Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

“Where do you buy these?”

Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ.

Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?” The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But […]

The queen of all biographies

Queen of the Falls

“What?! You can’t stop reading there!” bellowed one of my second graders as I shut our read-aloud book and left the main character, Annie Taylor, sealed in a barrel and about to reach the precipice of Niagara Falls. I smiled at his uncontainable outburst and began soliciting predictions about whether Annie would survive her madcap […]

Email from Laban Carrick Hill

Dave the Potter

After our discussion of Dave the Potter on this blog a few weeks ago, I received an email from Laban Carrick Hill, the book’s author, who had been silently following the discussion. I asked if I could share his thoughts here and he graciously agreed. Here’s his email. I’ve been reading the comments on your […]

Life during wartime

boyne_stay where you are and then leave

War wreaks havoc on civilians, soldiers, and those they leave behind. Nevertheless, the following four works of historical fiction epitomize the WWII Britain motto: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Four years ago, Alfie Summerfield’s dad, Georgie, signed up to fight in WWI. For a while, letters came regularly; then they stopped altogether. Eventually Alfie learns […]

April is National Poetry Month

mcphail_my mother goose

Preschool-perfect nursery rhymes, a potpourri of new-reader-friendly seasonal verse, a presidential history lesson in rhyme, and a picture book biography about a famous poet — these new books offer unique avenues for celebrating National Poetry Month. Editor and illustrator David McPhail’s My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes is an affable collection of sixty-three […]

YA fantasy you’ve been waiting for

moriarty_cracks in the kingdom

Every fantasy fan knows the exquisite agony of anticipating the next entry in a favorite series — particularly if that entry will be the last. These four new novels continue (and in some cases, complete) popular series. In The Cracks in the Kingdom, the follow-up to Jaclyn Moriarty‘s BGHB Fiction Award Honor book A Corner […]

Big-city picture books

jacobs_count on the subway

Visiting big cities can foster both excitement and anxiety. Whether young children are already well traveled or just curious about new places, these four picture books can provide them with excellent armchair tours of New York City and Europe. A little girl traveling on the subway counts from one (“1 MetroCard”) to ten (“10 friends […]

What’s a children’s librarian to do?

JeaneD

Twice in the past week I’ve been asked to opine publicly about the future of books and libraries for children, first at the NYLA conference in White Plains and then at the investiture of Eileen Abels as the new dean of the Simmons GSLIS. I had far fewer answers than questions, which I present to […]

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's Web

For our very last class, the students are busy finishing up their final projects so I like to lighten the reading load a bit. Charlotte’s Web has been my last class staple for several years, and I call it our dessert book. Of course, most of the students have already read it, but most years […]

Folklore and poetry

Folklore and poetry

For our class on April 3, we are reading four books and one article. I like combining these two genres because both need to be read aloud in order to really appreciate them. Folklore has to have a strong voice, as it comes from an oral tradition where storytellers have individual styles, just as today’s […]