Earlier this month, we highlighted the impressive work happening in the classroom of Jessica Lifshitz, veteran educator in Northbrook, Illinois. Following her popular essay on how Jessica empowered her fifth grade students to analyze their classroom library for its culturally responsiveness and relevancy, she shares in this interview with LEE & LOW BOOKS why she wanted to take on this project with her students, where families and administrators fit into this process, and her hopes for her students.
LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today as well, as hear from the authors and illustrators.
Featured title: Cool Melons–Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa
Author: Matthew Gollub
Illustrator: Kazuko G. Stone
El día de los niños / El día de los libros is turning 20!
Sign up to learn how to:
- start/magnify a Día celebration at your school
- invest stakeholders
- select culturally responsive and relevant books
- engage English Language Learners and bilingual/multilingual families
In this interview with The Open Book, guest blogger R. Joseph Rodríguez, Assistant Professor of Literacy and English Education at The University of Texas at El Paso, shares strategies on teaching Guadalupe García McCall’s novels in middle and high school English Language Arts, as well as discusses the impact of culturally responsive and relevant literature in the classroom.
What inspired you to write about Guadalupe García McCall, her literature, and classroom applications?
We at LEE & LOW BOOKS believe that high-quality bilingual books help build a solid foundation to achieve literacy in any language while affirming and validating a child’s identity, culture, and home language. We are so excited and honored to share this one educator’s example of why books featuring characters like her students belong in her classroom and curriculum.
In this guest post, Sandra L. Osorio describes using books that captured her students’ bilingual and bicultural experiences. An elementary bilingual teacher for eight years, Osorio is now an assistant professor at Illinois State University. This article originally appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine, and is cross-posted here with permission. Article is also available in Spanish from Rethinking Schools.
Your last day with this class is here. You have one last time to share the moment when you gather for a read aloud. How will you honor the moment?
For parents of soon-to-be kindergartners and first graders, helping their children be prepared for the start of school can be exciting and daunting (and not just for students).
What can parents do over the summer to help their children maintain the growth they made this past year in preschool or kindergarten and be ready to tackle new topics and skills in the fall? Continue reading
Día de los niños/Día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is an annual celebration of books and literacy that takes place each year on our near April 30. The American Library Association says:
Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.
What is bookjoy and how do you hope Día will cultivate it in young/early readers?
I coined the word bookjoy to convey the private and delicious pleasure of enjoying time with books. Little ones can thoroughly experience bookjoy long before they’re readers if the adults around them share excitement about books.
What impact is Día having on communities where it is celebrated?
Día strengthens communities because it brings diverse children and families together to celebrate all our children and to connect them to bookjoy. Día is a year-long commitment to share literacy creatively with culminating celebrations held in April on or near April 30th.
Do you feel that the recent push for more diversity in publishing (especially with the We Need Diverse Books community campaign) has sparked renewed interest in Día?
I hope so. We celebrate Dia’s 20th Anniversary April 2016. For years, I’ve written and spoken about the importance of a national book community, including publishers, authors, illustrators, and award committees, and reviewers that reflect the diversity of our children. Those of us in this community need to participate in creating a body of children’s literature that honors our plurality.
What would you say to a library or school that wants to celebrate Día but doesn’t have many resources at its disposal?
Those of us committed to Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish El día de los niños, El día de los libros are creating a tradition in the same way that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are traditions in our country. Exciting: honoring all children and sharing bookjoy with them. Some April observances are small and some are big, but the important element is annually sharing this tradition. Literacy is essential in a democracy. Let’s celebrate kids and books!
What role does community play in the celebration of Día? How can individual readers support or celebrate Día?
Readers enjoy sharing an important value in our lives: books! We can ask our nearby or local schools and libraries if they celebrate Día and be prepared to explain what it is and why it’s important. We can volunteer to help or provide a donation. Many Día celebrations include book-giveaways and books as prizes. Schools and libraries welcome our support. When diverse groups of diverse ages join together for children, it energizes communities.