(cheering, screaming, back-flips!)
Last year was the inaugural year for Read Across Lawrence for Kids (full recap here & on the ALSC Blog), in which the kids of Lawrence got “on the same page” by reading the same book during the month of September and participated in activities offered through the public library based around that book. The partnership between the public library and the schools was what made this program so successful and it’s already shaping up that this year we will bind together once again and build on that success for our town’s young readers. Preparations will be in full swing over the summer months and I’m beyond ecstatic for this year’s book and featured author! Haven’t read the book? Here’s a little background info:
“In Jennifer L. Holm’s New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.” – Random House
About Jennifer L. Holm:
“Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series — the popular Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly praised books, including the Boston Jane trilogy and Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf. She lives in California with her husband and two children.” – Goodreads
A common question I received after the first RAL Kids was, “How do you select a book for an entire community to read?” Well, it’s a tough decision and there is a laundry list of reasons, so I thought I’d give you a little background behind why Turtle in Paradise is the featured pick this year.
Is there a tie-in with the adult Read Across Lawrence book?
Is it a book teachers and school librarians will want to incorporate into their curricula?
Since this program was tailored to collaborate with the schools, I reached out to several teachers and school librarians across the country inquiring as to what books have been successful in their classrooms and are approachable for both boys and girls. Turtle in Paradise was on the top of their lists!
What’s the author like?
So far, I’ve picked books with living authors solely because it lends the unique opportunity for the kids to actually meet the author of the book they’re reading. Jennifer Holm is smart, funny, and kids and adults love her! I mean… Have you ever seen her in person? She’s adorable. I was lucky enjoy hearing her speak at ALA Midwinter. If you have time to watch the video, do it. All authors present were phenomenal to hear AND Nancy Pearl was their moderator to boot!
Does it have some cred?
Like I mentioned earlier, this book is chosen for the kids and the schools. It’s always nice when a book has some cred with the rest of the world and the higher ups. Turtle in Paradise is a Newbery Honor Winning book, a WAW shortlist title, but its also a New York Times Bestseller, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, an IRA Teachers’ Choice, and an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice. Awards and honors certainly aren’t necessity, but it does helps validate the selection.
Can you build an entire month of programs around it?
When I read Turtle in Paradise, like when I read last year’s book, The Cabinet of Wonders, programs and ideas just started coming to mind. More so than other books. Even as I re-read some of the other contenders I was considering, they didn’t come close to inspiring me as much as Turtle in Paradise did. Currently, I’m having to weed ideas because the library can’t possibly produce them all in one month. This is a good problem to have.
Does the book come in paperback?
Purchasing all those books costs a lot of $$$, yo! We intend to purchase as many books as we can to give away, and that only can happen if the cost per book is low. Most publishers also give libraries an extra discount since we are giving the books away and their intended use is educational.
Do kids like it?
The most important question of all the selection process! Librarians, teachers, and parents could love a particular book, but it won’t go far if it isn’t a book kids grades 2nd-7th, of different genders, different backgrounds, different reading tastes, will find themselves enjoying. I’ve asked kids at the library what they thought of the book if they’ve read it, and also asked teachers what their students’ reactions were after reading it. As much as LPL is thrilled to feature Turtle in Paradise for our RAL Kids pick, I have a feeling our patrons will enjoy it just as much, if not more.
There has been quite a bit of news circulating over here on Sturdy for Common Things lately… Industry recognition, going to library school, but none of it, none of it tops the news I would like to share with you today.
As of this week, I’m 13 weeks pregnant and we are over the moon excited about the impending arrival of our new family member. I’ve been pretty tired, so any sliver of extra time I’ve found in a day I’ve spent napping. That is the main reason why the crickets have been chirping around here. Other than being a sleepyhead and a bit queasy here and there, I feel great. The belly is growing and noticeably so. Hello elastic pants! L is looking forward to being a big sister and has already picked out names for the baby. “Cowboy” if it’s a boy and “Rapunzel” if it’s a girl.
Fortunately, she doesn’t have much of a vote in the matter.
Care to share your favorite baby names? We’re open to suggestions!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there and all the nurturing, funny, loving, bizarre, and beautiful stories you’re apart of. The world is so much richer because of you.
Our house has chicken envy. We desperately would like a few hens of our own to roam the backyard. Lucky for us Lawrence is a pretty laid back community that allows domestic chickens, and quite a few of our neighbors already exercise that freedom. We currently rent, so it isn’t in the cards for another year or so, but one can dream! Last week’s storytime was all about chickens (with one book about a tricky goose), and afterward we made playful pompom chicks.
Chicken Storytime Line-Up:
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Whenever something goes awry on the Greenstalk’s farm, it’s chickens to the rescue!
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
Deborah Freedman is awesome! I especially love this book about a curious chicken who just wanted to help paint, but ends up turning everything blue.
The Chicken Dance
Taking a break from stories, we all took time to shake out some wiggles by learning to dance the chicken dance!
Chicken Little retold by Rebecca Emberley, illustrated by Ed Emberley
A favorite folk tale told by beloved author and illustrator Rebecca and Ed Emberley. Chicken little is hit on the head by a falling acorn and comes to the conclusion that the sky is falling.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stien
A laugh out load story about a little chicken who can’t help but interrupt her father’s story.
That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
Okay, so this book isn’t about a chicken it’s about a goose. But the little goslings kinda look like chicks, right? I couldn’t not share this one with the storytimers. It’s too good! And it’s Mo Willems! Written in a style that mimics a silent movie with gosling commentators. One goose agrees to go on a walk with a sly fox who has mischievous intentions with a surprise ending that will leave everyone with a smile on their faces. It seemed as though the parents especially enjoyed this one.
Pom Pom Chick Craft
“Peep peep peep!” Isn’t this little guy the cutest? When the Easter eggs went on sale, I made sure to grab a couple bags to stash away for later in the year. I busted them out for this simple and sweet Pom Pom Chick Craft. The kids had so much fun playing with their chickie friends. My daughter L still plays with the chick she made and its been almost two weeks since we made them. The Pom Pom Chicks were so easy to make, following this craft we made an another easy craft (see below).
Materials needed: Plastic eggs (optional), yellow pom poms, googly eyes, orange felt, scissors, and tacky glue.
First, cut a strip of orange felt about 1/4-1/2 inch in width.
Cut that strip into small triangles.
Using a yellow pom, glue on the googly eyes and orange felt.
“That Is Not a Good Idea” Gosling Puppets
The Pom Pom Chick Craft took no time at all, so we also make stick puppets using a printout from the Good Ideas Event Kit, an activity guide found on the HarperCollins website for the new Mo Willems book, That Is Not a Good Idea, which we read during storytime. The gosling cut outs are intended to be made into finger puppets, but we made them into stick puppets instead using tape, scissors, and popsicle sticks.
First, using scissors we cut out the goslings. I pre-cut a few beforehand for the younger children unable to maneuver scissors yet.
Next, we taped a popsicle stick to the back of each gosling.
And that’s it! I told the kids they should use their gosling puppets anytime their parents ask them to do something (like clean their room, or eat broccoli) and say, “That is not a good idea!” Har har har. The kids thought that was a good idea.
Sadly, this will be my last storytime post for awhile. I will be managing the library’s kids summer camp for 5-6 year-olds instead of conducting the Sunday storytime. It was a tough choice to make, but since I will be starting grad school full-time, we’re moving this summer, and a whole lot more is going on, something had to give. It will be nice not to work every Sunday, but I will miss my storytimers so, so much! For you library-types– Do you have any storytime themes you’re excited about this summer? Any new books you’re excited to read? I’d love to know so I can vicariously live through your storytime fun during my hiatus!
by Elisabeth Dahl
Published: Amulet Books (April 2, 2013)
Recommended reading age: 8 & up
In a nutshell: I’m 29-years-old and I love blogging. If blogging was around when I was in 5th grade I probably would have been all about it then, too. When I was in 7th grade I created by own zine called Yummy Fiction and Poetry. Lame, I would publish my own poems and poems of other girls may age as well as include book reviews. Lame, I know, but I loved it. You could say I’ve been attracted to editorial work and the art of sharing from a very young age. So, when I first heard of Genie Wishes, a middle grade fiction book about a girl who is chosen to be the class blogger, it caught my attention immediately.
Genie Knuckle is a smart, quiet 10-year-old girl who keeps to herself and enjoys hanging out with her best friend, Sarah. Little does Genie know that with the start of 5th grade, everything is about to change. On the first day of school, new girl Blair arrives with her fashionable outfits, makeup, and boy-crazy attitude. Genie’s intuition is red flags despite who cool Sarah says she is. On the second day, the girl’s homeroom teacher announces that their class is going to be apart of a new class blog program hosted on the school’s website. Both Sarah and Genie’s grandmother persuade her to enter, and to her surprise she wins! The theme for all the class blogs are “Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams”, so Genie and Sarah agree that Genie’s blogger name should be “Genie Wishes”. But when Sarah starts to cling to Blair, Genie slowly starts to fade out of the picture. Genie is also confronted with the social changes going on in her classroom, as well as her peer’s and her own body image (read: puberty). Lucky for Genie, she has a gift with words and channels her confusion or thoughts into blogging, and finds a voice she never knew was there.
5th and 6th grade is a rough age. Its when the growing pains really start to kick in. Some boys start to notice girls and some girls start to notice boys. Some just aren’t there yet. Bodies start changing and confusion is rampant. With all the changes and growth, people change and as a result friendships change. Do you remember that time in your life? I sure do. It sucked. And for that reason, I was so impressed with author Elisabeth Dahl and how she handles these changes going on in Genie’s life. Genie’s experience is universal and I think it would be comforting to readers in that age group going through very similar issues in their own lives. I adored Genie and I have a feeling tweens, especially tween girls, will enjoy her story just as much as I did.
Don’t take my word for it: “If I was a fifth grader now, I know Genie would be a character I would keep close to Margaret [from Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume] in my heart. Both would teach me about growing up and comfort me when I felt lost. Genie Wishes is a beautiful book that belongs in your middle grade classroom libraries.” – review via Katherine Sokolowski featured on The Nerdy Book Club
Extras: Learn more about Genie Wishes and author Elizabeth Dahl, on her website.
Source of book reviewed: Review copy provided by the publisher at ALA Midwinter.
This was one of the best adventures yet! In April, Magic Tree House Adventures went back in time to the 1870′s and witnessed one of mother nature’s most incredible and dangerous phenomenons- a tornado! Kansas is known for it’s tornadoes (thank you Wizard of Oz), and we are currently in prime tornado season, so I thought selecting Twister on Tuesday would be an ideal segue into learning about weather and safety. We had a very special guest from our city’s local news station, 6News Lawrence. Meteorologist Rick Katsfey came to teach the kids about tornadoes and severe weather safety,
Meteorologist Special Guest
To kick-off the program, I invited meterologist Rick Katsfey from 6News Lawrence to talk about sever weather, tornadoes, and weather safety. The kids always enjoy when we have a special guest. It was particularly fun for them to see someone who they regularly see on tv in their library.
Where Are We? Who Are They?
“Where are we? Who are they?” is a Magic Tree House Adventures staple where I flash different pictures related to the book we are discussing and ask the kids if they can tell me what’s going on in those pictures. I follow up their guesses with facts about what each picture is actually about. I heavily relied on the nonfiction companion to Twisters on Tuesday, the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #8: Twisters and Other Terrible Storms. In the past, these lessons are more about people and a particular time period. For this session, we talked about the earth’s atmosphere, wind, what makes a storm, the anatomy of a tornado, as well as tornado safety.
Tornado Safety Collage
Since Kansas sees a good share of tornadoes, I really wanted to emphasize tornado and severe weather safety during this program. For one of the activities, the kids made Tornado Safety Collages by tearing a piece of place construction paper into a triangle to make a tornado. They then assembled a house using various shapes I pre-cut from construction paper and glued both the tornado and the house onto a piece of white card stock. I also printed out and pre-cut sets of safety tips which they glued onto their collage.
Here are a couple collages made by a Magic Tree House Adventures members:
Tornado in a Jar
This project is so easy! And the kids loved it! I completely forgot to take a picture of this project, so I borrowed this great image above from Ellie Moon. I did make a Vine, though.
Pretty neat, huh? All you have to do to make a tornado in a jar is this..
1. Add water in a clean jar.
2. Add a tiny drop of dish soap. Teeny tiny drop!
3. Seal jar lid.
At the program, I also had food dye and different glitter colors available so the kids could customize their tornadoes.
While some of the kids finished assembling their Tornado in a Jar projects, my coworker read the picture book Aunt Minnie and the Twister by Mary Skillings Prigger, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. This craft took a little longer because I only had five kids conducting this project at once to avoid a huge mess.
Magic Tree House Adventures Journal
As always, at the end the kids recieved their very own Magic Tree House Adventures Journal (just like Jack has)! Here’s a peek inside the latest edition of take-home journals so the fun and learning can continue at home.
All facts from this journal come from the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Twisters and Other Terrible Storms, the Magic Tree House website, and Kids Zone.
The kids also took home this Sever Weather Tracker magnet curtosy of 6News Lawrence. Along with the Magic Tree House Journal and magnet, the kids had a large selection of books to choose from to check out after the program was completed. I make sure to have at least one table full of books that are available to them.
All in all, this was one of the better programs. It ran smoothly and the kids were extremely interested in the topic. I’m really looking forward to the next session, because in May we’re leaving the world as we know it and going to the moon! Our featured Magic Tree House title will be Midnight on the Moon!