Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stop the Summer Reading Slide!

Thank you for another wonderful year in the Stone library!  The adventures continue at the Chicago Public Library's 2016 ***free*** summer reading program, "Explore on the Go,"with integrated STEM activities!  Registration starts on June 20th and school-aged children at all grade levels are welcome and encouraged to participate!  Show Ms. Esme your finished booklet in September for a special treat.  

An article in Instructor magazine by Megan Lundstrom suggests that children who don't read regularly over their summer break fall behind about three months in their reading achievement. Ouch! That kind of slide doesn't belong on any playground, friends! After exploring our summer reading picks and signing up at the public library, here are a few more handy-dandy hints for parents to ensure a slide-free summer. 

Find a special place.
We give a lot of thought to
what children read, but less concern about where they read. This is a very important consideration when the Siren's song of the summer sidewalk/park/beach beckons. Who wants to sit still when the sun is shining? To keep reading in the running for a summer recreation choice, help children pick and design a special spot, a clubhouse of sorts where they can retreat. How about redecorating an old refrigerator or piano box? Clear out a corner of a closet? Build a backyard tipi?  Make sure the fairies leave special reading gifts in these spaces all summer long.

These photos were shared by teacher Lori Napoli from Orlando Park.

Literary field trips.
Summer is a time for adventure! Tie reading into your vacation plans, or build them around favorite books. Visiting New York City? How about A Cricket in Times Square? Shipping off to rural relatives? Pack Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles. And who would venture into the wild west without Laura Ingalls Wilder? Even if your summer plans keep you closer to home, you can preface a visit to the zoo with (what else?) Aliki's My Visit to the Zoo by Aliki; dinner out calls for a side dish of Big Jimmy's Kum Kau Chinese Take Out by Ted Lewin; all you need for the beach is All You Need for a Beach, by Alice Schertle...honestly, there isn't a thing you can set out to do or a place that you can go that doesn't have a book tie-in waiting in the wings. For the perfect match between destination and reading inspiration, use the "Location, Location, Location" section of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, or visit the "Trip Around the World" link for more reading tour guides.

Hit a Home Run with Punch Cards.
If your young readers have a sporty streak, motivate them by drawing a baseball diamond on an index card, and hole-punching a base with every book that they read. How long does it take them to make it to home plate? Does a novel in a week count as a grand slam? What's their summer reading average?
Featured covers:
PLAY BALL! by Jorge Posada and Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon (Simon and Schuster) and
JUST LIKE JOSH GIBSON by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Beth Peck (Simon and Schuster).

Bookworms Blossom into Social Butterflies.
Let's end the bookworm stigma by making the most of social summertime fun: have a beach-blanket read-aloud , reading sleepovers, a reading by campfire, a reading-based cooking club where you choose recipes based on books
(Ohhh, yum yum, did I mention Jane Yolen's A Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers And Eaters?). The more that children can make the positive association between reading and time spent with friends, the more likely they are going to want to do it.

A Poem a Day Keeps the Summer Slide Away.
Start with a reading of Randall Jarrell's The Bat Poet, just to get everybody looking at poems as the presents they really are. Then, tuck a poem a day into a child's lunch, or tuck it under a pillow to be discovered. A nice thing to do if you are a grandparent or relative who lives across the miles from a special young person is to mail a poem a day. There are so many rich anthologies and collections available from which to choose! Plan a candlelight end-of-summer recitation with friends and family.

Freedom of Choice.

All school year long, people have likely been telling children what to read. Buzz kill! Let them loose in the library and bookstore,and reserve judgement. I know, I know, those awful television-show knock-offs and drecky things with drooly zombies or books with girls' navels on the cover that you want to hold from the corner by two fingers...but do the best that you can. Kids have to experience it all in order to develop criteria (which they usually do very quickly once they have to spend their own money or time). You can also send students to the PlanetEsme archives and let them create wishlists of more quality fare to try to find and read over these summer months. Kids generally have great taste when great choices are offered to them.

Don't Overschedule.
That's really marvelous that little Jennie-Jamie-Joey is so good at karate-soccer-ballet-trumpet and has more playdates than a Kardashian, but knowing how to make choices with free time is also a skill. A little down-time allows children the chance to read and relax! If you want to schedule something regularly, make it a trip to the library or your local bookseller.

Movie on Down to the Library.
Tie in titles to match the summer's on-screen blockbusters. Obvious case in point: the upcoming summer releases of Roald Dahls' The BFG and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, based on the book by Ransom Riggs. Click here
 to plan an entire summer reading film festival...and you'll be using that library card as often as that Netflix membership!

Happy reading, Stone families!  See you in September!

Friday, April 15, 2016

6th Annual Parade of Books at Stone!

Hooray, it's time for our 6th Annual Parade of Books! Can you believe it?  Times flies when we're having fun! This year's parade, in which children dress up as their favorite book characters and carry the book to match, or create wearable book covers, will be held on Friday, May 20th and grades K through 3 will be participating. (Hints for homemade costumes here.) In past, we have had the parade in the fall, but we are switching it up a little and have fingers crossed for spring sunshine!

You are welcome to watch the parade outside on the Stone playground at 2:00 (in case of rain, the parade will be held inside the school). Bring little brothers and sisters to cheer, and don't forget the camera! This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate Stone as a community of readers, and to create home-school connections.  We still are asking if at all possible costumes should be book related, and that each student carry a book related to the costume they are wearing. Chefs can carry cookbooks, Cleopatra can carry a book about ancient Egypt, baseball players can carry sport biographies, for just a few examples...and for more inspiration, check out some costumes from parades past here, or some ambitious online costume leads here!

So! Checklist for K-3 parents on May 20th:
* Please send your child to school with the book-related costume (or poster) in a bag, to be changed into (or carried) in the afternoon. Please keep it simple. Mark all belongings with name and room number.
* Please send your child to school with the corresponding book to carry in the parade.
* Cheer and take pictures on the school playground at 2:00, if you are available. If you are not available, we love you just the same, and we'll take pictures.

Again, a gentle reminder:  This should not be a recycling of scary or licensed character-inspired Halloween costumes. Children should not wear masks (which also present a safety challenge when small children march), any horror themes involving blood (zombies or vampires), or television characters/video game characters that were cartoons before they were books.  The rule is that the character should have been in a book before a television show or movie!  As far as books to carry, there are some resources available in our school library and your child's classroom library, but this is also a perfect opportunity to visit the Chicago Public Library.

Additionally, We ask that this year parents please do not follow children back into the school after the parade, as this presents security issues. Thank you for your support and cooperation!  Can't wait to see what our creative community comes up with this year...every year has been so full of amazing surprises!

Illustration from Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.
Ms. Demonte sporting stripes a la A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

Follow up:
Here are just a few pictures of the hundreds of participants, both students and staff, who made up the magical afternoon in which book characters came to life!  I confess I am a poor photographer...our students were definitely on the move and most of my photos came out very blurry.  Please send me pictures of your main character and friends so I may archive them.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Biography Museum!

Have you ever been asked: "if you could have lunch with a famous person, past or present, who would it be?" Well, you could have your pick at the second grade Biography Museum! Students researched and created reports, timelines and interactive displays featuring their favorite personalities.  On the afternoon of the exhibit opening, guests could enter and press a button on the figure's hand to receive the full life story delivered by an outstanding stand-in!   Special kudos to our luminary second grade team, Ms. Wynne and Ms. Demonte, for an outstanding job (as usual).   They are definitely whom I would most like to have lunch.

It was so exciting for the school library to be able to support the second grade Biography Museum because picture book biographies are my jam!  As such, the biography section of our library is one of the strongest parts of our collection.  Juvenile biographies are great reads across the grade levels and introduce our children to mentors across time and space: artists and innovators, scientists and explorers, athletes and entertainers, leaders and peacemakers.  And for every great person, there is a great book!  Here is just a small, small sampling of the amazing celebrities represented (over 60 kids participated!) and a link to a related book...all of which you can request at the school library!

Jim Henson
Read more here!

Albert Einstein
Read more here and here!

Stan Lee
Read more here!

Neil Armstrong and Scott Kelly
Read more here and here!

Malala Yousafzai, Judge Judy Sheindlin and Sally Ride
Read more here and here and here!

Some author nobody's ever heard of
Read more here!

Walt Disney
Read more here!

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Read more here!

Bruce Lee
Read more here!

Harriet Tubman
read more here!

Michelle Obama
Read more here!

King Tutankhamun
Read more here!

Thomas Edison
Read more here and here!

Elizabeth Blackwell
Read more here!

Orville Wright (flip it over for Wilbur Wright!)
Read more here!

Georgia O'Keefe
Read more here!

Malala Yousafzai
Read more here!

Amelia Earhart
Read more here!

Jesse Owens
Read more here!

Annie Edson Taylor, who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel...
complete with barrel!
Read more here!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

There are real people behind the books we read and love!  On April 12th, the library was excited and delighted to celebrate the 100th birthday of children's book author Beverly Cleary, empathetic master of realistic fiction who has sold over ninety-nine million books (most famously her Ramona, Henry Huggins and Mouse and the Motorcycle series).  No child should go through childhood without reading a Beverly Cleary book, and here in the library we try to facilitate that by making Beverly Cleary's books a "bonus pick" for her whole birthday month of April and a free Beverly Cleary bookmark with check-out! Fans were also welcome to come to the library to rousingly sing "Happy Birthday" to this living legend, and send her our wishes from Chicago to her home in Portland.  Surprise, cake was waiting!  Sorry we couldn't share a bite with you, Ms. Cleary.  You are in our thoughts and hearts.

Watch an excellent movie about the life of Beverly Cleary by clicking here and enjoy a clever stop-action animation version of The Mouse and the Motorcycle here!  And please don't forget to visit the big bin of Beverly Cleary's books available in the library, hopefully for the next 100 years.