Children's books

October 19, 2015

Teacher question:

Our school district is going wild over Lexiles because they are in the Common Core standards. I think they are overdoing it and don’t feel comfortable with some of the decisions that we are making. What are the weaknesses of Lexiles?

First, Lexiles is only one of several readability measures included in the CCSS. They started with that...

September 22, 2015

A vast majority of libraries in the United States have an e-book collection but few patrons know the books are there for loan, according to writer Michael Kozlowski.

In fact, the American Library Association claims that 90% of all branches have one, and the Library Journal puts the figure around 95%. Yet,...

September 23, 2015

Our little journey last summer brought many of the experiences of the Ingalls family to life for us. From sweeping out a dugout to making a corncob doll, we felt like we had walked in Laura’s shoes. But we hadn’t eaten at her table. While Breece and Avery enjoyed a stick of old fashioned candy at nearly every stop, there was very little authentic pioneer flavor to our food experiences along...

September 23, 2015

September is National Library Card Sign-Up month – rightly so. Schools are open, but the library card sign-up campaign should be a reminder for parents and caregivers of babies and toddlers that it’s never to early for children to visit libraries. Their adults can get books, ideas and maybe gain...

September 10, 2015

OverDrive, the service that gives library card holders access to free digital books, eBooks and more, invites public participation for Read an eBook Day on Sept. 18. This is an opportunity for teachers, other educators, and parents to advocate for library collections to include eBooks that offer...

August 24, 2015

Meet a memorable, comical, and intelligent book character named Hank. He is a second grader whose learning problems in school are not yet diagnosed.

September 9, 2015

Parents often ask how they can help their children learn to read; and it’s no wonder that they’re interested in this essential skill. Reading plays an important role in later school success. One study even demonstrates that how well 7-year-olds read predicts their income 35 years later!

Here are 11...

August 31, 2015

I always associate summer with baseball. Many sunny afternoons were spent watching my son play various positions while in elementary and middle school. He learned a lot about life from playing baseball — and soccer, basketball, rugby and football – skills he has used as a young adult.

Fred Bowen knows about the power of sports and the power of story and so started writing novels when...

August 19, 2015

In Carol’s final blog posting for the summer, the family embarks on another Start with a Book summer science exploration: The Night Sky. Unbeknownst to them, their exploration continues on in paradise, and wraps up at home in their own front yard.

August 17, 2015

Teachers who like using Storyline Online, the free literacy website where voice artists/actors from the Screen Actors Guild read children's books, will also enjoy Learning Ally audiobooks that also are read by professionals. Through a volunteer program, the "Acted Community" has about 130 voice...

August 13, 2015

There are many things to celebrate in August. Lots of parents celebrate schools soon opening. Commuters appreciate less crowded roads. There’s still time for a summer getaway.

And of course, the second week of August has been dubbed National Smile Week!

Frankly, I had never heard...

July 30, 2015

A graphic novel takes me much longer to read carefully than a text-only book does. Why? I think the pictures slow me down. I need to examine them carefully in order to make meaning from them, what they’re saying, how they interact with the words (if any).

The artist is telling a story. And how that story is told is intriguing.

I was reminded of this notion when I read a...

July 24, 2015

From a reader:

Any thoughts on top 2 or 3 literacy concepts on which you would focus librarians? Grades 4-8?

My response:

Let me say how happy I am that you are available to students and teachers. As I make my way across the country I find fewer and fewer school-based librarians. Unfortunately, you appear to be part of a...

July 16, 2015

Carol and her family share their gardening adventures. They learn the virtue of patience when it comes to gardening with some help from a book called And Then It’s Spring, and experience the satisfaction of growing their own fruits and vegetables from seed.

The other day, Addie asked me, “Mommy, why was there a tomato warning?”

“A tomato warning?” I repeated, confused...

July 3, 2015

Readers can count on Walter Dean Myers to bring them stories that had been left off the shelf.

"What made Walter special wasn’t necessarily his books or writing, although those are still pretty special. No, what made Walter stand out was his tireless belief that the telling and reading of all kinds of stories mattered, that teens mattered, communities and families mattered, and that...

July 8, 2015

Addie explores the idea of becoming President. With a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and a candid “what if I were President” interview with her mom, we get to see the world through the eyes of a five and half year old.

About a month ago, Addie came home from school, and said to me, “Mom, you can become President.”

“OK, why is that?”

“Because you have to be 35 to...

July 6, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot about picture books and why some work and are memorable while others just land with a thud when read. I continue to ask myself what is it about those picture books that resonate with readers and particularly those that can be shared many times between adults and children, delighting both.

Then it occurred to me. The thoughts that follow probably aren’t entirely...

June 30, 2015

Addie takes her mom on an exploration of her favorite author, Mo Willems. The exploration goes beyond his books and includes watching a Reading Rockets interview with Mo Willems and drawing him fan mail.

I first heard of Mo Willems a couple of years ago when I was browsing around at a bookstore and saw the title Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!; it was an...

June 22, 2015

Carol shares the delicious fun of strawberry picking at a local farm, and how a book and Highlight magazine article lead to baking adventures in the kitchen with the kids.

One of my favorite things to do when the weather turns warm is taking my kids fruit picking. Yes, it gets hot. Yes, there are bugs flying around. Yes, it involves manual labor. But when you bite into that...

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"Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." —

Malala Yousafzei