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Teaching nonfiction text features

How much nonfiction do your students read? Probably not enough, according to Jay Mathews at the Washington Post. In a blog entry from February 2010, he uses the What Kids Are Reading report that describes what 4.6 million students in grades 1-12 read during 2008-2009 as evidence.

Earth day and the stories in nonfiction

I remember when Earth Day was first celebrated (but I won't date myself and tell you where I was in school!). The 40th celebration will take place on April 22, 2010. In other words, Earth Day is older than the children who will celebrate it this year — and probably older than many of their parents.

Share a Story Shape a Future 2010

Don't miss a day of this year's Share a Story — Shape a Future 2010 Blog Tour. This year the theme is "It takes a village to raise a reader." Each day you can start your "tour" from the homepage of the blog tour.

The tour runs from March 8 — 12, 2010.

The homepage of the blog tour outlines the schedule (excerpted below), and includes many links and read aloud resources. Enjoy!

Let the games begin! (2010 Winter Olympics)

The opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (BC) will begin later today. It's an exciting time for the young athletes and a wonderful opportunity for all children to see what can result from not only talent but lots of hard work.

It's also a chance for parents and teachers to introduce children to sports that they may not otherwise be exposed to as well as history (where, why, and when did the Olympics begin?), math (who skis down the hill in the shortest time?), stories (how do you train for these games?), and more.

Disturbing images - can we protect our children?

Should children be subjected to the horrendous images that surround us in newspapers, on television, on the Internet? How can we avoid having them see pictures of the death, devastation, and other horrors?

Neat stuff from my Inbox

My Inbox and RSS reader are always loaded with ideas, book suggestions, resources, and more. I leave them there thinking I'd like to write about each one, or go back to flesh out an idea, or share an idea with a friend. I thought I'd share things I've saved over the past few days.

Forty years strong

Are awards for children's books useful? What can they do in a real sense?

Children's publishing is a crowded field and for many, awards can help identify not only critically valuable books but help identify new and interesting work.

When it first started some 40 years ago, the Coretta Scott King was intended to recognize the work of African American authors and illustrators. It continues to do so and since 1995, the John Steptoe New Talent Award encourages and recognizes new authors and illustrators.

Anniversaries of note

Summer of this year marks several things worth remembering. Some are happy anniversaries, others not so at all.

What do these events mean to children? Are they relevant to them in any way at all? What do stories — real or fictional — offer to children? Can they inspire as well as inform?

It was in July 1969 that Neil Armstrong left the relative safety of his spacecraft to walk on the moon. Many books are available about Apollo 11, about the moon itself and this special anniversary.

70 years after Marian Anderson

Not all that long ago, a college student was very excited to find a picture book biography of an amazing singer completely new to the student. The book was When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic); the singer was Marian Anderson.

April outdoors

It's April suddenly. And even though it's still wintry, the days are noticeably longer, the sun is getting warmer (that is, when it shines), and buds and shoots are popping out all over.

I'm looking forward to spending time outdoors: playing and walking and gardening and just appreciating the start of a new season.

And when I recently came across a blog from a woman who calls herself the Grass Stain Guru, I started to recall my own long ago childhood when we spent hours unsupervised outside, even in an urban or quasi-suburban neighborhood.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase