Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exquisite Corpse Writing Activity

Write an Exquisite Corpse Story
Using Our Easy Instructions!

How does one write an exquisite corpse? Follow these instructions as provided in the NCBLA's Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Guide:
  1. Gather a group of people and sit in a circle or in a line so there is an order to pass around a piece of paper.
  2. Decide who is going to start. The first person to start (Author #1) writes a line (or several) of poetry at the top of the page. There are no guidelines regarding content, unless the group has decided upon a theme. The written form of Exquisite Corpse requires an initial agreement about sentence structure. A common form of a sentence created might be: article, adjective, noun, verb, article, adjective, noun.
  3. Author #1 folds back the paper from the line or lines he or she wrote, making sure no one else can read it when looking at the paper.
  4. Author #1 passes the paper to Author #2. 
  5. Author #2 writes another line unaware of what Author #1 has written. Author #2 folds over the section of paper that she or he wrote on and passes the paper to the next author.
  6. Each participant takes a turn writing, and then folding the paper, in order to hide what they have written. The paper can be cycled through a second round, if there is space left on the paper.
  7. When everyone has had a turn (or two), unfold the paper and have someone read the body of work that has been created.

For more fun activities and resources regarding the exquisite corpse art form, visit the NCBLA's Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Guide!

© 2009 Marilyn Ludolph

Monday, October 28, 2013

This Halloween Share an Exquisite Corpse with Young People

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
A Progressive Story Game Played by
20 Celebrated Authors and Illustrators

Originally published on Read.gov 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 available from Candlewick Press in paperback, hardcover, and audio formats!

What Is
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure?
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a progressive story just like the one many families play on road trips, at camps, at parties, at home when there is a power outage. It is a game where one person begins a story, stops at a cliffhanging moment, and the next person picks it up, continuing on until everyone in the group has the opportunity to contribute. And just like in those games, in The Exquisite Corpse, characters spontaneously erupt out of our authors’ imaginations; plot lines tumble forth, some realized, some lost; and we are often poised at the edge of a cliff with no logical solution in sight! 
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure authors and illustrators are:
M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown,  Susan Cooper,  Kate DiCamillo,  Timothy Basil Ering, Jack Gantos, Nikki Grimes,  Shannon Hale,  Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire,  Megan McDonald,  Patricia and Fredrick McKissack,  Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson,  James Ransome, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Dusen. 

Extensive Online Education Support Materials Available!
Discover a treasure trove of online educational support materials for
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on the NCBLA’s Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Center. Overflowing with supplemental articles, classroom activities, reading lists, art activities, discussion questions, and more, the Education Resource Center is designed for moms and dads, teachers and librarians, grandparents and guardians—all adults who live and work with young people and have a vested interest in helping kids read more, write better, and create stories and art that expand all of our universes.
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Center provides three categories of content:
* General interest articles explain the history of the Exquisite Corpse art form and how it is played, provide instructions for playing progressive story games, and offer tips for parents to encourage reading in their homes.
* Episodic materials include links to author and illustrator biographical information, annotated lists of recommended reading (thematically linked to each episode!), classroom activities, art activities, and discussion questions—provided and customized for each Exquisite Corpse episode.
* Literacy resources include authoritative articles on reading and writing from the NCBLA and other literacy experts, links to informative websites and blogs dedicated to literature and literacy, and links to Exquisite Corpse Adventure contributors’ websites and video discussions.
The educational resource center was created by the NCBLA and our distinguished colleagues at the Butler Children’s Literature Center at DominicanUniversity.

Ask for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at a library or bookstore near you!
Or read it online at READ.GOV!

To buy The Exquisite Corpse Adventure from the bookseller of your choice, click here. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Progressive Story Strategies and Ideas

Gather Round and
Create a
Progressive Story
with the Kids in Your Life

by Mary Brigid Barrett
Progressive stories have been around as long as men, women, and children have been able to talk.  Imagine an ancient tribe of people sharing experiences at the end of a long day of fishing, each person’s catch growing bigger, each account of an individual’s struggle to catch that fish growing more dramatic, one story building on the other around the campfire as stars erupt in the night sky.  Imagine an eye witness sharing the details of an animal attack of his or her friend, and that story expanding, becoming more exaggerated as it is spread throughout the village.  Imagine the neighborhood gossips cackling over the long line of suitors courting the rich widow in town, the intimate details growing in inverse proportion to the actual knowledge of the gossips.  The foundations of progressive stories and progressive story games are well rooted in the behavior of imperfect human beings and in the vast panoply of human emotions— pride false and true; jealousy and envy; love and passion; anger; and the always present need to laugh, to find escape, entertainment, and objectivity in humor.

The major element that distinguishes progressive stories and progressive story games is that progressive stories and games are group activities.  One person begins the game or story and it is taken up and/or added to by the next person in the group. This most simple version can be played in an oral story tradition or it can take a written form, as in The Exquisite Corpse Adventure national reading and writing initiative created by The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

The basic game can be changed by limiting the story to a certain theme or genre—ghost or horror stories, wacky humorous adventures, fairy tale and fantasy, detective and mystery “who dunnits,” murder mysteries, etc.  Contemporary progressive story games for children also include the game of “Telephone” and a menu of alphabet games such as “I’m Going on Picnic” and “A My Name is Alice and I come from Alabama.”

A simple visual version of the game is to take a piece of paper and fold it width-wise into five equal sections. Only one section of the five should be seen at any given time.  The first player draws the head of a person or animal, then folds the paper so that only the next section down is visible and the section with the head drawing is hidden within the folds. The next player draws the neck and shoulders; the next draws the torso; next the hips and upper legs, and finally the last player draws the lower legs and feet, all without viewing the drawings done previously. The climax of the game, at the end, is when the paper is unfolded in front of game participants revealing all parts of the group drawing as a composite “Exquisite Corpse!”

The most up-to-date versions of progressive story games take place on the Internet, as we have done with The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. But we encourage you to play any of the versions of this game with the young people in your life, live and in person. Activities and time spent together take on deeper meaning when your child or teen looks into another human face, not an electronic screen. Your kids need the warmth of human touch, they need to hear your voice, and they need to be able to remember how you smell— the fragrance of your shampoo, aftershave, or perfume, or the scent of grass on your skin after a day hiking in the woods.  Plastics and electronics are not the stuff of memories.

For more ideas and instructions for writing progressive stories, visit the NCBLA's Exquisite Corpse Adventure Education Resource Center.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Story Time!

  Share Spooky Stories of
Ghost Encounters in the White House
with the Young People in Your Life

The NCBLA's literature and art anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out 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. 
As Halloween approaches, be sure to check out "The House Haunts" by M. T. Anderson in Our White House. Anderson chose to write about White House ghosts because "I have always been fascinated by ghosts, even though I don't believe in them. I have a whole bookshelf next to my bed filled with ghost stories from around the country (and around the world). I knew that as a kid, the first question I would have about a historical place like the White House would have been, 'Is it haunted?'"
Here is an excerpt from Anderson's "The House Haunts:"
Some say that a British soldier killed on the White House grounds during the War of 1812 still walks the lawns with a torch in his hand. Others say that a dead doorman still welcomes visitors and that a dutiful servant, though deceased, still shuts off lights at night. Some say that Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, bustles toward the East Room, carrying a load of laundry to be dried. When gardeners tried to dig up Dolley Madison's rose garden, she returned from the grave to tell them off--so they fled, and the garden remained. Roosevelt, Truman, and Hoover all heard Lincoln knock on their bedroom door; and when Lincoln himself was alive and well, Mrs. Lincoln heard the dead Andrew Jackson tramp up and down the corridors, swearing.
OurWhiteHouse.org, the NCBLA's companion educational website for Our White House, includes discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history and current events. A special Halloween feature is the web exclusive "Knock, Knock! Whoooo's There? Spooky Stories from Children of the White House" by Renee' Critcher Lyons.  

Did you know that many White House residents throughout the years have claimed that it is HAUNTED? Do you know WHOSE ghosts stalk the bedrooms, fireplaces, and gates? You can read all about the stories of ghostly encounters experienced by presidential children Margaret Truman, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Susan Ford, and Lynda Johnson Robb, in "Knock, Knock! Whoooo's There? Spooky Stories from Children of the White House." 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:

Other ghostly noises linger along the gates and upon the doors of the White House’s North Portico. Legend says the banging is the ghost of Anna Surrat rattling the doors and gates, pleading for her mother’s life. (Anna is the daughter of Mary Surrat, hanged in 1865 after her conviction as a conspirator in the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Mary became the only woman ever executed by the U.S. government). Anna’s weeping swells throughout the White House’s entrance hall, even with the doors shut! And on July 7th each year, the anniversary of her mother’s execution, Anna’s ghost paces back and forth on the front steps, supposedly awaiting the arrival of President Johnson.
To learn more about Our White House, click here.

Looking for Even MORE Spooky Stories?
Check out the "Boo to You!" list on ReadingRockets.org
for scary and not-so-spooky tales filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and monsters galore, and peruse the "Monsters Bookshelf" on the New York Times website.

For more great fall reading suggestions, check out the NCBLA's "Great Books for Boys" list and "Discovering Fantasy Beyond Harry Potter."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Field Trip Suggestion: Maurice Sendak Exhibit

Work of Beloved Author and Illustrator Maurice Sendak Now Touring the Country

The touring exhibition of Maurice Sendak's illustrations  is currently on display at the Portland Public Library in Portland, Maine. 

The exhibition title "Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons" alludes to the fact that this is the 50th anniversary of Sendak's landmark children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are."
To see the complete list of exhibition locations, click here

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trick or Treat! Halloween Reading Lists

Fun and Frightful Books to Share
with Young Readers this Halloween

Including short stories and poetry, easy readers and middle grade tales, check out these curated lists of fun books with Halloween themes to get all the young people in your life reading and asking for more!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Implementing Readers Theater

Readers Theater
Offers Engaging Opportunities
to Get Kids READING
Check Out the NCBLA's Education Resource Guide and Make It Happen

The NCBLA, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of
Congress, presented a Children's "Literary Lights" Readers
Theater presentation
at the 2013 National Book Festival. Pictured L-R:
Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, Lynda Johnson Robb as Cowboy,
Carol Rasco as Octopus, Susan Cooper, Grace Lin, and Mary Brigid Barrett.
Readers Theater dramatic presentations are in many ways like radio plays. In a Readers Theater production, performers stand in place onstage, reading their lines from a script, using their voices to heighten comedy and drama; costumes and sets are limited or nonexistent. Readers Theater productions became popular during and after World War II when financial resources to produce plays were limited. 
The NCBLA's recent Readers Theater included two readers
costumed as Jon Scieszka's Cowboy and Octopus, but a
successful Readers Theater does not require costumes or
props. Costumes designed and constructed by Elizabeth Barrett
Groth. To see more of Elizabeth's work, visit ElizabethBarrettGroth.com.

Readers Theater Motivates Kids to Read and Write MORE
Educators have embraced Readers Theater as a compelling literacy and literature art form that not only enhances young people’s reading skills, but also builds young people’s critical and creative thinking skills, especially when young people create their own Readers Theater scripts based on books, personal stories, and current events. A 1999 study by Strecker, Roser, and Martinez showed that second graders who participated in Readers Theater productions on a regular basis, made, on average, more than a year’s growth in reading. Readers Theater motivates young people to read and write more; it is a learning activity that is both interesting and fun. 

Print Our Readers Theater Education Resource Guide
The NCBLA has created an easy-to-print Readers Theater Education Resource Guide to help you engage young people in writing their own productions in classrooms, camps, Boys and Girls Centers, YMCAs, backyard decks, or family living rooms. To check it out on thencbla.org website, click here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Literacy Heroes Spotlight

USO's United Through Reading Program Helps Separated Military Families Read Together
Cadette Girl Scouts Collect Books Through Book Drives and Food Sales

The literacy nonprofit United Through Reading was established in 1989 with a mission to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. Their vision is that all children will feel the security of caring family relationships and develop a love of reading through the read-aloud experience. 

United Through Reading is the nation’s first nonprofit to promote the read-aloud experience for separated military families.  United Through Reading offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children, which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, and cultivates a love of reading. After recording, the USO ships the book and video to the respective soldier's family to read over and over again. At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, Marines, Soldiers and Sailors, National Guard, Reservists and Airmen, can read to their children from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases and installations around the world and at 70 USO centers worldwide.

The NCBLA was recently inspired by the story of two 12-year old Girl Scout Cadettes who are collecting books for their Silver project to donate to the United Through Reading station at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airport. The pair launched their collection efforts this past spring by asking local stores and restaurants to allow them to place book collection bins. They are also holding baked goods and lemonade sales to raise money to buy additional books. So far the two have collected and donated over 300 books to the program!

United Through Reading will gladly accept new or gently used books for young people aged birth through 18. Their greatest need is for books for young people aged through 14.

If you would like to donate books to support the Maryland girl scouts' project, please ship them directly to the USO office at BWI:

P.O. Box 416
Linthicum, MD 21090

If you would like to make a monetary donation to United Through Reading, visit the Donate page of their website.