Archive for September 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

September 30, 2011

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

“My dad doesn’t like me to get long books because he falls asleep when he reads to me.” This matter-of-fact statement came from a kindergartener. I laughed, checked out his book, and told him what a great dad he had.

Yes! I’m standing on my chair, cheering for this tired parent. We are all tired parents, but we need to do what we need to do. Read to your children! They can reap immeasurable benefits from being read to by an adult — or anyone.

Look at what you can do, just by taking a few minutes a day to read to your children.

  • Create a special bond
  • Instill a love of reading
  • Build language
  • Boost vocabulary
  • Improve listening skills
  • Increase attention span
  • Develop imagination
  • Promote communication
  • Cultivate writing skills

It’s never too early to start reading to your child. Set aside a time to read every day. Go to the library. Introduce a variety of genres. Make reading a good habit.

Reading spells success. Just do it!



September 27, 2011

“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.”  ─Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959

From board books to YA books, I love children’s books. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to go to a library and find that one special book I’m dying to read – unless it’s been pulled from the shelf because someone has deemed it inappropriate. So when Banned Books Week comes along, I’m on the band wagon to stop that from happening!

According the American Library Association there are four reasons people challenge books:  Family Values, Religion, Political Views, and Minority Rights. We are all guaranteed the freedom to express ourselves by rights of the First Amendment. If someone doesn’t like a book for a certain reason, that’s fine, but, please, don’t push your views on others. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions.

An author puts heart and soul into a book. Words are chosen carefully. The author sees something special in the subject matter, and that’s why it’s written. There may be some people who see the subject matter and word choice as inappropriate, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Consider this. Books that are unsettling are ripe for teachable moments. If you don’t agree with the content, use these books to teach tolerance, to teach good choices, to teach acceptable behavior, and to inform children about different lifestyles. Never hide the truth.    

Here are just a few reasons some books have been banned – racial slurs, immoral behavior, profanity, sexuality, alcohol use, and witchcraft. For some people, these appear to be good reasons to challenge a book or ban a book, but the reasons listed below boggle my mind.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen:  Descriptions of injuries are to vivid (Ah, to be able to do that as a writer.)

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh:  Deceit and back talk (Don’t all kids do that at some time or another?)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig:  Illustrations shows police as pigs (So?)

Just So Stories: “The Elephant’s Child:” Too violent (Smack me! This is a great read-aloud story. Kids love it!)

Little Red riding Hood retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman:  Cover illustration shows wine in Red’s basket (I’ll take a sip!)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak:  Bad behavior and nightmares (Isn’t that a part of growing up?)

Of course, there are many more books that have been challenged or banned for reasons I consider inane. This is Banned Books Week. Celebrate the freedom to read the books of your choice.  

“Every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Celebrate the Right to Read

September 23, 2011

I read banned books.

Banned Books Week

September 24 – October 1

Arrrgh! Mutiny on the Bookshelf

September 20, 2011

Shiver me timbers! Yesterday was “Talk Like a Pirate Day?” Aye, it were!  This was a day close to me heart, me hearties. Upon this day, I wanted to reveal my treasure to the reading world. It was the perfect day to launch my pirate parrot picture book. Alas, to me great despair, me book was given the heave ho before this could happen. The publisher decided to deep six it, toss it overboard, bury it in Davy Jones Locker. I was hornswaggled out of a book launch. It were a foul day for me.     

I’m no sissy pirate writer. Aye, I took it in stride. I had me some grog and thought mean things about those scurvy dogs. Then I had an arrrgh moment. I’m an Old Salt when it comes to the cutthroat competition of writing. Never give up! Keep your eye on the treasure.  

So gangway!  Thar She Blows! a pirate parrot tale is still ridin’ the waves waiting for some lucky editor to hoist it out of the Sea of Submissions. I’m hopin’ for fair winds!

More Books about Books and Reading and Libraries

September 16, 2011

Tuesday’s post included books I use in the library with preschool through second grade at the beginning of the school year. Today I have listed some of my favorite books I use with third through fifth graders to get them hyped about reading and books.  

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair is a “dam” good book, if I do say so myself. Kids love quirky Aunt Chip who took to her bed fifty years ago when a TV tower was built where the town library used to stand. There’s lots of fun and adventure as she sets out to right a wrong and get everyone reading again.

Curiosity may have killed a cat, but for The Boy who was Raised by Librarians, curiosity leads him on a journey filled with books, answers, and a rewarding career path. It’s fun to compare the illustrations at the beginning, middle, and end of the book as students see how the boy and three librarians age.

The Library Dragon is some hot book! The librarian is a dragon that guards the books in the library – look, but don’t touch. The book is filled with fiery puns and entertaining illustrations that include the use of clever language. This book is a great way to show how authors use different types of language in their stories. On a “scale” of one to ten, this book gets a ten for fire-breathing fun.

Richard Wright and the Library Card takes students back to a time when blacks in the South were not allowed to borrow books from the library. This book shows the determination of a young African American who wants to read and make a better life for himself. It provides a stepping-off point to discuss segregation, prejudice, and equal rights.

To put this post to rest, Please Bury Me in the Library. This book is filled with entertaining poems about books, libraries, and reading. “What if Books Had Different Names?” is one poem. Furious George instead of Curious George? Put your students to the task of creating new titles for old books. Do you have any ideas?  

Books. Libraries. Reading. Wonderful words.

Books about Reading and Libraries

September 13, 2011

Last Week, Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac posted a piece on The Library written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small. I love sharing this book with my library students at the beginning of the year because of its rhyming text and charming illustrations.

After a long summer away from school, I like to reenergize students’ attitudes about books, reading, and the library. 

Below are some other great books I use for preschool through second grade and the reasons why I like to use them.

I Took My Frog to the Library is a great book because students can identify animals and the illustrations are lots of fun.

Baby Bear’s Books promotes the love of reading and spending time with family.

Book! Book! Book! is a fun way to imitate animal sounds as each animal tries to convince the librarian they want a book to read.

In the book, We’re Going on a Book Hunt, bears are in search of a book. Students not only learn how to choose the right book for themselves and how to take care of them, but they also can be an active participant by doing the motions as the book is read to them.

Library Lion has beautiful illustrations along with a special lion that learns to follow the library rules, but shows others that sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Librarians want students to be Wild About Books. So why not add a bevy of wild animals that want to learn about reading and books?

Stella Louella’s Runaway Book is a cumulative story about a missing book that’s due at the library by five o’clock. Adding to the adventure are the clues given about the missing book. Who knows what book it is?

Thoughts of a scary library and librarian in The Librarian from the Black Lagoon can rev up excitement for reading.

On Friday I’ll share books that I use with my third through fifth graders. Do you have suggestions?

It’s Teddy Bear Day!

September 9, 2011

It’s Teddy Bear Day! Don’t waste a minute. Get your favorite teddy and give it a hug. I know which one I’ll be hugging today. It’s Pooh, of course. I love Pooh, but I also have a warm place in my heart for Paddington Bear.

It’s so easy to bare your soul to a cuddly teddy bear.  Bears listen well. They don’t talk back. And they give unconditional love and comfort when needed.

A friend of mine gifted me with the book Positively Pooh: Timeless Wisdom from Pooh by A.A. Milne.

It’s a delightful book that includes quotes from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh with “decorations” by Ernest H. Shepard. (Don’t you just love the word decorations?) The quotes offer encouragement and are timely words to live by. “Some of the best fun in life is free.” It’s a perfect book for anyone – especially those who love Pooh.

Give a teddy bear a hug today!

Other Classic Bear Books:

Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Harper Trophy, 1978)

 Corduroy by Don Freeman (Viking Juvenile; 40th anniversary edition, 2008)


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