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1. Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project


In November, First Book and its partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute presented the Citizen Power Project; a challenge to educators nationwide to identify, plan, and implement a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community.

Fifteen projects received grants to help turn big plans into big impact.

The projects represent a wide range of civic engagement – from teaching empathy and healthy habits to supporting student voices and helping the environment.

So far, the civic impact of these projects has been phenomenal.

In Framingham, Massachusetts, middle school English teacher Lori DiGisi knows her students don’t always feel empowered. “They feel like the adults rule everything and that they don’t really have choices,” she explains. “The issue I’m trying to solve is for a diverse group of students to believe that they can make a difference in their community.”

Using the First Book Marketplace, Lori and her class chose to read books about young people who did something to change the world — books with diverse characters that each student could identify with. Through stories, Lori’s students have begun to understand that they too can make a difference.

From here, Lori plans to narrow the focus onto the issue of improving working conditions. Students will interview custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers in their school to understand what their working conditions are like and ask the all-important question: what can we, as middle schoolers, do to make your working conditions better?

claudine-quote_editMeanwhile in Malvern, Arkansas, middle school English teacher Claudine James has used the Citizen Power Project to improve upon an already successful program. In 2011, Claudine visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and wanted to bring that experience back to her students.

That year her class studied the Holocaust and put together their own Holocaust Museum in their school and opened it to the public.

The reaction to the museum was something Claudine never expected.

“It was very well received by the community and in fact, we had an opening day reception on a Sunday afternoon and there was no room to even stand.”

Claudine has organized project-based learning initiatives like this every year since. The Malvern community has embraced them, and even come to expect them.

This year, powered by the  Citizen Power Project, Claudine and her class are planning an exhibit called, ‘Writers from Around the World’. They are reading books by authors from all over the globe. Her goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among her students and for them to promote those ideas to the community.

“When my students are presented with problems that other people from other cultures have to overcome, they see the world in a new light,” explains Claudine, “then they go home and spread the word.”


Artwork by one student in Racheal’s class depicting the negative impacts of climate change.

In Newark, New Jersey, kindergarten teacher Racheal Safier has her young students thinking globally. “We wanted to figure out what climate change is,” she explains, “they took a really big interest in how global warming affects animals.”

Racheal has been amazed by her student’s enthusiasm for this topic and the project, but she knows where it comes from. “Books have been the launching point for so many of the ideas generated in my classroom.”

Now that ideas are being launched, Racheal wants to show her class the next step: what actions do we take?

And they have many planned. There will be brochures distributed to parents, a table at the school’s social justice fair, maybe a video, and even letters to the President.

“I want it to be their project — and some of the things they come up with, I am really blown away.”

These three projects are just a snapshot of all the important work educators are doing around the country for the Citizen Power Project. Lori, Claudine, and Racheal are shining examples of the impact that educators can have on their students and their communities.

For educators to create change though students they need access to educational resources. First Book is proud to help provide that access for the Citizen Power Project.

When these 15 projects are completed in early 2017 be sure to check the First Book blog to see videos and pictures, and read more impact stories of impact from across the United States.


If you’re an educator serving kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to register and browse our collection of educational resources. Click here to learn more about the Citizen Power Project.

The post Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Meet Editor Karl Jones and Agent Dawn Frederick

2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists

Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg. See the Summer Lists Now!

It started innocently enough. When Scholastic editor Nick Eliolpos spoke at a local conference, he talked about his love of Spiderman. So, I dubbed him the Peter Parker of children’s literature. And now, it’s a tradition that speakers at our conference must be tagged with a popular super-hero or super-character.
Read about these figures in the children’s publishing world:

  • The Peter Parker of children’s publishing.
  • The young Bill Gates of children’s literature.
  • The M of children’s literature, as in 007′s boss
  • The Snow White of children’s literature.
  • Glinda, the Good Witch, of children’s literature.
  • Karl Jones, the He-Man of Children’s Literature

    Karl Jones, editor at GP Putnam/Penguin

    Conference sessions can get repetitive and stuffy, but Karl Jones, Assistant Editor at G.P. Putnam/Penguin, kept the 2013 Arkansas SCBWI conference attendees laughing and working at the same time.

