The New York Public Library (NYPL) presented its first ever list of the Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 Years. Many of the books are no surprise: Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Some have been featured on this blog: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Holes by Louis Sacher and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. There are books that I loved as a kid: Charlotte’s Web by E B White, Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans and The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. A generation later my children loved: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. My grandchildren love: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J K Rowling . Check out the complete list at School Library Journal.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Is your child able to understand what he reads? Melissa Taylor has outlined strategies that parents can use to determine if their child is comprehending what they are reading and what to do to help them learn. These techniques are for beginning to advanced readers: Part I and Part II.
Hat Tip: Imagination Soup
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Alison McGhee (Bink & Gollie books) has written a charming, not at all scary Halloween tale. The cartoonist, Harry Bliss, illustrates. His pictures of the Witches’ Estate are filled with plenty of interesting detail. I especially liked the Library, the sub-basement costume unit and the looks of horror on the adult witches’ faces.
There are a few copies of A Very Brave Witch at the Sonoma County Library and they also have an video recording of this book and other Halloween favorites. The Yulupa Library also has a copy of this book. The AR level is 1.4 with 0.5 points.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Welcome to the new and returning Schools of Hope tutors. For those of us who like instant gratification, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Yulupa uses the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies) from Vanderbilt University. You can read about the program here. We use a slightly different version of PALS but the principles are the same.
When many of us went to school, the most used reading method was Whole Word (the Dick and Jane days). If you would like to review the letter sounds, you can go to Alphabet Sounds. Spring Creek Elementary made a video of a tutoring session. They do no use the same materials as Yulupa, but it gives you some idea of the flow.
If you need some additional insight check out this Advanced Tutor Training by MaryAnn Nichol. She is a professor at Sonoma State and is part of the team doing research on Schools of Hope.
Finally, for more ideas to help you with your students, just click on the Schools of Hope tag at the bottom of this post or in the left hand column on this blog.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
The Give With Target was supposed to end yesterday, but there is still more than a half million dollars that has not been claimed. The program has been extended until September 30th or until all the money has been claimed. Boost your school’s total by voting here.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Buzz and his pal, Fly Guy, are back with a new adventure called Fly Guy and the Frankenfly. Tedd Arnold’s Frankenstein inspired book comes just in time for Halloween. On a dark and stormy night, Buzz and Fly Guy are pretending to be Frankenstein’s monsters. Before Buzz goes to bed, he draws a picture of Fly Guy and himself with the caption, “Fly Guy is my best friend”. As he goes to bed, he sees Fly Guy making something.
Soon, Buzz is having a nightmare. Fly Guy has made a huge Frankenfly who is coming after Buzz. Fly Guy saves his friend. In the morning, Buzz wants to know what Fly Guy was making. He finds a picture of himself captioned “Buzz iz bezt frienz”. Great minds think alike!
Tomorrow, Saturday, September 21, is the annual Sonoma County Book Festival held this year at Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave in the Bertolini Student Center, Quad and Library. The hours are 10 AM to 4PM. The admission is free and so is the parking. For more information and directions go here.
Mac Barnett is the author of 2012 Caldecott Honor Book Extra Yarn.
Monday, September 16, 2013
James Patterson was on CBS this morning talking about kids and reading among other topics. He is serious; he wants every child to be a good reader. Check out the video and then check out his website Read Kiddo Read to find book recommendations for all ages and genres. While you are there, scroll to the bottom of the page and read his CNN opinion piece, We Can Get Our Kids Reading. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about helping your child become a good reader.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Pete the Cat books have been favorites of both my students and my grandchildren. James Dean has pared down the vocabulary for early readers with three new I Can Read books: Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach, Pete the Cat: Play Ball! and Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch. As in the earlier books, things do not always go Pete’s way but he is resilient. Pete is an optomist, for him the glass is always half. If he fails or fate is cruel, as the song goes, “he picks himself up, dusts himself off and starts all over again”.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Peter Hatcher has a problem, his little brother Fudge. He gets in the way, messes up everything and screams and kicks and bangs his fists when he doesn’t get his way. Fudge is two and a half. To make things worse, grown-ups (most of them anyway) think he’s adorable. As Peter’s mother tries to tell him, two and a half is like that.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is a hilarious romp. Perhaps it is funnier now, when I have some distance from my children’s childhood than it was the first time I read it in the late seventies. There weren’t honest books like this when I was growing up. As the oldest of six, I would have appreciated Peter’s point of view as I had more than one cute but annoying sibling. Judy Blume was a leader in writing children’s books that told the truth about children’s real feelings about the business of growing up. It seems unremarkable now, but forty years ago, it was revolutionary. Kids still love the Fudge series for that reason.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in a series that includes Otherwise Known as Shelia the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania and Double Fudge. All the books are narrated by Peter, except the second one but all of them are laugh out loud funny.
Today seems like a fine day to write about a book that has been compared by many reviewers to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Luigi Lemoncello is a world famous board and video game maker who got his start in a now defunct library in Alexandriaville, Ohio. As a gift to his home town and to honor the memory of the librarian who befriended a twelve year old boy, he has built a state of the art library (if Disney Imagineers or George Lucas built libraries). Kyle Keeley is a twelve year old boy who comes from a family of experienced game players but does not necessarily miss the fact that his town had no library. Of course, the Keeley’s favorite games were Mr. Lemoncello’s games.
Mr. Lemoncello invites every 12 year old in town to write an essay about why they want to attend the invitation-only all night party at the new library for a night of food and games. In the morning, the attendees are offered a new challenge: find a secret escape from the library by solving puzzles and riddles and using clues found in the library. This time it is a competition. Can one person find the route or does teamwork pay off? Like in the Willy Wonka story, character counts but smarts do, too. You’ll learn plenty about the Dewey Decimal System. And there are also many of references to classic and current children’s literature. Maybe that will spark an idea for the next book to read.
Each year on September 13th the book world celebrates Roald Dahl Day. His books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, have entertained generations of kids. Thanks for all the fun!
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” –Roald Dahl
Sunday, September 8, 2013
As of this evening, 2.87 million dollars of the 5 million dollars Target is giving away to schools has been allocated. Two schools, St. Charles School and Northside Elementary in Benson, MN have maxed out at $10,000. I don’t know anything about St. Charles School but I went to college near Benson, MN. It is a small town of less than 3500 people, but somehow they managed to come up with 10,000 votes on the Give With Target program. How is your school doing? If you are not on Facebook or Twitter, vote here. The program ends September 21 or when all the money has been allocated. You can vote once a week. Do it now!
Rocket loved to play hard. One day after a romp, he fell asleep under his favorite tree. He woke up to find a little yellow bird declaring, “Aha! My first student! Wonderful!” The little yellow bird pointed out a sign that said “class starts today”. She told Rocket that she would be there every day until the weather ‘turns’. Rocket did not want to be a student, he wanted to nap. He went off to find another play to sleep. After awhile, the yellow bird started reading a story about a dog who had lost his favorite bone. At first Rocket was irritated, but then he was captivated. The yellow bird stopped reading the story at the most interesting part. Rocket got up but could not find her. The next morning he was waiting at the tree for class to start.
Tad Hills has written a book, How Rocket Learns to Read, that mimics the way many children approach learning to read. The yellow bird started the day by finishing the story she was reading while Rocket was napping. Every day she taught Rocket a new letter. Soon they were singing the sounds in each letter and spelling the sounds they heard around them. When the weather turned, the little yellow bird had to leave to fly south but she told Rocket she would be back in the spring. Rocket spent the winter sounding out words like W-I-N-D and C-O-L-D . He even spelled out the names of his new dog friends. When Rocket sounds out M-U-D he realizes that spring is near. Soon the little yellow bird arrives and she and Rocket read books about birds and dogs together.
Rocket’s Mighty Words is really just a book with pictures and identifying words. Many of the words are things found in Rocket’s world, like wind, up and down, in and out and grass. But there are four pages of pictures and words written on a blackboard that are relevant to kindergartners and first graders too, like robot, ball and sock. The last pages have sight words that Rocket has found useful like again, there and very. The book comes in a board book version and an electronic version (Kindle and Nook).
The Sonoma County Library has many copies of How Rocket Learned to Read and the Yulupa Library also has a copy. The AR level is 2.9, which makes it a great read-a- loud book for K-1 graders. So far, I have been unable to find neither the electronic nor board book version of Rocket’s Mighty Words in either library. How Rocket Learns to Read can also be found as an app for the iPad in the iTunes store
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Only 46% of Sonoma County third graders read at or above grade level. The Sonoma’s Harvest Wine Auction “Fund the Future” lot raised money for three charities with a proven track record of improving literacy rates: the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, the United Way of the Wine Country’s Schools of Hope and Pasitos (Little Steps in Spanish). The wine auction is making a three year commitment to this effort. They want to make a big difference in literacy rates. Students who are proficient in reading by third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and find jobs. Two thirds of students who are not literate by the fourth grade will spend time behind bars.
The United Way’s Schools of Hope program trains volunteer tutors to work one one with struggling first and second graders. In 2012, third grade reading proficiency increased 3% across all Sonoma County schools, but at the Schools of Hope schools the rate was 7%. Last year Schools of Hope helped 500 students become better readers. This year they would like to increase the number of volunteers to 800. You can find out more about the program here.
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation plans to grow their summer reading academy which served almost 100 third graders for three weeks this past June to include first and second graders.
Pasitos, a program of the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County is focused on English language learners, specifically 3 to 4 year olds who do not attend preschool and their parents.
You can read more about the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction’s “Fund the Future” program at Sonoma News.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Dolch words are the 220 most frequently used words in the English language. Learning these words makes learning to read easier. Most of these are sight words, words that don’t follow decoding rules. The author and artist, Jan Brett has put these words on eleven decorated lists that you can download and print here. Check out the first one: