Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children. The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Books make a big difference

Working with children means that you work with the significant adults in their lives. I’ve often found — both personally and professionally — that parents are flummoxed by the huge number of messages about raising children; all too often parenting becomes fraught with guilt.

I also know that all parents simply want the best for their children. They just may not know how to provide it. I saw this firsthand when I worked with parents who had been separated from their children due to incarceration.

Six Engaging Poetry Alternatives When Print Alone Is a Challenge: Sources for Learning Differently


In April the nation focuses on artistic expression during National Poetry Month. Listening to poetry is a welcome change of pace when reading print presents barriers to learning. There are many sources of poems available in multiple formats to help educators differentiate poetry instruction. Six follow and previewing always is advised.

Let’s talk about poetry with Lee Bennett Hopkins

In honor of National Poetry Month I contacted one of the most prolific and versatile poets and anthologist whose books I’ve long used and admired.

Captioned Films Based on Books Celebrate Girls, Women's History Month

Captioned films aid instruction for students who struggle with decoding text and/or understanding language.

This month accessible media enlivens Women's History Month. This annual celebration lead by the National Women's History Project provides information, instructional, and promotional resources to educators and others describing the diverse and historic accomplishments of women.

The end of a month

I read a statement on a publisher’s blog that resonated with me: “Black History is American History.” (The publisher is Lee & Low, a press known for publishing diverse books.)

I’ve written about this before and still believe that the sooner we get rid of hyphenated Americans, the better off we’ll be, able to have fuller discussions and let readers of all ages revel in the diversity that is us. 

Awards season – with a few surprises

The Newbery and Caldecott (and other Youth Media Awards) were announced yesterday in Chicago at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association. This year’s Caldecott honorees (gold and silver both) remind me that these books are for a wide range of readers, potentially children up to and including age 14.

14+ Accessible Holiday Book, Film Favorites Are Full of Fun For All to Enjoy

Bookshare, an AIM-VA partner in providing accessible books to students with print disabilities, recommends titles filled with humor as 2014 draws to a close. The following staff choices have witty and quirky holiday themes. Put serious books aside for a bit, Bookshare says. Make some time for smiles and joy.

'Tis the Season: Please Include Reading in Your Annual Giving

This is the time of year when we are most likely to open our hearts — and out pocketbooks — to the needs of others. And, as Charles Dickens suggested in A Christmas Carol, it would be wise to use our charitable giving to combat ignorance above all. How will we reduce poverty, pain, suffering, or illness without education? Annually, I scrutinize Charity Navigator to identify national and international charitable agencies that put books into the hands of children and that aim to improve children’s literacy and language.

Celebrate with books

It's earlier than it's been in the past and the location has changed from the National Mall to the Washington Convention Center but once again, it's back. If past is prelude, then it will be just as much fun (with the benefit of indoor plumbing and air-conditioning against the dreaded DC humidity).

I'm talking about the National Book Festival, of course.

2014 National Book Festival


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