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Sometimes a week is too short

Sometimes a week is just not long enough. And sometimes a month-long celebration can begin in the middle of the month.

This is true of National Hispanic Heritage Month which begins on September 15 and continues until October 15.

A national celebration

Tents have been growing on the National Mall for a few weeks now. Authors have been visiting local schools and bookstores this week, too. There's excitement building around D.C. — and it has absolutely nothing to do with elections. In fact, this is something that everyone can enjoy!

It's time again for the National Book Festival!

Full STEAM ahead

Have you ever blown off steam? Or maybe you've run out of steam.

I got a new appreciation for the power of STEAM at a recent panel discussion convened by Reading Is Fundamental (aka RIF).

Their newest effort combines quality children's books with art and literacy activities to help adults (educators, families, and the community) to enhance STEM education — science, technology, engineering, math — for young children. The activities are presented in a brief, accessible way for both busy teachers and parents who may not read comfortably.

September celebration

As schools get into full swing, teachers should remind students and parents (and maybe other educators) of the importance of libraries. Every classroom activity can be enriched and enlivened by these rich resources. All that is needed is a library card.

To remind everyone, September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. Though it's an American celebration, other countries recognize their importance as well.

Starting a new school year with a smile

Some school districts opened this week, more are scheduled for next week. Children may be apprehensive or excited or somewhere in between. Books and a chuckle are a good way to provide a common experience and a fine way to break the ice at the start of the school year.

Summer symphony

There are special sounds associated with summer. The sounds of cicadas are a melody but I don't enjoy the percussive sounds of a thunderstorm.

Neither does a little boy named Brannon while his bigger brother, Chad, looks forward to the coming storm in a recent book by Marion Dane Bauer, Dinosaur Thunder (Scholastic). Adults in the family try to calm poor Brannon. Brannon rejects the idea that "thunder is only a big cat purring" or is "angels bowling in heaven." He's met cats and has been to a bowling alley. He knows that's not it.

Food for mind and body

C.S. Lewis once said, "Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably." I couldn't agree more.

Long ago, I lived in Cambridge (Massachusetts), a city in which both activities "combine admirably." Not only is it a place where lots of writers and artists live, it has loads of bookstores and was once the home of Julia Child, renowned cook, cookbook author, and the first host of a television cooking show.

Vacation time, with books!

What does summer reading bring to mind? For me, it means light reading, fun reading, just-for-the-heck-of-it reading. I always pack books: paperbacks for the beach, e-books for long trips, and some just because they're too good to leave behind.

Children should be able to read lighter fare during the summer, too. And there are lots of books that are ideal for summer reading.

A good day, knock on wood!

The number 13 gets a bad rap all the time. Poor 13 is considered unlucky, especially when it falls on a Friday.

But it is the last time we'll see a Friday the 13th in 2012 so no more worries for this year at least.

Is there such a thing as luck? Lots of children I know think so. And luck, superstition, and talismans find their way into children's books.

Smart school librarian shortstops summer slide

When I gave some advanced reading copies of books to a particularly astute school librarian friend, she used them in a way that just might help these children avoid the dreaded "summer slide" which happens when children don't read during non-school months.

She asked 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to examine the books and decide as a group which was their top choice. l had visited earlier in the school year, talking with the students about the awards process — specifically about the Caldecott.

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller