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Spring voting

Spring is in the air — and that means more than just daffodils. It's time to read and cast votes for favorite books.

The Children's Book Council (CBC), a venerable trade association of publishers, counts down the days (hours, minutes, and seconds, too) to the national celebration of Children's Book Week.

Cel-e-brate test times -- C'mon!

Yes, the old Kool and the Gang song rings true — even for state testing! One of the things I feel very successful about as an upper grade teacher is my ability to kill test anxiety! Even though this doesn't have too much to do with Common Core tactics and struggles, I find that anything that lightens the testing mood always helps every classroom!

The doctor is IN!

March is a windy month that begins with a playful celebration of some things that may be considered peculiar: green eggs and ham; a green Grinch; oobleck; a socially concerned elephant; Sneetches — with and without stars; a turtle named Yertle; a hatted cat; truffala trees; and even a 75 year old guy with 500 hats. And more — ever so much more.

Going to Chicago to meet Ed Young

What could get me to travel to Chicago on in February? A chance to see friends and colleagues, sweetened by the chance to hear a presentation by a Caldecott medal winning artist whose work I've admired for years.

The inaugural Butler Lecture is taking place at Dominican University. Ed Young is the speaker.

Fit for a President

It happens every four years. There's an increase in visitors, heightened activity, lots of temporary structures being built in the nation's capital. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the political chatter, there's a Presidential Inauguration to prepare for.

A simple tradition to bring some comfort

Our hearts are heavy during this time for our neighbors in Connecticut. During tough times, I find comfort in returning to simple pleasures and traditions. This is our third year for "a book on every bed," and it's a tradition that I love, and one part of my shopping that I actually look forward to!

Slow down with a book

The media reminds us constantly that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Children — and adults — pick up the message often becoming overstimulated.

How can parents and teachers help children slow down (and maybe even themselves)? Sometimes all it takes is a good book and maybe a shared laugh.

Being thankful

This November, I'm thankful for the teachers who work tirelessly day after day with our kids. Teachers are very special people. I'm thankful for principals and school specialists who recognize that good teaching is sometimes loud and messy, and it's rarely easy. I'm thankful for parents who do their part in raising curious and prepared students. And I'm thankful to those who find their way to my blog in their search for information about struggling readers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reflections on 'A Wrinkle in Time'

The sure sign of a classic is reader response. If adults reread a childhood favorite and it reads well, if it continues to "speak" to new generations of readers, if it feels fresh again and again — well, in my estimation that book is a classic.

Though it was considered an odd book when first published in 1962, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time has become a classic. Readers remember, read, reread, and discuss it.

Red flowers honor and remember

On the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918, a ceasefire agreement between Allied forces and Germany went into effect. This armistice ended the Great War which was to become known as World War I. Also in 1918 the red poppy became the symbol of remembrance for those who served.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln