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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

The power's on

August 13, 2010

A huge storm came through yesterday morning, knocking out power for tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the area. Happily, no one was seriously injured in the intense storm but it served as a reminder of how much we all depend on electricity.

From making coffee to daily 'beauty rituals' to getting a news update online, we all use it almost all of the time.

But you can't use what you don't have. So I opened the blinds, pulled up a chair, and sat down with books. Physical books, not digital.

Lots of review books have been arriving so I had lots to choose from, but one book was a real surprise, and the other a pure pleasure.

The surprise came from a book not due out until next year (February to be precise) by none other than singer/songwriter Al Yankovic. When I Grow Up (Harper).

Al is better known as Weird Al (and he is weird; just listen to the recent Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.

(My son discovered Weird Al's music in middle school and still enjoys his offbeat humor and parody; actually I do, too.)

But I'm skeptical of "celebrity publishing" and that's where I was surprised. Al's picture book was actually fun. In it, Billy energetically volunteers to be the first in the class to share what he wants to do when he grows up — does so endlessly, imaginatively, and in rhyme. It's going to be interesting to share with kids (of all ages) and will certainly resonate with teachers.

The other book that I found totally engaging it took me to another world but is not for young children rather for their parents and teachers. (It's important for young children to see reading modeled by the significant adults in their lives!)

Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins), the fourth title about Tiffany Aching (the Discworld series) is full of action, magic, humor, and rich language.

Anyway, our power is back. But I'm glad I have books. The only power they require is imagination.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo