Thursday, May 29, 2008

Calling All Daniel Pinkwater Fans

Did you know that Daniel Pinkwater's The Neddiad : How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Waved Civilization was published online before it was published in a traditional book format? Yep, it's true and he's at it again! Pinkwater is publishing his new book, The Yggyssey, online posting one chapter each Monday!

The book description:

The Yggyssey is set a few years after the events recounted in The Neddiad. Yggdrasil Birnbaum, progeny of the illustrious Captain Buffalo Birnbaum and denizen of the venerable Hermione Hotel, is our guide through this epic tale of Hollywood hijinks. The Yggyssey will be published in 2009, but you can read it right here, free of charge! Starting April 28th, a new chapter of THE YGGYSSEY will be posted each week until the end of the book is reached. Stay tuned for extras and special features, and don't miss a week!

Here is the author's introduction:

Dear Readers --

We had a lot of fun putting The Neddiad online in serial form prior to publication. Some people told us they had bought the physical book, but refrained from reading ahead because they enjoyed the weekly installments, and the little extras from the remarkable mind of Webmaster Ed. So...we are doing it again! This time the book is The Yggyssey, a sort of sequel-like, or anyway related, book. If you read The Neddiad, you will encounter characters you have met before. If you have not read The Neddiad, (what is wrong with you?), you should be able to follow what plot there is in the present offering. I want to thank the forward-thinking publisher, Houghton
Mifflin for cooperating once again. Welcome, everyone, to another experiment in
weblishing and communal reading!

Daniel Pinkwater
April 2008


The first six chapters have already been posted and you can hear Pinkwater read the first chapter. There is also a reader's forum in which you can post comments about the book. You can also sign up for weekly reminders when a new chapter has been posted.

Pinkwater's website also has Pinkwater Podcasts and free audio downloads of Pinkwater reading several of his books in their entirety (Blue Moose, Ducks!, I Was A Second Grade Werewolf, Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, The Wuggie Norple Story and Wempires).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

If You Don't Do Anything Else Today...

Award-winning playwright Margaret Edson

...you MUST watch this video of Mararet Edson's commencement speech at Smith College. Margaret Edson, an award-winning playwright and a Smith College alumna who teaches kindergarten in the Atlanta public school system, was the speaker at the college’s 130th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 18.

Edson's speech is funny, inspiring, and brilliant! (Thanks to A Year of Reading and The Miss Rumphius Effect for the link).

P.S. I can name all of my teachers through sixth grade, too, can you?

Resource Alert: Knowledge Quest

Knowledge Quest is devoted to offering substantive information to assist building-level library media specialists, supervisors, library educators, and other decision makers concerned with the development of school library media programs and services. Articles address the integration of theory and practice in school librarianship and new developments in education, learning theory, and relevant disciplines.

KQWeb, the on-line component of Knowledge Quest, is dedicated to enhancing the print publication with expanded articles and original content. This month's edition is on visual literacy and the oline component is filled with excellent articles. Here are just a few:

Learning to Look and Looking to Learn: Visual Thinking Strategies at the Eric Carle Museum

Visual Information Literacy: Reading a Documentary Photograph

On Writing (and Reading) the Graphic Novel (CBC meet the author/illustrator)

Focus on Visual Literacy (PBS Teaching and Learning Resources)

Reinventing the Book Club: Graphic Novels as Educational Heavyweights

Using Documentary Photography Books with Reluctant Readers in the High School Library

Teaching Visual Literacy: Graphic Novels and Critical Theory

There are many more so visit the Knowledge Quest webpage for many more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Everything Audiobooks

I LOVE audiobooks! I live about an hour away from the university, so I'm on the road a lot, but I really don't mind because I'm always listening to an audiobook and the time flies by. I also think it gives me the feeling of multitasking -- I'm not only driving to work, but "reading" children's books, which better prepares me for teaching children's literature (who's deluding who--I listen to them for ME!)

Today, I want to share with you some exciting things happening around audiobooks. Recently, I posted about Get Caught Reading Month sponsored by the Association of American Publishers. A new component of the campaign is Get Caught Listening:

Recent studies have shown that one in every five American households listen to audiobooks. Get Caught Listening is a nationwide public service campaign intended to promote the joys of audiobook listening. The campaign will be produced by the Association of American Publishers and is expected to launch in June 2008. A brand extension of the nationwide public service Get Caught Reading campaign, Get Caught Listening communicates the pleasures of audiobook listening in all audio formats, and promotes the value of the medium as a beneficial learning tool supporting literacy and education.

Right now, the Get Caught Reading website offers teachers ways to use audiobooks in the classroom, as well as audio clips and posters of some of your favorite authors (Valerie Bertinelli, Jacki Collins, Frant McCourt, etc.) promoting the use of audiobooks.

The Recorded Books Blog is offering a series of free, standards based lesson plans and audio downloads of the 1989 Newbery Medal winner Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman. The lesson plans were created by Hillary Wolfe, a librarian at Northview High School in Covina, California, and are based in ideas from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The blog also has video clips of Hillary discussion the lesson plans. This is for a limited time only, so hop on over now.

Recorded Books is also hosting two contests in which teachers can receive free audiobooks.

CONTEST 1: When teachers and librarians collaborate, good things happen! We want to hear your best idea for teacher/librarian collaboration using audiobooks. We know that when teachers and librarians work together, they are a powerful and inspiring team for students. Do you work together to explore a certain book or certain theme? Does the library help expand on ideas learned in the classroom? Perhaps a history teacher will collaborate with the librarian on a project about slavery instead of aparticular book, or a drama teacher might go after acting skills. Let us know how you work together, and you could win a free custom Recorded Books collection consisting of 10 Recorded Books on CD or cassette plus matching print books, plus 2 Recorded Books on Playaway with matching print books.

CONTEST 2: Guest host a Recorded Books teaching blog!Do you have a good lesson that incorporates audio? Share it with other educators! We’ll give you the audio and print book needed for your lesson. Send us your lesson plan for introducing an author or theme, or just getting students interested in reading. We’ll post your lesson plans and material for other educators to use on our blog—we’ll even include the downloadable audiobook!

If you are looking for the best in audiobooks, check out the Odyssey Awards, an award for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the United States given by The American Library Association.

This was the first year for the award, and the 2008 winner is Jazz, produced by Live Oak Media. Original music enhances each poem performed by James “D-Train” Williams and Vaneese Thomas in Walter Dean Myers’ rhythmic tribute to jazz.

Honors include:

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy, produced by Listen & Live Audio. Katherine Kellgren’s vocal athleticism takes listeners from the filthy streets of eighteenth century London to the high seas in Meyer’s fast-paced novel about a girl who stows away as a cabin boy.

Dooby Dooby Moo, produced by Scholastic/Weston Woods. Music and barnyard chatter enhance Randy Travis’ performance of Cronin’s comic tale of talented farm animals gone wild.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, produced by Listening Library. Jim Dale masters and maintains voices for all genders, ages, species, and emotions created by author J.K. Rowling in this final Harry Potter adventure.

Skulduggery Pleasant, produced by HarperChildren's Audio. Rupert Degas fleshes out a cast of characters including a “tweenage” girl, nefarious villains, and a skeleton detective. Music and sound effects mirror the mood of this bone-rattling mystery.

Treasure Island, produced by Listening Library. Stevenson’s pirate classic elegantly unfolds as Alfred Molina’s panoply of accents and the soundscape of the sea place listeners aboard the Hispaniola.

Finally, I wrote an article: Audiobooks: Ear-resistible! a couple of years ago that provides online resources for audiobook reviews and free online downloads, if you're interested.

Asian Pacific American Month - Resources

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to celebrate, the Reading Rockets website has a new interview with author Janet Wong. From the website:

Janet Wong's career switch was so dramatic that she was featured on a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show. When Wong left her job as Director of Labor Relations at Universal Studios in Hollywood, he dreamed of becoming a children's book author. Over the next two years, she took writing class, submitted manuscripts, and piled up more than two dozen rejection etters. Through a combination of practice, persistence, and talent, Janet Wong quickly became a successful writer of poetry and picture books for young people. In 2003, Wong was invited to speak at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

I included a poem from Janet Wong's Good Luck Gold and Oher Poems titled: Speak Up in chapter 9 on poetry in The Joy of Children's Literature. If you are not familiar with the poetry or picturebooks by Janet Wong, you are in for a real treat!

Reading Rockets also offers an annotated list of books for kids for Asian Pacific American Heritage month that is divided into age ranges and more resources and information.

The Asian Pacific Americans Librarians Association annually awards the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. On May 11th, the 2008 awards were announced:

Winner for Illustration in Children Literature

Surfer of the Century. Illustrated by Richard Waldrep, written by Ellie Crowe, New York: Lee and Low, 2007

This book tells the story of "the Father of Modern Surfing," Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, from his childhood on Waikiki Beach, to his participation in five Olympics, through his lifelong promotion and development of surfing, and to his becoming the official State of Hawai'i Ambassador of Aloha. Each page of text describing his life has an opposite full-page painting-style illustration that shows the progression of his successes in spite of discrimination and his achievements through his creed of Aloha. The final two pages in the book are a timeline of Duke Kahanamoku's life and legacy and a world map showing the major cities of his lifetime accomplishments. The author includes a bibliography of her sources on the back of the title page.

Honorable Mention

Barasch, Lynne. Hiromi's Hands. New York: Lee and Low, 2007.

This first-person narrative tells the story of Hiromi's breaking away from the Japanese tradition in the male dominated sushi culinary and becoming an itamae san, professional sushi chef. The author vividly depicts two generations, beginning with her father's long and grueling training as an apprentice before emerging as a successful sushi chef in a Tokyo restaurant. Hiromi is very enthusiastic in learning about fish as she goes to the fish market with her father in New York. At thirteen, she wants to know how to make sushi. Her father, a man receptive to American ideas, says, "And this is America. Girls can do things here that they cannot do in Japan." So begins the sushi career for Hiromi. The story spans two cultures, Japanese and American. The quiet style of narration complemented by the soft ink and watercolor drawings of two fish markets in Tokyo and Manhattan, the New York subway, and an array of sushi convey authenticity.

Winner for Young Adult Literature

Hiroshima Dreams by Kelly Easton, New York: Dutton, 2007

Hiroshima Dreams portrays the family dynamics of three generations living under one roof: a grandmother adjusting to life in America, a mother who has let go of her roots, and two sisters, one quiet and shy, the other defiant. The struggles and joys of growing up in an interracial family and coping with loss are important issues in the book. The focus of the story is the relationship between the grandmother, Obaachan, and granddaughter, Lin. Both are resistant to change-Lin to her grandmother's presence at home and her grandmother with her longing for Japan-but they soon find themselves inseparable and share the gift of seeing the future. Obaachan's guidance allows Lin to apply Japanese beliefs and meditation to help her overcome her fears. Through touches of mysticism, careful observation, and reflection, Lin learns to accept and understand the changes and consequences of one's actions. The wisdom of Obaachan is explained with meaningful, descriptive examples that create a sense of calmness and security for Lin.

Honorable Mention

Sheth, Kashmira. Keeping Corner. New York: Hyperion, 2007

Keeping Corner provides an enriching and eye-opening view of the cultural and social dynamics within a family and community in India during the early 20th century. As a daughter in a high-ranking Brahman family, Leela is overindulged and carefree of worries. Married at the age of nine, Leela, now twelve, prepares for her move to her husband's home. Her world is turned upside down when her husband dies, and instead of donning a silk wedding sari, she is given a chidri, a coarse widow's sari. She is confined to her house for a year, thus "keeping corner." Tradition holds her to having a shaved head, no hope of remarrying, and being viewed and shunned as a burden. Leela's growth and her frustrations of being a child-widow is portrayed in a heartfelt and realistic way. She is able to overcome her confinement by continuing her studies, reading, and journaling. The social reform ideologies of Ghandi and Narmad take hold in her heart, and with the help and permission of her family, she is determined to become a voice in society. The imagery and sensory perceptions are told so vividly that it creates in the reader a sense of familiarity and longing to be a part of that time period. Sheth's usage of Indian words flows well, and she provides good, short explanations and a glossary. This is definitely a fascinating read.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Resource Alert: NCTE Inbox


The National Council of Teachers of English offer a weekly update of "news, views, and ideas you can use" which I have found useful over the past several years. I find especially useful the "ideas you can use" section which is themed and provides links to articles, book chapters, and lesson plans published by NCTE for elementary through college.

For example, the theme for this week's inbox is strategies for spelling instruction. There is a lesson plan and an article on the National Spelling Bee, but of particular interest to me is the first chapter from Lester Laminack and Katie Wood Ray's book Spelling in Use titled, Spelling--What's All the Fuss? on how spelling fits into the broader topic of learning to write. Other articles on teaching spelling in middle school, high school, and college are provided.

Click here to read all of the past issues of inbox and here to subscribe to the weekly update.

One note, you only have 21 days to print or download articles and book chapters so if you want access to the past few inbox "freebies" then you must hurry!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2008 Teacher's Choices Booklist


Teachers’ Choices began in 1989 as an annual project of the International Reading Association. Each year, teachers, reading specialists, and librarians from different regions of the United States select 30 great books for
readers ages 5 to 14 from new publications donated by North American publishers. At least 6 teachers or librarians in each region read each book, and some books are read by as many as 200 people in a single region.

A few years ago, I was the southeast regional coordinator for Teacher's Choices, so I know first hand how much time and dedication goes in to the selection process, especially the teachers reading and reviewing the books.

This year's winners are (a downloadable bookmark is available here):

Primary Winners

Ain’t Nobody a Stranger to Me by Ann Grifalconi. Jerry Pinkney, Ill.

D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet by Nancy I. Sanders. E.B. Lewis, Ill.

Guess What Is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Kadir Nelson, Ill.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara. G. Brian Karas, Ill.

Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble. Doris Ettlinger, Ill.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme by Marianne Berkes. Jeanette Canyon, Ill.

The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell. Connie McLennan, Ill.

A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston. Sylvia Long, Ill.

Intermediate Winners

A Friendship for Today by Patricia C. McKissack.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

The Mutiny on the Bounty by Patrick O’Brien.

Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop.

One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II by Lita Judge

A Song for Harlem by Patricia C. McKissack

Sweet Land of Liberty by Deborah Hopkinson. Leonard Jenkins, Ill.

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman. Pamela Zagarenski, Ill.

The Titanic: An Interactive History Adventure by Bob Temple

When Is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott

Advanced Winners

The Brothers’ War: Civil War Voices in Verse by J. Patrick Lewis

Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate.

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter by Lynn Cullen

Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal by Robert Burleigh

On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals by Nikki Giovanni.

Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Sequoyah: Inventor of Written Cherokee by Roberta Basel

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's Circus Day!

The Ringling Brothers Circus opened on this day in 1884 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In 1907, The Ringling Brothers merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus to become the Greatest Show on Earth! The show prospered greatly in the roaring twenties, but the Great Depression of the thirties brought a slow decline, along with changing public tastes in entertainment influenced by television and the movies. The circus gave its last performance under the big top in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1956. In 1967, Israel Feld bought the company and split the show into two touring units, a "Red Tour" and a "Blue Tour" which tour the country independently. This year, the Blue show began a two-year tour advertised as the "All-New" 138th Edition titled "Over the Top" featuring a "tug-of-war" between ringmaster Chuck Wagner and clown Tom Dougherty---traveling aboard a 61-car train stretching over 5,400 feet long.

