Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dig In! Growing Season Is Here and Learning Opportunities Abound!

Plant a Garden with Your Kids and
Reap the Rewards

Spring gardening continues across the country as early crops are harvested and summer crops and annual flowers are planted.
Copyright (c) 2008 by S. D. Schindler
Why not take some time in the early days of summer vacation to plan and plant a garden with your children? No matter how big--or small--the garden, you and your family can benefit not only from the garden's bounty but also from the experience itself. In the NCBLA article "Growing a Spring Garden: Cultivating Plants and Your Child's Literacy Skills," author and educator Mary Brigid Barrett explains the interdisciplinary opportunities inherent in gardening with your children.

Make Connections!
To get your kids excited about gardening, make connections with the gardening work of other kids, including the work of the First Family. You can learn more about the Obama's experiences in planting, harvesting, and eating healthy recipes made from the bounty of the White House kitchen garden by searching kitchen garden on WhiteHouse.gov. For information on taking students on a free tour of the White House kitchen garden, click here. To discover White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford's grilled garden pizza recipe, click here.  
 
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert, March 26, 2012
And to learn even more about the Obama's experiences in planting the White House kitchen garden, check out First Lady Michelle Obama's new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.

Dig into the Past!
Help young people make connections to the past in the article "White House Colonial Kitchen Gardens" by Stephanie Loer in the NCBLA's literature and art anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. S. D. Schindler's coordinating illustration of Thomas Jefferson enjoying the bounty of his own White House kitchen garden is featured above.

And be sure to check out the online article "A Taste of the Past: White House Kitchens, Menus, and Recipes" by Mary Brigid Barrett. This article is included in the educational companion website to Our White House and features a glimpse into the days before modern appliances eased the burdens of the White House cook. Also included in "A Taste of the Past" is President Dwight Eisenhower's not-to-be-missed recipe for Green Turtle Soup!

The National Children's
Book and Literacy Alliance's award-winning book Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is filled with stunning art, poetry, stories, and personal accounts that celebrate our Presidents and First Ladies, and the history and culture of America! All proceeds go to help the NCBLA continue its work.
Our White House is available in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press. Learn more at OurWhiteHouse.org.

Ask for Our White House
at a library or bookstore near you! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Attention Parents, Family Members, Teachers, Homeschoolers, Librarians, and Community Leaders!

NEW Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids NOW AVAILABLE Free at OurWhiteHouse.org

Use This All-in-One Resource to Engage and Excite Kids in This Year's Presidential Election!

Just in time for summer learning! The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance has created a free, online Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for all adults who live and work with young people to help engage and excite kids all across the country in this year's presidential election and to enrich kids' knowledge of all our presidents and our nation's history! 

The Our White House Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids is available exclusively on OurWhiteHouse.org. Included in the Kit are the following resources:

Some of the ideas and activities provided in the Kit coordinate with the content and illustrations in the NCBLA's art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, but most of the activities can be used independently of the book. We invite you to print content from the Kit as needed or to browse the pages using your smart phone, tablet computer, or laptop while on the go.


About Our White House and OurWhiteHouse.org
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance as a collaborative effort by over one hundred award-winning authors and illustrators. Our White House overflows with fascinating essays, stories, letters, illustrations, comics, and more. 

The Our White House anthology is supported by a companion educational website, OurWhiteHouse.org, which expands the book content with additional stories and articles and also provides activities and discussion questions related to book topics. The Our White House Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids is the most recent addition to this site, which has been named a Great Web Site for Kids by the American Library Association!

Both Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and OurWhiteHouse.org are projects created by the NCBLA to not only promote literacy, but to also excite people of all ages about our nation’s rich history. Learn more about how parents, teachers, and librarians can inspire young people using the Our White House resources in the online article "For Educators: Using Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and OurWhiteHouse.org in the Classroom."
 
Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press.
Ask for it at a library or bookstore near you!

About The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance
The NCBLA is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization founded by award-winning young people’s authors and illustrators. Acting as an independent creative agent or in partnership with interested parties, the NCBLA develops original projects, programs, and educational outreach that advocate for and educate about literacy, literature, libraries, and the arts.

We believe that literacy is essential to the development of responsible citizens in a democracy. And we believe that citizens, both young and old, must have equal access to stimulating books and information sources that invite them to dream and give them the tools to achieve their dreams. As writers and illustrators, teachers and mentors, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—as citizens and neighbors—our ultimate question is always how can we best serve all of our nation’s children?

For more information about the NCBLA, please visit our website at www.thencbla.org.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Literary Field Trip!

Massachusetts Teenager Creates and Installs Public Art Exhibit Inspired by
the Poems of Emily Dickinson

Assembled at a Turner Falls church, the houses are now on museum land (above).
Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe
Assembled at a Turner Falls church, the houses are now on museum land.
Poetry lovers, and particularly adoring readers of poet Emily Dickinson, should take note of Massachusetts student Peter Krasznekewicz's public art debut, "...a blend of installation art, literary analysis, and architecture," which is now on display on the Emily Dickinson Museum property in Amherst, Massachusetts. 

"Krasznekewicz’s “Little White House Project” is a collection of 34 houses, each about the size of a family sedan, displayed on the museum’s 3 acres and extending about 2 acres beyond to public and private properties. Each house is made from sustainably harvested wood and features a line from a Dickinson poem; a word or two is stenciled on each of its four outer walls and the roof panels. The shape of the house is a reflection of the traditional New England barns that dot the Western Massachusetts landscape, the region Dickinson was obsessed with and inspired by."

Learn more about this student's inspiring project in the Boston Globe article "Homing in on Dickinson's poems" by Globe correspondent Liza Weisstuch.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Save the Dates! National Book Festival to be Held Sept. 22-23

Twelfth Library of Congress
National Book Festival
to be Held on the National Mall
September 22-23


Award-Winning Artist Rafael López to Create Festival Poster

The 12th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall between 9th and 14th Streets on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 23 from noon to 5:30 p.m., rain or shine. The event is free and open to the public. 

Creating the artwork for this year’s festival poster will be artist Rafael López, whose work summons imagery of Mexican street life, surrealism and myths.His illustrations for "Book Fiesta!" written by Pat Mora won the 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, which is conferred by the American Library Association to honor work that best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books. López also has won two Americas Awards, and in 2011 he created stamps for the U.S. Postal Service celebrating Latin music legends Celia Cruz, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente and Selena.

Additional festival-related events will take place in the days and weeks preceding the much-anticipated yearly festival, which celebrates the joys of books and reading. More information will be posted as planning for the festival continues at the festival’s website, LOC.GOV/bookfest.

"Last year’s Festival, our first offering two days of authors and reading-related festivities, was very well-received by the authors and the festival-goers," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "There’s a great sense of excitement about putting hundreds of thousands of readers, young and old, in touch with more than 100 authors once again."

The 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival will feature award-winning authors, poets and illustrators in several pavilions dedicated to categories of literature. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with mascots and storybook characters and participate in a variety of learning activities. 

The Pavilion of the States will represent reading- and library-promotion programs and literary events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. trusts and territories. 

The popular Let’s Read America Pavilion will offer reading activities that are fun for the whole family. 

The Library of Congress Pavilion will showcase the cultural treasures to be found in the Library’s vast online collections and offer information about popular Library programs.

There are also plans to bring back two popular features premiered at the 2011 Festival: the Family Storytelling Stage sponsored by Target, a pavilion offering fare for younger children including popular authors and musical acts, and two mini-pavilions on Sunday. This year the mini-pavilions will feature the genres Graphic Novels and Science Fiction & Fantasy. 

The 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival is made possible through the support of David Rubenstein, co-chairman of the National Book Festival Board; Target, The Washington Post and many other generous supporters. 

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may be accessed through the Library’s website, LOC.GOV.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attention Coaches, Youth Counselors, and Mentors!

YOU Can Help Connect Kids to Books!

In the article "Great Ideas Connecting Kids to Books" by Mary Brigid Barrett in the NCBLA's Mentor Handbook on thencbla.org, Barrett explains how all the adults in a young person's life--not just a child's parents and teachers, but his or her other family and community members--can make a huge impact on a child's life. All adults who live and work with children in even limited ways can encourage kids to turn off the TV and video games and engage in a good book!

Here is an excerpt:

Grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, neighbors, coaches, scout and camp councilors, youth volunteers—all of you have far more influence on the kids in your life than you know. And you have enormous influence on the children and teens that have parents who, for whatever reason, are unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Your position is free of even ordinary parental/child/teen tension, and because of that, your leadership and friendship are hugely meaningful, especially to preteen and teens that are naturally looking beyond their own backyards for mentors. Don’t be afraid to exert your influence encouraging kids to read, to write, to stay in school and learn.
 
To read the entire article, click here.

The NCBLA website is overflowing with informative articles for adults and who live and work with young people. Whether you are a parent, teacher, grandparent, or coach, you will find something to help you encourage literacy and help your kids become lifelong readers! Be sure to check out:




Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Article Published on OurWhiteHouse.org

Share the History of the Voting Ballot with the Young People in Your Life
Exclusive New Article Now Available on OurWhiteHouse.org

OurWhiteHouse.org, the NCBLA's companion educational website to the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, features a treasure trove of exclusive articles, discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history. Both the Our White House website and book are perfect partners for helping you get kids engaged in this year's presidential election!

JUST ADDED to OurWhiteHouse.org is a new web exclusive "From Peas to Paper to IPads: The Evolution of the Ballot in America" by NCBLA volunteer writer Heather Lang.
 
Parents, teachers, and librarians--did you know that in America's earliest days voters sometimes cast their ballots using peas--or even bullets?!  Did you know that until the late nineteenth century voting was a public act because most Americans believed that private voting was cowardly?! You can read all about how the form of the ballot and the method used to cast a vote have evolved in Lang's exclusive article. We encourage you to share this article--and the accompanying discussion questions and activities--with all the young people in your life.

Here is an excerpt:

The Constitution left it up to each state to decide what voting mechanism it would use, but until the late nineteenth century almost all states had one thing in common: voting was a public act. Many people thought the idea of voting privately, like we do today, was disgraceful and cowardly. 

This early voting system was wrought with fraud and abuse. Politicians, thugs, and partisans intimidated voters at the polls. Tenant farmers opted to stay home rather than face their landlords while casting their votes. It was legal for politicians to bribe voters by handing out their party ticket with a coin. Ballots were stolen. Voters were mugged. Ballot boxes were stuffed or designed with hidden compartments so votes could be added without unlocking them. Not surprisingly there were sometimes more votes than voters. 

As our country evolved, so did our voting system.

To read the entire article detailing the history of the American ballot, click here
 
Heather Lang is the author of the just published nonfiction book Queen of the Track, illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper. Queen of the Track tells the inspiring story of Olympic athlete Alice Coachman. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website

Our White House is an outstanding collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry that melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a look at America’s history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers and continuing through the present day, these highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family and classroom sharing -- and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.

To learn more about Our White House, click here.

For more articles and resources related to presidential elections, check out the OurWhiteHouse.org Civic Education page AND our other NEW exclusive "The Second Shall Be First: The 1948 Presidential Election--Truman V. Dewey" by Renee Critcher Lyons.


Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback.
Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Support RIF with E-Cards for Mothers

Thank the Mothers in Your Life and Support RIF and Books for Kids

In one minute, you can raise $90 for Reading Is Fundamental without spending a dime. That’s enough for RIF to get 32 books to kids in need. Plus, you’ll be able to recognize all the Moms in your life with a stylish e-Card. 

It’s easy. Just visit Macy's Facebook page to send your special cards today. Choose RIF as your charity of choice and Macy's will donate $3 in honor of each recipient. 

You can send cards to 15 Moms on Facebook and 15 Moms via email every day through May 13!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Celebrate Children's Book Week

Children's Book Week Is the National Celebration of Books and Reading for Youth

Established in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. Each year, books for young people and the joy of reading are feted for a full week with author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, and homes from coast to coast!

Administered by Every Child A Reader and sponsored by the Children's Book Council, Children's Book Week celebrates the transformative power of literacy.
Children's Book Week Highlights
Children's Book Week is a truly national celebration, with events happening from coast to coast throughout the week.
  • Check out the line-up of official book week events! Over 40 cities are hosting author and illustrator events during Book Week (May 7-13, 2012).
  • Each year, the Children's Book Council enlists illustrators to design a commemorative Children's Book Week Poster and Bookmark. Download the 2012 Book Week bookmark by Lane Smith and order your 2012 Poster by David Wiesner!
  • Children's Choice Book Awards Gala. In 2008, the Children's Book Council created the Children's Choice Book Awards, the only national child-chosen book awards program, giving young readers a powerful voice in their own reading choices. Each year, the award winners are announced live at the highly-anticipated Children's Choice Book Awards Gala during Book Week (May 7, 2012)!
 To learn more about Children's Book Week events, click here.
 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Article Published on OurWhiteHouse.org

Share the Story of the 1948 Truman-Dewey Campaign with the Young People in Your Life
Exclusive Article Now Available on OurWhiteHouse.org

OurWhiteHouse.org, the NCBLA's companion educational website to the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, features a treasure trove of exclusive articles, discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history. This substantive educational website has been named one of the American Library Association's Great Web Sites for Kids.


Parents, teachers, and librarians--remember reading about that famously false headline "Dewey Defeats Truman!?" You can read all about the media's mispredictions and the campaign tactics that led up to the 1948 re-election of Truman in Lyons' exclusive article, and we encourage you to share this story--and the accompanying discussion questions and activities--with all the young people in your life.

Here is an excerpt:

All three major pollsters—Gallup, Roper, and Crosley—throughout the election, predicted Dewey would win by a landslide. ... The Roper poll even stopped surveys in September, so confident were they of Dewey’s victory. Columnist Marquis Childs wrote, “We were wrong, all of us, completely and entirely, the commentators, the political editors, the politicians—except for Harry S Truman…”

No one except Truman himself, and his own pollster, Lester Biffle, Secretary of the Senate, who disguised himself as a chicken peddler and conducted his own poll that showed “the common people” were for Truman, understood the power of the average American citizen to make up his or her own mind. Truman knew: “The people are with us. The tide is rolling. All over the country. I have seen it in the people’s faces. The people are going to win this election.”

To read the entire article about the 1948 election, click here.

Our White House is an outstanding collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry that melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a look at America’s history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers and continuing through the present day, these highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family and classroom sharing -- and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.  

To learn more about Our White House, click here

For more articles and resources related to presidential elections, check out the OurWhiteHouse.org Civic Education page

Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback. 
Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!

WHY LIBRARIANS ARE MY HEROES



Miss Mesarchik: 

The West Park Branch 

of the Cleveland Public Libraries



See the woman sitting at the desk. That’s Miss Mesarchik, in 1966—our librarian, coach, truth seeker, arbitrator, wry observer, dry wit, book critic, resident sleuth, and in the most professional and business-like manner—our grown-up friend. In my memories of her, she is always attired in “I Love Lucy” style shirt dresses, her wide waist cinched with a narrow matching cloth belt. Miss Mesarchik was shaped like a pear, and her dress’s full skirt covered her hefty thighs and bottom. We always knew when Miss  Mesarchik was coming, for the swishing sound her nylons made rubbing together announced her entrance before she walked into a room. 

She smelled like honeysuckle and black India ink. She could quiet an entire room full of  antsy kids with a deliberate stare and one arched eyebrow, then hold them, entranced, as she wove a magical web of story and adventure. When you were given your first library card—as soon as you could print your whole name—she introduced herself and you were invited to have a little sit, and a little chat, on the chair right next to her desk. Even if you were a shy first grader, she made you feel that you were an engaging conversationalist. She was curious, asking questions, nodding her head, listening intensely, finding out your interests and passions. She would watch you as you chose your own books, but she would always offer another book selection for you to take home, too.  Very often that turned out to be the book you could not put down, the one you read after lights-out under the bed sheet with a flashlight.

She figured out quickly that I was a visual kid, that I loved black and white ink drawings, and she introduced me to a wider variety of books taking advantage of that passion. She gave me Beverly Cleary’s book Emily’s Runaway Imagination, knowing I would fall in love with its illustrators Beth and Joe Krush, knowing that I would then have to read Gone Away Lake, The Borrowers, and the All of a Kind Family books that Beth and Joe Krush illustrated. She knew I loved Ernest Shepard’s illustrations from the Pooh books and Wind in the Willows, so she introduced me to his daughter’s illustrations and I discovered Mary Poppins.  She had a deep knowledge and understanding of children’s literature, and her knowledge and understanding of kids was even greater. For those of us who sought story to enrich our dreams and information to make those dreams comes true, and for those of us who needed warmth and a healthy escape from chaotic homes, Miss Mesarchik created a safe and nurturing haven.

Miss Mesarchik was the children’s librarian at the West Park branch of the Cleveland Public Library. So when my Horn Book magazine arrived this month, it was with great interest that I read Barbara Bader’s article "Cleveland and Pittsburgh Create a Profession." It was fascinating to learn that our Miss Mesarchik was part of a grand tradition of outstanding young people’s librarians in Cleveland.

Miss Mesarchik changed my life. Dedicated librarians around the country change kids’ lives every day. I wish every kid in America had a witty and observant reading guide like Miss Mesarchik, as well as access to a great neighborhood library, like my old West Park Cleveland branch—especially when school libraries are disappearing all over the country. But right now, thousands of  kids don’t have either one—they have no one like  Miss Mesarchik in their lives and they don’t have ready access to a library and books. That’s the choice we are making right now, as a nation and a society.  We talk a lot in this country about how important our children are, but we don’t back our words with real money and support. Something to think about in this very important presidential election year. 

Mary Brigid Barrett
President and Executive Director 
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance