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Let Struggling Readers Read What They Want

I worked as a tutor for over five years, helping students learn to decode words and comprehend what they read. Many of the students fell either on the dyslexic or autistic spectrums, and all had dealt with difficulty and discouragement with reading in the past. This meant I regularly faced...

Teacher Appreciation 2018

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May 7-11 is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and today is National Teacher Day, a day on which the National Education Association hopes we will all go out of our way to #ThankATeacher. We are both the parents of two elementary-school-aged children, and we send HUGE thank yous to the teachers,...

Haiku: A Small Poem with Great Potential

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snow meltingthe village brimming over…with children!--Issa (1763-1828)(translated by David Lanoue)Yes, I was taught that a haiku, a short poem that originated in Japan centuries ago, was supposed to consist of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. And yes, because of the way haiku have been taught historically, they...

Last class, works in verse | Class #6, 2018

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline WoodsonAdolescent novels in verse have steadily increased in popularity since Virginia Euwer Wolff’s groundbreaking Make Lemonade was published in 1993. The best of these marry form and subject in a way that enriches both. Jacqueline Woodson’s eloquent free-verse memoir traces her family history and the...

Pictures / Visual literacy | Class #5, 2018

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This week’s class (Feb. 28) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. Students will read two picture books and a choice of graphic novels.The prompts below address the role of these books in the classroom; you might also respond to the...

Beyond the world we know | Class #4, 2018

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This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far-away places of other worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides...

The past made present | Class #3, 2018

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Next Tuesday (February 6), the YA literature class will be discussing several books on the theme The past made present," considering both nonfiction and historical fiction: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda...

Windows and mirrors | class #2, 2018

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This week in Adolescent Literature we will discuss two works of realistic fiction: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexieand The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasIn The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie tells Junior’s story with lots of humor, but he...

Adolescent lit class begins tomorrow | Class #1, 2018

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Lolly’s children’s literature class at the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrapped up in November with lively discussion and debate in their Mock Awards committees, a terrific culminating event. Tomorrow, adolescent lit begins, and we’ll continue to hold our class book discussions out in the open here and invite you...

Charlotte's Web | Class #6, fall 2017

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During our last class meeting (November 15), our mock book award committees will meet, discuss, and vote. We have three Caldecott committees, one Geisel committee, and one Sibert. We try to make the experience as authentic as possible, which means bringing in snacks (a key part of my own award...

Annotated bibliographies

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We had our fifth of six children's lit classes last week, which means the big assignment was due: an annotated bibliography of fifteen books on a single subject. Students choose a topic they are interested in and I help them focus and revise those topics until each topic is neither...

Poetry and folklore | class #5, fall 2017

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For our class on November 1, we will read four books and one article. Since this class only meets six times, we have to double up on some genres. These two go together better than some because they both need to be read aloud.Successful folklore books must have a strong...

Class #4 | Information books, Oct. 18, 2017

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I'm posting a little late this time, after a busy week preparing for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Friday night and Horn Book at Simmons colloquium Saturday, focused on the theme of Resistance. Both events were well attended and the speakers were amazing. I love it when the judges award...

Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2017

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For our next class on October 4, we are reading three chapter books — Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series (the sequel to Juana & Lucas has...

Picture books & easy readers | class #2, fall 2017

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During our first class, we started to look at picture books. For our second class on September 20, we are adding easy readers into the mix. Here's what we are reading and discussing: Three more picture books That New Animal by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pierre Pratt School's First Day...

Picture books | class #1, fall 2017

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For our first class on September 6, we will be reading two picture books and three articles.Where the Wild Things Are is a classic in the US now, but when it was first published in 1963, it was controversial. If you knew this book as a child, what did you...

Time to go back to school

Labor Day weekend is about to start and so is school. Here in Boston, today is moving-in-day for most of the colleges — and the Horn Book office sits right in the middle of five: Simmons, MassArt, Wentworth, Emmanuel, and Wheelock.The Horn Book editors once again put together a great...

Reading Is LIT: How a Classroom Project Can Impact an Entire Community

As a school librarian, I strongly believe in the importance of books as mirrors and windows for students, especially with so many divisive things happening in our society. Using these sorts of books in the classroom helps to start tough dialogue that's necessary for educators and students alike. That doesn't...

Challenge your students to activism

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I was too young in the 1960s to join the activist movement, and the narrow-minded family in which I grew up wouldn’t have tolerated it. But I feel as if I’ve been given a second chance. Today’s political and social atmosphere simply won’t let me be silent to the injustices...

Unprecedented daring: awe-inspiring picture book biographies

Are you a daredevil at heart? Ready to take on a challenge? Are you passionate about causes and willing to jump in when you see injustice, even in the face of possible danger? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’ll find a kindred spirit in the subjects of...

Share your summer reading lists

With schools finished for the season, most have posted summer reading lists. Back in my school days, I remember two kinds of lists: the ones with required reading (classics to be read before grade 9) and the much-preferred lists of books we were encouraged to read just for fun.At the...

Using picture books to teach adolescents about genre

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I teach a course every spring about methods in teaching writing, and one topic we learn about is teaching genre. Adolescents need a fairly broad understanding of a variety of genres, both reading and writing them, though often English classrooms focus heavily on reading novels and writing analytical essays.So every...

War and refugees

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Given the world we live in, where a picture of a kid who is dazed after a bombing is becoming normal, our children are exposed more and more to the topics of war and refugees from war. Even when we live in safe homes, neighborhoods or countries, we must expose...

Harry Potter and the Travel Ban

“Oh, really? You don’t act like an only child!” Growing up and entering adulthood, I have heard this phrase many a time. I take comfort knowing that I am not suffering from the dreaded “only child syndrome” of those who are spoiled or self-involved. I’d be lying, however, if I...

Last class | class #6, spring 2017

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca SteadChanging friendships, New York City, time travel. Mysterious notes and everyday sixth grade life. How does Rebecca Stead weave all these strands into a coherent whole? Which catch you as a reader?In addition to your comments on our final text, please share any other...

Pictures and visual literacy | class #5, spring 2017

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The next adolescent lit class (February 28, 2017) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. The prompts below address the role of these books in the classroom; you might also respond to the interplay of text and pictures (or wordlessness), or...

Life lessons in "best friend" easy readers

As a Pre-K teacher, I want to help my students learn to socialize and make friends. Inevitably, children often pair off and become best friends as the year progresses. These relationships involve playing and experiencing great joy together. But best friends can also fight, argue, annoy, and experience sadness. I...

Beyond the world we know | class #4, spring 2017

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This week’s topic is “Beyond the world we know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of other worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth”...

Writing for adults and adolescents

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Last January, I was at the annual meeting of the School Reform Initiative, a wonderful organization that works to help schools find ways to communicate and collaborate more effectively.  I was thrilled to find out that the keynote speaker was Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American novelist I’ve loved for a long...

The past made present | class #3, spring 2017

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Next Tuesday (February 7), the YA literature class will be discussing several books on the theme “The past made present,” considering both nonfiction and historical fiction. A number of these works address the topic of Civil Rights. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the...

Introducing ancient Egypt

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How can you introduce children to history in an exciting and engaging way? As an Egyptian parent, more specifically, how do you encourage your children to celebrate their heritage if their curriculum doesn’t and the general media is unreliable?Personally, my thirst for exploring the mysteries of my heritage was never...

Windows and mirrors | class #2 spring 2017

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Please join the adolescent lit class at HGSE as we discuss two recent YA books for our second class on January 31. The students are required to comment on one of the readings, but we hope any of you who have read one of these will want to join our discussion.The Absolutely...

Adolescent lit class begins tomorrow

Lolly’s children’s literature class at the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrapped up in December with lively discussion and debate in their Mock Awards committees, a terrific culminating event. Tomorrow, adolescent lit begins, and we’ll continue to hold our class book discussions out in the open here and invite you...

Upcoming posts

Class is over, the January magazine has printed, and it's pretty slow here at the Horn Book office. But what should be a lovely empty schedule ideal for blog posting is being being filled with lots of important tasks that have been on the back burner and need to be...

The mock results are in | Class #6, fall 2016

On Wednesday night, November 30, we held our last children's lit class of the semester. We read Charlotte's Web and had a good discussion about unlikely friendships, death in children's books, and the benefits of reading aloud.Then we got to the big event: mock book award groups. Each student had...

Mock book awards | Class #6, fall 2016

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During our last class on November 30, students will meet in mock award groups. At the first class, we formed five award committees based on students' personal preferences. We've got a Geisel committee, a Sibert committee, and three Caldecott committees. Each student nominated one or two 2016 books which they...

Charlotte's Web | Class #6, fall 2016

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Our class won't meet next Wednesday because of Thanksgiving, so this post is going up early.During our last class meeting (November 30), we will be holding five mock book award sessions. There are three Caldecott groups and one each for Geisel and Sibert. Check out the books they have nominated...

Teaching poetry

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In a short 6-week module like the one I teach at Harvard Ed School, time is the enemy. My quixotic goal for this too-short class is to expose students to all aspects of children's literature, in breadth and in depth. Of course, every year and there is something I wish...

Sarah S. Brannen and Ekua Holmes

Sarah S. Brannen (left) and Ekua Holmes (right) spoke at the children's lit class at Harvard Graduate School of Education on November 10, 2016. Photos: Pamela MasonDuring last night's class, we had two guests: Sarah S. Brannen and Ekua Holmes, both illustrators of information books we were reading for this...

Folklore and poetry | Class #5, fall 2016

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For our class on November 16, 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...

Why teachers should know the Virtual History Exhibit

We have an opening in the post schedule this week because there's no class tonight, so I want to make a plug for our Virtual History Exhibit which displays items from our archives over the past 100 years. Because of our unique place in the history of children's books in...

Information books | Class #4, fall 2016

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Our next class will be in two weeks, on November 9. We'll be talking about five information books: Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan...

Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2016

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This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I...

Questions from Molly Bang | Class #2, fall 2016

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We are looking forward to welcoming Molly Bang to our next class on October 19. One of the things that makes Molly unique as a guest speaker is that she likes her visits to be learning experiences — for herself. One year she focused on a book that she thought...

Picture books and easy readers | Class #2, fall 2016

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During our first class, we started to look at picture books. For our second class on October 19, we are adding easy readers into the mix. Here's what we are reading and discussing: Two more picture books Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown That New Animal by Emily Jenkins,...

Picture books | class #1, fall 2016

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For our first class on October 12, we will be reading two picture books and three articles.Where the Wild Things Are is a classic now, but when it was first published in 1963 it was controversial. If you knew this book as a child, what did you notice this time...

Children's lit class, fall 2016

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I've been teaching children's lit in the spring for the past few years, but this year we're changing to the fall semester. So I'm giving up having a nice break between the end of last year's class and the start of this year's, but I'm gaining a chance to hold...

What do ordinary people do during war?

This is one of the questions from a student that gave me pause a long time ago.  It was a sort of typical survey humanities course, and I vividly remember her interesting and important question. My own history education was often centered on primary sources or key events summarized neatly...

School's first day and yours

The first day of school is coming soon! Here are some resources from The Horn Book to make it a great one.August 2016: “What Makes a Good School Story?” From the Editor Five Questions for Adam Rex and Christian Robinson about School's First Day of School Recommended School Stories: Picture...

Hester and relevance

Recently, I co-taught a course with a colleague from the BU English department (I’m in English education) about teaching American literature. A great deal of time is spent in the course considering what ‘counts’ as American literature, and my colleague convinced me we should read The Scarlet Letter. We chose...

Death to the biography book report

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We all remember doing book reports in elementary school. It was fairly standard. You read a book and you write a summary on it or do some type of creative project. This past spring, I assigned a biography book report. I followed the normal prescription: choose a book about someone...

Women can be president, too!

With the 2016 presidential election just a few months away, news from the campaign trail continues to dominate the headlines. Our students are thus very likely hearing names of candidates and snippets of information about politics and elections. While discussing politics in school is often viewed as taboo, the campaigns...

Scientists as dreamers

Can scientists be dreamers? They not only can, but should! The imagination pushes the boundaries of what can be discovered or created. The picture book biographies of the three subjects below — well-known Carl Sagan, and lesser-known Chester Greenwood and Jean-Henri Fabre — are intriguing examples of scientists who let...

Old-fashioned reading in modern times

Literacy enthusiast that I am, I’ve always believed that the reading block in my class schedule should solely focus on, well, reading – reading long and strong, as well as reading across genres. Yet, there’s a third type of literacy that educators across the globe are acknowledging as increasingly important...

Reading groups -- homogeneous or heterogeneous?

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As teachers, we know that small-group instruction can be extremely powerful. It allows us to work with just a handful of students at time, to differentiate our instruction to specific student needs, and can help students listen to and learn from one another.An often taken-for-granted assumption is that we should...

Middle grade fiction - Serafina's Promise

Perhaps you have read about the studies that demonstrate how reading can build empathy. Those studies usually use adults as subjects but anyone who has seen a child moved by a fictional story knows that reading can make us better people.Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg offers young readers the...

Does leveled reading create life-long readers?

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Imagine you’re in the library, looking for a new book to read. You see the covers and spines of many books with intriguing titles and related to topics about which you care deeply or desire to learn more. Your excitement mounts as you take in the seemingly boundless possibilities. But...

In a word…the logophile’s journey

Every group text, email chain, and Facebook thread has one… that one member who can’t help but change someone’s “who” to “whom,” who balks at the improper use of “their” and “there,” and who inserts the little star symbol to indicate a correction on a daily basis. Yes, indeed, some...

What’s in those leveled book boxes?

Recently, I was reading an article called “The Character of Our Content” in an archived issue of Rethinking Schools. In this piece, a concerned mother critiques representations of gender and race in a basal anthology that her daughter was reading at school. The article got me thinking how incidents such...

High reader, low motivation

In retrospect, I realize now that I have been extremely lucky. My students have always been highly motivated to read. Obviously, I’ve encountered the spectrum when it comes to low to excellent readers, but nonetheless, my students needed only minimal encouragement to read. When students lost interest, a graphic novel...

The pros and cons of leveled readers

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These days, if you enter any elementary school classroom, the chances are good that you’ll encounter leveled readers organized into colorful bins with letters or numbers indicating the challenge level of the books contained inside. With the rise of literacy approaches such as guided reading, many hail leveled readers as...

The power of the image: photographs in biographies

Striking photographs in biographies can draw in, engage, and inform young readers on a deep level. In addition, they can serve as outstanding primary sources. Whether the photographs are current, colorful, high quality prints, or old, sepia, grainy shots, they reveal much about the subject, the setting, and the social/historical...

Mock award results | Class #6, 2016

Three of the book award committees deliberating during last night's classThe children's lit class met for the last time last night and we held six (6!) mock book award deliberations. Each student chose which award they wanted to judge and had free reign to nominate any eligible book. I'm pretty...

Last children's lit class in 2016

It's hard to believe that this half-semester module is finishing up in one week. Tonight the students are handing in their annotated bibliographies — the big written assignment in this course.Next, we head into the last class for a little fun. We are reading Charlotte's Web for dessert but most...

Charlotte's Web | Class #6, 2016

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During our last class meeting, we will be holding six mock book award sessions. There are four Caldecott groups and one each for Geisel and Sibert. Check out the books they have nominated here and tell us which one would get your first vote.Charlotte's Web has been my last class...

Mock book awards | Class #6, 2016

During our last class, students will meet in mock award groups. We did this for the first time last year and it went surprisingly well. This year the class is larger, which means there will be four Caldecott committees instead of two. Like last year, we will follow the terms...

Folklore and poetry | Class #5, 2016

For our class on April 2, 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...

