Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tears. Not For Joy. For The Teachers. For The Children.

A friend of mine teaches in a district that is desperately trying to improve their schools. But they are going about it all wrong, They finally let the kids GO OUT TO RECESS, but they call it a "vitamin D break". What the hell?! These are elementary children. But even more heartbreaking than that? They don't allow the teachers to read aloud picture books. This weighs on my heart heavily.  How can a district go SO wrong? And it's because of scores...scores so low that they think this is the answer. I'm distraught. What can I do, how can I help? I don't know, and it makes me cry. Cry for the children, cry for the teachers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lifelong Readers...It Doesn't Matter HOW You Get Them Hooked!

Here is a post at Nerdy Book Club about how Rebecca O'Dell became a reader. I hope I am being pc here by just copying and pasting it to my blog. It really is a great story about how readers are born!


For six consecutive Sundays, we broke the rules, operating in the strictest of secrecy.
When the 9 o’clock bedtime hour struck, my brother and I went upstairs to our respective bedrooms per usual. I ran to my room, quickly turned off the light, and huddled by the door, listening for my brother’s door to shut, straining my eyes to see his light go off. I waited for my mom to come get me and silently signal the all clear.
After all,  Pride and Prejudice isn’t for younger brothers.
I padded down the hall to my parents’ bedroom — dark except for the blue glow of the television.  My dad scooted toward the edge, making room for me in the center, smushed between parents and pillows in the queen-sized bed. The screen lit up in a soft rose hue, lilting theme music commenced, and I was utterly transfixed.
This was a world I had never encountered before — ladies playing harpsichord in pretty dresses, afternoon tea, smart and witty heroines, well-spoken men. And even a 7th grader can fall in love with Colin Firth. It was everything I had ever wanted in a story, and my parents gave it to me as a gift.
Those January Sunday nights were my literary coming-of-age.
After the mini-series concluded, I voraciously read everything Jane Austen had to offer. Then, the Brontes. Then Alcott. Then – everything. Every grown-up book I could get my hands on. While I had always been a very strong reader, I was now a reader on fire — gobbling books in giant bites as quickly as possible. ThePride & Prejudice mini-series had flipped some kind of switch in me — moving me from proficient to passionate.
My parents knew me. Really, deeply knew me both as a person and as a reader.  So they connected their knowledge of their daughter with literature.  They somehow knew that 12-year-old Rebekah would adore Jane Austen, so they broke the rules and let me stay up far past bedtime. They knew Austen’s writing was just a little bit beyond what I was ready for — so they broke the rules again and scaffolded with the movie before the book and then chatted with me about the differences between the film and the book while I later read. And they knew I could keep a secret from my brother for nearly 20 years.
My parents did the same job I try to do in my classroom every day — connecting the right kid with the right book to create passionate, lifelong readers. Even if it means breaking the rules. Sometimes it means recommending the book after the movie has been viewed. Sometimes it means making room for fan fiction during independent reading.  Sometimes it means encouraging a book well below grade level. Sometimes it means allowing a student to read all fifteen books in a series that you know isn’t well-written.
Breaking our long-held rules can explode the reading possibilities for all of our students.  Our strongest readers find new, diverse areas of reading interest. Our reluctant readers find entry points, open windows into a world of words. All of our readers develop richer reading lives.  By breaking the rules, our young readers, too, can be transfixed by books.

Rebekah O’Dell teaches high school English in Richmond, Virginia. She blogs at movingwriters.org. You can connect with her on Twitter @Rebekahodell1.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Discovered a GREAT New Teacher and Blogger!

I found her at Nerdy Book Club, no surprise there, right? Her name is Kimberley Moran and she's a book loving second grade teacher. Let me tell you, we need more teachers like her in this world! Here is her post on Nerdy today, her blog, her Twitter handle is @kagmoran. She's also here under Favorite Websites! After you read the first part of her post on Nerdy today, I hope you'll understand why I said to my book loving husband, "These are the things that make me cry". ENJOY!


As he sounds out the word painfully slowly, he looks desperately to the illustration for assistance. He looks at me. I look back blankly. He says each sound separately, but blends it incorrectly. He shakes his head. He looks at me. I look back with my gentle smile.  He glances over at the boys reading through the books in their book boxes effortlessly, happily even. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Library Bag Fave: A RIVER OF WORDS by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

It was Melissa Sweet's illustrations that I recognized first on the cover of A River of Words. She wrote and illustrated the award winning BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY, the story of Tony Sarg: a puppeteer who made the Macy's Day Thanksgiving parade what it is today. My students and I adored this book. Her unique collage illustrations incorporate photos, drawings, and whatever she feels she needs.

