You are currently browsing the archives for January 2012.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 12 entries.

Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal

  • Posted on January 31, 2012 at 11:08 PM

I almost missed this book while I was in such a hurry to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and 65 degree temps in Tennessee. Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal has appealing illustrations created using charcoal on paper and digital collage. Unusually for me, I didn’t care as much about the story as I did for its instructional applicability. What? Yes, this story does have a  family journeying into the great outdoors on a camping trip and exploring nature and it’s a sweet story.

BUT…. the best part is the author’s use of a huge number of prepositions and verbs. I was so impressed with the variety of prepositions that I had to run upstairs to the fourth grade hallway and show my teachers. Prepositions in action. Descriptive Phrases! In a story. Ms Anne D. my High School English teacher would have loved this author. Hmm? Maybe I need to get outside more myself?

The Book Faerie reviews Into the Outdoors at Journey of a Bookseller and warns the reader that not all outdoor animals (like bears) are our friends.

Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore describes Into the Outdoors.

Kirkus Reviews says Into the Outdoors is “An effervescent celebration of an overnight camping trip, with all the prepositions highlighted.”

Cindy Mitchell (or was it C. Peterson) writes on Kiss the Book “Great illustrations and a simple text that expresses a love for the outdoors.”

Joshua Whiting on the Granite Media page notes “The fun perspective changes and unwritten visual counterpoint of the bear, fox, and other creatures participating in the outdoor adventure will send young readers looking in the illustrations for more details. This is a deceptively simple book that rewards careful attention and repeated readings /viewings, and makes this reader want to go on a family adventure in the wild.” Aha! I totally missed that part about the perspective. Good call, Joshua!

I’d describe the illustrations, but I believe Sal does it so well in this review on Sal’s Fiction Addition:

“There is so much to see and appreciate about the charcoal on paper artwork, with the artist’s addition of collage elements. My eyes darted from one delightful image to the next. I know that young readers will do the same. Her use of light is inspiring and nowhere better than in the gentle glow of the night lantern that radiates from the tent in the forest’s darkness. “

Want your own copy? Be sure to order from Random House / Alfred A. Knopf ISBN: 978-0-375-96958-4

Have you ever seen this fine print on the verso page? “Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.” WOW, Random House Children’s Books, you are a supporter of intellectual freedom and I tip my hat to you.

Nonfiction Monday on Tuesday iScience

  • Posted on January 31, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I’m so fortunate to have some of Norwood House new iScience titles in our collection. They demonstrate the scientific inquiry method in complex ways but are easily understood by students. In fact, I find the students understand the titles better than the teachers and are willing to listen to each read aloud. The students don’t care whether the title is on level A, B, or C.

Perhaps this is because the students come to books with the unfailing belief in their own ability to understand and learn;  they do not limit themselves. Teachers on the other hand often glance at the amount of text  and dismiss titles without trying them. They’ll say “That’s too hard for my kids.” I urge all librarians and teachers to try these titles out with students and see the “wicked-cool” results.

“Wicked-cool” was the phrase a small group of third graders used after we read togetherPatterns and Textures: Who Took The Pets? by Emily Sohn and Laura Townsend. The A.R. level of this title is 3.9, but the vocabulary is science-rich, innovative, and necessary to promote growth. I’m tired of sharing only stories written to the lowest vocabulary level. We need to read more titles to our students that include words like parallel venation, pinnate venation, and palmate venation. Why? Because good authors can incorporate these into the text so students comprehend the meaning.

Using accurate language and allowing students to expand their frameworks is key to growth. The iScience books appear to answer the demands of the educators behind the call for common core standards. The titles stretch students and give them something to strive to learn more about to succeed. These titles provide a wide variety of facts and data while attempting to solve a scientific problem. When a problem is presented, possible solutions or theories are considered.

Throughout the narrative, the problem is interwoven. As new facts are considered and the science behind their inclusion is explained, these facts are related back to the problem and the three theories. In the end each theory is reviewed with the eliminating evidence presented. After the correct theory is identified, the processes used to gather evidence is extended and connected with a student’s real life.

Aspects of the book which appeal to me include the historical scientific references, the information on scientists at work and their careers, and the real-life applications to students’ lives. While some teachers may be overwhelmed at the variety and diversity of facts presented, students are able to sift through the facts to link the vital evidence to the theories presented.

For librarians who are teaching how to focus on information and to eliminate irrelevant facts, these books present a challenge. The concept of sorting through a wide-variety of facts is important, but seldom taught as educators try to focus instruction and remove distractions. Students sort through red herrings and extraneous information every time they turn on the television, chat with their friends, and play video games. They can handle these challenges.

Today I was chatting with the resident scientist at our school and her colleagues with the Vanderbilt University Scientist in Residence program. Our STEM school benefits from four different scientists who each spend one day a week in our school. Each scientist works with a different grade level. All of these scientists help demonstrate lessons, activities, and experiments with the students and for the teachers’ benefit. These lessons are clever, intricate, and scientifically accurate. They expand our curriculum. They are connected to our scientist’s fields of study. And, they will hopefully enable the teachers to create more rigorous and involved lessons.

The sad problem we face is reaching teachers so we can integrate science and information science with classroom instruction. Our resident scientist and I are ready to help – in fact, we are desperate to seize any opportunity to collaborate with teachers. I’m grateful that publishers like Norwood House Press are creating innovative titles to help us. They even provide teaching guides that include complex questions to meet the demanding lesson plan structures we teachers face in this day of Race to The Top. Thank you, Norwood House Press.

EARACHES and Head-to-Toe Health by Elaine Landau

  • Posted on January 30, 2012 at 4:11 PM

“Mommy, my ear hurts!” I swear as a parent and having been a child that those are the worst words to hear or utter. My poor parents dealt with my 7 ear surgeries and procedures since it was discovered I could barely hear in second grade. My poor mother had to put in ear drops that caused such excruciating  pain that I’d scream, and we’d both shake and cry. No wonder I raced my boys to the doctor at their slightest wince or tilt of the head. A statement like “Mommy, my ear hurts!” meant I was booking the first available doctor’s appointment.

When I saw the book Earaches in a review box, I quickly snatched it up. It reads clearly and explains the basic facts of earaches including their causes, prevention, and treatment. The information in the back matter is exceptionally good and I’ll be including the “Find Out More” section in lessons for my older students.

The only aspect I questioned was the paragraph explaining the reason some doctors wait to treat ear infections. Some doctors “want to see if the body can defeat the infection on its own. This is known as the WASP (wait-and-see period).”

I believe Landau’s research, but I disagree with the doctors on WASP. My body does not fight infections well. If I develop an ear infection, it can take 3-4 months to clear. My father fares the same. Even with my sons it took several prescriptions to battle some of their ear infections. The first doctor who advised waiting, admitted a week later with my oldest son that waiting was a terrible decision and could have resulted in permanent hearing loss. While I understand the theory that infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics, I know how terrible ear infections feel especially when the ear drum ruptures. The pain is terrible and cannot be relieved. As a parent I learned to be persistent in getting treatment.

When I was growing up, there were no books in my library about earaches. I knew of very few people who had tubes in their ears. None of my friends spent time driving throughout Iowa to wait in churches for mobile clinics to test their hearing and to decide if they’d face another surgery in Iowa City (six hours away).

Even my teachers were clueless. I can remember my basketball coach demanding I run 10 laps for every day of basketball practice I’d missed while out having surgery. I was still weak and dizzy plus I thought it was unfair and I refused to run the laps. This coach tormented me, even dragging me out of class to demand that I show up and run because it was a team rule. My father had to intervene to force the coach to leave me alone. Quite traumatic and I still crusade for those suffering from ear problems. I admit I quit the team after that season.

Marshall Cavendish Benchmark books wisely chose Elaine Landau to write their series of books for Head-to-Toe Health. Often when I pick up a nonfiction title that reads clearly and is popular with students, I look to see who the author is and discover… Elaine Landau. Be sure to check out Elaine Landau’s website at http://www.elainelandau.com/home/. She describes how she writes:

“I write nonfiction children’s books – lots of them. The subjects I’ve researched range from Siamese fighting fish to the legal rights of minors. But all the books have one thing in common – they are written to connect with you – the reader. To share a thought, some information I’ve found, or offer a new way of looking at something.”

She is the author of over 300 titles (according to Balkin Buddies) and she has written some of my favorite nonfiction series including but not limited to:

  • The Best Cats Ever (Lerner Publishing) — made me want to get a RagDoll cat!
  • The Best Dogs Ever! (Lerner Publishing) — including Cocker Spaniels Are the Best! which is dedicated to me! Whoop! Whoop!
  • Animals of the Snow and Ice (Enslow Publishers) — love the Beluga Whales title!
  • What Would You Do? (Enslow Publishers) — which I reviewed
  • Planet Books (Scholastic Library Publishing) — including Beyond Pluto
  • Animals After Dark (Enslow Books) including my favorite Big Cats: Hunters of the Night
  • My Favorite Horses (Lerner Books) — OOPS! Where are the Tennessee Walking Horses? Hmm?!
  • I Like Holidays (Enslow) — What is Veteran’s Day? should be on all our shelves
  • many True Books, Cornerstones of Freedom, etc. and even stand-alone titles like  Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (Millbrook)

Authors and Librarians who craft

  • Posted on January 30, 2012 at 8:22 AM

There are librarians and authors at conferences who sew. Before ALA Midwinter I read an interview of one of my favorite local Nashville authors – Tracy Barrett on DestiKNITions: The First-Ever Edition of Authors Who Knit. I followed the conversation on Midsouth_Authors of “Authors, Fiber Arts and PBs”.

Tracy Barrett had mentioned her favorite store was the Haus of Yarn so I researched it on the web in the car while Ken drove us to ALA Midwinter. I looked up and saw the exit for “White Bridge Road” and screamed, exit here. Then we made a quick sidetrip so I could tour the store and ask questions of the owners. I had no idea that several Nashville schools have knitting clubs beginning with fingerknitting in grades PreK-1 and true knitting in second grade. This is something I need to explore more. I loved the store and was amazed at the quality of yarns available.

I also found  one title remaining in the store of Freddie’s Blanket. I can’t wait for a child to gift this. The author has also written Phoebe’s Sweater. Each title includes the patterns and is meant to be treasured. The owners suggested several other titles they have available and were willing to ship yarn anywhere.

The publisher’s description of Freddie’s Blanket reads: This beautifully illustrated knitting picture book tells the story of Freddie, a young platypus, who has an important lesson to learn about growing up. Join Freddie and his family as he learns that his own big bed might just be the best place to sleep after all! This charming book includes a lovely set of photographs and knitting patterns from the illustrated story, including: Freddie’s Blanket, Freddie Platypus and his sister May, Freddie’s Coveralls, and a baby swaddling blanket. This book is an heirloom gift for any child, especially one who is special in the life of a knitter.

Thanks to the posters on the Midsouth Authors Yahoo Group, I gained other title suggestions:

Irene Latham’s Leaving Gee’s Bend is about a little girl who is sewing a quilt. She collects pieces for it throughout the story, so that the quilt represents herself. When it’s finished, Irene gives it to her mother.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is about a little girl who uses a box with a large amount of yarn to cheer up her neighborhood.

While I was at ALA Midwinter, I discovered everyday at 3p.m. the Networking Uncommons hosted a crafts session. Sunday’s focused on yarn crafts like knitting and crocheting. I spoke to every librarian I saw knitting and crocheting during committee meetings, programs, and council sessions to tell them about these sessions. I can still recall the first time I sat beside Nann Blaine Hilyard during meetings while she sewed. I was even brave enough to take out my crochet during council and was able to listen better than ever as my hands were busy and I could focus.

I’m curious how many of you enjoy sewing during meetings. Tracy Barrett mentions feeling ashamed of her love of knitting and sewing during her childhood in an email and allowed me to quote her below:

I saw a series of picture books at the knit shop I use in Nashville (Haus of Yarn) where a knitting project is part of the plot, and instructions for the project are at the end of the book. It looked like a fun way to get kids into it–although I’ve often found kids so intrigued by knitting that I don’t think it would be hard to get them interested. They come up to me at airports and other places and ask me what I’m doing and often want to try!

It infuriates me how often it’s assumed that the only way a girl can be an interesting character is if she rejects all the traditional female activities–activities that were crucial for survival, but since they were done primarily by women, were (and still are) disparaged. I was quite a tomboy who felt ashamed of my love of knitting and sewing (and cooking).

When it’s relevant, I always make sure that my female protagonists are good at and proud of their skill in embroidery (Anna of Byzantium), spinning (Dark of the Moon), or weaving (King of Ithaka–sidekick, not main character). Someday I’m going to write a book about a boy who says, “I don’t want to be a knight–I want to weave!”

Would you be the 25,000th signature on the petition?

  • Posted on January 30, 2012 at 4:00 AM

A week ago I was feeling frustrated at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Everywhere I went information was shared about the White House petition for school libraries begun by AASL president Carl Harvey. With nearly 10,000 librarians and vendors at the Meeting signing, we were still short of the 25,000 needed. With 60,000 members of ALA, why wasn’t this accomplished with the first emailing? Where was the support of all types of libraries?

Well, the numbers are slowly rising. We have over 20,000 signatures and need less than 5,000 to reach our goal and put this visibly on the president’s desk. You may have seen the pleas and thought you’d wait or get back to it. Now is the time.You could be the one to push us to that vital number. Or…. you could share the URL with others and be responsible for those numbers shooting up.

The cause is worthy and should be supported by everyone. Even students 13 years and older can sign. Take a moment to do your part in gathering signatures. Reach out to 5 people first thing Monday morning and help them sign the petition. Ask your teachers, administration, PTO, and community to join with you.

I made my pleas on facebook for my birthday this past week and was surprised how willing my friends and family were to support school libraries. Make the ask! I also messaged quite a few of my friends individually and asked them to sign. Within moments they returned with the message “I signed!”  That was the best birthday present because it showed they respected what we do and our passion to our students and our profession.

If you had trouble accessing and getting logged in to sign, don’t give up. Try again. The petition software is “temperamental”. In fact, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say it was deliberately difficult to discourage signees of ANY petition.  If you cannot sign in on your  first attempt, please log out and log back in. Or, try a different web browser, or as a last resort, try a different computer. I had to use a different email address to make mine work.

http://wh.gov/Wgd is the link. Will your name be on the petition?

Creativity, Illustrations, and Fibers

  • Posted on January 30, 2012 at 1:35 AM

I love yarn and craft projects. I love to crochet most of all but have also knitted, latch-hooked, done macrame, basket-weaved, huckweaved, stained glass, copper-foiled, paper-folded, popped-up, and more. Dinah Zike and Robert Sabuda are my paper idols. Each year during winter, I find a way to integrate my love of crafts with students.

My sons have learned various stages of sewing and I enjoy sharing my love of crochet with my students. Crochet becomes “super cool” when I announce my sons have sewn fishing nets before. Crochet hooks are cheap and yarn is plentiful.

My students love origami and my youngest son used paper and string to create his own marionettes. Three-dimensional art and fiber art are exciting.

While packing for the ALA Midwinter Meeting and anticipating who will win the Caldecott Award (among others), I have been teaching students about various forms of artistic expression. We’ve discussed the ways authors illustrate books, but I wanted to do a lesson that extended the creative interests of students for their personal interests, to communicate, and to solve problems. Below are some titles I shared with them:

Wild Rose’s Weaving by Ginger Churchill Illustrated by Nicole Wong Tanglewood Press www.tanglewoodbooks.com

While Rose plays in a storm and enjoys the beauty of nature, her grandmother attempts to teach her how to weave nature into a rug. “Publisher states: Just as the grandmother teaches Rose to weave the beauty of nature into her rugs, so the author weaves into this story the themes of creativity, the interplay of art and life, and the important gifts that are handed down through generations of women.” The Kirkus review was not as positive, but students appreciated the introduction to weaving.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

For Black History Month, I am delighted to have this title available for my students. It’s a story of persevering and overcoming and inspires.

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady Illustrated by Michele Wood

This is an unbelievably beautifully illustrated title and collection of poems. Every time I open it, students gasp with pleasure. My art teacher is reading and sharing with her students in preparation for Black History Month, and I’m anxiously waiting to hold it in my hands again.

Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet by Ann Whitford Paul and  illustrated by Jeanette Winter.

The cover illustration shows a group of women sitting around a large quilt and stitching together. When I shared with students the idea of a quilting bee and women getting together to sew, they were surprised but then demanded we try to form a club so they could do this. For older students, I’ll share passages from WW1 and WW2 of women getting together to sew socks, baby blankets, etc. for the needy.

Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters edited by Bob Raczka Millbrook Press, 2010.

Students chimed in whenever they recognized who the artist was and shared their feelings about the paintings with their neighbor.

The Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia by Patricia Lee Gauch and illustrated by Barbara Lavalle

Elizabeth Amelia, a knitted wool woman, marries and begins to knit children from strands of herself until she almost disappears. Her husband James Elmer saves her by stopping her from completely giving everything of herself. Her knitted children run to find new yarn so she can recreate herself and enjoy life. Students related this book to The Giving Tree.

Beginning Knitting: Stitches with Style by Kay Melchisedech Olsen is a Snap book from Capstone Press. Students craved DOING something immediately after the story so chose titles from the complete Crafts series:

  • Beading,
  • Knitting,
  • Book Making & Paper Making,
  • Candle Making,
  • Fashion Crafts,
  • Fingernail Art,
  • Greeting Card Making,
  • Origami,
  • Room Decorating,
  • Scrapbooking,
  • Stamping Art,
  • Valentines.

Looking forward to the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

  • Posted on January 29, 2012 at 4:56 PM

I’m tickled pink! Tickled that Practically Paradise will be part of the 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. I (with your help) will be interviewing Robert Sabuda for his work illustrating Chanukah Lights on Wednesday February 8th.

You readers know that I have been a long-time fan of Robert Sabuda. I’d like to ask your questions so pretend that you were sitting down with us by a nice cozy fire and tell me what you’d like to ask him. You can email me or leave comments below. Here’s a copy of the announcement and schedule:

The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2012 gold and silver medalists and a few selected Notables with a Blog Tour, February 5-10, 2012! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it’s basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator’s interview.

Later this spring, we’ll follow up with an episode of Katie Davis’s Brain Burps About Books devoted to the Sydney Taylor Book Award! Below is the schedule for the 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of Naamah and the Ark at Night Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Ima On & Off the Bima

Holly Meade, illustrator of Naamah and the Ark at Night Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Into the Wardrobe

Shelley Sommer, author of Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg, Baseball Pioneer Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Great Kid Books

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2012

Marcia Vaughan, author of Irena’s Jar of Secrets Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Shelf-Employed

Ron Mazellan, illustrator of Irena’s Jar of Secrets Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at The Children’s War

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2012

Trina Robbins, author of Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Bildungsroman

Anne Timmons (and possibly Mo Oh), illustrators of of Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Gathering Books

Morris Gleitzman, author of Then Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at The 3 R’s

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2012

Michael Rosen, author of Chanukah Lights Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

Robert Sabuda, illustrator/paper engineer of Chanukah Lights Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Practically Paradise

Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Cynsations

Robert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at Jewish Books for Children

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012

Durga Yael Bernhard, author & illustrator of Around the World in One Shabbat Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Frume Sarah’s World

Shirley Vernick, author of The Blood Lie Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at The Fourth Musketeer

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2012

Eric Kimmel, author of The Golem’s Latkes Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and winner of the National Jewish Book Award at Ann Koffsky’s Blog

Gloria Spielman, author of Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award at Shannon and the Sunshine Band

Richard Michelson, author of Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award at Blue Thread

Sydney Taylor Award Winners – Wrap-Up All winners, all categories at The Whole Megillah

Consider adding The Inside Story of Track and Field for spring sports & the summer Olympics

  • Posted on January 18, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Rosen Publishing has a series of Sports World titles that appeal to my students and me. We particularly like The Inside Story of Track and Field by Clive Gifford. One of my fourth grade girls reminded me that we will use this title when we study the Olympics. The  beauty of this title is the diversity and depth of coverage of all track and field events. Many competitions around the world are explored including Grand Prix & Golden League events, World Tours, National Championships, The European Championships, Pan-American Games, The Commonwealth Games, The Asian Games, etc. Rather than focus on the problems of the sport (like performance-enhancing drugs), the tone is positive, informational and motivational.

There is a tremendous amount of content and data within these covers making it a prime choice for middle schoolers. I learned about events like the steeplechase and recalled why my coach in eighth grade had me throw the discus. Since I read it takes balance and rhythm, no wonder I could never manage to throw it in the correct direction more than once a day.

The larger typeface and effective design of the text layout makes this accessible for my elementary students. Its a good choice with colorful action shots and I am happy to add this to my collection. Other titles in the series include:

  • The Inside Story of Motorsports
  • The Inside Story of Soccer
  • The Inside Story Of World Cup Soccer

How do you change your name?

  • Posted on January 16, 2012 at 6:49 PM

If you are a teacher, changing your name is very difficult during the school year. I can recall every teacher I ever had who changed their name after they married. Can you? I have many friends who seem to maintain two identities: their professional name pre marriage and their married name. Unfortunately in our district emails invariably revert twice a year back to maiden names and teachers must go through procedures to get the changes re-instated.

In addition to changing driver’s licenses, you must get new social security cards, fill out ten pages of forms (okay, maybe just 4), copy your marriage certificates, and sign away your first born child to change your name after marriage. Adding a spouse to your health insurance is easy-peasy… getting emails changed is a nightmare.

I have been Diane Renee Ritts Chen for 26 years. That’s a LONNNNNNG time in my life. Suddenly I am Mrs. Kelly. I finally changed my facebook name today, but I cried when Ken asked me to change it on some other pages. I feel like no one will know who I am or identify my new name with my previous writings and experiences. We tried several google searches and I showed how DianeRChen pops up in many places but Diane R Kelly only popped up on facebook.

How did those of you who changed your names after you married cope? Did you have identity crises? I wonder about our students who travel through multiple marriages and adoptions. How do they cope with name changes? Are there any books out there about this?

Are you ready for this summer's Olympics yet?

  • Posted on January 16, 2012 at 4:04 AM

My physical education teachers asked me earlier this school year to start gathering materials so they could do a major Olympics unit right before summer break. Since budgets disappear long before then, I needed to start searching early. Fortunately Heinemann-Raintree (part of the Capstone Publishing group) came to my rescue with some titles I thought you would want to be sure to add to your collection. The Olympics series includes:

  • Great Olympic Moments
  • High-Tech Olympics
  • The 2012 London Olympics
  • The World of Olympics
  • The World’s Greatest Olympians

Heinemann-Raintree has a worldwide reputation. They seek to have a far more global viewpoint than many other American publishers. Having offices in both Chicago and England must help them balance, but I keep offering to fly there to consult with the UK office (at their expense). Since the Olympics are in London this summer, it’s only natural that Heinemann was at the forefrunt of excellent Olympic titles.

I gave several of the titles away at conferences this year, but I did keep these two: High-Tech Olympics by Nick Hunter and The World’s Greatest Olympians by Michael Hurley. My P.E. teachers are loving these titles and now I regret sharing any of the series.

High-Tech Olympics reads well, entertains, and has instructional potential – particularly with the chart in the back of Olympic records then and now.

The best part of The World’s Greatest Olympians is that it actually covers the world and isn’t only focused on American athletes.

Both titles deserve to be in elementary and middle school collections.

I also kept Inside the Olympics by Nick Hunter so I could compare the  author’s approach in two different series. While the previous series has high curb-appeal and is rapidly picked up by everyone walking by, Inside the Olympics is for a more serious sports fan who is deliberately seeking Olympic facts – perhaps for a class report.

Inside the Olympics works well at the middle school and high school. The font is smaller. A wider variety of facts are interwoven and the vocabulary is richer for the older audience. Topics such as which sports have been removed from the Olympics and controversies that have arisen will entertain students of trivia as well as sports fans.

I’m still looking for more Olympic titles, but I’ll admit…. my mind is already dreaming of the 2014 Olympics in Russia.  The winter Olympics are my favorites, but this year London is making the Summer Olympics exciting. I look forward to more titles from Heinemann.