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
I was going to follow my own tradition and give three bunny books to read if you missed the Easter selection at your local library, but then I looked up such books in my own library's catalog and found over three hundred picture book titles. Clearly, you don't need my suggestions as you would be much better off planting yourself in front of any picture book shelf and pulling out books at random - though as a hint, you'd have an easy time in front of the Rick Walton or Rosemary Wells books.
Okay, actually I will give one suggestion. (And if you count the Walton and Wells books than we're up to three recommendations.) Beatrix Potter books. You probably have this lovely collection on your bookshelves, and may always be looking for the right time to read it. There is a lot of text for younger kids, but the stories themselves are perfect for this age, so it can be a hard book to bring out. Here's your chance.
Now, today is the first day of National Poetry Month. Don't leave. Maybe you don't see how poetry applies to you and your kid, but stay with me. I used to think of posting about poetry as the Right Thing to Do. An educational experience I should share. The broccoli of children's books. But I have come to discover in a personal way that I was wrong.
In my inexpert, parental opinion poetry can be a great choice for slower, maybe less-than-strong, readers. I missed this because I read quickly and find it hard to take the time that a poem requires. My first daughter is the same way. But with my second daughter, now almost eleven, I'm seeing where poetry can be a perfect fit for a deliberate reader. This isn't even to go into the benefits of exposing your kids to all kinds of literature or the inherent beauty or playfulness or craftmanship of language in poetry.
So today I'll point you to the KidLitosphere Celebration of Poetry Month, and break it down in to three beginner sites that you simply must visit this month.
1. Poetry for Children is reviewing a poetry book a day during the month of April and will give you some fantastic recommendations.
2. 30 Poets/30 Days will introduce you to some of the fantastic poets for kids with an original poem a day.
3. Poetry Makers offers a series of interviews with poets, starting off today with Mary Ann Hoberman, our own Children's Poet Laureate. (You didn't know we had one, did you? Learned something already.)
This coming weekend, I, along with most of my Booklights cohorts, will be participating in the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, a gathering of children's book bloggers and other interested parties. I'm expecting the conference to be a huge success (the conference organizer is Booklights' own Pam Coughlan, after all). I'm looking forward to chatting face to face with people I usually only "see" across the keyboard, some of whom (like Terry Doherty) I'll be meeting in person for the first time. I'm also looking forward to having discussions with other bloggers, and with authors and publishers, about books, blogging, and the nature of reviewing.
A session that may be of interest to the Booklights community is a panel session that I'll be hosting at the end of the conference. It's called: "Coming Together, Reaching Out, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy and the Reading Message". Panelists include:
Here's a quick intro to the panel: "Here in the Kidlitosphere, we blog because we love books, and because we want to share that love and inspire the joy of reading in families, kids, and teens. In this panel, Ernestine, Gina, Pam, Terry, and I will be talking about some of the many ways that people from within the Kidlitosphere have banded together to connect with the larger community and spread the joy of reading."
I've put together a handout containing links to resources that I expect to be discussed during the panel, as well as some links to additional resources from around the Kidlitosphere and the online children's literacy community. I thought that I would share those links here, in case any of you who can't attend the conference might find them useful. (Everyone is welcome at the conference, by the way - there are a few spots still open - see here for details).
Resources Mentioned by Panelists:
Other Kidlitosphere Links:
Other Literacy Blog Links:
Of course I read many other children's and young adult book blogs, and many other literacy-related blogs. But these should get you started. There's also a nice sampler set of Kidlitosphere blogs available at Kidlitosphere Central.
I hope to see some of you at the conference! If you can't make it, and you have questions for our panel, just let me know in the comments. I'll let you know how the panel session goes.
Something that I do quite a bit on my own blog is collect news from around the literary and literacy blogospheres. I work with Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub in providing weekly children's literacy round-ups (this week's roundup is available on my blog today - the next roundup will be at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub on June 8th). I also publish regular (usually once or twice a week) round-ups of other news and interesting posts from the Kidlitosphere.
What I've decided to do on an occasional basis is publish some of the more parent-focused of that Kidlitosphere and literacy-related news here to Booklights instead. I'm calling these items Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere (encompassing highlights, spotlights, etc.). I welcome your feedback.
At The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson recently announced a new endeavor. She says: "It's called Literacy Lava, and it's a digital magazine (in pdf format) that you'll be able to download and use, share with others, or print and keep. The contributors are bloggers and parents who are passionate about children's literacy. This first issue is erupting with great tips for parents and suggestions for literacy activities to share with kids." I will certainly be staying tuned for this one. Susan was one of the tireless organizers of the 2009 Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour, which I've mentioned previously.
Jill T. over at The Well-Read Child also recently launched a new feature -- a weekly What My Children are Reading Meme. She explains: "Thanks to Sandy at Stories Are Light for giving me the idea to create this weekly feature. Want to share what your kids are reading or get ideas from other bloggers for other books to read with your children? Create your own post on your blog, and then come to The Well-Read Child every Thursday to submit your link". The first week's post already includes 18 links to summaries from other blogs, a smorgasbord of children's reading updates. Even if you don't have a blog, these weekly posts will make a great starting point for book ideas. And (though I haven't actually asked Jill this) I'm sure that your own family's recommendations would be welcome in the comments.
Five Minutes for Books, edited by Jennifer Donovan, has a similar feature, that one hosted once per month (and representing a different set of bloggers). You can find an archive of past Kids' Picks carnivals. See also an interesting discussion on Five Minutes for Books about the difficulty for parents of (and techniques for) holding back kids from reading books for which they might not be emotionally ready. Be sure to read the comments. There's definitely anecdotal evidence to support one of my personal recommendations: that parents try to read the books that their children are reading, when possible. (See a longer post that I wrote about that here).
Reading the books your children read also crops up in Tim Shanahan's suggestions at Literacy Learning for Encouraging Summer Reading. Tim is Professor of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is Director of the Center for Literacy. He says: "Encourage your children (teens, too) to read over the summer. It's one of the most loving things you can do for them!". His suggestions include: "read the same book they are reading for class over the summer so you can discuss it. The point is to share the reading experience... Even if you are not reading the same books they are, talk to your children about what they are reading." But do click through for lots of additional ideas.
In Missouri Passages (the Missouri Humanities Council e-Newsletter), Julie Douglas calls upon parents to: "Be extraordinary. Read to a child." She also discusses the Dean's speech at her daughter's graduation ceremony: "He reminded them (the graduates) that we, the parents, had most likely gotten the students started on this educational journey by doing the one thing that was so vital to their learning....we read to them when they were very young." Reading aloud makes a life-long difference.
Speaking of reading aloud, Trevor Cairney has a post up at Literacy, families and learning about how to listen to children reading. He warns: "There have been many young readers demoralised by the comments of a listener while they are reading, and the stress of performing in front of others", and then offers a host of positive suggestions. For example: "After the reader makes a mistake you pause for about 3 seconds and say nothing, this allows time for self-correction."
And last, but not least, if you're looking for children's book recommendations, next weekend will be a prime time to find them in the Kidlitosphere. Our own Pam Coughlan is hosting the fourth annual 48 Hour Book Challenge at MotherReader. The idea is to choose a 48-hour period over the course of the weekend, and spend as much time as possible reading books (and blogging about them) during that window. This will be my third time participating in the 48HBC. I've found these challenges an amazing excuse to prioritize reading for a few days. I'll report back next week, and let you know which books I read. Even if you don't have a blog of your own, you could certainly participate in spirit by making reading a priority between June 5th and 7th.
That's all for this week. But I'll be keeping an eye out for other parent-friendly news items from around the blogs to share with you in the future. Happy June!