Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poetry Friday -- The Roundup is HERE!!

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Brett Bolkowy

Have you read LITTLE TREE by Loren Long? Franki reviewed it here. (Go ahead and click over. I'll wait. Make sure you watch the 1.5 minute video by Loren Long at the end of her post. )

My poem for today is the late 1800's version of LITTLE TREE. Both Long and Thomas remind us that change is hard, but necessary.

It might be time for you to let go of some leaves. Have faith that some sort of spring will come. Believe that you can (you will!) continue to grow.

Have a happy new year. And a brave one.

Winter Leafage
by Edith Matilda Thomas (1854-1925)

Each year I mark one lone outstanding tree,
Clad in its robings of the summer past,
Dry, wan, and shivering in the wintry blast.
It will not pay the season’s rightful fee,—
It will not set its frost-burnt leafage free;
But like some palsied miser all aghast,
Who hoards his sordid treasure to the last,
It sighs, it moans, it sings in eldritch glee.
A foolish tree, to dote on summers gone;
A faithless tree, that never feels how spring
Creeps up the world to make a leafy dawn,
And recompense for all despoilment bring!
Oh, let me not, heyday and youth withdrawn,
With failing hands to their vain semblance cling!

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 8th Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 8 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 7th Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 7 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 6th Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 6 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Photo:Ardfern [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, December 28, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 5th Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 5 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 4th Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 4 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 3rd Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 3 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Photo Credit: Puschinka 

For our 3rd birthday:
THREE: The First Three
THREE: The Second of Three
THREE: The Third of Three

Friday, December 25, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 2nd Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.   Join us as we revisit our birthday posts. Today is Day 2 of our 10 Day Birthday Celebration!

Photo by S. Briggs (
For our 2nd birthday we had a 4 day Blog Birthday Gala!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Christmas Wishes

O what a glory doth this world put on
For him who, with a fervent heart, goes forth
Under the bright and glorious sky, and looks
On duties well performed, and days well spent!
For him the wind, ay, and the yellow leaves
Shall have a voice, and give him eloquent teachings.
He shall so hear the solemn hymn, that Death
Has lifted up for all, that he shall go
To his long resting-place without a tear.

from Autumn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wishing you the glory of the world, a fervent heart, days well spent, and a bright and glorious sky. Merry Christmas!

Irene has the roundup this week at Live Your Poem.

Celebrating 10 Years of A Year of Reading: Our 1st Birthday

It seems hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of our 10th year of blogging! To celebrate, we will look back on our blog birthday posts through the years.  Join us as we revisit our birthday posts over the next 10 Days of our Birthday Celebration!

Our very first blog post went live on January 2, 2006: Why We Are Doing This

In January 2007, we looked back on our first year and proclaimed:  What a Great Year to be a Blogger!

Photo from Theresa Thompson (

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Family Field Trip to the Mazza Museum

I have always wanted to visit the Mazza Museum. It is not too far from here (Findlay, Ohio) but for some reason I haven't done it.  But on Sunday, we spent the day with our family in Toledo and decided to stop on the way for an hour.  And I am so glad we did--what an amazing place!

The whole family visited and it was so fun watching everyone (husband included) finding art of some of our favorite picture books.  Every time we discovered a new illustration of a book or character we loved, it was total joy.

And it was about more than seeing our favorite illustrators. We also saw exhibits that shared things we didn't know about the process of picture book making.  Here are some of our favorite finds!

We saw Patricia Polacco's quilt from The Keeping Quilt.

There was a section on development of picture books that showed the process and planning  that picture book makers go through.

All of the books as well as binders about the illustrators were included in the displays. So you can learn about the Madeline art and then go right to the page in the actual book.

There was an entire room of Paper Engineering with so many amazing pieces.

Mo Willems says he got his biggest inspiration from Dr. Seuss so this is a tribute to him.

My older daughter was thrilled that a Laura Ingalls Wilder display was one of the first things she saw when she walked in. She was a huge Little House fan for most of her elementary years.
And I was so surprised to see art from Roller Girl in the graphic novels display.  I loved the combination of classics and brand new titles in the museum.

 I am hoping to make it to some of their institutes this summer or next year. They always look incredible but the timing doesn't usually work out. 
I am so glad that we stopped by. I am sure it won't be my last visit to this amazing place!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Poetry Friday: Haiku Tag

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Flood G.

thick slice of dark bread
minutes like sugar in tea
pencil scratching page

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015


pencil scratching page
fish tank burbling endlessly
clock strikes seven

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Jo Christian Oterhals

clock strikes seven
sleeper doesn't stir
earth keeps rotating

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015


earth rotates daily
as it floats around the sun
my head is spinning

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

On Tuesday, I was running a little behind, but I managed to write a haiku about writing a haiku while eating a quick breakfast.  I decided to use the last line of this haiku as the first line on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, I was running a lot behind. It was 7:00am and I hadn't started writing yet, hadn't showered, hadn't packed my lunch. I need to be out the door by 7:45 to be on time for work, so it's a good thing I had the first line of my haiku ready to go.

Thursday morning I was exhausted. I had rolled-cut-baked cookies the night before for hours and hours after an already long day at work. All I could think of was the first morning of break when I wouldn't have to set my alarm. Even though I was tired, I was pretty thrilled to find an image of a clock that really goes with my haiku!

Today, I was able to weave our current studies in science into a haiku that describes both what it's like to be a fifth grader learning about the movements of the earth around the sun (rotation/revolution; day, night, seasons) AND what this week's been like for me. Our heads are all spinning for some reason or another!

Diane has the Poetry Friday roundup at Random Noodling this week.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Informational Writing

For all those classrooms where students are working hard on their informational writing: may your students' work blow you out of the water!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I am in awe.

I have a new student. His family has been in the country since November. On his second day in our class, he started teaching me Arabic.

A little with our alphabet, then a little with his.

On the way to the bus at dismissal, we traded words: bus, car, the numbers on the buses.

That was day two.

Yesterday, he taught me manners -- how to say please and thank you.

This morning, he heard us sing happy birthday in six languages to a classmate. He was able to play the multiplication game with me and Google Translate by his side. He practices listening to sounds and spelling simple words with an app on the iPad, followed by a break to play a video game online. I say "10 minutes iPad, 10 minutes video game." He says, with a mischievous smile, "15 minutes video game." I say "15 minutes iPad," and he says, "20 minutes video game!"

This afternoon, he told me, "You America (hand over heart). Me Iraq..." and then he sang me the Iraqi national anthem all the way to the bus. Before he boarded, he told me, "YouTube -- Matahni (spelling is mine) -- you go." So I did, and there it was (Mwtini).

This is a kid with spunk. This is a kid with grit and perseverance. This is a kid who is not going to let school be done to him -- we will work together and there will be learning on both sides. He will see to that. I'm sure he won't let a day go by for the rest of the year that he doesn't teach me something. He already knows that education isn't a one-way street, from the teacher to the student. He knows he has power. His native language gives him power, his ability to learn gives him power, his willingness to collaborate gives him power.

I am in awe of this young man, and thankful that his boat washed up on my shore.

Monday, December 14, 2015


The Slowest Book Ever
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Kelly Murphy
review copy provided by the publisher
Boyds Mills Press, April 2016

This book is the perfect antidote for the hurry-scurry of the modern world. In order to enjoy it, you must sit on the couch and meander through the chapters in no particular order, spending an entire afternoon learning about and thinking about slow plants, slow animals, slow geological processes, slow art, slow music and imaginary slow motion movies, to name a few topics in this fun book!

At the end of the book are two pages where you can lay your head down while you "mull over the mysteries of inner ears or dark matter."

After that, for the reader who loves to keep going even after "The End," there is an excellent glossary of "Chewy Words," the funnest acknowledgements ever, and entertaining endnotes for "snailish sorts."

And even after you have come to the end of the last page, you won't be finished with your foray into SLOW if you follow April's advice -- you'll be picking up a field guide and heading out into the world for a leisurely walk, ready to stop frequently and gawk appreciatively at the world around you.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Rare

RARE from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.

I ran across this video on The Kid Should See This. It filled my heart with love (and concern) for this ball of rock and water upon which we float through space.

beautiful world 
everything we do matters
every single thing

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

And this behind the scenes bit made me laugh out loud:

RARE: Behind the Scenes from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.

Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at A Teaching Life.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Information in So Many Forms

This week, a new episode of The Yarn was released. In this new episode,  author Anne Ursu talks about her book, The Real Boy. I LOVED The Real Boy and read the ARC as soon as it was available. I am a huge Anne Ursu fan so I loved having a bit more information on her process in writing this book. If you do not subscribe to The Yarn, I would definitely recommend it!

This interview with Anne Ursu is the first in a 3 part series. Keep your eye out for the next two in this series where Colby and Travis talk to Tracey Baptiste and Matt Tavares.

The podcast got me thinking about how many interesting ways there are to share information online that weren't available just a few years ago. There are such fascinating little pieces of information out there to share with students around books and literacy.

These little snippets of information really have me thinking about how I approach informational reading and writing in the classroom. They are crafted in a much more informal way and I think there are different skills needed to produce things like this. It is interesting to me, that with all of the ways to share information out there, there is still a lot of "report type" writing and big finished products when it comes to informational writing. I am wondering how I could better spend my time studying pieces like this and helping kids learn to create smaller pieces whose format matches purpose so clearly.

Here are some of my new favorite informational pieces--some for me and some for my students:

Emily Elizabeth Smith was given the Donald Graves Award at this year's NCTE convention. Her classroom sounds amazing and when I visited her class website I found some incredible podcasts on their HIVE RADIO link.  There are many different genres and topics created by her 5th graders.

I recently loved this short interview with Charlotte Huck Award winner, Sharon Draper. In this clip, she talks a bit about her book Stella by Starlight. It is fun to hear an author in person and to hear some extra background about a book I love.

Information like this is everywhere when we know where to look. I love this clip of Loren Long sharing some thoughts about his new book, Little Tree.

Ruth Ayres has created a series of videos that teach writers strategies for better writing.  How much we can learn in these short clips is incredible.

My 3rd graders are huge fans of Steve Harpster's drawing books. Recently they've discovered his YouTube channel and are learning how to draw so many things with these quick videos.

Friends with Fins has been extremely popular with my 3rd graders this year. So much information about the ocean and ocean conservation packed into these short, engaging videos. I especially like this one because Jaclyn talks about the research and how there is not yet a definitive, agreed-upon answer for this question--Do Fish Feel Pain?

I am in the process of collecting things like this for our work informational reading and writing that will begin in January. I am not sure where we'll go with it but I know that I want to think a bit differently about the study this year.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Community

I'm writing a haiku-a-day again this December (inspired loosely by Bob Raczka's The Santa Clauses). I wrote a haiku-a-day last December, too, but it was different last year.

I wrote alone.

This year, I invited my Poetry Month Partner in Craziness, Carol (Carol's Corner) to join me. I put my links out on Twitter and one of my other Poetry Month Partners in Craziness, Steve (Inside the Dog) agreed to come along. Kevin (@dogtrax) is joining in on Twitter. A new writing partner, Leigh Anne Eck (A Day in the Life), has joined in. My students (well, some of them) are writing a haiku-a-day between arrival and morning announcements/beginning of content time.

I am not alone.

And as if I needed to be bludgeoned repeatedly with the idea before it would truly sink in -- I am learning (again) that while the writing habit opens my eyes to the world, encourages me to NOTICE (my One Little Word for the year), and instills discipline, it is the community and the conversations that make it a writing LIFE.

My haikus and the rich conversations in the comments are at Poetrepository, and you can also find us on Twitter: @carwilc @insidethedog @dogtrax @Teachr4 @LoreeGBurns

Here is my haiku for today:

Birthday Wish

I'll be a ginkgo--
golden leaves circling my feet,
one ring wiser.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Buffy has the roundup today at Buffy's Blog. The Call For Poetry Friday Roundup Hosts (January-June 2016 edition) post is live here.

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between January and June 2016, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? I'll post it in the files on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. Speaking of the the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, I'll try to set up reminders on the calendar there (currently it's not letting me in). Plus, I'll put the schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central webpage.

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

1 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
15 Keri at Keri Recommends
22 Tara at A Teaching Life
29 Catherine at Reading to the Core

12 Kimberley at Moran Reflections
19 Donna at Mainely Write

4 Linda at TeacherDance
11 Irene at Live Your Poem

1 Amy at The Poem Farm
15 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
29 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

6 Sylvia at Poetry for Children
20 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
27 Julie at The Drift Record

3 Jone at Check it Out
10 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Carol at Carol's Corner
24 Diane at Random Noodling

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Two Great National Geographic Kids Books

Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat
by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen with Carol Tennant
National Geographic, 2015
review copy provided by the publisher

This book is going to be in high demand for Genius Hour projects! How much fun will it be to do science that you can eat?!?

This will also be a great mentor text for Technical Text.

The chapters include Mixing and Unmixing (with projects like Ice Cream in a Bag and Ricotta Cheese); Solids, Liquids, and Yum! (with projects like Baked Alaska and Maple Candy); It's a Gas (with projects like the ever-popular Egg in a Bottle); Actions and Reactions (Jiggling Gelatin and Banana Bread); and Biology in Your Kitchen (Mock Apple Pie and Mealworm Brownies).

All of the instructions are clearly laid out, with the things you need, the things to watch for, the steps to take, and the science behind what happens.

Brain Games: The Mind-Blowing Science of Your Amazing Brain
by Jennifer Swanson
National Geographic, 2015
review copy provided by the publisher

This is a great book for browsing. It is organized with challenges for your brain, an explanation of what is happening in your brain during the challenge, and lots of extra information on the topic in the sidebars.

I was fascinated by the sections on long and short term memory, and what happens inside your brain when you try to multi-task. Hmm...wonder why those sections popped out at me?  :-)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

2 Books to Help Children Think About Changing the World

I am exited to share these two books with my 3rd graders as we learn about our own community and ways we can help make our communities and our world better.

31 Ways to Change the World  is based on the idea that "Small Actions X Lots of People = Big Change".  The book is filled with ideas of things kids can do to make things better. They are small things such as "Make Someone Smile" and "Don't Charge Your Phone Overnight".  Each idea gives an explanation of how this helps.  The layout for each idea is different so kids can read the pages in any order they wish. This is not a book that needs to be read cover-to-cover.

Can We Help: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities by George Ancona shares many ways kids help in their communities.  The book is filled with the ways kids of all ages can help in their communities and the photos show them in action.  There is a good variety of volunteer opportunities that I can see readers being inspired by one or more of the ideas shared. The book also gives the  message that volunteering and doing things for your community is a fun way to spend your time. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

November Mosaic

November is always such a gallop, what with mammo/onco appointments, parent conferences, report cards, 5th grade concert...but lookie there...I took time for a coloring page at The James, a concert at Natalie's, a bonfire,  and a bike ride before NCTE, plus a lovely afternoon at the Audubon Metropark as our Black Friday #OptOutside after NCTE. And of course, NCTE was all kinds of loveliness in the middle of all that other craziness!

You can see the images in this mosaic on Flickr here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Fine Dessert....What Does This Mean for Teachers?

Last month, there was an online conversation around the picture book, A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall that expanded my thinking about the idea of teacher-as-reader/teacher-as-decision-maker.

A Fine Dessert was published earlier this year and has received several starred reviews by major reviewers such as School Library Journal and Booklist. It is a book that is loved by children and teachers everywhere. It has been talked about as a possible Caldecott contender on the blog Calling Caldecott (here and here).

Then issues were brought up about the book and its depiction of slavery (A Fine Dessert: Sweet Intentions, Sour Aftertaste).  Sophie Blackall responded, explaining her process and the thoughtful choices she made as illustrator.  Honestly, it was something I completely missed and overlooked and like the author of Reading While White, I am a bit disappointed with myself for missing it.

(To catch up on the entire conversation, you can find many of the posts and a timeline of many events on Debbie Reese's blog.)

The conversation last month was a long, intense conversation that happened mainly through blogs and Twitter.  I listened in to the conversation daily and tried to keep up with all that everyone was saying about this book and the issues surrounding it. Social media is a tricky way to have conversations like this because lots of people jump in and out of conversations and sometimes 140 characters isn't enough to dig into a topic this big.

So, what does this mean for teachers?  As teachers we need to be readers. But we also need to be readers of discussions like this one so that we understand as much as we can about the books we put in our classrooms and in the hands of children.  Here are the big take-aways I had after thinking about this for a few weeks.  These are the things I've learned from the conversation:

1. This is one reason many of us are on social media--to hear different perspectives, to learn from people we did not always have the opportunities to learn from, to grow in our thinking.  I've always believed strongly that teachers need to be readers, but this online controversy reminded me of the reasons I spend so much time reading book reviews, blogs, etc. Not only do I need to be a reader of books, but I need to be a reader of all that surrounds a book if I am going to make good decisions about the books to share with my students.  Whether you agree with the opinions of others or not, being aware of perspectives of others is important in our work.

2. This is not about one book--it is much bigger than that.  Even though the conversation felt focused on a book and individual people, this is really a bigger issue than that.  And it has been an issue for a very long time.  If you aren't aware of the campaign, We Need Diverse Books or the NCTE Resolution on The Need for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Books, they are important to know about. I also think Roger Sutton's piece, We're Not Rainbow Sprinkles, in last month's Horn Book is worth a read on this issue.

3. There was very little teacher voice in the conversation. And I believe that our voice needs to be part of this conversation.  We need to respect the teacher-as-decision-maker in these and all conversations and I didn't see that happening in this conversation. Ultimately, we are the ones who make decisions about which books are in our classroom libraries.  I remember years ago, reading the issue surrounding an Alvin Ho book. I realized then how many things we need to think about as teachers when we choose books for our classrooms.

4. Change happens because of the conversations. It doesn't  happen overnight but it does happen. Betsy Bird recently shared a post about the new edition of Ladybug Girl and Debbie Reese shared many books whose stereotypic depictions have been changed in recent years. This is all good news for children.

5. Social media is a tricky place to have hard conversations. Conversations without judging is key--we can have heated conversations that help us all grow and understand our own biases. It seemed that early on, as people were making sense of the issue, some people were unintentionally shut down a bit when they didn't agree immediately. And this was a conversation between a group of people who ultimately spend their lives working to get diverse, quality books into the hands of children.  This was a group of people working toward the same goals. I learned that there will be missteps in language as we each make sense of our own biases and make sense of some of these issues.  It seems we have to be a bit more careful when we are having conversations on social media--careful so that we broaden the conversation--so that we invite more people in instead of unintentionally shutting people out.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Poetry Friday

the carousel slows and stops
blur refocuses

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015 

I've been away from Poetry Friday for too long. It's good to be back, to have time to visit the roundup, which is hosted this week by Carol at Carol's Corner. Hard to believe that the year is winding down -- next week we'll start building the roundup schedule for January-June 2016!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! Happy Poetry! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My NCTE Top Ten(s)

Top 10 Famous People I Heard Speak 
or With Whom I Ate Dinner
Peter Sis
Vicki Vinton
Allison Bechdel
Kate Messner
Laurel Snyder
LeUyen Pham
Marilyn Singer
Kadir Nelson
Laura Amy Schlitz
Dave Eggers

Top 10 Books I Can't Wait to Read (or re-read) Because of NCTE

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (see photo below for why)
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time #3) by Kate Messner
Currents by Jane Smolik
A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner
Are You My Mother? by Allison Bechdel
Writers ARE Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities by Lester Laminack
Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers
The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene

Top 10 Quotes from NCTE Speakers

"I write to figure out stuff that's bothering me." --Allison Bechdel

"Fear motivates me to take on something that seems daunting and impossible...why would you bother with anything less?" --Allison Bechdel

"If kids can find the answers faster [using Google], maybe we need to ask different questions." --Jen Vincent

"It was a big deal to me that I got it right." --LeUyen Pham (The Boy Who Loved Math)

"Writing is not always fun. It is always more fun to have written." --Dave Eggers

"I think of America as a large family. Every family's stories are a part of the American story." --Kadir Nelson

"We have to be careful that we don't jargonize joy like we did rigor and grit." --Kathy Collins

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." --John Dewey (quoted by Vicki Vinton)

Our students don't need more content and vocabulary (as the Common Core states), they need a reading identity and agency. They need to be "...deep thinkers with a knack for problem solving." --Vicki Vinton

"Use a problem-solving approach to reading (the way we do in math workshop). Words aren't the problem...what does it MEAN?" --Vicki Vinton

Two Amazing Moments That Happened at NCTE, 
But Don't Really Have Anything to do with the Conference Itself

I had the opportunity to go to the University of Minnesota's Kerlan Collection, and among other artifacts of children's literature, we saw (and touched) the first three drafts of Because of Winn Dixie. 

These native dancers. I happened on them by accident one evening when I was walking through the convention center back to my hotel after a reception. My fifth graders are currently studying the "ancient people of Latin America," and here those people were, alive and well and wearing spandex shorts and glasses, honoring their Aztec ancestors by keeping their traditions alive, all the way north in Minneapolis, MN.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NCTE Book Awards!

This year, NCTE Children's Book Awards were announced at the children's luncheon at convention. It was great fun to have them announced at the luncheon. It was also fabulous to hear the award winners speak at the luncheon. The luncheon has always been one of my favorite events at convention and now it's an even better event!  

Each year at the lunch, not only do you get to hear great speakers (and now be there for the live announcement of the award winners each year) but everyone gets to sit at a table with a children's author. This year, I was lucky enough to sit with Deborah Wiles!! What a treat!

I was lucky enough to serve on the Charlotte Huck Award Committee and have loved the conversations with others committee members about the books. I love everything about this award. If the award is new to you, here is what the NCTE website has to say about it.

The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children was established in 2014 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of fiction for children. This award recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder.

This is such a great lens to read with and there have been so many 2015 books that definitely have the potential to transform children's lives.  I so love our list this year! 

You can find the list on the NCTE website.

The other award that was announced at Saturday's luncheon was the Orbis Pictus Award. This has always been one of my favorite lists because it is the place where I find so much great nonfiction. This year, I didn't have the time to read nonfiction that I usually do, because I spent so much time reading fiction for the Huck award. So I am anxious to check out many of the books on this list. The award is described as:

The NCTE Orbis Pictus Award  was established in 1989 for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures(1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.

If you want to read more about NCTE book awards, there was a recent post on the NCTE blog.

I love award season and the season has begun! If you did not attend the Saturday luncheon on Saturday, you may want to put it on your list of convention to-dos for next year. It is great fun!