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Traditions

Even though the weather is mild, it's still December. We've just passed the winter solstice; with it, the shortest day of the year (or the longest night, depending on your perspective) and a timeworn source of various observations.

December is filled with celebrations and traditions.

A book on every bed this holiday

We started a new tradition in our family last year. We'll do it again this year, and I hope you'll consider adding this tradition to your family holiday too! It's a simple one: put a book on every bed.

Classic slow downs

Have you been around a school or even a group of children in the past few days? They seem to be having a tough time sitting still, concentrating. Lots of adults are, too. December is a busy month: presents to buy or make, wrap, give or receive; parties to prepare for; friends and family to see. And more, lots more.

Maybe it's time to slow down and celebrate the season with a good book.

Understanding images starts early

I enjoy reading, sharing, and sometimes just thinking about picture books. There's been a lot written about them lately; some people are even calling for their demise. But I know better. They help children understand their world.

I was reminded of the power of pictures when I read a recent blog by Joanne Meier, fellow Reading Rockets blogger. She wrote about "infographics" which are visual representations of information or data.

Hugo Cabret, from page to screen

Thanksgiving has come and gone but the fond memories of family, friends, food — and a new movie — linger. Even though the holiday was celebrated at our home, we had time to see a movie that I've been anxious to see.

It's called Hugo, based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic). The novel unfolds in a series of words and images which use the conventions of cinema, specifically the drama of old black & white silent films.

Giving boys a love of reading

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that one blog in my RSS feed is written by Lisa Belkin. Belkin's blog, Parentlode, can be found in the Huffington Post. Many of Belkin's posts speak to me on a personal level, and some circle into my professional life as well.

Giving thanks

She's best known for a ditty that young children sing but she was an activist who made sure that there was a national day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale lived in the 19th century, wrote the poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and other works for adults. She also wanted to make Thanksgiving a consistent celebration in all states.

Picture books in science class

We all love picture books, and hopefully a really good one finds its way into your hands at least once a day. What might happen less frequently is that you use a picture book to help you teach science. I've got a great resource (with a free PDF!) that will hopefully encourage you to use more picture books in science.

When is a box not a box?

Recently I watched a small group of young children playing in a childcare center. There were toys and books and lots of other things around but that's not what held their attention.

What did? A large (particularly when compared to the children) cardboard box.

Let's leave the fun in learning

A staff member at a child care center I visited this week looked at me very skeptically when I said that we were going to have a good time together. I was there to introduce the staff to children's books and how media and hands-on activities help lay a firm literacy foundation.

For the next hour, we read, watched a short clip from a children's television program, sang, made noise, read some more, discussed educational benefits and generally had a good time. I was heartened when the skeptic in the group actually smiled.

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb