Guest bloggerKatie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical literacy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal.
For the beautiful, powerful and courageous children of the world, you are far more than dolls and toy trucks. You are real people only smaller. Know that we are here to love you, listen to you, respect you and protect you.
Gilchrest’s words remind us as educators, parents, and writers that there is great beauty and strength in the children who fill our lives. As the process of healing begins, stories can remind us of just how beautiful, powerful, and courageous children are. Stories can celebrate the simple acts of care people bestow on one another. Stories can, in turn, inspire acts of kindness.
Every semester I ask my students to consider how they will use children’s literature to help their own young students understand traumatic events. Rather than turning to texts that offer generic historical accounts, I find my students selecting stories that center the human spirit. The Classroom Bookshelf has generated a wonderful book list for supporting children with grief and loss. It’s a resource to turn to in the days and weeks ahead as we come together to grieve and to take action. As we move forward as a nation, we will also need books that celebrate children and the power of love and remind us to give thanks. The following books are stories that I continue to come back to as I work alongside teachers. Consider how these and other stories can provide comfort and build a community of care in your classroom. Let’s continue to recognize what’s most important in our classrooms—the children, their stories, and stories that inspire them.
I’ve been travelling to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas a lot these days, visiting with some wonderful librarians, sharing my story with some amazing students, and just enjoying the adventures this burgeoning writing life is affording me.
Road trips have always been a meditative time for me, a time to be thankful for the blessings in my life and ponder the rest. I listen to the silence of the road, look at the scenery, and engage in prayer. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about being an author and wondering if this is going to be my next career, if I will be fortunate enough to have more books published. Not that I am doubting myself, no, it is more that I am feeling so privileged I don’t want to lose myself in the awesomeness of it all. I don’t want to let it go to my head. I want to always remain true to myself, my culture, and my faith.
In this guest post by Vodníkauthor Bryce Moore, Bryce continues to share his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
What to See
In my last post, I gave a rundown of some of Slovakia’s best castles. But Slovakia’s more than just castles:
Bratislava is the capital of the country. It’s a gorgeous old city, and it’s only 45 minutes away from Vienna–they make excellent cities to tour together. Bratislava has much of the same refined culture that you see in Vienna, but it’s at a fraction of the price. (I once went to the state opera and got box seats for $4. Prices have gone up significantly since then, or course.) Check out the markets in the old square, where craftsmen from around the area come together each day to sell their wares. Great stuff.
Banska Stiavnica is a fascinating old mining city. It’s a drive to get there, but once you arrive, you find a city that’s essentially been left alone for the last few hundred years. (One of the tragedies of many places in Slovakia is that Communists made it a point to tear down or change a lot of the historical landmarks. Banska Stiavnica must not have been deemed important enough to warrant Communist attention.) It’s got mines that are over 700 years old, a series of reservoirs, fantastic old churches–and some of the steepest hills I’ve walked up and down. Bring your hiking shoes! (And make sure to check out the Chateau in St. Anton, a town right next to the city. It’s honestly better than any of the attractions I went to in Vienna. Much more authentic—it really gives you a sense of how the Hapsburgs lived.
In this guest post by Vodníkauthor Bryce Moore, Bryce shares his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
When I was asked to write a brief guest blog post about traveling to Slovakia, the first question that popped into my head was, “How do I keep it brief?” I’ve been to the country many times, and I absolutely adore it. There’s so much to see and do—although there are some things you have to watch out for if you’re not accompanied by a native Slovak speaker.
First off, let me say that this is just really for western Slovakia. I have yet to be over to the eastern half of the country, and I don’t know much about it. In many ways (from what I’ve been told, at least) the eastern and western sides are like two different places. Eastern Slovakia has a much bigger influence from Hungary. Western Slovakia is influenced by Austria and the Czech Republic. Surprising, in a country that’s significantly smaller than West Virginia. But then again, it’s Europe. Things work differently over there.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let me dig right into the meat of the topic: why should someone want to go to Slovakia? A better question would be why wouldn’t someone want to go to Slovakia? It’s a beautiful country, filled with mountains in the north, plains in the south, and rolling hillsides in between. It’s got dense forests, wild rivers, and some of the most awesome castles you can think of. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, and it’s an area most Americans haven’t even heard of. (Seriously. Try writing a book that takes place in Slovakia, and see how many people ask you where that is again.)
Congratulations to our picture book Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, which just received its THIRD starred review! School Library Journal calls it “a stellar title that will rest comfortably next to acclaimed picture-book memoirs by Allen Say, Peter Sís, and Uri Shulevitz.”
Writing someone’s biography can be a tricky business. First—and this is important—you’ve got to be enthusiastic about the person you’re writing about. Otherwise, it won’t work. Readers will know that on some level you’re not engaged and they won’t enjoy reading the book any more than you enjoyed writing it. I was asked once to write a biography of the Three Stooges. I said no, because I’ve never found their humor to be funny. Sure, I could get the facts right, but that’s not enough. You have to have passion.
Rufus Brutus the Third: You point them towards the floor. What a silly question.
What’s the most annoying thing your pet parent does?
PD: It’s hard to pick just one thing, don’t you think? There’s the nasty medicine they make me take, for one. Not to mention the dry cat food they give me. They only give me wet food once a week, like I need to be on a diet. Ian does sneak me food from the table though, so he makes up for it a bit. Oh, and trying to keep me in the house all the time! A cat’s gotta roam, you know?
Well, Poetry Month is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop reading poetry to your kids! Poet/Anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins provides our final tip of the month. Check out his advice as well as his anthology, Amazing Faces.
As Spring finally appears to be arriving and April is swiftly fleeting away, Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares some advice about reading poetry- and adding your own passion into that reading. A published poet in more than twenty literary journals, McCall’s first book, Under the Mesquite, will be released by LEE & LOW in Fall 2011.
Some more advice from our LEE & LOW poets! This piece of wisdom is from award-winning author Marilyn Singer. Her first Lee & Low title, A Full Moon Is Rising, is expected later this spring. Some great advice from a woman who really knows poetry!
“My parents knew that reading to their kids was important. But reading wasn’t the only thing they did which shaped my love of books and then of writing. They also sang to me—especially my dad. He had these wonderful pastel-colored HIT PARADE sheets, which contained the lyrics of the most popular songs of the day. Now, we may not have Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and all those other great lyricists around these days, but we have plenty of other good ones. I think that singing that stuff to your kids is a marvelous way to inspire musicality, love of words, and a feeling for poetry.