Drop Everything and Read!

In case you are looking for an excuse to shun productivity for the day -- here it is!  Today is the official Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R.)!  In honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday, kids and parents alike are encouraged to set aside all of the other madness and just lose themselves in a book -- or two, or three. Cleary popularized the idea of D.E.A.R. in Ramon Quimby, Age 8 and since that time, the entire month of April has been D.E.A.R. month nationwide.  So be sure to put down the baseball bats, dance shoes, laundry, and handyman tools and settle yourselves and your kids in for a good read today!


2014 Newbery's Are Out - See What Horn Thinks

Kate DiCamillo captured the Newbery award this year for her latest creation, "Fora & Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures," and today, The Horn Book has reviewed the award winner along with four of the Honor winners.  While "Fora & Ulysses" didn't really capture my heart like some of DiCamillo's other works, my first grader thought it was a delicious little tale and it earned me some extra cuddly snuggles at bedtime.

Check out what The Horn Book has to say about it and the other deserving books, one of which, "The Year of Billy Miller" by Kevin Henkes, is earning high praise from my self declared, I-don't-like-books reader.

  Horn also gives you a glimpse of these titles:


RIP Nelson

In the face of a life so profound, any blog post could only be trite.

Nelson Mandela's life and love should be shared broadly and often.

Two books for children, one out this year by Nelson Kadir, "Nelson Mandela," and the earlier autobiography "Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" by Chris Van Wyk, help to tell his story.

RIP Nelson.


Top Hannukah Books via The Nerdy Book Club

Thank you Nerdy Book Club and Stacey Shubitz for your recent post about the Top 10 Hannukah Books.

The holiday season is certainly upon us!

Happy reading Panthers.


eBooks Galore for Young Readers

It is always fun to "meet" new Tweeps. Today, I happened upon Matt B. Gomez, a passionate kindergarten teacher from Texas.  Poking around a bit, I discovered his passion for digital citizenship, global collaboration, virtual field trips, and of course reading!

Check out his recent post, "170 eBooks for Young Readers" for a little eBook inspiration.  And, lest you be a little skittish about eBooks for youngsters, stop over at Slow Family's recent post, "How to Raise Readers in the Digital Age," where she points out that despite the fear that "the expansion of digital technology into our children's lives will result in them reading less than kids of previous generations," children are in fact, "reading more than ever, in both digital and print forms" (Her source: Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report).

As LP students continue to incorporate "listen to reading" into their language arts time via the Daily Cafe, I hope these resources will be helpful to teachers and parents alike.  Thanks Matt!


Reluctant Reader Inspiration and Helpful Reader / Research Resources

The road to becoming a reader isn't always paved with shouts of glee and boundless enthusiasm.  In fact, many parents struggle with trying to motivate their children to pick up any book, let alone the many necessary to complete things like a summer reading program.  For those parents and readers out there, check out Media Specialist Julie Greller's handy pamphlet, "Books for Reluctant Readers: K-12."

Greller's blog "A Media Specialists Guide to the Internet" is packed with resources for librarians and teachers; however, parents may also find some of her pages interesting and useful.  Check out her Author Page for popular writers for the elementary school set; a recent Guest Post about Great Audiobooks for Kids; her References Page for online research resources; and her Graphics Page for Creative Commons and Public Domain images (meaning you can use them without worrying about infringing on anyone's rights).

Greller's blog in general is a great place to get a glimpse at the evolved role that school librarians are playing in schools as the Information Age blurs the line between librarians and technology coaches. For more on that topic, check out her recent guest post by Arlen Kimmelman "You Already ARE Your School's Technology Coach" and the graphic created by Kimmelman below.


A Wholesome Family Read

As a family with a first grader, third grader, and fifth grader, we sometimes struggle to find books that will keep everyone interested.  Too often the books that my fifth grader are drawn to aren't ones that I'm too keen on having my first grader listen to just yet (think "39 Clues" or the final books of the Harry Potter series).  So when a book  comes along that comfortably bridges the gap AND is a series, I'm elated.

In the fun of summer reading, we discovered "Lion Boy" by Zizou Corder.  Having knocked out the first part of this innocent adventure story about a boy who talks cat and is on a mission to save his talented scientist parents (who have been stolen away to prevent them from sharing their newly discovered cure for asthma), we are on to the second book "Lion Boy: The Chase" and eagerly anticipating the third, "Lion Boy: the Truth."

If you are looking for a family read that has enough adventure for the older kids and the wholesomeness we used to be able to expect from children's literature ... this could be your next read!


Biblionasium Winner!

Congratulations to Scott L. for winning a $15 iTunes gift certificate from Biblionasium for being a consistent logger of his reading this summer.  We are glad you earned some extra rewards for your reading this summer Scott!

For all of our other summer readers, there are just a few days left of summer reading, so keep logging those pages and enjoy the last lazy days of summer!

Instructions for submitting your reading logs will be out in the next few days and will be posted here and on the LP PTA Website.

Happy reading everyone!


Summer Reading Challenge #1: Poetry

LP's Summer Readers are taking Biblionasium by storm!  Wow!  In all, LP's readers have read over 35,000 pages and more than 300 books so far this summer!  Some of our most inspired readers are nearing 3,000 pages as of yesterday.

Sounds like it is time for a challenge.  All Biblionasium participants should receive an invitation to the first LP Reads Summer Reading Challenge, which handily aligns with our genre goal to read one poetry book this summer.  Students will receive an invitation to the challenge the next time they log in to their account.  It will appear in their feed like this:

Click on "Here" to start the challenge, which can be completed at any time over the summer.  Students will earn a badge for reading just one poetry book.  If challenges seem seem like an effective way to motivate and or reward your reader, Biblionasium gives students the ability to create their own challenges (see below) or for parents/teachers to do so as well.

If you have suggestions about challenges you would like LP Reads to run for everyone -- or even just for your student -- let us know and we'll get those going for you.  For now, here are a few poetry book recommendations that may help with this first challenge.

"The Bug in Teacher's Coffee and Other School Poems" by Kalli Dakos

Sports! Sports! Sports! A Poetry Collection" by Lee Bennett Hopkins

"Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems" by Jane Yolen

"Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems" by Georgia Heard

"Hailstones and Halibut Bones" by Mary O'Neill

"Around the World on Eighty Legs" by Amy Gibson

"Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku" by Lee Wardlaw


Travel and Books: The Perfect Match

Linking summer reading to the places you are visiting can be a fun way to diversify the books that your kids exposed to.

For example, if you have plans to explore The Channel Islands this summer, you could read or listen to "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell in preparation for the trip.

Some older visitors to Alcatraz might be ready for "Al Capone Does My Shirts" by Gennifer Choldenko.

And if you're headed to Chicago or another Illinois destination, you might want to check out Illinois Reads.  This past Spring, the state of Illinois started Illinois Reads to promote lifelong reading for all of the good people of Illinois.  In addition to selecting six books each year for various grade/age bands, the program is focused on highlighting the work of Illinois authors and offering a mix of books, including titles in the science, technology, engineering, and math areas.  It is no surprise to find books that are set in Illinois on some of the lists as well.  "Children of Fire" by Harriette Gillem Robinet is a new title discovery for LP Reads and we'd love to hear what your older readers think.

Another fun title we happened upon via Illinois Reads that would be fun if you are visiting the USS Pampanito in San Francisco is  "Shipwreck Search: Discovery of the H.L. Hunley" by Sally Walker.  Granted the USS Pampanito is a World War II submarine and the H.L. Hunley is a Civil War submarine, but pairing the two could certainly invite some interesting history and science conversations!

Whether you're looking for a little additional reading inspiration or are headed to the Prairie State this summer, be sure to check out the Illinois Reads 2013 reading lists for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8!

And if you're headed some place wonderful and have a book about or set in your destination, please let LP Reads know and we'll share it with our reading community.


Welcome Ms. Black!

Hey LP Readers, did you hear?  We have a new leader at the helm and this is her first week with us.  Let's give her a huge LP Reads welcome with a few book recommendations about principals shall we?

This first one may be familiar to the second and third graders because it is one of Superintendent Burns' favorites and he has shared it with our first grade classes these past couple of years.  It is certainly good for a couple of laughs!  Check it out: "The Principal's New Clothes" by Stephanie Calmenson.

For those Black Lagoon fans out there, maybe this would be a good week to give "The Principal from The Black Lagoon" by Mike Thaler a read.

And lastly, how about one from the Frankly, Frankly series "Principal for the Day" by AJ Stern.

Happy reading everyone and welcome Ms. Black!  We can't wait to hear what your favorite books are this summer!


Hold That Book. Did You Know?

Over here at LP Reads Central, we are starting to dig into our summer reading lists (thanks to the Storyteller Bookstore) and every summer there is one fantastic feature at our Moraga Library that I truly adore: The Hold Shelf.

When you want to beef up the reading choices for your kids, it is an efficient and time saving way to pull together a set of books.  Head over to CCCLIB.ORG, search for the books you'd like to check out, and click on "Place Hold."  You can hold books that are anywhere in the Contra Costa Library system, not just ones at the Moraga Library.  

When your books are ready, you will be alerted and you can pop by to pick them up off the Hold Shelf.  Voila!  Now each of your children can have a full box, bag, or window ledge of well vetted options to read at their finger tips.

Here are a few that we are looking forward to picking up this week.

For the to-be 1st grader: "Grasshopper Pie and Other Poems" by David Steinberg

For the to-be 3rd grader: "Ichiro Suzuki" by Jeff Savage (Amazing Athletes Series)

For the to-be 5th grader:  "Inside Out and Back Again" by Thanhha Lai


That Book Woman and More

Books about books are always a favorite and they seem to come in all different flavors and reading levels for that matter!  This summer, we happened upon a new one that somehow was the perfect complement to our family stay in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the adult book I just finished reading in said mountains about a woman who sheds her to-be executive self and starts a year round CSA farm (The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball).

In "That Book Woman" by Heather Henson a young boy with all sorts of twang in his voice tells his story about becoming a reader.   He is perplexed at first by anyone's interest in books, so his transformation may mirror that of other reluctant readers out there.

The book was inspired by the real "Pack Horse Librarians," AKA the "Book Women," who roamed the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s as part of FDR's effort to bring books to remote areas.  If the subject interests you, you may want to check out "Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky" by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer.

For other children's books about books, "Alfred Zector, Book Collector" by Kelly DiPucchio or "The Librarian of Basra: A Story from Iraq" by Jeanette Winter.

Be sure to be friends with LP Reads on Goodreads.com so you can check the bookshelf "Books about Books" for more titles.


Summer Reading at LP

Hello Summer Readers!
Here are all of the details you've been eagerly awaiting about LP's Summer Reading Program.

Los Perales Elementary School
The LP Summer Reading Program encourages children to read books over the summer and earn a $5 or $10 gift certificate for the 2013 Scholastic Book Fair, simply by following these easy steps:

1.        READ this summer! Read books, journals, magazines, even newspapers and record them online at Biblionasium.com. Students may read on their own or with a parent or caregiver. The reading goal for each grade is:
# Of Pages To Read
Completed K - entering 1st
20 books
Completed 1st  – entering 2nd
Completed 2nd – entering 3rd
Completed 3rd  – entering 4th
Completed 4th  – entering 5th
Completed 5th  – entering 6th

2. COMPLETE YOUR READING LOG New this year: Students will be asked to log their reading on Biblionasium, which can be accessed online either from home or the Moraga library. See below for detailed instructions about signing up for Biblionasium.  In addition, all parents/children will be asked to complete an online confirmation form at the end of summer in order to collect their gift certificates.
3.        COLLECT your $5 Gift Certificate for the Scholastic Book Fair in November 2013! 
*Students entering 6th grade will receive a $5 gift certificate to use at the Scholastic Book Fair or online.
4.        READ 5 CATEGORIES AND GET AN EXTRA PRIZE! Read at least one book in ALL of the following categories and get another $5 gift certificate ($10 total):  Non-fiction, Biography/Autobiography, Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Poetry.  
How To Sign Up for Bibionasium
  • Create a parent account at Biblionasium.  You will be asked if your child has a username and password assigned from an instructor.  Please click “No.”  
  • Next, you will be prompted to set up an account for your child.  During this step, you will create your child’s log in and password as well as enter the Classroom Code “LPRead060,” which is case sensitive (note: It is not LPReads060, but LPRead060).  This classroom code will link all LP Summer Readers together in a summer “class” of sorts, making it possible to send out reading challenges and to create mid-summer and end of summer reports about our collective page number progress.  On this same sign in screen, you will be asked your child’s reading level.  If you know it (either from your child’s teacher or from assessments done in the computer lab), you may enter it here.  This is optional.  You can learn more about Reading Levels on Biblionasium and look to this equivalency chart to roughly convert amongst the various leveling systems (Lexile, DRA, etc.). If you find yourself out and about and wondering about a certain book’s reading level, check out the app called Level It Books.
  • Once you have set up your accounts, your child can log in using their unique username and password to log their reading.  First, they must add their current book selection to their bookshelf by clicking on “My Books.”  Once a book is placed on the bookshelf, it can be logged in the “Reading Log,” which is accessed via the left side column.  For the LP Reads Program, we are asking students to meet page number requirements (noted above) in order to earn their $5 Gift Certificate for the 2013 Scholastic Book Fair.  Incoming first graders can also track their page count; however, their requirement is to read 20 books.  Students who are participating in the local library summer reading programs may want to also log their time using Biblionasium.
  • Lastly, be sure to have your children include the genre of each book they read in the comment section of their Reading Log.  Students who read from all of the following genres will earn an additional $5 gift certificate for the 2013 Scholastic Book Fair: Non-Fiction, Biography/Autobiography, Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Poetry.

Why Biblionasium.com?
It is interactive
  • Students will have the opportunity to take part in reading challenges sent out by LP Reads throughout the summer (e.g., Read a Poetry Book this week).
  • Students can share their favorite reads with schoolmates and friends.  
  • It connects kids to book list resources and can help them find books that are at their right reading level.

It Offers Reading Incentives
  • Children who log their reading five times a week, earn the chance to win gift cards from Amazon, iTunes, or Gamestop.  
  • Students earn real-time acknowledgement throughout the summer for their reading accomplishments. Via Biblionasium’s badges/awards system, students earn accolades for doing things like reading five books or reading a book from a specific genre.    
  • Parents and students can create their own challenges or earn awards by completing challenges initiated by LP Reads.

It Streamlines the Program’s Accounting
  • We are reducing paper consumption this year while automating the process of logging each student’s pages read and gift certificates earned.  Less time processing paperwork translates into more time helping kids find their next great book!  

    Be sure to keep an eye on the LP Reads Blog for book recommendations and hopefully guest posts from students (Have your child submit any blog contributions to dustie@spiffychicks.com).


LP Kinders Change the World

"I’m showing love coming from the whole world.  It is important to help people.”

Last spring, LP Reads wrote about the power of a text set to spark an inquiry-based project with international implications in a post called “Literature and Global Citizenship."  We were so moved by what second graders could both learn and do in the real world.  This year, with inspiration from a new text set and a compassionate steward, LP’s own Mrs. Miller, our kindergartners are setting out to change the world too.

Armed with a powerful group of picture books, Mrs. Miller launched a project-based, student-led inquiry unit built around her long-standing classroom themes: kindness and spreading sunshine.  Together, Mrs. Miller and her class explored the following books:

  • The Chicken and The Worm by Page McBrier
  • Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter (hear Patrick Ruthfuss read Beatrice’s Goat and hear from Beatrice in her own words)
  • One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Eugenie Fernandes
  • Faith the Cow by Susan Bame Hoover and Maggie Sykora
  • Ryan and Jimmy: And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller
  • Give a Goat by Jane West Schrock and Aileen Darragh
  • Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
  • Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson and Fumi Kosaka
  • How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box by Linda Heller and Stacey Dressen MeQueen
  • Once There Was and Was Not by Page McBrier and Stefano Vitale
Centered around the concept of sustainable giving (ala, teach a man to fish) and the idea that small gestures can net big results, this text set inspired Mrs. Miller’s kinders to wonder about their place in the world and ultimately, how they could make a difference.

They brainstormed what they could do and ultimately decided to use their newly acquired skills as readers to raise money through a Read-a-Thon to donate a goat to a less fortunate family.  

With deep thought and concern, they put themselves to work to kick off a Read-a-Thon by first writing about their new learnings, perspectives, opinions, and intentions.  To be sure that their families and friends could share in this new knowledge, the class then used their writing to create their first kindergarten movie (6:46 minutes):

Certainly, this project is replete with oodles of learning objectives around the to-be-expected academic measures of things like fluency, expression, accuracy, reading comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and writing, not to mention social studies (yes, of course there is a song to help learn about continents in kindergarten!).  It was also packed with those softer, yet harder to measure competencies that we hear so much about as our district embraces 21st Century learning: creativity, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and global citizenship.   Beyond these academic essentials; however, Mrs. Miller hopes that through this project and other things she does throughout the year (like having her class sing to absent students to wish them a speedy recovery), that she is sowing the seeds her students need to become “radically empathetic” and compassionate -- two things that can’t be measured on a test or taught in just one unit.

Through this rich and moving project, Mrs. Miller has enabled our five and six year olds to engage in a project-based learning experience that touches all of the below areas in an age appropriate way while keeping a constant eye on the qualities that seem so essential in a time when bombs explode at marathons.  One of the children’s words can’t help but echo, “Some people in the world aren’t kind. We want to give the world kindness.  We believe we can do it.”

Image from The Buck Institute for Education (www.bie.org)
There is something so touching about authentic learning experiences that allow children, through their own volition, to engage with the local and global community to solve real-world problems and concerns --- and all the while, being given the chance to experience learning in a new way.  With this simple movie, Mrs. Miller enabled her students to reflect on their own learning by letting them hear themselves read.  Imagine the retakes this short film required once students heard themselves and knew that their movie was going public.  There is certainly a reason that classrooms like those in Escondido have seen such success with simple things like voice recording and podcasting.  It not only makes the work real for students, but it motivates them to do their best and it gives them the opportunity to learn from both their successes and struggles.
All of this aside; however, perhaps the best thing these children have learned is about their own agency and their ability to effect change through compassion and kindness. To hear kindergartners say, "I'm changing the world" and "I hope other people will pass on the gift" with such earnestness and expression is to know that this group of children is well on their way to learning a great life lesson: You can make a difference.

These youngsters will indeed make their mark on the world and I hope that you will help teach them, at this very tender age, that what they believe is true.  They can change the world and we need to show them how very right they are.   

If you know a kinder in Mrs. Miller's class, sponsor them as readers.  If you don’t and still want to help, you can drop a donation of any size in the office at LP, or you can send your check made payable to Heifer International to:
Los Perales Elementary

Attn: Terryl Miller’s Kindergarten
22 Wakefield Drive
Moraga, CA 94556

As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”   These children are doing just that and I hope that we can rally some support for their cause so that they will be inspired to spread sunshine for many years to come.

For more about project-based learning:
and this segment on The PBS News Hour clip via Larry Farlazzo’s blog: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june13/learning_04-03.html