You are currently browsing the archives for October 2011.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 entries.

Making a Jack-o'-Lantern, Step-by-Step Nonfiction Monday

  • Posted on October 24, 2011 at 4:14 AM

My entry for Nonfiction Monday today hosted by is from A+ Books (Capstone Press). Making a Jack-o’-Lantern, Step-by-Step by J. Angelique Johnson fills a need for families who might not have the generational knowledge being passed down we did growing up. It is also an excellent example of K-1 sequencing skills, relative position words, and ordinal positions.

I loved the illustrations in this book. Seeing an African-American dad and son doing a project together like this is so heart-warming. It could easily be any race or family, but with this choice, it gives us a wholesome happy activity to serve as a model for my students.

I like pages 10-11 where each of the tools to be used are displayed. I had to laugh though because I still believe in just a knife, a spoon, and my hands. Sticking your hands in and get totally dirty scooping out the middle instead of using an ice cream scoop is part of the fun, isn’t it?

This title will definitely fill a need and be in high demands for Prek-2 classrooms. My only criticism is that the letters D and C are not in order on page 29. It’s an ordering activity and the answer is correct, but it took a second look to be sure I was accurate. I wonder why these were transposed.

The other titles in the series include Recycling, Step by Step; Getting a Pet, Step by Step; and the most interesting one to me – Fighting a Fire, Step by Step. I wasn’t able to see Fighting a Fire yet and I admit that my curiosity is huge! What steps would you teach a child?

What about for an adult? There are many help books for adults that give information on things that “some people” consider common sense. I’ll never forget my dad telling me once that there wasn’t a book for everything I needed to know. I’ve found books for nearly everything – even if I don’t understand them all. Some things in life are just not simple though. I can follow the directions and put together bookshelves from Home Depot and Lowes, but there is usually a moment when you have to just umph it and shove it into place. The directions never say that, but most guys seem to realize this, or its intuitive, or they had someone to show them. That’s why I’ll continue to purchase this series as it grows – I’m assuming they’ll add to it.

Top Teen Titles #3

  • Posted on October 23, 2011 at 9:35 AM

#3 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Puffin, 1999. ISBN:  9780141310886, 208 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country

Quotes from Readers:

Laurie Halse Anderson gets better with each book she writes. Speak was groundbreaking.

A very important read, especially for teen girls.

Perfectly captures a teen girl’s struggle to tell the world about her terrible secret.

Many English departments are adding this novel to their summer reading lists, and I am so happy about that! This is a wonderful book about finding one’s voice and being able to stand against wrong even when it’s not the popular thing to do.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (1999), Golden Kite Award for Fiction (1999), Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2000), BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (1999), Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000) Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000), Printz Honor (2000), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2002), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000)

Diane’s note: Young adult literature has been accused of overly focusing on “issues”. Yet, the students who relate to this book view Speak as far more than a book about an issue. Speak is like a guide for overcoming the depression that occurs 3 times more often in teens who have been sexually abused. When you consider the statistics that “1 in 6 American women will be the victims of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime” (National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.) and that 44% of these are under 18, hopefully you will realize that we share a responsibility to provide voices for these victims.

I’ve heard students talk about how Speak helped them share episodes from their life. I’ve seen very disimilar teens notice each other reading Speak and opening up – it’s as if Speak gives them an option to share. Sometimes the conversations start with discussing how teens act towards each other in high school, then there is a moment of silence until someone starts talking about a personal connection and an incident of abuse in their life.

When I visited my local public libraries and asked at the front desk if they had a copy of Speak in, some of the library clerks grew uncomfortable. Surprisingly, not every branch near me had a copy. When I mentioned to one of the librarians how important this title is to be included in a collection, she hesitantly confided that a parent had complained so when their copy wore out, they didn’t replace it. Ah! Isn’t this a form of censorship when you refuse to purchase or replace a copy ONLY because you are afraid it might be challenged? Would it surprise you to know that I am donating a copy to that branch?

If the people who ban books could only see the hurt in many teens eyes and voices as they react to Speak; if the people who want to ban Speak could see the sheer number of teens who have been abused and are seeking a way to communicate, would they still restrict access? How do they justify ignoring the pain of an abused teen? Laurie Halse Anderson addresses these challenges on her website:

I am shocked whenever anyone challenges SPEAK. This is a story about the emotional trauma suffered by a teen after a sexual assault. Throughout the entire book, she struggles with her pain, and tries to find the courage to speak up about what happened so she can get some help. Isn’t that what we want our kids to do – reach out to us?

Read how Laurie Halse Anderson discusses the impact of Speak:

Do you think that SPEAK has made a difference?  Absolutely. But it wasn’t the book. The readers of SPEAK changed our world. Many of them came away from the book with a new understanding of sexual assault and depression. They dug deep and found the courage to speak up about their own pain. They reached out and asked for help. They spoke up. The teachers and administrators who were smart and bold enough to put a contemporary piece of literature into the classroom are changing the world, too. They put the book where it could open minds and hearts.

Top Teen Titles #4

  • Posted on October 20, 2011 at 7:11 AM

#4 Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780439554930, 310 pp.

Publisher’s Description:

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, an orphan, lives with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley.

One day just before his eleventh birthday, an owl tries to deliver a mysterious letter—the first of a sequence of events that end in Harry meeting a giant man named Hagrid. Hagrid explains Harry’s history to him: When he was a baby, the Dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, attacked and killed his parents in an attempt to kill Harry; but the only mark on Harry was a mysterious lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.

Now he has been invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the headmaster is the great wizard Albus Dumbledore….

Quotes from Readers: I had to include this book, as I feel that it got so many teens to start reading for fun again (or for the first time.)

This is a no-brainer. Any teen or young adult collection needs to include the Harry Potter series.

This book began a change in literature and made reading children’s books acceptable for adults and teens. Not only acceptable, but exciting. It gave the world something to look forward.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari.

Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal in Literature Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

Diane’s note: When Betsy Bird did the Top 100 Children’s Novels poll, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was #3.  Think you can guess the next three?

Will you join me and help by contacting Senators?

  • Posted on October 19, 2011 at 5:12 PM

We have the opportunity to do something or to do nothing. This is a pivotal moment for school libraries. When you look back in time, will you remember this as another day where you just clicked through this message from Lynne Bradley and did nothing more?

Please join me in contacting your Senators. We school librarians need your help to get the message out that OUR COUNTRY’S STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOLS WITH SOLID SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS so SUPPORT SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN ESEA!

I am writing this message as we look at what, I believe, is the best opportunity for school libraries to be recognized in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s most important federal K-12 education law.  What happens in the next few days in a Senate committee will determine federal K-12 education programs for the next decade.  If school libraries are not in the legislation, if we don’t succeed this week, we face a daunting hurdle to get federal school library programs acknowledged for many years.   More and more students will not be served; a whole generation of low-income kids will go through school with inadequate or even no school library resources.  Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.
Please bear with me as I explain the political realities of what we are dealing with on this issue and how what happens this week in a Senate committee affect what will happen in the coming years.   And, I want to emphasize to all library supporters – we need  you to be nimble, tough and strategic as we ask you to take action in several ways as the possibilities for  getting a school library program at the federal level unfolds in the coming days.   We have some opportunities to succeed for school libraries and K-12 students in this next phase but we are facing some very real risks of losing.   And, I don’t like to lose; not when it’s this important.
I want to answer some of your questions about federal school library proposals and if or how we can succeed in Congress for the long haul.  Unfortunately, making legislation is really like making sausage so bear with me as I explain some of the crazy contradictions in the process.
What is happening in the U.S. Senate on school library proposals right now and what is ALA doing?
Starting today, (Wednesday, October 19) the U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) begins a process to mark-up a bill to reauthorize ESEA.   It is our understanding that by the end of this week, the HELP committee will complete its work on the bill, including many amendments.  Then the bill goes to the Senate floor for a final Senate vote.  We have no way of knowing when the bill will go to the Senate floor.
The public got access to the draft bill on October 11, 2011.  This bill was changed on Monday, October 17 in what was called “the Manager’s Amendment” and the committee had a deadline of yesterday at 10:30 a.m. for other committee member’s amendments.   Not an unusual situation while making sausage, I mean legislation.  It is expected that there will be around 150 amendments to be considered.
Leading up to this point, and since the beginning of the 112th Congress in January of this year, ALA, working closely with the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), developed and successfully had the SKILLS Act introduced by Sen. Jack Reed and Thad Cochran asking for a federal initiative dedicated to supporting and enhancing school libraries as part of federal education legislation.  This bill has only 5 cosponsors, which, unfortunately, is not enough to have this proposal “slide” through the Senate.   The language of the SKILLS Act is the culmination of several other proposals we made in previous Congresses.
What will the Senate HELP Committee do this week?
This effort has been the height of “hurry up and wait.”  For 2 years, ALA and its members have been talking to their legislators about including school libraries in federal legislation.  Senators Reed and Cochran introduced the SKILLS Act in June 2011.  There are various procedural steps expected as the final version of the ESEA bill actually goes to the committee for a mark-up; things will be happening quickly this week.  The SKILLS Act has morphed into an amendment by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Patty Murray to the larger ESEA bill as the Senate HELP Committee begins its work.  This is not an unusual occurrence as bills evolve and consolidate or morph through the legislative process.   At this point, our advocacy alerts have started referring to a school library “amendment” rather than the SKILLS Act.     We think the overall ESEA bill will pass, although we do not know if the school library provision will be supported.   But another step in sausage making…
Who are our champions?
Senator Jack Reed continues to work very hard for school libraries.  He wrote the SKILLS Act, recruited a Republican co-sponsor, Thad Cochran, and twisted arms to get the original co-sponsors (Senators Kerry, Murray, Rockefeller and Whitehouse).  He got appropriations language for school libraries in this year’s Senate Appropriations bill and has worked with Senator Whitehouse to create this amendment to ESEA. Senator Murray has agreed to co-sponsor the Senator Whitehouse’s school library amendment.
We need to say thank you.
What happens after the Senate passes ESEA?
Because of the history and difficulties in getting ESEA reauthorized in previous Congresses, the agreement between the House and the Senate is for the Senate to pass ESEA first.  Then the bill would go to the House.  The House has passed 4 smaller education bills, none of which address school libraries, and the Senate does not support that approach.   On top of this, the current House leadership has indicated that it will not work on ESEA until 2013 – the next Congress, after the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
Why are we so worried about the Senate bill and what is happening the House of Representatives?
We need for school library language to stay in ESEA for the next Congress.   With the assumption that the 113th Congress will start with the Senate bill from this 112th Congress, it is extremely important that the school library provision gets into ESEA now.
If the House should vote on ESEA in this Congress, we must be in the Senate bill because there is no unique House bill.     If school libraries are not included in this pending Senate bill, it is extremely unlikely that we would be able to persuade the same congressional players in the next Congress to add in a school library program.   Is this type of dynamic written down anywhere?   No, but because of many years of lobbying and political observing, we know what kind of challenge it would be.
What is the long term expectation?
First, we must succeed in the short term:   get a school library program into the Senate’s ESEA now.   By doing so, we position school libraries to be included when an ESEA bill is finally reauthorized, even if that is in the next Congress.
Why is ESEA taking so long to reauthorize?
Getting ESEA reauthorized, including changing the name from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has taken years already.    ESEA itself is controversial and the current political environment leading into the 2012 presidential election year complicates all legislation – this bill as a whole as well as our proposal for school libraries.
But, still, why can’t we get everything we want?
Well, like sausage, legislation is a mixture, often roughly ground up and stirred together.  By nature, the legislative process is a series of compromises.  In previous ALA initiatives to get federal school library legislation there were some provisions that are not now in the SKILLS Act.  Unfortunately, we have not had great support from the education unions and from other K-12 organizations.  We are competing with everything from literacy coaches to classroom teachers – even though we know that school librarians are both of these.  In the present political environment and the challenging budget climate, we have to cling to survival for our school libraries and, more importantly, the students they serve.  We have to survive in ESEA now to live another day to get funding or even more advanced programs in the future.
What can I do?
Please look at this blog twice a day.  Put in a call to your U.S. Senators from your states at 202-224-3121.  Those of you who have a senator on the Senate HELP Committee must be particularly active and alert.  Please respond to every action alert – even if you called or wrote your senators before about school libraries.  Get other colleagues and neighbors to also call in.  It only takes a few moments to call the senate switchboard, ask for your Senators’ offices, and leave the message:  SUPPORT SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN ESEA!  OUR COUNTRY’S STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOLS WITH SOLID SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS.

Lynne Bradley
Director, Office of Government Relations
ALA Washington Office on Twitter ALA Washington Office on Facebook

Please chime in here when you have placed that call to 202-224-3121 and left the message: OUR COUNTRY’S STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOLS WITH SOLID SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS so SUPPORT SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN ESEA!

What should you do when you cannot attend the BIG EVENT at AASL? (conversation with myself)

  • Posted on October 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM

1.  Don’t give up. Just because you cannot attend this year, doesn’t mean you aren’t involved and cannot be connected.

AASL members will be able to follow along with tweets, blogs, and more about the Annual Conference in Minneapolis. Check out the website to see what is in store. There is the Conference Ning, the AASL 2011 Learning Commons wiki, and the AASL Virtual Conference For only $99 as an AASL member, I can get a taste of the conference sessions and avoid the travel, hotel, and out-of-school expenses.

2. Find other professional activities locally. For example, I will attend the TENN-SHARE Datafest in Nashville. Here’s some information DeAnne Luck shared via email about one of the activities occuring – the Gadget Lab!:

Part of the challenge of eBooks is dealing with the various eReaders and other devices that display the various eBook formats.  You can learn a whole lot more about the variety of gadgets at the DataFest on Thursday, October 27th at the Nashville Public Library.

Representatives from Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and the Apple Store will give demonstrations of the Nook, Kindle, and iPad, among others.   We’ll also have the “Gadget Lab” available for hands-on practice/playing in both the morning and afternoon.  Thanks to NPL, TSLA, and Millard Oakley PL for the loan of their devices!  Also, Jenny Ellis and Kyle Cook will review the use of Overdrive eBooks on devices like the Kindle in their session, “Library eBooks from Overdrive.”

Take advantage of these opportunities, plus vendor sessions and networking with librarians from across the state, by registering for the DataFest here (it’s free!): And don’t forget the Tenn-Share conference on Friday, 10/29!

3. Attend a webinar. I registered for several lately, but was unable to attend live due to teaching schedules. All of those webinars are archived so I can view them in my leisure (and in my pajamas).

4. Read my twitter feeds using the hashtags to actively search and keep a lively stream of information coming in.

5. Plan harder to be there for the next one and emotionally do not let anyone stop you from attending. Not only the economy, but changes in jobs, homes, relationships, etc. impacted me. If I start saving now, I’ll have that special fund for this conference.

6. Continue working within the profession on committees. Serve on ALA-wide committees and joint ALSC, YALSA committees, too. I am a professional 365 1/4 days a year, not just during the week of AASL National Conference. I will continue to write, speak, and promote AASL membership.

Nonfiction Monday – Zombies?

  • Posted on October 17, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Nonfiction Monday – Zombies. What? Didn’t I just write that this was Nonfiction Monday where we usually incorporate factual information on a variety of social, scientific, and economic issues? Yes, I will focus on science today, but with it being the month of October and Walking Dead appearing on my TV screen (thanks to my son), I couldn’t resist the lure of the zombies.

I’m so easily frightened that I have to watch Walking Dead and zombie movies standing up from behind the couch that divides the open space so I can scream and run away into the kitchen peering out over the counter when the zombies attack. I alone could provide the sound effects of gasps and people crying out, “Don’t do it! Don’t go there! Look out!” Let’s not discuss how often I scream when something jumps out.

What does this have to do with Nonfiction Monday? Let’s take a look at a few of the delicious titles from Capstone Press today that incorporate zombies. First, we have the number one crowd pleaser among upper elementary and middle school teachers and librarians when I present – ZOMBIES And Forces and Motion by Mark Weakland. This book is going on everyone’s list to order. Talk to vendors about what series truly stands out for them this year and they’ll gleefully turn to their favorite page and start quoting passages like this:

“A zombie at rest needs a force to get it moving. And once a zombie gets moving, another force is needed to get it to change directions or stop.”

This title is one in the Capstone Press Graphic Library series Monster Science.  Incorporating cartoon illustrations, clever comic terror, solid scientific facts, and the mythical monsters: zombies, werewolves, aliens, bigfoot, vampires and ghosts, this series presents science for elementary and middle school involving atoms, force, motion, energy, adaptation, states of matter, and cells in a creative compelling hardcover.

The subject matter ranges in sophistication based upon the scientific level of understanding appropriate for instruction. For example, in Vampires and Cells, there is a unique discussion of endocytosis and exocytosis demonstrating how objects enter and are ejected from cells. That title would be particularly relevant for middle schooler’s. I can just imagine using the Elmo or digital projector to discuss these pages on Halloween.

In my adult reading of fiction, I am currently devouring many werewolf titles so I appreciate the release of Werewolves and States of Matter. These 32 page books are 2012 copyrights, but you can order them now.  I feel totally justified with my academic reasons for purchasing after visiting the Capstone website and viewing the correlations between our state science standards:

  • Science 2007 Curriculum Standards 5th Grade
    • Physical Science
      • 9 Matter The composition and structure of matter is known, and it behaves according to principles that are generally understood.
        • How does the structure of matter influence its physical and chemical behavior?
          • GLE 0507.9.3 Investigate factors that affect the rate at which various materials freeze, melt, or evaporate.
  • Science 2007 Performance Indicators Teacher and Checks for Understanding Grade 4
    • Physical Science
      • 9 Matter The composition and structure of matter is known, and it behaves according to principles that are generally understood.
        • How does the structure of matter influence its physical and chemical behavior?
          • 0407.9.1 Use appropriate tools to measure and compare the physical properties of various solids and liquids.

As far as usage and popularity, it hardly bears mentioning that these titles will fly off the shelves to be devoured by eager readers.

What other series has Capstone released dealing with Zombies? I’m glad you asked.

From Stone Arch, we have the contemporary scary fiction series for ages 8-11 Jason Strange with unbelievable characters in realistic settings of Raven’s Pass . Basement of the Undead, Faceless Friend, Full Moon Horror, and Text 4 Revenge are 72 page titles written at a Grade 2-3 level. Accessible to most in elementary school, these scary titles fill a need this season. There are four additional titles available including Zombie Winter.

Basement of the Undead not only puts zombies in the school basement, but it addresses bullies. I like the endings leaving the readers wondering what’s real and what’s not. The “Case Report notes” from the police officer and letters at the end of the book from series main character Jason Strange, provide examples of creative writing for busy teachers to incorporate into lessons. Be sure to examine the state correlations.

I hope that Common Core State Standards will be listed soon by Capstone as CCSS is incorporated around the country.  You know you’re looking for an excuse to order this title with a dead librarian. Need a Halloween costume? I’m think undead librarian could be cool this year. I need someone to go back and draw me as a zombie for ideas (like in the book Rot & Ruin).

As I mentioned, Stone Arch is keeping my love of werewolves satisfied with Full Moon Horror. Keeping secrets to protect one’s family at the selfish risk to others is explored.

Not to be left out of our love of monsters, Picture Window books releases titles in their extended series Legend Has It. We have the Legend of the Zombie and the Legend of the Loch Ness Monster to explore today in 32 pages of library bound hardcovers.

I like the approach of Legend of the Zombie as it incorporates zombie-like mythology from Haiti’s voodoo bokors, Norwegian draugrs, and Chinese Jiang Shi . The text reads aloud smoothly and will prompt many questions from students.

Fortunately, Facthound is there with answers and cartoon fun as I learned how to draw zombies. The links to American folklore of ghosts were helpful, but I cannot resist adding my own Tennessee ghost tale about The Bell Witch Haunting story! What?! You haven’t heard of it. Yet, eyewitness accounts, affidavits, and manuscripts penned by those who experienced the haunting first hand caused “Dr. Nandor Fodor, a noted researcher and psychologist, to label the Bell Witch legend as “America’s Greatest Ghost Story.””

Next week, it’s back to serious science, but this week, I hope to have given you three new series to incorporate in your busy fall ordering.

Legend Has It Reading Level: 2-4; Interest Level: 2-4;  ISBN: 9781404866881. Publisher: Picture Window Books. Copyright: 2012.

Jason Strange Reading Level: 2-3; Interest Level: 3-6; ISBN: 9781434232496. Publisher: Stone Arch Books.  Copyright: 2012.

Monster Science. Reading Level: 3-4; Interest Level: 3-9; ISBN: 9781429665834. Publisher: Capstone Press Graphic Library. Copyright: 2012.

Bully Free campaign

  • Posted on October 15, 2011 at 3:08 AM

Have you taken the pledge? NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me pledge? It’s easy to do.  It’s important to do. Every week I speak to a different adult about the experiences they received from bullies in school. Those scars are deep but you can be the “one” person in someone’s life that helps them focus on good things, not just being bullied.

Simply go to Fill out their pledge form so that you can be that one caring adult in their lives who makes a difference.

I agree to be identified as a caring adult who pledges to help bullied students. I will listen carefully to all students who seek my help and act on their behalf to put an immediate stop to the bullying. I will work with other caring adults to create a safe learning environment for all the students in my school.”

Once you fill out the form and take the pledge, you’ll receive an email about receiving a free poster and button plus access to NEA’s resources online where you can find in-depth resources related to bullying, research-based guidance for helping bullied students, and web-based resources at

The power of choice and possessing

  • Posted on October 14, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Just a tiny note today to ask if you remember ordering books from the paper book clubs teachers send home? Were you one of the fortunates who agonized over each title, finally carefully filled in their order, saved their money, and proudly handed the teacher the thin slip of paper? Did you wait never knowing how long it would take for your books to come, until, one day when you’d forgotten, the teacher suddenly handed you a precious gift of a book with your slip of paper in it?

Do you remember the thrill of holding your book while your classmates tried to see what you’d ordered and compared your choice with theirs? Did owning the book make you feel more powerful? Sometimes did you order something silly just because you could like a Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson poster of the Hardy Boys?

We checked with each teacher at school to see which classrooms were sending home flyers, then organized appropriate Scholastic book club flyers for each of the classrooms not participating to allow those students the opportunity. Out of the first 15 classrooms for which I stapled notes, wrote codes, and separated flyers, only seven orders came in the first week. I could have been disappointed but with 98-99% Title 1, I know my students have little funds.

The reaction when I delivered these orders yesterday was spectacular. Seven different classrooms witnessed me slipping in the room, locating the student, and handing him or her their wrapped order. I watched as most of the students hugged their books to their heart and then proudly showed them off.

One of the students shyly slipped to her locker to put the books in her backpack. The teacher intervened as students begged to see her books and reminded them that everyone has the right to privacy. These students understood immediately because I have taught them from day one that they have the right to read whatever they want and no one else has the right to know. They proudly press the ESC button after scanning their books so the next student doesn’t see what they chose (even if two minutes ago they were excitedly talking about their choices).

When the students were heading out the door, I heard their teachers reminding them that they don’t “walk and read” at school. I can empathize with their need to start reading that book immediately and I’m glad I was able to put orders in seven families hands. Let’s see if those numbers go up next month. Last year no classes were participating. This year all 25 classes are.

Nonfiction Monday in Paradise

  • Posted on October 10, 2011 at 5:22 AM

Today we are rounding up the best in nonfiction for youth.  Thanks to the bloggers who contribute.

Recently I have been presenting Nonfiction New & Needed. I chatted with school librarians at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians and also the TAMS (Tennessee Association of Middle School) drive-in Conference.  As I share with them why it is important to share nonfiction and informational text,

nonfiction is for those of us who ask not only “who, what, when, where, and why” but also “how, what if, and why not.”

Six Reasons to Use Informational Text in Primary Grades:*

  1. Provides the key to success in later schooling
  2. Prepares students to handle real-life reading
  3. Appeals to readers’ preferences
  4. Addresses students’ questions and interests
  5. Builds knowledge of the natural and social world
  6. Boosts vocabulary and other kinds of literacy knowledge

*Adapted from Reading & Writing Informational Text in the Primary Grades by Nell K. Duke, Ed.D. and V. Susan

Bennett-Armistead (Scholastic, 2003).

Actually, I’ve been telling everyone that I don’t see any reason why these reasons don’t apply to middle school ages either. Are you helping teachers access informational texts so they will reach the ratio of 70% informational text reading to 30% literary texts by their senior year for Common Core State Standards?

At NC Teacher Stuff, Jeff Barger has posted a review of My Hands Sing the Blues. Here’s the link:


The Nonfiction Detectives review The Worst-Case Scenario Survive-O-Pedia for Nonfiction Monday. Here’s the link:


At Alphabet Soup  Jama Rattigan is featuring the 2011 Grand Prize Nonfiction Winner in Scholastic’s annual Kids Are Authors Contest, The Perfect Place for an Elf Owl. Congratulations to the Team of First and Second Graders from Lane Elementary in Alexandria, VA!!

 Link here:  


Today Roberta at Wrapped In Foil  reviewed the Cybils nominee Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by the husband-and-wife team of Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos at


Jennifer Wharton of the Jean Little Library blog’s link for Nonfiction Monday is a review of Stuff that Scares Your Pants Off!

Today at Lori Calabrese Writes!,
she reviews 3-D Dinosaur and 3-D Human Body from DK Publishing.


This month being Halloween month, naturally Wendie C. Old is talking about her own book, The Halloween Book of Facts and fun.


The Cath in the Hat and Catherine Nichols has a review of  The Boy Who Bit Picasso at 


Alex Baugh has a post up about Allen Say’s autobiographical book Drawing from Memory at


At Bookends we are reviewing Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London by Andrea Warren.


At True Tales & A Cherry On Top, Jeanne Walker Harvey has posted about ODETTA- Queen of Folk.


Jennie Rothschild  is in with Thomas Jefferson for Kids.



Janet Squires’ selection is “I Could Do That!: Esther Morris gets women the vote” written by Linda Arms White with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter. 


Shirley at At SimplyScience today  has Exploring Roots. 


Myra with  GatheringBooks reviews  Patricia Polacco’s Junkyard Wonders:


Charlotte has The Industrial Revolution, by Carla Money —

Red Pajamas

  • Posted on October 6, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Typical day. Get up. Shower. Put on my red pajamas and head for school. What? You didn’t do that?!

Weren’t you participating in the Jumpstart’s Read for the Record day?  My school joined in this sixth year of Reading for the Record.

Every class came to the library and the reading specialist and I shared several Llama, Llama, Red Pajamas titles. I was the Mama and she was baby Llama. Our music teacher helped project the story using our Elmo while we read to 100 students at a time. During the last session the music teacher sang the song he’d written “Rock and Read.”

Then we went for the meat of the day and did the first RIF give-away for the year. I was able to tell the students how I grew up in Iowa watching TV commercials for RIF and wishing that I could find their truck to get a book.

We shared about the importance and the wonderfulness of reading a book at bedtime or anytime with someone special at home. Then with the help of our special art and physical education teacher all of us raised the excitement levels as we watched students choose their own book to keep.

The best part was watching students reading and sharing their choices with each other. Or…  maybe the best part was the students asking for more than one title. Or….  maybe it was hearing them celebrate that they were able to choose their own title and no one could tell them they had to read “on their level.”  Or… maybe it was watching their faces when they realized we will give away books at least two more times this year.

No matter which way you look at it, the day was exciting. Tiring. But very exciting.  It made up for the extra driving to various local public library branches to get copies like Llama Llama Holiday Drama.  I also spent 45 minutes in a storage locker looking for my red pajamas.

Now we are excited while we wait for the newest Llama title. Be sure to check the author’s website for more information.