Lee & Low at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, 9/21

For those who are in the New York City Area, we’ve got lots of great things happening this weekend!

On Saturday, September 20 at 10:30 am, Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, will be doing a reading at the Bank Street Bookstore in New York City. More info here.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

LEE & LOW BOOKS will also be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday, September 21! We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day with our authors, and if you’re in the New York City area we hope you’ll stop by! We’ll be at booth #604, right next to the Columbus Statue Garden.

brooklyn book festival

Artwork from HIROMI’S HANDS, written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch

The festival is located at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL SIGNINGS

monica brown10-10:45am at booth #604; 3-3:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area

Monica Brown is the author of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash

 

christiane kromer 11-11:45am at booth #604

Christiane Krömer is the illustrator of King For a Day

 

mark greenwoodfrane lessac12-12:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area; 1-1:45pm at booth #604

Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac are the author and illustrator of Drummer Boy of John John

Hope to see you there!

Your Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Recap

Stacy Whitman, Publisher of Tu Books, Stacy Whitman photoexplains why she loves Sleepy Hollow and tells us what we need to know to jump into season 2 next week. Spoilers ahead, so beware!

I never really considered myself a fan of the original Washington Irving “Sleepy Hollow” tale. It scared me as a kid, and not in a good way.

So when I started seeing posters advertising the show last year, I shrugged, despite the fact that the show was going to star a woman of color in a lead role.

As I heard people talk about how wonderful the show was, I caught up on the first few episodes and quickly became a Sleepyhead (as we fans call ourselves), spurred on by the storytelling in the show itself and the fun that actor Orlando Jones created for us as he fangirled his own show on the Internet.

If you didn’t quite get the show when it first started, we understand. We’ve been there. But that doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on all the fun this year. Sleepy Hollow is not only one of the most diverse dramas on network TV right now, it’s also one of the most fun. Come over to the dark side and become a Sleepyhead – you won’t regret it!

Note: If you have Hulu Plus and a wide-open weekend, we recommend you stop reading right now and just go binge watch entire first season on Hulu Plus right now (or just the pilot, which is available to everyone). Or, if you need a TL;DR right now (stands for too long, didn’t read) you can just check out this clip from Fox that will catch you up in 60 seconds:

Otherwise, read on for our highlights!

The Characters

Ichabod Crane: British, but fought with the Patriots in the Revolutionary War. During a Revolutionary War battle, Crane sees a masked Redcoat (the Horseman, we discover) coming at him. The Redcoat deals him a lethal blow, but Ichabod is able to cut off the man’s head before he collapses. Several hundred years later (welcome to 2013!), Ichabod wakes up in a cave and digs himself out of his own grave.

Lt. Abbie Mills: Sheriff’s Lieutenant in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow, Abbie is preparing to leave for Quantico to join the FBI when she witnesses the murder of her Sheriff by the Headless Horseman. Skeptical by nature, a series of strange happenings convinces Abbie that there’s no need to head to Quantico: there is plenty of trouble afoot right in Sleepy Hollow. 

Captain Frank Irving: Abbie’s boss. Captain Irving at first denies that anything supernatural is going down in Sleepy Hollow. He can’t stay in denial forever, though…and may know more than he’s letting on.

 Andy Brooks: Abbie’s coworker Andy (played by the always lovable John Cho) is killed off in the very first episode, but death can’t keep him away. In subsequent episodes Brooks returns, as an agent of the Headless Horseman who, once in a while, is still able to protect Abbie.

Katrina Crane: Ichabod’s dead wife is a witch and trapped in Purgatory. She’s giving him visions from beyond the grave to help him figure out why he was awakened along with the Headless Horseman.

Jenny Mills: Abbie’s sister. Jenny was put into a mental institution years ago after she admitted to seeing a strange demon as a teenager. She may be the only one in Sleepy Hollow who’s not a little bit crazy, though.

Sleepy Hollow 1

What You Need to Know

 The answers are found in Washington’s Bible. This one keeps coming up, so take note.

The Headless Horseman is Death, the first Horseman of the Apocalypse. His goal is to bring about the end of the world, with as much misery and mischief along the way as possible. Ichabod and Abbie are the two witnesses spoken of in the Book of Revelation, and their job is to see the signs of and hopefully be able to prevent the return of the Four Horsemen who wish to usher in the Apocalypse.

The demon Abbie and Jenny saw as teens was the start. This event turns out to be the beginning of the end—the start of this round of machinations to end the world. Only Jenny admitted to seeing the demon (landing herself in a mental institution) and she becomes an important link between Abbie, Ichabod, and Moloch, the demon putting everything into motion.

Ichabod and the Horseman are linked. This I tell ya, brother/ Can’t kill one without the other…

The Horseman is actually…Arthur. Who’s Arthur? Some chump who used to be Ichabod’s best friend and Katrina’s former fiancé, back in the day. Katrina left him and later fell in love with Ichabod. Arthur, in his fury, agreed to become Death. The world would have ended back then had it not been for Ichabod killing him in battle. Talk about a bad end to a love triangle.

Katrina had a son by Ichabod. He didn’t know it at the time of his (not permanent) death, though. That son was whisked away by Abbie’s ancestors, only to end up buried alive. His name is Sleepy Hollow 2Jeremy.

There is a way to unlink Ichabod and the Horseman. A person called a Sin Eater has the ability to literally eat someone’s sin, and I honestly have no idea how this unlinks Ichabod from him, but it does.

The Sin Eater in question is Henry Parrish, who all along has seemed to be an ally in the fight against Moloch, but in the very last episode, we come to find out he’s … not such a nice guy. In fact, he’s Jeremy, Katrina and Ichabod’s son, with a lot of power and a lot of parental resentment. He helps Ichabod and Abbie enter Purgatory to rescue Katrina, but it all goes wrong, and as Ichabod and Katrina leave Purgatory—leaving Abbie behind there—Jeremy reveals his true nature as the Horseman of War. He whisks his mother off to Moloch and buries Ichabod alive…

And now you’re where we all are, two Horsemen down, and waiting for next Monday with bated breath! Join us as we live-tweet our reactions to the season 2 premiere on Monday on @leeandlow and @tubooks!

The Little Melba Playlist: A Jazz Music Primer from Frank Morrison

Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! With cooler weather comes fun indoor activities, like catching a great jazz show. We asked Frank Morrison, illustrator of our new picture book biography, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to share some of his favorite jazz numbers with us. Many of the artists below played or arranged with Melba Doretta Liston; others inspired Frank while he created his illustrations. So sit back with your cup of apple cider and let the rhythm carry you away!

  • John Coltrane: “Out of This World,” plus Coltrane’s albums The Inch Worm, Big Nick, and Giant Steps
  • Thelonious Monk: “Well, You Needn’t,” “Ruby, My Dear,” “Off Minor,” and “Bemsha Swing”
  • Dizzy Gillespie: “52nd Street Theme” and “A Night in Tunisia”
  • Miles Davis: “Freddie Freeloader,” “Round Midnight,” “Airegin,” and “Blue in Green,” plus Davis’s album Kind of Blue 

little melba and her big trombone

  • Chet Baker: “My Funny Valentine”
  • Art Blakey: “Dat Dere,” “Moanin’,” “Blues March,” “The Chess Players,” and “Señor Blues” (performed with Horace Silver)
  • Abbey Lincoln: “Afro Blue”
  • Clifford Brown: “Daahoud,” “The Blues Walk,” “Jordu,” and “Parisian Thoroughfare”

little melba and her big trombone

  • Duke Ellington: “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Take the ‘A’ Train”
  • Stan Getz: “Corcovado” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
  • Louis Armstrong: “Summer Song,” “West End Blues,” and “I Got Rhythm”

Still can’t get enough jazz music? Here’s Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Have your own favorite jazz tunes? Leave ‘em in the comments!

8 Strategies to Help Educators Explain Lexile and Invest Stakeholders

What happens when there is a lack of or break down in communication between stakeholders about the tools used to assess
children’s reading? One bookseller shared her experience when parents, booksellers, and students attempt to find the right book within a leveling framework.

In our previous post, “7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile,” we presented strategies for the book experts out in the field on strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.

Now for educators! Want a child to achieve a year and a half of reading progress and develop a lifelong passion for learning? The more adults you have involved in your students’ success, the better chances you have for meaningful growth and creating a love of reading.8 Strategies to Help Educators Explain Lexile

For teachers and school staff who want to invest more stakeholders:

1. Don’t wait for summer break to provide reading lists. After each assessment cycle or parent-teacher conference period, provide parents with book ideas to help students get to the next level. Research or create booklists to hand parents at a parent-teacher conference. Except for the outliers, you can generally get away with making 3 lists (above-, on-, and below-grade level) of where students are reading.

Pencil Talk
2. Assume that no one knows your leveling system outside of school. Create a toolkit (that can be re-printed each year) for parents when they go to a library or bookstore. At parent-teacher conferences or Back-to-School Night, arm parents with 1) pre-made booklists (see above) 2) addresses and directions to the public library, bookstore, or community center you trust or have reached out to 3) a level conversion chart—If your leveling system doesn’t provide one, download one from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low.
3. Hold information sessions at Back to School Night or other times in the year for parents. Explain what leveling system you are using to assess a child’s reading ability. Demonstrate how to find books at that child’s reading level when in a store, online, or at a library. “What does a such and such level book like? Below-level book? Above-level book? What should a child be able to do at such and such reading level?” With colleagues, consider another session for nearby bookstores or public librarians. All leveling systems have websites and FAQs sections addressing misconceptions and how-tos that you can show parents, librarians, or bookstore staff.

4. Find out where your students and families are going for books. My students borrowed books from the local community center or bought books at the nearby discount retail superstore. We built a community by reaching out to the children’s librarian and community center coordinator. Reaching out to these places helped me learn about my students outside of school and familiarize staff with our goals. Share any booklists and conversion charts. Libraries and bookstores will be thrilled to be a part of your community. As I said last week, students may move on, but you and book staff are in it for the long haul.

Ten Ways to Support Parents and Cultivate Student Success5. Extend the classroom to your local library or bookstore. When I learned where my students were looking for books (and what poor quality those offerings were at a discount store), I realized that many had not been to the neighborhood branch of the public library and did not know what the library had to offer.

  • Invite a librarian to class to talk to students about finding books when they are outside the classroom. Show students how to find books when they don’t know a book’s level (Hello, five finger rule!)
  • Post in class or send home the library or bookstore’s calendar of monthly events.
  • Encourage families to join you at a weekend storytelling event at the library or an evening author event at the bookstore (you might be able to persuade your school to count these events as parent community service hours).
  • Is your local library or bookstore on Pinterest, such as Oakland Public Library TeenZone? Check out your branch’s or favorite bookstore’s new releases and collections. Show families how to engage with the library or bookstore from a school computer or on a mobile phone.


6. Simulate the real world in your classroom. Many teachers organize their classroom libraries around their guided reading levels or assessment leveling system to make it easy for students to find the right book. Yet, students need experience interacting with books that aren’t leveled—as most books in bookstores and libraries won’t be. Consider organizing your classroom library by author, theme, genre, or series—or at least a shelf or bin—so students can practice figuring out the right fit book.
7. Remember: You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on librarians and bookstore staff for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you help librarians and local bookstores and the parents, the more you help the child.

8. Think about the message. Parents may hear that their child is at Lexile level 840 and try to help you and their child by only seeking out Lexile level 840 books. Coach parents to continue to expose students to a wide range of texts, topics, and levels. Parents may need a gentle reminder that we want our readers to develop their love of reading, along with skills and critical thinking. This may include children seeking out and re-reading favorites or comfort books that happen to be lower leveled or trying harder books that happen to be on their favorite subject.

Bruce Lee 1Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

For further reading:

7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile

What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Poetry Friday: Puppy

It’s Friday everyone, and you know what that means! Poetry Friday! Today, we’ve chosen a poem from our new fall title, Lend a Hand: Poems About Givingto share with you:

Puppy

The puppy we’re raising

is the cutest I’ve ever seen

cuddly and playful,

with floppy ears

and a wagging tail

and a look on his face that says,

“Please hold me and love me.

I want to be yours forever,”

and before long

we’re going to give

him away.

He’ll be someone’s eyes

one day.

puppy poem

If you’re interested in working with puppies and training them to become guide dogs, you can check out a few of these great organizations:

Guide Dogs for the Blind (based on the West Coast)

The Seeing Eye (based on the East Coast)

OccuPaw Guide Dog Association (based in Wisconsin)

Paula Yoo on How to Publicize Your Children’s Book

Paula YooPaula Yoo is a children’s book writer, television writer, and freelance violinist living inGuest blogger Los Angeles. Her first book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, won Lee & Low’s New Voices Award. Her new book, Twenty-two Cents, was released this week. In this post, we asked her to share advice on publicizing your first book for those submitting to the New Voices Award and other new authors.

When I won the Lee & Low New Voices Award picture book writing contest in 2003, I thought I had hit the big time. This was my “big break.” My dream had come true! My submission, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, about Olympic gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee, would be published in 2005 and illustrated by Dom Lee.

BUT… winning the New Voices contest was just the start. I had to do several revisions of the manuscript based on insightful critiques from my editor Philip Lee. Because this was a biography, I had to do extra research and conduct many more follow-up interviews to make sure all the facts of my manuscript were accurate. And then after all the line edits and copy edits and proof reading checks and balances were completed, I had one more thing to do.

How to Publicize Your BookPublicity.

No problem, I thought. All I had to do was answer that huge questionnaire the Lee & Low publicity department sent me. Our publicists were amazing – they were already aggressively sending out press releases and getting me invited to a few national writing conferences for book panels and signings.

But I quickly discovered that a debut author must be willing to pound the pavement, too! So I hired freelance graphic designer friends to create bookmarks and fliers of my book and an official author website. I dropped these off at as many schools, libraries and bookstores I could visit on the weekends. I contacted these same places to see if they would be interested in hosting a signing or school presentation of my book which included fun show-and-tell visuals of how the book was made, a slide show and even a specially-edited CD of historical film footage about my book’s topic.

I contacted local book festivals to be considered for signings and book panels. I not only asked friends and teachers and librarians to spread the word but even people I thought might have a vested interest in the book because they were also professional athletes/coaches and Asian American activists. I always updated our amazing Lee & Low publicists so we both were on the same page. We were a team who supported each other.

I also kept up with the news. Any pop culture trend, breaking news or social issue that was a hot button topic related to my book was an opportunity to see if my book could be mentioned or if I could be interviewed as an “expert.” For example, I pitched my book during the Summer Olympics as a relevant topic.

For my second book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story (illustrated by Lin Wang), published in 2009, I created NAPIBOWRIWEE – National Picture Book Writing Week on my website. It was a fun version of the famous National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) event that promoted writing a 50,000-word novel in one month. My NaPiBoWriWee encouraged writers to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I advertised my new SHINING STAR book as a contest giveaway drawing prize for those who successfully completed the event with me.

To my shock, this “out of the box” creative publicity idea not only worked… but it went VIRAL. Thousands of aspiring newbie writers AND published veteran authors all across the United States and in countries as far away as Egypt, Korea, France and Australia participated in my NaPiBoWriWee event. Talk about great publicity for my second book! As a result, my NaPiBoWriWee event has become an annual event for the past six years, where I have promoted all my new Lee & Low books! (For more information on NAPIBWORIWEE, please visit my website http://paulayoo.com).

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of what I did to promote my first book. Today, not only must debut authors “pound the pavement” for publicity, but they also must navigate the social media waters with blogs tours, breaking news Twitter feeds, Instagram and Tumblr visual posts, and so on. As I write this blog, I’m sure a brand new social media app is being invented that will become tomorrow’s Next Big Social Media Trend.

Twenty-two Cents coverIn the end, it was an honor and privilege to win this contest. I’m grateful for what it has done for my book career.

For my new book, Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank (illustrated by Jamel Akib, 2014), I’ve already participated in several blog Q&A interviews with signed book giveaway contests from established children’s book writing websites. I’ve promoted the book on my website and on social media sites. And I’m also promoting the book in real life by participating in book festival panels, including the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

For new authors, I recommend pounding the pavement like I did. Think outside the box – are there current news/pop culture trends that relate to your book’s topic that you can exploit as a relevant connection? Can you come up with your own fun “viral” website contest like my NAPIBOWRIWEE? Make fast friends with your local librarians, schoolteachers and bookstore owners. Keep up with the latest and most influential kid lit bloggers and see if you can pitch your book as a future blog post on their site. And give yourself a budget – how much are you willing to spend out of your own pocket to promote your book? Find a number you’re comfortable with so you don’t end up shocked by that credit card bill!

Of course, these suggestions are just the beginning. Book publicity is a difficult, time-consuming job that requires much hard work and persistence and creative out-of-the-box problem solving. But trust me, it’s all worth it when you see a child pick your book from the shelf of a bookstore or library with a smile on his or her face.

New Voices Award sealThanks for joining us, Paula! The New Voices Award is given each year to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Find more information on how to submit here. The deadline for submissions this year is September 30, 2014.

Further Reading:

Dealing with Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going by debut author Thelma Lynne Godin

How to Find Time to Write When You Have 11 Children by New Voices Award winner Pamela M. Tuck

Submitting to Our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor

New Voices Award FAQs

En la Clase: #weneeddiversebooks

Hannah:

We love this!

Originally posted on Vamos a Leer:

You all may remember #weneeddiversebooks from last May when we posted about this new initiative.  It’s still going strong and has even more resources to offer those interested in increasing access to diverse children’s and young adult’s literature.  If you’re not familiar with this campaign, the following is their mission statement:

“We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.

In order to accomplish…

View original 140 more words

Three New Picture Books from Lee & Low Books

The temperature has already started to drop and we’re seeing Halloween candy popping up in the grocery stores, so that means a new batch of books for the fall season! Here are three new picture books out this week. We can’t wait to hear what you think of them!

Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving

lend a hand cover

Ages 6–10 • $17.95 hardcover
978-1-60060-970-1

Lend a Hand is a collection of fourteen original poems, each emphasizing the compassion and the joy of giving. Representing diverse voices—different ages and backgrounds—the collection shows the bridging of boundaries between people who are often perceived as being different from one another. Written by John Frank and illustrated by London Ladd.

“At once familiar and slightly out of the box, these giving scenes gently suggest that the smallest acts can inspire and achieve great ends.” —Kirkus Reviews

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

little melba and her big trombone

Ages 6–10 • $18.95 hardcover
978-1-60060-898-8

With three starred reviews (PW, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews), it’s clear that Melba Doretta Liston is “something special”! Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz. Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison.

“An excellent match of breezy text and dynamic illustrations tells an exhilarating story.”
—starred review, School Library Journal

Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank

twenty-two cents cover

Ages 6–10 • $18.95 hardcover
978-1-60060-658-8

Twenty-two Cents is an inspiring story of economic innovation and a celebration of how one person—like one small loan—can make a positive difference in the lives of many. Written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Jamel Akib.

“Yoo makes the significance of Yunus’s contributions understandable, relevant, and immediate.” —Publishers Weekly

7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile

I highly recommend all educators and parents read a bookseller’s perspective on leveling systems, Lexile in this case, which we re-posted on our blog last week. There are great firsthand examples of parents and booksellers striving in earnest to help children improve in reading.

Regardless of where one comes down on leveling books and assessing students with leveling systems, last week’s post laid bare the lack of or breakdown in communication between all stakeholders about the tools used to assess children’s reading growth.

Whether a child’s reading abilities are measured using Lexile, Accelerated Reader, DRA or another, we must equip any and all stakeholders in a child’s education with knowledge about what these tools mean and concrete ways to further support the child.

Children spend 7,800 hours outside of school each year compared to 900 hours in school. The National Center for Families Learning asserts that “the family unit—no matter the composition—is the one constant across the educational spectrum.” I am extending the definition of a child’s family to include afterschool volunteers, librarians, booksellers, pediatricians, and anyone else involved in a child’s education journey.

Below are strategies for strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.

This week we are tackling what librarians and booksellers can do in preparation for hearing those magical words, “My child has a Lexile score of…” Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

For librarians and booksellers who are asked which book for which level:

  • Know the local feeder schools to your library or store and ask teachers or the school librarians what leveling systems they are using. Find out how the classroom libraries are organized (by theme, genre, Lexile level, AR level, guided reading level, author). Reaching out to neighborhood schools helps you learn about your customers and build relationships with educators. Ask schools for any booklists or level conversion charts. Schools will be thrilled to recommend their families to places that know their curriculum, leveling systems, and community. Students may move on, but you and teachers are in it for the long haul.
  • If schools use multiple or differing leveling systems, ask schools for level conversion charts to have on hand for customers or download your own from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low. A conversion chart will help you translate what grade level a customer is reading on and books you can recommend within that range.
  • Design your own booklists based on grade levels or popular leveling systems. Search by book titles or by levels on Scholastic Book Wizard, Perma-Bound, Lexile’s Find a Book, Accelerated Reader BookFinder, and specific publishers like Lee & Low. Parents and students can reference these handouts as they explore the store.
  • Even better: Use other pre-curated lists of popular leveling systems. Remember, you are neither the only nor first bookseller to have a confused nine year old asking what they should read at a Lexile level 930. Share and reach out to teachers and school librarians who may have created lists from which parents and children are requesting. Other persistent souls are tackling these issues as well: Durham County Library and Phoenix Public Library both built a reader’s service to search titles by Lexile, as well as graded and themed booklists.
  • Know the Common Core Appendix B text exemplar list. It may not be perfect, but many schools are using these texts to benchmark against other works. Recognizing these books will give you a sense of what the expectations are for each grade level and what students across the country are reading. Pair books in your store or library with this list to help readers discover more contemporary, diverse, and multicultural books.
  • If you have children who are reading significantly above their typical grade level and parents that are concerned that higher levels equal too mature content or themes, encourage expository nonfiction. Nonfiction often has higher technical and academic vocabulary bumping up the Lexile or Accelerated Reader levels (as they measure linguistic complexity), but the themes and concepts won’t be mature. When I had three students who were reading two plus grade levels above their peers, I sought out more STEM books that aligned with my third-grade science units, the solar system and animal adaptations. They were able to explore more in-depth about black holes and gravity than we could cover whole group.
  • Remember ELL, EFL, ESL, and non-English speaking families. You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on you (librarians and bookstore staff) for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you learn about leveling systems and engage with the neighborhood schools, the more you help the child.

Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

16 Diverse Shows We’re Looking Forward to Watching This Fall

As we noted in our post last week, this year’s Emmy Awards weren’t as diverse as we hoped they might be. Still, the television medium has taken some big strides diversity-wise in the last few years and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead. Fall 2014’s TV season is about to start and there are some amazing diverse offerings on the horizon.

Returning:

Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes’s medical drama with one of the most diverse casts on network TV, returns for its eleventh season.

Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as a modern day Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson, returns. We just love this show.

Sleepy HollowSleepy Hollow normalizes POC (people of color) characters as leads in a fantasy-world setting, in which their race isn’t an “issue” but definitely a part of who they are as characters. It tackles historical issues like slavery head-on (for example, Ichabod’s reaction to Abbie being a cop), and it centers Abbie’s experience as the hero of this tale.

Ultimately, it’s epic and funny and fascinating—it tells a good story.

Scandal, Shonda Rhimes’s political thriller, returns with Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, queen of the Perfect Pantsuit. Whether you love or hate this show, one thing’s for sure: it’s impossible to stop watching.

The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling’s rom-com, is back for a third season, featuring a strong, smart Indian American woman front and center as its main character.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Andre Braugher earned an Emmy nomination for his role in this sitcom set in a Brooklyn Police Department, which has been praised by many for its truly diverse cast and nuanced representation.

Premiering:

Fresh off the Boat is the first sitcom starring Asian Americans since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl in 1994. There are 18.9 million Asian Americans in the US. It’s time to see some positive representation! Fresh off the Boat

The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore will replace Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Larry Wilmore, also known as the “Senior Black Correspondent” on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, will be one of the first black comedians to anchor his own show in the coveted 11:30 pm spot. 

Black-ish, starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, follows a middle-class African American family in a mostly-white neighborhood.

Selfie looks fun and funny, a fresh take on My Fair Lady, with a nicely diverse cast across the board.

Cristela, “in her sixth year at law school, is finally on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. However, she’s a lot more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate.”

How to Get Away with MurderHow to Get Away with Murder stars two-time Oscar nominee, Viola Davis, as “the brilliant, charismatic and seductive Professor Annalise Keating, who gets entangled with four law students from her class “How to Get Away with Murder.””

Jane the Virgin is a retelling of Venezuelan soap-opera Juana la Virgen staring Gina Rodriguez.

Survivor’s Remorse, produced by LeBron James, follows Cam Calloway, a young basketball prodigy who is thrust into the limelight after getting a multi-million dollar contract with a professional team in Atlanta.

Honorable Mentions:

Galavant is about a dashing hero, determined to reclaim his reputation and his “happily ever after” from the evil KingJada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney Richard. Karen David stars as Isabella. It’s unclear from the previews what role Isabella will ultimately play overall, but Karen David is the top-billed woman in the cast, so we have hopes her character will be important!

Gotham, WB’s new origin story on Batman and several villains, will have Jada Pinkett Smith in the role of Fish Mooney. Zabryna Guevara will star in the role of Sarah Essen.

Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments what diverse shows you’re looking forward to this fall!

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