Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Katherine Paterson

I think I could devote many posts to Katherine Paterson quotes.
In fact I have. (Type her name into my blog's search box, and you'll see what I mean.)

I was reminded of this just now when I saw Caroline Starr Rose's beautiful blog with another inspirational quote.

I'll wait while you click over there because it's not only inspirational to read, it's lovely to look at.

 This is one of my personal favorites:
"I think you tell your story and then the reader gets to decide what he or she will learn from your story. And if they don't want to learn anything from it, that's their choice."

- Katherine Paterson
from an NPR interview

And this:  Before the gates of excellence, the gods have placed sweat. –

She's always been a writing hero to me and to many others.
I have so many scribbled notes from things I've read and heard her say.

Now I need a beautiful picture to inspire us this weekend.
How about these- sunset on the Mississippi river- from my last visit "home."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Studying a Book

I'll admit to worrying when young readers are asked to over-analyze literature. 
When I was a school librarian, I loved book discussions and exuberant exchanges of ideas between students. But as far as delving too deeply into theme or word meanings, I admit to being a little on poet Billy Collins's side here.

CLICK HERE if you're not sure what he has to say about that.

But then something happened. Several schools in Washington state adopted the "Read Side by Side" curriculum, which includes my middle-grade novel, GLORY BE. Other places and classes used my books for read-alouds, book groups, and all sorts of discussions.

And I started getting letters from readers. Many asked thoughtful questions. Some were downright funny, in a very good way.

These two are about food.
If they only knew how many references I edited out over the years. 
The writer of the second letter would have really been hungry!

But there are a lot of serious questions, which make me realize my book is helping these young readers navigate new territory. 
This makes me very proud.

Some send illustrations.

And then you get a photo from a class that's read your book. 
Santa could not have brought a better gift.

And another from the letter-writers. (I sent them bookmarks along with my answer.)


In case anybody's still reading (and I know it's a long post), I'm going to quote an email from one teacher who'd used Read Side-by-Side, and my book:

The books that we read throughout the year as part of this curriculum all revolve around the issue of power.  We started the year reading Poppy by Avi, then read The War with Grandpa written by David Kimmel Smith, Martin Luther King, Jr. by Rob Lloyd Jones, your book Glory Be and finally Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  All of the books are slightly above grade level which is why they are read alouds, but the kids all have their own copies.  During reading time, we stop and take notes about characters and character traits based on evidence from the text and inferences from the text, we make predictions based on evidence, talk about the problems the characters encounter in the book, the setting, and relate the story to outside readings. 

The jump from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” between 2nd and 3rd grades is a big one.  I’ve loved how through this curriculum and fabulous books like yours, my students have learned to love reading and the beautiful subtleties of weaving a wonderful story like Glory Be.  When we read the part about Laura’s sock being found at the public pool, some of the students naturally thought she trashed the locker room.  We went back to our character lists and character traits lists and asked ourselves, “Does what we know about Laura so far support that thought that she trashed the locker room?  If not, how would someone have gotten her sock?”  When we looked back to the kickball scene and reread the part about J.T. nodding to Frankie, it was electric in the classroom!  We all had goosebumps realizing the beauty of that subtle hint and the depth of your writing.

This is why we keep writing, isn't it. 
For that moment one student or a whole classroom might get goosebumps. 
I know the feeling. It's very hard to write those moments. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on writing goosebump moments. 
Or reading them with your students.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thank you, Skype!

One of the fun things I've done this year is to Skype with more classrooms than ever. Perhaps it all started with World Read Aloud Day. Scholastic also supported some of my Skype sessions. But somehow, this school year, I connected with more smart kids and their teachers and librarians than ever before.

Check out the trailers these fifth graders at Pioneer Middle School in Yorkshire, NY, made. It's an amazing class project, and I thank Mrs. Rice and her smart kids for all their hard work. They'd read GLORY BE as a class, and you can tell they spent a lot of time, energy, and love on this.

I'm so proud of them!
One of my favorite comments? "Charming like Jesslyn's charm bracelet."
And such strong verbs- I suspect there are more than a few budding writers in Mrs. Rice's class. Not to mention film makers!

Finding images that fit perfectly with their words = what a super learning experience.

Here's the link, again,  to watch their trailers:

Here we are, Skyping!

Thank you, Mrs. Rice, her fifth graders, and Maria Muhlbauer their super librarian who set it all up.

And thank you for the lovely note that arrived in my mail today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Words of Wisdom

"Sometimes the glittering lights is nothing but show. The real things in life aren't always fancy, and the true path just might be that winding country road."

Super Chikan, Delta bluesman,         
as quoted in DELTA MAGAZINE.

Listen to him play here:

Friday, May 6, 2016

School Library Month, Podcasts, and all sorts of fun stuff

This morning I ambled around my sunny neighborhood with earbuds and my podcasts. 
I chose randomly- I'm so far behind. But I picked perfectly.

Click here--> It's a MUST LISTEN: librarians talking about their own libraries- childhood, school, professional. How they came to love books.
A terrible, possible future for kids without libraries.

School Library Month was April, but we should always celebrate libraries and the connections librarians make between readers and books.

I smiled when John Schu said he'll always call himself a librarian, even though he's moved on(?), away(?), sideways for a bit.
I feel the same way. Once a librarian, always a librarian. Or media specialist. Or whatever we choose to call ourselves.

While you're here, note my new blog title. (Thanks, Eileen!)
And my own chapters: writer, book reviewer, librarian. 
(I've worn a lot of hats- haven't we all at this point!)
Okay, enough about me. Hurry on over to that podcast

Librarians: Making Hearts Large Through Story 

(John Schu, Scholastic librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey, and Kristina Holzweiss, the 2015 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year)


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LIbrarian Humor

 Happy Teacher's Day!

In honor of my fellow teacher- librarians, here's a little Library Humor to brighten your day:

AND, check out the Google Doodle.