching Dave’s life and drawing inspiration for her verses, Andrea Cheng integrated the small pieces of evidence of Dave’s life, including poems on his pots and the bills of sale.

    Lee & Low teacher’s guide

    Poem type: HAIKU

    Mentor Text: Cool Melons—Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa

    Activity with students: Students write haiku using sensory language and drawing inspiration from body movement, music, and art to create their own haiku.

    Check out the classroom-tested, standards-aligned lesson plan Experiencing Haiku Through Mindfulness, Movement & Music by Rashna Wadia with Cool Melons— Turn to Frogs! provided by ReadWriteThink.org, a website developed by the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.

    Additional resources:

    Lee & Low teacher’s guide


    Mentor Text: Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

    Activity with students: Students choose a building to describe in a poem and shape the poem to look like the building.

    In Reading is Fundamental’s educator activity guide for, Dreaming Up, encourage students to try the writing activity “Shape It Up:” Let students pick a type of building and write a poem describing that building (how it looks, its purpose, etc). Students should write their poems on white paper in the shape of the building and decorate the background. (RIF)

    Lee & Low teacher’s guide


    Mentor Text: Chess Rumble

    Activity with students: Students compare narrative and lyric poetry and write their own narrative poem based on real or imagined experiences or events.

    Check out the research-based novel study unit for Chess Rumble created by the staff at the award-winning, non-profit ReadWorks.org. Students will compare the story elements of Chess Rumble to Where the Sidewalk Ends and Keeping the Night Watch.

    Next, students write their unique narrative poem—for tips “by youth for youth” check out How to Write a Narrative Poem from Power Poetry.

    Further reading on using poetry in the classroom:

    What are your favorite poems to enjoy in the classroom? Share with us!

    Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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    19. Talking to Kids about Current Events and Conflicts

    block quote for jill (1)Breaking stories, developing crises, and unexpected catastrophes often involve more than one country, community, and culture. As our children listen in to the radio while stuck in traffic or the evening news program over dinner, it can be easy to think that if we don’t explicitly bring up the news story, then our children don’t know it’s happening.

    In fact, children are incredibly perceptive when their parents and adults close to them are distracted by news or alarming events. Many children also pick up information from their peers.

    While we don’t want to overwhelm or scare our children, it is important to discuss what is going on. Children need honest portrayals of a community at its best during a time we might be seeing it at its worst.

    How do we talk to children about these events and use these moments as opportunities to have respectful, honest (albeit age-appropriate) discussions?

    Picture books are invaluable conversation starters. Conflicts and disasters have complex origins and multiple players. Issues of race, class, religion, and gender are often entangled in the events or portrayal of the events. Children’s books dealing with conflict or natural disasters can frame the event in contexts and meanings suitable to their developmental stage. Stories with children as the main characters allow children to identify with the characters over universal themes.

    When a “newsworthy” event happens, this may be the first time the child learns of this country, group of people, or culture. By the same token, the conflict or event may involve the child’s own heritage or culture. Using picture books to talk about a current event or conflict can be an opportunity to learn about a new region and help children see the culture and people beyond this event.

    Instead of allowing the media to define the group of people involved, we should seek out and read a book showcasing and reinforcing the positive aspects and pride of the featured group of people and region. In doing so, we present a broader perspective of the community, culture, or people that media coverage is portraying in a negative, humiliating, or victimized light.

    In selecting the right book to foster respect and provide an honest portrait of a community in the news, consider:

    Books that champion human dignity:

    Books that exhibit the strength, courage, and resilience of children:

    Books that depict a community’s capacity to endure, love, and give:

    “Age-appropriate” can mean truthful, thoughtful conversations. When talking to children, let them guide the discussion. Opening conversation starters include:Going Home, Coming Home

    • What questions do you have? What have you heard?
    • What do you know about the situation or group of people/foreign country involved?
    • Who are the countries or communities involved?
    • How are different communities and countries coming together over this issue?
    • What would you like to do to help?