    We had writing exercises with provoking questions: what character has traditionally been left out of children’s books and can you find a way to add that character to your WIP?

    We had group Pitch sessions: “From the great state of Arkansas, we have Darcy Pattison to regale us with a pitch specially crafted by her group.” It was a take-off on a Pitch session that Jones regularly holds at venues in NYC. Only there, the GPPutnam Editor in Chief gives the winner his business card! The funniest pitch was when Robin Burrows walked on-stage and accidentally tripped and lost a shoe–then pitched a modern version of Cinderella. Yeah, right, Robin! That wasn’t an accident!

    P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados

    Karl Jones has been with GP Putnam for three years and is now starting to acquire. They do everything from picture books through middle grade (no YAs), with many licensed properties that are done as work-for-hire. He’s interested in middle grade novels, in particular.

    One of the topics that came up was gender and how it is treated in novels today. He recommended P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados as a recent novel that walks a fine line on this issue. Jones said he didn’t know if the main character was male or female until the very end.

    Karl Jones

    "By the Power of Gray Skull! I have the Power (of the Pen)!"

    In that vein, he talked about He-Man, Master of the Universe and She-Ra, Princess of Power. He noted the irony that He-Man called power from his castle, “By the Power of Gray Skull?” However, She-Ra didn’t get power from her own castle, but had to refer to He-Man’s castle, “For the honor of Gray Skull.” And for that reason, we’ll dub him the He-Man of children’s literature.

    Dawn Frederick, the She-Ra of Children’s Literature

    Dawn Frederick, Agent & Owner of Red Sofa Literary

    Dawn Frederick, agent and owner of Red Sofa Literary, is a roller derby ref and a social media guru. Her list of social media book-related sites was the longest, most comprehensive I have ever seen. Are you on RiffleBooks.com, yet? Are you a Pheed.com addict? Read anything lately on BookCountry.com (a Penguin company)? Will these be the next place that people will discover new books? Maybe. Personally, I am keying in on Pinterest.

    Frederick as She-Ra

    "For the honor of Gray Skull! I have the Power (of the iPad)!"

    Frederick holds a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences from an ALA accredited institution; she has been department head for children’s books at a couple bookstores. And yet, she began her career representing adult nonfiction. In that genre, she’s got some quirky titles about zombie tarot cards, roller derby and Yiddish with Dick and Jane. But two years ago, a children’s book editor–astonished at the depth and breadth of her knowledge of kids’ books–insisted she should represent that genre, too. She has since acquired clients who write middle grade and YA novels. Frederick was approachable and enthusiastic, passionate about her clients. And the banter between Jones and Frederick made it an easy decision. If he was He-Man, then she is the She-Ra of children’s literature.

    Thanks to Phyllis Heman, Regional Advisor for the AR-SCBWI, for a great conference.

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    3. The Lions of Little Rock - a review

    Levine, Kristin. 2012. The Lions of Little Rock. New York: Putnam.

    I talk a lot.  Just not out loud where anyone can hear.  At least I used to be that way.  I'm no chatterbox now, but if you stop me on the street and ask me directions to the zoo, I'll answer you.  Probably.  If you're nice, I might even tell you a couple of different ways to get there. I guess I've learned it's not enough to just think things.  You have to say them too.  Because all the words in the world won't do much good if they're just rattling around in your head.

    The year is 1958, and 12-year-old Marlee is beginning West Side Junior High School.  An intelligent, but extremely quiet girl, Marlee is often at the mercy of her bossy and outspoken "friend," Sally.
        Judy sighed. "Why are you even friends with Sally McDaniels?"
          I shrugged.  Sally and I have been friends ever since were five and she pushed me off the slide at the park.
         "She likes to boss you around," Judy said.
         That was true.  But she was also familiar.  I like familiar.