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile | Class #5, 2016

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There are so many stand-alone folktale picture books that it's hard to choose just one for us to read together. But I've used this one for several years because of its humor, voice, and authenticity. Interestingly, it also represents two story types: noodleheads (heroes or heroins who are a bit...

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal | Class #5, 2016

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One of the fascinating and mysterious things about folklore is that the same story types appear all over the world. Here's a single picture book that tells a Cinderella-type story as found in several different cultures.I think children would need to first be familiar with a single, cohesive version of...

Poetrees | Class #5, 2016

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As you know if you've read Susan Lempke's article, there are lots and lots of books with poems about a particular subject — enough to read one every day of the school year. As she says, some work better than others as poems.What do you think of this one? Florian...

A Kick In the Head | Class #5, 2016

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This is one of those books for kids that tends to be an eye-opener for most adults, too. Who knew there were this many poetry forms out there?!Notice how the book could be enjoyed by just reading the poems. OR, if you want to learn more, you can see what...

Information books | Class #4, 2016

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Our next class will be in two weeks, on April 21. We'll be talking about four information books: Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan...

Actual Size | Class #4, 2016

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We are reading four information books for our next class, all picture books but for various ages.Steve Jenkins's Actual Size could be read with very young children or with older ones depending on how you choose to share it. There is basic information in large type and details for older children...

Me...Jane | Class #4, 2016

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As picture book biographies go, this is one of the more irreverent ones. What did you make of it?What about the visual mix: McDonnell's cartoon-style art, vintage stamps, Goodall's childhood drawings, and photos? The year this was published, we had lots of discussion pro and con about the final photograph...

Feathers | Class #4, 2016

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Birds are great animals to study because they are found everywhere, not just in rural areas. I love looking at books about birds around this time of year here in New England. The snow is starting to melt and — if you listen carefully early in the morning — you...

Dave the Potter | Class #4, 2016

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Here's a biography of someone we really know very little about. What do you make of Hill's poem? Do you want to learn more? Do Collier's illustrations fill in some gaps?The information at the end tells us more, but in fact we are still left with a mystery. Do Collier's...

Three articles about Dave the Potter | Class #4, 2016

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Bryan Collier with his wife, daughter, and newborn baby daughter on Easter, April 2011.In addition to the four information books we're reading this week, there are also three articles from the July/August 2011 Horn Book Magazine related to Dave the Potter: Bryan Collier's Coretta Scott King Award acceptance speech Profile...

Chapter books | Class #3, 2016

This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I...

The Stories Julian Tells | Class #3, 2016

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The Stories Julian Tells is the first book in an ongoing series about brothers Julian and Hughie, and their neighbor Gloria. This is an early chapter book for readers who have acquired some fluency but aren’t ready to tackle longer books yet. The chapters are fairly short, there’s lots of...

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key | Class #3, 2016

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The Joey Pigza books are hugely popular with upper elementary kids. Joey Pigza is the first of the series and while it’s not spelled out, I think it’s pretty obvious that Joey has ADHD.I like sharing this book with teachers because they tend to look at the situations described in...

The Birchbark House | Class #3, 2016

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Louise Erdrich’s historical novel The Birchbark House is the first in a series, each book following a child from a different generation in an Ojibwa community.Often, books for children contain a central character who is about the same age as the book’s readers. The Birchbark House would be a tough...

Two articles about chapter books | Class #3, 2016

This week in addition to our three chapter books, we are reading two articles.The first is Robin Smith’s piece about her road to becoming a second grade teacher who loves LOVES books, and how she shares them with her classes: “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” from the September/October 2003...

Picture books and early readers | class #2, 2016

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Now that our first class is done, we can move on to some in-depth reading and discussing. Last week we got our feet wet with two picture books, one a classic and the other a wordless exploration of culture.For our second class on March 31, we will read two more...

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild | Class #2, 2016

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Mr. Tiger's relationship with good manners — and his clothes — reflects a reality for lots of young children. They can try to be good for a while, but afterwards they just have to take a break and be themselves.The urge to let it all hang out is an old...

That New Animal | Class #2, 2016

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Here's another picture book for our second class. There are lots of books out there that tackle an emotional issue in a heavy handed way. I'm not a fan of those books, but I love this one. What do you think? Does it accomplish its goal? Would it appeal to...

There Is a Bird On Your Head | Class #2, 2016

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Mo Willems has become THE master of easy readers. With pre-book work including Sesame Street and animation, he had the perfect training to create child- and teacher-friendly easy readers. I think he deserves every one of his many awards. What do you notice in this deceptively simple book? What does...

Ling and Ting | Class #2, 2016

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This is one of two early readers (a.k.a. easy readers) for our second class. At the end of our last class, we talked about the difference between picture books and easy readers. How well do you think this book works in the early reader genre? Clearly it's for somewhat more...

Picture This | Class #2, 2016

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Molly Bang's Picture This is her personal exploration as she works to analyze the emotional effects of art. Most illustrators go with their gut as they compose their pictures, but Molly wanted to see if there were some rules involved. An experienced illustrator, she says she began to understand art...

Children's lit class starts this week

The first day of my children's lit class at Harvard Ed School will be this Thursday, March 24. Once again, we are hoping you will all help us discuss our readings here on the blog. The students will be required to post comments (short ones, I hope!) and the more...

Where the Wild Things Are | Class #1 2016

For our first class this year, we are again reading Where the Wild Things Are, a picture book that is now a classic, but was controversial in its day.Every year there are a handful of students who have never read this book. For those who know it well, I'm interested...

Mirror by Jeannie Baker | Class #1, 2016

Wordless books present an interesting challenge to adults who share them with children. Is there a right way to read them?The great children’s literature specialist Rudine Sims Bishop has written about books for children needing to be both windows and mirrors. This book seems to me to be the epitome...

Who should we follow?

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Now that Lauren's adolescent lit class is over, I have a scant two weeks to put the finishing touches on my children's lit module. Harvard has a new web tool, so I have to re-create my old links page from scratch, starting with social media recommendations.The problem is, I'm a...

Last class | Class #6, 2016

While different in content and audience, both books this week take an honest look at mistake-making and forgiveness. Rebecca Stead explores dearly held friendships at a time of tremendous growth and change (seventh grade!). In his confessional memoir for older readers, Jack Gantos opens up about a disastrous adolescent decision...

Hole in My Life | Class #6, 2016

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A beloved author for children, Jack Gantos takes a risk in revealing his naïve involvement in drug smuggling and subsequent prison time as a young man. Is there value in engaging so honestly with young adult readers over controversial topics? How might they react to this work of nonfiction?...

Goodbye Stranger | Class #6, 2016

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Stead seems to really get this age group, changing relationships, and the time when the wrong move can seem like the end of the world. How does she balance the drama of this experience with respect and care for her characters and readers?...

Illustrated books | Class #5, 2016

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This week’s class (March 1, 2016) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. The prompts below address the role of these books in the classroom; you might also respond to the interplay of text and pictures (or wordlessness), or to whatever...

Two picture books | Class #5, 2016

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     The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, 2007)The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís  (Farrar, 2007)Though not the typical purview of adolescents, sophisticated picture books such as these offer rich rewards for readers/viewers with an experienced eye. Consider prior knowledge older students can bring to these...

Three graphic novels | Class #5, 2016

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      Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2013)     The One Summer by Mariko Tamiki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second 2014) While teens have been devouring graphic novels, or comics (as Gene Luen Yang calls all such works) for years, they are also enjoying a...

Fantasy and science fiction | Class #4, 2016

This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of imaginary worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth”...

Feed | Class #4, 2016

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At first perusal, M.T. Anderson’s Feed is an entertaining tale of privileged futuristic teens who spend spring break on the moon. Their carelessness about the environment, their pitiful lack of knowledge, and technology-induced overstimulation seems so exaggerated as to invite easy laughter. Not far into the book, however, we start...
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