    For further reading:

    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


    Filed under: Diversity, Race, and Representation, Educator Resources Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Multiracial, Race issues, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    1 Comments on Talking to Kids about Current Events and Conflicts, last added: 7/28/2014
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    20. 11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration

    The-StorytellerAs media coverage has intensified around the events of children crossing the U.S. border, many educators and families are wondering, “What should we tell our students?” For some children, this may be the first time they are learning of these countries. But for many others, these events may involve their own heritage or depict their families’ experiences. Using books to talk about the recent events can be an opportunity to learn about a new region and help children see the cultures and people beyond these events.

    We’ve put together a list of 11 books (many of which are bilingual English/Spanish) that teach about the emotional journey families and children must undertake along with the physical journey. These stories allow children to see each other and themselves in characters who are living life to the fullest and refusing to let any obstacle stand in their way.

    Whether you are looking to explore the themes of the DREAM Act, learn more about the journey of one’s own family, or see America from a different angle, these books reveal the complexities, challenges, joys, and surprises of coming to a new place. Join these characters as they share their challenges and excitement in moving to a new culture and new school, helping their families adjust, and juggling their home culture with a new culture.

    1. A Movie in My Pillow/ Una película en mi almohada

    Poet Jorge Argueta evokes the wonder of his childhood in rural El Salvador, a touching relationship with a caring father, and his confusion and delight in his new urban home.

    2. Amelia’s Road

    Amelia longs for a beautiful white house with a fine shade tree in the yard, where she can live without worrying. In this inspirational tale, Amelia discovers the importance of putting her own roots down in a very special way.


    3. First Day in Grapes

    Chico and his family move up and down the state of California picking fruits and vegetables. Every September Chico starts at a new school again. Often other children pick on him, but Chico’s first day in third grade turns out to be different.

    4. From North to South/ Del Norte al Sur

    José loves helping Mama, but when Mama is sent back to Mexico for not having proper papers, José and his Papa face an uncertain future. Author René Colato Laínez tackles the difficult and timely subject of family separation with exquisite tenderness.

    5. Home at Last

    Ana Patino is adjusting well to her new life in the United States, but her mother is having a difficult time because she doesn’t speak English. After mama agrees to take English lessons, her sense of confidence and belonging grow.

    6. My Diary from Here to There/ Mi diario de aqui hasta allá

    Amada overhears her parents whisper of moving from Mexico to the other side of the border—to Los Angeles. As she and her family make their journey north, Amada records her fears, hopes, and dreams for their lives in the United States in her diary.

    7. The Storyteller’s Candle/ La velita de los cuentos

    The award-winning team of Lucia González and Lulu Delacre have crafted an homage to Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian. Through Pura Belpré’s vision and dedication, the warmth of Puerto Rico comes to the island of Manhattan in a most unexpected way.

    8. The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza

    Juanito is bewildered by the new school and everything he does feels upside down. But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him to find his voice and make a place for himself in this new world.

    9. When This World Was New

    It is Danilito’s first day in America and he is scared. He has heard that some Americans are not friendly to foreigners. In addition, he does not speak any English. Danilito’s worries disappear when Papa leads him on a magical trip of discovery.

    10. Xochitl and the Flowers/ Xóchitl, la Niña de las Flores

    Miles away from their home in El Salvador, Xochitl and her family make a new home in the United States, but nothing is the same. It is not until her family decides to start a flower nursery in its backyard that Xochitl begins to learn the true value of community in their adopted country.

    11. Calling the Doves/ El canto de las palomas

    Poet Juan Felipe Herrera shares the story of his migrant farmworker childhood. The farmworker road was the beginning of his personal road to becoming a writer.

    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, events, Immigration, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Race issues, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    4 Comments on 11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration, last added: 8/4/2014
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    21. 11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration

    What an amazing week to see the response of last Sunday’s post and hear what many of you are facing, doing, and aspiring to in schools and communities. In addition to using children’s books to initiate conversations, deepen background knowledge, and humanize the events, here are eleven teaching resources to help you provide the best information, context, and perspective for your students.

