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Loss of a friend

Walter Dean Myers

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.

Diversity: what does it mean?

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 said he thought maybe I was Honduran — like him.

Distilled, powerful words

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 with young children for centuries.

Strong words, strong women

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 their achievements.

Celebrating diversity and change all year long

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.

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.

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.

Sometimes a week is too short

Sometimes a week is just not long enough. And sometimes a month-long celebration can begin in the middle of the month.

This is true of National Hispanic Heritage Month which begins on September 15 and continues until October 15.

Full STEAM ahead

Have you ever blown off steam? Or maybe you've run out of steam.

I got a new appreciation for the power of STEAM at a recent panel discussion convened by Reading Is Fundamental (aka RIF).

Their newest effort combines quality children's books with art and literacy activities to help adults (educators, families, and the community) to enhance STEM education — science, technology, engineering, math — for young children. The activities are presented in a brief, accessible way for both busy teachers and parents who may not read comfortably.

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller