Teachers I Remember

Although I love to write about books, I am a teacher, not a writer. My favorite writers create worlds out of their imaginations; what I try to create, every August, is a new community of children, one I hope will be strong enough to make it through the school year. Secretly, I have another hope: I hope the children will remember second grade as one of their best years. I hope they will remember me the way I remember my teachers — those from my childhood and those who come alive in the books I love.

Each year, right before school starts, I organize my classroom library, pulling out the chapter books I like to read to the class during the year and finding the picture books I use during the crucial first weeks when my students and I are settling in. What kinds of books am I drawn to? My favorites are books about school. You would think I would be sick of them, especially since some are schlocky and idealistic — impossible to live up to — but you would be wrong. Books about school give me some common ground with my class to talk about my expectations for the year. Though fictional, the teachers in these books inform my teaching every day.

September/October 08 Horn Book Magazine

Our September special issue on School is out, and you can view selected articles on our website. Make sure to try the quiz by Monica Edinger and Roxanne Hsu Feldman–it’s harder than it looks. I’m leaving tomorrow for Sedona to marry the other one off; I’ll be sure to steer clear of the legendary cougar […]

>Is Passion Old-Fashioned?

>Over on the PUBYAC listserv, Jan Hanson of the Longview Public Library in Washington is looking for it: “A HS teacher called and is asking for ideas of books that illustrate a teen with passion, as in “a passion for dancing” or a “passion for football.” I love this query; it’s requests like these that […]

New Notes, August 08

We’ve just emailed the latest issue of Notes from the Horn Book, which this month covers new books about school, nature study and space; some good recent chapter books, and five writers’ (and an editor’s) own summer reading choices. Sign up now! And, especially for teachers, this issue provides a link to TeachingBooks.net that gives […]

>Hitting Them over the Head

>Child_Lit has been unusually lively the last couple of weeks, with discussions of The Dark is Rising, Love You Forever (again), gypsies, and gay-seeming children all perking along nicely, but what has intrigued me most is a thread inspired by a post from GraceAnne DeCandido, who has given me permission to reproduce it here: Dear […]

>And if you’re not an English major?

>The discussion about Shakespeare reminds me of something a friend of mine said she was going to do while taking some extended leave from employment: she was going to read Ulysses, because she thought it was something every educated person needs to have on their read-that list. Maybe, if I’m on a very small, very […]

>Getting the Shakes

>Child_Lit is currently enjoying one of those pearl-clutching reports about the abysmal state of American education, this one taking on colleges that do not require English majors to take a course in Shakespeare but allow them to study such horrors as queer theory and children’s literature. Let’s start with the sheer–and shrill–irrationality of comparing required […]

>Dutch Trick or Treat

>Editing an article for an upcoming issue of the Magazine, I needed to find some information about Lucy Fitch Perkins’ The Dutch Twins, and found via Google a digital library which contained it. The Baldwin Project is a real time-sucker of a place–that’s a compliment–and after reading about the Twins and their ever-informative mother ( […]

>When the Isms Really Need to Sit Down and Talk

>The blog Prometheus 6 led me to this story in the LA Times about two teachers fired for supporting students who wanted to read from Marilyn Nelson’s A Wreath for Emmett Till at an assembly honoring Black History Month: Teachers and students said the administration suggested that the Till case — in which the teenager […]

>Six million what?

>Lois Lowry recently posted on her blog a letter from a teacher who was having his students collect and tie together six million centimeters of shoe lace to “represent the 6,000,000 Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.” Lois seems all for this idea (“It is always such a pleasure to hear of and from […]