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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.

Factually speaking

I've just been introduced to a new (to me) blog. Rosalyn Schanzer, author of What Darwin Saw (National Geographic) told me about her recent post. And she's in the company of lots of other talented writers.

The blog is called I.N.K., short for Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

Fabulous February

February is a marvelous month. It's chockfull of all kinds of celebrations and holidays. And happily, there are lots of books for young readers to enhance and extend them.

There's African American History Month which can be celebrated by reading about distinguished leaders like Coretta Scott King. Stunning illustrations by award-winning Kadir Nelson add even more drama to the poetry of Ntozake Shange in Coretta Scott (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins).

Mindful of Words

I recently reviewed Mindful of Words, Spelling and Vocabulary Explorations 4-8 by Kathy Ganske.

The book is a great resource for teachers and tutors who work with upper-level spellers. Based in developmental spelling research and vocabulary learning, the book helps teachers understand how to assess students' word knowledge and how to teach in a way that encourages a love of words.

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx