Sunday, February 28, 2010

Articles I Posted For You In February on Facebook That You Might Have Missed

You can Become a Fan of The Literary Family on Facebook!

Please join! I have been posting articles on the fan page that I have read this month. I didn't have a chance to include them all on the blog. Here they are below.

American Indian Children's Literarture Blog:
Do All Indians Live In Tipis?

Book Court Bookstore in Cobble Hill Brooklyn:

It's also very exciting that Grace Lin and Julia Alvarez both won awards this year.

Joy Harjo wrote about another novel that has won critical acclaim in Children's Literature.

Mosaic Magazine- Is a wonderful literary magazine for young adults! I am so glad I found this. It is written for educators.

Reading Reptile Bookstore- Is a great bookstore in Kansas City Kansas. It has really become a national hub for attracting authors to and give readings for kids. The website is fun for all to visit.

Preschool Issues NYtimes- The NYTimes has been publishing some good articles on education. In the face of changing no child left behind- there is a chance that educational policies could improve.

Playing to Learn Op/Ed NYTimes- But we are mostly hoping for more rigor and less testing!
Both of these education articles suggest we should consider educating versus test them.

Songs about Peace and Love!
Read about great songs for you and children to listen to. Beth has a wonderful blog you should follow her too!

I hope you decide to officially "Follow" the blog here on Blogger. Just click on the button on the right side of the screen. "Follow". Join the other 9 people and the blog will automatically be sent to you!

Thanks for all your reading and feedback! Can't wait to read your comments this month!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Love Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is, hands down, my favorite children book illustrator. In fact, the illustrations alone persuade me to open a text and read the print inside! I love the way he captures the details of people, truly bringing out their distinct beauty. My nephew has Please Baby Please and Please Puppy Please! Two wonderful picture books by Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee for babies and toddlers. Please Baby Please was Auntie ME’s niece’s first book that she could ‘read’ on her own. The kids in those books are so captivating.

I bought, He's Got the Whole World In His Hands for my god son on his first communion! When I was younger it was one of my favorite songs to sing! That little boy in the book I swear is the spitting image of my god son. We all had so much fun singing and reading and admiring the pictures in that book together!

AB and I over the years enjoyed: Thunder Rose, Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, Dancing in the Wings and Brothers of the Knight! All wonderful picture books with great authors like Jerdine Nolen and Debbie Allen. Yes, Debbie Allen from the original movie and tv show, Fame.

He also illustrates for biographies such as, Mama Miti (another biography about Wangari Maathai), Testing the Ice (The story of Jackie Robinson), and Coretta Scott (Ntozake Shange's poem of civil rights leader).

His work is vast and filled with variety. His images help to tell the story and enjoy the content that we are learning. If you don’t own or haven’t read and fallen in love with one of his picture books- go immediately to your local bookstore, library or search online! His art is absolutely to die for and inspires us to enjoy the details of life!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Telling and Recording Stories

When Little Boy J was just a toddler, I remember Mentor Mommy S telling him stories about when he was a little baby. She told him stories over and over again. LBJ had his favorites that he would request to hear retold again. There was the story about the time he was at Cousin M's house, or the time Grandma L came over and rubbed his back till he fell asleep. They were told with elaborate detail. LBJ could even "chime" in as his mom told the story. He could add in what was going to happen next. It was as if she was reading him a beautiful picture book- except this story had no written text. Family stories, what a wonderful way to celebrate your lives together. Tell and retell your favorite family moments! Make them into a big beautiful tale.

Well, I wanted to do the same for my nephew. I dreamed of doing the same with him. I didn't know quite when to start. So I started at birth! Telling him and singing to him, our family stories together.

I remember when my nephew told his first story. I couldn't believe it! We were at his home, reading 100 animals. He was, maybe, 16 months. We were naming all the animals he knew. When we came upon the worm, my nephew stopped and looked at me and pointed to the worm again. He said to me, "Worm! Worm!" I looked back at him and said, "Yes, that is a worm." He repeated with a serious look (like I had not understood him), "Worm! Worm!" he exclaimed to me. I wasn't sure about the fascination, so I looked at him and said again, "Yes, that is a worm."
He quickly held out his hand as if he was giving something to me, "Titi. Titi. Worm. Worm. Me. Ehhhhhh! Ehhhhh! Worm. Worm. Titi. Me. Ehhhhh! No!"

A family story was born! It was the story about the time I took my nephew to the park and we found a worm.

It was wet, because it just had rained. We were digging in the sand together and all of a sudden, I found a worm! I picked it up and called my nephew over to see it! I held it in my hand and said, "Do you want to hold the worm?" My nephew crinkled up his eyes and nose and turned his head away and said, "Ewwwwwwwwwwww". He was nervous. He didn't want to hold it. I tried to show him how gentle it was and maybe he would like to touch it. I held my hand out close to him and he turned away in shyness. I slipped the worm back into the earth and the two of us said good bye to the worm.

This became one of our favorite family stories. We retold it many times. On family vacations, I picked out moments, like being startled by the loud cruise ship just below Nana's and Papa's apartment, seeing the pelican on our walk with Nana along the river, taking the train at Bush Gardens and Titi being scared of the Rhino, or taking the trolley and getting to ring the bell. We told and retold these stories. My nephew has his own family favorites. I decided to make him a book with 10 of our favorite stories from our vacation in Florida that we retold a million times. I drew pictures, took photographs from the trip and put them into a Moleskin sketch notebook. I did this for 3 family vacations we all took together. This way he can at anytime, read our stories!

When I go up and visit him now, sometimes he wants me to tell the "Train Story" or "The First Time He Ate a Popsicle Story"and sometimes we read his "Memory Books"! Now he can join in and tell them.

' "Don't be nervous, " Nana said!'

It is truly adorable. What is even more impressive now is his storytelling capability of ones that we have never told. He can spin a story and captivate you, using dialog and feelings throughout his story! I like to think that Titi had some influence!

Tell your family and friends stories! Tell and retell them over and over again like a beautiful piece of literature! You may even decide to capture your favorite ones in writing!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview of a Middle School Girl- Pre- Teen

What are you currently reading?

What do you think so far?
I love it because it is very detailed and I can really see it in my head. I read the other books in her series. This one is the best. It explains the different stories and how they became vampires.

Why do you like to read?

It takes me to a different place, a different world. If you just want to get away, get away from the normal world and just think about something different- then reading is a good way to that.

How do you pick which books to read?
People recommend to me. My dad or other friends mostly recommend to me the books I read.

What do you want your reading life to be like as an adult?
I want to read as many books as now or twice as much. I want to inspire my kids to read a lot.

Why you think you read?
I just kind of grew in to books. Its like they were always around me.

What are your favorite genres?

What do younger kids need to know about reading?
They need to find a good genre that they like when they are young. Then they can branch out into other themes.

What about kids who don't like books?
Read the books at school and just free read on your own time. Make time. Take out all other unnecessary activity like tv or just read in the car.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Auntie Creates Her Own Tradition

Photo By Daniel Galan

When my friends P and A had their first daughter, AB, I decided to start a tradition that has lasted for 13 years- Upon each visit to see her, I would bring her a new book, with an inscription and signature from her "Titi" (Spanish diminutive for Tia). I carried this tradition with M and A and my nephew as well.

One of the things that happened was that a ritual and a new library was born. AB would be waiting at the door, anticipating my arrival. She would walk me into the kitchen, hovering near my bags to see what new treasure I had brought her. My nephew when he is reading his books with his mama will say, "Titi buyed me this?" or "This is from Titi!" or "I want to read Titi's book that she gave me". M would always insist upon reading the inscription first. Even as early as one years old she could find the books I gave her. She would look for the heart that I signed with my name, point to it and call my name. I became part of the conversation when I wasn't there.

M, AB, their siblings, and yes, my almost 3 year old nephew, all LOVE to read. They love to read and choose to read, on their own, for long extended periods of time. How wonderful- especially in this video-mania, wii-frenzy world we live in.

While I know that I am an 'Over the Top Tia- Auntie', it has been fun to find ways to connect the kids in my life and to grow a common love of books with them at such a young age. Bringing books instead of a bottle of wine (or maybe sometimes in addition) to dinner parties or picnics- can win the hearts of those you love! Be sure to sign them. Write a little brief note. They will love to reread those notes over and over!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Story of the Day

I was over at Baby C's house playing! We were playing- construction together! Dramatic play is the first step towards reading. After we played it was time for his Pojos. We got ready for bed and we read a classic by Mercer Mayer, There is a Nightmare In My Closet. After I read it, Baby C took hold of the book and started his own reading. He read it back, nearly close to verbatim! It was incredible. This is another step towards reading as well.

Auntie ME then told Baby C that it was time for, The Story of the Day. They went off to Baby C's room and snuggled close together on the rocking chair. Baby C began to recount his day, starting from when he woke up!

What a beautiful thing they added to their bedtime routine. Remembering all the wonderful things that happened during the day when they were apart and when they were together.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Go Out and Find the Literary Events Near You

I love to attend literary events in NYC. I like to go to book readings, lectures, and book club conversations. I enjoy concerts, speeches, and theater as well! Guess what? So do kids!

This past fall, Brooklyn had their annual Book Festival! There were three tents just designed just for kids. They had authors reading to toddlers as well as to high school students. They had book signings where you could to meet the author. There were zillions of booths of book sellers selling their newest and hip-est books! We met Kate Dicamilio, we found a new favorite author Coe Booth and even caught the tail end of Mo Willems! If you get to go one, don't miss it. Washington DC hosted the National Book Festival. Miami had a wonderful international book festival this year as well. Denver's book festival is coming up!

Local libraries and bookshops often host a story hour for different ages. I remember that Big Girl C and Baby E are such regulars at their library they have friends they have met there and know the librarians by name. After story hour- the two of them come home with 10 new books- to keep until the next book reading.

Some bookshops host poetry readings for kids to read their favorite poems- either published or self made. Some have events like, puppet shows, literary craft activities, or 'Literary Love-Ins'.

My first kid concert was quite an event, I saw Dan Zanes with M and A. His music draws upon different languages and cultures as well as nursery rhymes and American folk music.

Auntie ME took her niece, 6 years old, to her first musical. A musical that they had been watching and listening to at home! Seeing it live on stage brought about the whole literary experience and love for theater.

Find events in your neighborhood or city where you can celebrate reading and writing!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get Ready For Your Trip

Auntie ME, Uncle B, and Baby C, just got back from Paris! Once a year they travel as family to France. Auntie ME has work, and Uncle B and Baby C just play all day!

Before their trip, though, Baby C had been reading up for his third trip across the Atlantic. He had a couple of non-fiction books like, Amazing Buildings that he read with his mom and dad. He also had a couple of fiction books like, Adele and Simon. Guess where they visit? Paris! Reading each of these books, made a nice little text set for Baby C! Learning and remembering all about different places and things that he would see once again on their trip. Both types of books, fiction and non fiction, provide a rich experience. He can as well, retell and read both types of books to you!

What a nice way to get ready for travel- wherever you go- whether it be another country or city- the zoo or a museum.

Study up! Read up! Get yourselves already to explore. When you come home, you'll be able to talk and remember some beautiful family memories.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snuggled Up With Warriors!

M and I spent the afternoon, snuggled up on the sofa! She has another book report in a couple of weeks- due. Apparently she will make a presentation about her next book. M is just starting the series, Warriors. She loves it! She says there is a lot of action! She is not the only girl that I know who loves this series. JP- my nephew's 4th grade friend- loves it as well. It is one of those series that both boys and girls really love to read. ACTION! Kids like action. Erin Hunter really helps her readers get that moving picture going in their mind.

I got my book out and M got the blanket and we started reading. We both decided to set two goals- one for how long and the other how many chapters. We decided we would try for one hour and get through 3 chapters.

Setting goals to pace your reading and setting aside time to read with your family and friends help you get through longer books. Curling up with your book alongside the kids in your life, not only models good reading behaviors but it helps you as well get some quiet reading done as well.

Get your blankets and pillows. Shut off your ipods and television! Snuggle up with your little readers, set some goals and read!

Enjoy your weekend.

Give Your Stories as a Gift: Happy Birthday Sis!

Photo By Daniel Galan

Before I left Canada, I bought my sister an early birthday gift: Snow pants and a bathing suit.
(Oh, the irony of Canada in the wintertime!)

Today is her actual birthday and I am here in NYC- far away. I sent her this year a letter filled with 10 beautiful memories of the "Three of Us" together all year! I sent it in a beautiful card (and included a little $$ to encourage her to have a nice brunch out or evening to herself!)

For my friends' birthdays lately I have been giving them 3 nights (with unlimited hours) of babysitting! How priceless right? In some cities that is a mega $ gift! For me, it is a pleasure to get to hang out with some of favorite kids, like Baby C and Little Boy J and Sister L.

Moms and Dads need to be celebrated too! You all work so hard! Happy Birthday Sis!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eating and Reading

One of my favorite things to do with my nephew is to go out to our favorite restaurants! We love to go for Korean, Dim Sum, and Indian/Pakistani food!

For Dim Sum, we usually meet up with JP and her family. Dim Sum is one her favorite activities too! The two of them will eat shrimp dumplings for the entire time, non stop. I think my nephew once had like 12!

What a great topic to support with reading!

Yum Yum Dim Sum from: World Snacks Books is a great book to read! It has wonderful pictures as well as a catchy rhyme! We love the part, Why oh why my little shu mai, why do I love you so?

I saw Grace Lin speak this year about her books and writing process. Dim Sum For Everyone is another favorite we like to read!

The World Snacks Books is an entire series of food and culture for little kids! They each have their own set of rhymes and they each inspire you to want to eat delicious food! Chaat and Sweets is another favorite of ours to read.

Bee Bim Bop, by Linda Sue Park, tops off our culinary tour of food through books!

Why not eat and read together! If you don't want to get your books sticky, read about the food you love most! Who knows, you all might find something new to try.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Birthday Gift Update

This winter, my sister, nephew, and I took a 2 hour road trip to Ottawa to visit with friends. My nephew asked for music. He is usually pretty particular about what he likes and wants. Ever since he was a little baby he has enjoyed the music of Johnny Cash (influence from Nana).

One day as he was listening to the play list on his mama's itouch. He heard a steam engine sound off in the background of a song- whoooooooo- and soon started the song, Casey Jones. He was in love.

As we headed out of town, my nephew called from the back seat, "Casey Jones! Casey Jones! Play it loud!" Luckily my sister understood and found the song and played it. When it finished he shouted, "More, please!" This went on for 2 hours- until we pulled into the driveway of our friend's house.

Well I was online browsing books and I found, "I Dream of Trains" by Angela Johnson (one of my favorite authors). That's right, it's the story about ...Casey Jones. I had to get it for him. I had to feed his passion.

I also found the story of Sonia Sotomayor, Sonia Sotomayor A Judge Grows In The Bronx, By Jonah Winter. Judge Sotomayor is the newly appointed US Supreme Justice.

I also found Pele, King of Soccer by Monica Brown. My nephew is a big fan of soccer. His baby sitter (a big soccer player herself) began to teach him how to play last spring. Spring is on its way. It will soon be time to get out of the pool and onto the field!

All his gifts still fit inside his "Surfer Backpack"! There is still a little room left. Mmmmmm... I have side pockets to fill as well.

Enjoy the biographies! Happy reading to you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Show Your Love to Others

Make your own valentine's day cards. Send a quote from a favorite Children's Book to your friends- of any age! Make Valentine Day cards to your friends and families with your little and big ones! Ask them to pick out moments in books that show love!

Happy Valentine's Day. Happy Reading Day. I hope this day is filled and fills you with love.

"We're safe," said Stellaluna. Then she sighed. "I wish you could see in the dark, too."
"We wish you could land on your feet," Flitter replied. Pip and Flap nodded.
They perched in silence for a long time.

"How can we be so different and feel so much alike?" mused Flitter.
"And how can we feel so different and so much alike?" wondered Pip.
"I think this is quite a mystery," Flap chirped.
"I agree," said Stellauna. "But we're friends, And that's a fact."

Stellaluna By Janell Cannon

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lucille Clifton Will Be Missed

Lucille Clifton.
we will miss you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Support Libraries in South Africa

A few weeks ago I posted about my friend Sara who hosted a party to support schools in South Africa. Each year, she and her family work with teachers and administrators on building literacy!

I couldn't attend, so Sara and her friend, Rachel, sent me a link where I could purchase books by South African writers. For each book you purchase, one is given to a school's library. My books came in! They are sweet and beautiful.

What a great idea! If you are interested in doing the same, click here!

Happy reading and gift giving!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Call Your Aunties!

Last weekend I got a 630 am phone call and one at noon.

I was out of town, in a different time zone. When I turned my phone on, I saw all these missed calls. No messages. I was worried. They were all from Mama B's phone, M's and A's mom.

When I called back, M answered, "It was me who was calling, don't worry! I want to tell you that I finished Frindle and I wrote my book report about it!"

Now we won't discuss the value or non value of writing a book report here and now.

What I want to say is, "You did! Did you love it? Did you love that book up!?"
She did! Apparently her book report is winning some acclaim in school!

We live for these moments- Aunties and Uncles, Grammies and Pop Pops. I remember when Little Boy J would call and leave a song on my voicemail. It always brought a smile to my face. Now his sister, Little L leaves sweet little messages.

Nothing is sweeter than my nephew calling and saying,
"Where are you? Do you want to Skype?" When the screens all connect there he is, sitting with a book (Llama Llama Red Pajama), reading it in his 2 year old way!

Precious! Pick up the phone or turn on your computers- call and share!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Whatever It Takes To Help You To Read!

Little Boy J, from birth loved to be read to! He loved to snuggle on the couch in the living room or in his big red reading chair in his room. He loved just listening to words pour over him. Both MMS and Mentor Dad R, dramatized reading for him. Their voices adn gestures and facial expressions, kept LBJ entertained and engaged. Who wouldn't love to crawl up next to a book with them?

When LBJ started to understand what words and letters and sounds were, we all tried to get him to read everything and anything. But LBJ just wanted to listen to books. Reading was hard. It was work. To him, reading was when someone else read to you, creating a movie in your mind to listen to and watch. When he tried to read, the whole image of reading and experience changed.

MMS and MDR of course thought and thought about what to do! MMS tried every book out to see what he was interested in and could read. Turned out there were these low level comic books. Li
ttle Boy J ate them up! He started reading them and it was hard to get him to stop. MMS will admit it was hard to let him into those books, books with endless superheros, not necessarily deep passionate messages. For LBJ though, this was another entry point into his reading life. It will not be a definitive one.

Last night, B and were at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn for a reading. B was looking for some comic books to share with young readers in school, from Toon Books. When we asked, the woman in the store told us all about how Art Spiegleman and his wife, Francoise Mouly are behind the project.

Art Spiegleman who wrote Maus (which I read in an history class in college) and his wife, Francoise Mouly, the art director of the New Yorker, found the same to be true in their home. Their kids learned to read through comics. The two of them have gotten behind Toon Books, such as: Stinky, Benny and Penny, and Luke. They want to help publish low level comic books.

These books help to bring in other readers to our Grand Literary Family!
Enjoy the Read!

Post other graphic books that you have found that kids love, here!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Give a Poem and Say, "I Love You"

I love reading poetry! I love sharing poems with kids- all year long. I love giving the gift a poem. Yes just one, wrapped with a beautiful ribbon. One year I gave AB a poem that I had written for her birthday. She hanged it on her bulletin board above her desk. Just imagine snuggling up with your little person and reading, Honey I Love, By Eloise Greenfield. What a delicious moment to share! For my brother's wedding a read a poem, by Maya Angelou. I gave him and his wife that poem, in a frame. Mentor Mommy S and her family send cards once a year in December or January. They always include an inspirational quote instead of a holiday greeting. It feels so poetic- celebrating important words! Baby C's Nanas send a card with a poem. I remember one year they sent a Mary Oliver poem to everyone. What a gift!

I also love to read an anthology. Some many wonderful books with beautiful themes for kids. Maybe you want a theme about the Earth. I just got for my little fellow, The Tree That Built Time. It comes with CD so he can both read the book and listen to the poetry. It is truly a beautiful collection. You may want to just read an anthology by one author like Georgia Heard's amazing book, Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky. What a love and reverence for nature these poems hold. Her poems will fill you with love! You may want an anthology that includes poems, songs, raps, and celebrates the spoken word- Hip Hop Speaks To Children is a beautiful one to share with those you love (it also includes a CD inside)

Make this a poetic year! Give a gift to your love ones and make it a poem. Celebrate the written word. Celebrate the spoken word. Celebrate poetry all year long!

Other great poets and poems for kids of different ages:
Angela Johnson: The Other Side
Janet Wong: A Suitcase of Seaweed, Night Garden
Naomi Shihab Nye: Honeybee, Salting the Ocean, 19 Varieties of A Gazelle, And an edited volume from poets from around the globe: This Same Sky
Nikki Giovanni: Spin a Soft Black Song, The Sun is So Quiet
Georgia Heard: This Place I know: Poems of Comfort, Songs of Myself
Eloise Greenfield:Nathaniel Talking, In the Land of Words, Friendly Four

Thursday, February 4, 2010

27 Posts. 27 Days Blogging.

It's been a month and we are starting to bloom!

Thank you- to all - for reading, commenting, and spreading the word. I hope you are finding wonderful ways to treasure kids and books!

Just want to give a shout out to the 100 Fans on Facebook! Thank you!

Feel free to post comments on the blog. Feel free to become a fan on Facebook and "Follow" us here on blogspot. Just below the list of "Authors", you will see a button. Press 'follow' and blogspot will send the blog to you! Feel free to pass along and invite your friends to join our little Literary Family.

We are just starting out, but we are glad to have you along the journey.

Getting Ready for the Nephew's 3rd Birthday

Don't worry, it isn't until March. Like every other auntie, I am collecting along the way, little gifts here and there, that I want to bring to him on his 3rd birthday. I usually see him once a month (they live in Canada); but I don't think I will be able to see him in February. So, the gifts I am presently collecting will be for his birthday! Here is what I have so far:

When I was out in Seattle, I went to a bookstore for children, The Secret Garden, in Ballard. Very cute bookstore! My friend Mama J wanted to know what it was that I was looking for in the bookstore. It was a good question. I often just browse and try to get inspired. Sometimes I have a specific book in mind. This time I did not. I wanted to see if in this bookstore I could find new books, ones that I hadn't seen in NY. Sure enough they had a couple that just called out my nephew's name!

1. I Call My Grandpa Papa My nephew does actually call his grandfather Papa. It is so cute. In this book though it describes how different languages and culture's name their grandfathers and the things they do together. I love books that celebrate diveristy of families and languages and cultures- especially because our family has a diversity of 'families', languages, and cultures. My nephew's grandparents are a big part of his life. Even though they live hundreds of miles away, they remain close through lots of visits and Skype chats, "Papa, do you want to skype?" Now I am going to search for I Call My Grandma Nana (because he does).

2. I found these beautiful Architecture Concept Books! They have Colors, Animals and Counting! How beautiful. I love books that teach more than one thing- Architecture and Counting!

3. I also found a large, board book with beautiful pictures about the Pike Street Market in Seattle! Great gift and souvenir!

What fun! They are already in his new "Surfers Backpack" that Big Girl C and Baby E are giving him for his birthday. I'm sure that it will fill up soon (I also have an adorable Owl T-shirt and Slug I got from KLTworks). Don't worry sis, I won't go overboard!

Have You Picked Up a Magazine Recently?

When I travel, I like to load up my 'carry on' with a few magazines! I also subscribe (online now) to magazines and blogs. I enjoy reading short essays, stories, and even doing a puzzle now and then. My sister and Nana are big puzzle people as well. I remember growing up with many magazines coming to the house that I loved to browse and skim and read.

My nephew is growing up to be quite the traveler. He is almost three and has been to 3 continents and 7 countries including: Poland, Oman, and England. As he travels, he brings his "penguin roll-ley backpack" that my sister has filled with his slippers, a snack, a couple books etc. I suggested getting him a couple of magazines at the airport to read and let him look through- it's lighter!

Well this year, in honor of the new year, Nana and Papa got my nephew a year's subscription to National Geographic. What a great idea! It really is a gift that keeps giving! National Geographic, like National Wildlife Federation, has a couple of different magazine subscriptions- depending on the age of the child. Imagine, you could get a subscription for the toddler, the 4th grader, and for yourselves! That sounds like a family reading together! You could do the same with Sports Illustrated For Kids. I remember that my high school English teacher always said that the best writing is in SI!

Ask and Muse are both examples of companies with multi- leveled texts. Both content rich (science and social studies) oriented! These would be a nice companion to your Smithsonian subscription. Even online websites, like Time For Kids, have content and texts that are designed for different ages of kids!

These are heavy on the genre of non-fiction informational texts. In many of them though there are poems and cartoons, and some stories that highlight the theme of the magazine. Of course there are literary magazines as well that do the same thing!

Magazines online, delivered to your home, picked up at a newsstand or an airport, make a wonderful addition to the library at home!

Reading The Caribbean

AB is a Haitian, Puerto Rican, American, Middle Schooler. Together we have searched and collected books that would reflect some of her cultural heritage. We have been collecting and reading books, since she was a baby. Here are a few we have found since the 4th grade, that are from the Caribbean. They are books for tweens and teens.

The Secret Footprint- A beautiful picture book
Before We Were Free- A chapter book

Coconut Kind of day- A wonderful book of poems
The Color of My Words- A chapter book

Edwidge Danticat
The song of el coquí and other tales of Puerto Rico- Picture Book
Magic Shell- Chapter Book
Bronx Remembered: A Novella and Stories- Chapter Book

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Planet Earth: Visual Literacy

Over winter vacation my nephew had a play-date with his 9 year friend JP. We went the museum together, ate sushi, and watched Planet Earth at home. My nephew was thrilled. I was thrilled- it was a perfect day for me. I love Planet Earth for so many reasons: beautifully shot, wonderful message for the world, important and interesting content to learn, and all in all inspirational!

The three of us snuggled on the sofa, each with our own bowl of popcorn and settled in to watch The Ocean Deep . I wasn't sure as the movie was playing, if my nephew (2 1/2) would have the stamina to watch the whole section. I was right. He checked out mid- way through the movie. Pretty much after he finished his bowl of popcorn.

He continued to play on the sofa though, with his trains and bulldozers- acting like "Vampire Squids" and sharks.

Throughout the movie, both at the beginning and towards the end, JP and I talked about what we were noticing and thinking about in different parts. We even decided to 'rewind' parts to see something happen again or to try and answer a question. It helped us to stay alert and think while we watched. My nephew, throughout the movie, every now and again, checked back in and gave us an, "OOOOO!" or "What's that Titi?"

Finally, we got to the end of the section and JP and I wanted to watch the, "How Did They Film It", section. We watched the Sharks! It was fascinating to see and my nephew watched that whole part with us!

Well, after that day, Planet Earth became an 'high demand' item in the house. I decided that we should watch (and re-watch) sections in "The Ocean Deep" together and I would give a running commentary-to help process and engage him as we watched! The "Turtle" scene became a favorite, as well as the Whale Shark and the crabs on the ocean floor. We also watched over and over the, "How Did They Film It".

I noticed that each time we watched a scene together, my nephew would say something new. Either it was a question, "Why do the turtles stay there?" or an exclamation, "That's dangerous right?" Sometimes, I would even hear something that I said the last time, "Those fish are working together!" or "That is a really big shark, but it only eats tiny fish."

It was a wonderful time we had with his friend and the entire vacation together. Watching television or videos with children- whether it is in school or at home- can certainly be enriched by talking and thinking about what is happening together. I love that we both can learn new content about the world together and try to engage with the beautiful message in this particular movie! Movies, TV programs, videos and YouTube: Watch them together! They too, are an important literacy to learn how to negotiate. Be part of that process with the kids in your life!

"Our planet is still full of wonders. As we explore them, so we gain not only understanding, but power. It's not just the future of the whale that today lies in our hands: it's the survival of the natural world in all parts of the living planet. We can now destroy or we can cherish. The choice is ours."

David Attenborough, in closing

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Interview of a 4th grade boy

What are you currently reading?
I am reading Somewhere in the Darkness, By Walter Dean Myers

What do you think of it so far?
So far, it is good.

Why are you reading it?
My dad recommended it.

What do you mostly like to read about?
I don't have a topic.

How do you choose books?
I just take recommendations from people.

Why do you like to read books?
That is a tough question. I think because everyone in my family likes to read books.

What is the best book that you read lately?
The Lightening Thief

Who do you share your ideas with about books?
My dad.

Do you like to watch the movie first and then read the book or ...?
No! No! definitely the book first! You learn more.

What is your favorite genre?
I like all genres! My top three are realistic fiction, mythology and fantasy, and information books.

What kind of advice would you give to little kids about reading?
Always ask your friends who they like to read. See if they have recommendations. If you don't like a book, don't bother reading it (unless its for school) and if you like it- finish it to the end.

Babies Like to Read About Babies

If you want to see a baby light up and smile as you read- bring them a book with other babies! Babies love to see each other in books. They will want to pick up the books themselves and will pick them out and bring them over to you. There are lots of great series of baby books out there. I am always looking for books with babies that all look different! Here are a few of my nephew's, Baby C's, M's Little Boy J, and AB's favorites from when they were babies.

AB loved the books by Charles Smith Jr. The photos of the babies are so beautiful and charming. They would make any person smile, especially a baby! We loved the the Baby Love Board Books! If you can still find them- get them! We use to sing to AB and read these over and over! We passed them down to my god son and then on to my nephew. I wonder what lucky baby will be next. We aren't done with them yet! Last winter, my nephew came to NYC for a visit. We went to the bookstore and did some real damage together! We bought, My People (The poem by Langston Hughes. Photos by CSJ). Luckily that was just newly in print! It is a beautiful book. Buy it!

Little Boy J loved to read, Everywhere Babies, literally everywhere! Baby C loved the series Baby Faces! Baby C got Smile and Eat. How delicious! They come en espanol tambien!

My nephew was a huge fan of the Helen Oxenbury books! Tickle Tickle, All Fall Down, and Say Goodnight! Last year for a winter present to all the babies in my life, I gave them, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen. A real winner with the babies and the parents.

Lastly, my favorite series for babies reading about each other is the, Urban Babies Wear Black Board Books. There are so many good ones in this series, Beach Babies Wear Shades, Eco Babies Wear Green etc! They are super fun! You will find yourself laughing out loud!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Treasured and Loved Books: Great Gifts for Kids to Give Each Other

When my nephew was born I drove up to Canada with two big
bags of books.

On the road trip north, I stopped off at my god son's and AB's house.
We started to look through their bookshelves and baskets.
My god son, 6 at the time said,
"I have a lot of baby books!
Maybe I should give some of these to the new baby?"
What a great idea!
AB went through her shelves as well,
to see what books she didn't want
any longer and which ones she just loved to reread a million

AB gave some of her books to her brother,
she made a bag for her cousin,
and a bag for school. She thought she could
give some of her books to
her past teachers.
She decided which ones would be good for which grades!

My god son did the same.
He made bags for the new baby (my nephew)
and ones that he wanted to give his teacher from last year.
P and A were thrilled! Spring cleaning and gift giving!
How thoughtful! We packed up the bags in the garage and
loaded the car.
Before I headed out- the three of us headed to the bookstore
to begin to fill our shelves again with new books!
Everyone felt refreshed and loved by books!

What a great idea, for kids to feel the sense of giving to others.
Giving things that once brought them joy!

My friend Sara and her family, each summer,
go to South Africa to work with teachers and
kids on building literacy.
Sara and her friend, this past weekend, had a party.
They asked all of their friends to bring books
that they wanted to donate to the school
where Sara and her family work.
For all of us unable to attend the party,
Sara sent us a link to an organization to buy books
from South African authors.
With every book that you purchase,
they donate that same book to the school.

What a great idea. Build your international library at home,
while helping schools in South Africa to build their libraries.

Just another way to help give the gift of books and
reach your arms out to include others into your own
Literary Family.

Happy early spring cleaning, gift giving and most of all