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Baseball and its lessons

The first pitch of the season has been thrown and the professional baseball season is in full swing. So it is for kids who play Tee ball, softball, and baseball at school, a recreation or community center, or in their own neighborhood.

Playing a team sport has huge benefits for children — I saw it when my son started playing Tee ball in first grade. He had lots of fun but also learned a great deal by playing with other kids, listening to his coach, and figuring out some of his limitations as well as his strengths.

Mentor texts

A mentor text is a published piece of writing whose idea, whose structure, or whose written craft can be used to inspire a student to write something original. The Writing Fix, sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project, is the definitive source for lesson plans and book suggestions that can help teachers choose a mentor text to support their writing lesson plans. Mentor text recommendations include picture books and chapter books.

Earth day and the stories in nonfiction

I remember when Earth Day was first celebrated (but I won't date myself and tell you where I was in school!). The 40th celebration will take place on April 22, 2010. In other words, Earth Day is older than the children who will celebrate it this year — and probably older than many of their parents.

Why folk and fairy tales?

I'm frequently reminded that we want to sanitize the world for children, protect them from ugly truths. And, I suppose it's possible to some extent. But how do we help young children cope with the world that they live in without totally isolating them?

Maybe by introducing children to traditional tales while allowing them to take charge of the stories — like two remarkable teachers I know did recently.

Spring and a special little rabbit

There are signs of spring everywhere. Flowers are popping out of the ground, and stores are filled with colorful merchandise.

I don't know about anyone else, but a naughty bunny named Peter Rabbit comes to mind when I see these signs of spring – though chamomile tea and the name MacGregor do the same thing, frankly.

The end of an era

One of my all-time favorite opening lines is in a biography, entitled The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West. It begins,"Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth." Only one person was in attendance at this 1865 event, "…newspaperman and frontier jester named Samuel Langhorne Clemens."

Inspired by the Newbery

Last week I had the chance to meet with a special visitor from Indiana. Laura, her grandparents, and I met at the Central Arlington (VA) Library (an attractive and hospitable place with welcoming staff).

Share a Story Shape a Future 2010

Don't miss a day of this year's Share a Story — Shape a Future 2010 Blog Tour. This year the theme is "It takes a village to raise a reader." Each day you can start your "tour" from the homepage of the blog tour.

The tour runs from March 8 — 12, 2010.

The homepage of the blog tour outlines the schedule (excerpted below), and includes many links and read aloud resources. Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland - the book that keeps inspiring

This morning I read a review in the Washington Post of Tim Burton's new movie, Alice in Wonderland. And I continue to think about the film — and the book that inspired it.

Read across America - and for a lifetime

Celebrate the 105th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel (much better known as Dr. Seuss) on March 2nd, with a favorite book or two, some children, and a welcoming place to read aloud.

The Read Across America celebration would have pleased Dr. Seuss a great deal I think. After all, he is credited with making books for beginning readers funny, fast-paced, and pleasing to children

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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