Tag Archives: Kidlit

I LOVE Authors! Do You?

This week I was in author heaven as I was able to connect with some of my very favorites in a variety of venues.

On Monday I attended a Booksource Book Tasting in which authors Cynthia Lord and Charlotte Agell shared their latest books and talked a bit about their process.IMG_E0936

On Tuesday two of my schools sponsored an author visit by Matt Tavares and I got to watch him put on 4 amazing presentations for groups of students from preK to 6th grade. He shared how he comes up with his ideas, how he researches his subjects/topics, and the countless revisions in his writing and drawing that lead him to his masterpieces. IMG_0993

On Wednesday I asked author Dusti Bowling to Skype with a group of 4th grade girls who were part of a lunch bunch reading club and were having their last get together for Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus.IMG_1057

Today I Skyped with author Sarah Aronson in preparation for a surprise Skype visit on IMG_E1077Monday with some 2nd graders. I’ll be reading her new book Just Like Rube Goldberg as part of a Readathon launch at one of my schools. As part of that Readathon I am also keynoting to students on the topic I LOVE AUTHORS.  I want them to realize and appreciate that every book they read and love was created by someone with an idea and the determination to work hard until it became a book.

I’ll be passing out these bookmarks to kids and discussing how we can show our appreciation. As an adult I can post an Amazon review, a Facebook share, or a Goodreads entry. But students often don’t have a social media presence or global contacts so their influence is much more local and intimate. I listed some ideas to get them started, but I want them to think of even more.

I love using mentor texts, but it is just as important  for students to have real mentors! Helping to bring authors into their lives in person, via Skype, or by visiting their websites can show readers that ‘wizard behind the curtain’ and help them to appreciate those words, those illustrations, and those books even more. It can also help them to aspire to be published writers themselves when they humanize their concept of author.

So thank you to all the authors who have helped me share the love of reading, the passion for books, and the desire to write with students over the years. You’ll never know how much of an impact you’ve made on their lives–and mine!

One More Off My TBR Stack

Get yourself a copy of this book and you’ll see why I think Cynthia Lord is one of the most talented middle grade writers out there today. She takes seeds from her real life and creates stories that shine a light on the human experience, especially for those who aren’t normally in the spotlight. Emma wants to go to “real school” (she’s been homeschooled). She’s lonely now that her older brother is going to highschool and doesn’t have as much time for her anymore. On the eve of the first day she and her game warden father rescue a stray rabbit. She convinces her parents to let her keep “Lapi” until they can find the owner-if ever. Starting school at 5th grade in rural north west Maine, she finds friendships and cliques have already been established but she strikes up a friendship with Jack, who does not seem to fit in. As the story unfolds, Emma learns what real friendship is about “you have to BE the friend you want to have”. As always, Cindy’s stories have so many layers that can connect with a variety of readers: loving care for pets and strays, feeling excluding and wanting to fit in, nurturing empathy for people who seem different from ourselves, and always in the context of a super satisfying story! As a bonus in this one, you’ll learn facts about lagomorphs and it is set in the amazing state of MAINE! Do your students a favor and get a copy of this in your classroom library ASAP! I don’t think it will stay on the shelves.



An Amazing Kickoff

Pardon the football reference, but it IS Superbowl Sunday!  However, I’m talking about the kickoff I’ve had to a new year of reading. If January is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, I’m in for a terrific trip around the sun!

In anticipation of the ALA Youth Media Awards that were held January 28th, I tried to read as many books as I could that made Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott lists. I always love trying to guess which books will make the final cut,and my track record is pretty dismal. However, I almost always love the choices the committee members make.


I felt like a winner by being able to read so many fantastic books this January, and this is only the tip of the iceberg of books still on my TBR stack. Here are the middle grade novels that kicked off 2019 for me:

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And here are the picture books that kicked off my Year of Picture Books 2019:

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I’ve already started digging into my February stacks and loving ’em! I’d welcome any suggestions of your favorites. I almost always make choices based on recommendations since there is so little time, and so many books I want to devour!

Here’s to A YEAR OF READING in 2019!

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 9.45.11 amShared Spark! OPENING LINES- We talk with students about the importance of leads and how those first lines can hook a reader. A fun Spark is to share a few opening lines from books and invite students to choose one and take off from there. Have students write for 5-10 minutes and see where those lines take them. It’s fun to share and discover where a lead may guide a writer and discover the endless possibilities. For more quick write ideas you can check out SPARK! from Stenhouse Publishers.

One More Off My TBR Stack!

33294200THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo

National Book Award, Pura Belpré, and Golden Kite Honor Award Winner!

Elizabeth Acevedo is renowned for her slam poetry, and now she is just as accomplished as a kidlit author. Her debut YA novel, The Poet X, tell us the story of Xiomara Batista. Xiomara (See-oh-MAH-ruh) and her twin brother (whom she refers to only as Twin) were miracle babies to their older parents who thought they’d be childless. Mami is ultra-religious and wishes she’d been a nun, Papi is a reformed womanizer who let’s Mami run the household. Xiomara feels unheard, but has so much she wants to say. She decides to write it all down in poetry in the notebook Twin gifted her. She finds love, but is forbidden to date or be around boys. She wants to join the slam poetry club, but must attend confirmation classes instead. Will Xiomara get to be her authentic self or will the collision course she is on with church and Mami’s rules destroy her chance at the life she desires? Amazing story in verse. I kept rereading sections to savor the #DeliciousWords!

When You Can’t Contain Your Booklove

14614517_10211135952343003_408002585_oYou love books. You talk books. You share books. So what do  you do when you can’t contain your booklove?  You hold a book bonanza!

This week we hosted an evening to celebrate our love of books with the Maine Literacy Council’s Fall Book Bonanza.  We wanted to share some of our favorite new books with teachers and librarians from schools and communities that support K-12 readers. The energy was palpable!  Getting together in a room packed with passionate book lovers is a great way to launch a school year, or to re-energize a midyear slump, or even prep for summer reading.  The idea is to create buzz for books that ‘infects’ everyone around you-colleagues, students, parents, etc!

Create your own Book Bonanza…

Invite book talkers. Find some colleagues who would love to share their passion for books and who would be willing to share a brief booktalk.

Research. Find out what is new and loved in the kidlitosphere.  Join chats like #Titletalk #MELit #ShelfieTalk #kidlitchat #bookaday #WeNeedDiverseBooks We also looked for what is new in professional books for teachers.  There are so many offerings, it is nice to hear from others what is helpful and who might find it valuable.

Read. (ok, this is probably the easiest step for most of us!! haaa)

Create a platform for sharing. We created a Google Slide so that book talkers could add their books and blurbs. We hyperlinked all books to Amazon (not because we want readers to buy from them necessarily, but so they can review the books they love more easily!)  We also created a Padlet. Our Maine Student Book Award committee created a Symbaloo to share their titles.

Find a venue. Think about who you want to invite and find a suitable space. Maybe it is your local library, your classroom, or a conference room.

Bring food. Breaking bread with others is a wonderful way to build community, create a festive atmosphere, and attract participants. You could make it potluck, look for donations, or make it yourself.

Have swag.  It’s fun to win or get “stuff”.  It adds an element of fun to an event, and makes participants feel appreciated, important and special.  I save ARCs from conferences I attend, I’ve saved gently used books, and I purchase inexpensive office supplies. I also reach out for donations, and you’d be pleasantly surprised at how willing others are to support teachers!

Play games. We raffled off some free items and our MSBA representative played a game of Kahoot with participants.  If you haven’t checked out Kahoot, you need to! You can create an interactive trivia or question/answer game in minutes!

Book talk.  Bring books, read books, share books with brief book talks that make your audience want to run out and get that title!! (no spoilers, please!) Then allow participants to share some of their favorites as well.  It shouldn’t be all “sit and get”.

That’s It.  Those are the basics for hosting your own Booklove Event.  Start small. Go big. Whatever is best for you. Sure it’s work and we’re all busy, but I can guarantee you that it will spark your own passion and spread an excitement for books that will ‘feed forward’ for a long time to come!

What’s On My Book Radar?


Fans of Raina Telgemeier‘s previous graphic novels are anxious to get their hands on her new book GHOSTS.

Catrina (Cat) and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya,has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool sea air. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna!. With Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) coming, Cat thinks (worries?)she’ll get a chance to see them.

Long wait list at our library for this one!