Emma Ledbetter at Atheneum has acquired world rights to Truman, a picture book written by Jean Reidy (l.) and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins, about an ordinary little tortoise and the day that everything changes, when he has to find his most extraordinary self. Publication is set for summer 2019; Erin Murphy at Erin Murphy Literary Agency represented the author and Emily van Beek at Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management represented the illustrator.
I am blessed with the opportunity to student teach twenty-six wonderful second graders. One goal I set for myself while finishing my degree was to bring technology into the classroom in a tangible way. With 21st century technology available, I decided to use Skype to present my students with opportunities that would not otherwise have been possible. After hearing about my mom’s class’s Skype session with Jean Reidy the previous year, I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to connect with her, myself. After emailing back and forth a few times, our session’s date and time were locked in place.
I decided to have my class complete an “Inside Out Quiz” during our session. The gist of the “Inside Out Quiz” is for students to ask Mrs. Reidy questions about her own books and website. She must then answer the questions. I chose this option as my students have been focused on asking thoughtful and insightful questions about texts all year long. This would give them an opportunity to continue to polish this skill while interacting with the author who created the material in question.
I began the series of corresponding lessons by first informing my students we would personally Skype with a children’s author. I explained that they would each have the opportunity to try to stump her on her own material by asking her thoughtful questions. I read my students several of Mrs. Reidy’s books including Busy Builders, Busy Week!, Too Purpley!, All Through the Town, Light Up the Night, and Time Out for Monsters! over the weeks leading up to our session. While I read the books aloud, I would stop and have my students practice their thoughtful question asking. We would discuss the main idea of the text, illustrations, the different illustrators, and how the illustrations went with the text. The books were also available for students to read after completing their morning work. Students would check out the books and reread their favorites.
One week before our Skype session, I had the students work in small groups with me to explore Mrs. Reidy’s website. Students read her “All About Me” sections and then clicked on each of her books to read a little about what others had said about her books. Once they finished, I had each student choose one of Reidy’s books. They then had to browse through the book to come up with their thoughtful question. I challenged students to come up with at least two questions and the corresponding answer. They could be based on the book they chose or her website. All of my students came up with great questions to ask Mrs. Reidy. Once I had the questions, I typed them with my students’ names. I chose the most thoughtful question that each student asked. Now we just had to wait for Tuesday to roll around for our Skype visit.
Before the Skype call, I made sure each student had their questions in hand and had reread the question a few times to refresh their memories. Our Skype session went better than I could have ever planned. Mrs. Reidy is delightful and enjoyable. She began by introducing herself and explained that this was her first ever “Inside Out Quiz” with a class. She asked my students a few questions and then they took turns asking her their questions. Many of the students chose to ask questions about the illustrations. Some of the questions asked included: “What was in the boy’s pocket when he was in the corner in Time Out for Monsters?”, “On your website, what are the three ‘All About Me’ sections called?” and “In Busy Builders, Busy Week who was sticking their head out of the fence on Sunday?” As students asked the questions, Mrs. Reidy answered in an engaging, animated way. She incorporated extra facts about the books that the students asked about. She shared her experiences with the illustrators and captured the student’s attention. By the time all the students asked their questions, half of them really did stump her. The students loved when that happened.
Mrs. Reidy then took the time to answer a few additional questions my students had. After, she gave them encouraging words about the fractured fairy tales they are writing in class. Once the session was over, my class and I debriefed about how the session went. I asked several of the students what their favorite part was. Many of the answers varied including asking their question, hearing additional information about her books, and learning why so many of her books feature turtles. I had each of my students write down their favorite part and then turn the slip in. All in all, Skyping with Mrs. Reidy was a wonderful experience. All of my students enjoyed it and they loved that they were actually able to “meet” a real live author through the aid of Skype.
Ashley Daniels is currently a student teacher and will graduate with her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Toledo in May. As a future educator, she is passionate about integrating technology, whenever possible, into her lessons and units. She has always had a desire to teach young children. She is continuously looking for new and stimulating ways to incorporate out-of-the-box teaching ideas and methods to engage her students. She believes students learn best when they are interested in the material and can make personal connections to it. She cannot wait to officially begin her life-long career of teaching.
Recently, at a bookstore signing event, I met an energetic and passionate Montessori teacher who shared with me her creative, hands-on Geography tool that also happens to be a perfect companion to my book Light Up the Night. Please welcome Pauline Meert and her fabulous Universe Nesting Boxes!
I am a Montessori teacher to 20 amazing 3-6 year olds.
In my years of teaching I noticed how hard it can often be for children to understand the differences in the terms – city, state, country, continent and how often they are mixed up.
Within the Montessori materials we have many wonderful lessons we use to teach children these concepts. We use a globe to differentiate the continents. We have maps of each continent with every country of the world, and objects from all over the world. Yet even with these amazing materials, I still found children struggling.
After some time on Pinterest and racking my brain for a hands-on and concrete way to teach this concept, I created nesting boxes that began with the solar system, then to our planet, then the child’s continent, country, state, and city. In the final box I placed a mirror to show who lives in that city. The activity quickly became a hit in the classroom and it helped me teach the correct terminology more easily and concretely.
When I came upon Jean Reidy’s book Light Up the Night, I was blown away! Not only did it follow almost identically the nesting boxes I had made, but it clearly, beautifully, and concretely reinforced the concept of our “own little piece of the universe.” Light Up the Night is now a staple in our classroom and is often read aloud, looked at, and read by the older children. I was very excited to also find so many resources on Jean Reidy’s website to help take our learning even further!
Pauline was born in France and moved to the US with her family in 1999. She always had a great love for working with children. When she was sixteen a priest friend mentioned the word Montessori and the rest is history! She received her international Montessori diploma from Montessori Centre International in 2008. She later came across the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and was deeply moved by the beauty of it all. She also completed her Master’s degree in Montessori education from St. Catherine University in 2014. Pauline has a deep passion for Montessori education and loves to share it with others. When she is not in the classroom or chatting Montessori, she enjoys swing dancing, sewing, reading, and spending her time with friends and family. You can find out more about her work at http://www.inspiremontessori.com/.
MRI: You’ve also written a book called ALL THROUGH MY TOWN that features animals as the main characters. Do you think these two books could take place in the same storytelling universe? Could the kids from All Through My Town come and play at the new playground built in Busy Builders, Busy Week?
And I answered –
JR: Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea! I love unexpected connections, surprises and meta moments in storytelling. So let’s play that out. ALL THROUGH MY TOWN is loosely modeled after the Chicago suburb in which I grew up—a self-contained town with its own shops, library, gardens, fire department and only thirty miles from Chicago. The Chicago and Northwestern train line—now called the Metra—whistled through multiple times each day, taking commuters to and from the Windy City. BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! takes place in an urban area where the characters transform an old empty lot. So yes, let’s have our town characters hop on their train and visit their city friends—all meeting up at that brand new playground. Bloomsbury, how ‘bout it? Readers, toss me a title! Let’s do this!
Heck yes, this IS a brilliant story idea. But it would be much more fun coming from a classroom of young writers, wouldn’t it? So for all you teachers out there, consider this. Can your students write stories – and if they’re illustrated even better – somehow combining or inspired by the characters or setting from ALL THROUGH MY TOWN with the characters or setting of BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK? Then how about a Skype date so that your students can read their stories to me? I promise to offer them my “What I love most!” critiques!