Children's books

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. 

Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867 outside of Pepin, Wisconsin. We started our Little Journey there and have visited other places Laura lived, but we’d not yet set foot in an actual building inhabited by the Ingalls.

Our last day in De Smet, South Dakota, we made our way to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes to change that.

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.

Students who use a device to support their access to the curriculum often struggle because assistive technology (AT) can make them feel different from their peers.

At a recent conference, I had the chance to meet Elizabeth Rusch, the author of several of “Scientists in the Field” series (a consistently excellent series) — and discovered that I knew many of her other books. They range from picture books to narrative nonfiction with lots in between. I was intrigued and wanted to ask her more questions than time allowed.

So Liz Rusch agreed to an interview. Not surprisingly, she takes her work very seriously. What shines through with all of her well researched work is a respect for the subjects — and for readers.

This is not a special education "story" about instruction made accessible, but it could be.

This is a story of children in an independent school in mid-coastal Maine who read widely. One of their goals is to read and to compile grade-level lists that only include books that will engage their peers who struggle to read! The effort helps many children "carve out" identities as book choosers, reviewers, and readers.

Bravo to carefully curated lists by reliable sources where the raters and choosers share what they love best.

Here are recommendations from great sources. Raters evaluated and selected books, apps, and media that were offered during 2014 or remained top recommendations chosen in the past. The selections that follow are a mixed bag suitable for various ages. Specific age levels and descriptions are noted on the linked sites.

"One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature" is on display for a limited time in New York City. Many books on this curated list that once were only in print are available from AIM-VA partners including Learning Ally, Bookshare, and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The author of Clifford the Big Red Dog series died this week. For students with print disabilities, "ear reading" Norman Bridwell's famous books by using audiobook versions is a must. Overcoming or bypassing their disability and accessing text in the way the student learns best helps them join with peers to discuss Bridwell's stories, his life (author studies), and books by other authors on the same topic.

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.

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling