We've had a wonderful and wonderfully informative run at Booklights, and sadly, it's time for us to bring the blog to a close. Although we'll all miss getting our weekly dose of wisdom from Jen, Pam, Terry, and Susan (we're all pictured at right with Ann Neely), we'll still be talking shop at Twitter.com/Booklights and archiving and featuring posts right here on PBS Parents.
In the next several days, come here for some thoughts and goodbyes as we wind this down. And afterward, please explore other PBS Parents blog resources like the dynamic Supersisters and the ever-resourceful Craft Apparent with Vickie Howell.
And so you don't go through any serious book-love withdrawal, keep up with the bloggers individually:
* Jen Robinson's Book Page
* Pam Coughlan's MotherReader
* Terry Dougherty's The Reading Tub
* Susan Kusel's Wizards Wireless
If you're looking for a masterpiece or 12, go no further than the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, which just announced its national winners. These dozen stories, written and illustrated by kids in grades K-3, are online and ready for you to read aloud and share with your kids. Don't miss gems like "Desk: A Totally True Tale of Terror" or "The Adventures of Sniffy Pete and Drono."
Plus, your kids can make their own story mash-ups featuring the places, characters, objects and words taken from other Writers Contest entries. The possibilities are endless!
Our friends the Supersisters had the wonderful idea of taking today, May 5, to thank some of the most important people in our community: teachers. As you go through the Supersisters' ideas and make your own, try this book to spark conversations about gratitude and giving thanks with the kids in your life.
Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson, illustrated by Susan Roth. Dr. Greg's story of a life-changing visit to a Pakistani village that ignited his relentless quest to build schools for local children will be familiar to adults who've read Three Cups of Tea. This picture book, appropriate for kindergarten through fourth-grade, shows the importance of schools and the huge effort that some students must undertake to get an education. Not a bad way to dispel it's-almost-summer blues.
At first glance, February isn't the most inspirational of months. The slog of winter feels, well, sloggy, and spring is still ages away. May we suggest a little writing prompt to help you and your kids through the doldrums?
The Exquisite Prompt Writing Challenge from Reading Rockets and Adlit.org has just the right mix of ideas to get you going: Self-portraits, poetry, pourquoi tales, fabulous fables, and the 13th Labor of Hercules. This month, Shannon Hale (Princess Academy) and Calef Brown (Polkabats and Octopus Slacks) provide the inspiration and your kids do the rest.
Any other creative ideas to break the February blahs? Or does anyone out there actually like February?
Tracey Wynne of PBS Parents shares her new favorite, Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep:
Last month, my five-year-old daughter became fearful of going to sleep. There was no monster under her bed, in her closet or creeping down the hall. The monster she feared was in her head in the form of bad dreams.
In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book, Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep, by Joyce Dunbar. Written over 10 years ago, it tells the story of a little rabbit named Willa who can't fall asleep because she fears bad dreams. She asks her big brother, Willoughby, to tell her something happy before she goes to sleep. He obliges. Willoughby gets Willa to see how the many simple things in her life bring her joy, such as wearing cozy pajamas, eating certain foods or looking at the night sky. Eventually, Willa falls asleep.
This wonderful read-aloud is sweet and reassuring. I love how it addresses the power of positive thinking; a skill that will serve children well, even at night.
Reading Tell Me Something Happy... with my daughter has become part of our nightly routine. Although she still frets about bad dreams, I now know how to help - I get her to tell me something happy before she goes to sleep.
What books have helped to calm your child's nighttime fears?
For 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 AdLit.org.
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?
Mom Jodi picks the beloved tearjerker Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson's classic story of Jess and Leslie, who create their own kingdom in the woods, is popular reading in schools, was a Trophy Newbery, and has been made into a movie.
"This book is my favorite because when it was read to me as a child, it began my love affair with reading," Jodi says. "It brought me to another world of imagination."
What book has opened you or your child's minds to other worlds?
Author/illustrator extraordinaire Mo Willems has many fans here at Booklights (and beyond), and Mom Karen counts herself among them.
"My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny in all its forms (including the sequel). She adores the combination of photography and cartoons and has been able to recite the story since before she could read."
Many kids know a story word-for-word before they can read. Do your kids have any favorites that they know backward and forward?
Mom Betsy's pick for Where the Wild Things Are comes at a good time, with the movie making its debut last weekend. She loves the book because "Max was a wild child like me!"
Betsy nails a big reason why Maurice Sendak's book is such a classic -- we all have a little (or a lot) of Max in us. Anyone else out there identify with Max? And what about the movie? Should true fans avoid it or give it a try?
Mom Jessie loves the classic Eloise, written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight, and she's in good company. This memorable character, who first saw publication in 1955, has captured the hearts of millions, adults and kids alike.
"My favorite book is Eloise, because of the whimsy and she's naughty," Jessie says.
What naughty book character has stuck with you? And are there any books where you've preferred the crafty villain to the hero?