Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

New York Times Article Profiles Author and Illustrator Tomi Ungerer

In the New York Times article "An Author Embodies His Books' Childlike Spirit," journalist Pamela Paul interviews Tomi Ungerer, author and illustrator of books for children and adults. When asked if there is an overriding message in his children's books, Ungerer answers, "Yes, possibly. Every human being has something the others don’t have. That makes him an individual. You should be aware of your differences and exploit them. This is why I often use animals that everyone hates — a snake, a vulture, a bat — in my books. All those animals are redeemed by the fact that they had appendages or qualities the others didn’t have. In the end they become the heroes."
Click here to read the complete article. Learn more about Tomi Ungerer and his work on his website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Open the NCBLA's Summer Adventures Treasure Chest!

Online Resource Offers Extensive Ideas for Summer Reading Fun

 Whether your summer adventures take place at a sun-splashed beach or the cool mountains, at Grandma’s house or your own backyard, be sure to give reading a starring role!

A perfect place to get some ideas on how to get started is the NCBLA's Summer Adventures Treasure Chest! Crammed full of adventurous ideas and helpful information, you'll want to check out "Beyond the Book: Take a Literary Field Trip," our extensive "Reading List Suggestions for Kids and Families," (which includes direct links to authoritative recommendations from the NCBLA, Reading Rockets,, and the Horn Book), extensive information about playing progressive story games, plus articles like "The Anti-Boredom Travel Backpack" and "Getting Your Teens and Tweens Reading this Summer."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Classic Reading Adventures on Read.Gov

Currently Featured: The Rocket Book

Awaiting readers of all ages on Read.Gov is a treasure trove of classic books scanned from their original pages into a reader-friendly, electronic format. This virtual book reader enables you to "turn" each page with the click of a button. Also included is the capability to look closely at all  pages of the book, including the book cover and the original illustrations, by zooming in and out.

This month's featured book is The Rocket Book by Peter Newell, published by Harper & Brothers in 1912. The Rocket Book tells the story of the upward progress of a rocket, lit in the basement by the janitor's son, which causes some strange situations as it passes through 20 floors of apartments! Read it now.

Be sure to check out the complete list of classic books on Read.Gov. Available books are organized into groups of books aimed at kids, teens, and adults. Fun for kids are Denslow's Mother Goose and The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Teens will enjoy the sumptuously illustrated The Arabian Nights published in 1909.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Activist Alert: New York Public Libraries at Risk

New York Public Libraries
Threatened by $40 Million Cut

The most severe budget cut ever faced by The New York Public Library was announced on May 6 as part of the Mayor's Executive Budget. "The proposed cut of $36,800,000 is even worse than the cuts to the Library in the 1970s, when New York was on the brink of bankruptcy," Library President Paul LeClerc said.

"If funding is not restored we will be forced to drastically reduce critical library services for New Yorkers. Ten libraries would have to close; those that remain open would have their hours reduced to an average of just 4 days per week. The cut would also result in the loss of 736 staff positions--36% of our workforce. Today record numbers of New Yorkers are relying on their libraries for free job information, Internet access, computer classes, business information, after-school programs, and much more. This budget would force us to reduce or eliminate services at the time they are needed most. That's why we look forward to working with the City Council and the Mayor to restore funding for libraries."

The cuts would leave New Yorkers with:
  • 5.8 million fewer visits to libraries (including 1.8 million fewer by children and young people)
  • 5.7 million fewer items circulated 
  • 2 million fewer computer sessions 
  • In the Central Bronx, where 82% of families earn less than $50,000 per year, there would be 880,000 fewer visits and 632,000 fewer items circulated.
  • In Lower Manhattan where 72% of families earn less than $50,000 per year, there would be 1.1 million fewer visits and 1.3 million fewer items circulated.
  • In Staten Island there would be 543,000 fewer visits, and 659,000 fewer items circulated.
The New York Public Library currently receives 18 million visits annually to its 90 libraries and another 26.5 million visits each year to its website,
The New York Public Library needs your help to fight the worst funding cut in its 100-year history.  Visit the NYPL's Take Action website to learn how you can help.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Reading Resources Abound!

Study Proves the Value of Summer Reading Programs
Teachers and librarians agree that young people who read throughout the summer months fare much better when school doors reopen in the fall. A study published by Dominican University last year proved the effectiveness of summer reading programs offered by local libraries. According to Dr. Susan Roman, dean of Dominican University’s GSLIS and the project administrator for the study, “This study definitively shows that summer reading programs play a significant role in preventing summer reading loss and that public libraries provide an important bridge between academic years. Based on the study’s findings, it is also clear that investing more resources in summer reading programs especially in economically depressed areas can contribute to closing the achievement gap that is plaguing our country.”

Beef Up Kids' Required Reading with Themed Lists Aimed at Their Interests
For parents and guardians who are looking beyond their child's required list of reading, the summer reading program offered at your local library is a great place to start. Be sure to talk to the librarian in the children's room or teen department to find out what's hot with kids this summer and to get tips on how to keep your kids reading. Librarians are also excellent resources for parents who need advice on helping struggling readers and  reluctant readers.

Also be sure to check out the following themed reading resources offered by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and other literacy and literature organizations:

For a digital reading adventure, share the electronic pages of some fabulous Classic Books on Read.Gov, such as The Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and The Secret Garden, all of which feature the complete texts and illustrations of the originals.

A treasure trove of adventure awaits readers of all ages in these books of yesteryear. The class book lists are organized into the following age groups: kids,  teens, and adults. Adults won't want to miss "A Few Tales of the Rail" and "Masquerades, Tableaux and Drills."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NCBLA: National Report Card Dismal News-

Only 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the nation wide American history exam!

"History advocates contend that students’ poor showing on the tests underlines neglect shown to the subject by federal and state policy makers, especially since the 2002 No Child Left Behind act began requiring schools to raise scores in math and reading but in no other subject. The federal accountability law, the advocates say, has given schools and teachers an incentive to spend less time on history and other subjects. 'History is very much being shortchanged,' said Linda K. Salvucci, a history professor in San Antonio who is chairwoman-elect of the National Council for History Education." From The New York Times article:

Because we feel that universal literacy is essential to a healthy democracy, and that there is a direct link between literacy, historical literacy, and civic engagement The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance published Our White House, Looking In, Looking Out to encourage and inspire young people to know more about their nation's history.

The Our White House book  illustration above of George Washington looking out over the Potomac is by Bagram Ibatoulline. Below are more incredible illustrations from Our White House, art that will peek a young person's curiosity about American history.

An illustration of Thomas Jefferson in the first White House garden by S.D. Schindler makes Jefferson seem human and approachable.

This poignant portrait of Lincoln and his son by Chris Sheban illustrate a moving poem, In Early April, by Kate DiCamilllo.

A beautiful illustration by Leo and Diane Dillon of Mary Lincoln and her friend and seamstress Elizabeth Keckly in a inspiring story of their friendship by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack.

Illustrator Emily Arnold McCully show young people the very first White House protesters--suffragettes!

You will find these illustrations and many more inspiring paintings, poems, and real life stories about our nation's history in the NCBLA's multiple award-winning publication Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Ask for it at your local library or bookstore.and share it with the young people in your life. We are all responsible for educating our nation's youth!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

National Book Festival Website Now Available!

Celebrate the Joys of Reading Aloud!
National Book Festival
September 24-25

Readers of all ages are invited to attend the 11th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are honorary chairs for the event. The festival is free and open to the public.

Visit www.LOC.GOV/bookfest to download the festival poster created by artist Jon J Muth and learn more about this enchanting event!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father's Day is This Sunday, June 19

Celebrate with Stories and Activities

Read Together!
If you are looking for heartwarming stories to share with fathers, grandfathers, and the other loving men in your life, be sure to check out the annotated lists of book recommendations compiled by Reading Rockets. Find some books to share this Father's Day weekend on the Fabulous Fathers list and the Reading with Dad list. Both lists include beloved books that celebrate fathers and grandfathers--books that are perfect for sharing with kids through age 12. 
Learn Together!
Two times in our nation's history a father and son have both been elected to the presidency. Do you know who they were? Check out the article and lesson titled "Like Father, Like Son: Presidential Families" on EDSITEment 
You can dig deeper into the American presidency in the NCBLA's anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Learn more about 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 at

Help Your Child Send an E-Card
Download your own Father's Day e-card, which features the delightfully bold artwork of Javaka Steptoe. Steptoe is a young artist, designer, and illustrator. His debut work, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, earned him the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

Read Up on the Value of Reading
Don't forget to check out the literacy resources for parents available on, where you will find such helpful articles as "I Will Read to My Kids--If I Ever Find the Time!" and "Kids See, Kids Do! Become a Literacy Role Model."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Ask Your Senators to Sign Library Funding Letter

Twenty One Senators Have Signed the Library Funding Letter
More Signatures Needed

The deadline to sign the letter written by Senators Jack Reed and Olympia Snowe in support of federal funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Improving Literacy Through School Libraries has been extended to Friday, June 10. 

Libraries experienced major cuts at all levels in fiscal year 2011. School and public libraries cannot continue to provide essential services without increased funding in fiscal year 2012. 

The following lists the senators who have signed the letter. If your senators are not on this list, please call them at (202) 224-3121. When they agree to sign the letter, please ask them to  contact Elyse Wasch in Senator Reed’s office if they are Democrats or Matthew Hussey in Senator Snowe’s office if they are Republicans. THANK YOU!

Reed – RI
Snowe – ME
Levin – MI
Rockefeller – WV
Leahy – VT
Udall, Tom – NM
Schumer – NY
Boxer – CA
Akaka – HI
Whitehouse – RI
Gillibrand – NY
Johnson, Tim – SD
Shaheen – NH
Sanders – VT
Lautenberg – NJ
Mikulski – MD
Kerry – MA
Cardin – MD
Kohl – WI
Menendez – NJ
Durbin - IL

Simmons College Sponsors Children's Literature Summer Institute

The Body Electric
A Symposium: July 5 - July 28, 2011
An Institute: July 28 - July 31, 2011

"The Body Electric," sponsored by The Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College in Boston, will be held the last weekend in July, commencing on Thursday evening, July 28th and concluding Sunday noon, July 31st. The preceding symposium will be taught by Associate Professor Kenneth Kidd from the University of Florida where his interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, gender studies/queer theory, and children's literature and media; it will run Tuesday and Thursdays beginning July 5th and will culminate with the Institute. 

The speakers who will attend the Institute are M. T. Anderson, Bryan Collier, Victoria Bond, Sharon Draper, Brian Floca, Helen Frost, Jack Gantos, Mordicai Gerstein, Jan Greenberg, Sandra Jordan, Karen LaFleur, Grace Lin, Cathryn M. Mercier, Barbara O'Connor, Sara Pennypacker, T. R. Simon, Tommy Simpson, David Small, Jacqueline Woodson, and Gene Luen Yang.

The symposium earns four semester hours of graduate credit; enrollment in the institute is on a non-credit basis. Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FINAL DAY to Sign Onto Library Support Letter!

Help Save Library Funding!
Senators Jack Reed and Olympia Snow Lead Effort to Increase FY2012 Library Funding

If you and your family value public and school libraries, please take a moment to call both of your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to sign onto the letter written by Senator Reed and Senator Snowe by close of business TODAY

Senators Jack Reed and Olympia Snowe are leading an effort to increase support for FY2012 federal funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Improving Literacy Through School Libraries.  Tell your senators’ staffers to contact Elyse Wasch in Reed’s office or Matthew Hussey in Snowe’s office.  We need other senators to sign the Reed-Snowe letter as soon as possible.  Please call immediately.

Click here to read the letter.  

You can get more information about your senators and their office hours on the ALA website.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Growing Season Is Here!

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 flowers are planted. 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 kids helping in the White House kitchen garden. You can watch a video of elementary school students helping to plant the White House garden early this spring. And you can read about the latest crops planted by Native American schoolchildren in the White House kitchen garden--corn, beans, and squash!--in the Baltimore Sun article "'Three Sisters Make White House Appearance." 

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

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!

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!