Then I opened the cover of A River of Words and saw this:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

I knew it from Sharon Creech's LOVE THAT DOG, a book written in verse, and that the poem was by a famous poet. But that was the extent of my knowledge. His name is William Carlos Williams, the subject of A RIVER OF WORDS by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. It won a Caldecott Honor book award in 2009.

William Carlos Williams was born in 1883. We learn that as a child, William loved to be outdoors and write. A high school teacher, Mr. Abbott, read poetry to his English class. He loved it so that he started his own poems at night. At first he tried to imitate the great poets of his time. But after a while he became frustrated that he couldn't put into words the pictures he had in his mind. The style of the famous poets was too stiff for William. He tried a new way of writing, and his free form way became his style. To make something of himself, he became a doctor. He worked hard as a doctor, specializing in pediatrics and obstetrics, but always made time to write. We learn that, "on his prescription pads, he scribbled a few lines whenever and wherever he could." His poetry was published, but he had critics who said he was too simple, his style "Modernism" was not "literary" enough. His poems are about everyday things, simple joys...rivers, grass, the taste of blueberries, the common people. Luckily, he also had colleagues that praised his work, but Williams didn't win acclaim until he was in his 60's. Williams died in March of 1963, and in May, was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems.

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up again with THE RIGHT WORD: Roget and His Thesaurus. If you click the link, it will lead you to Donalyn Miller's review of it over at Nerdy Book Club.

Enjoy, and remember...KEEP READING!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Three Favorite Book Blogs

During my stint as an elementary librarian, I searched blogs to find new, and old, children's books. There are many good blogs, these three I'm mentioning today are GREAT blogs.

The Nerdy Book Club  has many members, a lot of them are teachers. But all are book lovers. Each day has a different post about books. Today, they have 10 picture books about children and activism. Go here to read it. Be sure to peruse the rest of the articles.

John Shumacher is an elementary librarian extraordinaire. He has been on the cover of School Library Journal magazine as a mover and shaker in the world of school librarians. He was also on the Newbery committee this past year. I'm pretty sure he never sleeps. His blog is called Watch. Connect. Read. The sub headline is, "Exploring Children's Literature through Book Trailers".  He and his friend Donna, another wonderful school librarian, go on a driving trip each summer to celebrate literature. They take a giant sized box of books to leave around the United States. This year's trip included leaving a book in a Little Free Library in Loveland, Colorado, one of their many stops. Thank goodness for librarians like John and Donna! Click here to see their trip!

The third blog is Anita Silvey's Book-A-Day-Almanac. A former editor of The Horn Book review journal and a publisher of children's books at Houghton Mifflin, she gives us a children's book each day that she considers to be the cream of the crop. Three hundred and sixty five days of books that you should not miss!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Maggie Stiefvater in the HOUSE! Highlands Ranch Tattered, That Is! =)

Maggie Stiefvater's books are special, not only because she is a great writer with such imaginative stories, but George and I have an equal love for her books. It all started with the Shiver trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. After that, we just started gobbling up all of her books as fast as we could.

Maggie has a way with words that is jaw dropping...her stories are always interesting and unpredictable. She takes us on a ride that is filled with emotions. We feel what her characters go through and we want to know what happens to them. No matter the outcome...we have to know!

Violent water horses that come out of the sea...and Sean trains one every year for the Scorpio Races. Kate "Puck" is a new rider this year. Their lives will collide. "Some riders live. Others die."

Grace is rescued by one of the wolves in the pack that dragged her from a swing one winter when she was six. He has yellow eyes. At sixteen she goes into a book store and the young man behind the counter has those same yellow eyes. It makes her Shiver.

Blue has been told by her clairvoyant mother that the first boy she kisses will die. She doesn't think much of it until she meets Gansey, a student from the snooty prep school, while she's serving pizza to him and his friends, The Raven Boys. Will she get entangled in their quest? Oh boy, howdy, does she!

Deirdre and her friend James are both sixteen year old gifted musicians who are approached by faeries...and they learn faeries can be extremely dangerous. Will they Lament their decision to be involved?

Clicking on the link to each book, not only will you find info, you can get a free teaser to read!

Can't wait to see and hear Maggie tonight at the Tattered Book Store in Highlands Ranch at 7! Another perk of being retired: going to an author signing on a week night! I know...I was a teacher and always have had summers off...but it's still exciting! Especially when I think about the author signings that take place during a school year. Eeeeeep!

As always, I'm hoping this will entice you to check out her books and let me know what you think!

Keep Reading!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Library Bag Faves

Books I've adored lately: 
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 
Any book illustrated by the amazing David Biedrzycki
The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Flora and Ulysses, 2014 Newbery Winner, by Kate DiCamillo
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick
Knock, Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty and Bryan Collier