The circus may not be what it used to be, but it is still loved by kids and no where is that more evident than in children's literature. Many of our most beloved characters/authors have been to or written about the circus. Here are a few to celebrate the day:

Books for younger readers

Curious George Goes to the Circus by Margret and H. A. Rey

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss

Harold's Circus: An Astounding, Colossal Purple Crayon Event by Crockett Johnson

Peter Spier's Circus!

Circus by Lois Ehlert

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer

Emeline at the Circus by Marjorie Priceman

The Circus Lunicus by Marilyn Singer (poetry)

Books for older readers

When the Circus Came to Town by Laurence Yep, illustrated by Suling Wang

Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

When the Circus Came to Town by Polly Horvath

The Circus of Words: Acrobatic Anagrams, Parading Palindromes, Wonderful Words on a Wire, and More Lively Letter Play by Richard Lederer, illustrated by Dave Morice

Nonfiction

Circus: An Album by Linda Granfield

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr by Nicolas Debon

Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927, As Seen by F. W. Glasier, Photographer by Mark Sloan

May issue of The Edge of the Forest is up!

The Edge of the Forest is an online monthly journal devoted to children's literature.


In this month's issue:

An interview with Brandon Mull, author of the popular Fablehaven series

An interview with Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of Curse Dark as Gold

An interview with Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

The Backward Glance column is by Candice Ransom who looks back at Magic Elizabeth written in 1966.

Picturebook, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels are also reviewed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Get Ready for the Summer Blog Blast Tour!

Get ready for the Summer Blog Blast Tour to rock your literary world!

Well, if it's going to rock your world, at least you should know what it is! The Summer Blog Blast Tour was started last year by Chasing Ray. Her reasoning for starting the blog tour is one close to the hearts of anyone interested in turning kids on to reading:

This generation, the young generation, must be readers if you want them to care about any sort of literary conversation as adults. We get them reading now by showing them books that are perfect for them - books that speak to them - books that will matter forever to them. If they are book lovers at the age of 12 then really, they are book lovers forever. This is the first big way I could think of to try and accomplish that goal; by shedding light on a big group of innovative and wonderful authors who have written a lot of great books.

The Summer Blog Blast Tour involves multiple blogs in the kidlitosphere conducting multiple interviews with children's and YA authors for the following week. So, starting on Monday, May 19th, the following author interviews will take place on various blogs around the kidlitosphere.

Monday, 5/19

Adam Rex at Fuse Number 8
David Almond at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast
R.L. Lafevers at Finding Wonderland
Dave Schwartz at Shaken & Stirred
Elizabeth Scott at Bookshelves of Doom
Laurie Halse Anderson at Writing & Ruminating
Susan Beth Pfeffer at Interactive Reader

Tuesday, 5/20

Ben Towle at Chasing Ray
Sean Qualls at Fuse Number 8
Susane Colasanti at Bildungsroman
Robin Brande at Hip Writer Mama
Susan Beth Pfeffer at The YA YA YAs
Debby Garfinkle at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
Jennifer Lynn Barnes at Writing & Ruminating

Wednesday, 5/21

Delia Sherman at Chasing Ray
Ingrid Law at Fuse Number 8
Polly Dunbar at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Tera Lynn Childs at Bildungsroman
Siena Cherson Siegel at Miss Erin
Barry Lyga at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, 5/22

Elisha Cooper at Chasing Ray
Dar Williams at Fuse Number 8
Jennifer Bradbury at Bildungsroman
E. Lockhart at The YA YA YAs
Mary Hooper at Miss Erin
Charles R. Smith at Writing and Ruminating

Friday, 5/23

Varian Johnson at Finding Wonderland
Jincy Willet at Shaken & Stirred
John Grandits at Writing & Ruminating
Meg Burden at Bookshelves of Doom
Gary D. Schmidt at Miss Erin
Javaka Steptoe at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast

An amazing line up, huh? What a great way to learn about authors that may be new to you or to find out more about authors you know and love. Happy touring!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Gary Paulsen!

Saturday, May 17th is Gary Paulsen's birthday! So, in his honor, today's post will highlight online resources about Gary Paulsen and his books. But first, a quick story...

One of my favorite books by Gary Paulsen is Woodsong. Paulsen is a master craftsman in creating breathtaking, heart pounding, powerful moments in his books and in Woodsong, he is at the top of his game. I had been looking forward to reading this book with my son when one day he came home from school and told me he was reading some story in language arts class about a man and a dog in the Alaskan Iditarod. My heart sank, "What's the title of the story?" I asked. "I don't know, it's really boring" he replied. If it was really boring, then, of course, it couldn't be Woodsong, but I asked him to bring home his language arts anthology the next day so I could check...and of course, it WAS Woodsong--or should I say, an excerpt from Woodsong--the middle of chapter 7 to be exact. No wonder it was "boring," there was no context, no plot development, no character development...no story. I felt robbed. So I grabbed my copy of the book and promptly read aloud the first chapter to him. He was enthralled, moved, and compelled to read the entire book that night. He loved it and became a big Paulsen fan. Aren't you glad this story had a happy ending? I certainly am!

If you are planning your summer reading list, I urge you to include as many books as possible by Gary Paulsen. His books will immerse you in a range of emotions from hilarity to sadness, but all will engage you in reflection. Some of my favorites are: Harris and Me, The Rifle, Nightjohn, Hatchet, The Winter Room, Sarney, Dogsong, and of course Woodsong.

Online Resources

Listen to Paulsen answer questions about writing Woodsong here.

Visit Gary Paulsen's website where you can find a list of many of his books, read his Iditarod journal, read about his varied and interesting life, and find teachers/readers guides and how to send correspondence.

Jim Trelease has written a wonderful essay on his website about Gary Paulsen, including an excerpt from one of his latest compilations, Shelf Life.

The Internet School Library Media Center has a comprehensive page with a biography, bibliography, lesson plans and criticism.

Kay Vandergrift's website also has a biography and bibliography along with a list of literary awards, reviews, interviews, and a list of resources for further reading.

Listen to an interview on NPR with Gary Paulsen about writing Dogsong (approx. 12 min.) and an interview on Eye on Books about How Angel Peterson Got His Name (approx. 5 min).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May is Get Caught Reading Month!

"The love of reading takes center stage this month as "Get Caught Reading," the Association of American Publishers’ popular reading promotion campaign, heads into its ninth year. The campaign, which centers on celebrities and public figures "caught reading" favorite books, has grown beyond its original framework to encompass a Spanish-language component, ¡Aja! Leyendo, and a new audio book component, Get Caught Listening, to be unveiled soon" (from the Get Caught Reading website).

Posters, activities, and reading lists are available on the Get Caught Reading website to celebrate. But, other wonderful resources are also available.

The ReadWriteThink website has lesson plans, web resources, and projects specifically for Get Caught Reading Month.

Reading Rockets has a new webcast devoted to summer reading: "Research shows children lose one to three months of learning during the summer, and that loss can be compounded every year. For millions of low income kids, that delay impacts their likelihood of attending college or even earning a high school diploma. Join Ron Fairchild, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning and Dr. Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association as they discuss how to make the most of summer learning"(from the Reading Rockets website).

School Library Journal's lastest list of book reviews are out just in time to help us choose great books to read over the summer. The lists are divided into books for grades preschool - 4, grades 5-12, graphic novels, and there is even a professional book list so teachers can Get Caught Reading over the summer, too!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ALA's 10 Most Challenged Books of 2007


In chapter 7 of JCL, I include the 2006 list of the most challenged books as reported by the American Library Association (ALA). Last week, ALA released their 2007 list of the top 10 most challenged books:

1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3. “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

4. “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7. “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

For a second consecutive year, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s award-winning "And Tango Makes Three," a children’s book about two male penguins caring for an orphaned egg, tops the list. Three books are new to the list “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes; “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman; and “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle. Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved," both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

What are your thoughts about this new list? Any surprises?

