Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Enjoy the December Issue and Happy Holidays!

Spellbinders - An Educational Newsletter
Spellbinders Logo
December, 2009

KirstenClassroomFeature Article
"How do you fit time into your school day to read trade books when you teach in a test-preparation environment?"
by Kirsten Werk and Kimberley Griffiths Little

Let's face it; teachers are feeling pressure to bring up test scores more than ever before. In some districts, the curriculum you have to teach is scripted every moment of your day. How do you possibly fit in trade books? Here are some very easy ideas:
  • SSR/DEAR Time: Students should have time to choose what they want to read-even if it's only for 10 minutes a day. Here are some ideas to help teach reading strategies while they're reading.
    • Have your students fill out a chart for every book they read giving the title, genre, problem, solution, and theme. For non-fiction books, they can write down the main idea and a few of their favorite details. This is an easy way to practice the very same concepts students need to identify on standardized tests.
    • Students are always more excited about a trade book when the teacher recommends it. Highlight a Book of the Week and take 10 minutes to introduce a new book.
    • Can't find 10 minutes? Use the last 10 minutes of class while you pass out homework. Students can be quietly reading during this time. Or tighten up your transition times using a timer to gain an extra 10 minutes a day.
  • Read aloud every day to your students. Here are some ways to make it more productive:
    • Never read aloud without asking something from your students in return. Children should always be listening for a purpose and responding in a "Reading Response" journal. Have the students write about the main idea, three things they learned about a character or the setting or problem, make an inference, compare and contrast, or the author's purpose. Mix it up! Have them draw pictures in their Journals instead of writing.
    • Read from a variety of genres. Track the books you read aloud (and the books they read on their own) on a classroom chart that shows the title of each book, the genre, the characters, problem, solution, and setting, theme, author's purpose and/or point of view. Each of these is a skill needed on standardized tests.
    • Look at your grade level standards for the reading strategies that students will be tested on. Then pick books that have one of those reading strategies strongly identified in the book. Make their response be one where they practice your pre-determined reading strategy. Here are some examples:

USING INFERENCES: Read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Palocco. On a "Character Study Chart" have the headings: Character's Name, What he/she says, What he/she does, What I can Tell. Identify a character, such as the grandmother. From a page in the story, write down in the boxes on the chart what the grandmother says and does, and then ask the students how they think the grandmother feels or what she thinks.
AUTHOR'S VIEWPOINT: In the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, the author has a clear viewpoint about whether living forever is a good thing or not. Similar to the "Character Study Chart", have the students identify the author's point of view and back it up with examples from the book. Then have them share/write their own opinion and back it up with evidence/examples.
COMPARE/CONTRAST: In My Teacher for President, by Kay Winters, have the students make a Venn diagram of the similarities and differences between teachers' and presidents' jobs. Depending on the age, you could even go beyond the book and ask the students to compare and contrast students and citizens in the same way.
MAIN IDEA and SUPPORTING DETAILS: Any non-fiction book will have a clear main idea and supporting details. Pick books that go with your Social Studies or Science curriculum. Have students draw a simple four-legged table with the Main Idea written on top of the table. Then on each of the four legs underneath, the students list a supporting detail from the book with either words or pictures or both.

Using trade books is easy when you know what you need to teach. Start with a read aloud of your favorite book tomorrow!

KirstenBio: Kirsten Werk has taught kindergarten through eighth grade for more than twenty years in both Washington and California. She has taught second-language learners, students in poverty, as well as students in affluent, private schools.

For the last eleven years, she has been teaching third grade in a Title I school in Pittsburg, California. Her class includes 60% ELD students, 95% free and reduced lunch, and over 90% minority students. Since Kirsten has been there, her school has raised their API score nearly 300 points. In 2005, the Touchmath Company awarded her a $1,000 grant for helping low-achieving students raise their math proficiency. In 2007, she was awarded Teacher of the Year.

Join Our Mailing List!

L. RubyWho's Right/Whose Right?
Lois Ruby
Speaking of Carolee's ruby slippers in our current issue, this Ruby would like to slip her two cents' worth in on a few tidbits.
  • There's a great article in the October 2009 issue of VOYA - Voice of Youth Advocates. Written by YA librarian, Kristin Pekoll, it details the harrowing experience when community members brought a huge number of book challenges to the YA collection of the West Bend Community Memorial Library. (West Bend is about an hour out of Milwaukee.) Called "smut," these titles - some 80+ - were on sexuality in its variety, were all favorably reviewed in professional journals, and all passed muster according to the library's collection development policy. But here's the catch: the West Bend YA collection serves people from 6th through 12th grade. That's quite a range in terms of appropriateness. I recommend your hunting down this VOYA article because it describes the process of the staff and library board, as well as the city, to reconcile a monumental dilemma. Even better, it tells what the community learned from the experience. Especially note three points: (1) In terms of reconsideration policy, what should we be doing about Web-related/social networking materials available in, or even hosted by, schools and libraries? (2) Are our PR programs fostering sterling relationships with the media, which can, as we've all observed, create quite a three-ring circus? (3) How and when might staff members' personal lives impact community challenges? In other words, how safe are we as private employees of public institutions?
  • Did you know that the American Library Association (ALA) has an award for innovative programs on intellectual freedom? It's not just for libraries. According to the website: "State libraries or library associations, educational media associations or programs, legal defense funds, intellectual freedom committees or coalitions and related parties are eligible for nomination by themselves or others."
  • Finally, remember last month we talked about Stitches, the graphic book by David Small? It was on the short list for the National Book Award, Young People's Literature category. The controversial issue was, is it a young adult book, or is it not? Well, rest assured that the debate goes on, but ... it did not win the award. A much safer, though admirable and unusual, choice was Phillip Hoose's Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). Why was it unusual? Because the book is a biography, whereas this award generally tilts the table toward novels.

CColvinHoose portrays the life of a fifteen year-old girl whose name was virtually lost to history. Claudette Colvin was arrested for doing what Rosa Parks did during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, but before Ms. Parks' heroic and historically-acclaimed action.Go to http://nationalbook.org/ for more info on the NBA winners, And yes, we're talking books, here, not hoops.

A Holiday Tip: Consider how many of your friends are tired of receiving massive quantities of fudge and cookies. How many are struggling financially and would feel obligated to spend money they don't have giving you a gift because you went out of your way to buy them something? Even the cost of small gifts adds up if you are unemployed. Why not give a gift of the heart and encourage your friends to do the same? Write a story or poem and tie it up with colorful ribbon or an ornament. Write a haiku, copy it and print it on cardstock and give these out as bookmarks. It's the thought that counts so this holiday season THINK about the power of words.

Join Our Mailing List!

The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Framed
Carolee Dean

In October I gave a brief overview of my twelve-step story method called, "The Secret Language of Stories" (SLOS) and discussed the NEW WORLD vs. the OLD WORLD as well as the impact of setting on character development. In November I discussed the CALL and the REFUSAL. If you missed either of these articles you may find them at spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com along with a copy of the December issue of this newsletter. If you are one of the many people from ASHA who came to my session on story grammar during the New Orleans conference, I welcome you as do my fellow SPELLBINDERS, Lois and Kim. If you were not able to attend my session, had difficulty downloading my handouts from the ASHA website, or would simply like to have the pictures and information associated with my twelve step story method, contact me via my website at www.caroleedean.com and I would be happy to email them to you.

This month I will be discussing the CROSSING. This is the point in the story where the main character moves from the OLD WORLD to the NEW WORLD. It is often characterized by an internal response and a decision to act. Often a mentor or guide arrives and gives the main character encouragement to embark on the journey. Special gifts may be given to help the hero on his quest such as ruby slippers, glass shoes, magic wands, or secret information. Sometimes the decision to commit to the journey is made after much soul searching and at other times the hero concedes reluctantly after being forced on the journey against his will. He takes off toward the new world by boat, plane, car, pumpkin coach, time-traveling device, or even on foot. There is usually a specific goal or intention such as rescuing a princess, marrying a prince, winning a tournament, getting the lead in the school play, or stopping an evil wizard from taking over Middle Earth, but if the hero is thrust into the new world against his will, his goals may not be clear at first. This is a time of intense change and the hero may face opposition as he sets off on his new course. As anyone who has ever tried to make a major transition knows, the people around us aren't always supportive. Sometimes friends try to keep us from embarking on a journey, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual because they think it is too dangerous. Sometimes the enemy has evil minions who try to prevent us from entering the special world. These types of characters have been referred to as THRESHOLD GUARDIANS, people who stand at the entrance to the new world and test our commitment to the journey. For a more complete discussion of threshold guardians you may want to read The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler or The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

Sometimes during this phase of the story the hero stays in the Old World, but something new arrives to change that world. In the movie Transformers, Sam Witwicky stays in his Old World, but that world drastically changes when cars and trucks begin transforming into massive robot killing machines. In romantic comedies a new person may arrive in the new world and though life may seem to continue as normal, soon everything is turned upside down.

For a fun activity exploring the CROSSING see the December Random Writing Activity on the blog on my website at www.caroleedean.com.

Please feel free to reprint any of the articles you find in SPELLBINDERS, but do give credit to the author(s) and include a reference to our blog by giving the following information - written by (author) and reprinted with permission from SPELLBINDERS, Helping Librarians and Educators Create Lifelong Readers www.spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com.

K. LittleKimberley's Book Buzz

Kimberley Griffiths Little

In our last two SPELLBINDERS issues, we've covered novels for Middle-Grade readers and Young Adults, specifically the book titles that are catching the eyes of the committee members of the John Newbery and Michael L. Printz Awards.

This month is Caldecott Award Buzz!
CMedalAbout the Randolph Caldecott Medal
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Note those last words: The award does not go to the author of the picture book text, but to the artist of the most distinguished picture book.

But - let it be known that the award committee members do look at the entire package of art and text to see how well they are integrated to create a more beautiful and powerful book. Authors definitely benefit from a Caldecott sticker on their book, but the medal is for the artist.

Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic Press). The spectacular true story of Annette Kellerman, who swam her way to fame, fortune and swimsuit history!


A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Michael Wertz (Ten Speed Press). In thirty-four lively visual poems, the author captures the quirky ways of cats.

by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel). An unforgettable story of one man's simple sacrifice that saved the lives of thousands. The artwork is a collage of marbled papers, fibrous grass cloth, translucent rice paper and tissue, photographic magazine papers, and even corrugated cardboard.

Lion & Mouse
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown).
A meticulously researched wordless rendition of one of Aesop's most beloved tales done in astounding artwork.

14 Cows

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (Peachtree Publishers). Master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this elegant story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures in a small village in western Kenya.

Moonshot: Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca (Athenaeum/Richard Jackson Books) This line and wash artwork will take kids along for the ride! Seen in a bookstore, the cover alone is stunning. Also includes appended note.

Looking for a humorous picture book? Check these out!

Pigs Make Me Sneeze
Pigs Make Me Sneeze! By Mo Willems (Hyperion).
Gerald believes he is allergic to his best friend! Will he have to stay away from Piggie forever?
Thunder Boomer! By Shutta Crum (Clarion)
A summer storm brings relief from the heat-and a surprise-to a farm family.

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story
by Lisa Wheeler (Little, Brown)
With pun-filled prose, this tale of love and friendship between two prickly creatures in a petting zoo makes a perfect read aloud.

Author of The Last Snake Runner (Knopf)
AND the upcoming
The Healing Spell - Scholastic, July 2010

PS - If you want a great holiday gift for a friend, loved one, student, child, niece/nephew or other family member, think BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!!! Books last forever. Books can be enjoyed over and over again. Books stir the imagination, our emotions, and make us think. You can curl up with a book by the fire, or read by flashlight under the covers.

Writers can only keep writing new books if people read their books . . . so go buy or borrow the newest from your favorite author or go discover a brand new writer! Libraries will make purchases of requested books so don't be afraid to ask your public library for a book you've seen in the last three months of our SPELLBINDERS issues.

Happy Holidays to you all!


Join Our Mailing List!

Mass Email Services Provided By
Safe Unsubscribe
This email was sent to kglittle@msn.com by spellbinders@peifercomputing.net.
Spellbinders c/o Peifer Computing Solutions | PO Box 50486 | Albuquerque | NM | 87181

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The November Issue Is Here!

Spellbinders Logo
November, 2009

TZFeature Article
"The Twilight Zone" by Carolee Dean

Up the hill from the high school where I work sits a local hot spot that has been an attraction for teenagers for the past several years. Every day anywhere from fifty to seventy-five students make the trek after school to hang out with friends, meet to work on after school projects, or just crash until their parents pick them up. When you enter the building there is a beautiful gallery/lobby with a shining wooden floor and a glass door opening onto a patio with tables, umbrellas, and a beautiful view of the mesa. To the right of the gallery is a room with a stage for performances and directly ahead is the real attraction - a room called The Twilight Zone.
TZ3The inside of the Twilight Zone looks like a cyber café with several computers set up on tables with bar stools where kids can check email, surf the internet, or research school projects. On Wii Wednesday video gamers take turns trying to beat each other at Mario Party 8 while budding poets construct lines of free verse on a huge magnetic poetry board displaying such phrases as -- Dream of happy, fuzzy little jellyfish.
In the midst of everything you'll find teens playing board games or curled up in lounge chairs and couches enjoying the latest vampire series or sci-fi adventure, surrounded by magazines, DVD's, and stacks upon stacks of books. In fact, there are books everywhere!
This is a library, after all.
Not your typical library, though. This is the Loma Colorado Main Library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico with a highly active Teen Advisory Board comprised of thirty energetic adolescents actively planning such events as last spring's Twilight Ball complete with a live teen band, a costume contest, and food provided by the Friends of the Library. The library provides a budget, and Teen Services Librarian, Kimberly Femling, assists in the implementation, but she gives teens ownership of the group and the planning. Next month the Teen Advisory Board is planning a Medieval Masquerade Party where some of the festivities will include decorating masks. And, of course, there will be lots of food.
Femling says food is very important to teens. She provides pizza for the monthly advisory meetings and you'll always find food at special events. Kids are encouraged to bring after school snacks and may eat in the gallery or on the outdoor patio. The only rule is-no food on the carpets.
The primary objective of the Twilight Zone Teen Scene is just to get kids into the library. Once they are in Femling can advertise the library's services, let kids know what resources are available, and educate them about how to use those resources. She encourages teen-run clubs with the rule that anyone and everyone must be allowed to participate. She says it's important to coordinate with the local high school and not duplicate the types of clubs and activities they are doing or else everyone gets spread too thin. So far there has been an improv performance troupe, an anime club, and talk of a computer repair group.
TZ1Femling, who also serves as the Innovative Systems Coordinator, says that just because you see a student listening to an MP3 player it doesn't mean they're zoning out on rap or hip hop. Students can check out devices known as Play Always. They look like MP3 players but each one is loaded with a different book that can be checked out from the circulation desk. The library also offers downloadable books that can go from a computer to an iPod or MP3 player.
When asked what makes a successful teen program, Femling says that an effective librarian should specialize in teen lit and keep current with teen trends-what they are reading and what they need. She says the best way to do this is by listening to the suggestions of the Teen Advisory Board.
For more information on the Twilight Zone Teen Scene contact the Teen Librarian at 505-891-5013 or visit the library's website at: www.ci.rio-rancho.nm.us/library.
For information on teen literature visit Young Adult Library Services at www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/yalsa.cfm. YALSA is a rapidly growing division of the American Library Association.
Be sure to mark your calendars for November 5-7, 2010 when the national YALSA conference will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Your friendly Spellbinders are all planning to be there.

Join Our Mailing List!

L. RubyWho's Right/Whose Right?
Lois Ruby

It's dangerous to slink around in the library because you're likely to stumble upon a tome that rocks some of your deeply cherished biases. Today I found such a book called The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch (New York: Knopf, 2003). The subtitle says it all: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. After smugly sifting through the chapter on censorship from the right, my eyes strayed to the next chapter about censorship from the left. What's this???

Ravitch says, "The pressure groups of left and right have important points of convergence. Both right-wingers and left-wingers demand that publishers shield children from words and ideas that contain what they deem the 'wrong' models for living. Both assume that by limiting what children read, they can change society to reflect their worldview." So, what we refer to as political correctness, i.e., removing words construed as sexist or racist, for example, could be just as harmful as denying access to ideas some find offensive. Words ... ideas. Which have more power to persuade or corrupt or enlighten young readers? That's food for thought around the table in the breakroom.

StitchesHere's something else to think about. This month the National Book Foundation will choose the winning book in the field of literature for young people. Among the short-list of five titles is one that's generating lots of smoke and flame. It's a graphic memoir called Stitches, by David Small. The poor guy had a horrifying childhood, and his recollections might be troubling to readers below the age of sixteen. In fact, the book wasn't meant to be for children or teens. Then an enterprising publisher realized that a graphic book might not hold up in the adult non-fiction category, so W.W. Norton submitted it for the National Book Award in the Literature for Young People division. Boom. It resounded with the five author/judges. Tune in November 18 when the winner is announced. Meanwhile, is Stitches a teen book? Should we shelter callow eyes and minds from such gut-wrenching revelations? Or, here's a thought: are our young people being used as pawns so a publisher can snag a major award, which comes with flashing dollar signs?

Tomorrow's topic in the breakroom.
And finally, that great, curly-haired, smiling grande dame of YA literature, Judy Blume, has been honored yet again for her outspoken heroism, this time by the National Coalition Against Censorship, at its sixtieth anniversary celebration. Enough said.


Carolee will be offering a one-hour session for speech-language pathologists on Saturday, November 21 at 8:00a.m.at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Convention in New Orleans. The session title is "The Secret Language of Stories: Beyond Story Grammar" and attendees may be download handouts from the ASHA website. If you have SLPs from your school who will be attending ASHA, please encourage them to come to the session.

Join Our Mailing List!

Please feel free to reprint any of the articles you find in SPELLBINDERS, but do give credit to the author(s) and include a reference to our blog by giving the following information - written by (author) and reprinted with permission from SPELLBINDERS, Helping Librarians and Educators Create Lifelong Readers www.spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com.

Join Our Mailing List!

The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Framed
Carolee Dean
In October I gave a brief overview of my twelve-step story method called, "The Secret Language of Stories" (SLOS) and discussed the New World vs. the Old World as well as the impact of setting on character development. We began by discussing how most stories depict a main character in his ordinary world and then show the hero travelling to an unfamiliar world where he or she experiences growth and change.

I have given workshops on this topic to teachers, librarians and SLPs and am excited to announce that I will be offering a one-hour session for speech-language pathologists on Saturday, November 21 at 8:00a.m. at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Convention in New Orleans. If you have SLPs from your school who will be attending ASHA, please encourage them to come to my session.

This month I will be discussing THE CALL. This is the point in the story, typically before the actual journey to a new world occurs, where something alerts the main character that things are about to change. In Story Grammar language this is often referred to as the Initiating Event, though some have called it the kick off, the invitation, or the challenge. The main character may receive a threat, a challenge, or an invitation. This may arrive in a variety of ways-a letter, a phone call, a verbal confrontation. In olden times a king sent a herald with a bugle to call everyone to the town square to make important announcements such as letting the young men know they were being called to war, or to tell the young ladies that there would be a ball at the palace.

Sometimes, but not always, the Call will be followed by a REFUSAL. Characters are often reluctant at first to leave their comfortable homes and the things that are familiar to them to journey into dangerous and unknown territory. They may be afraid, feel unprepared, or think they are unworthy. They may hide, run away, argue, or simply refuse to accept the challenge. Often a mentor or guide will appear at this point in the story to encourage the main character to accept the challenge and get going on the journey. In many myths and fairy tales the mentor gives the hero magical gifts such as glass slippers, protective shields, magic beans or invisibility cloaks, but the gift could be as simple as advice or encouragement.

Examples of the CALL and the REFUSAL abound in children's literature. Harry Potter received his call in the form of letters from Hogwarts. Even the great boy wizard was reluctant at first to embark on the journey to Hogwarts, thinking that perhaps there had been a mistake. He simply didn't believe it was possible that he could be a wizard. It wasn't until his mentor, Hagrid, said, "Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?" that Harry had any belief that he was magical. Hagrid then proceeded to take him to Diagon Alley where Harry was bestowed with numerous magical gifts including a wand and a cauldron.

Sometimes the CALL comes from inside a person in the form of an attraction, which is often the case in romances. In Twilight, Bella is interested in the porcelain white vampire guy in the cafeteria, but then decides he's a snob and tries to forget about him. Meanwhile, Edward tries to deny his growing attraction to Bella because he fears he won't be able to control his hunger for her blood.

Think about books you've read or movies you've seen and I'm sure that examples of the CALL and the REFUSAL will abound. For a more complete discussion of this topic you may want to read The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler.

For a fun game exploring the CALL see the November Random Writing Activity on the blog on my website at www.caroleedean.com.

K. LittleKimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little

As promised - this month it's Michael L. Printz Award Book Buzz - given to the most outstanding Young Adult title of the year.
Young Adult literature has exploded the past five years. More YA novels are being published than ever before, in every genre imaginable, and devoured by teens. For the first time in my own lifetime of obsessive reading and writing, I'm watching teens talking about books, buying books with dollars they earn from part-time jobs, discussing books with friends, and eagerly waiting for the next book by their favorite authors.

Teens check out authors' web sites, My Space Pages, and friend them on Facebook. Authors are more accessible through on-line mediums than ever before, and the opportunities to interact and meet authors at schools, libraries, or bookstores are part of what makes reading even more exciting and personal. YA authors are the new "rock stars". Provocative and superbly written books are being published, so jump on and enjoy the ride!

I'd love to tell you about 50 new titles I've read in the past year, but in the interest of space I'll give a brief synopsis of 5 titles that have received excellent reviews and are terrific books to point your teens toward.

Marcelo in the Real World
(Scholastic, Arthur Levine Books) by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning spectrum of autism, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work in the mailroom for his father's law firm.

If I Stay
If I Stay (Dutton) by Gayle Forman
While in a coma following a car accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

(Viking) by Laurie Halse Anderson

Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

Days of Little Texas
Days of Little Texas
(Knopf) by R. A. Nelson

Haunted by the ghost of a dead girl he failed to cure by faith healing, teen evangelist, Ronald Earl Pettway becomes engaged in an epic battle between good and evil on the eve of a huge revival meeting at an old plantation.

Funny How Things Change
Funny How Things Change (FSG) by Melissa Wyatt
After a visiting artist helps Remy realize what his family's home in a dying West Virginia mountain town means to him, the talented seventeen-year-old auto mechanic questions his decision to join his girlfriend when she starts college in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Printz hopefuls, there are dozens of other wonderful titles. YA books come in so many different styles, shapes and sizes that I couldn't resist listing a few novels within other teen genres that have had readers buzzing this year.


A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov (a girl in Queen Elizabeth's court)
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (a young woman pilot during WWII)


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog


Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Futuristic Thriller:

Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Enjoy a delicious new read!

Join Our Mailing List!

Mass Email Services Provided By
Safe Unsubscribe
This email was sent to kglittle@msn.com by spellbinders@peifercomputing.net.
Spellbinders c/o Peifer Computing Solutions | PO Box 50486 | Albuquerque | NM | 87181

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spellbinders Logo
October, 2009
Welcome to the first issue of SPELLBINDERS, a monthly newsletter designed to help educators create lifelong readers. We are very honored to have the amazing Jane Yolen with us as our featured author for the first edition of SPELLBINDERS. To find out more about us, please connect to our website links in our columns below.

NOTE: Please feel free to reprint any of the articles you find in SPELLBINDERS, but do give credit to the author(s) and include a reference to our blog by giving the following information – written by (author) and reprinted with permission from SPELLBINDERS, Helping Librarians and Educators Create Lifelong Readers www.spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com.

J. Yolen

Feature Article
An Interview with Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen has written over 300 books for kids of all ages--from the gorgeous picture book Owl Moon to the harrowing YA novel, The Devil's Arithmetic. Her books have been awarded the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, and two Christopher Awards to name a few. To read more about Jane and find out about her books visit www.janeyolen.com.

Carolee: Jane, in addition to writing award winning books for kids of all ages, you've also travelled across the country talking to students about books. From these experiences could you share with us suggestions on how educators can encourage reluctant readers, especially boys?

Jane: I wish I could just say: get rid of all those tests and simply read to your students, though I know it's not as simple as that.

Now--I truly believe that all children love Story, though not all love it in the written form. Just as they love poetry, when it comes as street rhymes or hip hop or rhyming ads or pop songs. Have those poems memorized in a moment. So the problem is how to turn that love towards actual books.

I'm not a classroom teacher but I do know that some of the answers are in daily reading aloud (and stopping at exciting places!); getting the children to tell stories the way storytellers do, practicing until it becomes a performance; having them read favorite poems to younger grades; and the graphic novel. It has to do with letting their "bands" make up songs as back drop for books; getting them to draw or paint new covers for favorite books; and making a book trailer to go on YouTube.

In my family of three children, my oldest two were--and are today--great readers. Their houses are simply a-tumble with books. But my youngest never read for pleasure, always for information. Though he loved to HEAR stories, he was a late and even a reluctant reader. Today, he reads children's books to his twin daughters, he reads the poems I write for his astonishing nature photographs, but otherwise he and his beautiful and well-educated and adorable wife have no fiction books in the house for the kind of every day reading I feel essential to my own life. I did everything I could when he was growing up, including reading to him, surrounding him with his own bookcases and books, book-talking, and the like. And while he is in some ways the best adjusted of my children, he is who he is. I say this with great love and with the final realization that as much as I wanted him to be a reader, he never was warmed by the reading fire. It's true in every classroom, as I know you all are painfully aware.

Kimberley: That was an amazing and packed answer, Jane. I think the love of story is built into our psyches as humans and I don't think we can underestimate the power of reading in a classroom or family for those kids who are more into sports or their iPods or the mall. If nothing else, it at least introduces them to the written word and begins to activate those imagination brain cells in a very different way than math or science or movies or games do. Can you tell us about any exceptional literacy programs that you've run across as a visiting author?

Jane: What I have started—and seems to be working amazingly—for both writing and reading, is an annual writing contest for the children in my local elementary school. And that has gone on for 20 years now. They write all year and we hold the actual contest in May. Some kids even write on their summer vacations because now everyone wants to write—boys as well as girls. The parents are excited, too.

I choose up to 20 winners, all of whom get autographed books by me, and the top winners get checks for $15 ($10 for runners up). I read every single piece submitted. I choose the winners without reading who they are or what class they are in. I run the assembly where the awards are given and the teachers do everything else. I have had top winners from 1st and 2nd grade as well as 5th and 6th grade. I have chosen winners who have never won anything in their lives as well as winners who the teachers would have bet money on winning. I don't look for spelling or proper grammar. I look for something original, a spark, a love of language, a line that makes me laugh, a thought that makes me tear up, a character that leaps off the page, a poem that makes some of my poems look labored. And over the years, I think the teachers and I--despite all the obligatory testing--have made readers and writers out of these kids.
I actually don't know why more authors don't do this with their
local schools. We have hundreds--no THOUSANDS--of children's book authors across the country. Think how many schools we could be touching.

Lois: Jane, holding a local writing contest is a fantastic idea. You have discussed the human need for story. Why is reading—specifically why are books—important in this age when story is as close as a TV screen or movie theater?

Jane: Ah—that’s a tougher question because it is one I rarely examine. To me reading is as important as breathing. I read at the table and on the sofa and in bed. I read on trains and planes and during parties.

The author of a book and I have a kind of contract. I can read it as slowly or as quickly as I want to. I can linger over a perfect phrase and gallop through a plot to get to the other side. I can go back and reread the clues of a mystery or a character. I can stay up all night just to finish or put the book aside to think about it a while. And I am not reading it (usually) in a room filled with other folks reading the same book at the same pace as I am, lingering over the same phrases and sighing over the same characters.

Movies and theater rush you along at the director's pace and the actor's pace. Sure I can pause on a T.V. screen or computer, but how often do I do that? And when it's on the stage or in a big movie theater, I have NO control at all. Even listening to a storyteller, it is the teller who does the pacing. We don't have a contract except I am supposed to be quiet while I watch. I am not to talk back, rewind endlessly, get up and go to the bathroom (often I do this with a book, bringing the book with me.)

And the pictures, the characters, are part of the contract with the author. I get to see them in my head. On screen or in the theater, someone else is interpreting them for me. Someone else's face and body become the character's face and body. I have been left out of the equation. I am not so much a co-creator with the story, but am simply a paying customer struggling to keep up, catch up, suck it up.

In the end, I think I trust writers/authors more. And I trust me, the reader.
I like movies and theater. But they are very different animals, really, though they all start with The Word.

Lois: Jane, you have beautifully described the interaction between the author and the reader from your perspective as a reader. Would you tell us a little bit about the author/reader relationship from the author perspective? When you are writing a book do you have a certain type of reader or age group or audience in mind?

Jane: I would be disingenuous in saying that I am unaware of audience when I write. Clearly when I write the HOW DO DINOSAURS . . books I know they are for the picture book child. Or if I write THE DEVIL'S ARITHMETIC I am certain it is not for the pre-school set.
But honestly, I am writing for the child inside me, the one hungry for story.

Carolee: Jane your answers have been fascinating and thought-provoking! We wish that we could ask you another dozen, but for now, let’s wrap up with a lightning round of short Q & A. I’ll start off. What is your favorite place to write?

Jane: Laptop on. . .um. . .lap. Anywhere.

Kim: What is your favorite food while writing?

Jane: Tea.

Carolee: What are your favorite books read last year:

Jane: Can I have 3? THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt. THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman.

Lois: Do you outline or wing it?

Jane: No outlines. I call it FLYING INTO THE MIST.

Kim: In closing, would you please list your upcoming Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Titles?



THE SCARECROW'S DANCE (Simon & Schuster)
newly reillustrated THE SEEING STICK (Running Press)
ON THE SLANT (Richard Owens)

Carolee: Thank you so much for joining us here at Spellbinders. It’s been a great honor to have you as our featured author. We hope you will visit us again.

Join Our Mailing List!

L. RubyWho's Right/Whose Right?
Lois Ruby

Over the coming months we'll look at how to survive book challenges without losing your sanity or your job. The not-so-secret remedy is a clear written policy, both for selecting books and for resolving challenges. But even with a fool-proof policy, you could still tear your hair out before the issue settles. And here's why ...

Everybody has rights, right? And yours come to a crashing halt where mine begin, especially when we're selecting and promoting books, videos, magazines, and Websites. Each may seem perfectly innocent to you, while raising the eyebrow of your principal, library director, or a cautious parent.


Constitutional Privilege - The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech. While there are obvious limitations (treasonous statements, threats against the President, etc.), basically the government can't interfere with what the writer writes or the artist draws, even if we think it's trash.

First Amendment

Academic Freedom - Teachers and librarians have the right to teach and recommend the best materials. These are, of course, subjective decisions, and that's where the trouble flares. I think Pete Hautman's Godless is a brilliant YA novel, but you might think it's sacrilegious.

Community Standards - Neighborhoods differ politically, racially, and economically. What if the school or library board tends to be more conservative or more liberal than the community? Sparks fly when the rights are in conflict. But wait. Some books, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have been roundly challenged from both ends of the political spectrum, though for different reasons. Huckleberry Finn

School/Library Standards - Schools and libraries have the right to set standards for selection and withdrawal of materials. Sit in on a board meeting during a book challenge, and you'll wonder how civilized people can be so snarky in their disagreement!

Parental Standards - Parents have the right to determine what's suitable for their children to read, but NOT the right to determine what every other child in the class or community may read.

A Student's Freedom to Learn - Each learner has the right to access materials for his/her own edification. This can be sticky if, for example, a young teen needs info on sex, but adults deny access for their own reasons.
Sex Ed

See how complicated it is? Whose right, and who's right? Tune in next month!

Would you like to host an author but you're not sure how to find one, and money's hopelessly scarce? Go to America Writes for Kids, http://usawrites4kids.drury.edu/, and click on your state to find an author near you. Most children's writers have Websites with contact info, also. Then check with your state library, school district, PTO/PTA, or local foundation to learn about grants for Artist-in-Residence Programs. More about this subject in future issues. Go for it!

The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Framed
Carolee Dean
In addition to writing books for children and young adults, I also work full-time in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist. I have observed that young children typically have a great love of story; however, after years of failure and frustration, adolescents who struggle with reading and writing often give up trying to understand the structure of stories or create tales of their own. I looked at the way that I taught children to analyze stories as an educator and how that compared to how I, as an author, analyzed and created my own novels. What resulted was a twelve step story method called THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES (SLOS).

The twelve story stages I teach students are as follows: The Old World, The Call, The Refusal, The Crossing, The New World, Plans & Preparations, The Midpoint Challenge, The Escape, The Tunnel of Transformation, The New Person, The Climax, and The Reward. Each of these will be defined and discussed through the next few months. I use SLOS with students of all ages to explore the stages of plot development and when I introduce these concepts I always start by discussing the idea of an Old World and a New World.

Nearly all stories show a main character growing and changing as a result of exposure to a New World. He or she starts out in their everyday world, but either something about that world changes to turn it upside down, or else the hero is propelled on an adventure to an entirely New World. Dorothy starts out on a farm in Kansas but ends up in the colorful world of Oz. Luke Skywalker leaves the dry, dusty planet of Tatooine to join the rebel forces trying to destroy the Death Star. In the movie, Transformers, Sam Witwicky's world is overtaken by cars that transform into monstrous killing machines. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry leaves Privett Drive to journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In Twilight, Bella leaves Arizona to go live with her father in Forks, Washington, only to enter an even more unique world of vampires.

In many stories for children and young adults, a new person who becomes a friend, enemy or a love interest, arrives in the Old World and nothing is ever the same again. In The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Jess Aarons world is forever changed by Leslie Burke, the girl who moves in next door and helps him build a secret world in the woods called Terabithia.

Each of these stories shows a character growing and changing as a result of a setting transformation. Anyone who has undergone a major change in their living situation understands the impact this can have on a person. When I discuss the concept of Old World vs. New World with students, they easily come up with numerous examples of their own from movies and books. Boys who may have struggled with story analysis join in for the first time on discussions about plot, character and setting. It isn't that they don't understand these concepts; it is simply that they haven't had a language to use to describe what they know. My hope is that through THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES all students will grow in their appreciation of story.

For the September Creative Writing Activity please visit the blog on my website at www.caroleedean.com.

Join Our Mailing List!

K. LittleKimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little

Are you still using Charlotte's Web or Tuck Everlasting for your class's yearly novel reading and discussion? Do you want something new and fresh for reading aloud or to launch a new class project?
My column will bring you juicy gossip about the new books launching into the world. Focus will be on brand new authors, new books by your favorite authors, Newbery and Caldecott "buzz" as well as book reviews in fiction and non-fiction titles. So let's dish about some of the books that are making the Newbery Buzz RIGHT NOW!

Anything But TypicalAnything But Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
Jason, a 12-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer.

All the Broken PiecesAll the Broken Pieces
by Ann E. Burg
Scholastic Press
Two years after being airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975, Matt Pin is haunted by the terrible secret he left behind and, now, in a loving adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events forces him to confront his past.

Wild ThingsWild Things
by Clay Carmichael
Front Street Books
Stubborn, self-reliant 11-year old Zoe, recently orphaned, moves to the country to live with her prickly uncle, a famous sculptor and doctor, and together they learn about trust and the strength of family.

Girl Who Threw Butterflies
Girl Who Threw Butterflies
by Mick Cochrane
Alfred A. Knopf
Eight-grader Molly's ability to throw knuckleballs earns her a spot on the baseball team, which not only helps her feel connected to her recently deceased father, who loved baseball, but helps her in other aspects of her life as well.

Year Swallows Came EarlyThe Year the Swallows Came Early
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
After her father is sent to jail, 11 year old Groovy Robinson must decide if she can forgive the failings of someone she loves.

EvolutionThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
Henry B. Holt
In Central Texas in 1899, 11 year old Callie Vee Tate, is instructed by her mother to be a lady, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.

Mostly True AdventuresMostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
by Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press
12 year old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother who has been sold into service in the Civil War.

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid", a 12 year old girl New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes sent by an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

You can find these new titles in your local Independent bookstores, your favorite school distributor, Amazon, B&N.com and national chains. Now go relax and read a great book!


Note: The Newbery Caldecott Awards (and many other awards in the children's book world) will be announced at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference, January 15 - 19, 2010, in Boston.

Join Our Mailing List!

Mass Email Services Provided By