Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Traveling with a Pre-Teen: AB and I Hit the Museum in Philly

For AB's thirteenth birthday, I decided to take her to the week's vacation to Seattle and the San Juan Islands!

On our way to the west coast AB and I had a stop over in Philadelphia. We had one day to visit the city and had to make some decisions what to do! We went to the old city in Philly, down by Constitution Center, the African American Museum of

Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell. We toured around in the morning and after lunch we decided we wanted to go to the art museum as well.

Looking at art. What a great experience. We headed first to the impressionists. I had to call up all that remembered about looking at art. Ironically enough I depended mostly on my knowledge of art that I learned in the 7th grade, rather than my few art history courses I took in college. AB and looked the the technique of the artists, we looked at the art from different angles and distances, we thought about the dates and what was happening in history at the time the pieces were made, we compared pieces that were close by together and we even tried to tell the story of what was happening in some of the art. Discussing and debating the significances of the pieces and even hypothesizing about how and why the pieces were made helped the two of us engage in enjoying the art. Working on thinking about the art together helped us both spend more time observing, but also understanding that there are messages and beauty to revere in art. We walked through the exhibit, not as passive observers but as active readers.

We headed to the contemporary art to read those paintings and sculptures next. This part of art museums always present a challenge for me! We tried to engage in the same way with more abstract pieces of art and tried to think about what was this teaching us about the world. We saw a couple of Calder’s 3D sculptures and mobiles. We took pictures of some of our favorite pieces that we wanted to remember and think more about!

Then we headed to the Picasso exhibit! We got the audio tour- always a great idea- and found the commentary both interesting and enlightening. Not just about Picasso’s art but about the historical time in Paris around the period of cubism and bout other artists creating pieces of art in the same time. It gave us a ton to talk about on our way back to the airport.

Just before we left on our birthday week extravaganza- AB and my god son and I spent the a Saturday in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. We went with a particular focus- to find sculptures and artifacts about Greek mythology! You remember how my god son is obsessed with The Lightening Thief? Currently he is onto book 3. Well, he wanted to see for himself how these gods were depicted back in history. Of course there was immense curiosity planted in the book that references the museum as well. So we toured the MET with just that focus.

Whether you are experiencing a new city, visiting a particular exhibit, or following a literary text to the museum, viewing art and interacting with kids helps all of us to see more and read more in the text. Mary

Ehrenworth, a scholar and literacy expert at Teachers College Columbia University wrote a book, Looking to Write, that describes how teachers (and frankly families) can help kids see the literary potential in art.

Enjoy the arts! Enjoy the read!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Birthday Extravangaza

So you are wondering- how was the 3 year old's birthday? So much fun! It truly is amazing to see how my nephew has grown in just three short years. You hear all these statistics about intelligence and talking and the amount of words that some kids have by the time they enter kindergarten. Well, I can safely say, my nephew is in the 30,000,000 words category. Language is just exploding all around him!

On his birthday morning, we took him to the Imax movie at the science center in the old city of Montreal. There was film about the Space Station. My nephew sat through the whole film. Days later I could see what information stuck with him!

First of all, the count down and loud take off with the fire was the first thing he told his BFF, Toddler T, in daycare!

Then, as all the other kids were trying to put on their snowsuits (yes, it snows in March in Montreal), my nephew and Toddler T are laying in the middle of the hall on their bellies. "Don't lay down in the hall. Please sit up," called one of the teachers, en Francais. My nephew replied, "I'm not laying down. I am floating in space. I am an astronaut."

Then at home, when I got to babysit him one evening, my nephew gathered up a few things in his new "surfer's backpack" that Big Girl C and Baby E gave him for his birthday. "What are you going to do with the backpack," I asked. "It's not a backpack. It's my pack for space. I am putting on my suit to go walking and fixing our station. I need a few things." He gathered up his cell phone, so he could call his mama, he gathered up some blocks (that he said were apricots), and his little notebook I brought him with a pen. "What is your notebook for?" I inquired. "It's for you know... actually I need to make a list." He proceeded to make a list and then "called for help". "I need some equipment. Yeh and I need lots of things." He carefully made his list and then stuffed it into the pack!

What fun we had!

When it was time to go to bed, something that my nephew tries to avoid at all cost, he decided we would read! "Find a few books!" I told him. Well... he did. He brought over a stack of about 20 books. He turned to me and said, "Titi, first read all of these! Then I will do my doe-doe. (sleep in french)." I looked at the stack. I looked at nephew. I had to smile. What a clever boy! We snuggled up and read till he fell asleep. I Dream of Trains and Corduroy each got a couple of reads!

Enjoy your family! Enjoy the read.

Friday, March 26, 2010

All About Owls

Have you seen the Owls? The mama owl and the papa owl, taking care of little babies in their nest? It is a web cam set up so you can see how they live. It is absolutely incredible. My friend M, who blogs on the green spotlight, posted it on her facebook page.

You should watch this with your own literary family- What do you see? What do you wonder? Why is this happening? What will happen next?
Keep checking in and witness these babies growing up!

What a wonderful way to inquire about the natural world together- it may even to reading more about Owls!

Enjoy the bird watching, enjoy the reads!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Celebrate Our Community

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION: Brooklyn Honors Local Artists and Literature - March 2010 Six Author-Illustrators, Three Bookstores and a Gallery. Celebrating Brooklyn's professional women who leave an historical record in the field of children's literature and the merchants who bring their books to the community.

...and Miss Brooklyn 2009, Keelie Sheridan, has recently joined the celebration. Miss Brooklyn 2009 will attend the opening reception for the art exhibition at Superfine.


Our upcoming events are blogged by Star Bright Books!

Online article by Barbara Ehrentreu

LOCATION: 147A Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 INFO: 718.222.3340

Mar. 27 Sat. 10:30am GREENLIGHT BOOKS presents PAT CUMMINGS
LOCATION: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 INFO: 718.246.0200

More info:

Literary Event in Brooklyn Next Week! Check it Out!

Word Bookstore Event in Brooklyn

Sat. March 27, 3:00 PM: Launch party for FLYING LESSONS, a new picture book from local author/illustrator Gilbert Ford. They’ll serve lemonade for the kids and make paper airplanes! Bring the entire family for an afternoon of fun and an event for kids of ALL ages!

Sounds like fun!

Happy Spring!

Spring is here! Little Boy J and I yesterday were walking in the village, running some last minute errands for my nephew's birthday.

As we were walking down the streets, LBJ and I were looking for signs of spring. We saw the trees. On the branches and limbs were little green buds, beginning to burst!

We searched for robins. We didn't see any.

Take a walk this weekend. Look for signs of spring!

Enjoy the day, season, and reading the world!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Birthday Wishes

My nephew and I were skyping the other day together. He told me that for his birthday he would like, a boat cake, a train cake, a bus cake, and truck cake... and a book cake. He also told me he wanted, Corduroy. It is the third time he has asked for it! Good thing his Super-Uper- Babysitter got him it for his birthday! Way to go SUB! He's gonna love, love it! I love a boy who knows what he wants. One week away!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jerry Spinelli: Talks to Teachers

Jerry Spinelli will be giving the keynote address at Columbia University Teachers College Saturday 20, 2010- A day of free workshops for teachers.

What a prolific writer! He has written many of my favorite novels for children- Star Girl, Maniac McGee, and Crash.

If you have friends or families in 3rd-6th grade--- check out his books!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Car Literacy: What is it? How do I get it?

If you have a car, or an ipod device you too can have, "Car Literacy". Listening to the radio, stories, poems and music are all ways to build up your listening, literary life. When I was younger, we used to take long car trips from Michigan to the Atlantic Ocean each summer. Needless to say that is a long time for any family to spend together in a car. My parents though loaded up the tape cassette box, full of mostly music. This is how I became an aficionado of John Denver. It was also my way into loving and appreciating musicals like, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Cats, and a Chorus Line. When I went to visit my parents a couple of winters ago in Florida, I knew we would be spending loads of time in the car- traveling between here and there. Mom and checked out of the library a few books on tapes of David Sedaris. It was a a fun way to enjoy stories, each other, and bare the endless time in cars.

Why not for your daily drive or even a long road trip, stock up not only on songs and musicals, but why not a novel or two. Take James and Giant Peach, Alice in Wonderland, or Caps for Sale along with you to soccer practice, the farmers market or on your way to grandma' s house. Take them in a car, on a plane or the subway. You can get the CDs or download onto your ipods devices. Enrich your listening life and driving experience.

Enjoy the reads!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Women in History: A Great Time to Read Biographies

Pam Munoz Ryan is a wonderful writer. Her novels are absolutely engaging, historical and an absolute pleasure to read. She is also a prolific biographer. If you want to celebrate women this month- celebrate the author, PMR and her body of work that celebrates women and life!

Another fun set of Biographies are those that are written as anthologies. Amelia to Zora
is a favorite as well as People Who Tell The Truth. Both feature amazing people who have helped to change and shape the world.

Reading these books hopefully will lead to more questions and more books. Hopefully also they will help spark you and your loved ones to think and reflect about your own lives and community you live in!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Text Sets: Fiction and Non Fiction

What would be a great topic to pair together two different genres- to read about and enjoy?

Snow! Yes, we have had our bit of snow in the Northeast this year. But kids love snow. We love to play in it and we love learn about it. What an interesting phenomenon that happens in some parts of the world!

Lester Laminack has a fun, fiction book about snow called, Snow Day.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder by Mark Cassino is a wonderful non fiction book that helps engage the reader in the explanation and exploration of snow.

Pick a topic to explore- gather up your fiction and non fiction texts to explore, enjoy and engage the readers in your life in the mysteries and wonderment about the world! Kids have different entry points into reading and feeling connected to topics. Sometimes they find it through fiction and sometimes non fiction. Why not help them make the connection and read both!


Read stories again and again looking for the facts!

In many of the fiction stories we read with kids, there are facts buried inside. Many writers do extensive research on their topics as they write stories to reach our hearts. Read books like, Stellaluna, Swimmy, and Henry and Mudge and The Cold Shivers. Question each other and the stories and ask, "What in this book could really be true?" Do some research on your own. Seek and find the answers.

See what in the book is fact and what is fiction.
Some books will include an epilogue or an introduction that describes the non fiction information in the text. Read all the parts of the book. Learn about the world in fiction as well as non fiction. Question the stories and see where those questions lead you.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Host a Literary Party: Start a Book Club with Friends and Family

What is a Literary Party? A LP is one that involves the written and/or spoken word. It is a gathering of friends to enjoy each other and share texts with one another. It is to be awe and fall in love with words!

One Literary Party that you can throw with your friends and family is a Book Club Party. You can get together with families and friends who have

kids who enjoy to read similar books. Choose a book, read it with your kids and then meet at some one's house. Bring a collection of snacks, pick parts of the book to read aloud and choose some ideas to share with friends.

A nice mixture of kids and adults helps everyone see the beauty and power of books. Maybe the discussion lasts 30 minutes, maybe only 10minutes. Then celebrate the read by eating and mingling.

For babies, you may decide to each bring a board book to the party! You can spend the time reading all the different books with your babies! Let them roam and crawl and explore different favorite books! This could be a way for everyone to share the wide variety of texts that are out there.

Invite your friends and their families! Snack, read, talk and enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Ethicist

I was visiting Mommy Mentor S, Mentor Daddy R , and Little Boy J out at Grandma’s L’s house at the beach a couple of years ago. We had such a wonderful time together, sipping coffee at the beach while LBJ played in the sand and in the afternoon reading magazines and watching LBJ and Cousin M splash about in the pool. The part for me though, that was most memorable, was Sunday brunch. The the entire family gathered around the table reading and discussing the Ethicist, from the NYTimes. This was a family ritual on Sundays. MMS or MDR would read the first letter to the Ethicist in the NYT out loud. They weren’t allowed to read ahead to the response, but instead, put down the NYT magazine and asked- “What would you do? What would you say? What is the ethical thing to do?”

Everyone, including Cousin M and even sometimes LBJ (2 or 3 years old at the time) would join in and discuss what they think should be done.

You know me, I love a reading ritual. I also love the challenge of reading and reacting and discussing with others ideas that shape and form who we are. Having the adults as mentors, the kids are honored to be included and yet, get a window into how to think and react to the world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview With a 4 Year Old Boy

Tell me some of your favorite books...

I like all the books in the world.
I like the Llama Llama books.
I like Swim, Little Wombat, Swim because I like the platypus and the wombat. They are friends.

Who do you like to read with?
Daddy and Mommy and My Sister!

When do you like to read?
In the morning and at night.

What do you like about reading at school?
My teacher reads like The Peace Book to us. I have it home too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Texting Titi

My nephew was down in Florida with Nana and Papa for the Pisces' birthdays. I was stuck in several storms up north! I got a text from Nana, thanking me for her birthday gift (chocolates- of which my nephew I think ate most). In honor of her birthday, I sent my nephew a book, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. He wanted to thank me too. So he "texted" me as well.

" Rrrrrrsrsrsrsgsgghsjwwxtsjwy."

I think it means, Thank you Titi, I love you and miss you.

What a sweetie! My technologically savvy sweetie pie.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Encourage Kids to Write at Home: Get the Right Stationary

This weekend, Little Moon, Mama J and I were hanging out in the International District in Seattle together. As we picked up a tea to walk around the neighborhood, we decided to go to my favorite kind of store- a bookstore. We went to Kinokuniya a gigantic Japanese Bookstore filled with books and videos In Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and English.

They have a big Japanese Children’s Literature section, filled also with puzzles! They have a nice section of books in English too, filled with books by Grace Lin, Oliver Chin, Yumi Heo and more.

They have a beautiful stationary section at the front of the store- what a heaven! We shopped for notebooks and pens for an hour! So I picked up a couple of things for my nephew’s birthday! Why not get a couple of little notebooks for his 3 year old birthday. He can work on drawing and ‘writing’ in side of them- just like his Titi. I got us matching ones. As I support his library and reading development- I shouldn’t ignore his writing development either. Writing is another beginning step towards literacy!

Luckily his ‘surfers backpack’ has side pockets- just the right size for a couple of notebooks! Just 3 weeks away!

Happy reading and writing to you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Read the World with Babies

When Brand New Baby S was born, I couldn't resist getting him, To Be a Kid! I love books for babies that have babies and kids from all of the globe. Celebrating the diversity and beauty in our world- yet celebrating the common links we have as children and people in the world.

Another favorite gift I like to get for people is Mem Fox's book, Whoever You Are. That is another wonderful celebration of childhood and understanding one another.

At my nephew's daycare, each birthday one of his fellow classmates have, my sister and I get a book for the daycare to celebrate their day! I bought, One World, One Day for them. A beautiful book of photographs form National Geographic, documenting a day in the life of kids all over the world.

When I was growing up, I remember reading, People by Peter Spier.

Celebrate the world! Celebrate life! Enjoy the reads.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In Honor of Women's History Month

Celebrate Women Who Tell the Truth- Celebrate people who tell the truth! Here is a great collection of little biographies and quotes from famous people in history and today who made and are making a difference in the world.

Start an inquiry at home around some of the people. Find out all about their life's work!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Signing Your Way Through Books

Ever since Little Sister L was a baby, Mentor Mommy S and Mentor Daddy R, would read with her using all their gestures and words to convey what was happening in books. Like many young babies, LSL learned how to make some early signs as she was growing up, so that she could tell people that she was hungry, thirsty, sorry, or wanted more. When LSL would read books pretty early on, she would "act" her books out as her mommy and daddy read to her. Like in "I Like It When", a book all about the different things people can do together, on each page LSL will show you what is happening.

This is a way for young children to engage in their books and make sense of what is happening. Another favorite she had as a pre- toddler was the Do's and Don'ts book! That is fun to act out too!

You and the kids in your life can become actors! Enjoy the stage. Enjoy the read.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reading Journeys

I have been reading the blog- La Bloga! This is a post about Rene Colato Lainez's new book for children. He is children book author writing about his life stories in Spanish and English. This is not his first book. He has many good ones to check out. In My Shoes is the story about how he came and traveled to the United States form El Salvador.

Julia Alvarez also has a story about families who travel between countries in order to provide for their families.
Julia explains why and how she got the idea and decided to write this story. We are an ever-connected world. We need to find ways to understand the lives of others to help us understand ourselves and how to make the world better for all. This novel pushes you to question and wonder and to challenge norms. I think I am going to give this book to AB for birthday in April!

Enjoy the read and rich conversations with the kids in your life!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Power of Reading Aloud

Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed being read to! Even today, driving in the car, I still choose specially selected books and authors to download onto my ipod to play in the car. I love listening to books. My dad used to read me to each night. He would read picture books and chapter books to me. I remember he used to read, Green Eggs and Ham. He would read the book and then he would reread the book, with his own adaptation. He would twist and turn the words and make me laugh out loud. I think he created a version about, Sam the mobster out of the classic Seuss book.

Even as I got older, in Middle School, I remember enjoying being read to in school. My 6th grade teacher read to us the series, All Creatures Great and Small. I remember being on the edge of my seat and enjoying the drama of learning about small town veterinarian life.

Help grow the little readers in your life, pick your favorite books and Read Aloud to them!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interview with a Second Grader

What are your favorite books?
I really like Jessie's Island. I like the Spiderwick Chronicles, Just Grace and The World Atlas.

How do you decide on a book to read?
I do the five finger rule to test. I read the binding of the book to see who the author is. I look for the last name of certain authors.

Who do you like to read with?
I don't read with many people. I mostly read by myself.

What is important for little kids to know about reading?
To ask people for help if they need it. They should board books, like ones about there favorite subjects- like trains or planes.

What music do you like to listen and sing to?
Dan Zanes. I have known him for a awhile and been listening to him for awhile.

Why is it important to learn how to read?
There are signs and stuff you need to know later in life.

What are your favorite websites? Factmonster.com and pbskidsgo.org.

What are your favorite magazines to read?
I like My Big Backyard, Ranger Rick and National Geographic For Kids.

Who are your favorite artists and why?

1. Georges Seurat because we did a project on him for art. I like the Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte.

2. Vincent Van Gogh because he painted somethings in nature, like Starry Night.

3. Jackson Pollock because he was messy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lots of Literary Events This Week

Read Across America, Tuesday, March 2nd - This is a national reading event to encourage kids/people to read. Tips and suggestions
You and your Literary Family can think of your own special way to celebrate reading- either in school or at home in your community! Spread the love of reading.

World Read Aloud Day- This is a World Reading Event to encourage all of us to read aloud to one another! To listen to the written word. Reading Aloud is so important to a child's reading development. It is also a wonderful bonding experience! Take some time on Wednesday to remember that. Pick out a zillion books from your library and read aloud for an hour! All of your favorites.

Make this a special reading week. Find a way to celebrate Literacy as a family. Share your passion for reading with others. Make it into a yearly ritual!