    So, when she is befriended by Liz, the affable newcomer to school, Marlee is most pleasantly surprised.  Marlee, who has a penchant for categorizing people as beverages, finally questions Liz as to why she is helping Marlee to overcome her debilitating shyness,

         For the first time, Liz was silent.  Behind her, the giraffes chewed their cud. "I thought it might be hard always being quiet," Liz said finally.  "I thought you needed a friend."
         She was right.  I did.
         "I needed a friend too," said Liz.
         And suddenly I knew what Liz was -- a cup of warm milk with a dash of cinnamon.
    The two become inseparable.  But one day, after a chance encounter with Sally and her mother near the Baptist church in the "colored part of town," Liz stops coming to school.  Word leaks out that she's been "passing," pretending to be white, in order to attend a better school.  Central High may have been forcibly integrated last year, but change has not come to West Side Junior High, and Hall High remains closed, forcing Marlee's older sister to attend school out of town. The status quo sits well with Marlee's mother, but her father, a teacher in the district, is disturbed.  The tension in Marlee's household mirrors that of the town's.  Liz and Marlee's friendship is a cause for concern in Marlee's part of town and Liz's; the threat of violence looms ahead.

    A stellar depiction of  "us vs. them" mentality, The Lions of Little Rock shows the awful consequences of race against race, neighbor against neighbor, even husband against wife. Betty Jean, the maid at Marlee's home and the wife of the pastor at Liz's church, creates the story's bridge between the two neighborhoods. The Lions of Little Rock offers no easy answers, no neatly wrapped happy endings.  Brave Marlee will risk anything to stand by her friend, but her brave actions do not right the wrongs of the world; rather, they place the life of her dear friend and others in grave danger.  Life is messy.  Neither life nor its people can be neatly separated into black and white.  There are always shades of gray.

    Other reviews @

     An interview with Kristin Levine is at The Fourth Musketeer.

    Note: The librarians of NJLA's Children's Services Section are discussing this book and others on their mock Newbery blog, Newbery Blueberry Mockery Pie. Please feel free to join them with your comments.

    2 Comments on The Lions of Little Rock - a review, last added: 9/5/2012
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    4. 2010 Arkansas Literary Festival

    How to Write a Picture Book. Ebook, immediate download. $10.

    Festival Celebrates Literacy

    The Arkansas Literary Festival will take place next weekend, April 8-11, 2010 in Little Rock, AR. If you’re anywhere close, please come!

    LItFestivalBooks, theater, music, comics, books, games, chess, puppets, origami, Shakespeare, books, authors in the schools, authors in the library, authors just strolling around, books, authors everywhere, panels and workships, art and illustration — and did I mention, books? And authors?

    This year, I’ve served as the Co-Chair of the Children’s Programs for the Literary Festival and it’s been great fun planning the event. We tried to find a mix of activities relating to literacy and tried to schedule it so that families can take advantage of the range of activities.

    Read the full program and schedule at www.arkansasliteraryfestival.org.

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    5. AR Teen Book Award, Gr.10-12, Opening Lines

    I hail from Arkansas and until now, we’ve been known for the Clinton Presidential Library, the US’s only diamond mine (Crater of Diamonds State Park), and the headquarters of Wal-Mart. But this year we’ll be known for the Arkansas Teen Book Award, established by Arkansas Librarians. (Facebook page.) The reading list was announced in December, 2009 and this year’s winners will be announced in December, 2010.

    Two days ago, we looked at opening lines from 100 top novels and categorized them to learn how to open a novel. Yesterday, we looked at the opening lines from the teen novels on the 7-9th grade, 2010 Arkansas Teen Book Award reading list and challenged you to identify the novels. Today’s opening lines are from the 10-12th grade reading list for the Arkansas Teen Book Award.

    Identify These Teen Novels from Their Opening Lines, #2

    OK, TRY to identify these without any help. They are all 2008 copyright books. Need help? See the tip below.
    ARTeen (Actually, many of these are graphic novels and there’s at least one non-fiction on the list.)

    6. AR Teen Book Award, Gr.7-9, Opening Lines

    I hail from Arkansas and until now, we’ve been known for the Clinton Presidential Library, the US’s only diamond mine (Crater of Diamonds State Park), and the headquarters of Wal-Mart. But this year we’ll be known for the Arkansas Teen Book Award, established by Arkansas Librarians. (Facebook page.) The reading list was announced in December, 2009 and this year’s winners will be announced in December, 2010.

    Yesterday, we looked at opening lines from 100 top novels and categorized them to learn how to open a novel. Here, I’m taking the opening lines from the teen novels on the 2010 Arkansas Teen Book Award reading list and challenging you to identify the novel.

