Sunday, January 27, 2013

Award winners!

A great day in children's literature history will be on Monday, January 28th (tomorrow), when the 2013 American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards will be announced, including the famous Caldecott Medal for distinguished contribution to children's book illustration, and the Newbery Medal for distinguished contribution to children's book writing, as well as other wonderful prizes, such as the Sibert for non-fiction, the Coretta Scott King Awards for contribution by African-Americans and the Pura Belpré for contributions by LatinoLatina authors and illustrators, and many more.   Believe me, this is like the Oscars for people in children's publishing!  Read all about it here, and the press release will be found here! My own picks for the best books of the past year may be found at The PlanetEsme Picks for Best Books of 2012, see if they match the ALA announcements.  Sorry, betting is not allowed at school, but crossing fingers is!  Please feel free to share your family's favorite reads of the past year in the comments section below to share with other Stone families.  Whichever books our children love are always the real winners! 

Other great sources for book recommendations of the very best in children's books:
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Vintage Children's Books My Kid Loves
Books That Heal Kids
Welcome to My Tweendom

Check them out, and give that library card a workout in 2013!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Welcome, Ms. Crowley!

Well!  Of all the presents I received over holiday break, I think my favorite was the good news that I would be hosting a student teacher/librarian these winter months from UIUC!  I will allow her to introduce herself:

Hello! My name is Ms. Crowley, and I am very happy to be Ms. Esmé's student teacher until the end of February. I have spent the last few years working in public libraries, so I have read lots of great books for kids and teenagers that I am very excited to share with all of you. Outside of the library, I love to cook, eat, ice skate, and watch Star Wars. I have had so much fun sharing books about penguins and polar bears with the kindergarten and first grade classes - I think that cold places are very interesting. In fact, I applied to be a librarian at a research base in Antarctica! I didn't get the job, but luckily for me, that means I get to spend the next two months at Stone!

Indeed, I am so pleased that Ms. Crowley started out designing lessons from a place of personal interest, so that she can share her contagious enthusiasm with our students.  She has taught the primary children a perfectly marvelous Penguin March, and they have been learning all about the difference between the North and South Pole, the northern lights (aurora borealis), and fun facts about nonfictional penguins and polar bears (I did not know that polar bears are actually black and are covered with transparent fur that reflects the light, did you?!).  We have also been having an insanely fun time peeking in at the live PenguinCam at San Diego's SeaWorld, which, turns out, is better than cable.  Children have also enjoyed making penguin puppets with the help of Ms. Crowley's Famous Step-by-Step Directions, and enjoying silly stories (TACKY THE PENGUIN by Helen Lester being a special favorite). 

The days are short with you, Ms. Crowley, and not just because it is winter!  Welcome to Stone School Library! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Celebrating Martin Luther King and Black History all year!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday! We have several excellent and unusual picture book biographies available in the library related to Martin Luther King and Civil Rights, suitable across the grade levels. A few favorites:

HARVESTING HOPE:  THE STORY OF CESAR CHAVEZ by Kathleen Krull, about the leader of migrant workers in California who led the protest march that inspired King;

DELIVERING JUSTICE:  W.W. LAW AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS by Jim Haskins, about the postman who led the Great Savannah Boycott, an ordinary person making an extraordinary difference;

CORETTA SCOTT by Ntozake Shange, a beautifully illustrated free-verse biography in tribute to Kings' wife;

MARTIN'S BIG WORDS:  THE LIFE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING,  JR. by Doreen Rappaport, a biography with King's quotations strewn throughout;

THROUGH MY EYES by Ruby Bridges, a little more text-heavy but with amazing photographs that documents the reasons we are all here at school together!

TESTING THE ICE by Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, and illustrated by the great Kadir Nelson, sharing a real-life anecdote that embodies Jackie Robinson's bravery and willingness to break new ground (if not new ice).  Did you know Jackie Robinson's birthday is January 31st?

We will have plenty of books on display throughout Black History Month, but I think it is also worthwhile to remember that African-American history is American history, and these great stories and stories that represent all the races, ethnicities and cultures represented in our school and our country deserve to be explored all year long.

I know that on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, everyone remembers his great "I Have a Dream" speech.  But I think my favorite speech by King is "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" delivered to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia about six months before his assassination.  In the speech, he  said:
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.
I think this is such a relevant quote for our times, and speaks to so much about education today.  I don't think he is saying everyone should be a garbage man, or that he does not value the education that opens doors to other professions.  I think he is saying, however it goes, don't be elitist and look down your nose at what is another kind of work; we need garbage men, there is pride in being a garbage man, there is value in EVERY man and every man has a gift to give through the hard work he does, whatever that work may be.   Whatever you do your best at, we need it! What a great American sentiment!  I believe that King felt everyone could make a meaningful contribution to our country.  And your children's teachers believe it, too, beyond any test scores or grades or acceptance letters to prestigious schools.   

Happy Birthday, MLK!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brrrrr! Wintery read-alouds in the library

The littlest snowflakes at our school are keeping cool in the library with stories that celebrate the season!  A few favorites:

HERE COMES JACK FROST by Kanuno Kohara (good discussion about what makes snow and frost, and recognizing an illustrator's palette);
THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats (learning about the Caldecott medal, collage technique and exploring illustrator composition by playing with Ezra Jack Keat's illustration elements);
THE MITTEN by Jan Brett (working in collaboration with the kindergarten team and their author study of Jan Brett, we did a dramatic reenactment of the story with masks and a very big mitten);
THE TROUBLE WITH TROLLS by Jan Brett ("pourquoi"tales, use of borders in illustration, looking closely at details);
THE MISSING MITTEN MYSTERY by Steven Kellogg (recognizing double-page spreads, and oh, how silly was the idea of planting a mitten and growing an enormous mitten tree!).

Special thanks to parent volunteers Ms. Bushroe-Stumpf and Ms. Falkner for helping to cut out primary crafts that the children so enjoy.  We welcome parent volunteers, and we are also looking for donations of glue sticks, as we see so many future illustrators and we sure do go through them!

Congratulations also to the first grade for completing their first chapter book read-aloud in library, THE BEARS ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN by Alice Dagliesh.  That takes concentration!  Very proud of you, children!!!  Don't be surprised if your first grader comes home chanting "There bears...on...Hem-lock bears, no bears, NO BEARS AT ALL!"  Only, the thing is, there really were bears on Hemlock Mountain.  Who knew?  Oh well, that's what predictions are for. 

I predict this will be another great year in the Stone Library!