But there’s no need to limit your read aloud talent to one day of the year. Take every opportunity, all year long, to read with young readers or listeners. Whether it’s cuddled up on your couch, at a library, in a bookstore or via the internet, you have a wonderful and easy way to make a huge difference in the life of a child!
Not sure how? Here are some tips to get you started.
First, from Pam Allyn founder of World Read Aloud Day!
Literacy advocate and LitWorld founder Pam Allyn shares her top tips for hosting the perfect read-aloud! We're gearing up to celebrate World Read Aloud Day tomorrow (2/16)! To learn more and join the celebration, visit litworld.org/wrad #WRAD17
Posted by Scholastic on Wednesday, February 15, 2017
And don’t forget Boni Hamilton’s brilliant blog post from my archives –
Hello again! It’s been a while. And rather than blog my list of excuses for not blogging, let me just say, it’s nice to be back.
After a not-so-restful night of sleep, a morning of exercise and errands followed by an afternoon at the soup kitchen, I predicted that not much writing was going to happen today. But guess what. I was wrong. Because I sat down with my very early morning tea, opened my documents and just did it. I polished my latest picture book and made some significant progress in the restructuring of my novel.
“Write When You Least Expect To” continues to be my best writing advice to myself.
Even sitting down to write this blog post is a case in point.
So for my first post of the new year, I thought it a perfect time to dig up an old gem from 2011.
Hmmm. Maybe it will be my New Year’s Resolution! Maybe it will be yours!
Write When You Least Expect To
by Jean Reidy 2/18/2011
I do very few things well under pressure. So when I sit down to work on a book, especially a novel, I usually make sure I’ve set aside a large block of time, giving myself a chance to get back into the story, set up achievable goals for words on the page and then actually write those words.
But lately, those blocks of time have become smaller and smaller. I won’t bore you with the details of my busy life – we’re all wishing for 40-hour days these days, right? – but I do know that my time will free up a bit later this year. And I’ve been tempted to say “Well that’s when I’ll work on this novel.”
But I grew impatient. I was anxious to get back into this exciting project.
So for the past two days, I’ve been squeezing in some unexpected writing time. I’ll admit, I was set up pretty well for this experiment with ten pages of my own handwritten revision notes and a marked up manuscript.
One might expect that with a wee bit of time, I’d opt for wee revisions. But honestly, by the time I open up my 150-page manuscript and jump around finding just the right spots for those adjustments, and skip from revision note to revision note, I could have written an entire scene.
So that’s just what I did.
And there was something terribly freeing about opening up a brand new document labeled with a scene title and jumping right in.
I had no sense of foreboding about the task at hand because my expectations were low – I’ll just jot down some thoughts related to this scene. After all, I only have a few minutes. But then my fingers were flying across the keyboard as dialog and setting and metaphors (some were quite dastardly, I’ll admit) flowed with ease. And the delight of getting some work done when I expected to get none, actually inspired me to go beyond the stale scribbles of pressured revisions and take risks with the story. I wrote an entire scene. And just like with my golf game – when my expectations are low I play my best – the writing was surprisingly good.
So try it sometime. Write when you least expect to. The quantity and quality of what hits the page might pleasantly surprise you.
Have you had random writing moments? Tell me about them.
We are excited to share the news that BookBar Denver will be donating over 2500 children’s books by RMC SCBWI authors to local schools!
Don’t blink! When BookBar says they want to get something done, they move fast. This month, BookBar Denver set a goal to get local authors’ books in the hands of needy children so these kids would have something to read over the summer. In order to meet that goal, BookBar reached out to the RMC SCBWI PAL community and allowed authors to apply to have their book selected for purchase in their giveaway plan.
After carefully considering the following: relationship with individual publishers, book publication date, diversity of characters, settings, situations for our diverse community, price, and previous relationships with local authors—BookBar chose 15 RMC SCBWI PAL member titles and purchased an average of five cases of each title (all recorded by Bookscan). Here are the titles they selected:
Author or illustrator
Space Boy and the Space Pirate
Plankton is Pushy
Night Before Summer Vacation
Beneath Wandering Stars
Silhouetted by the Blue
Ninja Ninja Never Stop
If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed
Maya Lin – Artist-Architect
Can’t Look Away
School Days Around the World
Cody Harmon, King of Pets
Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
A Nearer Moon
All Through My Town
More about their press release and birthday celebration: BookBar will be celebrating its fourth year as an independent bookstore and wine bar in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood on Saturday May 27th. Festivities will include raffles, literary games and giveaways all day from 10 am – 10 pm. There will be a cake cutting and champagne toast at 8 pm. In appreciation of four years of collaboration with local authors and local schools, and in partnership with RMC SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), BookBar will be donating over 2500 children’s books by local authors to local schools!
These donations will be delivered to Northwest Denver schools the week of May 28th to ensure that children can take a book home for summer break. This is part of a program that BookBar and RMC SCBWI hope to expand upon in order to connect Colorado students with Colorado authors. BookBar is also excited to announce the addition of a 1400 square foot events and gallery space for the whole family. As the store continues to grow and thrive, there is an increasing need for a dedicated event space to serve our growing literary community. This space will include a mini bar / cafe and serve as a book art gallery during non-event hours, featuring local artists specializing in art created from and about books as informative literary showcases. In addition, it will be available for community events and meeting reservations
Congratulations to our selected authors!”
I’m so VERY proud to have ALL THROUGH MY TOWN selected for this project. Thank you, BookBar!
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!
Whether it’s through quiet, cuddle time, conversation or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!
I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up. So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories – including their own – that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.
I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.
Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.