Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Cornucopia of Books for Halloween!

Check Out These Recommended Reads for a Trick-or-Treat Story Time Surprise!

In The New York Times, check out the Bookshelf: Boo! list compiled by Pamela Paul, which includes selections for ages 3 to 9.

In The Horn Book, check out the Halloween Reading list compiled by Katie Bircher, which lists picture books, younger fiction, intermediate fiction, and older fiction.

On Reading Rockets, check out Ten Books for Halloween and Fall Harvest of Books

On, check out books for middle grade readers and teens in the Dragons and Myths & Folktales lists.  

On the NCBLA Parent & Guardian Handbook, check out the extensive, annotated list of books in the article "Discovering Fantasy Beyond Harry Potter."

And parents, homeschoolers, and teachers, be sure to review the Celebrate Halloween pages on, which explain the history of this holiday and provides related Halloween activities for home and classroom!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Choosing the Best Books for Kids

Author Dorie McCullough Lawson Recommends Parents, Guardians, and Teachers Give Kids the Very BEST Books!

At this year's National Book Festival, which took place last month on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., author Dorie McCullough Lawson told the audience that even though many reading advocates recommend giving kids anything to read--as long as they read--she disagrees with that advice; Lawson believes we should be giving our kids only the very BEST books to read!

But how do you find the BEST books?!

Start at Your Local Library!
The first place to find the best books is your local library. Introduce yourself to the librarian in the children's room and ask him or her what books he or she would recommend for your children or students. While visiting the library, check out some of the authoritative books that recommend titles and reading strategies for kids, such as 100 Best Books for Children: A Parent's Guide to Making the Right Choices for Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen, as well as 500 Great Books for Teens, both by children's literature expert Anita Silvey. Another excellent book to check out is A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano, editors of The Horn Book.

Check the Experts on the Web!
A second place to find recommendations of great books for kids is the web! Take a few minutes and browse the following lists available from such authoritative sources as the NCBLA, Reading Rockets,, The Horn Book, and The New York Times:

The "Parent & Guardian Handbook" on features not only a list of reliable articles to help you develop life-long readers, but also themed reading lists such as American Heroes, Baseball, and Fantasy Beyond Harry Potter.  

The "Recommended Books for Kids" page on includes DOZENS of themed lists created by expert children's librarian Maria Salvadore. Here you'll find lists of books about bugs, holidays, art, monsters, and even the tooth fairy.

The "Great Books for Teens" page on offers themed lists for adolescents, that include such topics as Air & Space, dragons, Poetry, World War, and Romance & Relationships.

The Horn Book's "Recommended Books" page includes diverse lists, such as ghost stories, love stories, world religions, astronomy, and sports books. 

The New York Times Children's Book column reviews groups of books for children through young adult by subject. Be sure to check out the "bookshelves" titled NightFairy and Folk Tales, America, Farm, and Growing Up

Read Recommendations from Children's Literature Bloggers! 
One additional place to look for book recommendations is the realm of children's book bloggers. To help you navigate this diverse sea of information, the NCBLA has compiled a list of "Blogs That Inspire" in our Literacy Resource Treasure Chest, which includes direct links to blogs like Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac and The Planet Esme: The Best New Children's Books from Esme's Shelf.

Dorie McCullough Lawson's most recent book is the picture book Tex (Trafalgar Square Books).  
Click here to read an interview with Dorie McCullough Lawson and discover her favorite books for kids!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

2011 Winners of the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards Announced

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards are given annually to the children's books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards have been presented annually since 1953 by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Jane Addams Peace Association. Beginning in 1993, a Picture Book category was created. Honor books may be chosen in each category. This year's winners are:

Books for Younger Children
Author Linda Glaser and Illustrator Claire A. Nivola for Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty.

Books for Older Children
Author Linda Sue Park for A Long Walk to Water.

Honors for Books for Younger Children
Authors Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Gwen Strauss and illustrator Floyd Cooper for Ruth and the Green Book. And, author Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrator Brian Pinkney for Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.

Honors for Books for Older Children
Jewell Parker Rhodes for Ninth Ward and  Larry Dane Brimner for Birmingham Sunday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

THIS SATURDAY! "Sing to Me, O Muse" Symposium to be Held at Cambridge Public Library

Symposium to Feature Readings, Talks, and Performances from the Greek Classics

SING TO ME, O MUSE takes its title from the opening lines of The Odyssey, and will feature readings, talks, and performances highlighting the impact of  the epic poems, myths, and legends of the ancient Greeks on childhood, literature, and society.

October 29 from 10 am to 4 pm
Cambridge Public Library

449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138
Lecture Hall (Floor L2)

A remarkable chorus of artists, writers, storytellers, musicians, dancers, educators and students includes Gregory Maguire, Susan Cooper, Ashley Bryan, Sebastian Lockwood, Evi Gerokosta (on film), Tracy Barrett, Gareth Hinds, Jill Paton Walsh, John Rowe  Townsend, Dr. John Pappas and his Metropolis of Boston Dance Group, Katherine Kleitz, Barbara Scotto, Martha Walke, Daryl Mark, Nora Tisel Farley, Connie Carven, Susan Flannery, and Barbara Harrison.

The program is free and open to the public. Reservations are required, and seating is limited. Please register for the event, by emailing Martha Walke at or by calling her at (802) 765-4935. In your message, include your name, email address, home phone and cell phone numbers.

As a courtesy to library patrons, we request that you do not park in the Cambridge Public Library underground garage. Please enjoy free parking in the parking lot of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, 1611 Cambridge Street (7:00 am-5:30 pm). This location is about 1 ½ blocks from the library (walk across Cambridge Street and follow Ellery Street to Broadway. Turn right on Broadway and you will see the Main Library). For directions to Harvard Vanguard please check their website:

Book Sales and Signing
Books by speakers will be available for sale from 9:00 – 9:45 am, and again during lunch, thanks to Porter Square Books. No book sales after the program.

We encourage people to bring a bag lunch or to plan on a picking up a quick lunch at the nearby Broadway Market on Broadway or Darwin’s Ltd on Cambridge Street.

This event is hosted by Children’s Literature New England, The Examined Life: Greek Studies in the Schools, and the Cambridge Public Library, SING TO ME, O MUSE derives from a colloquy and study tour in April 2011 in which American, British, and Canadian writers, illustrators, and educators visited Greece.

Learn more about CLNE and its programs at

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

Technology Avoided in School 
Attended by Tech Gurus' Kids

In the New York Times article, "Silicon Valley school sticks to basics, shuns high-tech tools," journalist Matt Richtel writes:

"The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. 

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home. 

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix."

To read the entire article, click here
Above photo by Jim Wilson of The New York Times.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Best-Selling Authors Contribute Stories and Poems to Benefit Darfuri Refugees

Collection of Stories and Poems, What You Wish For, Engages Young People with Themes of Hope and Aspiration

Eighteen authors with combined sales of more than 600 million books, including mega-bestsellers R.L. Stine (Goosebumps, Fear Street), Ann M. Martin (The Baby-sitters Club), Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries), and Cornelia Funke (Inkheart) have contributed to What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543), a collection of stories and poems for ages 12+ that went on sale recently.  The Reston-based 501(c)(3) charity Book Wish Foundation organized the book, which is being published by Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and will donate 100% of its proceeds to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps.  UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Darfur advocate Mia Farrow wrote the foreword.

The all-star roster also features Newbery medalists Karen Hesse (Out of the Dust) and Cynthia Voigt (Dicey’s Song), National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates (them), John Green (Looking for Alaska), Francisco X. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World), Jeanne DuPrau (The City of Ember), and Sofia Quintero (Efrain’s Secret); poets Nikki Giovanni, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marilyn Nelson, Gary Soto, and Jane Yolen; and graphic novelist Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole).  Their contributions explore the shared theme of wishes in the context of friendship, love, family, bullying and other topics teens care about.  The American Library Association’s Booklist magazine awards a starred review to the collection in its October 1 issue.

Book Wish Foundation Co-Founder Logan Kleinwaks said that “What You Wish For offers literary riches to its readers, and its readers return the gift many times over by helping the Darfuris.  By buying this book, anyone can join forces with these incredible authors.”  To increase the humanitarian impact of purchases, online bookseller Better World Books ( will donate its net profits from sales of the book.

Information about where to purchase What You Wish For, and the progress of the refugee camp library initiative, can be found at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Attention Teachers, Librarians, Homeschoolers, Parents, and Students!

Reading Rockets' Writing Challenge and Exquisite Corpse Online Educational Materials INSPIRE While Providing Reading, Writing, and Art Opportunities

Reading Rockets' fall writing challenge, Exquisite Prompt Redux, invites students in grades K-12 to write the ending to a cliffhanger, a review of a magical object purchased from The Fairy Tale Catalog, a poem in the voice of the Whinoceros, or the adventures of two time travelers!

Winners will be rewarded with online publication on, as well as collections of books, including at least one autographed title. The deadline for submitting entries is November 30. For complete information and contest rules, please visit

Teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, and parents interested in finding additional FREE reading, writing, and art educational support materials should check out the NCBLA's The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Center. Designed to support The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, these extensive materials provide a gold mine of literacy articles, web resources, classroom activities, games, reading lists, art activities, discussion questions, many of which can be adopted for use with books, stories, and art beyond The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. You won't want to miss:
"A Guide to Progressive Stories" and "Creating Your Own Exquisite Corpse Story Adventure" for instructions on how you can create the magic of a progressive story game in your home, classroom, library, or next camping trip.
The "Literacy Resource Treasure Chest," which includes a list of authoritative articles, websites, blogs, and video interviews addressing a plethora of reading and writing topics. 
Exquisite Corpse episodic materials, which include thematic reading lists, classroom activities,  and art appreciation articles and activities. For example, the art activity for Episode 2 is titled "Wet Washes and Rich Color - Creating an Illustration Layer by Layer" and invites students to take a closer look at James Ransome's watercolor illustration then try the technique for themselves. Click here to check out this art lesson! Illustration at right (c)2009 James Ransome.

To learn more about The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, click here
Ask for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at a bookstore or library near you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Literary Field Trip!

New Museum at Fresno City College Celebrates the Life and Work of Poet Gary Soto

The Gary Soto Literary Museum opened earlier this year in the refurbished Old Administration Building of Fresno City College in Fresno, California.   
Gary Soto is a poet and writer, and one of the nation’s most popular writers for children and young adults.   His books, which have sold nearly four million copies, include Too Many Tamales, Chato’s Kitchen, Baseball in April, and Buried Onions.  While he writes for younger audiences, Gary Soto is also highly regarded in the poetry world.  He has earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (twice), and the California Arts Council.   His New and Selected Poems (1995) was a finalist for the National Book Award.   His poem “Oranges” is the most anthologized contemporary poem in history.     

The Gary Soto Literary Museum was designed by Jonathan Hirabayashi.  The museum contains the tools of Soto’s  craft—his first manual typewriter, his first electric typewriter,  his first laptop, as well as manuscripts and letters, photographs, medals and honors, selected art pieces from his private collection, a chair and table where he wrote many of his books, and other memorabilia.  The Museum is the only museum dedicated to a living writer and is open to the public.  

In Soto's address for the opening of the museum, he explained his purpose: "I'm here as a cheerleader for reading, minus the pom-poms, and I'm here to claim a space in defense of poets and writers." On his website, Soto says, "I see [reading] as the only possible avenue to intellectual growth, not to mention the great pleasure that reading offers. My readers, both younger and older, may pick up a book of mine and read it from cover to cover, and I find this devotion to a literary life very moving." Thus, Soto has created a museum "...that provides a glimpse into [his] life as a writer."

To learn more about Gary Soto, his books, and his museum, please visit his website:

Museum photos courtesy of Gary Soto. Photo 1: Gary Soto stands near a metal chest of drawers, each of which holds items of interest, such as photographs, manuscripts, medals, and honors. Photo 2: The living room tableau includes furniture and artwork from Gary's home. Photo 3: The photo mural shows the industrial neighborhood in Fresno where Gary grew up, which is not far from the Sun Maid Raisin factory where his family members worked.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Use "Our White House" Book and Website to Connect Kids with Current Events

Our White House Resources Illuminate Presidential Campaigns of the Past and Connect Kids with Politics Today

National news is alive with the daily coverage of the Republican presidential candidates' speeches and debates and the analysis of President Obama's prospects for reelection. To help kids learn more about our country's rich history of presidential politics, campaigns, and elections, check out the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out!

Have you ever wondered why so many presidents have come from Ohio? So has Natalie Babbitt, and you can read her essay "Seven from Ohio" in Our White House.  You can also share the story of how President Hoover's inaction following the stock market crash of 1929 prevented him from being elected to serve another term in Matt Phelan's poignant comic strip, "Hoover's One Term." Marvel at Calef Brown's painting "Freedom of Speech" and discuss the impact of this freedom on our presidential campaigns with the young people in your life. And read Rocket Boys author Homer Hickam's account of meeting John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail in "The White House, the Moon, and a Coal Miner's Son."

On the companion educational site, you can learn how long it took to expand the right to vote in "Who Gets to Vote?" and discover how the electoral college works in "Getting the Votes and Getting Elected: The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College." Have fun reading about the original campaign "button" in "From Buttons to Pins: Campaign Tokens Evolve." And PARENTS, be sure to read "Presidential Debates: Watch the Debates with Your Kids and Teens" for helpful hints before next week's Republican debate!

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a masterpiece of poetry and prose, art and photography, created by over 100 of America's most gifted storytellers and artists as 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. Our White House is available in both paperback and hardcover from Candlewick Press.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

President Obama Encourages Americans to Celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month

We must recognize the contributions of the arts and humanities not only by supporting the artists of today, but also by giving opportunities to the creative thinkers of tomorrow. Educators across our country are opening young minds, fostering innovation, and developing imaginations through arts education. Through their work, they are empowering our Nation's students with the ability to meet the challenges of a global marketplace." - President Obama

Since 1993, the country has celebrated October as National Arts and Humanities Month. This national celebration connects artists with their neighbors and opens the doors of cultural organizations to their communities, welcoming young and old to experience and participate in the arts and humanities. Book festivals, poetry readings, theater, dance, mural paintings, lectures and discussions and musical performance are among the many events that will showcase the arts and humanities this month.

Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

Sesame Workshop Premiers TV Special to Raise Awareness of Family Hunger
New Sesame Street Muppet Lily Introduced

PBS stations across the country premiered the one hour television special Growing Hope Against Hunger yesterday, which portrays families’ personal stories to raise awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the United States, as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together. Growing Hope Against Hunger also introduces a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger.

A Spanish version of the special will air October 22 at 1 PM ET/PT on Univision and on October 23 at 1 PM ET/PT on Telefutura.  Growing Hope Against Hunger will also be aired on other dates in October. Click here for the broadcast schedule. 

“Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said Brad and Kimberly Paisley. “We are honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project. We hope that it will not only provide families with the tools they need to help them cope and live the healthiest life possible, but will educate the general population about the extent of food insecurity and hunger in the United States.” 

The Sesame Workshop website notes that families facing food insecurity is a growing issue in the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 17 million American children — nearly 1 in 4 — have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food. Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of 6.

To see video highlights from the special, click here.

To learn more about this very special programming project, click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

SAVE THE DATE! "Exquisite Converstation" Program to be Held December 3

The Exquisite Conversation:
An Adventure in Creating Books!
Katherine Paterson
National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
M. T. Anderson    +    Natalie Babbitt
Susan Cooper     +   Timothy Basil Ering
Steven Kellogg    +   Patricia MacLachlan
James Ransome

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and the Cambridge Public Library are thrilled to announce our special program “The Exquisite Conversation: An Adventure in Creating Books,” to be held Saturday, December 3 at 1:00 PM in the Kresge Auditorium at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

We invite you to join us for this lively and informative event to discuss the NCBLA's newly published book, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (Candlewick Press), as a springboard to a broader discussion about the writing and illustration processes employed by each of the program's participants in their own individual works.  

The program will feature renowned authors and illustrators for young people M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Susan Cooper, Timothy Basil Ering, Steven Kellogg, Patricia MacLachlan, Katherine Paterson, and James Ransome in a roundtable discussion moderated by Mary Brigid Barrett, Executive Director of The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.

The program is free and open to the public. The suggested audience includes young people (ages 10 and above) and adults who love children’s books.  Attendees are encouraged to bring a new paperback for a child or teen to donate as a holiday gift to children and young adults in family shelters in Cambridge.

Books will be sold by Porter Square Books before and after the presentation. Autographing will follow the presentation.

Wine and Cheese Reception with the Authors and Special Guests!
We also invite you to meet each of the participating authors and illustrators at a ticketed, adults-only Wine and Cheese Reception to take place in Room 307 of the Stratton Center from 3:30 to 5:00 PM. The reception will include a Book Basket Raffle and Silent Auction.

A limited number of tickets are available for the reception. Don't miss out! Order your tickets today!

For complete information about the "Exquisite Conversation" program and reception, including ticket purchases, click here.

What Is The Exquisite Corpse Adventure?
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a progressive story game originally published on the Library of Congress' website as the foundation of a national reading and writing initiative, created by The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is now available in paperback and hardback from Candlewick Press. It is also available on audio.

To learn more about The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, click here.
To check out the NCBLA's extensive online educational resources that support The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (including supplemental articles, classroom activities, reading lists, art activities, discussion questions, and more!), click here.

And, to check out the Exquisite Prompt Redux Writing Challenge for students in grades K-12 from Reading Rockets and, click here!

Ask for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at a bookstore or library near you!