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1. Read Out Loud | Tad Hills Reads ‘R Is for Rocket’

Read Out Loud Tad Hills Image

Rocket believes reading rocks and kids will too after they hear Tad Hills read R Is for Rocket: An ABC Story. Rocket and his animal pals go on an alliterative journey from A to Z while introducing readers to art and nature. Your early reader will enjoy seeing Bella the squirrel balancing on a ball, Owl offering a cawing crow a cookie and a crayon, and a guest appearance from Tad’s most popular waterfowl friend!

Do you have the book at home? Open up the dust jacket to find a poster of the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet! Feel free to read along too.

KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud series is perfect for parents, teachers, and librarians. Use these readings for nap time, story time, bedtime … anytime!



From Random House Kids
R Is for Rocket: An ABC Book – Learn the ABCs with Rocket, the dog who inspires kids to read and write! This irresistible alphabet book from the creator of the New York Times bestsellers How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians. From finding acorns, to balancing on a ball, to offering a cookie and a crayon to a crow, readers will love exploring the wonderful world of Rocket and his friends. The whole cast is featured, among them the little yellow bird, the owl, Bella the squirrel, and more. Even Goose from the beloved and bestselling Duck & Goose books makes a cameo appearance! With charming and delightful scenes for every letter, here’s an ode to the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet.


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Read Out Loud
Executive Producer: Julie Gribble
Producer: Kassia Graham
Director of Photography: Eric Lau

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The post Read Out Loud | Tad Hills Reads ‘R Is for Rocket’ appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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2. Gratitude

This week I came across a review of This Is Sadie that meant a lot to me. It was partly to do with its placement since the mandate of the International Literacy Association is pretty dear to my heart. (Links to previous posts on literacy here.) But it was also because of the things that the review itself recognized about the book and the way that allows me to think about the way that picture books are really produced by the writer, the illustrator, the editor, and the designer.

Here's the review:

Thank you, Lisa D. Patrick for giving me the opportunity to say that while Julie Morstad and I have our names on the front of this book, credit is also due to our editor, Tara Walker, and our designer, Kelly Hill of Tundra Books.

The idea to use "This is Sara" and "This is Julie" on the jacket copy belongs to Tara Walker and I think it was a brilliant one...not just because it is kind of sweet and funny (although it is) but because it ties the author/creator bios into the book and somehow makes the whole thing organic.

I am still learning about picture books--I went from reviewing them to writing them to teaching how to write them and am only now am finally starting to feel I am coming close to beginning to suss out how they work--but I find one of the wonderful things about them is how everything matters. A novel with a not-great cover will still be as good or as bad a novel as it was in manuscript (although its sales may not be what they might be) but a picture book with a not-great cover is much, much less than it might have been.

This is Sara & Tara celebrating Sadie
I was very lucky in that The Henry Books were all designed by the brilliant Robin Mitchell-Cranfield and all three books have been recognized for the brilliance of their covers and their design, but with This Is Sadie I really got a chance to see into the process of the book's design. I saw the sample illos that Julie Morstad did and how Kelly Hill worked with the title text and design to pull it together. And then, in a stroke of genius, when we were presented with two really fabulous covers, Tara Walker found a way to use them both!

When I look at This Is Sadie, it really pleases me to see how things came together on it and it makes me so grateful both to be making picture books and to be working with such great people.

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3. The day that changed the 20th century: Russia’s October Revolution

The October Revolution was probably the determining event of the twentieth century in Europe, and indeed in much of the world. The Communist ideology and the Communist paradigm of governance aroused messianic hopes and apocalyptic fears almost everywhere.

The post The day that changed the 20th century: Russia’s October Revolution appeared first on OUPblog.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bilingual Isn’t Necessarily Bicultural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Space for Students’ Fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Time to Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Complexity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Get 30% Off Magazine Subscriptions Purchased on Rethinking Schools Magazine Website with Discount Code: LLJ15 (discount taken at checkout!)
  • Buy From North to South/Del Norte al Sur
  • Browse bilingual Spanish/English books on the web and in our catalog from LEE & LOW
  • Teacher’s Guide for From North to South/Del Norte al Sur by LEE & LOW

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5. First Book Honored with Literacy Award by Library of Congress

This week, First Book was honored with the David M. Rubenstein Prize for 2015, one of three literacy awards presented by the Library of Congress annually.

0J3A8531The Rubenstein Prize is awarded to an organization that has made “outstanding and measurable contributions in increasing literacy levels and has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth and breadth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy.”  In addition, the award honors organizations that meet the highest standards of excellence in operations and services.

All of us at First Book are thrilled to receive this prestigious award and recognition – but it couldn’t have happened without you.  Your support makes transforming the lives of children in need possible.

Equally thrilling is that this award comes as First Book reaches another milestone in our history:  we now serve more than 200,000 educators – the largest and fastest growing network of classrooms and programs supporting children in need. Thanks to cross-sector partnerships and tremendous advocates like you, this network has grown 500% in the last 4 years.

We are grateful for your support in helping reach educators of all kinds and further educational equity for millions of children.

Spread the word by sharing the great news on Facebook or Twitter!


The post First Book Honored with Literacy Award by Library of Congress appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. All the college kidlit conferences (as of October 2015)

Or, more formally, “A Comprehensive List of U.S. College- and University-Sponsored or -Hosted Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conferences, Festivals, and Symposia.” (All of them that I could find, anyway). A few years ago, I was looking for such a list, wondered why I couldn’t find one, and decided to just go ahead and make […]

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7. New free, print-ready poster: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend" Groucho Marx quote

With a slightly creepy feel appropriate to Halloween coming up, I've added one of my favorite Grouch Marx quotes about books to For The Love Of Reading as a free print-ready poster.

For all my free, print-ready material, visit Debbie's Print-Ready Archive For Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

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8. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events Oct. 13-20

There’s lots going on this week, but I particularly hope you can all come to Blue Willow Bookshop on Saturday for local librarian Sara K. Joiner‘s launch of her debut middle grade novel, AFTER THE ASHES. See you there!

As always, please check the sponsoring bookstore or organization’s website for the most up-to-date information! Here’s what’s going on:

OCTOBER 13, 20, 27, and NOVEMBER 3, TUESDAYS, 7:00-9:00 PMWritespace
How to Make the Most of a Moment: A Fiction Workshop, with Marian Szczepanski
COST: $95 – $125

Everyone loves a car chase. Or avalanche. Or any rapid-fire action that causes readers to turn pages at warp speed. But sometimes fiction needs to get out of the express lane and allow readers to dwell in—and savor—the moment.

Pace matters when it comes to fully engaging a reader. As the driver of the car that is your story or novel, you decide when it’s time to take a deep breath and slow down. Decelerating from the speed of light to a leisurely stroll, however, shouldn’t cause your narrative to stall. Quite the opposite. If handled correctly, moments of reflection, remembrance, decision-making, and flat-out awe can fuel your plot with greater complexity, enhance your characters with greater depth, and increase overall tension.

Blue Willow Bookshop
Lincoln Peirce, MG Author/Illustrator

Cartoonist/writer and New York Times bestselling author Lincoln Peirce will discuss and sign his new book for kids, BIG NATE: WELCOME TO MY WORLD  . Aspiring cartoonist Nate Wright is eleven years old, four-and-a-half feet tall, and the all-time record holder for detentions in school history. He’s a self-described genius and sixth-grade Renaissance Man who lives with his dad and older sister and enjoys pestering his family and teachers with his sarcasm.

In order to go through the signing line and meet Lincoln Peirce for book personalization, please purchase BIG NATE: WELCOME TO MY WORLD from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, Blue Willow Bookshop will issue a signing line ticket that indicates your place in line. Your book and signing line ticket can be picked up at the event.

Houston YA MG Writers at Writespace

YA/MG meetings are held the third Saturday of the month at Writespace. Join us for discussions of writing craft and the business of publishing books for young readers. This month’s topic is TBA.

Blue Willow Bookshop
Sara Joiner, MG Author

Local author Sara Joiner will discuss and sign her debut book for kids, AFTER THE ASHES. In 1883, on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies, thirteen-year-old Katrien Courtland is determined to prove Darwin’s theory of natural selection. When Krakatau suddenly erupts, Katrien knows her only hope of survival is to flee the jungle with the one person she vowed never to befriend.

In order to go through the signing line and meet Sara Joiner for book personalization, please purchase AFTER THE ASHES from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, Blue Willow Bookshop will issue a signing line ticket that indicates your place in line. Your book and signing line ticket can be picked up at the event.

Johnston Middle School, 10410 Manhattan Drive, Houston
Stefan Pastis, Cartoonist

Inprint Cool Brains! Presents bestselling author and syndicated cartoonist Stefan Pastis. Mr. Pastis will share his fourth book in the popular TIMMY FAILURE series, TIMMY FAILURE: SANITIZED FOR YOUR PROTECTION, for ages 8 -12. After his presentation, he will take questions from the audience, followed by a book sale and signing*, giving fans a chance to visit with him. Books will be available for sale at the event through Blue Willow Bookshop.

OCTOBER 19, SATURDAY, 12:00am-11:59PM
Read Across the Globe
Volunteer Opportunities Available

READ ACROSS THE GLOBEJoin The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, Deloitte LLP, Points of Light, Volunteer Houston, and The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo  and more as they team up to break the Guinness World Record for the number of children read to within a 24-hour period. The current world record is 238,000 children, and this year’s goal is to smash it by reading to 300,000 children across the globe!

OCTOBER 20, TUESDAY, 7:30 PMRWA-Logo-200
Bay Area RWA
Kirkmont MUD Building, 10102 Blackhawk Road
Dawn Temple: Writing Contests: Giving, Getting and Appreciating Good Advice

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9. Indiegogo Campaign Launched for Let’s Read! Asia

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10. Hacking health - and literacy - in the library

How do students’ research skills turn into love of inquiry?  The answer is HackHealth!  I work in a middle school library with grades six through eight.  Because I serve a population of over 1,000 students, it is challenging to see all of my students on a regular basis.  When I did see them, their research skills were very basic and most of them knew only Google.  Although I love Google myself, I know that there is so much more that goes into research.  How can I teach these skills to students with the limited time that I have with them?

The Beginning

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park came to me with the idea to form a weekly after-school program, HackHealth, to teach students how to research health topics that interest them.  I jumped at the opportunity.  My first step was to recruit students.  There are several very effective ways to do this, but I will focus on the method that I used because it worked so well for me.  I approached my school’s science team.  I told them about the HackHealth program and asked them to recommend students who were interested and would benefit from this program.  I received responses back from almost 20 students who were interested.  We had an initial meeting with approximately 12 interested students where the program was introduced by the UMD researchers.

Implementing the Program

The HackHealth program at my school lasted for 12 weeks.  During the first session, I talked with them about choosing a topic.  Our students viewed short videos introducing them to the program. The next step was to explore possible sources for their research.  Students brainstormed sources which they would use to find credible information.  For example, would they use the Internet, ask a family member, read a newspaper?  They discussed the pros and cons of each of these sources based on prior knowledge.

How to Take Notes

sandwich boardsUMD researchers and I went over notetaking skills.  Three skills were introduced:  Mind-mapping, tables, and making lists.  The students were introduced to each method and then formed groups to practice these methods.  At the end, they were asked to present their assigned note-taking strategy to the group.  The group discussed which method is most effective for which circumstances.

Credibility Screenshot Activity

postit1 postit2

We used posters of various health-related Web pages for this activity.  The posters included: WebMD, Dr. Oz, Wikipedia, a government website (alzheimers.gov), a blog (“Sharing my life with Lewy Body Dementia”) and a kids health website (KidsHealth.org).  The students were given red and green post-its.  The red represented not credible.  The green represented credible.  The students wrote why they felt the website was credible or not on their post-its. We got together at the end of this activity to discuss the differences in opinion and how to handle the “grey” areas on assessing credibility of online information.


computerlabAnother activity that focused on the validity and relevancy of websites was an iEvaluate activity.  Students were given a list of websites that appeared at first sight legitimate, but were all hoax websites.  They were asked to evaluate these websites by looking at the website’s purpose, finding the author of the website, and analyzing whether they learned anything from the website.  Our students noticed a few red flags like no author name, no contact information, and facts that just didn’t seem accurate (like a tree-climbing octopus!)

The End

After all of the learning and hard work, it is finally time to show us what they know.  Our students were given several options to present their research findings and they did so very creatively.  We had an interview about discrimination against handicapped people, a Prezi about bronchitis, a song about thyroid disease, an interpretive dance about Kawasaki disease, and a chart presentation regarding sickle cell anemia.  

And best yet...they were very excited about returning again next year!

These are just a snapshot of a few activities that my students enjoyed during the 12 HackHealth sessions.

I would HIGHLY recommend HackHealth for library media specialists or any educator who is interested in teaching their students research skills.  The activities are so varied that students with different learning styles will benefit.  For educators who implement HackHealth, the options of lesson plans and activities are so varied that they can be incorporated into a variety of lessons.   To me, the abundance of lesson plans and activities, and the flexibility of this program are its strengths.  HackHealth can turn any student into a skilled researcher.

See http://hackhealth.umd.edu/about-us/project-phases/ to access the lesson plans and activities.

-Melissa Bethea is the school library media specialist at Charles Carroll Middle School in Prince George's County Public Schools.


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11. KidLit Author Events Sept. 29-Oct.6

My apologies for being late with this post, but it’s in time to catch all the events happening this week. I want to send a big THANK YOU to Kimberly Morris and SCBWI Houston for the wonderful workshop we had Saturday, and to Mary Wade for taking us on a tour of the beautiful Lanier Theological Library. What a gorgeous, inspiring place!

THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS BY CRYSTAL ALLENI want to remind everyone to sign up for the Connections and Craft: Novel Workshop at SCBWI Brazos Valley on October 10 in College Station. Featured speakers will be award-winning author, Kimberly Willis Holt; the Book Doctor, Robyn Conley; and Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) editor, Kelsey Murphy (By the way, Kelsey Murphy is editing Crystal Allen’s upcoming series, THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS!). Workshop topics include:

  • “Develop Your Character”
  • “After the First Draft”
  • “Self-editing without Self-destructing”
  • “Cross Marketing Story Elements for Cross Selling”



TWEENSREADThe big KidLit event happening this week is TWEENS READ! This one-day event is this Saturday, October 3, from 9:30–5:00 at South Houston High School, 3820 Shaver Street, South Houston, TX 77587. There are SO MANY AMAZING AUTHORS coming this year including SCBWI Houston’s own Crystal Allen, and SCBWI Austin’s Nikki Loftin! Grab a tween and get there!


Now for the rest of this week’s events:

OCTOBER 1, THURSDAY, 7:00-9:00 PMWritespace
Social Media Workshop for Writers with Rebecca Nolan

COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Social Media for People Who Don’t Like Social Media: A Hands-On Workshop
There are many reasons you might not like social media. Have you put off creating social media accounts because it all seems too overwhelming? Do you have a couple of social media accounts but they use a language and method foreign to you and you don’t have time to mess with it? Are you worried about strangers seeing what you’re up to? Bring your laptop and learn how to creatively make social media your own workhorse. Learn how to deal with time constraints and pick up tips and tricks that make social media less time-consuming. In this workshop we will discover how to make Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ work to your advantage.

Central Library, 500 McKinney

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Houston Public Library’s (HPL) 4th Annual Houston LibroFEST on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Featured presenters include author, activist, and television director Jesús Salvador Treviño, Viola Canles, and children’s author and illustrator Xavier Garza; as well as programs and activities connected to the Houston Metropolitan Research Center exhibit on display, Remembering World War II: Houston’s Latino Veterans. Also taking part in the festival: musicians, artists, and local literary organizations and vendors including Arte Público Press, Gulf Coast Literary Journal, Inprint, Writers in the Schools (WITS), and more.

The theme of this year’s LibroFEST is “heros.” LibroFEST coordinators are looking for Hispanic and Latino children’s and young adult book authors to read, sell their books, or participate on panels. Those interested should contact Carmen Abrego at Carmen.Abrego@houstontx.gov .”

Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America
2015 Lone Star Writers’ Conference
COST: $130 Members, $140 Non-members

“The Power of Subtext: Body Language, Dialogue Cues, and Visceral Responses” Master Class with Margie Lawson. Visceral responses can be more than roiling stomachs and pounding hearts. Dialogue cues can be more than predictable, carry-no-power, pin-the-cliched-tag-on-the-dialogue. Body language can be more than cookie-cutter expressions. More than one-descriptor smiles. More than over-used phrases that many readers skim. This power-packed workshop will teach writers how to how to add psychological power to body language, dialogue cues, and visceral responses. Participants are requested to bring five chapters (or more), printed, double-spaced, in a binder. They’ll have opportunities to review their chapters and rewrite or add the right amount of subtext in the right places. Also attending is Linda Scalissi, an agent with 3 Seas Literary Agency.

OCTOBER 3, SATURDAY, 2:00-5:00 PMWritespace
Writers’ Workshop: Easy E-book Creation with Scrivener, with D.L.Young

COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Does the idea of e-book formatting fill you with dread? Have you tried to create an e-book, but can’t get the darned thing to come out right? Are you new to e-book creation and looking for tips and shortcuts? When you are equipped with the right tools and techniques, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to create a professional-grade e-book. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll create our own e-books and learn how to set up an e-book friendly template for our novels and short stories—and even learn to create e-books with our signature on them! Please bring your laptop, and D.L. Young will take you through the process step-by-step.

SCBWI Houston
Tracy Gee Community Center
Elizabeth White-Olsen: How to Empower Your Prose by Stealing the Super Power of Poets
Cost: FREE; All are welcome!

This monthly meeting of the Houston Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators features Elizabeth White-Olsen, Director of Writespace.

DUMPLIN' by Julie MurphyOCTOBER 6, TUESDAY, 7:00 PM
Blue Willow Bookshop
Julie Murphy and Cammie McGovern, YA Authors

Julie Murphy and Cammie McGovern will discuss and sign DUMPLIN’ and A STEP TOWARD FALLING, their new books for teens.

IN Julie Murphy’s DUMPLIN’, Willowdean, Dubbed Dumplin by her former beauty queen mom, has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . untilWill takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But sheissurprised when he seems to like her back.

A STEP TOWARD FALLING by Cammie McGovernInstead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself.So she sets out to take back her confidence by doingthe most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant along with several other unlikely candidates to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she ll shock the hell out of Clover City and maybe herself most of all.

Cammie McGovern’s A STEP TOWARD FALLING is about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

OCTOBER 6-NOVEMBER 10, TUESDAYS, 7:00-9:00 PMRice University
Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Co-sponsors: Blue Willow Bookshop, Writespace
Writing Children’s and Young Adult Literature, with Elizabeth White-Olsen
COST: $265, For Rice alumni: $239

Children’s books have a power that resonates across time and generations. They connect us to our younger selves, to the children in our lives today and to the rich imaginative capacities that characterize childhood. This lively workshop invites aspiring and practicing writers to explore the craft of writing for children and young adults. The course will share guidelines specific to the main genres of children’s literature: picture books, middle-grade novels and young adult novels. Participants will also explore applications of fundamental writing topics to children’s literature such as characterization, plot, point-of-view, metaphor and voice. Engaging in-class writing exercises will provide multiple starting points to develop stories based on your imagination and life experiences.

OCTOBER 6, TUESDAY, 6:00-9:00 PM Writespace
Workshop: The First Six Months: Creating Your Own Book Launch Marketing Plan, with Pamela Fagan Hutchins
COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Whether you publish indie or traditional, the marketing and promotion of your book is up to you, and the launch is critical. Bestselling (Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iTunes), nationally-distributed indie author Pamela Fagan Hutchins will lead a hands-on workshop as you create a launch timeline, budget, and marketing plan for “your” book. Pamela will pull from her experience as president of the Houston Writers Guild, her many indie workshop presentations, and the launch of her own six romantic mysteries and six nonfiction books, as captured in her USA Best Book award-winning how-to, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?  Bring your funny bone and a sharp #2 pencil (or laptop), as well as a book/manuscript (yours or someone else’s), with the blurb/description, genre, market, sales formats, a general budget, and price in mind.

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12. The Freedom To Read: Free, print-ready poster of one of my favorite Judy Blume quotes #BannedBooksWeek


In honor of Banned Books Week, I've illustrated one of my favorite Judy Blume quotes:

"Having the freedom to read and the freedom to choose is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me."

I was lucky that way, too. My father used to take the whole family to our local public library every week, and we kids could choose whatever books we wanted. My parents never questioned my choices, and I will always be grateful to them for that trust.

You can download a free, print-ready poster here.

Also see my Print-Ready Archives as well as my Illustrating Judy Blume resource.

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13. Mentor Text Display Cards

I love using mentor texts in the classroom, and students find them incredibly useful as exemplars for their own writing. But how many times have I asked, "Do you remember when we saw examples of this technique in one of our mentor texts?" only to be met with blank stares. Or worse, a student will say, "I remember in one of our picture books the author did this thing where she said something in a way that was cool and can you help me find that book?"

So this year, in an effort to maximize our investment in mentor texts, I began to create Mentor Text Display Cards. For each exemplar text we study, whether it be a picture book, poem, article, or excerpt from a novel, I've posted a simple letter-size display card listing the book title, author, illustrator, genre, theme, notable text features, and a text excerpt (see example below). On a bookshelf adjacent to this display, I've shelved all of the mentor texts we've already read, as well as those I intend to use.

With just seven cards posted, already I've seen several benefits:
  • During free reading time, students will return to these texts since they're familiar and meaningful.
  • Students struggling to recall text features or literary devices will look to these cards for help.
  • Students now make discoveries of their own in their independent texts, and some have even suggested picture books and excerpts for future sharing. This, in itself, is remarkably revealing, because some students are pointing out features and literary devices that haven't been formally introduced through our other texts.
  • The collection of cards serves as clear evidence of our classroom goal to create a common culture of literacy. 
While I created the first few cards, I see no reason why future cards can't be made by students themselves. The blank prototype card I've provided is easy to duplicate and edit. After reviewing the cards I've shared, you may also decide that what I've chosen to illustrate on my cards doesn't quite serve your purposes, so I welcome you to customize them as you see fit.

Looking to the future, I see some other uses for these cards:
  • Printed out, these cards can be inserted in the books they reference. That way, even if you choose not to use a book in a given year, a student can still benefit from the information the card provides.
  • Individual cards can be saved as pdf files, and these can be digitally stored for student access. My own teacher website has an index that would work well with this concept.
  • I chose to post my cards chronologically, since students will remember a book that was read "a long time ago" (two weeks ago!) and find it easier to reference in the cards are posted by occurrence. But I can also see posting cards closer to those shelves that they might reference. So my New York's Bravest card might be posted adjacent to the Tall Tale section of my class library, and my George Bellows: Painter with a Punch card might be located near the biography section.
  • As students read their own picture books (see the biography book reports here, for example), they can create their own display cards to illustrate the "take-aways" of their individual texts.
Via Google slides I've provided you several cards to get started (all the books on these cards have been featured on this blog), including a blank prototype for editing online, as well as a blank that can be printed out if you prefer students to create a card using paper and pencil. I'd love to hear your ideas for these cards, as well as ways you plan to customize them for your own classroom.

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It's impossible to overemphasise the importance of literacy, so I'm sharing this infographic from Grammarly  https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker (More than just cute quotes on Facebook!)

I did have one query, as I thought the infographic showed Australia as having a 12% illiteracy rate, whereas it seems to be between 1 & 3% (depending on which site I referenced). However, what it depicts "is that 12% of all illiterate population leave in East Asia and the Pacific region." Australia is of course part of that region - so it's a good reminder that there is a lot of work still to be done to improve literacy quite close to home, no matter where you live. And if you live in Australia, there's one section of the population that especially struggles with literacy - so although there are many charities and organisations around the world working to improve literacy, I'm just going to mention The Indigenous Literacy Foundation. 

As well as donating directly to them, if you're a Nim's Island fan or teacher, don't forget that if you buy the ebook Nim's Island: Excellent Stuff to Make, Cook, Read and Do100% of the proceeds goes to the ILF. 

And meanwhile, think about how lucky we all are to simply be able to read this!

Literacy Day

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15. Free, print-ready poster: "Reading Lets Your Imagination Soar"

Added to my For The Love Of Reading resource for teachers, librarians, booksellers and young readers: a free, print-ready "Reading Lets Your Imagination Soar" poster. For all my free, print-ready material, please see Debbie's Print-Ready Archive.

I've also added a greeting card version of just the found object art to my Zazzle card shop (Canada/U.S.).

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16. One Book, One Harper Embraces Graphic Novels for College Community Read!

Harper College, located in northwest Chicagoland, is a community college serving 40,000 students. Since the 2011-2012 school year, Harper College has a selected a title as part of their “One Book, One Harper” community read. (A community read is where a local library sponsors a community-wide book club featuring one title which is read and discussed locally. […]

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17. Pernille Ripp's Reading Myth #1: "This is a girl/boy book"

I was so inspired by Pernille Ripp's talk at Nerd Camp earlier this year and just discovered (duh, why didn't I look for this earlier?) that she has a blog! I was inspired to illustrate a quote from her recent piece, "Stop Feeding The Beast - The Reading Myths We Pass On As Truth."

You can find out mroe about Pernille at PernilleSRipp.com, on Twitter at @pernilleripp and on Facebook at Passionate Learners.

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18. Amartya Sen on the Modi government, education, health care, and politics

“I had been out for a walk and got caught in the rain,” says Sen, smiling as he walks in to greet us. His knees do not permit him to pedal around Santiniketan as he once did. He is in a pleasant mood, in spite of the controversy surrounding his ouster from Nalanda University and his latest book, The Country of First Boys: And Other Essays, out next month.

The post Amartya Sen on the Modi government, education, health care, and politics appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Naked, pregnant Amanda Palmer recreates Hirst statue for literacy at NYPL (nsfw)

Baby on board musician/provocateur Amanda Palmer and hubby did in waiting Neil Gaiman staged a pretty spectacular event at the New York Public Library yesterday, as the eight months pregnant Palmer recreated Damian Hirst's statue Verity with body paint. The event was well captured in social media.

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20. 8 Ideas for Educators to Get Students Excited About the Public Library This School Year

Do you know how many books your students or their families own or even have access to? The start of school is a great time to introduce (or reintroduce) children (and their families) to the public library.


In the home visits many of us make at the beginning of each school year, it is an unique opportunity to see not only where our students live, but also where they study and keep their books. I learned that many of my students had only a few books in their homes and our classroom libraries would be vital to enabling student discovery of new interests and topics, as well as access to texts at and above their levels.

Families may not be able to afford books or find few books for sale. For example, one study of low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia found one book for sale for every 300 children.

As we set out to create literacy-rich environments in our classrooms this school year, let us remember a powerful ally in the community: public libraries.

September is also Library Card Sign-Up Month so many public libraries have programs and resources available to students of all grades. Check with your nearest branch to see field trip availability, possible funding, and to download and distribute the library card application.

Before You Go

1. Read Aloud Book Recommendations


The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos

Richard Wright and the Library Card and Richard Wright y el carné de biblioteca

Destiny’s Gift (setting is a bookstore, but applicable themes)

Questions during reading

  • Why does this character/historical figure believe in the power of books?
  • What obstacles does this person have to overcome to achieve his/her goal?
  • How do reading books change the main characters/historical figures?
  • How does this person demonstrate respect or show appreciation for books and the library space?
  • Why are libraries an important part of a community?
  • Should having a library in a community be a right or is it a privilege?

2. Shared Reading ActivityThe following articles, which can be downloaded as a PDF file, contain information at just the right level for readers. Comprehension questions also included:

*note: must sign-up to read, but free for teachers

A Helper at the School Library” by ReadWorks.org

A New Kind of Library” by ReadWorks.org

Homework takes over the library for kids without Internet” by Newsela

A Chicago library’s books hit the road on two wheels” by Newsela

3. Bring in a library book for students to observeCompare the library book to a classroom book. Note the spine label on the side, the barcode label on the back, the plastic covering, the library pocket, and so on.

Finally, before your class visits the library, print off library card applications for students to fill out in class or at home with their families. This will streamline the process at the library and students will have the necessary information like their home addresses to obtain the cards. With cards in the hand, students can borrow some books!

If Doing a Visit or Field Trip, Here Are Some Activities at the Library:

4. Interview a librarian—Have students brainstorm a list of questions before they visit to ask, including:

  • What motivated him/her to become a librarian?
  • What is his/her favorite part of being a librarian?
  • What are some of the challenges of a library?
  • Why is it important for communities to have libraries?
  • How have libraries changed? How has this library changed since it first opened?
  • What can someone do at a library in addition to reading books?
  • What if someone does not speak English (or very well)? What resources can he/she use to get the most out of the library? How does the library make an inclusive space for multiple languages?

5. Library scavenger hunt—Premade lists for grade bands are available from ALA. Ideas include:

  • Get the signature of two librarians.
  • What is the name of the Children’s Librarian?
  • How much does it cost to make a copy in the library?
  • List two magazine titles the library has available to read.
  • Find a chapter book with an author whose last name begins with “D.” What is the title of the book?
  • What newspaper does the library have for reading?
  • How many computer stations does the library have for visitors to use?
  • Have students try to find a couple of the read alouds you have already read in class this year, such as The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos or Richard Wright and the Library Card.

Activities After the Visit to the Library

6. Create a poster to advertise the local libraryWith words and pictures, explain the benefits of visiting a library and highlight the perks of the space. How is the library rewarding to one’s education? How can a library help with homework? Depending on the class size and the amount of posters, encourage students to donate their poster to each classroom in the school as well as the main office to post on the bulletin board.

7. Write a thank you letter to the children’s or teen’s librarian or community volunteers. Encourage students to include what book title they would like to borrow first with their new library cards.

8. As a class, brainstorm a list of ideas on how to responsibly treat a borrowed library book. What does being responsible with a library book look like? Record student ideas on a chart. Look up the behavior rules on the library website. Post this list in the classroom library as a reminder for all borrowed books throughout the year.

How to make a trip to the library affordable and achievable:

  • Most important: TALK to the librarians! Many public libraries have back-to-school programs available (or preferred times for such visits) and schedules that work with the school calendar. The children’s or teen librarian may also know of funding or grants available specifically for school visits to the library.
  • Make it a family affair. While optional, encourage students’ families to join you on a Saturday at the library. This will save you having to pay for bussing or coordinate chaperones as students will attend with their families.
  • Absolutely can’t get off campus? Make sure to prioritize a program at your school library or see if the public library has school-visit programs.
  • Virtual field trips: (elementary school age) KidVision VPK Library Field Trip and (middle school age) Tour the Library by Harper College Library or Check It Out by Topeka Library

For further reading on educators engaging librarians for student achievement:

Dear librariansWhat other ideas do you suggest or have you seen work well for encouraging students to discover all that the library has to offer them (and their families) this school year? Share with us!

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

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21. Free print-ready poster: Tim Federle quote about books

I've added a new print-ready poster to my For The Love Of Reading page:

You can download the poster here.

For more free print-ready literacy posters, activity sheets, bookmarks and more, see For The Love Of Reading. You can also browse my full Print-Ready Archive for teachers, librarians and young readers.

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22. Children's Book Finger Puppets: tips for children's book creators, teachers and parents

I've added some free print-ready templates for creating finger puppets related to I'M BORED and WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? You can preview the I'm Bored puppets here and download here. You can get the Where Are My Books? puppets here: Spencer & Mom preview/download, Sis and Dad preview/download and Squirrel/Narwhal/Book preview/download. For all my free, print-ready material, see my Print-Ready Archives.

Note that you don't HAVE to use them as finger puppets, but can use them as stand-up puppets. Another option: taping the characters onto popsicle sticks.

Tip for children's book creators who want to create their own finger puppet paper templates:

- Test them out ahead of time! I experimented with several designs until I found ones I was happy with.

- Aim for puppets that can stand up on their own when assembled, just in case young readers prefer to use them that way. 

- If possible, have heads cut separately from the cylinder part of the puppet (see my Girl and Spencer puppet as examples). That way puppets will look more like play-able characters than just cylinders of paper.

Suggestions for teachers, librarians and parents on how to use these puppets:

- After reading I'm Bored or Where Are My Books?, have students come up with their own storytelling ideas. Come up with a new adventure for the characters! 

- Using paper and scissors or other materials, have students come up with scenery or props to help them in their storytelling.

- Students can experiment with different voices for different characters. How would YOU do the Potato voice, for example?

- Turn a table with sturdy legs on one side for a makeshift puppet theater. Or cut a window into one side of a large cardboard box. OR just get rid of the physical puppet theatre idea altogether and have students perform out in the open.

- Finger puppets can be useful for those students who are especially shy or insecure about public speaking.

- Have students create their own puppets based on characters from books they are reading. Instead of worrying about finger sizes etc., just have them draw small (I suggest an 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper folded into quarters) characters, cut them out, and stick them onto popsicle sticks.

Do you have other ideas on how to use puppets in the classroom? Do you have finger puppet templates related to children's books you'd like to share? Please post below!

Related Resources:

Using finger puppet templates as a craft project and strengthen storytelling abilities - Kidspot

Puppet Play: Dramatic Benefits For Young Performers - EarlyChildhoodNews.com

Pointing out the Finger Puppet Connection To Learning - Mar's Music Notes

Puppets Talk, Children Listen - TEACH magazine


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23. Today Is International Literacy Day. Why Literacy Is Important and How You Can Help.

The world is limited for people who can’t read. Imagine not being able to read signs, medication labels, job applications, or a note from your child’s teacher, and not having the pleasure of reading a novel. Reading helped me survive the abuse and torture of my childhood; I am saddened for the people who don’t have that escape. And reading novels helps reduce stress, increase vocabulary and knowledge, stimulate your mind and possibly slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, increase empathy, and do better at school and in life. People who can’t read often have lower incomes, lower quality jobs, low self-esteem, and worse health. Yet nearly 800 million people worldwide cannot read or write, 126 million of them are children, and 2/3 are girls or women.

Literacy Day

Infographic via Grammarly

Infographic via International Literacy Association who want to create the Age of Literacy by spreading the #800Mil2Nil message.

How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:

FirstBook; every donation until September 30th will be matched by the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF); every donation during this back-to-school season will be matched by Barnes and Noble.

International Literacy Association; donate or International Literacy Association, text “LITERACY” to 91999 and make a donation in the amount of your choosing.

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24. International Literacy Day

Literacy Day

Please attribute this infographic to https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

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25. Madeleine L'Engle quote about children's books (and a free, print-ready poster)

I've added a free, print-ready poster version of this wonderful Madeleine L'Engle quote to my For The Love Of Reading page.

You can find links to ALL my free, print-ready bonus goodies at Debbie's Print-Ready Archive.

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