    Identify These Teen Novels from Their Opening Lines, #1

    OK, TRY to identify these without any help. They are all 2008 copyright books. Need help? See the tip below.

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    7. More on Skype an Author

    Connect with Authors Through Skype

    One site that quickly gained popularity this year is the Skype an Author, a Wetpaint site, billed at the key to Virtual Author Visits in Your Library or Classroom. Set up by Sarah Chauncey of the Grandview Elementary School Library in Rockland County, NY schools and author Mona Kirby, it is getting attention from many sources, including the School Library Journal.

    The site allows authors to set up pages describing their books and how they might do a Skype visit. Skype is the online audio/video free phone service; a Skype visits allows an author to see students and students to see the author.
    Authors are asked to do one of two types of Skype visits:

    • No Charge – Meet the Author Visit – 10 to 15 minutes
    • In-Depth Visit – 30-60 Minutes – Charge to be determined by author

    Why Should you Want to Skype?

    (See what Balkin says first. . . )

    Set Up Your Page

    I recently updated the Darcy Pattison page on the Skype an Author site.

    Here are some tips:

  • Look around the site and see what type of information others provide. You want yours to fit in and yet, be distinctive.
  • Think about how you can make the site look similar to your own site, keep your “branding.” Do you use distinctive colors? Special logos? Wetpaint is very easy to customize.
  • Read through the site’s directions on adding your page.
  • It’s wise to have your page planned before you sign up, so there’s no time when you have a blank page. So, gather all the photos you want to use, write the copy and be ready to cut and paste it into place. As you write, think hard about what a librarian would want to know about your books and yourself that would entice them to contact you.
  • Once you’ve updated it, publicize it! Share it with the publicist at your publisher, share it with your editors, post it on your site, etc. Check out Wetpaint’s Droplets as a great way to add an promo to any website, blog or social site.
  • Ongoing tasks: As you have more books published, be sure to update this after you update your own site. Keep the contact information up to date.
  • Set up your Webcam

    One final thing you’ll want to do before going live with the Skype an Author site is to test out your Skype/Webcam set up. I discovered, for example, that the lighting in my office is great for doing work on the computer, but awful for doubling as a video studio. Here is one videos to get you started on simple lighting. Look for other tutorials.

    How to Apply Simple 3-Point Lighting to Amateur Film Making

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    8. Arkansas

    I had a terrific school visit in Arkansas!

    My fabulous hostess (right) and her son:

    Group 1:

    Group 2:

    Group 3:

    A great poster made for me by my hostess's son:

    A scarf made for me by this student (Isn't it beautiful!?):

    And guess what? I am now an official Ambassador of Arkansas! I was presented with a certificate signed by the governor. I will now spread the wor

    1 Comments on Arkansas, last added: 12/11/2009
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    9. Readers Theater Part 2

    More pics from readers theater group, Voices from Down Yonder, in Arkansas.

    Kimberly Willis Holt (left) and Alexandria LaFaye, rehearsing:

    Kerry Madden punching holes in her script. (See what hard work this is?)

    (l to r) Kathi, Kimberly, Kerry and Alexandria. (Some of us aren't paying attention to Cynthia!)

    PowerPoint slide of all of the books performed:

    The night of the performance: (l to r) Kathi, me, Kimberly, Alexandria, Kerry (we chose a lovely backdrop for our photo, didn't we?)

    (l to r) Kathi, Kimberly, Cynthia, Alexandria, Kerry:

    Phew! We did it! After the performance with Cynthia:

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    10. Meet Editors & Agents

    The Arkansas SCBWI Conference is this weekend in Conway, AR.

    Featured speakers are Anastasia Suen, Greenwillow editor Martha Mahilick, and agent Jennifer (Jaeger) Rofe, from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

    Earlier, I linked to the websites and blogs of the speakers.

    Full registration information is available on the Arkansas SCBWI website.

    If you’re anywhere close, come join us!

    Post from: Revision Notes Revise Your Novel! Copyright 2009. Darcy Pattison. All Rights Reserved.

    Related posts:

    1. Voice Retreat
    2. Meet Literary Agent Michelle Andelman
    3. Meet Me

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    Although I grew up in a small city outside of Los Angeles, my entire childhood was filled with everything country and mostly Southern in nature. You see, both of my parents were born in the Ozarks and raised during the Great Depression. They, like so many other young couples of that era, came to California looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow, or at least, a fair paying job. They settled in a post war cookie cutter neighborhood and lived a simple life.

    All throughout my young years, I loathed everything about their simpleness. I despised that I had accidentally "inherited" their southern accents and slang words. I was ridiculed relentlessly for the twang in my spoken words. I tried with all my might to dis-own my heritage.

    Of course, as time passed and I became an adult with children of my own, I began to see their simpleness as a blessing that was graciously passed on to me. A simple blessing that I am, hopefully, passing on to my own children.

    Because of my mom's basic upbringing, she was taught to keep herself busy. Along with her daily doings she made time to can homemade jams and jellies, tend a lovely garden, sew many of my clothes (and my Barbie's clothes) and quilt.

    Quilting, I suppose, was her way of relaxing. But...at the same time, she was creating something with a practical use. Of course, when she was a girl, quilting was necessary, as there was no extra money to purchase store bought bedding. By the time I was born, my mom could easily have gone to the local J.C. Penney's and purchased bedding, but she chose instead to invest her time and heart and talent into her craft.

    My mom hand-quilted using her mom's old wooden hoops. They looked very much like gigantic embroidery hoops. I remember so clearly the sound of the stitches, and the click of the needle on her metal thimble. Ohhh...and every once in a while, she would let out a quiet naughty word. We all knew what that meant...it meant that mom pricked herself with the needle! I loved seeing the little blood stains on a freshly made quilt. It somehow stood for the heart that she put into it.

    I have most of the quilts here in my home. Some are so very tattered that I keep them stored away and some are still in use. These fabrics that are sewn together make a beautiful yet practical hodge podge of memories. I can still pick out blocks of fabric that came from my "Holly Hobbie" short outfit that I wore in first grade, a floral print from one of my mom's dresses and the plaid fabric my mom used to make my Barbie's coat.

    My mom is 81 now. She lived with my family and me up until last October. As she is declining with an end stage disease, I was forced to arrange for her to stay at a Board and Care. She is weak and ever so trembly now. Truth be said, she'll never quilt again. She started one several years ago, but was not able to finish it.

    Her stitches were not the perfectly timed rows that they were in her younger days, but the heart behind the stitches remained...

    I have that unfinished quilt now. It is exactly as she left it the last time she put it down...

    The needle is in the same position...

    It is still in Grandma's hoops...

    I am committed to finishing this quilt. I don't know when, but someday...

    Until Next Time:
    Garden Painter Art

    6 Comments on HODGE PODGE OF MEMORIES, last added: 4/6/2009
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    12. lara

    my friend's dog lara. she's very quiet and can be drawn with not much difficulty. my dog doesn't stop moving for two second together...

    Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte

    6 Comments on lara, last added: 3/13/2008
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    13. plant on lu's table

    plant on lu's table Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte
    a plant at my friend's house table. she was waiting to be painted, hopefully better but i couldn't do better....

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    14. view from the window 2

    view from the window 2 Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte
    another view from the studio where i work

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    15. view from the window 1

    view from the window 1 Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte
    a view from the studio where i work

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    16. still life

    still life Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte
    a simple still life that i fixed in the class. i liked the way it looked so i decided to make this super-quick sketch.

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    17. (old flickr image) last set

    with a hat on

    oil study based on an Eddi Reader photo - (C) Blanco y Negro

    life drawing

    life drawing

    hand & cigarette life drawing

    still life - pear + apple

    these are the last set of old flickr images

     i'm trying to save from the shadows...

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    18. (old flickr image) brushes

    Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte

    0 Comments on (old flickr image) brushes as of 1/1/1900
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    19. (old flickr image) pensamientos

    Originally uploaded by dibujandoarte

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    20. old images from flickr

    lagartijas calas 2 calas
    beata ludovica albertoni napkin life drawing
    untitled untitled these are old images posted in flickr. i want to see if being blogged they won't dissapear from view as happened to many others after I reached the 200 images...

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