Authors & illustrators

First day of school activities

As teachers, we know the first few days of school are all about getting to know your kids and settling into a routine. It's too early to do any assessments (except informal observation sorts of things), but it's a great time to engage kids in some fun activities that get them talking, reading, and writing. Here are some ideas I've seen recently that caught my attention.

Library of the mind

Do you remember a book from your early childhood? Which one? Why do you remember it?

I remember The Poky Little Puppy (Golden Books) and others fondly; I also remember my mother's soft skin and gentle fragrance as I snuggled next to her while she read. Was it the book (older than I am but still available)? Could it have been how it was shared?

The power's on

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.

What kind of book are you?

I heard a young man liken a friend of his to specific popular songs. He said that sometimes this young man was like Jason Derulo's music, lively, catchy; sure to get everyone moving. He named a song for his buddy's multiple moods which seemed to differ according to the day of the week, maybe even the time of day.

Like music, books for children have to match moods — and stages of development and maybe the person introducing them.

Books in the home

When I was growing up, we had lots of book. Looking back, I know that they were mostly mass market books (remember the Little Golden Books?) and lots of the books my mother read as a child and subsequently gave to us.

My sister and I both grew up to be readers — and so did our children who also have lots of books at home.

Gulping down books

We've been on a road trip for a while, combining visits with family and friends with college tours. I'm amazed that my son's time in high school is going by at such breakneck speed. It seems to speed up exponentially once kids begin numbered grades.

And my niece is starting first grade this fall.

What a joy it's been to share books with this just-turned-6-year old child! She's just starting to read independently — and wow! Has she ever taken off — reading well beyond most kids her age.

Left with a lot to think about

The meetings have concluded, the speeches are now on the record, and the out-of-towners have left town. And after attending many functions during the annual conference of the American Library Association, I've still got lots to think about.

A preconference called "Drawn to Delight" brought together a veritable "who's who" of picture book creators. It was intended to illuminate how picture books work — from the nitty gritty creation to their use — and lots more.

Authors (and illustrators) are coming!

It's almost here! The annual gathering of the American Library Association begins at the end of the week in Washington, D.C.

It's a time to share and gather information, meet old and new friends, and to celebrate award-winning books. Among them are the Newbery and Caldecott Medalists.

Summer book swap

What do you do when a child wants to read a book that's too sophisticated or you feel is plain inappropriate for them?

That's the dilemma a friend of mine confronted when her six-year-old son wanted to read a book that he could easily decode but that is probably most appropriate for upper elementary to middle school children. So she called me. (She knew her son — like most kids — would probably listen to a neutral but trusted third party more than he'd listen to his own mom.)

Exercise your imagination

It is official: summer has started, at least unofficially.

And with it comes the talk of the summer learning loss. But a video message from author Mary Amato makes a case that summer is a great time for kids to exercise their imaginations. They'll have fun and likely avoid losing reading skills.

How? Reading and writing!

What? Books, songs, plays — wherever and whatever the imagination fancies.


"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain