Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Once upon at time books with black children at their center were seldom published.

In the spirit of Black History Month which happens in February, lets celebrate an achievement which we could easily take for granted today. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Erza Jack Keat’s Caldecott winner The Snowy Day, the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. The story captures Peter’s wonderment of a boy encountering his first snowfall. There is a universality to the story and for sure will become a favorite. It begs the question: “What captured your wonderment, either as an adult or child?” Wonderment brings to mind, dazzling, astonishment, marvel and awe—all fantastic words to contemplate. Keats has a regular banquet of story books to choose from: Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, A Letter to Amy, Pet Show, and Louie.  Lucky for us— the list goes on and on. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Accolades to the authors of the 2012 Newbery and Caldecott award winners.

Chris Raschka’s A Ball for Daisy, a wordless picture book, wins the 2012 Caldecott Award. In Raschka’s own words: “I was thinking how about how loss comes into young lives, and how we try to deal with that somehow.”  This book is Mr. Raschka’s first wordless picture book, something he wanted to try “so that a child could read the book without knowing how to read.”

HOW do you read a wordless or nearly wordless picture book? Without words, the shapes, lines, and colors tell the story. One of the great things about wordless picture books is that children at any age can read them by telling the story they see in each picture. Share with your child the story you see in the pictures. Where did the story take you and where did the story take your child? Without words the story unfolds for each reader in its own unique way. Don’t miss the opportunity of knowing these delightful reads simply because you didn’t know what to do with them. All you have to do—is enjoy them!
For a complete list of the awards see http://www.ala.org/ala/awardsgrants/index.cfm

Friday, January 27, 2012

Commemorate Lewis Carroll’s Birthday and do as he suggests: “I try to believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Reading encourages us to be creative, innovative, ingenious, imaginative, & curious, qualities we need in abundance if we want to lead interesting lives.  I agree with Elearnor Roosevelt who said: I think at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy god mother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.
I think reading is one of the most creative acts; you cannot read without being creative. Those 26 black marks, the meaning of the words, the implications of those meanings, these are all the products of the readers' imagination. Reading requires a child to make something new, to take a leap. Books give children something that is provided by nothing else. That something, simply put, is the unknown. The imagination flows toward that which is not known.  The familiar does not inspire it, but it surges spontaneously at the slightest opportunity for mystery and adventure. The imagination is a hunter who loves the challenge and the chase.  Alice had an active imagination and she was very good at believing in six impossible things before breakfast. And what were those six impossible things?  “One, there are drinks that make you shrink. Two, there are foods that make you grow. Three, animals can talk. Four, cats can disappear. Five, there is a place called Underland. Six, I can slay the Jabberwocky.”  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Diane offers a 3 part Literary Series devoted to Adult Literature.

Beginning February 2012, Diane is doing a 3 part literary series devoted to adult literature in San Francisco CA and St. Helena, CA.
For more information:  http://www.bookshopwestportal.com/literary-series-diane-frankenstein

Diane will be in Cleveland, Tuesday January 31, 2012

Literacy, Learning & Living Through Jewish Early Childhood Education

Kung Hei Fat Choy ~Chinese New Year 2012~ The Year of the Dragon.

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon by reading some of my favorite stories which feature unlikely dragons—the best kind of dragons in “my book” and other stories that take you inside the Chinese Culture. The recommendations are terrific read aloud to children of various ages. As Walter Dean Myers, our current national ambassador for young people’s literature said: “You can make a difference in your child’s life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.” What he might have forgotten to say: Reading to your children is one of the best parts of being a parent!

Elvira, Margaret Shannon (Pre-school +)
Ignis, Gina Wilson (Pre-school +)
My Father’s Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannett (K+)
The Dragons are Singing Tonight, Jack Prelutsky (Poetry ALL ages)
The Dragonling, Jackie French Koller (2nd grade+)

Stories that allow you to experience Chinese culture.
The Lost Horse, Ed Young (Pre-school +)
The Year of the Dog, Grace Lin (4th grade+)
The Magic Paintbrush, Lawrence Yep (3rd grade+)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Was Benedict Arnold a notorious traitor, a coward or a hero?

Benedict Arnold was a General during the American Revolutionary War, who started out as a general on the American side and was commissioned into the British Army as a brigadier general. If you are curious how this happened, read on!

For younger children, ages 7 and up, Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
is a compelling way to meet this complicated man, who because of the way he changed sides, his name quickly became a byword in the US for treason or betrayal. For older children (grade 6 and up) there is the recent recipient of the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin.  Mostly known as a notorious traitor, this book shows Arnold as a great war hero—reckless, heroic, and driven. With first-person accounts, astonishing battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale.

Read and discover the real Benedict Arnold.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Parental Involvement is key to a child’s success— in and out of school.

There’s no question that a great teacher can make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.

A recent PISA study (Program for International Student Assessment) revealed that “students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘every day or almost every day’ or ‘once or twice a week’ during the first year of primary school have markedly higher scores than students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘never or almost never’ or only ‘once or twice a month.’ On average, the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year.”

The PISA study noted, “on average, the score point difference in reading that is associated with parental involvement is largest when parents read a book with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day, and when they tell stories to their children.” The score point difference is smallest when parental involvement takes the form of simply playing with their children.

Parent involvement can take many forms, but only a few of them relate to higher student performance. A recent study by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education found that parental actions that support children’s learning at home are most likely to have an impact on academic achievement at school. “The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending P.T.A. and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights.”

And let there be no doubt: better parenting make every teacher more effective.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stories that endure are those that enlarge human experience.

Joan of Arc would be 600 years old this year. I suspect that the longevity and appeal of her story is that so much of the story remains enigmatic. I speculate that part of a story’s shelf life has to do with the mysterious qualities that we will never know. But we continue to read and be enthralled by her story.  As Kathryn Harrison aptly said, "We don’t need narratives that rationalize human experience so much as those that enlarge it with the breath of mystery. For as long as we look to heroes for inspiration, to leaders whose vision lifts them above our limited perspective, who cherish their values above their earthly lives, the story of Joan of Arc will remain one we remember, and celebrate.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Look, you can make a difference in your child’s life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.”

Congratulations to Walter Dean Myers on being named the national ambassador for young people’s literature, a sort of poet laureate of the children’s book world.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/books/walter-dean-myers-ambassador-for-young-peoples-literature.html?pagewanted=all
His message comes from his own experiences as an African-American man who dropped out of high school but built a successful writing career largely because of his life-long devotion to books. 
I applaud his message!
“ We’ve given children this idea that reading and books are a nice option if you want that kind of thing. I hope we can get over than idea.” I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life. Hoping to speak directly to low-income minority parents, he wants to say:  ‘Look, you can make a difference in your child’s life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.”