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Children's books

What's a picture worth?

What goes into creating an illustration, especially for informational picture books? How do illustrations work with text? And if it's a book of science or social studies — or any other topic, really — how do readers know that the illustrations accurately represent what they are supposed to?

Company on a snowy day

Blizzard [bliz-erd; a long, severe storm; often pleases children]

Stuck inside [stuhk in-sahyd; often bores children; frequently concerns parents and other adults]

If this is something that you confront, you may want to make sure that you've got some company, things to talk about, ideas that may be just plain fun. You may want to start with these books.

Kate DiCamillo's characters could possibly change the world!

When I think back to the positively LOVABLE characters that I truly adore discovering with my kiddos each year, here are the names that come to mind: Winn-Dixie. Edward Tulane. Despereaux. Mercy Watson. The true loves of our classroom life! That's the funny thing about teaching character analysis, our kids have already come to love these characters that they hold so dear to their hearts.

Winning books

Once again at the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association, the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals have been announced. Some of my favorites of the year are among the 2013 winners.

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.

Comfort food for the mind

As we begin a new year, let's hope it's memorable for all the right reasons unlike its predecessor. There are positive signs pointing to it.

We all remember superstorm Sandy. Images of destroyed homes, schools, businesses, and libraries will be long remembered — and most of us are on the outside looking in. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to try to find normality when you're living it.

A reader's confession (AKA the need to read widely)

As I think about the Common Core State Standards and the recommendations for increased nonfiction reading, I must confess that my own reading choices (for pleasure reading) are quite narrow. I read fiction, and that's pretty much it. Sometimes an occasional piece of historical fiction creeps in, but by and large, my Kindle is full of regular 'ol fiction.

A new year

A new year is about to begin. It's a fine time to think about sharing with family and friends old and new. And what better to share than a good story? Readers may find a new friend or come across an old buddy.

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!

Innocence lost

How do you explain the unexplainable? It's impossible for adults to fathom what happened in a quiet Connecticut town, much less try to articulate to children why or how it could have happened.

I don't think there's anyone who hasn't been moved by the news. But beyond the debates around mental health issues or gun control laws, I've been stymied as to what can be done more tangibly.

Is there anything we — adults and children alike — can do that is concrete, doable, something lasting, to honor and remember the children and their teachers?

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo