The Winner of December's book giveaway My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman is Vivien! Congratulations, Vivien! Please email Kimberley Little at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get your prize mailed off to you! And don't forget to enter January's book giveaway of The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little (of SPELLBINDER Book Buzz fame)
To Enter is easy: Just leave a comment on the Spellbinder blog or email Kimberley at email@example.com and you might win a copy of the gorgeous hardcover, The Healing Spell published by Scholastic Press, 2010.
The ALA Youth Awards - by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Carolee Dean and Kimberley Griffiths Little would like to recognize the work that the American Library Association (ALA) does in training Youth Media Specialists who help bring children's books to their patrons from infants through eighteen years of age and keep literacy, creativity, and imagination alive.
(We'd also like to take note that there are millions of adults who *still* love a good children's book and check out stacks from their libraries or purchase a delicious pile from their local bookstore, devour, then share them with the young people around them, including ourselves!)
Meet the twenty-first century librarian - a techno-literate, savvy professional who works on the front lines of communities and schools.
The reason we're featuring the work of the American Library Association is because in just a few short days the annual national Youth Awards will be announced at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference in San Diego on Monday, January 10th. It's a very exciting day as the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other Award Committees finally disclose the result of their year-long voracious reading, secret meetings and discussions as they evaluated the books of 2010.
And the best part: You get to watch it "live" from the comfort of your own computer - even if you live in Africa or Timbuktu. Or Wichita, Albuquerque, or Lafayette, Louisiana.
Follow ALA Youth Media Award results live
Join thousands as ALA, ALSC and YALSA unveil the best of the best in children's and young adult literature and media on Jan. 10, 2011, 7:45 a.m. Pacific Time
CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) will provide a free live webcast of its Youth Media Awards, a national announcement of the top books and media for children and young adults, at 7:45 a.m. PST on Jan. 10. The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together librarians, publishers, authors and guests to the San Diego Convention Center from January 7 - 11, 2011.
The number of available connections for the webcast is limited, and the broadcast is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Online visitors can view the live webcast the morning of the announcements by visiting this ALA web site.
The press release announcing all ALA Youth Media Award recipients will be posted in the Youth Media Awards Press Kit at this ALA awards site prior to 10 a.m. PST.
Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for children and young adults.
Enjoy! And may your favorite book of 2010 be a winner!
Trivia Factoid: We often give a lot of attention to award-winning books, but it's also true that hundreds of books stay in print for decades and become enormously popular with kids that never win a distinguished award or get any starred reviews.
That's the power of story in a kid's life - long may it live!
As promised - Our February issue will focus on disability issues and books about disabilities.
The Gift of Reading by Carolee Dean
For the past three months the Spellbinders, Carolee and Kimberley, along with our good friend Lois Ruby and many other New Mexico children's authors, have been participating in a book drive with the support of our New Mexico chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). The purpose of the drive was to collect books for children at risk with a focus on children with parents in prison. New and gently used books were donated at three independent bookstores and local authors participated in events at all three locations.
We kicked off the book drive with an author illustrator event at Alamosa Books on September 25th. Alamosa is Albuquerque's new independent children's bookstore. On Halloween we met again at Bookworks on Rio Grande Blvd. and our final event was a winter party at Page One. The drive ended on December 6th and books were distributed to the Barrett House for victims of domestic violence, to the Metro detention center for children visiting incarcerated parents, and to Peanut Butter and Jelly Family Services (PB&J), a local organization that offers support to nearly 2,000 at risk children, many of whom have parents in prison.
The books donated to PB&J will go to help start a library for the children they serve. This is an organization that has a special place in my heart. My recent YA novel, TAKE ME THERE, is about a seventeen-year-old boy who goes to Texas looking for his father who is in prison. The effect of having an incarcerated parent can be devastating to a child if they don't have support. Likewise, reintegration of an incarcerated parent back into the family can be tumultuous. Understanding these factors, PB&J began Project ImPACT (Importance of Parents and Children Together) in the 1980s. This project offers parenting education and a family reunification program designed to support incarcerated parents as they transition back home. They also support child sensitive jail visitation and provide counseling for children and family members. The purpose of the program is to keep families connected and to promote stability. Without this support, children from these families often suffer from school failure and delinquency, and many become involved in gangs as they look for a sense of family that has been denied them.
Some alarming statistics from PB&J sources include the following: one in forty children has an incarcerated parent, an estimated two-thirds of people in prison are parents, 94% of women in prison are mothers with 88% being single mothers of dependent children, children whose parents are incarcerated are seven times more likely to engage in criminal behavior, and 70% of children of incarcerated parents will be incarcerated one day.
In New Mexico, 47% of prisoners return to prison within 3 years, but only 6% of prisoners who have gone through project ImPACT return to prison. Less than 2% of incarcerated teens in PB&J programs return to jail and no project ImPact participants have had reports of domestic violence or child abuse.
Project ImPACT is funded through the New Mexico Department of Corrections with a budget of $450,000 per year. Just a few weeks ago, PB&J received the devastating news that state budget cuts effective January 1, 2011 (THIS MONTH!) will entirely eliminate these funds. PB&J is now actively pursuing alternative funding sources. If you can help in any way, please contact this worthwhile organization at PB&J Family Services or by calling 505-877-7060.
Kimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Kimberley Griffiths Little
The last two issues of Book Buzz have been all about Young Adult novels and our reporting on the national YALSA (Young Adult Librarian Services Association) conference so this month I'm turning to Middle-Grade books for our elementary and middle-school audience.
In the book publishing world MG is middle-grade for short. As much as I adore Young Adult novels in every genre, whether historical, romance or paranormal, MG is probably my favorite age group to read and to write for - and I have fantastic news: I'd love to introduce you to the BEST website and blog that focuses strictly on ALL THINGS middle-grade!
FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES . . . OF MIDDLE-GRADE AUTHORS was put together last summer by 30 authors (me included), many who are also teachers and librarians. Articles on numerous topics in MG literature are posted three times a week. The posts, written by the 30 authors on a rotating basis, are packed with information and tips, and book lists as well as humor about MG books in every form, size, shape and genre.
We have Book Giveaways happening nearly every week - just for posting a quick comment. Last month we gave away 100 brand new MG books to a needy library and all the librarian/teacher had to do was throw their name into the hat.
We have a Teacher's Page, a Parent's Page, and a Kid's Page, all of which are updated monthly. The left sidebar (OhMG!) has up-to-the-minute news in the book industry, and all the links to the other pages are on the right sidebar.
Here's a small sampling of some of the topics written about previously (you can always scroll back through the topics and read them all from the past few months):
I leave you with a quote from the Mixed-Up Files site about what Middle-Grade books mean to me:
"Middle-Grade books = MAGIC. Kids devour their favorite books, laugh and giggle, shiver with goose bumps, and sometimes sob on their pillows with strong emotions. When I was young, books were my lifeline, my best friends, and books were usually better than real life. That's why I now write middle-grade books-to recreate the magic and discover new best friends, and sometimes sob into my pillow."
AND . . . DRUMROLL . . .
I am giving away a copy of my brand new Middle-Grade novel, The Healing Spell, published by Scholastic Press! Just leave a comment at our Spellbinder blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered!
And in case you didn't know, I have a wonderful Teacher's Guide and a very fun Book Club Guide for The Healing Spell on my website for free download: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com
The Secret Language of Stories
During November 18-20th I travelled to Philadelphia for the annual ASHA (American Speech-Language and Hearing Association) conference where I gave a presentation entitled "The Secret Language of Stories--Everybody Has a Story" to over three-hundred speech-language pathologists.
During the session I discussed how I use stories to address a variety of learning challenges with kids of all ages as well as to work with students on the autism spectrum. After the session, many people asked for more information about the after school Movie Club that I conduct with two other therapists. Based on that response, I've decided to focus this month's column on using movies to teach social skills.
Many students on the autism spectrum also have deficits in reading and written language, but others have excellent writing abilities. In particular, students with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome often excel in academics. The one thing that all of these students have in common is that they find social interaction a challenge. A common misconception is that these students are not interested in making social connections. That may be true for some, but most of them desperately want to form bonds and friendships. They simply don't understand the unwritten rules of social engagement.
For students who spend their day in the general education setting, it can be challenging for therapists and teachers to address social skills within that context. The focus of classroom teachers is on adhering to educational standards and benchmarks and they are typically reluctant to allow a therapist to use class time to talk to students about skills that most of them have already mastered.
Scheduling groups for pull-out therapy is also a challenge since it is often detrimental to take students out of the classroom. Students on the autism spectrum often lack the organizational and self-advocacy skills to catch up on material they have missed and many school districts that have moved to full inclusion models discourage this practice.
Even though these students may excel at academics, they often still struggle with other aspects of the school setting. Lack of social awareness makes them prime targets for bullying. Many suffer from depression and anxiety.
Even if they do well in school, academic success does not always equate to later career success if they have not learned how to relate to others and collaborate in a work setting.
At the high school where I work, we have designed a special after school group called Movie Club to address some of these concerns. Invitations to join the club were given to students on the autism spectrum who had been identified through the speech-language pathologist caseloads. These invitations were also sent home to parents, posted in the special education newsletter, and given to the school social workers to pass on to students they felt might benefit.
The club was opened to anyone who wanted to attend whether or not they were receiving special education services, and permission slips were gathered for filming purposes. Parents agreed to transport students home from school since activity buses were not available for this purpose.
Students currently meet after school once per week and engage in activities such as watching and critiquing movies, filming movie reviews, and creating movie spoofs. After watching a Siskel and Ebert review, the students designed a rubric that they use for creating their own movie reviews. Part of the rubric addresses content such as discussion of characters and plot. Other items deal with social interactions such as maintaining eye contact with other reviewers and using body language to demonstrate good listening. After filming a movie review, students watch the review and discuss how well they adhered to the rubric.
Last year we also completed a semester long project that involved writing and filming a spoof of Twilight. That experience gave students the opportunity to work on organization and collaboration as well as how to interact with peers of the opposite sex. We chose that particular movie in spite of the fact that the boys in the group objected at first. The reason was because the sequel, New Moon, was just coming out and students around campus were talking about it. Students with autism/Asperger's frequently have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation topics and we wanted them to develop the skill of being able to talk to their peers about movies. We were very delighted when they returned this school year initiating conversations with each other about the Twilight series.
Stories are an excellent way to tackle numerous educational objectives, but they also provide the perfect framework for addressing a variety of social and pragmatic skills as well as higher thinking abilities. Some of these include conversational turn-taking, problem solving, inferencing, planning, organization, collaboration, and the ability to take the perspective of others. But perhaps the best reason to use stories both inside and outside of the classroom is because they are just plain fun!
To see the Reviewer's Rubric that we use in our after school Movie Club, check out the monthly writing blog on my website at www.caroleedean.com
Next month SPELLBINDERS will focus on books dealing with disability.
Carolee Dean is speech-language pathologist in the public schools and author of: Comfort (Houghton Mifflin), Take Me There (Simon Pulse), and No Way Out (Simon Pulse, 2012).