Tag Archives: Maine Literacy Council

“Fall” In Love With Books

This past week our Maine Literacy Council held its annual Fall Book Bonanza. We wanted to share some of the best new titles for the 2015 school year with teaCQQ--BGWwAEflm9chers and librarians in Maine.  Trying to decide which books made the cut was tough.  There are SO many amazing kidlit offerings and we each had our favorites.  So rather than  offer more in depth book talks with a few titles, we wanted to share a larger harvest of books this autumn.

We decided that a good way to match readers with books was to offer speed dating with titles!  As with speed dating people, where the purpose is to increase your pool of potential “likes” by meeting a large number of people in short bursts, we wanted participants to meet a large number of books, in hopes that they will leave with a lot of potential “matches”.

We started with the Maine Student Book Award nominees for the upcoming school year.  Diana Marc-Aurele from the MSBA brought a copy of each title on display for participants to “meet” personally. She shared the MSBAs awesome website with resources for teachers and readers to preview, review,  and document the books they read. One of my favorite resources are the book trailers compiled in a LiveBinder page.

IMG_1430We shared The Chickadee Award nominee’s for this year.  Ten picture books will be voted on by over 20,000 Maine school children between March 1 and April 1 next spring.  The goal (as stated on their website) is for children to develop an appreciation of outstanding writing and illustration in current children’s picture books through participation in the program.

We shared the book nominees for this year’s GLOBAL READ ALOUD. Pernille Ripp’s amazing project brings kids and books together all over the world, and allows them opportunities to connect with other readers.  This year’s GIMG_1442RA begins October 5th, but don’t worry if you miss that date, it continues on through the month of October.

Then we put on our blitz of kidlit titles.  Organizing by genre, we tried to highlight K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade spans, but we were careful to note that these were only some rough guidelines.  Many books cross over into nearly every age or grade span, depending on its purpose.  We also put graphic novels into a category, but reminded participants that graphic novels are not a genre, they are a format.  We shared nonfiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and realistic fiction graphic novels from primary grades up through high school and beyond.

We wrapped up with some of the newest titles in professional books for literacy and instruction from Stenhouse (59 Reasons to Write, Worth Writing About, The Construction Zone, and Readers Front and Center), Heinemann (I AM Reading, Writers ARE Readers,  Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts, The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, as well as Learn Like a Pirate and The Doodle Revolution.

You can see our entire presentation HERE.

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We didn’t want to just share titles with participants, we wanted to share actual books.  So aside from raffling off some amazing professional books from Stenhouse and Heinemann we offered lots of gently used, formerly loved books for participants to adopt! One of my goals as a literacy coach is to get books into the hands of kids-either directly or through their teachers and classroom libraries.   I collect discards and unwanteds and find them new homes!  I offer tips for repurposing some older books that might not be “loved” any longer:

  • Create new covers with student artwork or photos
  • Allow students to annotate close reading evidence/strategies right in the book
  • Create “Little Free Libraries” in the community
  • Cut out the text, paste it into blank booklets and let students illustrate (visualize).
  • Cut out the illustrations, past it into blank booklets and let students write!
  • Create “CUT UP” poetry in which students clip text and reassemble into new ideas and meanings.


What ideas can you think of for re-using adopted books?

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Thing About Jellyfish

I’ve heard so much about this book, I couldn’t wait to get it and read it, and I wasn’t disappointed! Suzy Swanson becomes obsessed with jellyfish when her friend Franny drowns with no explanation. Suzy is determined to find out if jellyfish had something to do with her friends death and discovers how interconnected all life truly is. Beautifully written with compassion and everything you’d ever want to know about jellyfish! Recommend 6th grade and up.


What About Volume Writing?

MLC Fall Book Bonanza

After last week’s Maine Literacy Council Fall Book Bonanza I had a longer list of TBR (to be read) books and an eagerness to dive into some of those new titles as soon as possible.  I love being a part of reading celebrations and sharing that sense of community with other readers.

One of the activities we did, was to create a grafitti wall where teachers could share new or favorite titles and a wall where they shared ideas for building a community of readers in their classrooms.  Some teachers shared ideas for encouraging reading with their students.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit these last few years about increasing the volume of reading in our students’ lives.  At our schools we have hosted 25 Book Challenge (for half a year), 40 Book Challenge (for the full year) as well as Summer Reading Challenges (Summer Kids), Maine Student Book Award Challenges, and classroom reading incentives.  The goal for all of these has been to encourage volume reading.  Much has been written on the importance of high volume reading to foster fluency, increase vocabulary, deepen comprehension and expand a students’ world view.  I don’t think I could find an educator who would dispute the importance of increasing the reading that most of our students do.

IMG_0844Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of high volume writing.  As with any skill, the more you do it, the more opportunity you have to grow and become stronger.  Again, I don’t think any teachers would argue that more writing wouldn’t be a good thing for our students.  So where are the challenges and incentives to help us promote a greater volume of writing from our students?  Where are the studies that analyze its effects on student learning and skills?  Where are the tips for encouraging students to engage in more writing?

I’m not sure we need to wait for someone to conduct a study or promote a product to help us encourage more writing from our students.  I guess we just need to put it on our radar and look for those opportunities and create those supports.   So maybe we can share our thinking, ideas, and approaches for increasing the volume of writing in our classrooms and in our students’ lives.  Let me know what you are thinking?  Let me know what you are trying.  I’ll do the same.

How are YOU promoting volume writing in your schools?


One way to promote more writing, might be to introduce books that kids may want to try versions of their own.  This collection of biographies by  Brad Meltzer just might be a good choice.  The message in this series of books is that we can all be heroes.  He show us this by revealing the childhood lives of some very famous people.  They weren’t always heroes, they were first kids, just like our students.  They stretched their thinking, made good choices and weren’t afraid to take chances.

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