Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resolutions for Resolutions

Mo Rocca has the right idea. Skip resolutions for yourself, and make them for others. He made a few today on CBS Sunday Morning.

What about you?

As for myself, I first thought about making a resolution NOT to make resolutions. But I did that for 2008, and as the saying goes, if you aim at nothing you're sure to hit it.

So for 2009 I've decided to make a few. But just a few so as to aim well.

To help in meeting my 2009 resolutions (only to be listed on this blog once they are met), I have checked out from the library a book I saw on the shelf while helping a customer find a different title. The book is The Productivity Handbook: New Ways of Leveraging Your Time, Information, & Communications by Donald E. Wetmore (2005 by Random House).

I once was highly organized. For example, I exercised daily, I prayed daily, all my photos were labeled in albums, and the towels in the linen closet faced the same direction. But I've lost that, and now find myself bouncing from one pile to the next, rarely completing anything. So for 2009 it is time to focus and produce.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thanks, Dave.

Dave began my collection of books about librarians with his gift to me of How I Fell in Love with a Librarian and Lived to Tell About It by Rhett Ellis. The gift was for receiving my master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. Tonight Dave brilliantly suggested I start a list on my blog of books and films featuring librarians! I'm calling it: Dewey Decimal Dames. Submit your suggestions in comments to this post, and watch the lists grow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An American in Paris

Pennsylvania-born Mary Cassatt was the only American invited into the Impressionists group in Paris in the late 1800s. She became instrumental in bringing art by the Impressionists to America.

Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family is on exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts until January 25, 2009. In preparation for viewing the exhibit, NMWA's curator recommends the biography Mary Cassatt: A Life by Nancy Mowll Matthews.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

The World Wide Web continues to provide unprecedented opportunities for the collection, organization and dissemination of information. Five organizations are coordinating the Encyclopedia of Life "to organize and make available via the Internet virtually all information about life present on Earth." The Encyclopedia is a series of websites devoted to the 1.8 million or so species of life on earth. Everyone is invited to participate as a curator, a contributor, and/or a donor. The site Encyclopedia of Life went live in February 2008.

The five organizations coordinating the Encyclopedia are the Biodiversity Heritage Library, The Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, and the Smithsonian Institution.

This new wiki is the brainchild of Biologist E. O. Wilson, who announced his dream at a March 2007 Technology Entertainment Design (TED) speaking engagement. The MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation committed to an initial $50 million funding grant.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe

This lovely counting book, set to the nursery rhyme One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, features colorful quilt squares for each number one to ten, sewn with the corresponding number of buttons, alternating with quilted illustrations of the verse. Readers will enjoy counting the buttons and exploring the assortment of patterns and colors in the quilt squares. Ms. Hines uses illustrative foreshadowing -- for example, a hen peeking from the corner of the two-page spread for "Open the gate" followed by a full-picture of the hen for "My big fat hen!" -- which adds to the enjoyment of reading the book over again. The end pages are a photograph of bright buttons. Ms. Hines’ attention to detail makes this a quality picture book.

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe
by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Harcourt, 2008
9780152063054, $16.00

Ms. Hines discusses her quilting and the making of her book online -- click here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Diamond Willow

Diamond Willow is a unique book, putting together the coming-of-age struggles of a twelve-year-old girl, the history and heritage of the Athabascan Indians, the culture of Alaska, and the creative writing of author Helen Frost. The story is told in diamond shaped poems, mirroring the markings on polished Diamond Willow sticks. The writing is picturesque and beautiful. For example, “Silence stalks around us like a cat. Even Zanna doesn’t chatter it into pieces.” I read this book through in one sitting.

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
2008; $16.00
Ages 10 to 14

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Choo Choo

This delightful board book features die-cuts helping to illustrate the landscape through which the little train and its happy passengers travel.

Choo Choo by Petr Horacek
Candlewick, 2008
ISBN 9780763634773

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gulliver Snip and His Clipper Ship

Each night Gulliver becomes Captain Snip and guides his ship on exciting adventures -- all from his bath. That's because, "Gulliver Snip had a clipper ship that his mother called the bathtub." Each two-page spread features rhyming text and an illustration of Gulliver in the bathtub adjacent to a full-page illustration of Captain Gulliver in his imagination.

Gulliver Snip by Julia Kay (A Picture Book)

Henry Holt and Company, 2008

ISBN 9780805079920


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath

Laugh out loud funny! Nick Bruel knows cats (and dogs), and his portrayal of them is very funny in Bad Kitty Gets a Bath. Kids will enjoy the various writing styles used (comic book, newspaper, novel, textbook), the illustrations, and the glossary (which includes some advanced words). I think this book might even be enjoyed by a reluctant reader.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel
Roaring Brook Press
August 2008
Library/Reinforced; 9781596433410; 13.95

Friday, September 19, 2008

Countdown to Brisingr

Brisingr, the third book in Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance Cycle," will be released tonight at midnight -- September 20, 2008.

The "Inheritance Cycle" began with the book Eragon. Paolini completed his first draft of the book when he was fifteen. His family self-published it, but later was contacted by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young readers. Author Carl Hiaasen, who himself writes books for young readers, brought Eragon to the to publisher's attention after his step-son read it. Eragon was published by Knopf in 2003. Eldest, the second book in the series, followed in 2005.

Paolini had thought his "Inheritance" series would be a trilogy. But when the draft for the third book neared 2000 pages, he decided it would be best to divide the story into a four book cycle, changing it from the Inheritance Trilogy to the "Inheritance Cycle". Brisingr is book three. Book four will complete the story.

The adventures of Eargon and the dragon Saphira were made into a movie by Fox in December 2006.

The "Inheritance Cycle" webpage includes activities and an Eragon Screensaver.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anne is 100

Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, the first book in her famous eight novel series, was published in Canada in 1908. In celebration of the centennial, visit these websites.

Anne 2008

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Institute

Two recent articles highlight Anne's 100th birthday. Ramin Setoodeh wrote "It's Still Not Easy Being Green: 'Anne of Green Gables' turns 100 this year, but she's the most modern girl in the bookstore." in the July 28, 2008, issue of Newsweek.

Jayne Clark of USA Today wrote 'Anne of Green Gables' still rules Prince Edward Island'.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Edith Wharton Society

The International Edith Wharton Society first met in 1983, and continues to "foster Wharton scholarship." The Society's website features information about and links to related conference sessions and publications, and excellent biographical and historical information about Edith Wharton, her writings, and the history of the time in which she lived. Membership in the Edith Wharton Society is inexpensive, and includes a subscription to The Edith Wharton Review.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Virginia Honors Its Own

Voting is open until June 30, 2008, for the Library of Virginia's book awards. The "People's Choice" awards are given for one fiction and one nonfiction book by a Virginia author. The "Cardozo Award" is for children's literature by a Virginia author. VOTE HERE! Or, obtain a paper ballot at a Virginia public library.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Basho (1644 - 94)

"The temple bell stops --
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers."

Translation by Robert Bly.
Found in A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver.

Your LitLinx Librarian will be away for a week. Postings will resume on or about June 10, 2008.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Time It Was: RFK

A Time It Was: Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties by photojournalist Bill Eppridge is out in time for the June 5, 2008, fortieth anniversary of Bobby's death. In 1968 Eppridge was covering Kennedy's presidential campaign for Life magazine, and was outside the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when he heard and counted eight gunshots. Of his now-famous photograph from that night Bill says, "It went through my mind not to take the picture, but this was history." Bill talks about the experience in an article, with photographs, on NikonNet.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thirteen Moons

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain, is historical fiction about a white boy, abandoned on the frontier then adopted by a Cherokee chief, who helps the tribe retain its North Carolina land during the 18th century displacement of Native Americans by the U.S. government.

The book's title comes from the Native American tradition -- later followed by European settlers -- of naming each of the thirteen full moons and the month in which each moon occurs during a year. The names vary from tribe to tribe. The Farmer's Almanac lists the following.

January - Full Wolf Moon (named for the wolf packs howling during winter nights)
February - Full Snow Moon (because February usually sees the heaviest snows)
March - Full Worm Moon (because as the temperatures warm earthworm casts appear)
April - Full Pink Moon (named after wild ground phlox, one of the earliest spring flowers)
May - Full Flower Moon (spring flowers are abundant)
June - Full Strawberry Moon (strawberry harvest)
July - Full Buck Moon (because July is when the antlers of bucks usually begin to grow)
August - Full Sturgeon Moon (good fishing -- especially of Sturgeon in the Great Lakes)
September - Full Harvest Moon (occurs closest to the autumn equinox)
October - Full Hunter's Moon (animals are fattened, and it is time to hunt)
November - Full Beaver Moon (time to set traps before the water freezes)
December - Full Cold Moon (nights are longest during December)

Charles Frazier is an alumnus of the University of South Carolina (Ph.D. in English, 1986) -- which also is my alma mater (Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, 2006).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time's Top 10 Websites

Scroll through a page-by-page listing with descriptions at
Time Magazine's Top 10 Websites (2007).

The winners are:
  7. Don'

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne

As a youth services librarian, there are books that I use in my programs every year. One of those is Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Since it was published in 1939, the book has never gone out-of-print. When I read it, no matter if the audience is composed of four-year-olds, fourth graders, or parents, there is always hushed listening and usually applause at the end. Now available online, provided by the books publisher Houghton Mifflin, are seven activities related to the story. The link to the activities is also provided in the right hand column of LitLinx, under the category, "Lesson Plan Linx."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Save The Mount

Edith Wharton's beloved U.S. home, The Mount, a National Historic Landmark, is threatened with foreclosure. To save this visitor destination, some $3 million must be raised through the Save the Mount campaign by October 31, 2008.

Edith Wharton was the first women to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature, which was awarded in 1921 for The Age of Innocence.

PW: More Best Seller Lists

In addition to the New York Times and the Washington Post , another source for bestseller lists is from Publishers Weekly. From the Bestseller Lists tab, the drop down box provides selections for Audio, Children's, Comics, Fiction, Paperback, Nonfiction and Religion.

Under the Book Life tab, there is a choice in the drop down box for Bestsellers, which provides articles about and lists of award winning books.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"More Than A Library"

The Library of Congress, founded in 1800, is the largest library in the world. For a virtual tour, I recommend viewing the library's introductory multimedia presentation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And The Winners Are ...

The Children's Choice Book Awards have been announced for 2008. The books of the year by category are as follows.

Kindergarten to Second Grade
Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer

Third to Fourth Grade
Big Cats by Elaine Landau

Fifth to Sixth Grade
Encyclopedia Horrifica by Joshua Gee

Illustrator of the Year
Ian Falconer for Olivia Helps With Christmas

Author of the Year
J. K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The first annual Impact Award went to NBC's Al Roker for his work with kids and books via "Al's Book Club for Kids."

The awards were announced on Tuesday, May 13, at the Children's Choice Book Awards Gala in New York City. The gala was hosted by author Jon Scieszka (rhymes with "Fresca"), the National Ambassador of Young People's Literature and spokesperson for Children's Book Week.

The Children's Book Council, the official sponsor of the Children's Choice Book Awards, is a nonprofit trade association of publishers of children's and young adult trade books in the United States. Trade books are those published for general readership -- as opposed to specific readership, like a classroom -- and are available through book stores and major book clubs.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Children's Book Week

May 12 - 18, 2008
Information about and resources for celebrating Children's Book Week are available at

Friday, May 2, 2008

Picturing America

Applications for the second round of Picturing America will be accepted August 4 through October 31, 2008. Co-sponsored by The National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Picturing America provides art and history resources to schools and public libraries.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Great Resource - HowStuffWorks

HowStuffWorks. If you haven't browsed this website, you're missing an incredible resource. Founded by North Carolina State University Professor Marshall Brain in 1998, HowStuffWorks has become a premier web location for explaining with easy to understand descriptions, graphics and videos, how everything in the world works. The site also features consumer ratings and reviews to assist with pre-purchase research. Among other awards, it was named in 2006 and 2007 one of Time Magazine's "25 Websites We Can't Live Without".

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Red Kayak

Author Priscilla Cumming's Red Kayak has been awarded the 2007 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award and the 2007 Oklahoma Sequoyah Award. The book was also included on the American Library Association's 2006 list of Best Books for Young Adults.

Three teen aged boys living on Maryland's Eastern shore face a tragedy with differing beliefs about right and wrong, and personal responsibility. The novel is popular with boys and girls, age 10 and up.

Priscilla Cummings also is an excellent speaker for school groups.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Author 411

Sponsored by Random House Children's Books, Author 411 connects youth, literature, and authors. Four teen book groups are chosen per month to read a selected work (or works) of that month's featured author. Later in the month, the teens meet with that author online to discuss the book(s).

I first learned of this program from the Rockingham Free Public Library and Museum in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Rockingham's youth services librarian had applied for her teen readers to participate, and they were chosen for the June 2008 feature with author Michael Scott.

The teens are reading Scott's soon-to-be released The Alchemist, book one in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series; followed by The Magician, book two, to be released June 24. After reading both books, the teens will meet to prepare questions for their later online meeting with Scott.

Previous authors featured in Author 411 include Jerry Spinelli, Louis Sachar, and Linda Newbery. Transcripts of previous author - teen discussions are available at Author 411.

Author Michael Scott, popular in his native Ireland, is considered an authority on mythology and folklore. His new book The Magician, will be released on June 24, 2008.

A special thank you to my friends at Rockingham for the introduction to this program and resource.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's the Difference? Internet vs. WWW

What is the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web? Are they one and the same? No, they are not. The Web, or WWW, is a part of the Internet. The Internet is, "a worldwide network of networks."* So what is a network? A network is one or more computers connected together.

This is the basic information that should be included in elementary school library and information literacy classes.

One book that does a good job presenting this basic information is The Incredible Story of Computers and the Internet: A Kid's Guide to Incredible Technology* by Greg Roza.

Friday, April 18, 2008

British Children's Author Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton is an author I had never heard of until yesterday when a librarian friend introduced her to to a group of fifth-grade girls and me while we were sipping lemonade, eating biscuits (cookies) and writing poetry. Ms. Blyton's stories sounded so appealing that I had to know more. Although not well know in the United States (at least in my experience), Blyton's books are considered internationally renowned mystery and adventure stories. Some of the popular titles include The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, the Noddy stories for younger children.

On The Enid Blyton Society website, I read that:

"Several decades after her death, Enid Blyton is not forgotten. The best of her lives on in her books, many of which are still in print, and she continues to entertain, educate and inspire children around the globe through the words she wrote. She encourages her readers to look afresh at the world around them—to observe, explore, investigate, discover and learn. Long may that continue! To quote a few apt lines from Enid Blyton's "The Poet," published in The Poetry Review in 1919:

"Dear heart
And soul of a child,
Sing on!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ultimate Teen Reading List

It's that time of year when librarians are working with school faculty on summer reading lists. My goal is to encourage teachers to cease and desist with all the summer homework -- or at least greatly reduce it -- and give kids the opportunity to read for pleasure. I discovered an awesome website ( that supports my mission, and which features a cool reading list called Ultimate Teen Reading List. It's a great list for adults, too.


The Library and Resource Center of the National Museum of Women in the Arts has unveiled their new database of women artists. Named after the 17th-century Flemish still life painter Clara Peeters, Clara: Database of Women Artists "is a free, user-friendly online database providing access to authoritative information on women in the visual arts of all time periods and nationalities."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Moral vs. Immoral Books

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written." Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

What do you think?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Best of Law and Technology

"The Zen Librarian searched for nothing on the web and received 27,987,384 hits." This is one of my favorite librarian related jokes from The Laughing Librarian-- and it illustrates the information overload of our online society.

Those who predicted the demise of librarians because of the World Wide Web are wrong. More than ever, librarians are needed to sift through all that is available to best meet the needs and requests of the end-users.

It is to that end that I am attending the 23rd annual Computers In Libraries conference. In just the first three-hour seminar titled Monitoring & Current Awareness: Leveraging Blogs, RSS, Email Alerts and News Sources by Law Librarian Sabrina I. Pacifici (founder, editor and publisher of and author of beSpacific -- providing law and technology resources and news, respectively) I have a plethora of resources to share here and use serving my customers in the library.

So to begin, check-out: - "Law and technology resources for legal professionals"

beSpacific - "Accurate, focused law and technology news".

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Women-Friendly Books

The Arlington (Virginia) Chapter of the National Organization for Women created a book list to celebrate Women's History Month 2008, and partnered with Arlington Central Library to display the books and ask library customers for additional suggestions.

The books chosen by members of the Arlington NOW Chapter, "do not necessarily reflect the opinions of National NOW or Virginia NOW." For more information, the brochure invites you to contact Julie Noble, VP Action of Virginia NOW at

Women-Friendly Books - The Arlington NOW List:
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Red Azalea by Anchee Min
Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara G. Walker
Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
The Woman Warrior; China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston
Fat! So? Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size! by Marilyn Wann
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Triumph of Discovery: Women Who Won the Nobel Prize by Joan Dash
Women Artists: Works from the National Museum of Women in the Arts by Nancy Heller
With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote by Ann Bausum
Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black by Bell Hooks
No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States edited by Nancy F. Cott
Baghdad Burning II: More Girl Blog From Iraq by Riverbend
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho
The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Bronte by Emily Bronte
The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde
The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni by Nikki Giovanni
Phenomenal Women: Four Poems Celebrating Women by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou: Poetry for Young People edited by Edwin Graves Wilson
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Please add to this list. I'll then share it with Ms. Noble.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Women's History Month Books

From time to time throughout the month, I will list a few books for Women's History Month. A teacher just showed me one I had not seen before. It is Rabble Rousers: Twenty American Women Who Made a Difference by Cheryl Harness (2003).

Try also -
Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee (2005)

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh (2000)

Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney (2000)

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman (2004)

Please share your suggestions!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Woman to Win Pulitzer

Writer Edith Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, awarded to her in 1921 for The Age of Innocence. Born to an established New York family in 1862, Wharton's books chronicled the society in which she lived, often mocking the absurdities of trading one's true self for wealth and position. In all Wharton wrote more than 40 volumes, consisting of novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction. She received the French Legion of Honor for her work during World War I, and an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1923, the first woman to do so.

Wharton's best known works include:

The House of Mirth (1905)
Ethan Frome (1911)
Summer (1917)
The Age of Innocence (1920)
Old New York (1924)

Which of her works have touched you?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Last Great Race

It is called "The Last Great Race on Earth," and it began today in earnest -- Iditarod XXXVI. Following yesterday's ceremonial start in Anchorage, ninety-six mushers and their teams of between 12 and 16 dogs began the 1150 mile, 10 to 17 day journey to Nome.

The official Iditarod website has race stats, video, photos, and lots of teacher resources. I was one of 12 applicants for Teacher on the Trail, and although I was not chosen this time, just the process of applying increased my awe of and respect for the men, women and dogs who participate each year in running the race and supporting those who do run it.

Join the excitement of the race by reading an Iditarod themed book.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Peter and the Wolf Wins Oscar

At the 80th annual Academy Awards (2008), Peter and the Wolf won the "Best Animated Short" Oscar for animators Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman.

The story-set-to-music was written in 1936 by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. According to some sources, Prokofiev wrote it for his son. In his notes for RCA Victor's recording of Peter and the Wolf, David Hurwitz says that, "The project was actually the idea of a Russian schoolteacher who approached the composer with a peculiar combination of shyness and persistence."

Peter and the Wolf presents an opportunity for children to experience the story-telling power of music, while learning to recognize various instruments by their sound.

In the story, each character is represented by an instrument:
  • The Bird - Flute
  • The Duck - Oboe
  • The Cat - Clarinet
  • Grandfather - Bassoon
  • The Wolf - French Horns
  • Peter - The Strings
  • The Hunters' Shot Guns - Kettle Drums
In the tale, Peter heads to the meadow against his Grandfather's wishes, leaving the gate open behind him. From high in a tree Peter's friend, the bird, tells him that all is quiet. Peter's duck has sneaked out through the open gate, and is swimming in the pond. Grandfather has warned Peter about the dangers of the forest, but Peter pays no attention to his grandfather's words. Peter's disobedience has unpleasant consequences.

I am listening to the RCA Victor / BMG Music CD, copyright 1994, narrated by David Bowie, and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, conductor.

As of this afternoon (February 25, 2008), the DVD of the Templeton/Welchman animated Peter and the Wolf is sold out on the UK, and not yet available on the US The DVD is available through Breakthrough Films.

Please share other Peter and the Wolf DVD and audio recordings which you would recommend. There have been plenty!

And when you see the 2008 Oscar winner, let us know right here what you think.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Whiskers for President's Day

In 1860 a little girl wrote to Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for president. He took her advice and grew a beard. The true story is preserved in the archived letters of Grace Bedell and the response she received from Mr. Lincoln. This is one of many examples wherein letter writing has served the purpose of recording history.

In honor of President's Day, share the story of Grace and Mr. Lincoln by reading aloud Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers by Karen Winnick. The actual letters are reproduced at the end of the book.

Michele McKinnon wrote a lesson plan for this book while interning at Liberty Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland. You can see her ideas at Education World.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Poetry, Dead or Alive?

What a site! Check out Poetry Foundation. I've added it to my list of Literary Links, to the right.

I heard about Poetry Foundation on The Writer's Alamanac with Garrison Keillor. I don't usually get to hear The Writer's Almanac because it is broadcast smack dab in the middle of my morning rush to get ready for work. But those rare times when I can listen, I am reminded that poetry is meant to be heard aloud. At least I think so. When it is read with proper phrasing and emotion, it makes sense. For me, poetry can seem dead on the page: I just don't get it. But that changes when I hear it. Anyone else agree? Disagree?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be My Reading Valentine!

Each year I enjoy reading Valentine themed books to children followed by a time of making Valentine cards with red and white paper, markers and crayons, heart cut-outs, and Valentine stickers. I do NOT include glitter in the project. Too much clean-up for me!

Here are my favorite Valentine's Day stories. They work well as read-alouds -- the children are drawn into the story -- have attractive illustrations and end with a lesson in friendship.

Bourgeois, Paulette Franklin's Valentine 1998
Bunting, Eve The Valentine Bears 1983
Engelbret, Mary Queen of Hearts 2005
Friedman, Laurie Love, Ruby Valentine 2006
Hoban, Lillian Silly Tilly's Valentine 1998

What is your favorite Valentine poem or story?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Paula Rego

She's famous in Europe, but virtually unknown in the United States: artist Paula Rego (b. 1935). Now the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.) is hosting, from February 1 through May 25, 2008, the first U.S. retrospective on her career.

In preparation for the exhibit's opening, I located only one book in the local public libraries: Paula Rego by John McEwen, published 1992. Reading about artists and looking at photographs of their work before seeing it in person is always for me an adventure with delightful outcomes.

At the opening reception for Ms. Rego's exhibit, I scanned the room to see if the artist herself actually looked like her photographs in the book. Not quite. She is much more diminutive in stature. Then up to the third floor galleries to see the works. Would any I had seen in the book be part of the exhibit? Yes! Every time I rounded a corner and saw firsthand what I had viewed in the book, I felt like I was meeting a friend; except that these "friends" were so much larger and more detailed and colorful than what I'd imagined from seeing their photographs in the book.

Take a look for yourself, and even listen to Ms. Rego talk about her art at NMWA.

And if you have never tried it, take my advice. The next time you are planning to attend an exhibition or a performance, do a little preparation in advance. Read about the artist. View photographs online or in a book. Listen to the music. Your experience will be enriched! Please share your experience of how reading has enriched a music performance or art exhibit.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Freedom on the Menu

His voice was that of an older man, but as Franklin McCain spoke on NPR's "All Things Considered," I was transported to a 1960 lunch counter in North Carolina, and heard the fear of a boy doing what was right.

McCain was one of the "Greensboro Four," whose courage started a revolution of change in the United States.

I am reminded of the saying that courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what needs to be done despite the fear. That is what I heard and envisioned as Mr. McCain told his story. ("The Woolworth Sit-In That Launched a Movement" by Michele Norris.)

I first learned of the Woolworth Sit-In when I happened upon a 2004 children's book in the public library called Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jerome Lagarrigue. The picture book is a fictionalized account told from the viewpoint of one of the town's little girls. The book concludes with a factual review of the actual event.

Combining these resources would make an excellent presentation for school children in observance of African American History Month this February. Read the story, then let the students listen to Mr. McCain. His voice; his remembrance; his experience will bring history to life.