The best-of-the-year lists have begun

The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books

Teachers often ask how to keep up with the best new books. Good intentions are one thing, and real life (long days, class prep, paper grading) is another. For those with limited time, I recommend going online near the end of the year when children’s book review journals post their “best of the year” lists. […]

The Thing About Jellyfish

The Thing Aboutu Jellyfish

Through NetGalley, I had the opportunity to read The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, a middle grade book that will debut mid-September 2015. In this book, Suzy Swanson processes the death of her old friend Franny and the end of a friendship. She grieves the way that she and Franny grew apart before Franny […]

Lights, camera, chapter books!

davis_flop to the top

These lighthearted outings for early primary readers offer adventures both everyday (a run-in with a teacher, a classmate rivalry) and extraordinary (a dog’s rise to superstardom and…a ghost raccoon sighting). In Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing’s Flop to the Top!, young Wanda is a superstar — in her own mind. After posting a selfie taken […]

Family ties

petricic_my family tree and me

Families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations. The following nonfiction picture books present examples of this variety, with the common element being love. In My Family Tree and Me, Dušan Petričić creates an innovative introduction to the ordinary miracle of genealogy. Reading the book from front to middle, we meet the paternal line […]

Boys to remember

reynolds_all american boys

Four novels featuring teenage boys — in both contemporary and historical settings — take on big issues, with memorable results. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a ripped-from-the-headlines story written with nuance, sharp humor, and devastating honesty. When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into a terrifying scene […]

Sounds good

ryan_echo audio

Audio can add another layer to a story, whether through the addition of story-enhancing music, through a narrator’s command of tricky jargon, or the way he or she can make even the prickliest character seem lovable. Here are four audiobooks recommended for older intermediate and middle school readers. As Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan begins, […]

Punctuation: the junction between reading and writing

Yo Yes

At a recent training on fluency, I found myself discussing strategies about how to help the “racing reader” — the reader who, when asked to read aloud, whips through the text on a page as fast as possible. One of the key strategies that I discussed with the tutors that I coach was building awareness […]

Comics Are Picture Books: A (Graphic) Novel Idea

spiegelman_lost in nyc

Comic books are everywhere. Customers are purchasing them, readers of all ages are devouring them, teachers are using more and more of them in their classrooms, and they’re winning awards like crazy. Some people have applauded recent book-award committees’ open-mindedness to the comics format, while others remain conflicted. The recurrent question of whether ALA should […]

Is the Internet killing reading?

Call Me Ishmael

Well, IMHO, no… One of the questions I am asked most often in classes and in trainings with teachers is about the Internet’s impact on students’ reading. It usually goes something like this… “Do you think the internet is killing reading?” I usually wonder silently if using the word “killing” means the asker has already […]

Who do your students see reading?

so05

At a recent literacy training that I facilitated, we began the session by asking all of the participants to read for fifteen minutes. The room fell silent as everyone began reading a book or other text of their choice. As the sound of pages turning spread through the room, there was a quiet energy as […]