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January 2010 Archives


Thursday Three: Notable Picture Books

Posted by Pam on January 28, 2010 at 1:07 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Last Thursday I listed some of the American LIbrary Association's Youth Media Awards, and highlighted three winning books from among the Coretta Scott King, Schneider, and Pura Belpré awards. I had fully intended to go back to the other honors given at ALA, but was stopped by the appearance of one of my favorite things and its name is the 2010 Notable Children's Books List.

Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. The list also includes the current year's Newbery, Caldecott,  Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books. Now Notable Children's Books that have also received other ALA awards, such as the  Coretta Scott King Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Alex Award, and Schneider Family Book Award, are  noted as well. I hope that next year that they will include the age-appropriate winners of those categories, regardless of whether they were already chosen as Notable Books.

As a parent, this is the ultimate list to take to your library throughout the year to expand your exposure to different styles, genres, and cultures. I've talked about some of the books listed already in my other posts, but today I'll put the focus on three picture books that made the Notables list and that were also nominated for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book awards.

by Linda Newbery, illustrated by Catherine Rayner
PosyPosy is a most delightful kitten who tangles yarn, swipes crayons, and cuddles mommy. The abstract style may surprise those looking for a standard, sweet watercolor, but offers so much more in the artistic interpretation. The illustrations are amazing with a sense of texture and movement that springs from the page. The slight, rhyming text is geared to the youngest readers and the gentle story of exploration will bring them back again and again.

Waiting for WinterWaiting for Winter
by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Hearing about this wondrous thing called snow, a squirrel is determined to wait it out to see the first sign of the cold, white, soft stuff. As he involves Hedgehog and Bear in his wait, they each suspect things that are most definitely not snow, but that will make readers giggle. Of course, in the end the real snow falls in all its cold, white, soft beauty. Lovely pencil illustrations give interest and humor to the story.

My PeopleMy People
by Langston Hughes, photography Charles R. Smith Jr.
Langston Hughes' 1923 classic poem provides the muse for a photographic tribute of African Americans through different stages of life, shades of color, and state of being. The short poem is portioned out a bit at a time, allowing each word and each picture the space to resonate. Quiet, joyful, and ultimately moving.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


Write it down

Posted by Susan on January 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Recommendations
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What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

I recently asked my friends this question, and got an incredibly varied response. It ranged from Harry Potter to the Berenstain Bears. From Little House in the Big Woods to Captain Underpants. From Raggedy Ann to Star Wars. From Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever to Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. (Okay, so that last one didn't have a lot of range.)

One of the fun things about the summer reading program at my library is that the kids get a reading log to record all the books they read that summer. It's so fascinating to see their lists. Some kids read the minimum number of books they need to receive the prize. Others fill up the whole log. Some kids even attach extra pieces of paper to their lists. Regardless of how long or short the list is, every time I look at one, I get a sense of who that child is.

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could look back at a list of books your child (or you) read? Not just over the summer, but for the whole year? How about if you could see the titles of all (or most) the books they read while they were growing up? Can you imagine what a priceless gift that would be to both you and your child?

It doesn't matter if your journal looks like this:

Book of Kells.jpg

or this:

legal pad.jpg

or this:

good reads.gif

It doesn't matter if you arrange it by day (for picture books) or by date the book was finished (for chapter books) or by year. (However you do it, I recommend numbering your entries).

It doesn't matter if you include just the title, date and author in your entry. Or if you write down your kid's reactions to the book such as "Emily loved putting her fingers through the holes of everything the hungry caterpillar ate." Or "John just wanted to find Goldbug on each page." Or "Jennifer didn't like the part with the Wicked Witch of the West."

The only thing that matters is having one. How do you make that happen?

Step 1: Answer the question that was at the top of this post: What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

Step 2: Write it down.

Step 3: Repeat daily.

I'd love to see what you and your kids did read last night. Please comment!


Tips for Growing Bookworms: #7 Point Out When You're Learning Useful Information by Reading

Posted by Jen Robinson on January 25, 2010 at 6:00 AM in Literacy NewsRecommendations
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This is Part 7 of a continuing series on encouraging young readers. These ideas were originally captured in a post that I did on my blog in 2007, 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms. Here at Booklights I'll be expanding upon and updating each idea, and adding links for more information.

Tip #7: For younger children, point out when you're learning useful information by reading. The idea is to gradually (and in non-didactic fashion) show young children the many doors that reading opens, and make them that much more eager to learn to read themselves. Here are just a few examples:

FamilyCooking.jpgRecipes. When you're cooking from a recipe, you can ask your older child to help you by reading the next step, or measuring out an ingredient. For younger kids, you can browse through recipe books or cooking magazines that have pictures, and point out that the text can tell you how to make the dishes that you see. If you then follow up by actually making some of the most interesting dishes, that will really reinforce the value of reading. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

ReadingGroceryLabels.jpgProduct names, ingredient lists, and prices at the supermarket. You can say "Look, your favorite cereal is on sale" or "Well, let's check the package and see how healthy this is" or even just "Can you tell which one is the Cheerios box? See the C?". Teaching kids to read and pay attention to ingredient lists is especially important for kids who have food allergies. (One of my favorite bloggers, HipWriterMama, writes about kids and food allergies occasionally.) But for most kids, food is a pretty important part of their day-to-day life, so seeing the connection between food and reading can only help. When you're out to eat, you automatically demonstrate useful reading when you read the menu. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

Maps. When you're planning to go somewhere new, near or far, break out the atlas, and point out some of the things you can learn from the writing on maps. Being able too read the symbols on a map is like learning to decode words, and is sometimes easier (since the symbols appear as pictures).

KangarooRoadSign.jpgSigns on the roadways. I've seen snippets on blogs (I don't remember exactly where) to the effect that the first reading that many kids do involves street signs. Makes sense to me. STOP signs are big and clear, and have a special color and shape to add visual cues, and make reading easier. Any time you're out in the car, or out in the neighborhood for a walk, it can't hurt to point out signs, and talk about what they say. The same goes for directional signs in neighborhood parks and amusement parks. For example: "This sign says that there are ducks around this way. Should we go see?". [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

Instructions. Whenever you have something new come into the house that requires setup or assembly, you can point out how helpful it is to read the instructions. As kids get older, you can encourage them to read instructions themselves.

FamilyReadingNewspaper.jpgNewspapers and magazines. When you pick up the daily paper or a magazine, it might make sense to point out to your child that you're getting useful or interesting information there. For example: "Should we check and see if the Red Sox won yesterday, and where they are on the standings now?" or "I'm thinking about buying a new phone, and this article talks about the one that I'm thinking of." And of course many kids enjoy reading the comics before they're ready to read much of anything else. I personally think that it's a great idea to keep printed newspapers and magazines coming into the house, even when you can look up a lot of things online. The physical presence of printed material provides opportunities for entertainment and consultation. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

Search engines. When a question comes up that you can't answer off the top of your head, you can develop a habit of turning to the computer. Most of us do this anyway - it's mostly just a matter of pointing out to kids when we consult Google or Wikipedia or IMDB or whatever. Of course we can also still turn to the printed dictionary or thesaurus. The more important point is to show that when certain types of questions come up, we can use reading, in whatever format, to answer them.

These are just a few ideas for pointing out the positive consequences that come from knowing how to read. We can get to where we need to go, eat what we want to eat, use the new things that we buy, and find information that we're interested in. Of course there's no need to be overly aggressive about this, and turn every little walk around the neighborhood into a reading lesson. But here and there, as you go about your day, you'll naturally find a few opportunities to demonstrate practical reading. It makes sense to me to use them.

What do you all think? Do you have other ways that you subtly point out to your kids the benefits of reading (above and beyond reading with them)?


Thursday Three: Awards

Posted by Pam on January 21, 2010 at 10:05 AM in Awards
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On Monday, January 18th the American Library Association Youth Media Awards were announced. I had made some predictions on the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and NAILED IT! The books I covered did get a shiny gold or silver sticker, and some additional books were named.

For the Newbery Medal, I predicted the winner, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead and two honor titles, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly. Two additional honor titles were chosen: Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, by Phillip Hoose and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick.

For the Caldecott Medal, I picked that the winner would be The Lion & the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney and also suggested an honor title, All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee. One additional honor title was named: Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Not bad. Many other awards are given, which include the Coretta Scott King, Schneider, and Pura Belpré. Here are the winners of those awards, and I've selected one from each to share more fully.

Coretta Scott King Book Award

Recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award:
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

CSK Author Honor Book:
Mare’s WarMare’s War, by Tanita S. Davis

Forced on a cross-country road trip with their eccentric grandmother, teen sisters Octavia and Tali discover more about their family history through a series of recollections of Mare's time in the Women's Army Corp. Along the journey, the teens develop a better understanding of their grandmother and themselves. A wonderful, engaging book, the positive and strong characters earned the author a nomination for a NAACP image award.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
My People, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes

CSK Illustrator Honor Book:
The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:
The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon

Schneider Family Book Award
Honoring books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience

Picture Book:
Django, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen

Anything but TypicalAnything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Jason is a sixth-grade boy, who loves creative writing, and has been diagnosed with autism. He is comfortable in his online world, where he can shape his words of fiction and interaction. He is less comfortable among people, where he needs to turn to his lessons on social expectations and body language to interpret the world around him. When the two worlds are scheduled to mix, Jason faces a true conflict of interest and self. An interesting and well-written book, it slipped under the radar in children's literature - probably due to the attention given to the Young Adult book that focused on a character with Asperger's syndrome and its title is...

Young Adult:
Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

Pura Belpré Award
Honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award:
Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los librosBook Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora
It's Children's Day and Book Day and the kids are celebrating by reading their favorite books anywhere and everywhere. The bright lively pictures and joyful, bilingual text are engaging. The festive feeling is infectious. A fun picture book to extol books and reading as a cause of celebration.

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Books: Gracias Thanks, illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora; My Abuelita, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston and Diego: Bigger Than Life, illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:
Return to Sender, written by Julia Alvarez

Pura Belpré Author Honor Books:
Diego: Bigger Than Life, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz; and Federico García Lorca, written by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


An ALA Kind of Day

Posted by Susan on January 20, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Awards
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Monday was a huge day in the children's literature world as the American Library Association's (ALA) Youth Media Awards were announced. Curious about what won? Read the full press release here.

Check out our predictions and see how we did. Here's mine and here's Pam's Caldecott and Newbery predictions.

Maybe you watched the live webcast of the press conference. Or followed the updates on Twitter. Or read about the results online or in the newspaper. Maybe you saw the interviews with the Caldecott and Newbery medal winners on Tuesday morning's Today Show. Or maybe, you're just finding out about it all now.

What to know more? Here's my in-depth look at some of the highlights from January 18, 2010. Wondering what all these awards are? Take a look at this post.

5 am: Committee members woke up and headed over to the convention center.

6 -7 am: Phone calls were made to the illustrator or author of the books that won or received honors. As I walked through the convention center on my way to the press conference, I could hear the shouts of joy and applause from the press booth as the committees made their phone calls. Check out these photos of Grace Lin recieving her Newbery Honor call.

6:30 am- 7 am: Multitudes of people (including librarians, publishers, editors, writers and me) slog their way through heavy sleet, freezing temperatures and unbelievable wind to get to the press conference.

IMG_4241.JPG7 am: A crowd starts started to gather in front of the Grand Ballroom at the Boston Convention Center.

7:30 am: All over the country, booksellers and librarians log into the live webcast. Some are just curious, but others are all business as they try to order the winning books the second they are announced. They're ready to pick up the phone or place an online order for anything they don't already have in stock.

7:35 am: The doors open and the vast, excited, chattering crowd full of anticipation makes its way into the ballroom.

7:40 am: Twitter starts buzzing with comments.

My People.jpg7:45 am: The press conference gets off to a rollicking start as the Alex Awards, the Schneider Family Awards and the Coretta Scott King (CSK) awards are announced. Marcelo in the Real World gets a great audience response as it wins the Schneider Family teen book award. There is thunderous applause as Walter Dean Myers is announced as the first ever winner of the Virginia Hamilton life time achievement award. This is his 12th Coretta Scott King Award. My People, a book that aches to be read aloud, wins the CSK illustrator award and Bad News for Outlaws takes home the CSK author award. Kekla Magoon wins the John Steptoe New Talent Award for The Rock and the River.

flashburnout.jpg8 am: The YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) awards are announced. Jim Murphy becomes the first winner of the Margaret Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award to be honored for non-fiction books! The crowd is delighted. (Check out his books, they're wonderful). The new YALSA non-fiction award goes to Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith. The YA Morris debut award goes to Flash Burnout. Onto the big one, the Printz award for excellence in Young Adult Literature. There's earsplitting applause as Going Bovine wins. Then slowly the realization hits the onlookers that Marcelo in the Real World (one of the predicted favorites) didn't win the Printz award or an honor. The audience starts to talk amongst itself. The booksellers watching from their homes or stores, get on the phone with their sales reps or distributors immediately to make sure they have plenty of copies of Going Bovine.

Book Fiesta.jpg8:15 am: Onto the ALSC awards. Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken wins the Odyssey Award. The Pura Belpré awards are announced. Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora, the founder of ALSC's Dia de los niños wins the Belpré illustrator award. Julia Alvarez gets the Belpré author award for Return to Sender. A Faraway Island wins the Batchelder. Lois Lowry adds the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award to her considerable resume.

8:25 am: Random House accidentally posts on Twitter that When You Reach Me has won the Newbery Medal.... 13 minutes before the Newbery is actually announced.

Benny and Penny.jpg8:30 am: Almost Astronauts takes home the Siebert Medal. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus wins the Carnegie Medal and the crowd is treated to a clip of the irascible pigeon. A few minutes later, Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! becomes the first graphic novel ever to win the Geisel Award. Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books are shut out of the Geisel (after winning two straight years in a row.) But hey, Mo won the Carnegie, which is his 6th award in the same number of years. I think he'll survive.

8:34 am: Time for the Caldecotts. I'm holding my breath, hoping The Lion and the Mouse doesn't show up as an honor book (which would mean it wouldn't have won the medal). Marla Frazee wins her second Caldecott Honor in two years for the beautiful book All the World. Pamela Zagarenski wins a Caldecott Honor for her wonderful mixed media and computer illustrations in Red Sings from Treetops.

lion and the mouse with medal.gif8:35 am: Drumroll as everyone waits to find out the Caldecott winner. And it's The Lion and the Mouse!!! Jerry Pinkney finally won the medal 21 years after his first of five Caldecott honors. There is earth shattering applause as the crowd goes crazy for this stunningly beautiful book and its wonderfully talented creator.

8:36 am: The applause keeps going. A picture appears on the big screen of the The Lion and the Mouse with a Caldecott Medal on its gorgeous cover.

8:37 am: And now it's Newbery time. A surprising number of people in the crowd are follwing Twitter and Facebook during the annoucements via their phones and laptops, so sadly, this is a bit anticlimatic since the winner has already been leaked. Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice wins its third honor of the day (it also was recognized by the Siebert and YALSA non-fiction committees. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a lovely historical fiction book filled with great characters, wins a Newbery honor. Grace Lin's beautiful and timeless book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon wins one too. The humorous Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg wins a surprise Newbery honor.

When you reach me.jpg8:38 am: When You Reach Me is officially declared the Newbery winner. This book is a bit on the older side (recommended for grades 5-8) and it's a fantastic, wonderful book with a surprise ending. The crowd goes wild as When You Reach Me wins. Rebecca Stead wins the Newbery 47 years after the book it was based on, A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery.

8:40 am: The crowd in the room grab press releases as they slowly meander their way out. Tons of side conversations start. The crowd at home logs off from the webcast. Exhausted book buyers hang up their phones, turn off their computers and then race around to find every last copy of every book that won an award or honor.
8:45 am: A multitude of reactions to the awards start to get posted on a multitude of blogs. Listserv discussions begin.

9 am: When You Reach Me is # 613 on Amazon's list of bestsellers (this includes all books, not just children's books.)

9:30 am: The award committee members finally get to eat breakfast.

9 pm: When You Reach Me is # 23 on Amazon's list of bestsellers.

9:50 am on Tuesday: Jerry Pinkney and Rebecca Stead are interviewed on the Today Show.

10 am on Tuesday: When You Reach Me is # 4 on Amazon's list of bestsellers.

Wondering why I have exact times such as 8:37 am in this post? I ventured onto Twitter (something I rarely do) and tweeted my reactions while sitting at the press conference.

Medal stickersCurious about how Caldecott and Newbery books (and all the rest) get their shiny stickers? Here's the answer, to the best of my knowledge.

What were you doing between 7:45 - 8:35 am on Monday morning? Were you at the press conference? Did you follow the webcast? What about Twitter or Facebook? Or were you (quite understandably) asleep?

Got opinions about the awards? I'd love to hear them.


Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: January 18th

Posted by Jen Robinson on January 18, 2010 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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As many of you know, today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, has been designated a National Day of Service to honor the life and work of Dr. King. The First Book blog has a guest article from Tina Chovanec of Reading Rockets with links to ways to help out in your community, as well as some "reading-writing-and-book-inspired ideas for the Day of Service or for a year-round community project." And here are a few other ideas from around the Kidlitosphere for encouraging young readers every day.

KidWriting.jpgBig Universe shares Five Ways to Raise a Reader from parent and former classroom teacher Dawn Little of Links to Literacy. Dawn's suggestions aren't unusual (read to kids, talk to them, expose them to plenty of print material, etc.), but her genuine enthusiasm shines through in every tip. For example: "Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more you read the better writer you become and the more you write the better reader you become. Encourage your child to write."

Terry Doherty found a nice little article about why reading aloud to your child is important at The Hobbit Movie Guide. Kent W. Johnson says "By reading aloud to your kids, you're showing them how to enjoy children's books, the English language, the wonders of a good story, and hopefully, you're instilling a love of reading and learning. Many kids associate books with the drudgeries of school and homework, but you want to show them how a well written children's book can be an exciting adventure, a real pleasure, as their imagination takes them to places they've never been to visit with people and characters they've never met." Obviously, we've been talking about the importance of read-aloud here at Booklights since day one. But we liked how this article specifically mentions poetry as a way to engage kids with reading.

MomReading.jpgAnother pro-read-aloud post, with book suggestions, can be found at Grow Up With Books, where Lara Ivey includes quotes from both Patricia Polacco and Jim Trelease. Lara concludes: "So, here is our challenge for you this week. Take a look at your calendars. What do you value? What do you make time for? Is there time for reading? Go ahead...write it in pen and commit to it! Do it for yourself as much as for your child."

The Book Dads blog recently linked to a handy 2-page flier prepared by the Eaton County School Readiness and Kindergarten Transitions team. The first page features tips for reading to young children, while the second page is chock-full of book recommendations by age range.

At Literacy, families and learning, Trevor Cairney shares 30 simple ways to stimulate children's learning over the holidays (he's based in Australia, and wrote this while facing the warm-weather end of year holidays last month). His suggestions cover a wide range of activities, including things like: "Dramatisation - Dramatisation is an excellent way to respond to a book. If you have a dress-up box all the better. Let your children either re-tell the story through dramatisation or improvise. Get involved to help set the pattern for turn taking etc. I play a mean wolf, and an even better Grandma!" See also Trevor's post about making books come alive during the holidays by visiting the real-world setting for a treasured book.

At Getting Kids Reading, Joyce Grant suggests encouraging kids to write thank you cards as a way to promote literacy. I thought this was a nice companion piece to Terry's recent Booklights post about Letters to Santa. Joyce is firm about requiring her son to write thank you notes for all gifts, and she includes suggestions for keeping the activity fun, rather than letting it turn into a chore. And it's probably not a coincidence that Joyce's son's favorite holiday gift this year was a book.

ParentReadingforPleasure.jpgPam snuck in an important post here at Booklights on New Year's Eve, with three recommended reading resolutions for parents. My favorite, of course, is Pam's third resolution: model pleasure reading. She says: "If you're like most of the moms I know, you save your own reading time for the very end of the day after the chores, the carpooling, the ballet/karate/music class when you're so exhausted that you fall asleep with latest Grisham book on your lap. Well, no more. I'm telling you to read during the day, perhaps in the actual presence of your child."

At Kidliterate, Melissa urges parents not to rush into reading the Harry Potter books to their young children. She says: "If you are reading HP to your kids before you have read them the RAMONA books, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, the FUDGE books, most of Cynthia Rylant, A CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE, STUART LITTLE, and most of Roald Dahl, just to name a fraction of the available books, then your kids are not ready for HP. Shorter books do not equal bad. It is okay to finish a read-aloud quickly. It is okay to tell your child that they are not old enough for HP yet." She also offers a great list of read-alouds that are appropriate for six to eight year olds. I agree with Melissa completely, and I know that Pam does, too.

The Learning & Reading Disabilities blog recently ran a guest post by Francesca Lopez about how her family helped a child who started out at-risk for reading problems to learn to love reading. Lopez's suggestions are in line with several already discussed (including parents modeling reading behavior), but I liked the personal nature of the article. I found this link via Everybody Wins! USA.

I hope that you all find some food for thought in this article. If you would like more literacy-related links, check out this week's Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup at The Reading Tub. Enjoy MLK Day / the National Day of Service.


Thursday Three: Newbery Contenders

Posted by Pam on January 14, 2010 at 3:31 PM in Middle Grade BooksRecommendations
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Last week I shared three of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book finalists that I believe have a strong chance to win a Caldecott medal. So this week I could complete the list of Cybils finalists, or I can make my best guesses for the Newbery.

Following Susan's wonderful breakdown of the awards, and in the interest of putting you ahead of the library crowd in getting to read them, I'm guessing that one or more of these three books will make the list.

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
When You Reach MeMiranda is comfortable with her friends, family, and generally her New York City life. But it feels as if things start to shift when her best friend Sal pulls away from her. Left adrift in sixth grade, she meets new people and tries new things - but is most intrigued by the strange notes appearing for her eyes only. The story is clever, layered, interesting, and intelligent. The buzz is big, the hype is high, and the love is loyal for this title. I won't be surprised to see it somewhere on the list, and maybe even as the winner.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
Where the Mountain Meets the MoonSeeped in her father's fairy tales and pushed by her mother's sighs, Minli leaves home to search for the Old Man of the Moon to change her family's fortune. Along the way her kindness makes her many friends, who turn out to provide the help she needs. Incorporating Asian fairy tales with her own adventure, this is a beautiful book of love, friendship, and gratitude. The full color panel illustrations throughout add to the astonishing beauty of the book. And just look at the cover! Lots of people are hoping for a Newbery for the delightful book and author too, but it may be too light and happy for another award that tends towards death and calamity.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly
The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe hardest thing about this book is making the one sentence description sound gripping. It's the story of a girl in 1899 who discovers the world of science under the tutorage of her grandfather. Calpurnia Tate is the youngest of a bunch of brothers, and can sometimes get lost in the shuffle to spend time at the creek looking at plant specimens or holed up in Grandfather's lab, testing the fermentation of pecans to wine. But for all this exposure to science, she's still growing into a woman at the turn of century and wonders when she'll have to put away her magnifying glass for a mop. Wonderful historical fiction that doesn't focus on death, dismemberment, or abject poverty - which is why it may not be taken seriously enough to win the Newbery.

The wonderful children's librarian, and former Newbery committee member has her predictions at School Library Journal with the discussion continuing in the comments. The results will be announced on by American Library Association on Monday.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site may receive a referral fee.


Even more awards!

Posted by Susan on January 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM in AwardsRecommendations
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We've been talking about children's book awards on Booklights quite a bit lately because award season is in now full swing. Why are we so interested in which books win the awards?

For one thing, the lists of the winners and honor books make excellent reading lists and offer good suggestions for a child looking for the next book to read.

And for another, (particularly in the case of the Caldecott and the Newbery medals) schools and libraries are more likely to buy the books that win the awards. That means they'll be readily available and it's more likely that your children may read them.

Where the Wild Things Are.jpgSome (not all) of the award winners turn into classics. Where the Wild Things Are won the Caldecott medal and A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Medal. The classics aren't always award winners though. Dr. Seuss never won the Caldecott medal, although he did receive three honors. Eric Carle has never won a Caldecott medal or an honor.

A few words of caution before you dive into the award lists, though. It's important to know what the award was actually given for. For an example, let's look at two different awards for picture books. The Randolph Caldecott medal is awarded to the book with the best illustrations. (The Caldecott is actually only given to the illustrator, not the author.) The Charlotte Zolotow award, which Ann wrote about is given to the picture book with the best writing. The Lion and the Mouse, this year's Caldecott favorite, could never have won the Zolotow award. It's a wordless book. But the illustrations are incredible.

Also, make sure to check that the book is appropriate for your child. Not every award winner is for every kid. Take a look at part of the Newbery criteria:

A "contribution to American literature for children" shall be a book for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children's understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.

Despereaux.jpgFor example, the The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo won the 2004 Newbery medal and is generally recommended to ages nine and up (although some children read it at a younger age.) The 2005 Newbery medalist was Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata which is generally recommended for ages 11-14. These two books both meet the Newbery criteria but they have two very different audiences and are intended for different age groups.

I mentioned the ALA Youth Media Awards in my post last week. The Newbery and Caldecott are the most famous children's book awards given by the American Library Association, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The press conference where the announcements are made is an hour and a half long and many, many awards are given. It's well worth checking out the lists of past winners and honors of these awards while we wait to find out which books will be getting the awards this year. Below is a list of all the awards that will be announced at the press conference on January 18. The official description of each award is from the the appropriate American Library Association (ALA) division's website.

Awards administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC):

Mixed Up Files.jpgThe John Newbery Medal
The Newbery Medal honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal
The Caldecott Medal honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
The Arbuthnot award honors an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, of any country, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.

Esperanza Rising.jpgThe Pura Belpré Medal
The Belpré Medal honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award
The Batchelder Award is given to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.

The Andrew Carnegie Medal
The Carnegie Medal honors the producer of the most outstanding video production for children released during the preceding year.

Are You Ready.jpgThe Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children's literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
The Wilder Medal honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. (This award is only given every other year. Since it was awarded last year, the next winner will be announced in 2011.)

Awards administered by The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA):

Monster.jpgMichael L. Printz Award
The Printz Award honors excellence in literature written for young adults.

The Alex Awards
The Alex Awards are given annually to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.

The Margaret A. Edwards Award
The Edwards Award honors an author and a specific work for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award
The Morris Award honors a book written for young adults by a first-time, previously unpublished author. The first award was given in 2009.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
YALSA's newest award honors the best nonfiction book for young adults; the first winner will be named this year.

