Motivation

September 3, 2019

Ready for a transition? Shorter days are here, signifying the end of summer and ushering the transition to back-to-school.

But there’s another transition on my mind — finding strong book choices for readers who fall between easy-to-read books and traditional chapter books and need practice building fluency and stamina.

Happily, award-winning author...

August 13, 2019

I like to read in all kinds of weather, but it’s been a wild summer to try to pick up a book outdoors! Friend Cindy Chiu and her son know all about this.

But whether or not the weather cooperates, this teacher-reader-writer-mom and son are filling their summer with all kinds of stories.

“We can wait...

July 31, 2019

The last time award-winning author Erica S. Perl visited Book Life, we had some jaw-dropping reading fun learning about sharks and her new book Truth or Lie? Sharks!

We’re so glad she’s...

July 23, 2019

Fifty years ago, I was clueless about the fact that Neil Armstrong was taking the first steps on the Moon. I was a busy toddler taking my own very first steps! Even though I missed the big event, I have forever been fascinated by the Moon. Like many young children, I was sure it was following me every time I went out at night and wondered why the Moon and I had such a special connection....

June 28, 2019

Teacher question: Dr. Shanahan, I know that you don’t support independent reading at school. However, in my graduate program we are learning that research evidence shows that kids who read the most become the best readers. I don’t get why you don’t support this research-based practice.

Shanahan's response

In grad school my statistics...

June 26, 2019

Leah Henderson shares with Book Life how a simple moment can lead to hours of exploration and real and imagined adventures. Complement her recommendations for summer exploration with the Start with a Book Geography, Travel...

June 12, 2019

Reading Rockets resources at Start with a Book provide an abundance of book recommendations and great ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction to engage kids and help them make connections between what they read and their own lives.

June 4, 2019

This will be my 47th summer as a reader.

My first summer as a reader was one of those unbearable hot, muggy Florida summers where you park yourself in front of the air conditioner and look longingly out the window, wishing for a trip to the beach or pool. Or pick up Norah Smaridge’s The Big Tidy-Up and Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and hide under your bed in the dark and...

May 6, 2019

Teacher question: In an effort to streamline the workshop model in our district, I am looking for your stance on focused independent reading and/or any articles that you have written that support the importance of students reading at school with a specific focus in mind rather than "reading just to read"?

Shanahan's response: 

...

January 14, 2019

As regular readers of this blog know, there is an entire segment of the literacy community who thinks I’m an idiot.

I’ve been married for a long time, so those kinds of judgments don’t usually bother me.

But let’s be honest, we all like to be liked, so another blog about why kids learn less from reading on their own is probably not in my best interest. And, that definitely is not...

August 13, 2018

Teacher questions:

Can you point us to any research regarding the practice of Book In a Bag sending leveled readers home with students each night? What do you think of “Books on the Bus?”

Shanahan's response:

I know of no research on either of these methods for increasing kids’ access to books. I checked both PscyInfo...

May 21, 2018

Summer is almost upon us. The days are growing longer, the sun is higher in the sky, and soon school will be over for the year. Our children’s thoughts now turn to swimming, skateboards, baseball, and bike riding.

Unfortunately, for far too many of kids, summer vacation is a time for forgetting. You’ve probably heard that “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” That’s certainly true...

May 15, 2018

Connecting kids with what they need to become engaged readers and learners includes personal and relevant experiences that build confidence. Tami Mounts shares some of the opportunities she’s found in her community to help encourage her own daughter find joy in the written word.

Tami Mount is a consulting editor and content developer for...

April 30, 2018

Teacher question:

I am a reading specialist and a parent. My daughter is in first grade. Her classroom teachers have all the books in the classroom library leveled, and students are not allowed to go beyond their reading level during "Independent" reading. If the teacher assesses a child inaccurately, then that child is stuck reading texts that may be too easy or...

April 9, 2018

The last couple weeks I’ve clarified the definition of “independent reading” and explored the impact of kids doing required reading on their own at school.

Independence is obviously a gradient; the independence teachers often refer to isn’t about whether kids must read or not (it is usually required in these schemes), but it is about who picks the texts and whether there is any...

April 2, 2018

Last week I explained the concept of “independent reading.” Reviewing various documents from across the past 150 years — research studies, government reports, encyclopedia entries, pronouncements of august organizations, teacher blogs, methods guides — revealed that we educators have been pretty sloppy in our use of that term.

Of course, if everybody says independent reading, but no...

February 15, 2018

James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome have been writing and illustrating together and individually for many years. And their work continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps James said it best: “What makes illustrating books so exciting is that because each book has a special voice, my approach toward each is different. Whether it be through my choice of palette, design or perspective, there is...

January 26, 2018

Bringing guest readers into the classroom is a great activity any time of year. But the calendar is also full of opportunities for hosting special guests who read aloud. Many of these — including World Read Aloud Day, National African American Read-...

January 12, 2018

Too often, student interests are seen as a hindrance to learning, when they can actually be very helpful to both students and teachers. In this video, I discuss how to take a student’s passion — be it calendars, vacuum cleaners, superheroes, dolphins, detectives, or Ozzy Osbourne — and turn it into classroom support.

This tip is taken directly from...

January 9, 2018

I just came back from the inauguration of Jacqueline Woodson as the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. The National Ambassador program — co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader — was created in 2008 to "raise national...

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"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss