Children's books

September 22, 2014

Nothing creates readers like a good book. And in my experience good books are often recommended to children by a trusted teacher or librarian.

But educators are busy people. A lot of teachers and school librarians I know have a hard time keeping up with what’s new and what’s good in books for children. Then there’s the entire matter of getting one’s hands on the books. Libraries...

September 5, 2014

If we followed the Ingalls’ journey according to the Little House series, after we left the Big Woods in Wisconsin, our next stop should be Independence, Kansas. Given that Independence is more than 600 miles from Pepin and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, is less than 200 miles, the banks of Plum Creek is where we headed next.

Our route took us through Mankato, Minnesota. Mankato is...

August 29, 2014

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.

August 28, 2014

Remember Laura’s first trip to Pepin? In Little House in the Big Woods, Wilder writes, “Laura stood up on the board and Pa held her safe by the arm, so she could see the town. When she saw it, she could hardly breathe. She knew how Yankee Doodle felt, when he could not see the town because there were so many houses.”

It was dramatic for us too, but our drama was courtesy of...

August 19, 2014

More and more often filmmakers have been turning to children’s books for inspiration. Perhaps it’s a catchy book title that a filmmaker finds intriguing or maybe an idea they want to flesh out. Maybe they simply want to build on existing popularity.

Sometimes it works well. Many of us are wild about Harry, for example. I’m a Harry Potter fan in both the novel and film version, and...

August 13, 2014

When readers first meet Laura in Little House in the Big Woods, she’s a little girl living with her Pa, Ma, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. The real Laura Ingalls was born in a little house deep in the forests surrounding Pepin, Wisconsin, on February 7, 1867. Since Pepin is Laura’s birthplace and the setting of her first book, this village along the Mississippi River seemed...

August 1, 2014

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote one of the most beloved series in children's literature. Her "Little House" books, which recount her childhood during the late 1800s, have provided generations of readers with a look at what life was like for our pioneering ancestors.

If you've always wanted a closer look at the Big Woods, wondered what it would be like to play along the banks of Plum Creek...

August 1, 2014

Hats have been around for a long, long time. They’ve been used to kept ears warm, identify one's chosen profession, protect heads from the elements, and more. So it's not surprising that hats abound in books for young readers.

There's a rather infamous cat whose red and white striped hat is now synonymous with easier to read...

July 10, 2014

I've been away for a while. The family vacation was without Internet access or even phone service. When I was reconnected, I was deeply saddened by news that one of the true giants of contemporary children's and young adult literature had died.

Walter Dean...

June 24, 2014

It’s a cliché, I know, but it really does take a village to raise a child. And that village benefits all around from children who read.

Pediatricians have recognized the power of reading to young children from a very young age and are releasing a ...

June 13, 2014

Schools are winding down. Teachers, librarians and parents all want the children in their lives to continue reading. Lots of children, however, don’t come from homes where books are readily available.

A friend of mine who is a librarian in a parochial school that serves students who don’t have easy access to books decided to jumpstart the kids at her school. For an entire year she’s...

May 27, 2014

Children’s Book Week (CBW) was celebrated earlier this month for the 95th year. It is a festive week marked throughout the U.S. that culminates with a celebration of books voted favorites by children and teens.

The mission of CBW, established in 1919, remains basically unchanged. Its purpose is to contribute to lifelong learning starting with the youngest child. It is administered by...

May 8, 2014

Last week I spent an entire morning with students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. A 3rd grade boy asked me my first name (I was introduced as Ms. Salvadore) before he left. When I told him, his wide grin was accompanied by a question: “Where are you from?” I was sorry to disappoint him. In spite of the way my name sounds, I’m not Hispanic (Italian father, Greek mother; English-speaking home). He...

April 24, 2014

April is almost over and with it ends National Poetry Month. What continues, however, is what Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate, said of poetry. It is "… language at its most distilled and most powerful."

Children respond to poetry from early on — and why not? Its sounds, cadence and music are immediate and appealing. Think of Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes. They've been shared...

April 7, 2014

Many classics of children's literature involve animals that behave like people. I've certainly likened several two-legged people I know to Eeyore. I often think like the Cat in the Hat on a dull, rainy day, looking for good, clean, indoor mischief. And in my house, Farmer Duck became a metaphor for unappreciated hard work. A recent...

March 27, 2014

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...

March 7, 2014

There have always been strong women although we haven't always known a lot about them. The availability of Information about women and their impact has come a long way since the first celebration of Women’s History Week. In 1987, that week was changed permanently into a month-long celebration. Books for children and youth are catching up, too, with more and more publications about women and...

February 24, 2014

Change is tough. Big things, little things, it’s just not easy for most of us. Nonetheless, change is inevitable. Some change we see immediately, some is more subtle. It’s easy to forget that societal norms are fluid, and that one person can effect great change if they are brave enough to stand up, stand out and work together.

And it took real bravery to change the sports world. Most...

February 11, 2014

Even the youngest child communicates her needs and feelings. Just ask a parent. They understand the difference in their infant's cries; some say hurt, hungry, uncomfortable, and on occasion just plain angry. Let's face it; all children come with their own unique temperament and they learn to express how they're feeling one way or another. Children often learn how to express themselves by...

January 30, 2014

Everyone knows the story of how Helen Keller's tenacity (and the help of a special teacher) overcame her disabilities. Most know that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the nation during depression and war, had polio. Blindness hasn't stopped Stevie Wonder from topping pop music charts nor did it prevent Dr. Katherine Schnieder from obtaining a Ph.D. to become a noted psychologist....

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"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser