Friday, February 25, 2011

The NEA's Read Across America Is Wednesday, March 2

On March 2, the National Education Association calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.

Grab Your Hat and Read with the Cat!
It's that time of year again, time to gear up for NEA's Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries,  community centers, and families participate by celebrating the joys of reading with young people of all ages!

 All adults who live and work with children will want to take a look at the Random House Read Across America resources page featuring a teacher's guide, activities, games, and so much more. Head to Seussville for a Seussational reading adventure! 

Dr. Seuss Literacy Materials on
Be sure to check out the extensive Read Across America resources available at Here you will find a video interview with Mrs. Seuss, e-cards and bookmarks, resources for reading Seuss at home, plus resources for teaching Seuss in the classroom!

Beyond Green Eggs and Ham: Reading Tips and Resources Created by the NCBLA
You won't want to miss the extensive literacy articles and reading lists available on the website of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. In this treasure trove are the Parent and Guardian Handbook, Teacher Handbook, and Mentor Handbook, which include ideas, suggestions, and activities for parents, guardians, teachers, and other adults who lives and work with young people to help children become lifelong readers and writers. Be sure to read "Parent and Guardian Literacy Basics," "Teachers! Set the Stage for Great Writing," and "Attention Coaches, Youth Conselors, and Mentors: Great Ideas Connecting Kids to Books."

Reading Resources in Parenting Magazine
The March issue of Parenting Magazine features a spotlight on NEA's Read Across America and provides a host of reading resources for parents, including The Guide to Raising an Early Reader; The Best Books to Read with Your Kids; 5 Easy Ways to Make Reading Fun; 12 Reading Activities That Really Work, and The Best Books to Pass On to Your Kids. For new parents, Parenting offers tips on building your baby's first library, and books for preschoolers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Presidents' Day!

Use Today's Holiday to Learn More About Our Presidents 

Read, Research, Question, Learn!
Rich resources abound to help you share information about America's presidents with the young people in your life. Delve deeper into America's past in the NCBLA's art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. 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 available in both hardcover and paperback. The new paperback edition features a NEW poem by Nikki Grimes about President Obama’s inauguration!
Free Resources in!
The companion educational website to Our White House ( hosts a vast array of resources to make learning more about our presidents and history fun. Here are just a few:

"The Eloquence of Silent Cal," a profile of President Calvin Coolidge by Katherine Paterson.

"Presidential Menageries: George Washington, Hound Dogs, and Super Mules," a history of our first president's passion for animals by Mary Brigid Barrett.

"Presidents, the President’s House, and More: A Select List of Books (and a Few Web Sources) for Children and Young Adults," an extensive list of book and website recommendations by children's literature expert Maria Salvadore.

"Presidents Are People Too!" and "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My" both by Heather Lang

"A Taste of the Past: White House Kitchens, Menus, and Recipes," a look at White House kitchens and menus by Mary Brigid Barrett.

"The Oval Office: The World's Most Famous Office" by Geri Zabela Eddins.

Additional Online Resources!
Keep in touch with the Obama presidency at

Read about the meaning of Presidents' Day on

Check out the vast resources available on the Smithsonian's History Explorer website! Featured today is the history of George Washington's uniform

Review classroom activities and resources in "Great Presidents" on

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Activist Alert!

PBS Children's Programming Needs Your Support in Congress!!!!!!

Write, email, fax, and call Congress today and let them know you want funding for PBS's outstanding educational programming for children!

Tell Congress that you cherish not only the quality educational programming that PBS provides to all of our children, free, but that you also want continuing access to the online parent and teacher educational support materials that PBS makes available, so that you can enrich your child's experience at home and in classrooms!

Take action now!

Go to: 
and find out what you can do to support PBS's outstanding TV and online educational programming for children!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Celebrate Presidents’ Day Throughout February

Libraries, Websites, and Books Offer Fun Learning Opportunities During Presidents' Month

Presidents’ Day is February 21. How can we share stories of the American presidency with our children?  Check out the following resources for multiple ideas to help you and the young people in your life take a closer look at all our presidents. 

Visit a Presidential Historic Site or Library
More than twenty states boast presidential birthplaces, historic homes, libraries, and museums. The NCBLA's educational website offers a comprehensive guide to finding these fabulous places, listed by state in "Field Trip Guide! Presidential Birthplaces, Houses, and Libraries."

Check Out Special Activities at Local Museums
Many presidential libraries and museums are offering child-friendly and family-oriented activities to commemorate Presidents’ Day. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston is hosting a week-long celebration beginning Thursday, February 19, which will include "You Be the President" interactive activity, a live webcast of "The Presidency of JFK: A 50-Year Retrospective," "Tales from African Traditions," and other events. Click here to view the complete calendar.

Read, Research, Question, Learn!
Delve deeper into America's past in the NCBLA's art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, available at bookstores and libraries near you!

Check out children's literature expert Maria Salvadore’s extensive list of book and website recommendations online in "Presidents, the President’s House, and More: A Select List of Books (and a Few Web Sources) for Children and Young Adults."

Discover what you might have in common with American presidents and what unusual critters have resided in the White House with them in "Presidents Are People Too!" and "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My" both by Heather Lang

Review classroom activities and resources in "Great Presidents" on

Play a Game of Presidential Trivia!
Do you know which president was the first to live in the White House? (Hint: It wasn’t George Washington!) Do you know which president served the shortest term? (Hint: He was president for 31 days in 1841.) Do you know which presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Make up your own presidential trivia game by digging into amazing Presidential Facts. Find the answers to these questions and make up even more questions using the essays about presidential job requirements, campaigns, and PETS—all on the NCBLA's educational website!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

NYT Commentary Traces History of Thought Regarding Extinction

"Species die. It has become a catastrophic fact of modern life. On our present course, by E.O. Wilson’s estimate, half of all plant and animal species could be extinct by 2100 — that is, within the lifetime of a child born today. Kenya stands to lose its lions within 20 years. India is finishing off its tigers. Deforestation everywhere means that thousands of species too small or obscure to be kept on life support in a zoo simply vanish each year."

So writes Richard Conniff, nature writer and author of The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth, in the recent article "Lost and Gone Forever" in the New York Times. 

With global warming and other devastating environmental trends making headlines on a daily basis, consider sharing this article with the young people in their lives. Discuss it. Engage them in a conversation. Scientific topics like evolution and extinction touch a broad spectrum of disciplines--religion, philosophy, history, politics, art. Ask young people questions:  Why might we be looking at an earth with no lions and no polar bears? Can kids imagine a time when the concept of extinction was "unthinkable?" Do kids consider evolution and extinction to be controversial or sound scientific concepts? How do kids think extinction affects them now and in the future? What does extinction have to do with religion? Why are--or why aren't--politicians interested in environmental issues? What other scientific concepts are currently deemed controversial? How can literary works (such as Tennyson's quoted poem) help us understand the concepts and consequences of  evolution and extinction?

Help Young People Dig Deeper!
Conniff notes in the article, "Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington puzzled over [unusually large] teeth when they turned up again in the Hudson and Ohio River valleys."

Children's book author Barbara Kerley tells the story of Thomas Jefferson's passionate interest in fossils in "Jefferson's Monstrous Bones," an article in the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. The article begins, "When Thomas Jefferson rode into Philadelphia in March 1797 to be sworn in as vice president, he hauled a strange load in his wagon. Bones. Monstrous bones." 
Be sure to read the entire article in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. And be sure to check out artist Brian Selznick's accompanying, "Bones on the Floor," pictured above.
Our White House is a project of The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance designed to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive. 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 available in both hardcover and paperback. The new paperback edition features a NEW poem by Nikki Grimes about President Obama’s inauguration!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Helping Young People Understand Contemporary Events in Egypt

Book Recommendations for Kids About Contemporary Egypt

Topping our daily news cycle are reports of the protests and unrest in Egypt. How can you help the young people in your life make sense of what is happening and dig deeper into Egyptian life and culture? Although books about ancient Egypt abound, books about contemporary Egypt are more difficult to find. Here are a few recommendations from the NCBLA's children's literature expert Barbara Scotto:

The Day of Ahmed's Secret
This picture book was written by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Kirkus Reviews writes about this book, "As Ahmed delivers bottles of propane gas, he treasures a special secret he can't wait to share with his family. 'Skillfully, the authors use the secret to sustain suspense...and to highlight the significance of Ahmed's poignant joy in his accomplishment....A handsome, affectionate book.'" Published by HarperCollins in 1995.

Grandma Hekmatt Remembers: An Arab-American Family Story
Written by Ann Morris, with photographs and illustrations by Peter Linenthal, this book was published by Millbrook in 2003. Set in the United States, the grandmother, who grew up in Egypt, shares traditional activities with her grandchildren and tells them about growing up in Egypt.

We're Sailing Down the Nile
Written by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Anne Wilson, this book tells a tale in simple verse about modern children sailing down the Nile and passing the important sites.  Published by Barefoot in 2007.

Egypt: The Land, Egypt: The Culture, and Egypt: The People
This non-fiction series was written by Arlene Moscovitch and published by Crabtree in 2008. School Library Journal recommends this series for students in grades 4 through 6 and further notes, "Each of these books touches on both ancient and modern life, but to different degrees determined by the subject matter. For example, Culture is dominated by ancient times and religious beliefs. A briefer section mentions modern religious practices, art, music, dance, and other forms of popular culture. By contrast, Land concentrates primarily on how the land is used today. It describes the importance of the Nile River in sustaining life and the growth of major cities, such as Cairo and Alexandria. It only briefly mentions some of the monuments left behind by ancient people. People is mostly devoted to the lives of modern Egyptians. It describes different lifestyles in villages, cities, and the desert, as well as the importance of Islam and Egyptian festivals. There are also sections on family customs, sports, schools, and food. Colorful photos on every page illustrate modern life and the relics of the past."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Sweet" Activities to Share with Young People This Month

Reading Rockets Offers Activities for Valentine's Day and Black History Month

Looking for sugar-free fun for Valentine’s Day? You’re in luck! Reading Rockets, in conjunction with author Laura Malone Elliott (A String of Hearts), is offering a Valentine’s Day treat that celebrates the power of words to tell someone how you feel. Visit and you’ll find a series of easy writing prompts that let kids have fun with Valentine poems and sayings. You’ll also find an e-card, booklists featuring stories about families, friendship, what love looks like, and what love means, and a kid-friendly video of Elliott demonstrating how to make a variety of Valentine cards and writing Valentine poems, including one for her dog, Raven!

Reading Rockets also celebrates Black History Month in February with great resources and recommended reading. You can also watch Reading Rockets' interviews with celebrated African American children's book authors and illustrators, and children's literature historian, Leonard Marcus, who talks about the history of multicultural children's books in the U.S. from the 1960s onward.