Friday, May 31, 2013

NPR’s Back Seat Book Club

A few years ago, NPR’s All Things Considered started a Back Seat Book Club. At first it was aimed at 11-14 year old readers but in the past few months they have been reading more middle grade books. Next month’s selection is The One and Only Ivan. Your child can submit questions for Katherine Applegate at this link.

In May, NPR’s monthly Back Seat Book Club followed author Jarrett J. Krosoczka while he talking to a group of students in Washington, DC. Krosoczka is the author of the Lunch Lady series of comic novels.

Lunch Lady

As you can see, the Lunch Lady has some superpowers, among them attracting reluctant readers. Now, that is a superpower I could use!

Kids like to hear from authors about how they write and why. Krosoczka had plenty of challenges to over come as a child.  As a response to a question from a student,  he says he became an author at age 8 when he wrote his first book. He then asked for a show of hands of kids who had written a book. He told them, “you are authors, too”. You can listen to it here.

Follow this link to check out more of the Back Seat Book Club broadcasts here

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Reading Recommendations 2013

The Horn Book, a publication about books for children and young adults, has published a long list of recommended summer reading from picture books to books for young adults. All were published in 2012 or 2013. For first and second grade readers, the Early Readers and Young Fiction category may be especially helpful. There is a list of books and description for each one  here.

Some of the featured books have been reviewed here: The One And Only Ivan, This Is Not My Hat and That Is NOT a Good Idea! Even more are in my to-review or to read pile: The Dark, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, Three Times Lucky, The Great Unexpected and H.O.R.S.E: A Game of  Basketball and Imagination. I have also been meaning to read at least one of the Bink & Gollie books because they are co-written by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever is on the early reader list.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Children’s Book Week!

Children’s Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the United States. This is the 94th annual celebration. This year’s poster is by Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick, author of  The Houdini Box, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck (see reviews here). Selznick’s artwork celebrates Maurice Sendak and Remy Charlip. Both authors died in 2012. Look for my review of a reissue of a book illustrated by Maurice Sendak and written by Janice May Urday in 1959 later this week.

Childrens book week poster 2013 

Remy Charlip was a multi-talented man. As well as being a children’s book author and illustrator  he was a dancer, choreographer and a director at the National Theater for the Deaf and a founding director at the Merce Cunningham Dance Theatre. His books include:

Fortunately Thirteen

He was also Brian Selznick’s model for the drawings of filmmaker Georges Melies in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Summer Book Ideas for Beginning Readers

Melissa Taylor of the Imagination Soup blog recommends some picture books and easy chapter books for beginning readers. You can view her list and short reviews at  Summer Book List for Beginning Readers. Many of these books are the latest in a series, so that gives you even more book ideas to help prevent summer brain drain in your beginning reader.


The Sonoma County Library has several copies of Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer as well as several copies of Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth. The Library also has the following books: Critter Club, Amy and the Missing Puppy, Swamp Thing vs. the Zombie Pets, Amelia Bedelia Unleashed, Mermaid Tales, Battle of the Best Friends, Zeke Meeks vs. the Stinkin' Science Fair, a truly horrifying tale Zeke  Meeks vs. the Horrifying TV Turn-Off Week, Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch and A Trip to the Bottom of the World.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Copperfield’s Books Summer Reading Adventures

Sonoma County’s local independent bookstore, Copperfield’s, is offering  summer reading adventures from June 3 until August. In August, join Copperfield’s for an adventure party where prizes will be awarded to all. Kids from age 0 through 8th grade can participate. Sign them up in May at your local Copperfield’s Books or sign up online here. Then pick up the reading adventure lists, events schedule, passports and forms to track your reading beginning June 3.  Note to parents: reading to your kids counts! All events are free!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer Reading Incentive Programs

Read Across America’s Facebook page asked this question today: how do you keep kids reading over the summer? There were lots of suggestions. One blogger looked at reading incentive programs around the country. It would be foolish to duplicate all her hard work, so I’ll send you to her blog, Christina's Sweet Nothings and her post about 2013 Summer Reading Programs. Not all of these will be available in all areas. Christina talks about her local public libraries incentives. I’ll be checking out what is happening in Sonoma County in a later post.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bedtime Math Now Has an App

Bedtime Math now has a free app for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. You can download it to your devise at the iTunes Store. You can read my review here. Add this to your list of ideas to prevent summer brain drain!

Bedtime math

50 Creative Ways to Prevent Summer Brain Drain

Since there is only one more week of Schools of Hope tutoring, I have been talking to my students about summer reading. Struggling readers fall even further behind over the summer months. A couple of years ago NPR published  some great ideas from Accredited Online Colleges to prevent summer brain drain. Over the next couple of months I’ll be writing about and linking to other ideas to help kids retain their hard earned skills.

This article has many suggestions for turning ordinary summer activities into learning opportunities. Read everything! A comic book, a street sign or  the back of a cereal box, it all counts. If you are a parent, read aloud to your children every day. You’ll be building great memories as well as skills. When you go out to eat, have the kids put together a meal with a certain amount of money. It is uses both reading and math skills. Encourage reading in bed, maybe even pushing back lights out as long as they are reading. Check out the article for many more ideas. And check back here for more ideas in the weeks to come.

A Dog Is A Dog

A Dog Is A Dog, a picture book written and illustrated by Stephen Shaskan, is  lively, easy to read verse and guaranteed to make your child laugh. A dog is a dog, right? Or is he a cat, a squid or a moose? A first grader giggled her way through this book needing help with only one word, naughty.

A Dog Is A Dog

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

A couple of Fridays ago, April 19, 2013, two time Newbery Medal winner E. L. Konigsburg died at the age of 83. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a family favorite. Three generations of my family have enjoyed this book about a sister and brother who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and solve a mystery surrounding a statue that is purported to be by Michelangelo.

In a letter to her lawyer, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tells the story of almost twelve year old Claudia, who has decided to run away from home because of injustice. The injustice of having to do chores when her three younger brothers don’t do any. Maybe, too, she is bored with being straight A’s Claudia and wants some adventure. Because she does not like discomfort, Claudia plans to run away TO somewhere that is comfortable and beautiful. She chooses The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since her allowance was too small (another injustice), she needs some financial assistance, so she invites her thrifty brother, Jamie. He never spends his money.

Jamie turns out to be a good, but thrifty companion (no cab rides, just buses and as we used to say, ankle express). They arrive at the museum and find a comfortable place to bed down each night, find all the entrances and exits and learn the schedules of the night watchmen. Once settled, they decide to use the opportunity to learn and study about all the treasures in the museum. One day they go  to the Italian Renaissance Gallery. There is a huge line leading to a small statue of an angel with folded arms. Claudia thinks it is the most beautiful and graceful statue she has ever seen. The next day, in a New York  Times article, there is a story about the statue. It was thought to be an early work by Michelangelo. If it was, the Museum had found the greatest bargain in art history: it had purchased the statue at auction for $225 from the same  Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She had bought it before World War II from a dealer in Bologna, Italy. So the statue was not only beautiful but mysterious. How could Claudia and Jamie resist the challenge? They are determined to find out if the statue is really a Michelangelo.  Do they  find the answer?  And who is Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s lawyer?

From the Mixed Up Files

The Sonoma County Library has many copies of this book as well as audio recordings. The AR level is 4.7. Yulupa has the test and it is worth 5 points.