Motivation

November 4, 2014

Five of the Little House books, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years, take place in De Smet, Dakota Territory (later South Dakota). We planned a few days here to get at least a taste of prairie life past and present and to savor the place where so many of Laura’s...

October 7, 2014

Last week I replied to some of the remarks about text complexity that were made on the Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post column. Here are a couple more.

CommentFountas and Pinnell are stating...

September 26, 2014

What’s the difference between participating and witnessing? And what does this have to do with books and children?

I had lunch with some longtime friends today and as we walked out together, my friend was telling me how she shared books with a group of children, the same group she had the opportunity to observe as they saw the same story read on a “smart board.”

When she read...

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...

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 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...

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 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...

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....

September 25, 2013

Taking a group of children for an outing can be rough — perhaps more so for adults than for the young people. After all, it's up to parents and teachers to keep track of their charges, worry about transportation, safety, snacks, and more. So why bother? Because field trips make a difference. There's research that supports field trips to art museums, aka "culturally...

September 13, 2013

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer after which schools are in full swing again. Various September celebrations are ideal complements to school, community and home activities.

In 1965, September 8 was declared International Literacy Day (ILD) by UNESCO. This year, ILD was marked by presentations and discussions (on the Monday after the official ILD)...

September 5, 2013

Did you know that boys often underestimate their ability to read? That boys, on average, read less than girls? And that boys are often less motivated to read than girls? Not only that: By the time boys reach high school, roughly half of them will describe themselves as "nonreaders."

Several theories may explain why these facts are true. It may be that boys have a different cognitive...

June 21, 2013

I heard an entertaining interview with Daniel Handler (who writes as Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events) this week on NPR. Snicket was talking about his...

June 17, 2013

Do you ever drag your feet when someone tells you absolutely must do something — especially when it's supposed to be "good" for you? I know I do —and so do lots of young people. Call it human nature. Call it whatever, but foot-dragging can be a real drag on summer learning especially for children who associate books exclusively with school.

Maybe a different approach can help: a...

April 10, 2013

There's nothing new about translating children's books and traditional stories into other mediums.

Who's not familiar with the Disney film adaptations of Cinderella, Snow White, and The Three Little Pigs? Live performances in children's theaters have often used children's books in their productions as do venues for families. It seems, too, that children's stories are becoming a...

September 21, 2012

Tents have been growing on the National Mall for a few weeks now. Authors have been visiting local schools and bookstores this week, too. There's excitement building around D.C. — and it has absolutely nothing to do with elections. In fact, this is something that everyone can enjoy!

It's time again for the National Book Festival...

Pages

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