Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Text Messaging

I am getting quite fast at my text messaging lately which is why this article came to mind.  

Using text message language – the OMGs, m8s and 2mros – does not harm children’s spelling abilities, new research suggests, and may even be a good sign.

The study, carried out by Canadian researchers at the University of Alberta, suggested that children who are good at spelling “real” words are also good at spelling in text speak. 
Professor Connie Varnhagen, who led the research, said: "Kids who are good spellers [academically] are good spellers in instant messaging. 
"And kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging." 
It did find that boys who used text speak frequently tended to be worse spellers. However, girls who used a lot of abbreviations tended to be better. 
The study also found that children using text speak were using a lot of newly created words. One of the researchers, Nicole Pugh, said: "We would have to decipher the meaning of the language with online dictionaries or by asking younger siblings." 
The researchers suggest that their trial should lead to an easing of concern over the use of text speak, and teachers should perhaps start thinking of ways that the new language can be used educationally. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

See it to Believe it!

Looking to decorate a public or school library?  How about a classroom?  Need the perfect gift for a teacher?  Then, please, take the time to link over to this amazing sculpters portfolio of literacy based sculptures.  All I can say is WOW!  When is the exhibit and I'm there!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Great Quote 2

The deep-read is when you get gut-hooked and dragged overboard down and down through the maze of print and find, to your amazement, you can breathe down there after all and there’s a whole other world. I’m talking about the kind of reading when you realize that books are indeed interactive. . . . I’m talking about the kind of deep-read where it isn’t just the plot or the characters that matter, but the words and the way they fit together and the meandering evanescent thoughts you think between the lines: the kind of reading where you are fleetingly aware of your own mind at work.”
–Tim Wynne-Jones, “The Survival of the Book”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tailoring to Boy Readers

Nicholas Kristof has an interesting column on the gender gap in verbal skills.
Boys may still be ahead when it comes to math skills, but girls are well ahead of their male counterparts in verbal skills. Kristof writes:
Many theories have been proposed. Some people think that boys are hard-wired so that they learn more slowly, perhaps because they evolved to fight off wolves more than to raise their hands in classrooms. But that doesn’t explain why boys have been sinking in recent decades.
A Web site,, offers useful lists of books to coax boys into reading, and they are helpfully sorted into categories like “ghosts,” “boxers, wrestlers, ultimate fighters,” and “at least one explosion.”

A Harvard professor has this to say about this article:  
I’m not persuaded that gathering helped girls evolve to raise their hands in the classroom. And I wonder if the lag has something to do with the fact that, just as girls can wear skirts and pants, they also can read both the Nancy Drew series and the Hardy Boys. As a student once told me, his reading of The Secret Garden was constantly interrupted by astonished adults, who told him that the book was really for girls. He ended up reading it under the covers, with the help of a flashlight. There are, of course, many other signals sent to boys about books and reading. Rather than “nurturing boys with explosions” and coaxing them into reading books with ghosts, boxers, wrestlers, and bombers, maybe it’s time to change those signals.

Check out this website below and see what your opinion is on the initiative to help boys enjoy reading more founded by the former Ambassador of Children's Literature, Jon Scieszka.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Harry Potter World...take me away!

Are you wishing you had some extra money lying around in your bank account to just buy a ticket to Florida for the weekend and see Harry Potter world?  I am.  I really want to go.  Here is a website of a man who not only went but took tons of pictures.  It's not quite the same but still fun to see.  Check it out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I want this book!

While reading a very interesting blog found HERE
I learned of a comic strip that used to be in the Washington 
Post from 2004 till 2007.  It really made me laugh.  It is called 

The third and latest collection, Cul de Sac Golden 
Treasury: A Keepsake Garland of Classics (2010), 
would make a good introduction — it collects strips
 from the first two volumes, Cul de Sac: This Exit
 (2008) and Children at Play: A Cul de Sac Collection
(2009).  Not incidentally, the first book features a 
foreword by Bill Watterson, who writes, “I thought 
the best newspaper comic strips were long gone,
 and I’ve never been happier to be wrong.  Richard 
Thompson’sCul de Sac has it all — intelligence, 
gentle humor, a delightful way with words, and, 
most surprising of all, wonderful, wonderful drawings.” 

Cul de Sac from 10 Sept. 2007

Cul de Sac from 11 Sept. 2007

Can't you just tell the writer has been around kids!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate tasting in the Classroom

I was reading a blog about a fun classroom activity that if I had a room of my own, I would totally do.  Actually now that I think about it, I think I'll have my husband do this when he goes into our sons classroom for his Halloween read aloud that we signed up for at Back to School night.  Her story can be found HERE.

I'll show you a glimpse though...

I took a chocolate tasting class a couple of months ago (planned and taught by Reference Librarian extraordinaire Bill Meltzer at Old Worthington Library). I decided then and there that I wanted my students' experience in our classroom to feel like, if not taste like, the chocolate tasting classroom that night.

Some teaching is about instruction, but a goodly amount of it is simply about invitation. Rather than finishing units or even lessons, I'll do my best to point to the resources that students can us to continue their learning and exploring.
We started by eating a half of a piece of Dove dark chocolate. Then we went on to taste chocolates of increasing amounts of cocoa. Each time we moved to the next level, we learned how to identify and name the new flavors and "notes" we were tasting. The next-to-last piece we tasted was 100% cocoa. I wouldn't care to sit down and eat a whole bar of it, but I had learned, step by step, to appreciate it for what it was. We ended by eating the other half of the Dove. It just tasted sweet. There were none of the nuances of flavor and texture that we had learned, in one short hour, to appreciate.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guess Who?

Well, the kids are all back to school and I came across this fun getting to know you activity that a teacher could use as the kids are learning the names of their class members.  Then you play it in a round the room sort of fashion.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Historical Fiction Writing Contest

Historical Fiction for Young Adults can win you cash!

guidelines found at:

First Place: $500
Second Place: $250
Third Place: $100

Create a story that is historical but relevant to contemporary readers, show your research with a bibliography.
Word Count: Up to 1,500

Fee: Free for Children's Writer Newsletter (the print newsletter) subscribers. For everyone else, the fee is $15 which entitles you to an 8-month subscription to the Children's Writer at no extra cost.

Entry must be received by October 30, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Great Quote

“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
~ Lewis Carroll

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What Authors are Doing for their Books

I read that some authors are holding birthday parties for their books online for fans, which got me thinking of all the ways that authors try to get their books OFF the shelves.  Have you heard of any other creative ways to promote?
5 Options for Promoting Your Book
  • Print: flyers and posters, ads in magazines/newspapers/specialized publications, sample chapters, direct marketing, newsletter, interviews, business cards, slogans/pitches
  • Audio: radio or online interviews, read samples of your work, give reader’s reactions and comments
  • Web: website and/or blog, email marketing, online ads, sample chapters, RSS, feeds, bulletin boards or forums, ezine or newsletter, affiliate programs, online contests, webinars, advertisements (from Craigslist to GoogleAds), ebooks, podcasts, vlogging, internet memes
  • Personal appearances: BEA, ALA, local library, bookstore signings, literary festivals, teaching, school visits, speaking engagements, seminars, conferences, asking for referrals, elevator pitches, personal PR
  • Social Media: Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter, LibraryThing,,; spending enough time to become part of the community; using announcements, contest, giveaways

Friday, September 3, 2010

Curious George

I mentioned the other day about Curious George which reminded me of an article in the New York Times found HERE about an exhibition of the books and history behind it called “Curious George Saves the Day.” The story behind the Curious George series is fascinating–and could be a book of its own. Margret and H.A. Rey fled Paris in 1940 on bicycles, making their way to Lisbon. They went initially to Rio de Janeiro, then New York, and finally settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now that Curious George has become a franchise, he has been tamed to a great extent. The ether scene in one of the early books can no longer be found in versions of George’s adventures today, but I do have the book with him smoking.  


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Books Everywhere!

This is what my house looks like many times a day.  I have lots of little one's at my house and probably five or more times a day, I have to pick up whatever books have been lovingly handled and thrown to the floor.  The mom in me is annoyed, but the reading specialist in my is delighted with the building relationship my baby and toddler are getting with books.  Many times, my third grader will request a title and we'll go searching through the shelves.

The problem is that I've only kept two shelves of children's books for my temporary home and the rest are in storage.  By "the rest" I mean probably five bookshelves worth.  Not shelves but bookshelves, worth! My next house will need a library.  I've given a lot of books away, sold many and still have books, books and more books.  These aren't even the library books which go in a special basket.  So...stay tuned for my future library pictures one day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reading Challenge for Kids

For those of you who like to do reading contests, there is one sponsored by US Airways and Reading is Fundamental (RIF).  Go to this website to sign up.  If you are a person who reads to kids, you can log in your hours and earn prizes.  It only goes from Sept 1 till October 31 and you even can win a vacation trip to Orlando Florida.  Harry Potter World, I'm coming for you!

Go to this website to sign up and start logging your hours!

Lost's Literacy

Here is an excerpt from a blog written by a harvard professor found HERE about the references to kids books in the show LOST.  It is followed by a link to a place that lists them all for all you fans out there.

Astonishing to me was the number of references to stories for children.* Alice in Wonderland is almost de rigueur these days, and it did not surprise me to find an episode called Through the Looking Glass or talk about Wonderland. But I did sit up and take notice when The Turn of the Screw appeared on a bookshelf, when Hurley corrected Sawyer’s pronunciation of Babar, and when a character named Henry Gale showed up (an allusion to Dorothy Gale’s Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz) and claimed to have reached the island by a hot air balloon (the Wizard of Oz is also an aeronaut).
Why all the literary allusions in a visual medium? Well, for one thing, Lost was created by writers who are inserting themselves into a storytelling tradition with deep roots in print culture. And by paying homage to stories from the Age of Gutenberg, they are in a sense establishing their cultural legitimacy and revealing themselves to be defenders of the literary tradition rather than rivals of it. In aiming to create a new mythology, Lost also draws on biblical discourses and resorts to bricolage to create its own foundational story about origins and meaning. The discussions about faith versus reason and meaning versus nothingness may feel reductive but the premise itself demands them.
*Sawyer (note the name!) is an unlikely expert in children’s books, but in Season 2 he refers to Pippi Longstocking as well as Little Red Riding Hood.
For more on literary allusions in Lost, see…