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>Happy to help!

>M.T. Anderson tipped me to this thoughtful NYT piece about the state of trade books in the classroom (wow, that phrase sounds as antiquated as whole language) and the fact that the Horn Book gets a shout out on the third page. We are of course always gratified when teachers find us helpful in their […]

School of the Air

I totally wanted to go to one of those. But here’s your chance, if you feel like playing along with the class I’m teaching at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. The class begins today and is called Crimes and Misdemeanors, and it is something of a lead up to the […]

>State Birds and Foods of Many Lands

>In the most recent Booklist, Michael Cart wonders why “curriculum-related nonfiction” hasn’t “migrated more or less completely to the Internet by now.” Me, too: hardcover series books about countries of the world, mammals of Asia, rocks and minerals of the fifty states, etc. still proliferate like crazy, even though the information they contain is available […]

>Check your in-box

>for the latest issue of Notes from the Horn Book, and please pass along to your colleagues, customers, family and friends. This issue stars our favorite teachers, Dean Schneider and Robin Smith!

Not an Essay

A special guest article by Kadir Nelson, originally published in the September/October 2008 issue of Horn Book Magazine.

More of Robin Smith’s Favorite School Stories

Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words / Spoken Memories written and illustrated by Aliki
The story of a young immigrant girl from an unnamed country is told in a pair of back-to-back picture books. The first describes Marianthe’s adjustment to her American school; the second (arrived at by flipping the book over) allows the girl to tell her own story of why she and her mother came to this country. Aliki’s drawings are warm and expansive, giving heart to the somewhat purposive text. Grade level: K–3.

Ramona the Pest written by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Lois Darling
Eight- or nine-year-olds who can look back upon their kindergarten days will smile knowingly at Ramona’s first encounters with school life. Ramona does not submit to the process of education without a struggle, and the skirmishes, vividly described, will remind the young reader of the child he once was (or wished he had dared to be!). The author has a sure instinct for the thought and expression of five-year-olds. Grade level: K–3.

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 […]