National Children's Choice Book Awards Announced


Back in March, I posted on BlogJoy about the First Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. The Children’s Choice Book Awards program was created to provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them and to help develop a reading list that will motivate children to read. There were 25 finalists in 5 categories from which children could vote.

Well, the votes are in and the winners have been announced! The Children’s Choice Book Award winners are as follows:

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
Frankie Stein written by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry (Marshall Cavendish Corporation)

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year
Big Cats by Elaine Landau (Enslow Publishers)

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
Encyclopedia Horrifica by Joshua Gee (Scholastic)

Illustrator of the Year Award
Ian Falconer, Olivia Helps with Christmas (Simon & Schuster)

Author of the Year Award
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Scholastic)

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Children's Book Week

Isn't this poster fabulous? It's the official poster of Children's Book Week created by Mary Grandpre (best known for illustrating the Harry Potter books).

Children's Book Week began with the simple idea that children's books can change lives. Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes-any place where there are children and books. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children's books and the love of reading with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other book related events. Read more about the history of Children's Book Week here.

The Children's Book Council is hosting events all week in New York City, but you can set up your own celebrations this week. Ask the children in your classroom to bring their favorite book to class and share a small excerpt. Ask them to create their own poster for Children's Book Week depicting a scene from their favorite book (why did they choose that particular scene???). Find more activities here and here. If you have more ideas, let me know and I'll post them.

A printable bookmark created by graphic novelist Gene Yang is also available here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Resource updates

Several previous posts on BlogJoy were about online resources on children's literature to which you could subscribe and receive free monthly updates. Just in case you didn't subscribe (tsk, tsk), here are descriptions and links to a few of the recent updates:

ALA Booklist Online: ReAD Alert: includes a review of Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton and a feature article on the year's best crime novels.

Notes from the Horn Book: includes annotated lists of books about brothers and sisters, summer suspense novels, and jazzy picturebooks. Also five questions for mystery writer Mary Downing Hahn.

Center for Children's Books: includes bibliographies on dystopia and under the sea.

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

53rd Annual International Reading Association Conference

I leave Friday (5/2) for the 53rd annual International Reading Association conference, being held in Atlanta this year. The theme this year is Engaging Learners in Literacy. IRA is a big conference that I enjoy attending every year.

This year I will be attending the research conference on Saturday (5/3). This year, Catherine E. Snow is the keynote speaker.

On Sunday (5/4), I am a co-organizer for Institute 14: Technology Tools to Engage ALL Learners in Literacy which will be held in the Georgia World Congress Center - B402 from 9:00 - 5:00. There will be an amazing line up of presenters (lecture and lab) on the use of technology in literacy instruction.

On Monday (5/5), I am presenting: Deepening Literature Response Through Engagement in Online Activities which will be held in the Georgia World Congress Center - C207 from 3:00 - 4:00. This session will discuss how online literature response activities can deepen student engagement and comprehension in ways not possible through traditional response activities. Examples of online activities will be presented.

On Tuesday (5/6), I will be at the Houghton Mifflin booth in the exhibit hall at 2:00. There will be plenty of refreshments and copies of The Joy of Children's Literature (what at great combination!).

On Wednesday (5/7), I am attending the awards banquet. A very good friend and excellent teacher, Sarah Lichtel, is receiving the Eleanor M. Johnson Elementary Teacher Award. I connected with Sarah when I first started teaching at William & Mary. She is very deserving of the award and I am so proud of her!

As soon as the awards banquet is over, I head for the airport for the trip home. It's a long time to be away from home and I always miss my husband and son so much while I'm gone. But, sometimes I think they're ready to get rid of me for awhile and I always learn so much while I'm gone. So, I guess that's a win-win.

If you are planning to attend IRA, I would love to meet you. Please come by and introduce yourself!