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Field Notes: Camp Read-a-Rama: Learning to “Live Books”

Leader: Hey Nick. Nick: Yeah! L: Hey Nick. N: Yeah! L: Can you Gruff? N: Gruff-a-what? L: Can you Gruff? N: Gruff-a-lo. N: My hands are high, my feet are low, and this is how I Gruffalo. [Nick dances] All: His hands are high, his feet are low, and this is how he Gruffalos! [Everyone […]

Field Notes: Lucha Libros: Bilingual Battle of the Books

On May 3, 2017, fifty-six second- and third-graders and their parents gathered in the Pasadena Public Library’s Donald R. Wright Auditorium for the final battle of our third annual Lucha Libros reading competition. That month’s selection was Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox / El Superzorro. As I looked around the room and felt the excitement […]

Field Notes: Loud in the Library: Creating Social Activists at School

I am the librarian in an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a city of socioeconomic extremes, but dedicated to the mission of equity in public education; every classroom in each of the twelve public elementary schools maintains a 60/40 ratio between paid and free lunch students. In addition to being the home of Harvard […]

Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every child was really reading, with […]

Field Notes: On Propagating Literacy

My story about working in adult literacy starts with a Black Knight Buddleia sapling on my twenty-sixth birthday at around two o’clock in the afternoon. I was digging the hole to plant the Buddleia in the garden of my Tipperary farm when the phone rang. The caller was Mary, who ran the then-small adult literacy […]

Field Notes: Alice, the Transformer

She began life as Alice Liddell, the daughter of an Oxford college dean, who in 1856, along with her brother and two sisters, was befriended by mathematics tutor Charles Dodgson, later better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. A few years later, on a summer boat trip, the first transformation occurred when Carroll told […]

Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers

Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in verse has perhaps half the […]

What Happened to the Frog?

During this new era of the Common Core State Standards, it is essential for teachers and librarians not only to have an understanding of the end goal of each particular standard but also to have a deep knowledge of the children’s literature that can support it. Take, for example, the College and Career Readiness Anchor […]

Field Notes: “Mom, Look! It’s George, and He’s a TV Indian!”

by Debbie Reese The title for this article came from my daughter, Elizabeth. One day last year when I picked her up from kindergarten, she came rushing to me with a scrunched-up, angry face. Before she even said hello, she plopped down on the hallway floor and opened the George and Martha book she’d checked […]