Thursday, November 29, 2012

Essay contest: A Season of Compassion and Generosity

Students in grades 3-12 are invited to enter an essay contest, A Season of Compassion and Generosity, by reading one of the books for your age group and writing an essay that shows "how the character’s traits of compassion and generosity touched you."

Winners get a Kindle Fire to keep and $1000 for their school's library! However, the books they chose are so wonderful that really anyone who participates will be a winner by virtue of getting to read them.

The deadline is January 31, 2013, so this could be a nice activity for winter break! See the link above for a list of books and full details about how to enter.

Monday, November 26, 2012

December book presentation for 5th grade: ALA award winners!

The American Library Association sponsors many book awards, some of which are widely recognized (the Caldecott and Newbery, for example), while others honor equally worthy material but are less well-known.

This month's book presentation for Ms. Russell's class will be on a book of appropriate length and difficulty which is not a biography and was selected as a medal or honor book for one of the ALA awards listed below.

We have many qualifying titles on display in the school library for students to choose from. Or you may follow the links below to see what else there is! Remember to run your selection past Ms. Russell for her approval!

The Batchelder Award is "awarded to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States. ALSC gives the award to encourage American publishers to seek out superior children's books abroad and to promote communication among the peoples of the world."
The Pura Belpré Award is "presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."
The Coretta Scott King Award is "given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society."
The Newbery Medal is "awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the book considered except that it be original work."
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal "is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Open endings & The Giver

Readers (and viewers) typically have very strong feelings - whether positive or negative - about stories with open endings. During discussions after storytimes, students frequently want to know what happened after the story ended; some are happy to speculate, while others crave resolution.

Lois Lowry's classic Newbery-winning novel, The Giver, is part of a quartet that recently concluded with the publication of Son. In this recent interview, Lowry describes how many students wrote to her about the famously ambiguous ending to The Giver, pleading for resolution:

Lowry recalled, “I would write back and say, ‘You have to use your imagination,’ and they didn’t like that.”

The New York Times dubbed her “The Children’s Author Who Actually Listens to Children” in a deeply moving article about her monumental body of work. I particularly loved this quote:

“The ability to understand other people’s feelings,” Lowry said. “As an encompassing gift that a kid could have — or a human — that could be the one that could save the world.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free (yes, free!) ebooks for your iPad, Kindle, Nook and phone!

Did you know that you can download free ebooks - both text and audio - as well as music and videos from the public library?

There are many wonderful titles available for all ages - though of course you sometimes have to wait a bit for popular new releases - and you can borrow them for up to 21 days.

Need help with the Overdrive software? There are hands-on demonstrations at the library or you can follow the online guides written for a variety of devices.

Just another great service to explore - and if you aren't part of King County Library System, many, if not most, public library systems now offer Overdrive.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Christopher Paul Curtis!

I find that author talks are always a delight - even when they are by authors whose works I'm not familiar with. However when one of my all-time favorite authors comes to town, it is a very special occasion indeed! A couple of weeks ago I got to see Christopher Paul Curtis speak at the University of Washington.

This was especially good timing because 4th graders are in the middle of reading The Mighty Miss Malone. We're alternating weeks of reading the book with weeks of practicing doing research about the Great Depression, the era in which it is set. The captivating story brings this important era to life and gives information literacy skills a context that helps prevent the research lessons from becoming too dry.

So, for all you historical fiction fans - and for those who think they don't like historical fiction! - give this author a try. His characters feel so real, they practically leap off the page. You'll laugh and cry with them and you'll learn a lot about history without even realizing that's what's happening.

A few fun bits of trivia I picked up at his talk: photographs of Curtis's actual parents and little sister, Cydney, appear on the cover of The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963! That funny song in Bud, Not Buddy? It was composed by his daughter, Cydney, when she was 5 years old. And my favorite story: Curtis says that when he was a curious young boy, full of questions, if he ever asked something his mother didn't know how to answer, she'd reply, "We'll go to the library and get a book about it." Great words to live by!