Jazz.jpgJointly administered by ALSC and YALSA:

The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
The Odyssey Award is awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Under the auspices of the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT):

The Coretta Scott King Awards

We are the Ship.jpgThe Coretta Scott King Awards are given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.

The John Steptoe New Talent Awards
The John Steptoe New Talent Awards affirm new talent and offer visibility to excellence in writing or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published book creator.

Under the auspices of the American Library Association:

Rules.jpgThe Schneider Family Book Awards
The Schneider Family Book Awards honors an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for children and teens. The award is given in three categories: birth through grade school, middle school, and teens.

Follow the announcements live on January 18th:
Be sure to tune in on January 18 . You can either watch the live webcast or get updates via Twitter to find out this year's winners. You may be able to hear me screaming on the webcast.... I'll be in the audience at the press conference at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston. Look for a 2010 ALA award post game analysis here on Booklights next week.


The Season for Awards Begins!

Posted by Ann on January 12, 2010 at 2:26 PM in Authors and IllustratorsAwardsPicture Books
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First, welcome back to Booklights posting, Susan! Your January 6 posting got many of us looking forward to next Monday when the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King Awards and others will be announced. Several other important awards have already been I want to talk about one of particular interest to Booklights parents.

The thirteenth annual Charlotte Zolotow Award was announced this morning. The award is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book (published in the United States in the preceding year) for children from birth - age seven.

And the 2010 Charlotte Zolotow Award goes to.....What Can You Do with a Paleta? a beautiful story of a young Mexican-American child's delight with a popsicle on a hot summer day (which may be difficult to imagine after this past cold, cold week). The book is both culturally specific and universal in its theme. 1582462216_t.gif

As the judges said, "Author Carmen Tafolla playfully appeals to all of our senses with rich imagery and crisp language. She invites us to think of all the creative things that can be done with a paleta, from painting your tongue purple or giving yourself a blue mustache to making a new friend or learning to make tough decisions. A sprinkling of Spanish words and Magaly Morales' sun-warmed acrylic illustrations add details of life in a vibrant barrio where the daily arrival of the paleta wagon is met with anticipation and celebration."

So parents and teachers, go ahead now and check out this beautiful book and have it ready for a sunny day when your children are ready for popsicles/paletas!

The 2010 Zolotow Award committee named three Honor Books:
Birds, written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
0061363049_t.gifPouch! written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
0399250514_t.gifPrincess Hyacinth: (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated),
written by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

The 2010 Zolotow Award committee also cited four titles as Highly
Hello Baby! written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Ready for Anything! written and illustrated by Keiko Kasza
Under the Snow, written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by
Constance R. Bergum
Who Will I Be, Lord? written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

I also want to mention that the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction was also just announced. It went to Matt Phelan0763636185_t.gif for The Storm in the Barn. It is a graphic novel that will be most enjoyed by children ages 9-12.

Happy reading of award-winning books! Ann


An Exquisite Idea: Writing Prompt Challenge

Posted by Gina on January 12, 2010 at 10:29 AM in Authors and Illustratorscreative literacy
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exquisiteprompt.jpgFor some of us, winter wears out its welcome long before the season is over. If you or the kiddos in your life are anything like me, you've got an extended case of cabin fever. Here's an outlet for all that pent-up energy: the Exquisite Prompt Writing Challenge from Reading Rockets and

This year-long activity and writing contest (through seasons warm and cold!) gives students the opportunity to flex their creative muscles with writing prompts inspired by famous authors and illustrators. The challenge is connected to a larger serialized story (called an exquisite corpse) sponsored by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and the Library of Congress, and boasts participation by superstars like Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson and Kate DiCamillo.

January's prompt has Gregory Macguire (Wicked) and Patricia and Frederick McKissack (Goin' Someplace Special) to thank for its roots. Learn more and participate here.

Has anyone tried an exquisite corpse in a classroom or casual setting before? How crazy did the story get?

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