    Amazing Faces mirror

    1. Colorín Colorado is a free bilingual service that presents information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English Language Learners. One of my favorite sections is “Reaching Out to ELL Students and Families” because it gives explicit tools on how to create a welcoming classroom environment, learn about our students’ backgrounds, and reach out to parents of ELLs.
    2. Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC) offers educator guides to support teachers and school staff in supporting undocumented students in school and beyond graduation.
    3. Colorlines contributes award-winning daily reporting, investigative news, and analysis on issues of race with a subsection devoted to child migrants. They also have a campaign, Drop the I-Word.
    4. The Library of Congress has curated thousands of resources, especially primary sources and online exhibitions, on immigration in the United States providing critical historical context to current events. I strongly recommend checking out the presentation, Immigration: The Changing Face of America, where students can read the immigration history of specific ethnicities and races, and the Themed Resources: Immigration, where students can study the contributions of American immigrants.
    5. The staff at the Latin American and Iberian Institute (University of New Mexico) have created and organized thematic guides, lesson plans, and news articles for issues related to Latin America available at the Latin America Data Base.
    6. Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, provides award-winning educational materials to teachers, including immigration-themed units and lessons.
    7. Border Crossers has prepared a list of resources for adults to learn how to teach and talk about race and racial justice with students.
    8. The Migrant Policy Institute, a Washington, DC think tank, offers powerful analysis of global and regional migration. I want to underscore their visual tools, such as the International Migrant Population by Country of Origin and Destination map.
    9. Accompanying the two PBS documentary series, Latino Americans and The New Americans, are rich lesson plans and activities for grades 7 and up to explore the diverse experiences of coming to America.
    10. Latin@s in Kid Lit has an extensive list of children’s literature for those looking for more beyond our eleven book list, as well as interviews and teaching ideas.
    11. The MY HERO Project enables students to create, share, and discover stories, audio, art, and films that promote tolerance, peace, and diversity. Teacher resources are available at MY HERO Teacher’s Room.

    art from Arrorró, mi niñoFor further reading:

    11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration

    What resources would you add? What resources do you recommend? Please share them with our community in the comments!

    Filed under: Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Immigration, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Race issues, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    6 Comments on 11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration, last added: 8/12/2014
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    22. Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just For Kids

    You don’t have to be a kid in elementary school to listen to a book read aloud. You don’t have to be the parent of a preschooler to read aloud.

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    23. Character Education, Part 1: How To Choose Books For Core Value Study

    As we cluster in workshops, around webinars, and near the water cooler, we are already thinking about and preparing what skills and knowledge we want to teach. Yet, to truly have a successful year, let’s ponder an additional question: who do we want to teach?

    The start of school is a popular time to model and instill core values because August and September are a fresh start: our time as teachers, librarians, and administrators to create and cultivate a community bound and motivated by the same values and goals. It is during this period that we can expose our students to stories with strong morals that feature both examples and non-examples of how to react in tough situations and learn from one’s mistakes.

    However, it can be very difficult to select just the right text to teach values that will guide our students through academic and developmental challenges over the coming year and lay the groundwork for the community we hope to build.

    Many teachers dust off their tried-and-true character education read alouds each coming school year or rely on word of mouth recommendations that send us back to the classics year in, year out. During my first year of teaching, I remember everyone scrambling to find a book that demonstrated “respect” or “persistence.” When a master teacher on campus mentioned that she used a particular title for the start of every first week of school, that sounded like hard proof to me and I was grateful. I went out and bought it.

    Yet, there is not just one book that will make the abstract concept of “empathy” or “leadership” concrete to third graders or kindergartners. With such dependence on the same books, many of my third graders had read The Lorax three years in a row to learn about responsibility and respect. It’s an outstanding book to explore these values, but still…three years? It was time to shake things up.

    Whether your school has campus-wide core values or you can determine your own, I encourage you to think carefully about which books you use to teach core values. They are the foundation of a classroom or school’s culture and can guide children’s social, intellectual, and emotional development.

    For successful character education study, choose a set of books that:

    1. Have protagonists that both exemplify and struggle with at least one of the classroom’s core values. Don’t just present stories with perfect, role model-worthy characters! Students should see multiple examples of people and situations of the core value in action to learn that one’s character is made, not born. Finding books where characters (protagonists and antagonists) lie, cheat, lose their cool, or are hurtful to other characters can be just as powerful as exemplary characters, if not more so. Students can discuss what they can learn from both examples and non-examples, share advice for different scenarios, and reflect on similar experiences in their lives where they struggled to make the right decision.

    2. Are both fiction and nonfiction. Pair fiction with nonfiction texts to show students a range of experiences and real world applications. Reading a biography of a famous leader practicing or struggling with a core value gives students the chance to visualize the core value in their environment and daily lives, as well as let them see that knowing how to make good choices doesn’t come naturally and needs to be practiced.

    3. Align with the Common Core ELA Standards. Character education doesn’t need to be separate from ELA instruction or your curriculum. In fact, core value study is great for teaching close reading, determining central ideas and author’s message, analyzing word choice, and comparing two or more texts.

    4. Have protagonists students can identify with based on race, gender, family background, language, and experience. Although students absolutely learn from characters different from themselves, it is very meaningful for children to see someone on the cover and in the pages they identify with struggling or succeeding to make good choices. Especially for younger students, relating to aspects of a character’s identity helps students visualize themselves in the character’s situation and develop empathy. Additionally, for children who are new to school or are English Language Learners, having characters that remind them of themselves or their families may give the children more confidence to participate in class, which is critical to building a strong classroom/school community at the beginning of the year.

    Looking to refresh your character education read aloud shelf? For book recommendations demonstrating your classroom’s core values, check out our Pinterest boards:

    What core values do you teach children? What are your favorite books to teach these core values? Let us know below!

    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    1 Comments on Character Education, Part 1: How To Choose Books For Core Value Study, last added: 8/16/2014
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    24. 7 Strategies for Navigating Lexile for Booksellers and Librarians

    I highly recommend all educators and parents read a bookseller’s perspective on leveling systems, Lexile in this case, which we re-posted on our blog last week. There are great firsthand examples of parents and booksellers striving in earnest to help children improve in reading.

    Regardless of where one comes down on leveling books and assessing students with leveling systems, last week’s post laid bare the lack of or breakdown in communication between all stakeholders about the tools used to assess children’s reading growth.

    Whether a child’s reading abilities are measured using Lexile, Accelerated Reader, DRA or another, we must equip any and all stakeholders in a child’s education with knowledge about what these tools mean and concrete ways to further support the child.

    Children spend 7,800 hours outside of school each year compared to 900 hours in school. The National Center for Families Learning asserts that “the family unit—no matter the composition—is the one constant across the educational spectrum.” I am extending the definition of a child’s family to include afterschool volunteers, librarians, booksellers, pediatricians, and anyone else involved in a child’s education journey.

    Below are strategies for strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.

    This week we are tackling what librarians and booksellers can do in preparation for hearing those magical words, “My child has a Lexile score of…” Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

    For librarians and booksellers who are asked which book for which level:

    • Know the local feeder schools to your library or store and ask teachers or the school librarians what leveling systems they are using. Find out how the classroom libraries are organized (by theme, genre, Lexile level, AR level, guided reading level, author). Reaching out to neighborhood schools helps you learn about your customers and build relationships with educators. Ask schools for any booklists or level conversion charts. Schools will be thrilled to recommend their families to places that know their curriculum, leveling systems, and community. Students may move on, but you and teachers are in it for the long haul.
    • If schools use multiple or differing leveling systems, ask schools for level conversion charts to have on hand for customers or download your own from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low. A conversion chart will help you translate what grade level a customer is reading on and books you can recommend within that range.
    • Design your own booklists based on grade levels or popular leveling systems. Search by book titles or by levels on Scholastic Book Wizard, Perma-Bound, Lexile’s Find a Book, Accelerated Reader BookFinder, and specific publishers like Lee & Low. Parents and students can reference these handouts as they explore the store.
    • Even better: Use other pre-curated lists of popular leveling systems. Remember, you are neither the only nor first bookseller to have a confused nine year old asking what they should read at a Lexile level 930. Share and reach out to teachers and school librarians who may have created lists from which parents and children are requesting. Other persistent souls are tackling these issues as well: Durham County Library and Phoenix Public Library both built a reader’s service to search titles by Lexile, as well as graded and themed booklists.
    • Know the Common Core Appendix B text exemplar list. It may not be perfect, but many schools are using these texts to benchmark against other works. Recognizing these books will give you a sense of what the expectations are for each grade level and what students across the country are reading. Pair books in your store or library with this list to help readers discover more contemporary, diverse, and multicultural books.
    • If you have children who are reading significantly above their typical grade level and parents that are concerned that higher levels equal too mature content or themes, encourage expository nonfiction. Nonfiction often has higher technical and academic vocabulary bumping up the Lexile or Accelerated Reader levels (as they measure linguistic complexity), but the themes and concepts won’t be mature. When I had three students who were reading two plus grade levels above their peers, I sought out more STEM books that aligned with my third-grade science units, the solar system and animal adaptations. They were able to explore more in-depth about black holes and gravity than we could cover whole group.
    • Remember ELL, EFL, ESL, and non-English speaking families. You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on you (librarians and bookstore staff) for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you learn about leveling systems and engage with the neighborhood schools, the more you help the child.

    Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

    What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.

    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: booksellers, Bookselling, CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, librarians, Reading Aloud

    0 Comments on 7 Strategies for Navigating Lexile for Booksellers and Librarians as of 9/7/2014 9:20:00 AM
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    25. 5 Strategies to Help Parents Navigate Lexile

    30-31This week we are tackling what parents can do once they hear those magical words, “Your child has a Lexile score of…” For strategies for teachers and booksellers on navigating leveling systems and building a community, check out here and here.

    For parents who want to help your children find a book at their levels:

    1. Ask teachers what leveling system they are using to assess your child’s reading growth.

    • What does this system measure?
    • What does a book at this level look like? Below-level book? Above-level book?
    • What are examples of books and series that are on this level?
    • Where can I find out more information about this leveling system and books measured using it?

    How to Set Up An Author Skype Visit2. Research books and this leveling system for yourself online. Publishers and the leveling systems themselves often have books leveled. Additionally, there are many booklists already out there. Remember, your child isn’t the only one to ever have achieved a Lexile level 620. Someone has made a list before you.

    3. Do not assume that a library or bookstore will know what these levels are or mean. Ask your child’s teacher for a conversion chart to other leveling systems or download your own (see above). Download one from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low. Also ask for booklists for Lexile levels the child should explore and take them with you to the library or bookstore.

    Howard Thurman's Great Hope4. If you have a child who is reading significantly above his or her typical grade level and are concerned that higher levels equal too mature content or themes, look for expository nonfiction. Nonfiction often has higher technical and academic vocabulary bumping up the Lexile or Accelerated Reader levels (as they measure linguistic complexity), but the themes and concepts won’t be mature. Is your child reading a grade or two above peers and absolutely loved the science unit on forces and motion? Find sciences books that align with your child’s science or social studies units. Your child will be able to explore more in-depth about forces than will be covered in class. Check out the annual Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal winner and honors list and iNK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) Think Tank for award-winning nonfiction titles.

    Pop Pop and Grandpa5. Most importantly, continue to expose your child to a wide range of genres, levels, and text sources. Just because your child achieved a Lexile level 920 doesn’t mean the child should only read books at a Lexile level 920. Your child’s teacher may assign homework with reading passages at specific reading levels, but it’s important for students to engage with texts that aren’t leveled as most books in bookstores and libraries won’t be. We interact with texts of all kinds throughout our day, including nutrition labels, newspaper articles, advertisements, recipes, and road signs. The real world does not provide children with texts at their level all the time and we need to work with them to develop reading strategies to cope when they come across more challenging texts. Moreover, we want our readers to develop their love of reading, along with skills and critical thinking. This may include our children seeking out and re-reading favorites or comfort books that happen to be lower leveled (who hasn’t indulged on a silly summer beach read every now and then?) or trying harder books that happen to be on their favorite subject (who can resist those stunning books filled with multisyllable Greek- and Latin-derived names of awe-inspiring dinosaurs?).

    Image from BABY FLOFor further reading:

    7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile

    8 Strategies to Help Educators Explain Lexile and Invest Stakeholders

    What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.


    Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

    Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

    0 Comments on 5 Strategies to Help Parents Navigate Lexile as of 9/21/2014 9:22:00 AM
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