Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays from the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. . .

Sing with Your Children Over the Holiday Season!
Words and Music Make Delightful Family Memories!
Here are the lyrics to a family holiday favorite and if you need help remembering the tune, Boston Celtic Shaquille O'Neal can help! He was recently the guest conductor at the Boston Pops- enjoy the Pops video below and sing along with your kids!

(Leroy Anderson / Mitchell Parish)

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "yoo hoo",
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
let's go, Let's look at the show,
We're riding in a wonderland of snow.
Giddy yap, giddy yap, gidd yap,
it's grand, Just holding your hand,
We're gliding along with a song
of a wintry fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together
like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us
and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

There's a birthday party
at the home of Farmer Gray
It'll be the perfect ending a of perfect day
We'll be singing the songs
we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace while we watch
the chestnuts pop. pop! pop! pop!

There's a happy feeling
nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee
and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print
by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
we remember all through our lives!

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "yoo hoo",
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.
It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still Shopping? Gift Book Suggestions from Steven Kellogg

Author-Illustrator Steven Kellogg Recommends Two Books for Holiday Giving

Attention last minute shoppers! If you are looking for  gift ideas for the young people in your life,  consider two book suggestions from award-winning author-illustrator Steven Kellogg. Kellogg proclaims both The Amazing Bone by William Steig and The Maggie B by Irene Haas to be "wonderful."

In Steig's delightful picture book The Amazing Bone, it's a bright and beautiful spring day, and Pearl is dawdling on her way home from school. Most unexpectedly, she strikes up an acquaintance with a small bone. Pearl and the bone immediately take a liking to each other, and before you know it, she is on her way home with the bone in her purse, left open so they can continue their conversation. But the trip home turns out to be surprisingly treacherous. Can a pig and a small talking bone outwit a band of robbers and a hungry fox? The Amazing Bone is the winner of multiple awards, including American Library Association Notable Children's Books; Caldecott Honor Book, Picture Book; Boston Globe - Horn Book Award; New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Books of the Year. The Amazing Bone is available in both hardcover and paperback.

Read more about author and illustrator William Steig on the MacMillan website.

The Maggie B by Irene Haas is the story of a wish come true. Margaret Barnstable wanted more than anything else to sail for a day, "alone and free with someone nice for company" on a ship named after her. One night, she wished for it on the North Star, and when she woke up she was in the cabin of the The Maggie B, with her small brother James. It was a most wonderful day, with everything she needed. This s
umptuously illustrated picture book  is
available in hardcover at a bookstore near you.

Author-illustrator Steven Kellogg has loved picture books ever since he was a child; the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and N.C. Wyeth were his early favorites. He grew up in Connecticut, drawing constantly and telling stories to his younger sisters. He has written or illustrated, or both, over 100 books for children and young people. Awards for his work include the prestigious Regina Medal for his lifetime contribution to children’s literature, as well as the Irma Simonton Black Award, the IRA-CBC Children’s Choice Award, the Parents’ Choice Award, inclusion on the ALA Notable Books lists, Booklist Editors’ Choice, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, and the Horn Book Fanfare.

His most recent book is And I Love You  written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Kellogg. 

Kellogg is a vice president of The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. He is a contributor to the NCBLA's reading outreach projects, the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, and the progressive story game, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, available on READ.GOV

Learn more about Steven Kellog and his books on his website.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Gift Book Suggestion from Author Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes Recommends The Underneath for Holiday Giving

If you are still looking for holiday gift book ideas, author Nikki Grimes would like to recommend the New York Times bestselling novel The Underneath by Kathi Appelt for readers ages 8 to 12. Here is what Kirkus Reviews has to say about The Underneath, "When fate separates them, an old hound dog and two foster kittens survive the dangers of the bayou to find one another. Seeking shelter, a homeless pregnant cat responds to the "bluesy" baying of a hound named Ranger who lives chained under the porch of a shack in the woods of the East Texas bayou. He happily shares the Underneath with the cat and her two kittens, Sabine and Puck. The kittens are safe from Ranger's evil master Gar Face as long as they remain hidden, but Puck ventures out "straight into the terrible hands of Gar Face," who does his best to drown both the curious kitten and his mother. Somehow Puck escapes after promising his dying mother he will find Sabine and free Ranger, but he's on his own in a bayou teeming with mysterious creatures. Aided by Small's lively illustrations, Appelt intricately weaves these animals' ancient stories into Puck's survival saga to produce a magical tale of betrayal, revenge, love and the importance of keeping promises."

The Underneath was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book.  It also received the Pen USA Award, and was a finalist for the Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award.
Read more about Kathi Appelt and her books on her website.

Nikki Grimes  is a New York Times best-selling author and prolific artist who has written many award-winning books for children and young adults. Her works include the novels “Bronx Masquerade” (Dial), winner of the 2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award; “Jazmin’s Notebook” (Dial), a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and Bank Street College Book of the Year; “The Road to Paris” (Penguin), another Coretta Scott King Honor Book; the popular poetry collections “Danitra Brown, Class Clown,” “Danitra Brown Leaves Town” (HarperCollins) and “Meet Danitra Brown” (Lothrop), an ALA Notable and Coretta Scott King Honor Book; “Hopscotch Love” (Lothrop); “Oh, Brother” (Greenwillow); “What Is Goodbye?” (Hyperion); “Talkin’ About Bessie,” the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner and Author Award honor book; “Aneesa Lee & the Weaver’s Gift,” an American Bookseller Pick of the List (Lothrop); “From a Child’s Heart” (Just Us Books); “A Dime a Dozen; My Man Blue” (Dial); “Come Sunday” (Eerdman’s), an ALA Notable book; “At Break of Day” and “When Daddy Prays” (Eerdman’s). Other works include “Stepping Out with Grandma Mac,” a Notable Social Studies Trade Book; and “Shoe Magic” (Orchard); “A Pocketful of Poems” (Clarion); “Wild, Wild Hair” (Scholastic); “Portrait of Mary” (Harcourt Brace), a work of adult fiction; and NAACP winner “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope” (Simon & Schuster).

Grimes' most recent book  is the young adult novel A Girl Named Mister.

Grimes is also a contributor to The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, available on READ.GOV, and the author of a moving poem about President Obama's inauguration, which was published in the recent paperback edition of the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Grimes is a member of the board of The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance.

Learn more about Grimes and her books on her website.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Gift Book Suggestion

Author M. T. Anderson Recommends Newbery Honor Book by Grace Lin

Author M. T. Anderson suggests anyone looking for a gift book for young people add Grace Lin's award-winning Where the Mountains Meet the Moon to the top of their lists. About this New York Times bestseller Anderson says, "Grace Lin's Newbery Honor winning story of a brave girl's miraculous quest to save her village from starvation is a pip of an adventure story for younger readers. While it reads like a Chinese fairy-tale of adventure -- with dragons, disguised kings, and talking fish -- it is also a beautiful meditation on the way that, as we grow older, we come to truly understand the places we grew up."

In its starred review, Andrew Medlar of Booklist says, "In this enchanted and enchanting adventure, Minli, whose name means "quick thinking," lives with her desperately poor parents at the confluence of Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River. While her mother worries and complains about their lot, her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. One day, after a goldfish salesman promises that his wares will bring good luck, Minli spends one of her only two coins in an effort to help her family. After her mother ridicules what she believes to be a foolish purchase, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, who, it is told, may impart the true secret to good fortune. Along the way, she finds excitement, danger, humor, magic, and wisdom, and she befriends a flightless dragon, a talking fish, and other companions and helpmates in her quest. With beautiful language, Lin creates a strong, memorable heroine and a mystical land. Stories, drawn from a rich history of Chinese folktales, weave throughout her narrative, deepening the sense of both the characters and the setting and smoothly furthering the plot. Children will embrace this accessible, timeless story about the evil of greed and the joy of gratitude. Lin's own full-color drawings open each chapter. "

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was featured on the December Today Show Kid's Books Club. Watch a video of Al Roker interviewing Grace Lin about the book. 

To learn more about author and illustrator Grace Lin and all her books, check out her website and read her blog. Her website includes a free downloadable Activity Book and Event Kit to help you enrich the reading experience of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with the young people in your life.

M. T. Anderson has written stories for adults, picture books for children, adventure novels for young readers, and several books for older readers (both teens and adults). His satirical book Feed was a Finalist for the National Book Award and was the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize. The first volume of his Octavian Nothing saga won the National Book Award and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Prize. Both the first and second volumes of that two-part series were Printz Honor Books. He has published stories for adults in literary journals like The Northwest Review, The Colorado Review, and Conjunctions. Anderson is also a contributor to Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, which is available on READ.GOV. Anderson is a member of the board of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. You can learn more about Anderson and his books on his website.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Need Ideas for Book Gifts for Children? Check Out The Horn Book Magazine's "Fanfare" Best Books for Kids 2010!

From Roger Sutton, Editor-in -Chief, Notes from The Horn Book:  

Horn Book Fanfare
"Every year, the Horn Book editors look back through the five hundred or so books reviewed in the Magazine — almost all highly recommended to begin with — to select the best of the best, so to speak. Reflecting changing demographics, the economy, and public funding, children’s book publishing goes in cycles, and right now hardcover fiction for ten-year-olds and up claims the biggest piece of the pie — and this list. Still, though, I think this year’s Fanfare list has something for just about everybody, and I hope you find some useful suggestions for your holiday shopping. Books are so easy to wrap."

Find books gift suggestions for kids and teens from The Horn Book's Fanfare list at:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Give Books for Christmas!

NCBLA President Mary Brigid Barrett Picks for Great Book Gifts 

New Favorites:

The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter (picture book)


Ting and Ling: Not Exactly the Same! written and illustrated by Grace Lin (early reader)


Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge ( nonfiction, for middle grades)

Old Favorites:

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (middle grade novel)


Return to Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (middle grade novel)

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman ( for the whole family!)

For Mom and Dad and Your Favorite Teacher!


A Family of Readers
The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s
and Young Adult Literature
by Roger Sutton
and Martha V. Parravano
Foreword by Gregory Maguire (nonfiction, wonderful guide to help your kids become life-long readers!) 

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (fiction, because Mom and Dad should have a great fiction read at Christmas, too!)

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff ( nonfiction for adults)

Christmas is a great time to give books to your children. The best gift of all is to help and encourage your children to become life-long readers!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Case You Missed It!

A Sputnick Moment 
for Our Schools, Our Nation, Our Children? 

 "With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam. "

“Wow, I’m kind of stunned, I’m thinking Sputnik,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., who served in President Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education, referring to the groundbreaking Soviet satellite launching. Mr. Finn, who has visited schools all across China, said, “I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029.” 

“We have to see this as a wake-up call,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview on Monday.“I know skeptics will want to argue with the results, but we consider them to be accurate and reliable, and we have to see them as a challenge to get better,” he added. “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.” 

"In reading, Shanghai students scored 556, ahead of second-place Korea with 539. The United States scored 500 and came in 17th, putting it on par with students in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and several other countries." from "Top Test Scores From Shanhai Stun Educators" by Sam Dillon, in The New York Times.

The last time there was an orchestrated unified, national reading advocacy and education campaign was in the late 1950's in reaction to the "Space Race." And it was a successful campaign; literacy skill levels increased as well as leisure reading. Isn't it time for everyone interested in national literacy, in promoting and developing our kids' critical and creative thinking skills, to band together for a new national national education campaign that will give all adults who live with and work for children the skills they need to promote and teach literacy skills, and teach and expand our kids' critical and creative thinking in the arts, humanities and sciences? We all need to take collective responsible for all our children's education-- parents, family members, community leaders, youth leaders, educational professionals, politicians, government, business and corporate leaders, the media-- everyone!


"The cause of the racial gap in student achievement has nothing to do with the children, and everything to do with the values and priorities of the society in which we live." Pedro Noguera.

Read more at:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Celebrating the Holidays at the White House

The official Christmas tree was delivered to the North Portico of the White House in a horse-drawn carriage and presented to First Lady Michelle Obama on November 26. And on December 2 President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden hosted a Hanukkah celebration in the East Room of the White House in which the President remarked, "Let us give thanks to the blessings that all of us enjoy. Let us be mindful of those who need our prayers. And let us draw strength from the words of a great philosopher, who said that a miracle is “a confirmation of what is possible."

Learn More About American Holiday Traditions and White House History
The December holidays provide a fabulous opportunity to help young people learn about their own history and heritage, as well as the history, heritage, and traditions of others.  Following are some resources you can share with young people to engage their natural curiosity and introduce them to holiday traditions at the White House:

Watch a video of the delivery of this year's douglas fir Christmas tree from Lehighton, Pennsylvania to the White House on November 26.

Watch a video of the lighting of the menorah and the Hanukkah celebration at the White House.

Discover how the Christmas tree became a White House tradition and how farmers across America compete to grow the “Grand Champion” selected to adorn the White House each year in "Grand Champions of the White House" by guest writer Renee Critcher Lyons on Read on for an excerpt:

A tree has not always graced the White House at Christmastime. In fact, Franklin Pierce (1856), our 14th president, became the first to embrace the 500-year old tradition of bringing a tree into the home to celebrate the hope of Christmas morn. And, the practice did not become a yearly event until the 1880’s. Only one president since has frowned upon the use of an official White House Christmas tree, Teddy Roosevelt. Our 26th president (1901-1909), at a time before Christmas tree farms were prevalent, believed the harvesting of Christmas trees might deplete our national forests, and thus banned the practice from the White House.

Read about the history of the National Christmas Tree, which graces the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument, in "Our National Christmas Tree" by Cheli Mennella on Here is an excerpt:

The magnificent blue spruce towers above the Ellipse, the ground between the White House and the Washington Monument. Throughout the year it is a silent reminder of yuletide pleasures and joy. Then in December the tree takes on new significance. Dressed in strands of colorful lights and trimmed with ornaments, the tree, our National Christmas Tree, becomes a beacon of beauty and brilliance.

Special Note: This year's National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held Thursday, December 9 at 5:00 PM.  Nightly musical performances will take place each weeknight between 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM and each Saturday and Sunday between 1:00 PM and 8:30 PM. Read more on the National Park Service website.

Read Newbery-medal winning author Susan Cooper's contrasting memories of the White House--one at a time of sorrow and another at a time of Christmas splendor--in "Memory of the White House" on

Discover More About the White House and American History in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
For even more information and stories about White House holiday traditions, the presidents and first ladies, and American history, check out a copy of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out from your local library and share the extensive fiction and nonfiction pieces and plethora of original art illustrations with the young people in your life.  To learn more about White House holidays, you might choose to read how the American hostage crisis in 1979 affected the lighting of the national Christmas tree during President Carter’s term in office in “From Christmas in Plains: Memories” by Jimmy Carter. 

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is sold in hardcover and paperback at bookstores everywhere. LEARN MORE about this anthology at

Monday, December 6, 2010

In Case You Missed It!

Children's Book Champion 
Anita Silvey 
Picks Top Ten Children's Books of 2010 for The Boston Globe!

"Although I admired many books for young readers in 2010, these 10 exemplified “the unique factor.’’ All combine the highest standards of art and writing; when introduced by an enthusiastic adult, they connect with young readers. Children’s books that adults admire but that children also find meaningful have always been the most difficult to create. The authors and artists of these works accomplish that feat in very different and original ways." from "Top Ten Children's Books of 2010" by Anita Silvey, The Boston Globe.

For a full listing of Anita's choices, got to:


Anita has also created a delight-filled and vital new blog of interest to parents, teachers, librarians-- everyone  who wants kids reading great books that entertain, inform, and inspire!

While you have your morning coffee, check Anita's "Children's Book-A-Day Almanac!" It will rev you up to meet your kids with enthusiasm much more than any morning caffeine! Hip- hurrah!!

Find Anita's blog at:

Anita Silvey is a children's literature expert and the author of 100 Best Books for Children and 500 Great Books for Teens.  Silvey has devoted 35 years to promoting books that will turn the young -- and families -- into readers. To do this she has appeared frequently on NPR, "The Today Show," "60 Minutes," and radio programs in the United States and Canada to talk about books for children and teenagers. As Publisher's Weekly has said "It would be hard to find a more authoritative voice than Anita Silvey." To find out more about Anita and her incredible body of work, go to:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looking for a Holiday Gift? Try Your Local Bookstore!

Tips for Finding the Perfect Gift Book

Finding the perfect book or two for the young people in your life can be a daunting experience. Bookstore shelves are overflowing with tall books and tiny books, books that tell tales of faraway princesses and books about animals both cute and exotic, even books that sing, talk, and sparkle! How does one choose?

In the article “A Holiday Gift Book Buying Guide for Your Family,” librarian Natacha Luzzi offers these tips:

  • Find out what the child or teen has read already. Ask them what authors they like to read.
  • Discover the subjects and topics that interest them.
  • Find out if they prefer fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or reality.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your neighborhood children's librarian or children's books seller for suggestions and advice.
  • Read your local newspaper's book section. Many newspapers and magazines feature book suggestions this time of year.
  • Be consumer savvy. The books with biggest marketing budgets are not necessarily the best books for you child or teen. And conversely, a book you've never heard of may contain the story that changes your child’s or teen's life. Natacha says, "Just because a book jacket may look promising does not mean the story is going to live up to it. We all fall victim at one time or another to 'judging a book by its cover.'"
  • Take into consideration the content and age recommendation. I think great care needs to be taken, especially if a young reader is at a higher reading level. Even though the child can read the material the content is not always appropriate.
  • No one is ever too old for a picture book!!
  • Consider all possibilities: great literature and fun, entertaining books. Says Natacha, "Think of books in terms of chocolate mousse and a Hershey kiss. There are moments for both!"
Read the complete article on the NCBLA website here.

Reading Rockets Buying Guide Makes Recommendations for Kids 4 Through 9
If you prefer to walk into the bookstore with a list in hand, be sure to check out Reading Rockets’ fabulous annual
Books as Gifts Buying Guide! This year’s buying guide includes a carefully selected collection of poetry, bedtime stories, biographies, tales about lizards and rabbits and horses, and much more — dozens of terrific titles.

Reading Lists for Older Kids
If you are looking for a book to treat an older child, be sure to check out the Young Adult Library Services Association's list of the 2010 Best Books for Young Adults, which includes dozens of fiction and nonfiction titles. You may also want to peruse's expert list of Great Books for Teens, which includes themed lists with categories such as Baseball Books, Fantasy, Multicultural Stories, Poetry, and Romance & Relationships.

One Additional Recommendation
onsider Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, which was previously featured on an episode of the “Martha Stewart Show” as one of The New York Times “Eight Great Books for the Holidays!”
This award-winning anthology includes original poetry, historical fiction, nonfiction, and primary source materials about American history using the White House as a unifying theme. It's a perfect book for kids of all ages, families, teachers, classrooms--anyone who loves art and history and literature! 

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough introduces this creative tour de force, in which 108 renowned authors and illustrators have donated their poetry, prose, and art to help advance the cause of young people’s literacy and historical literacy. The illustrations, essays, short stories, presidential letters, personal reflections, and historical accounts in Our White House inform and entertain, offering a window on more than 200 years of American history.

Our White House is now available in a paperback edition and includes a NEW poem by Nikki Grimes and coordinating illustration by A. G. Ford about President Obama's inauguration.  Look for the hardcover and paperback editions at a bookstore new you!