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.
- Gleam and Glow written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Peter Sylvada
- Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
- Hiroshima No Pika written and illustrated by Toshi Maruki
- Fox written by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks
- The Harmonica written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Ron Mazellan
- Peppe the Lamplighter written by Eliza Bartone, illustrated by Ted Lewin
- The Shark God written by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon
What do they all have in common? Continue reading
Emily Chiariello is a Teaching and Learning Specialist with Teaching Tolerance. She has 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, professional development and curriculum designer in public, charter and alternative school settings, as well as with non-profit organizations. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy and social policy and is certified in secondary social studies.
Here she discusses Teaching Tolerance’s new curriculum tool, “Project Appendix D,” that empowers educators to identify texts that both meet the demands of the Common Core Standards and reflect the world in which our students live. This blog post was originally posted at the Teaching Tolerance blog. Continue reading
National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family. Continue reading
In the fall of 2012 a news story emerged that astronomers had discovered a planet largely made out of diamond. Third grade at my school spent the first two quarters studying the solar system; therefore, this news was received with irrepressible glee in my classroom. Although the media nickname “Lucy” was lost on my students (as in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), the wonderment and rejuvenated commitment to the content were obvious.
Seeing that scientists were still studying and discovering facts about our solar system and distant others was exciting to my students and made them feel like they were on the frontier learning alongside real astronomers. Pairing the news article with The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System spurred very creative journal entries throughout the unit, including envisioned future discoveries of all sorts of substances for planets: kitten fur, gold, bubbles.
Incorporating current events and news stories into the classroom can engage students with a renewed sense of purpose and interest. Pairing a news article with a book on a similar topic or theme offers students greater context and a sense of relevancy for the content they are learning, and perhaps a jolt to the creeping apathy over a curriculum students had little input in selecting.
This week we are tackling what parents can do once they hear those magical words, “Your child has a Lexile score of…” For strategies for teachers and booksellers on navigating leveling systems and building a community, check out here and here.
For parents who want to help your children find a book at their levels:
1. Ask teachers what leveling system they are using to assess your child’s reading growth.
- What does this system measure?
- What does a book at this level look like? Below-level book? Above-level book?
- What are examples of books and series that are on this level?
- Where can I find out more information about this leveling system and books measured using it?
2. Research books and this leveling system for yourself online. Publishers and the leveling systems themselves often have books leveled. Additionally, there are many booklists already out there. Remember, your child isn’t the only one to ever have achieved a Lexile level 620. Someone has made a list before you.
- For pre-made lists: Literacy organizations, such as Reading Rockets, ReadWorks.org, and Reading is Fundamental, have created top-notch reading lists. Libraries, such as Phoenix Public Library who built its own reader’s service to search titles by Lexile, often have ready-made booklists by grade and theme.
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.