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Graphic Novel Conversion

Welcome Colleen Dykema to Book Life! Colleen is an award-winning ESL teacher and reading specialist with Arlington Public Schools. Her teaching career began in 1972, and since 2000 she’s worked with English language learners at Swanson Middle School. A great believer that “reading is our personal reward — our private space to grow and explore,” Colleen had an “aha” moment this school year about reading graphic novels.

How Do You Make a Good Reader? Just the Basics

Teacher question:

What makes good readers? What are kids lacking making them not so good readers?

Shanahan's response:

Stripes of All Types: An Interview with Susan Stockdale

Susan Stockdale

Perhaps growing up in Southwest Florida inspired Susan Stockdale’s love of nature. Perhaps it was being the youngest of five that encouraged her to look closely at the world all around. In any case, Susan now lives near Washington, D.C. where she both illustrates and writes lyrical nonfiction for children, sharing her appreciation and unique perspective on nature familiar and extraordinary.

How Complex a Text Can I Scaffold?

Teacher question:

Libraries Build Community: One School’s Memorable Project

It is wonderful to see creativity rewarded, especially when they will likely have a lasting impact. One such project was done with young children enrolled in the Jewish Primary Day School.

It was called the NC South Campus Community Library Project and started at the beginning of the school year.

I asked Janet Collier — who serves as the school’s General Studies 2-5 Instruction Leader and as the librarian — to write about this yearlong project and its results.

Disciplinary Literacy: The Basics

A slew of letters seeking ideas on disciplinary literacy:

Teacher 1: The Common Core highlights that every teacher is a reading and writing teacher in their discipline. I think this idea is important in combination with the best practices for content area learning. My main interest in this is based on helping students who struggle to learn to read in early grade levels, and, as a result, can quickly get behind when "reading to learn" in the secondary grades.

Books Beyond February

February is ending but that doesn’t mean the celebration of African American history should. After all, good books are good year round.

Plus, there’s evidence that sharing stories with children builds empathy. (Though the study’s focus was on fiction, I think that well-presented nonfiction for young children is equally powerful.)

Bringing Books to Life: My Little House in the Big Woods

We’ve had a mild winter here in Virginia and the lack of snow got me thinking about a past cold and snowy adventure to the boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder in upstate New York.

Who Has Authority Over Meaning? Part II

In my last entry, I explored some ideas concerning what role authors play in our interpretation of text. As with many controversies in the garden of literary criticism, nothing is settled, but an exquisite tension has been created. It is this tension that mature readers need to learn to negotiate — and that we have to prepare them for.

It All Started with a Question

It all started with a question. What was their story? Author Linda Barrett Osborne wanted to find out more about her great grandparents who came from Italy in the 1880s and 1890s to the United States — much like the English who settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 17th century.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio