What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'reading aloud')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: reading aloud, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 186
1. 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
Display Comments Add a Comment
2. Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Outdoor Summer Concerts!

I and I Bob Marley

I and I Bob Marley

Each week this summer, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Summer is an incredible time to hear and enjoy music. From public parks to local high school auditoriums to subway platforms, many towns and cities offer summer concerts. Whether it is part of an official concert series, a festival, a rehearsal, or an impromptu get-together of musicians, there are a ton of opportunities to enjoy music alongside reading.

Our motto this summer: Love Books + Keep Cool + Learn Something New

Your summer outing: an Outdoor Summer Concert

Book recommendations:

Summoning the Phoenix

Summoning the Phoenix

Questions during reading:

  • What instruments are used in the book?
  • What type of music is featured in this book?
  • How is the music in this book different from other kinds of music?
  • How does music create community?
  • What character traits does someone need to become a successful musician?
  • Why do you think people enjoy music and find it meaningful?
  • Why do you think every culture has created some form of music?

Activities:

  1. Pair the book with a music recording or live performance of the same type of music featured in the book. What instruments do you hear? What patterns do you hear? What mood/tone does the music set? How does this music make you feel (unhappy, excited, calm, agitated)? How many musicians are performing? Is there a band leader/conductor for this type of music?
  2. Drummer Boy of John John

    Design and create a drum! Although many cultures and forms of music have distinct instruments, it is fascinating to note what instruments seem to pop up over and over again. Take for example the drum! Variations of the drum appear in music from all over the world. Check out the drum instructions from Spark!Lab, part of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History.

  3. Turn listening to music into seeing music! Talk about the senses we use to enjoy music. Children may think we can enjoy music with only our ears. Yet, the author and illustrator of the book had to communicate the music and its mood through words and pictures. What words does the author use to describe the featured music? What words does the author use to capture the mood of the music? What colors or actions does the illustrator use to capture the music? After attending a concert or listening to a recording, encourage your child to draw a picture that captures the mood, feeling, or story of the song. What colors would you use for each instrument and why? How would you draw a quiet, slow, fast, or loud moment?
  4. Drummer Boy of John John

    Study the geography of the music featured in the book. Where does this type of music originate? Who are famous composers, contributors, or musicians? What kinds of instruments were/are used? Out of what materials from the region were instruments traditionally made?

For further summer reading and ideas:

Jill_Eisenberg

Jill 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: Educator Resources, Summer Tagged: children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, summer, summer reading

0 Comments on Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Outdoor Summer Concerts! as of 7/21/2014 8:37:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: National and State Parks!

Grab a flashlight, bug repellent, and binoculars…

Each week this summer, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Your summer outing: national or state parks!

Book recommendations:

Questions during reading:

  • How have humans affected the habitat or animal species in the book?
  • What suggestions does this book offer to take care of the world around us?
  • What risks does the animal species or habitat face in the book?
  • How does this person(group) demonstrate respect for the environment?
  • How do healthy animal populations and habitats benefit people?
  • What happens when people do not take care of the environment or an animal species in the book?
  • What does this text teach about sustainability?
  • Do you think communities and governments have a responsibility to protect animals or the environment? Why or why not?
  • Should school field trips include visiting national and state parks? Why or why not? What are the benefits of children visiting national and state parks?

Activity:

1. Sound scavenger hunt!

Many animals rely on sound to detect nearby predators and search for food. For your next scavenger hunt, use the sense of sound to explore the wonders of the state or national park. This activity is a great way to teach young scientists about:

  • our five senses
  • how the human ear, like other animal ears, is a powerful physical adaptation and is very effective in detecting and differentiating sounds
  • how we can appreciate natural beauty as both visual and aural
  • the importance of slowing down and soaking in all the stimuli around us

Make a list of sounds for your child to “find” on the next hike. Together, check off and record as the child hears them! While you will want to adapt specific sounds to the park you are visiting, sound ideas include:

Everglades Forever

  • the local bird species
  • the rustling of an animal in the bushes
  • the wind among grass or tree leaves
  • sound of the nearest water source (river, ocean)
  • the buzzing/humming of insects
  • sound of walking on different types of surfaces: the trail, through leaves, in mud
  • a hiker whistling
  • a swimmer splashing
  • a dog barking or the clinking of a dog collar
  • sound of something being recycled
  • sound of something hollow
  • an echo
  • sound of food being unwrapped
  • horse clopping/trotting
  • a stick snapping
  • a hiker drinking (chugging) water
  • Bonus: the elusive spot of complete silence

To prove that your child experienced the sound, allow your child to:

  • record the sounds on a phone
  • take a picture of the creature or thing making the noise
  • describe the noise in a sentence with a juicy verb, such as chirping instead of singing

2. Animal and ecosystem observation!

Buffalo Song

Even if your nearest state or national park does not have the wildlife or habitat featured in the book, your young scientist can check out the featured animals or habitat in real life and real time from a computer or mobile device. Many national parks, zoos, and wildlife protection groups offer real-time footage of animals that serve as great opportunities to talk about behavioral and physical adaptations and habitat preservation.

Explore.org offers multiple livecam opportunities to observe wild animals outside of zoos. After finishing Buffalo Song, I checked out Canada’s Grasslands National Park for bison. I observed brown bears and salmon from Alaska’s Brooks River in Katmai National Park following I Know the River Loves Me. After A Man Called Raven, I used The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library for videos and audio recordings of ravens.

i know the river loves me 2

I Know the River Loves Me

For further book and activity suggestions to match your summer adventure:

Jill_EisenbergLiteracy Specialist, Jill Eisenberg, 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: Educator Resources, Summer Tagged: children's books, close reading, Educators, environmentalism, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, summer, summer reading, Summer School

0 Comments on Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: National and State Parks! as of 7/13/2014 11:43:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Beaches!

Each week this summer, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Our motto this summer: Love Books + Keep Cool + Learn Something New

Your summer outing: the BEACH

Book recommendations:

Surfer of the Century cover

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

Questions during reading:

  • What is this person’s relationship to the ocean? How does this person’s relationship to the ocean change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • How does this person show appreciation for the ocean?
  • How is the ocean/beach a part of this person’s identity?
  • Look at a map of the world and locate the island this person is from. What is the capital? What ocean surrounds it? Infer what the climate is like based on the island’s location. What makes this island unique?
  • How does this person demonstrate pride in his/her culture?
  • How does this person remember home even when far away from home?

Seaside DreamActivity:

Create a beach ball collage!

Materials: poster paper, pencil, markers, colored pencils or crayons, assortment of magazines

  1. Using a pencil, draw a large circle on the poster paper.
  2. Inside the circle, draw a small circle about the size of a quarter somewhere off center.
  3. Draw a curved line from the small circle to the large circle. Repeat drawing lines until you have six lines and six spaces. Each curved line should face the same direction in a pinwheel formation. The lines will be different lengths and can be varying widths apart from each other (this will give it a 3-D effect).
  4. With a black marker, trace over the pencil so the beach ball stands out on the poster paper.
  5. Optional: lightly fill in each segment a different color using colored pencils or crayons.
  6. Select and cut out pictures and words from the assortment of magazines to answer the question: What makes the beach special to you?
  7. In each of the six beach ball segments, draw or glue pictures. In one section, think about what foods you eat while at the beach. What animals have you seen at the beach? What do you always make sure to pack before you head out? What activities do you like to do at the beach? Who do you play with while there?

For further reading:Seaside Dream

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: Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations, Summer Tagged: children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, holidays, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, summer, summer reading

0 Comments on Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Beaches! as of 7/6/2014 10:23:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students

Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Today we are featuring one of First Book’s celebrity blog series. Each month First Book connects with influential voices who share a belief in the power of literacy, and who have worked with First Book to curate a unique collection that inspires a love of reading and learning. All recommended books are available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need. Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. the Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), writes on engaging Latino families and children in reading and learning.

Any student who has parents that understand the journey from preschool to college is better equipped to navigate the road to long-term student success. While parent engagement is critical to increasing educational attainment for all children, engaging Latino parents in their children’s schooling has typically been challenging – often for linguistic and cultural reasons.

The National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) parent engagement program is designed to eliminate these challenges and create strong connections between schools, parents, and their children. A bilingual curriculum designed to be administered by school staff, the Padres Comprometidos program empowers Latino parents who haven’t typically been connected to their children’s school. Many of the parents the program reaches are low-income, Spanish-speaking, first and second generation immigrants. Through Padres Comprometidos, these parents gain a deeper understanding of what the journey to academic success will be like, and how they can play a role in preparing their children for higher education. Prior to participating in the program, not all parents expected their children to attend college. After the program, 100% of parents indicated that they expected their children to attend college.

Much of Padres Comprometidos success rests on the program’s ability to address language and culture as assets, rather than as obstacles to be overcome. This asset building strategy extends to NCLR’s partnership with First Book. Together, we’re working to ensure Latino children of all ages have access to books that are culturally and linguistically relevant, books they need to become enthusiastic readers inside and outside of the classroom. Click here to access the three parent engagement curricula developed by NCLR—tailored to parents of preschool, elementary and secondary school students.

Below you will find a few tips and titles that can help you engage families and get children – and their parents and caregivers – reading and learning.

La Llorona

La Llorona

1. Find ways to connect stories that parents know about to help them engage in reading and conversation with their children. This Mexican folktale can open that door: La Llorona .

 

Spanish-English Dictionary

Spanish-English Dictionary

2. Keep an English/Spanish dictionary handy to use when you have a parent visiting or to give away to a parent or caregiver who needs it. It will show them that you’re making an effort to engage in their language of comfort, such as Webster’s Everyday Spanish-English Dictionary.

The Storyteller's Candle

The Storyteller’s Candle

 

3. Learn about the children you serve and their heritage, and identify books that will affirm them. This Pura Belpré award winner is actually about Pura Belpré, the first Latina (Puerto Rican) to head a public library system: The Storyteller’s Candle.

Grandma and Me at the Flea

Grandma and Me at the Flea

 

4. Share books that include some of the everyday experiences of the children and neighborhoods you serve, like this story highlighting the value of community and family: Grandma and Me at the Flea.

My Colors, My World

My Colors, My World

 

5. Bilingual books provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to read the same books their children are reading, but in their language of comfort. Families will love reading about all the colors of the rainbow in English and Spanish: My Colors My World.

Sign up with First Book to access these and other great titles on the First Book Marketplace.


Filed under: Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: bilingual education, dual language, Educators, ELA common core standards, hispanic heritage, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, parents, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

0 Comments on 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students as of 7/1/2014 8:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Zoos!

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. 

What to do…what to do…If you are like us, the summer is an exciting time to discover new books, break out the art project we’ve been promising ourselves to start since February, and try every popsicle flavor from the ice cream truck.

Summer is the time to beat the heat, right? Whether that means hunting for air conditioning or jumping into a pool, we are here to keep you and your family loving books while you keep cool.

Over the coming weeks, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Your summer outing: the ZOO

Book recommendation: Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

 

Questions during reading:

  • How have humans affected Puerto Rican parrots and Puerto Rico?
  • What physical and behavioral adaptions help the Puerto Rican parrots survive in their environment?
  • How do the scientists demonstrate persistence and creativity?
  • What are the purpose and activities of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program?
  • How has Puerto Rico changed over time?
  • What does this book teach about sustainability?
  • Do you think communities and governments should save endangered species? Why or why not?

Activities:

Recipe for Parrot Crackers!

Ingredients: avocado, lemon, raisins/dried cranberries, banana chips, round crackers

Parrot Crackers

Parrot Crackers

  1. Peel half an avocado. In a small bowl, mash half the avocado with a fork until it is lump-free.
  2. Squeeze and mix in a little lemon juice into the mashed avocado to prevent it from turning brown.
  3. With a bread knife, spread the avocado over one side of each of the round crackers.
  4. Place two raisins or dried cranberries on top of the avocado side of each cracker for eyes.
  5. Cut or break a banana chip in half and place both below the eyes on the cracker to make the parrot’s beak. The two halves will stand off the cracker.
  6. Admire and eat!

Chef’s Note: We originally tried this with cream cheese and lime zest instead of avocado. We loved how the lime zest looked like real feathers and matched the collage work of illustrator, Susan L. Roth, but the lime zest had a wacky flavor so we went for the milder avocado!

Create a Food Web!parrot1

  1. Use Parrots Over Puerto Rico to make a list of all the plants and animals important to the Puerto Rican parrots existence in the book. The list should include: red-tailed hawks, humans, black rats, honeybees, Puerto Rican parrots, pearly-eyed thrashers, and sierra palm trees.
  2. Label which of these is a predator of, competitor to, and food source for the Puerto Rican parrot.

More resources for Parrots Over Puerto Rico:


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Summer Tagged: Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, recipes, summer reading

0 Comments on Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Zoos! as of 6/22/2014 9:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 4: Writing, Speaking, & Listening Practice

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. 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (IES) and What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released the latest educator’s guide to present best instructional practices for English Language Learners. Over the last several weeks, I’ve looked at several different strategies for teaching English Language Learners based on that guide’s recommendations.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to incorporate vocabulary instruction into activities that support listening, speaking, and writing practice for English Language Learners. This is the final week I will focus on the guide’s first recommendation: Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities.

Drumbeat in Our Feet

Drumbeat in Our Feet

Using the Lee & Low informational text, Drumbeat in Our Feet, as my model text, I applied the guide’s recommendations on how to choose an appropriate text and words for English Language Learners and how to teach the vocabulary over several days. See how I chose these words here and taught their meanings here.

Using Drumbeat in Our Feet and the IES’s process, my target words are origins, vital, ethnically, diverse, unique, vibrant and varied from the “Origins of African Dance” excerpt.

1. IES: Facilitate structured discussions to increase opportunities for students to talk about academic words. Always anchor these discussions around the topics that are present in the text and that do not have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. The goal is for students to learn to articulate a position or point of view and learn to defend their perspective or analysis. (P. 20)

Lee & Low: Over the course of multiple days, I am teaching a different part to each word’s meaning. After doing so, I want to create open-ended questions for whole or small group discussion that will allow my students to practice using the target words.

As my target words are origins, vital, ethnically, diverse, unique, vibrant and varied from the “Origins of African Dance” excerpt in Drumbeat In Our Feet, I would use these throughout the week for peer-to-peer discussion. This looks like:

  • Why would the authors want to discuss the diverse land and countries of Africa in a book about African dance?
  • Why might African dance vary in form?
  • Why should we study the origins of African dance today?
  • What factors might contribute to the diversity in African dance?

2. IES: Require students to use target words in their writing activities. (P. 21)

Lee & Low: Use the prompts above or focus on vocabulary-specific prompts. This looks like:

  • What are the origins of your family?
  • Write about the origins of a superhero.
  • Create a story about the origins of the universe or how life began.
  • Is it important to you to feel unique? Why or why not?
  • What are at least two things vital to all life forms?

Although we cannot explicitly teach all academic and content-specific words our students will need to know in their educations and careers, we can be strategic in how we teach 5-8 words a week so they can apply these word strategies to new words they come across on their own.

Further reading on supporting English Language Learners in the classroom:

 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, ELLs, English Language Learners, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

0 Comments on Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 4: Writing, Speaking, & Listening Practice as of 6/21/2014 10:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment
9. My First Group Read-Aloud

SophiesSquashI have read many picture books aloud to my daughter over the past 3 1/2 years. Prior to that I read books to my nieces and friends' children here and there. But until last weekend, I'd never done a read-aloud for a larger group. But when the organizers for my church's Mommy and Me group asked me if I would do a little storytime for the kids as part of one of our regular monthly playdates, I said "Of course!" How could a determined bookworm-grower refuse such an invitation? 

I sought out input from my Facebook friends (many of whom are librarians and teachers). With their help, I settled on Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Ann Wilsdorf and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. (It seemed especially fitting that our copy of the Pigeon book was a baby gift from Donalyn Miller, Book Whisperer and co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club.)

The reading took place at a local park, with the kids and their moms gathered around a picnic table. And I thought that it was quite successful. The kids ranged from 18 months up to about 8. One of the older girls recited Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus along with me, line by line, which was fun. And the 18 month old hung on to every word, however much he actually understood. With Sophie's Squash, we talked about what happens when one keeps a vegetable around for too long, and I think that at least the older kids and their moms appreciated the clever and heart-warming ending. I had some good talks about children's books and reading with a couple of the moms afterward, too. 

Bottom line: I do believe we'll try this again! Fun was had by all, especially me. My thanks to the Social Club of the St. Andrew Armenian Church for inviting me to read, and to Ani Yeni-Komshian for the above photo. 

Add a Comment
10. ‘Mummy, don’t do the voices’ – the perils of reading aloud

Peppa Pig’s school roof needs repairing. Again. And poor Daddy Pig ends up having to buy his chair back at a fundraising fete. That was the gist of our daughter’s latest bedtime story. I’ve read “Peppa Pig’s Daddy Is Made … Continue reading

Add a Comment
11. Literacy Milestone: Reading Aloud Together

This weekend my daughter and I experienced a new literacy milestone. We read our first book aloud together. She had requested Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills. (We are not hung up on seasonally appropriate literature in our house.) On each page spread of this fun book, reviewed here, Duck or Goose will ask his friend a question ("Is our pumpkin in the log, Goose?", etc.). Then the other will say: "No". It's the illustrations and the deadpan delivery together that make this book funny.

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter pointed to the word "No" the first time it appeared, and said: "That says no." It's unclear if she already knew how to spell "no" or was getting it from context, but she was correct either way. So I told her she could read the "No" parts the rest of the way through. And she did. She took pride later in telling Daddy that we had read the book together. As I take pride in telling all of you.

This makes four words that she can spell aloud and recognize by sight: her name, her friend's name, Mom, and No. It's a good start, I think!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

Add a Comment
12. The Best Cheerleaders May Come In the Smallest Packages: How Siblings Affect Literacy Education

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. 

Home to Medicine Mountain

Home to Medicine Mountain

My students and their siblings were often alone or spent a lot of time with each other. For some, siblings were the only constant in their lives. Fittingly, siblings and close-in-age relatives held powerful sway and influence over each other.

I found that brothers, sisters, cousins, and neighbors saw each other’s success as their OWN success. One of my third-graders danced in the middle of the carpet for twelve minutes after he heard the intercom announcement that his fifth-grade sister would be the new school president of the student council. What if I could channel that excitement towards literacy?

Brothers and sisters WANTED to see their siblings succeed. Sure, when one of my third-graders struggled to translate from English to Spanish that she hadn’t turned her homework in for a week at the parent-teacher conference, her older sister was delighted to impart the correct information to their mother.

In addition to using siblings for accountability and parent-teacher bridges, siblings became an incredible reward and relationship in my classroom. When my students, especially the struggling readers, made it to a new level, aced an assessment, or turned in excellent high-quality work, I wrote laudatory notes and let those students deliver them to their siblings in another classroom.

Mama Elizabeti

Mama Elizabeti

This system turned out to be just as powerful as a celebratory phone call home to adults, but I was recognizing the child in real time and recognizing the strength of the family presence at school. And it went further: the younger or older sibling was able to celebrate my student in their classroom and admire them publicly amidst their peers for academic achievement. There are not enough Dollar Tree prizes to compete with that kind of reward.

Beyond my school, psychologists have noticed the effect older brothers and sisters can have. In fact, NPR explored the positive and negative consequences of older sibling influence in a segment called, “Big Sibling’s Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family.”

At Arlington Elementary in Arlington, Tennessee, The Jackson Sun reported how teachers are recruiting older students to read to younger students in their Big Brothers, Big Sisters Reading Club every morning before school. More advanced students can relate to struggling readers and explain strategies in a friendly, non-high-stakes atmosphere.

In Carmel Valley, California, the Read To Me Project is an early literacy program that builds school readiness by engaging elementary brothers and sisters to read to their siblings. So far, 350 participating older siblings are reading to 443 young children across four school districts.

For Dr. Seuss’ Birthday last year at my school in the Bay Area, our kindergarten teachers invited the third-graders to read to them. Everyone was ecstatic to read to their brother, sister, cousin, or neighbor. My scholars had the opportunity to show off the chapter books they were tackling and feel like experts as they helped the kinders decode and recognize sight words. The kinders, in turn, received extra reading time, exposure to high-quality texts, and an opportunity to show off how remarkable their older sibling was.

One of my students who was an advanced learner, but had a very unstable home life, was very, very protective of his three younger brothers. His active kinder brother had refused to read with any third-grader, hiding each time another class of third-graders came throughout the day. Not until the last period arrived and his third-grade brother, my student, finally appeared did this kinder cuddle up to read. Even though my student brought a dense, picture-less chapter book on sharks and their presence in Fiji cultural traditions, his kinder brother sat in rapt attention for nearly an hour soaking in every word from his big brother.

We know the results on a child’s motivation and confidence when parents relish in their child’s success, so why don’t we harness that effect from siblings as well? Equipping our children with the love for reading and the skills needed to confront real world problems involves every stakeholder in our children’s lives—and that may include their smallest (but loudest!) cheerleaders.

If you need more inspiration, check out these books with strong sibling relationships:

Summer of the Mariposas

Summer of the Mariposas


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

0 Comments on The Best Cheerleaders May Come In the Smallest Packages: How Siblings Affect Literacy Education as of 3/3/2014 7:22:00 AM
Add a Comment
13. Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month?

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. 

Irena's Jars Of Secrets

Irena’s Jars Of Secrets

I entered the education field to broaden the minds of a new generation and teach the truths that I felt I had missed or was denied in my own education. Indeed, I was not alone in those motivations. According to the Primary Sources project by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of the more than 20,000 public school classroom teachers polled, 85% of teachers say they chose the profession in order to make a difference in children’s lives.

Despite my righteous ambitions, once in the classroom, I was hesitant to broach the conversation about gender with a mixed class of boys and girls. So many of my own college classes that focused on social justice and equality issues were almost entirely women.

Acutely aware of my students’ fragile perception of themselves, I was intimated by the prospect of guiding the discussion. When I was leading a classroom of my own, it was often easier to concentrate on the benign world of synonyms, dictionary skills, main idea, and genre features than push my students to think about what role gender plays in achievement, history, and identity.

I wondered: How do we teach about women’s history and contributions without alienating boys? Will boys disengage if a girl or woman is on the cover or is the main character? In this day and age, do girls still need explicit attention drawn to high-achievers that share their gender?

Leading up to my first month of March as a teacher, I thought I would “just” read more books with women as the central figures during Women’s History Month, but not explicitly point out that these were all women so as not to freak out boys and hope the girls would pick up on my subliminal messages of empowerment….

Face palm

Insert face palm here.

This thinking was a huge disservice to ALL of my students’ educations. As I introduced books with prominent women historic figures or girl characters, I realized if the books were about gender, we would discuss identity and tolerance. Other times if the story just happened to have a girl character, but gender wasn’t a central feature of the story, my scholars just wanted to focus on the great story and how the universal lessons applied to their lives.

Four lessons to think about when teaching women’s history so both boys AND girls grow and learn:

  1. Two words: cool stories. Above all, if it’s a great story, it doesn’t matter who is on the cover. Everyone will want to sit up and participate.
  2. Pick contemporary and diverse stories. To continue to show the relevancy of the women’s movements and contributions of women to society, we owe it to all of our students to find more contemporary examples of women figures and showcase more diverse participants in equality. Let’s keep exposing our kids to women of today and of different backgrounds.
  3. Show explicit examples of men championing women. Boys need to see great role models of men advocating for women alongside or behind the scenes. There are plenty of men who have been in the trenches with women fighting for social If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.justice and as invested in their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers achieving great success in a field of study as the women themselves. If we want future generations of men to respect and support women, we need to offer boys examples of how to recognize and champion women’s contributions. Boys and girls need to see that the struggles for equality impacted everyone and were not about one group’s success at the other’s detriment.
  4. Talk about the universal lesson and character traits. Everyone can learn from a story about overcoming obstacles, persistence, and courage. Women like Wangari Maathai and Pura Belpré fought for what they loved and believed was right first, and then fought for who they were and who they represented. If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.

Throughout the year and especially during Women’s History Month, we need to teach that gender shouldn’t be an excuse to bar someone from exploring or contributing to a field of study. Concurrently, we want to show all students that gender can offer a unique perspective or approach that should be recognized and celebrated.

Alongside our girls, boys need the language of equality and a broader view of history. Women’s contributions advanced our society and continue to impact all of us. We need to teach that gender totally does matter and, at the same time, totally doesn’t matter.

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Susan B. Anthony Is Great, But Who Else Do We Have? Here are books about high-achieving women from diverse backgrounds with diverse pursuits.

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Women and The Men That Championed Them. Explore these books with awesome men celebrating awesome women:

Killer Of Enemies

Killer Of Enemies

Stories That Will Hook ’Em All. Here are stories so fun that it won’t matter who is on the cover…but the cover just happens to feature a girl:


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Girls/women, History, holidays, Reading Aloud, reluctant readers, Wangari Maathai, women in history, women's history month

0 Comments on Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month? as of 3/10/2014 1:22:00 PM
Add a Comment
14. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 12

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult), as well as post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, and one about why I think she loves Mo Willems' books so much. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one middle grade book, three young adult books, and one adult title:

I'm currently reading Insignia by S. J. Kincaid on my Kindle and The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer in print. I am very much enjoying my current audiobook, A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. It is the perfect antidote to stress, and I wish it would never end. 

We're also still reading to Baby Bookworm these days, of course. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested. We also read the first two chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh last night. 

She turns four in a few weeks, and I can tell you that we're really seeing the impact of all the books that we've read. She can spell a few words now (her name, Mom, Dad, no, moo, Mo, so), and she'll notice those words if she sees them ("Why does that sign say 'No'?). She's asking how to spell things like "I love you" when she makes us cards. She enjoys the Reading Raven app. I can't remember who recommended that one, but thank you! We are careful not to push her, but she's like a little sponge these days, soaking up new words all around her. My goal is just to keep it fun!

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
15. Eight Ways to Help Students Remember that Books are Fabulous

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. 

Dissecting excerpts, highlighting evidence, defending one’s answer choice, bubbling in exit slips. As necessary as all that preparation for upcoming state assessments may be, March and April for teachers and students can be arduous. In some cases, students are learning how to take a test for the first time. For many, the third quarter risks turning enthusiastic momentum for reading, developing interests, and taking academic risks into a trudge of review and re-teaching.

Now more than ever, students need the bigger picture of how literacy helps us as citizens, the experiences of deriving joy from print, and practice using books for stress management.With all this reading in overdrive, it is understandable that few students (and teachers) want to keep reading at home for pleasure. Yet we need to sustain student excitement for reading and prevent testing anxiety. Now more than ever, students need the bigger picture of how literacy helps us as citizens, the experiences of deriving joy from print, and practice using books for stress management.

Where On Earth Is My Bagel?

Where On Earth Is My Bagel?

If you have observed your students retreating from the idea that books are an escape and hobby to an unpleasant, stressful task, here are some techniques to increase the joy factor in reading and keep kids hooked:

  1. After lunch, recess, or the morning message, bring the class together to listen to you read a poem or a chapter from a longer book that is not connected to a skills or strategies lesson. This daily activity exposes students to books beyond their reading levels, bolsters classroom community in an otherwise competitive time, and communicates that books have calming, revitalizing effects.
  2. Continue to highlight books with relevant holidays, core value themes, or S.T.E.M. content using designated bins or book cover displays at child height. Even during crunch time when it is hard to infuse lessons with interdisciplinary connections and core value applications, these exhibitions or quick booktalks allow students to explore and develop their interests. Consider creating collections for Women’s History Month, Cesar Chavez Day, baseball season, National Poetry Month in April, and Earth Day.
  3. Lead students with books in arms to another classroom or outside for a “field trip.” This physical change of scenery reinforces that books are a mental change of scenery and a respite.
  4. Set aside 20 minutes every day just for independent reading instead of squeezing in one more skills mini-lesson. Preserving time for students to interact with books of their choice in independent reading allows students to take a break, manage tension, and re-focus their energy. During this time, students self-select books they enjoy, exercise literacy strategies, and feel in control of their learning. This commitment and preservation of independent reading time conveys to students how seriously you value and respect this sacred time to enjoy a book.

    Ten Oni Drummers

    Ten Oni Drummers

  5. A lot of test preparation and review involves independent work and sitting quietly. For an end of the week reward, let students choose a classroom peer to read to instead of independent reading that day, invite a younger grade to your classroom for your students to read to, utilize siblings and family relationships at the school, or invite other stakeholders in your students’ educations (like the cafeteria or main office staff) to enjoy a book with students. Reading to someone (buddy reading) allows scholars a chance to talk, enjoy a book in a low-stakes environment, and escape to a new world in a wonderful story.
  6. Encourage parents to lead a whole-class read aloud in the classroom. This time gives you a chance to conference with struggling readers, celebrate parents as teachers, and encourage the intergenerational fellowship of books.
  7. Invite an author to school or hold an online interview . There is nothing quite like reinvigorating young readers and writers than with a real author. This bright treat gives students a badly needed broader perspective of books beyond assessments. For more information on how to bring authors into your unit of study no matter what your budget is, check out this post.
  8. Change up the routine! Have an “opposites day” in which two teachers switch for a read aloud/poem one day. Or engage other school community members (like the principal, school nurse, and other non-teaching staff) to read to the whole class so that your students can see that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, health, and success.

Do your students need a distraction? These joyful books offer just enough silliness, escape, or suspense to remind students that books are also for entertainment!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

0 Comments on Eight Ways to Help Students Remember that Books are Fabulous as of 3/22/2014 1:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
16. La Palabra at Ave50. Twenty. On-line Floricanto: Blackjack

La Palabra Hosts Bloguera Xánath Caraza, Shy But Flyy, and Debuts Eric "Praxis" Contreras


It was Karineh Mahdessian's second time at the helm of the monthly reading series, La Palabra, at Northeast Los Angeles' Avenue 50 Studio.

 She hit her stride. Unfazed by a featured reader's late arrival and Xánath Caraza's time-certain departure an hour after the 2:00 opening, Karineh improvised with aplomb.

Mahdessian altered the series' pattern of Open Mic and Featured Reader. In this instance, Open Mic launched the afternoon, the Featured readers came next, another Open Mic, and an engaging Q&A followed.


Bloguera Xánath Caraza's reading included work from Conjuro, including the heart-thumping Yanga that had the audience dancing in their seats to the intoxicating rhythm of the Afro-Latino influenced text.



A special moment in the reading. Caraza's latest collection, Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems, features cover art by Heriberto Luna. Caraza had not met the artist, whose studio is in the Avenue 50 complex. Luna joined the audience for Caraza's reading of Luna's poem.




Madhessian holds Luna's Tree of Life painting featuring the cosmic hummingbirds of the cover as Xánath reads the piece inspired by the painting. After, Luna tells me he enjoyed the heck out of the experience.

Southeast Los Angeles' Eric "Praxis" Contreras made his featured poet debut at La Palabra, his name had never been on a poster. Mahdessian disclosed that Contreras will soon be a household name when a feature LATimes article appears.


Contreras writes feminist poetry, sharing a powerfully constructed piece in the voice of a woman. He tells the audience his grandmother and mother are the dominant influences in his life, and he rejects the attitudes of some pendejos who don't understand nor value women.

Eric's motivations for poetry extend from the personal to the community. His home city of Bell is notorious for government corruption, but also for its dramatic absence of a cultural life.

Contreras works to fill the void by holding Alivo Open Mics in his garage. Alivio brings in a crowd of young adults and neighborhood viejitos to share their own, or hear others' poetry.


It's those crowds of gente coming to some vato's garage to do a floricanto that brings the LA Times' Ruben Vives (who broke the Bell corruption scandal story) to shadow the high school substitute teacher for the feature.

In addition to Alivio, Contreras hosts a biweekly reading at Corazón y Miel Restaurant in Bell.


Find information on the Alivo series and Corazón y Miel, via Eric's Facebook page, don't wait for the LA Times article.


If she's shy she holds it back and lets loose with a frenetic array of musical poetry that led an already exhausted audience to higher levels of energy and joyousness.

Shy But Flyy's harmonious blend of spoken word, song, and drumming provided La Palabra's house with a stirring example of poetry out loud y con ganas.


Shy But Flyy organizes poetry readings from her Long Beach area residence. La Bloga looks forward to learning and sharing more about these events at the far southeast of LA County.


Open Mic at La Palabra

A sense of community and carnalismo develops among the gente attending a La Palabra meeting. Much of this grows from the Open Mic. Open means anyone, from a trembling novice reading their stuff to an audience for the first time, or experience veterans like Jessica Ceballos and Luivette Resto, or Joe Kennedy. I'd not heard Charlie Zero, lower right, read before.


For the most part, today's readers omitted the most valued element of a reader's nonverbal communication--eye contact. It's a problem of handling the manuscript, but also of lack of confidence.

Here are Flor de Té, Angel Garcia, Karla Sanchez, and William A. Gonzalez. Two got stuck to their manuscripts while Angel and Karla had a bit of eye contact.


Rebekkah Bax read her selection from Mahdessian's Heartbreak Anthology. When a piece is quite short, the reader should allow herself a slow pace to avoid the look down look up and she's gone effect. It stymies photographers.


Karineh handled the Q&A effectively. The loquacious audience had lots of questions and the two featured readers elaborated effectively on their answers. Shy But Flyy hedged her story about her earliest writing performance. Her mother spills the beans in the lower right foto, telling how the precocious three-year old demanded an audience for her compositions. That patience worked, Ma, the kid is a wonderful performer.

Reading Your Own Stuff challenges every writer from the laureates to the rookies. See the "Reading Your Stuff Aloud" pages at Read! Raza for tips on eye contact, handling manuscripts, delivery, and memorization. Here's a link to individual portraits.



Twenty Little Helpless Souls

La Bloga friend Edward Vidaurre is one of four editors of a sadly needful collection of poems. Twenty honors the twenty treasures who were shot by a man armed with a rifle and a broken mind. The babies were six, and seven, years old.

Nothing like this should happen, ever. Yet, the December 2012 shootings in Newton CT stand in a long line of United States cultural markers outsiders can point to and say, “that is ‘American’ culture” and they mean you.

It’s a rhetorical situation that calls for poetry. That perception of who we are demands a counterstatement as loudly heard as bullets. Twenty: In Memoriam is counterstatement, fifty-five poets stepping forward in communal expression of who we are. Photography and art embellish the collection. Many of the poets, like Vidaurre, are from the Rio Grande Valley. Poets Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Carmen Tafolla contribute, as well as several La Bloga friends and On-line Floricanto poets, including Nancy Aidé Gonzalez, Iris de Anda, and Claudia D. Hernandez. Hernandez’ fotos are a notable bonus to the book.

In his “Introduction Writing Kindness,” Juan Felipe Herrera tells us, “These poems speak wisdom. It is hard to find it – perhaps you must fall into each other, bathe in the palms of intertwined hands ripped by shrapnel and sense the sublime there, flowering, in those wounds.”

Editor José Chapa V recalls, “When I was approached with the offer to help curate TWENTY, I had mixed feelings. We knew that on one hand, the poems would seek to commemorate and honor the victims of the tragic shooting, and that on the other they would be probing darker areas than the usual poetry anthology. I wasn’t sure how to go about it, if the work that arrived (regardless of quality) would fit such delicate criteria, and what kind of response our gesture would gather. But I decided to join the editorial team on the knowledge that such events have an impact not just on the victims and their families, not just on our nation, but on the entire human species.”

Editor Vidaurre explains a powerful feature of the collection.

Twenty-eight lives were lost. This book is dedicated to the educators that lost their lives as well. Page 20 in this anthology is left blank, purposefully: we ask that when you come across it, you say a special prayer, close it for a bit and reflect, write your thoughts, a poem, a song, or bring the book to your chest and hold it.

The book comes from McAllen, Texas and El Zarape Press. The collection presently has distribution only from Amazon, though the press promises alternative distribution in future. Use ISBN-13: 978-1494326753 or ISBN-10: 1494326752 with your local bookseller to order. Some money from sales will go to charities serving children.


Más Tequila Review Hits the Streets

That’s old newspaper talk for a new edition. Unlike the newspapers or yore, a new edition of an independent poetry journal like The Más Tequila Review doesn’t have streetcorner urchins shouting “TMTR, get yer TMTR” on every block.

Headquartered in Alburquerque, New Mexico, The Más Tequila Review is the love child of Richard Vargas and the muses of poetry. The current issue, Vargas confesses, has a new look because he accepted too many poets to fit the normal press run. Euterpe and Erato were whispering in Vargas' ears as he's featuring Jazz Poetry in the issue.

For information on ordering the $7.00 collection—I proofed this copy, the price is seven U.S. dollars--click here for the Facebook TMTR page, and here for the TMTR website.


Free La Tolteca ‘Zine


In its fifth year, La Tolteca ‘Zine sets itself up as a sassy, thoughtful resource for razacentric writing with an actitude, or make that a twist.

In 2012, La Tolteca promised its December issue would be “more exciting, original thought, images & literature to boggle your mind, put a jiggle in your wiggle & bring you closer to the gods. Strap on your seat belt or something & subscribe. It’s the only thing you’ll get this season for free + our love.” A year later, staff was telling readers, “Subscribe now! It’s free! Pass on to your high falutin’ thinker friends, poet acquaintances and barely literate family members who like the arts. There’s something for (almost) everyone, who thinks, supports the arts and occasionally still reads. Happy holidays with love from la tolteca staff.”

It’s free.

Getting there is half the fun. Click on this Facebook link to learn more about the process.

The ‘Zine marks one of those labors of love that busy people take on because they have to. As if she didn’t have her hands full writing and workshopping writers and living her life, Ana Castillo is la éminence grise of La Tolteca.

La Tolteca arrives on your desktop as a deluxe interactive graphic with the look and feel of a print magazine. There's a special bonus for gente who've joined one of Ana Castillo's workshops. Some get to work on the 'Zine, plus the 'Zine runs contests open to workshopistas.


Latinopia Scrolls

Six-column layout is easy-to-read. Magnifying or shrinking your browser window gives fewer or more columns.

One of my favorite Chicana Chicano media sites is Latinopia. It’s a visionary place that keeps growing.

Film maker Jesus Treviño shares his enormous video library in multiple small portions. He updates the site weekly. One week he might have José Montoya reading “El Louie,” another week he will share a few minutes from a documentary spotlight on ASCO. And each week there will be six other highlights just like those.

Latinopia shows contemporary as well as historic video. Treviño regularly captures community events—see RudyG’s reading--plus conducts interviews with a variety of people from artists like Sonia Romero or Linda Vallejo to performances by Ruben Guevara or Conjunto Aztlán. Book reviews, Serge Hernandez’ resurrected Arnie and Porfi cartoon that originated in Con Safos Magazine, and the Zombie Mex Diaries, make regular appearances.

Treviño’s staff make regular improvements and adaptations to the site. The site encourages visitors to scroll through newspaper-like columns dotted with descriptive and promotional links to features in art, literature, history, food, music, theatre, film, art, and blogs. Fotos mark divisions between stories so individual items are easily discerned. Ample white space further defines links to stories and videos.

Visit Latinopia with ample time. Once a visitor begins scrolling those columns and discovering the richness of cultura and history here, they’ll become lost in the delights of this space.


On-line Floricanto: Blackjack Poems
Pamela Murray Winters, David Taylor Nielsen

La Bloga friend Maritza Rivera invented a 21st century poetic form, the Blackjack Poem. Comprised of three lines, 7 syllables each, for a jackpot of 21 syllables, the form produces delightfully playful, often pithy, pieces.

Learn more about Blackjack poetry, submit your own, via the Blackjack Poets Facebook page.


3 Blackjacks 
By David Taylor Nielsen

When Batman kissed Superman,
A kryptonite explosion
Left Kal-El weak in the knees.

ADHD poetry:
I would explain it to you,
But I've moved on already.

Who needs a thousand foreskins?
Samson, I don't understand.
Wasn't killing them enough?


David Taylor Nielsen is a Literacy Coach and reading teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools. He is currently the host of Poetry Night Open Mic in Greenbelt, MD. He can also be found haunting other open mic poetry readings in the DC Metro Region. He has been published in Gargoyle Magazine and Three Line Poetry.















Three Blackjacks from the Pantry 
By Pamela Murray Winters

Jicama

Born to be architecture:
firm mild wallboard disguised as
an expensive vegetable.

Garlic Scapes

Braid and swing from their fresh stink,
stir-fry your fantasies with
these perfumed limbs of Chthulu.

Turmeric

Last night I rolled in you and
inhaled your distinct attar.
Morning: the gold won’t wash off.


A native of Takoma Park, Maryland, Pamela Murray Winters now lives on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay with her husband and animals, most of them poets.


0 Comments on La Palabra at Ave50. Twenty. On-line Floricanto: Blackjack as of 3/25/2014 4:23:00 AM
Add a Comment
17. Resources For Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds Of Change

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. 

Seeds of Change cover

Seeds Of Change

In honor of Wangari Maathai’s birthday on Tuesday, April 1 and upcoming Earth Day later this month, we at Lee & Low Books want to share all the fantastic resources and ideas that are available to educators who are teaching about Wangari Maathai’s legacy and using Seeds Of Change: Planting a Path to Peace.

Wangari Maathai

Seeds Of Change

Elementary School:

Seeds of ChangeMiddle School and High School:

  • Seeds Of Change won the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration in 2011. The Committee Chair and Book Jury have prepared activities and discussion questions for Seeds Of Change in the 2011 Discussion Guide for Coretta Scott King Book Awards, P. 20-21.
  • Have students read and discuss author Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler’s joint interview with Lee & Low, which covers the environment, their travels, and Wangari Maathai’s achievements.
  • After introducing Wangari Maathai with Seeds Of Change, delve deeper with the Speak Truth To Power human rights education curriculum, a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. They present an in-depth exploration on Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement, and sustainability issues.
  • In teaching standard 7 of the ELA Common Core, have students evaluate how Wangari Maathai is presented in a documentary compared to the Seeds Of Change biography. PBS’s documentary on Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, contains a classroom section full of video modules, handouts, and lesson plans.

What did we miss? Let us know how you are using Seeds Of Change in your classroom!

 

 


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: African/African American Interest, biographies, CCSS, children's books, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, History, holidays, lesson plans, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, ReadyGEN, Wangari Maathai

0 Comments on Resources For Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds Of Change as of 3/29/2014 10:41:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. Beyond “Did you know…”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the Vanishing Cultures Book Series

JillJill_Eisenberg 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. 

Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia

Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia

Last week on the blog we spotlighted the work of Jan Reynolds, an author and explorer who has written nonfiction for young readers about cultures across the globe. If we had read the Vanishing Cultures series when I was a classroom teacher, my students would have been competing with each other over who knew the most outrageous fact. Did you know the Tiwi, an aboriginal tribe from an island off the coast of Australia, eat mangrove worms fresh? Did you know the Inuit from the Hudson Bay build rock piles that are stacked to look like men in order to scare caribou toward the real Inuit hunters?

My students loved to play the “did you know…” game. That became a popular sentence starter in our classroom. Students would scramble for the latest book or periodical on animals, prehistoric times, and exotic locales. The peregrine falcon, megalodon, and the giant panda were unshakable favorites.

Yet, we don’t want students to know “just facts” as if they are mini-encyclopedias. We aspire for our students to wonder and to investigate how our world works, how we are all connected to our environment and other humans halfway around the globe, and how our actions here affect others way over there.

The Common Core brings a refreshed spotlight to the nonfiction genre in children’s books, challenging publishers, educators, librarians, and parents to present children with high interest, high quality texts. What a time to engage students’ senses, sustain their wonder, and teach them geo-literacy!

National Geographic affirms, “with the rapid pace of change in the 21st century, it is more important than ever that young people understand the world around them.” It has adopted the concept of “geo-literacy,” and even gone so far as to create a community to support and cultivate “geo-educators.”

Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya

Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya

Enjoyed in classrooms around the nation, Jan Reynolds’ collection on at-risk traditional cultures is even more significant and striking today than when the series was first published. The persistent popularity of the Vanishing Cultures series speaks to its captivating power to make geo-literacy learning personal and tangible. This collection supports geo-literacy learning because each book challenges students to examine:

  • the characteristics of each culture
  • what makes this featured culture unique
  • how this group of people has adapted to survive in its environment
  • what challenges this group of people faces
  • the modern human impact (positive and negative) on this traditional culture and the environment
  • why the author would want to share this story with children and create a whole series on this topic

When we educate children about other cultures and geo-literacy more broadly, we are implanting the idea that we learn in order to make better, more informed decisions. Before our students become adults in positions of power, we want them to have practice in pausing and thinking how their choices to construct their community could disturb the environment of another community or animal species.

The Vanishing Cultures books encourage students to reason and reflect critically and deeply about how humans affect other humans and why we all benefit from diversity. As classrooms around the country can attest, Jan Reynolds’ books will not only spark enthusiasm that we hope ignites into lifelong careers and hobbies, but also conversation on what information we need to make decisions that will shape our and others’ health, environment, and well-being.

Vanishing Cultures: Down Under

Vanishing Cultures: Down Under

Classroom Ideas for Comparing and Contrasting Between Vanishing Cultures Books and Teaching Geo-Literacy

(Reading Standards, Integration of Knowledge & Ideas, Strand 9)

(Writing Standards, Research to Build & Present Knowledge, Strand 7 and 9)

  1. How are these cultures similar and different from each other? What actions do these families take in both books to protect their ways of life?
  2. Compare how the challenges of each culture are similar or different.
  3. Compare how the children in each book demonstrate their pride in their culture. Why is it important for the children to feel proud of who they are and their way of life?
  4. What is the author’s purpose in starting each book with the parents telling their child a story from long ago? How does this affect the tone of and set the mood in the series? How does this opening support the central idea?
  5. After reading two or more of the Vanishing Cultures books, what common features or characteristics does a Vanishing Culture book have? If you were to write a book about your family’s culture, what kinds of things happen in a Vanishing Cultures book? What are some things that will not happen in a Vanishing Cultures book? What central ideas and lessons will be in the book?
  6. Have students create a chart to compare different aspects of life across two or more cultures. Write the name of each cultural group being compared on the top of the chart, and list the topics for points of comparison down the left side. Here are some possible topics: Food, Clothing, Climate, Geography, Important Animals, Homes, How Children Help (Chores), Roles of Men & Women, Family Life, How People Have Fun, Beliefs, Means of Transportation, Challenges Faced Today, Celebrations, Honoring Loved Ones. Have students record appropriate information as they read and re-read the texts.
  7. One elementary class created the “Around the World with Jan Reynolds” project on Google Earth. Explore where each of the books takes place. Compare the political map with the satellite map. Reflect on how geography has helped or hurt the survival of these ancient cultures. Students can create their own maps of the different cultures at National Geographic’s MapMaker’s 1-Page Maps.

Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, geography, geoliteracy, guided reading, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, vanishing cultures

0 Comments on Beyond “Did you know…”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the Vanishing Cultures Book Series as of 4/8/2014 10:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
19. A Few Recent Baby Bookworm Literacy Moments

My Baby Bookworm is not such a baby anymore. She turned four this weekend (with much celebration, and many cupcakes). So far, our efforts to ensure that she loves books seem to be paying off. Here are a few recent tidbits. 

We were very nearly late for her birthday party (which we held out at her gymnastics place), because she wanted me to read her "just one more" Little Critter book. We incidentally let each child select a book as a party favor. The Fancy Nancy books were the most popular.

She had to stop in the middle of opening presents to ask Daddy to read her the newly unwrapped Mo Willems book (The Pigeon Needs a Bath). Yes, I did get that on video. When things do not go her way, she says: "Hmmpf." She does not seem to realize that she picked this up from the Pigeon. But we do. 

She has started using words like "mischievous" when describing the behavior of her dolls . She doesn't always use big words correctly, but she is clearly trying. 

As for me, I find it rewarding (if occasionally inconvenient) that she requests to have books read aloud at all hours of the day. We've also learned that when she becomes particularly insistent about us reading to her around dinnertime, it means that she is extra-tired. She wants to get her books in before she falls asleep. Because that's what bookworms, whether babies or not, do. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

Add a Comment
20. 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish

Jennifer Brunk

Jennifer Brunk has been teaching Spanish and English learners from preschool to university level for over 20 years. She reGuest Blogger Iconsides in Wisconsin where she raised her three children speaking Spanish and English. Jennifer blogs about resources for teaching Spanish to children on Spanish Playground. The following post is reprinted with permission from her original post at Spanish Playground. 

Research has shown that reading to children helps them learn vocabulary and improves listening comprehension skills. As a parent or teacher, you are probably convinced of the value of reading to your child in Spanish, but how should you do it to promote language development?

First, it is important to keep in mind that above all reading should be enjoyable. We want to create positive associations with reading in any language. So, use these strategies and add plenty of silliness, snuggling, or whatever makes your child smile.Nana's Big Surprise/ Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa!

1. Identify core vocabulary in the story. If there are words that are central to the story that your child does not know, teach them first or make them clear as you read by pointing to the illustrations or using objects.

2. Use illustrations, objects, gestures and facial expressions to help kids understand new words. Choose stories with a limited number of new vocabulary words and a close text-to-picture correspondence.

3. Simplify the story if necessary. It is fine to reword or skip words or sentences. As your child becomes familiar with the story and acquires more vocabulary, you can include new language.

4. Read slowly. Children need time to process the sounds, connect them with the illustrations and form their own mental images.

5. Pronounce words as correctly as possible. To develop listening comprehension skills and learn new vocabulary, children need to hear correct pronunciation and natural rhythm. If your Spanish pronunciation is a work in progress, take advantage of technology. Look for books with audio CDs and ask a native speaker to record stories. At first, listen to the story with your child and take over reading when you are confident of the pronunciation.Dónde está mi perrito?

6. Engage your child with the story by providing different ways for her to participate.Ask questions that can be answered by pointing or say a repeated phrase together.  You can also give your child a toy or object that she can hold up each time she hears a key word.

7. Read the same story over and over. Repetition is essential to language learning.

8. Relate the story to your child’s life by drawing parallels as you read: Tiene un perro. Nosotros también tenemos un perro. As you go about your daily routines, refer to stories you have read.

9. Use puppets or figures to act out stories when you are playing with your child. Dramatizing the story adds movement to enhance learning and provides essential repetition of the language in context.

10. Do activities that expand on the language in the book. Look for songs, crafts or games with related vocabulary and structures.

Día de los niños/ Día de los librosVisit Spanish Playground for more great resources for teaching Spanish to children, and don’t forget that Dia de los niños/ Día de los libros is in just a few weeks! What are you doing to celebrate? What are your favorite books in Spanish to read aloud?


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, guest blogger Tagged: bilingual, bilingual books, bilingual education, Día de los niños/Día de los libros, ell, English-Spanish, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, libros en Español, parents, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, teaching resources

2 Comments on 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish, last added: 4/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 3: Teaching Vocabulary In Layers

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. 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (IES) and What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released the latest educator’s guide to present best instructional practices for English Language Learners.

Although we cannot explicitly teach all academic and content-specific words our students will need to know in their educations and careers, we can be strategic in how we teach 5-8 words a week so they can apply these word strategies to new words they come across on their own.

Last week I applied the guide’s recommendations on how to choose an appropriate text and vocabulary words for English Language Learners and I modeled it with the Lee & Low informational text, Drumbeat In Our Feet.

I will continue to focus on the guide’s first recommendation: Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities.

Drumbeat In Our Feet

Drumbeat In Our Feet

Using Drumbeat In Our Feet and the IES’s process, my target words are origins, vital, ethnically, diverse, unique, vibrant and varied from the “Origins of African Dance” excerpt in Drumbeat In Our Feet. See how I chose these words here.

1. Read the text

IES: Introduce the topic of the text by asking about students understanding of the topic and personal experiences. Read the excerpt aloud at the start of the lesson. (P. 24)

Lee & Low: I would read the text aloud so students who cannot comprehend the text independently can access the text whole group. All students should be able to follow along with their own student copy. Only constant interaction with the print and following along will allow students to connect with what I am saying and how I say it with what they are seeing in the print.

Origins of African Dance" excerpt from Drumbeat In Our Feet

“Origins of African Dance,” excerpt from Drumbeat In Our Feet

2. Introduce the vocabulary

IES: After reading the text and stopping to ask clarifying questions, introduce the target vocabulary words and have students find the words (in their copies). Display a list of the words in the classroom. (P. 24)

3. Teach the vocabulary words in layers

IES: “Teach academic vocabulary in depth using multiple modalities (writing, speaking, listening)” and “teach word-learning strategies to help students independently figure out the meaning of words.” (P. 18-22)

Lee & Low: Over the course of 5-8 days (lesson periods), I would focus on a couple of aspects of each of the new vocabulary words. On a whole class chart where the target words are listed, I would add a new component to each word each day in order to deepen the meaning and foster familiarity with the words for students.

Together we will create a student-friendly definition; write synonyms, antonyms, examples, non-examples; determine parts of speech; draw a picture or create an action/gesture to represent the words; list related word forms and any cognates; break the word down into word parts; and use the word in a meaningful, student-generated sentence.

For example, Monday I would read the excerpt, introduce the target words, find the target words in the text, and come up with a definition for each target word. Tuesday, I would revisit the chart and add synonyms, antonyms, examples, and non-examples for all the vocabulary words to reinforce meaning. Wednesday I would cover part of speech and concrete representations, and so on.

Below is how I would teach my target word, origins, from Drumbeat In Our Feet but I would cover all of the target words each day.

Monday

  • student-friendly definition: the source where something starts

Tuesday

  • synonyms: beginnings, birthplace, roots, foundation
  • antonyms: end, destination, result
  • examples: beginning of the universe and life, family backgrounds/heritage, word roots, superhero/comic book origin stories
  • non-examples: death of a star, the youngest person in the family tree, the last book in a comic book series

Wednesday

  • part of speech: noun
  • draw a picture to represent the word: I might draw a lake with a river leading up to a mountain and arrow pointing to where the river starts.
  • create an action/gesture to represent the word: with my left hand held out at hip-level as the “lake,” I would point with my right finger to my left shoulder (the mountain) as the origin of the river. [Tip: Students are great at brainstorming concrete representations of words!]

Thursday

  • list related word forms: original, originate
  • list any cognates: origine (French), origen (Spanish)

Friday

  • affixes: none
  • use the word in a meaningful, student-generated sentence: We hiked from the lake up to the mountain looking for the origins of the river. The original owner of this house built this house all on her own in 1956.

Remember: This is a process I will repeat each week or every 5-8 lessons with a new text and set of target words. While my students may know only up to 400 new vocabulary words by the end of the year, this repeated process will allow them to tackle new vocabulary words in other content classes and in independent reading.

Next week, we will take a look at how to incorporate the selected vocabulary into activities that support listening, speaking, and writing practice for English Language Learners.

Further reading on supporting English Language Learners in the classroom:


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, close reading, common core standards, ELA common core standards, elementary school, ELLs, English Language Learners, guided reading, Institute of Education Science, middle school, Reading Aloud, US Department of Education, vocabulary

0 Comments on Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 3: Teaching Vocabulary In Layers as of 5/17/2014 12:06:00 PM
Add a Comment
22. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: September 18

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1745 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every three weeks. 

ReadAloudMantraNewsletter Update: In this issue I have a post about one of my daughter's milestones on the path to literacy, a post in celebration of Roald Dahl day, a post about the 2013 Cybils panels, a discussion of the five series I am most looking forward to reading with my daughter, and post about whether or not it matters if you read at bedtime.

I also have a post about getting my blogging groove back, after my illness this summer slowed me down. I appreciate you all staying with me through that. I don't have any book reviews in this issue, but I do expect to have more book recommendations (in one form or another) coming up soon. 

Other recent posts not included in the newsletter this time around are:

Reading Update: In the last 3-4 weeks I read 2 middle grade novels, one young adult novel, and 8 adult novels. I'm just starting to dip my toe back into the world of children's and young adult literature, after what turned out to be a refreshing break. I'm including mini-reviews here:

Jessica Day George: Wednesdays in the Tower. Bloomsbury. Middle Grade. Completed September 14, 2013. I had trouble getting into this sequel to Tuesdays at the Castle (reviewed here). The actions of the kids felt tame compared with the first book, and the device of the semi-sentient castle felt less original (perhaps inevitable in a sequel). The book did get more exciting towards the end, but then concluded with an unexpected cliffhanger. 

Holly Black: Doll Bones. Margaret K. McElderry Books. Middle Grade. Completed September 16, 2013. I haven't written a formal review of this book, because it's already been reviewed everywhere (and is on Betsy Bird's Newbery candidates list). But it really is fabulous and I highly recommend it. Doll Bones is the perfect mix of creepy possible ghost story with kid-directed adventure, with a spot on portrayal of evolving boy-girl friendships at age 12. 

Malinda Lo: Adaptation. Little Brown. Young Adult. Completed August 28, 2013. The premise of Adaptation, in which two teens awaken from a car accident and find themselves in a secret government hospital, intrigued me. I picked it up as a Kindle daily deal one day, and enjoyed it. I do plan to read the sequel at some point.

Robert Crais: Suspect. Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 23, 2013, on MP3. This is a standalone (or first in a new series?) novel is about an LA cop and a military service dog who help each other recover from their respective traumas while solving the mystery of why the cop was shot (and his partner killed). Some of the book is told from the dog's perspective. This worked surprisingly well (though I was a bit resistant to the premise at first). 

Marcus Sakey: Brilliance. Thomas & Mercer. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 23, 2013, on Kindle. I found this an intriguing science fiction novel about an alternate US reality in which, starting in the 80s, some 1% of the population are "brillliants" - the kind of geniuses that previously only cropped up once in a generation. There are, naturally enough, tensions between the brilliants and others. It's the first of a series, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Carol O'Connell: It Happens in the Dark (A Mallory Novel). Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 25, 2013. The Mallory novels are among my favorite mystery series. I find the character herself (a deeply flawed, highly capable NY cop) endlessly fascinating (even if she does break her friends' hearts). The plots are so convoluted that I can actually re-read these books, and thus buy them in hardcover. This one did not disappoint. 

Stephen White: The Last Lie (Alan Gregory #18). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed August 30, 2013. See below. 

Stephen White: Line of Fire (Alan Gregory, #19). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 4, 2013. See below. 

P.J. Tracy: Shoot to Thrill (Monkeewrench , #5). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 5, 2013, on MP3. The Monkeewrench series is another that celebrates quirky characters (a crew of wealthy, odd hackers), set against a more conventional (in this case) police procedural. The premise of this one, in which people are murdering others on camera, and posting the videos on YouTube, was a bit disturbing. But the characters made it fun.

Stephen White: Compound Fractures (Alan Gregory #20). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 6, 2013. I read the last few books in the Alan Gregory series pretty much all at once, after dipping in and out of the series over the years. The books are about a Boulder psychologist who, with his Assistant District Attorney wife and cop best friend, finds himself in the middle of some ugly situations. The final books of the series are all tightly connected, and it was definitely the right thing to read them as a unit. 

Louise Penny: How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed September 8, 2013. This series is absolutely brilliant, another one of my all-time favorites. In this installment, things start out a bit bleak for Chief Inspector Gamache, and he to some extent retreats to the small town of Three Pines (which was absent from the prior book). But fans should not worry, because everything is not what it seems. The actual mystery involves a story loosely based on the Dionne Quintuplets, but there is much more to be figured out. I found this one quite satisfying. 

I'm currently listening to Never Go Back (A Jack Reacher novel) by Lee Child. I'm reading The Shade of the Moon (Life As We Knew It, Book 4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer. There are many other books on my TBR shelf, and several upcoming books that I am excited about. 

Baby Bookworm has been enjoying Splat the Cat: What Was That by Rob Scotton and Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat by Victoria Kann, as we start to think about Halloween. We're also reading lots of Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Arthur, and Little Critter books. 

How about you? What have you and your kids been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
23. Read Aloud 15 Minutes Kicks Off "Let's Talk" National Campaign

KickOffMessages_31I've been supporting the Read Aloud 15 Minutes nonprofit by helping to spread the word about their periodic national "campaign pulses". Their theme for October is: "Let's Talk". The idea is to encourage parents and other caregivers to read and talk to their babies as frequently as possible, to foster brain development. 

PulseMessagesOct_ 17When we talk with our young children, particularly during the first five years, we help their brains to grow and develop. This talking can take the form of pointing out sights as you push along a stroller, or telling your child what you're doing, step-by-step, as you cook dinner. But it's extra-super helpful if you read aloud to your kids. Why is reading aloud particularly helpful (vs. just talking away)? Well:

  • Picture books often feature a more complex vocabulary, with a higher variety of words, than we might come up with on our own (particularly when talking to a baby). 
  • Picture books often have a rhythm or cadence that the baby (and you) will find pleasing. And when a child finds something pleasing, he or she will pay more attention, and get ever-more benefit. 
  • In addition to a wider vocabulary, picture books help children to broaden their experience of the world, helping their brains to make connections. Most of us don't have giraffes and elephants in the backyard, but books let us show them to kids. And then when you eventually take your child to the zoo (or on a safari), they have a base of knowledge already. (See a post that I wrote about making connections between books and day to day life.)
  • Picture books and board books have pictures (obviously), and pictures help to catch and hold the attention of young viewers. Even tiny babies will look at things that are interesting. And again, by looking and listening at the same time, they make connections, and make their brains stronger. 

PulseMessagesOct_ 15The talking is good, too, of course. I've seen research that suggests that with talking, it's important to also respond when the child tries to talk to you (even if it just sounds like babble). This helps kids to develop language skills, because they see the payoff from trying to talk. We're all born with an innate desire to communicate, I think.

But reading aloud to childen is special. The more you do, the better off the children will be. Life-long benefits from something that's enjoyable to do in the first place. You can't go wrong with that. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment
24. The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition: Jim Trelease

Book: The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition
Author: Jim Trelease
Pages: 384
Age Range: Adult nonfiction (for parents and teachers)

The 7th Edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook was published in June. I pre-ordered my copy, and it arrived that day, but various things kept me from reading it until this week. I reviewed the previous edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook in 2010, having also read an earlier version before starting my blog. I was fortunate enough to hear Jim speak to parents at the Santa Clara City Library in January of 2007. My notes from that session are here. I have referenced Jim's work on encouraging reading aloud to children many times over the course of my blogging. So you may consider this more a recommendation and discussion than a formal review. 

Let me first state for the record that I believe that all parents of young children should read The Read-Aloud Handbook, as should all elementary and middle school teachers. The Read-Aloud Handbook started out as a little booklet that the author self-published in 1979 to encourage other parents to read aloud, and talk about books, with their kids. It became a phenomenon, was picked up by Penguin, and was named by Penguin in 2010 as one of the seventy-five most important books published in the company's 75 year history. It certainly had an impact on me, though I first read it long before I had a child of my own.

GBMantraThe Read-Aloud Handbook posits that instead of focusing on test-prep, flashcards, and the like, what parents and schools need to do to improve life-long levels of literacy and critical thinking, is simply read aloud to kids. I obviously agree (and posted the Read-Aloud Mantra to the left several weeks ago on my blog). 

More than 30 years after initial publication, The 7th Edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook retains Trelease's passion for reading to kids, but has a lot more references and research. The 7th Edition is about 40% changed from the 6th Edition, with new research findings, book recommendations, and discussions of the impact of eBooks and tablets. Even as someone who had read earlier editions (and follows published research studied pretty closely), once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about a day (it helps that nearly half of the book consists of a treasury of recommended read-aloud titles, which I only skimmed). 

My reading of this edition was certainly colored by the fact that I have a three-year-old daughter who I very much hope grows up to be an avid reader. I flagged a mix of items throughout the book - interesting things that I might want to share on the blog, as well as action items for myself (like getting around to putting a basket of picture books in the bathroom). I'll share some of the former here, and put the latter into a separate post. 

Here are some of the many quotes that I flagged:

"Why are students failing and dropping out of school? Because they cannot read well enough to do the assigned work--which affects the entire report card. Change the reading scores and you change the graduation rate and then the prison population--which changes the social climate of America." (Page xxvi, Introduction) 

"If we're waiting for government to save our reading souls, we've got a long wait. Ultimately it will come down to the individual student, parent, teacher, and librarian." (Page xxix, Introduction)

"One factor hidden in the decline of students' recreational reading (as they get older) is that it coincides with a decline in the amount of time adults read to them. By middle school, almost no one is reading aloud to students. If each read-aloud is a commercial for the pleasures of reading, then a decline in advertising would naturally be reflected in a decline in students' recreational reading." (Page 6, Chapter 1)

"Students who read the most also read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Conversely, those who don't read much cannot get better at it." (Page 7)

"What motivates children and adults to read more is that (1) they like the experience, (2) they like the subject matter, and (3) they like and follow the lead of people who read a lot." (Page 10)

"The message in this kind of research (especially the Hart and Risley study on Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children) is unambiguous: It's not the toys in the home that make the difference in children's lives; it's the words in their heads. The least expensive thing we can give a child outside of a hug turns out to be the most valuable: words. You don't need a job, a checking account, or even a high school diploma to talk with a child." (Page 16)

 "Here is a crucial fact to consider in the reading and writing connection. Visual receptors in the brain outnumber auditory receptors 30:1. In other words, the chances of a word (or sentence) being retained in our memory bank are thirty times greater if we see it instead of just hear it." (Page 43, Chapter Two). 

"So how do we educate the heart? There are really only two ways: life experience and stories about life experience, which is called literature. Great preachers and teachers--Aesop, Socrates, Confucius, Moses, and Jesus--have traditionally used stories to get their lesson plans across, educating both the mind and the heart." (Page 45)

 "(Expectation of Reward / Effort Required) = Frequency of Activity... When you maintain strong reward factors and lower the number of difficulties, you will see a higher frequency of reading... If you really want to get more reading done, then take control of the distractions: needless trips to the mall, phone calls, multiple televisions, DVD players, e-mails, computer games--each calling for immediate attention or multi-tasking." (Page 84-86, Chapter 5)

"Make sure you, the adult role model, are seen reading daily. It works even better if you read at the same time as the child." (Page 92, Chapter 5)

(On applying Oprah's example of generating enthusiasm for books) "What can we apply from this to our work with children? Well, let's eliminate not all but much of the writing they're required to do whenever they read. ("The more we read, the more we gotta write, so let's read less and we can work less.") We adults don't labor when we read, so why are we forcing children to? It hasn't created a nation of writers or readers." (Page 103, Chapter 5)

"It's difficult to get good at reading if you're short of print. Government programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top ensure that children who are behind in reading are entitled to after-school tutoring and extra help with phonics. Nice. But giving phonics lessons to kids who don't have any print in their lives is like giving oars to people who don't have a boat -- you don't get very far." (Page 107, Chapter 6)

"By the reckoning of its own Department of Education, California's ratio of school librarian to student ranks fifty-first in the nation, with 1 librarian for every 5,124 students, more than five times the national average of 1 to 916. Even the state's adult prison system does better, with 1 librarian to 4,283 inmates." (Page 109). Sigh!

(On reading blogs, tablets, social networks instead of books) "Reading, when it's done today, doesn't go very deep, and it's so private it's invisible. The trouble is, how do you pass invisible torches? How do you pose as an invisible role model?"

"...the e-book is here to stay, for very legitimate reasons. It's a win-win situation: a moneymaker for the publisher and a money saver for the buyer. It also saves time, space, student spines, and trees, to say nothing of what it does for the visually impaired." (Page 131, Chapter 7)

"The research clearly shows that we read more slowly (6 to 11 percent) from a screen than from paper. As with automobile driving, humans may get better and faster at e-reading over the years--but that could take generations." (Page 133) I did not know this, and found it fascinating.

"So what happens to the creative process when there is no disconnect time, when we and our children are constantly downloading, uploading, texting, YouTubing, Googling, or tweeting our 742 "friends"? Less "deep thinking" takes place, less creativity." (Page 139)

"It is not so much what children are doing while they watch multiple hours of TV; it is the experiences they are not having that make the viewing so dangerous." (Page 142, Chapter 8)

"A California professor, Jo Stanchfield, once told me that girls tend to be extrinsically motivated in their reading (favoring the choices of their peers, mom, and teacher), while boys are intrinsically motivated (favoring what they themselves are interested in). I agree. Call it selfish or pragmatic, but guys are drawn more to what interests them, not what interests the crowd." (Page 169, Chapter 10)

There's lots more to the book, obviously, but those quotes should be more than sufficient to give you a feel, and hopefully inspire you to want to read the rest. I feel that if you have kids, or you work with kids, you should read The Read-Aloud Handbook. If you feel like you don't have time, at least read the introduction, which sums up many of the findings discussed throughout the book. The Kindle edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook is $7.99, and you can read it on your phone. (I prefer the print edition for things like this, that I'm going to refer back to, but if cost or time is an object, e-books have advantages.) 

I'm pulling out a few other ideas from this edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, and will be sharing them as separate posts in the coming days. I welcome your feedback. 

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Purchased

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
25. Actions I'm Taking After Reading the New Read-Aloud Handbook

I've included some general responses to my recent reading of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook in a separate post. Here, I'm sharing the bits that motivated me to want to take a specific action, and/or change something that I'm doing, in terms of my daughter's reading experience.

Mind you, I'm already reading to my daughter (now 3 1/2) regularly. She visits the library, and chooses her own books. We have books in the car, and we take books with us when we go on trips. We read mostly picture books, but are dabbling in early readers, and even dipping our toes into chapter books. I've read at least two earlier editions of The Read-Aloud Handbook, as well as various other titles on this subject, and I'm confident that we're doing a reasonable job already. 

Still, I found some useful take home messages, places where I think we can do a little bit better. Like these:

Perform Repeat Reads of the Same Book

"Research shows that even when children reach primary grades, repeated picture book reading of the same book (at least three times) increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent." (Page 10, Chapter 1)

The immediate take-home message for me on this is to make sure that we do read new picture books at least three times (unless we dislike them, of course). This isn't much of a problem with books that we own, but sometimes the big stack of library books goes back with books that were only read once or twice. I guess mostly this is a reminder of being patient about re-reads. 

Fill More Book Baskets

Another thing that Trelease advocates is the placement of book baskets in strategic locations throughout the house. I did this when my daughter was younger, but I haven't updated the baskets and locations recently. I need to stock a basket for the bathroom, and figure out a way to keep books closer to the kitchen table. This is going to tie in with another project that we're just starting - putting aside some of the board books (sob!), which currently fill the baskets. 

Get A Bedside Lamp

A related idea, Trelease also suggests buying your child a bed lamp, and letting them stay up 15 minutes later if they are reading in bed. We're not quite ready for this idea in my house yet (we tend to read to her until she falls asleep), but a bed lamp is clearly something that we're going to need soon.  

Read More Poetry

Trelease also talks about the need to read aloud stories that rhyme (Chapter Two). I haven't been as good about reading my daughter poetry as I would like. She's now starting to play with rhyming herself (and has just discovered tongue-twisters), and I think it's time for us to add more poetry to our repertoire. 

Always Say the Title and Name of the Author

In Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud, Trelease says:

"Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator--no matter how many times you have read the book." (Page 74)

I used to be very good about this, and had been letting it go a bit lately. This reminder has already gotten me back on track with attribution. I also like to say where the book came from, if it was a gift. 

Read More Slowly

Another reminder from Chapter 4, always good to hear again:

"The most common mistake in reading aloud--whether the reader is a seven-year-old or a forty-year-old--is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression." (Page 75)

I think it's always tempting for adults to read quickly, and get through more books. There's a feeling of accomplishment if we read five books tonight before bed. But reading them better, more slowly, with more expression and discussion, is clearly better in the long run. I'm going to work on this.

Chart Reading Progress

My daughter loves to look at her growth chart, and see how much she's grown. Trelease advocates creating a home or school wall chart so that kids can see how much they've read. He says that:

"images of caterpillars, snakes, worms, and trains work well for this purpose, with each section representing a book. Similarly, post a world or U.S. wall map, on which small stickers can be attached to locations where your books have been set." (Page 76)

I especially like the map idea, because we LOVE maps in my house. I'll have to think about the best way to do this. US map? World map? Both? 

Initiate Home Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Time

Trelease suggests setting aside time each day for the child to read by herself (even if she is just flipping through books that she can't yet read). He adds: "All your read-aloud motivation goes for naught if time is not available to put that motivation into practice." (Page 77)

We've done this informally, especially in the car. But I like the idea of having a designated quiet self-reading time. I'm happy to also use the time to model reading, by reading my own book. I'll have to think about how this could be integrated into our schedule. 

Spend Less Time Pecking Away on My Phone

I don't have one quote for this, but a number of references in The Read-Aloud Handbook have affirmed something that I've been concerned about for a while. I spend too much time looking at things on my phone, in my daughter's presence. I'd rather either be present with her, or have her see me reading books (or newspapers or magazines). If I am going to read electronically, I prefer to do it on the Kindle Paperwhite, which is only for reading books. I always call this my "Kindle Book", to reinforce the idea that when she sees me with it, I am reading.  

Continue Limiting TV Time, and Turn On the Closed Captioning

Trelease has a whole chapter on the impact of television and audio on kids and reading. I've been determined since before she was born that my daughter will not have a television set in her bedroom (and I won't have one in mine, either). We currently only allow her to watch television on weekends (though she does sneak in a bit of extra time on the iPad during the week sometimes). But she's like an addict, constantly asking if it's the weekend, and then binging on movies when it is. 

I'm particularly struck by the results of a study that found looked at children's schooling level by age twenty-six vs. the amount of television watched in childhood. "Children who viewed less than one hour a day were the most likely to achieve a college degree." (Page 147) Another study suggested "no detrimental effects on learning (and some positive effects) from TV viewing up to ten hours per week; however, after that, the scores begin to decline. The average student today watches three times the recommended dosage." (Page 148)

I'm not going to make any changes right now, besides turning on the closed captioning (something that Trelease has recommended for years, so that kids SEE the words). But I'm going to keep an eye on how many hours of TV watching creep in over the weekends. Just as soon as the baseball playoffs are over, anyway. 

Limit iPad Time When Traveling

We don't have a portable DVD player, or a DVD player in the car, and I don't see much need for one. But we have downloaded a few select movies onto the iPad. We've found this useful for long car trips, or other times when we need a break. (Most recently, when we brought our daughter along on a wine tasting trip to Napa.) I'm not prepared to give this up - it's been awfully handy on long flights. But I do take this point by Trelease into account:

"The recent addition of the DVD player to family transportation does nothing but deprive the child of yet another classroom: conversation with parents or the shared intellectual experience of listening to an audiobook communally." (Page 154)

I don't think that  my daughter is quite ready to follow along with an audiobook, but I do plan to use them for car trips when I think that she's ready. In the meantime, I'm going to work on talking more, and resorting to the iPad less, especially in the car (though I won't give it up entirely). 

Conclusion

A pretty fine list of actions to take, considering that this is at least the third edition I've read of The Read-Aloud Handbook (out of 7 published editions). Trelease has said that this will be the last edition that he writes, which makes me sad. But I'm very happy to have this one. 

How about you all? Have you read The Read-Aloud Handbook? Has it affected your efforts to grow bookworms in your own household? I'd love it if you would share. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts