Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Monday What are You Reading? Learning about Authors We Love

It's Monday What are You Reading?  Thank you to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting.
My recent reading and my reflection from #NCTE16 has confirmed my passion for authors.  
Did I need this reminder of how important books and authors are to me?  I didn’t think so, since I share my passion for books, for story each day with children, with colleagues, with friends and family some who suffer through my enthusiasm and others who will add my finds to their pile of TBR and I will add their recommendations to my stack.  In our teaching we are always trying to connect students to authors and illustrators.  The following two books make learning about two remarkable writers of children's books an extraordinary journey.

I was about half way through A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney when the tears started streaming.  Why?  I had no idea how deeply I love the work of Ezra Jack Keats and how much it meant to me growing up.  I didn’t realize that A Snowy Day was published in 1962 – I just knew it was woven in the fabric of my being – woven so deeply and rooted in memories both childhood and in sharing with students as an adult.  It was on my shelf as a child.  My mother bought it for me.  She read it to me.  It is a perfect picture book – simple, beautiful heartwarming by being blanketing in snow.  I never questioned before why this book doesn’t make you feel cold, with all that snow – now more than 50 years later, I finally know why – because it is warm and loving and heartfelt, little did I know revolutionary as well.  I didn’t think about the brown of the “brown-sugar boy” as Andrea Davis Pinkney writes, I just saw him as Peter.  The same Peter who taught me to make snow angels. Yet Peter and his creator turn out to be angels for so many as we think about mirrors and windows.  I took this for granted.  I am almost ashamed to say, when I read about Peter and his friends to children, I wasn’t thinking about windows or mirrors.  I was simply sharing the magic of the words and illustrations of Ezra Jack Keats. 

When I finished Some Writer! I sat and hugged the book.  I knew I had to own it.  Melissa Sweet brings E.B. White to us in such a gorgeous format and clarity of words. You want to learn more about the life of E.B. White and you turn each page with eagerness and receive a visual gift as well.

Two greats have been brought to the fore for us. Both of these writers were asked to write for children.  Thank goodness for those who encouraged them and served as mentors to them.  The world is a better place because of these writers.   The world is a better place because of writers.  Thank you to Andrea Davis Pinkney and Melissa Sweet for their exquisite gift in bringing the story behind these stories to each of us, for giving us a better understanding of two writers we have loved for a very long time. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

After NerdCamp...

After Nerdy...

The magic that happens at NerdCamp  in Parma, MI  is almost indescribable, which is ironic considering that while there you are completely surrounded by readers and writers who spread the literacy enthusiasm with full energy and generosity. There is a spirit of sharing, thinking together, laughing.  There are also those moments of tearing up as speakers hit your heartstrings and it doesn't matter who is sitting next to you but you glance at one another and just know that you both feel that deep commitment and love and compassion and determination for kids, for humanity. 

Another beauty of NerdCamp is that the experience sticks with you, so today I'm reflecting on the After Nerdy and here is what I witnessed  and what I feel so far:

I witnessed a newly graduated teacher ready to start her career writing in her notebook on the four-hour drive home.

I witnessed a "car PD"  we debriefed each session we attended and the highlights and our thinking moving forward.  

I feel reaffirmed.

I feel the power of friendships renewed and strengthened and friendships newly made. 

I feel thankful...

Thankful that my career is one that I love and that I am surrounded by all of you.

Thankful to Colby Sharp @colbysharp and Alaina Sharp @sharpgalore for all of their incredible giving work to make this happen for so many.  To you and your entire team I feel gratitude. (I truly hope you are resting today!)  Knowing that after we left NerdCamp many students entered and basked in a magical literacy camp, just makes me beyond thankful.  Thank you to the entire original Nerd Team - for building communities of learners and bring us together through books and words.

Finally, I feel hopeful by all the advocates for children in our world.  I feel hopeful for the new teachers and those of us who have been fortunate to teach for many years and all of us in-between!  It is so important in our world that we have these strong communities for learning and thinking together.  Thank you to all at   for giving this spirit of hopefulness that our actions and the words we share make a difference.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Wish...

I just finished two books - both have the element of making a wish.  Both main characters are nicknamed Charlie.  While the storyline in both are not to be compared, the feeling of family strength, love and support as well as community and friendship, are in both.  

Wish By Barbara O'Connor

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
This book has recently sparked a censorship discussion. I am reminded that we never truly know what someone else is going through.  How could we deny this book that has been beautifully, thoughtfully, and carefully crafted from anyone?  

So many times, especially through the hardest times in my life including losing my mother to cancer or dealing with my father's Alzheimer's, it has been an outstanding middle grade book that has brought me comfort while through the tears of reading.  

My wish is for every reader to have the choice in his or her reading, the choice that brings that reader just what he or she needs at the right moment.