Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

That's How I Got to Memphis

When we were watching the Newsroom series finale, we liked this song.

Can't believe the series has ended!

Happy reading,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Smiles

While my husband and I were away alone together in Montauk recently, we ate in front of the fireplace at a cozy restaurant where my husband noticed these Thanksgiving dolls on the mantle.  Look carefully and see why he commented, "No wonder they're both smiling."

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with your family and friends.

Happy reading,

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Giving Tree

If you liked the classic picture book, The Giving Tree, check out The Plain White T's allusions to the book in their "Giving Tree."

Happy reading,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

The best thing about running out to pick up the latest installment of Diary of a Wimpy Kid?  The sound of my children's laughter as they crack-up reading it.   No better sound in the world!  Thank you, Jeff Kinney!

Happy reading and laughing,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Zilpha Keatley Snyder, beloved children's author has died.  A former school teacher, her first young adult novel was published after an editor told her she was writing the wrong story, and asked for a rewrite.  She had to rewrite it twice before publication, but then went on to write nearly fifty books, including the Newbery honor books, The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid, and The Witches of Worm.  Read her full obit here, and remember three important writing axioms from her life:
1.  Good writing is rewriting.
2.  Know your audience.  (She credits her years teaching the upper elementary grades for her ability to write for that age group.)
3.  This is a business of rejection, and only those who persevere in spite of that rejection will succeed.

Happy reading and writing,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teen Read Week

Although every week should be Teen Read Week, we are at the end of the Young Adult Library Service Association's official Teen Read Week.  Click here for tips on inspiring adolescents to read every day.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Jen Mann's new book,  People I Want to Punch in the Throat is hysterical, and should be required reading for all overworked, exhausted moms.  You can learn more about it on her blog.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This weekend I saw the movie version of Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I loved the children's book, and the movie exceeded expectations.   Enjoy the trailer below:

Happy reading,

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Drop

I just finished reading  The Drop, by Dennis Lehane.  If you are looking for a quick read with suspense and a plot twist you won't see coming, try this book.  I liked that it was set in Boston, and I liked the author's references to landmarks in that city like the public library, Quincy Market, the river, etc.  So, although I can't wait to see the movie version, (I want to see James Gandolfini in one of the last films he completed) I was disappointed to see the trailer suggest Brooklyn as a setting.  I usually don't like when movies depart too far from the original, so I hope it is only the setting that has been changed, because the plot and characters were perfect.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Picks From Someone You Don't Like

I am reading Shouldn't You Be in School? the third book in Lemony Snicket's All the Wrong Questions series.  In it, the protagonist mentions reading a book recommended to him by several people he doesn't like. It got me wondering, would you/could you read a book recommended by someone you didn't like?  Could you really enjoy the book if it was recommended by someone you didn't even like?

Happy reading,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bullies, Victims and Bystanders in Teen Fiction

Here is a post on Bullies, Victims and Bystanders in Teen Fiction.  I hope these novels launch meaningful discussions during Bullying Prevention Month.

Happy reading,

Monday, September 29, 2014

This is Where I Leave You

This weekend I read This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper.  While the movie trailer looks funny, and someone told me the book was hysterical, I found most of it heartbreaking.  And I guess that is what made it such a good book.  It was at once heartbreaking and funny, like life sometimes is.  But after reading such a poignant tale, I'm not sure that I'm ready to see the  movie version.  I'm not sure that I'm ready to magnify all the loneliness that exists around us, and I'm definitely looking for suggestions for a lighthearted book as my next read.

Happy reading,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

The last week of September is celebrated as Banned Books Week.  Click here for info on how you can celebrate literary freedom, and learn the effects of censorship on schools, libraries and communities.

Happy FREE reading,

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is the ALA Library Card Sign-Up Month.  This year's spokesman is legendary comic book and super hero creator, Stan Lee.  View his clip on the importance of libraries and reading in his life:

And for even lighter fare, here is Stan Lee on The Big Bang Theory:

Happy reading,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Anne of Avonlea

Just read chapter 11, "Facts and Fancies," of Anne of Avonlea to my children.  Adorable!  If you don't remember, this chapter contains the letters of Anne's students. It is sure to bring a smile to the face of any teacher or parent.

Happy reading,

Sunday, September 7, 2014


It may not feel like September where you are, but it definitely looks like September with all of those apples growing outside of my window:

Here's hoping that your September has started well, and that everyone has made a smooth adjustment back to school.

Happy reading,

Friday, September 5, 2014

On the Other Side

I love writing articles for magazines, but this month I'm quoted in an article for Scholastic Parent and Child.  It's fun to be on the other side, but honestly, I really can't wait to get back to writing about other people, issues, and ideas.

Happy reading and writing,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Reading Lessons for a New World

Recently, John Oliver did a funny bit on native advertising.  If you are not familiar with the term, native advertising is when companies and organizations make their ads look like editorial content in print publications.
As a writer, I know that the sale of ad space pays for the production of the magazine, and that the editorial and advertising departments each have their own separate, important job to do.  As a reader, I've noticed ads that look like articles, but since I'm an adult, and an avid reader I can distinguish between ads and articles.  But after John Oliver's bit, I put on my teacher hat and deliberately scoured magazines and newspapers for native advertising.  When I was consciously looking for it, I noticed that it was so prevalent, that I must address it with my students.  This year when we are reading informational text, I must plan lessons using native advertising from current issues of magazines and newspapers that my students are exposed to every day.
Take a look at the two examples below from the current issues of two popular consumer magazines available in any bookstore or at the check-out of any grocery store.

Happy reading,

Sunday, August 10, 2014

S'mores and Super Moon

Today is National S'mores Day!  If you've read this blog before, you know that I usually don't like made-up, Hallmark holidays, but a day dedicated to roasted marshmallows and chocolate, bring it on!  While you're enjoying this treat, don't forget to look skyward at tonight's Super Moon.

Happy reading, eating and sky-watching,

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sharing Books

In Kiwi magazine, I read about a great way to share books and promote literacy in your hometown.  Little Free Library is a way to recycle your old books and even read some new ones.  You can order a waterproof structure, or better yet, build your own out of repurposed materials, and place books inside. Neighbors come and borrow books and even leave some of their own books.  If you're really ambitious, leave a notebook and pen in the structure for people to write their responses to each book.  Click here for information on how to promote literacy in your hometown and bring your neighbors together over a love of books!

Happy reading,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Rosie Effect

Yesterday, I wrote about The Rosie Project, a book that I loved so much, that I immediately pre-ordered the sequel, The Rosie Effect, on my Nook.  If you have read this blog, or the literacyconnectionsblog, then you know some of my mixed feelings about e-readers.  If not, I have posted them here:

Nook vs. Book - Round 2
November 30, 2011
On Monday I posted this on e-readers for children.  Now let me clarify, I have a Nook and I love it.  However, before I got it, I wasn’t sure if the Nook and I would hit it off.  The Nook is cool, sleek and modern.  I am old-fashioned.  I like homemade comfort foods like soup, sauce and gravy.  I like opening my gifts on Christmas morning, not Christmas Eve, and I like reading real books.  I like the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of a book, (especially the smell of a library book which can bring me back to childhood) and I like the tactile sensation of turning pages.  How then, could the Nook and I make it work?

And, if I were going over to the dark side of digital reading, what should I wear?  Would I have to give up my sweaters and pearls and wear something edgier, perhaps head to toe black like Darth Vader, cat burglars and intellectuals from SoHo?

And of course there was the bigger dilemma, if I were going leave my tried and true traditional books, what should be the first title I read on the Nook? Should I go with a classic like Pride and Prejudice?  Would a beloved favorite like The Great Gatsby be a digital disappointment?  Finally, since I felt like I was doing something seedy anyway, I settled on an easy beach read called Trouble in Mudbug, in which the protagonist’s manipulative, materialistic mother-in-law finally dies only to come back and haunt her.  And you know what, I kind of liked it.

The Nook and I didn’t really bond though, until a trip to Montauk.  There we spent time on the beach, on the balcony, and curled up on the couch together.  I discovered that the Nook is more than just cool; it is also the perfect travel accessory.  It provides a world of reading in one compact case that easily fits into an overnight bag.  So now I’m asking, why would anyone leave their tried and true traditional Nook for Nook Color?

Nook vs. Book - Round 3
December 6, 2011
Now your students can check e-readers out of their local library!  The West Babylon Public Library has acquired several Nook Color and Kindle e-readers.   West Babylon cardholders can  borrow the
e-readers for up to 14 days.  Books are pre-loaded, and cardholders can download up to 5 additional titles.  Of course, any Suffolk County library patrons can download titles to their own e-readers for free using Suffolk Wave  Live-brary.

Nook vs. Book - Round 4
January 6, 2012
Yesterday, the New York Times parenting blog posted an article calledWhy Books Are Better than e-Books for Children  It was very interesting, and makes the current count in this Nook vs. Book series: Nook -  1    Book  - 3.  To be continued...

Nook vs. Book - Round 5
January 9, 2012
Yesterday,  Newsday  published this piece on social reading.   Not being on Facebook or Twitter, I'd never heard of this phenomonen, but apparently it's big.  Social reading allows book lovers to interact with each other instantly. 
In it's earliest stage of development, social reading consisted of a feature on Amazon's Kindle which allowed the reader to post comments on Facebook or Twitter.  Now, many reader's tablets have evolved to the point where a reader can highlight text, email it to a friend and share comments.  It is like a book club with instant gratification.  I wondered, will social reading take the place of the face to face communication of a traditional book club? 
Curious, I set out to research.  It seems there are online communities such as and dedicated solely to this.  Who knew?   
From a teacher's perspective however, the best aspect of the new apps available on reader's tablets is that theorecticaly, a teacher could highlight a certain part of a text, add margin notes or other comments, and email it to all of her students!  How is that for text-based learning?
So, reluctantly, this round has to go to the Nook  with a haymaker, making the current count:  Nook - 2   Book - 3

Nook vs. Book - Round 6
March 26, 2012
My house is being overrun by books.  Books are stacked neatly on shelves.  Books are placed sloppily over the neatly stacked books on shelves.  Books are on end tables and night-stands.  Books are piled on the floor of the alcove in front of my children's  bookshelf.  I am seriously thinking of asking my contractor to build more shelves. 
Naturally, then, I laughed when I read this piece in Newsday, about a former book-lover who is now a book-hater.  Of course, I could never be a book-hater.  As I've written on this blog before, I love books.  I love the look and feel and smell of them.  I just don't love the clutter.  So, since neatness counts,  ... this round goes to the Nook, making the current count:
Nook - 3; Book - 3!  Stay tuned!  See who takes the next round!

Nook vs. Book - Round 7
April 3, 2012
Yesterday I posted this about a book signing.  Now, I have one question for you, "Have you ever tried to get your Nook signed by an author?"
Obviously, this round goes to Book with a haymaker, making the current 
count:  Nook -3; Book - 4.  Keep reading to see who wins the next round.

Nook vs. Book - Round 8
April 18, 2012
Last week, USA Today  reported that Barnes and Noble will be adding GlowLight technology to the Nook Simple Touch.  This way, a person can read in bed without an external light and hopefully, without disturbing their partner.  (Nook Tablet seems to be readable at night already.)  Pretty impressive.  Therefore, this round goes to...Nook, making the current count Nook -4  Book -4.  Who will the victor be?  Keep reading to find out! 

Nook vs. Book - Round 9
June 26, 2012
Sales of e-books have surpassed sales of hardcovers in some areas!  Read the data tables and full article here
This round goes to..... Nook, making the current count Nook:  5,  Book:  4 

Nook vs. Book - Round 10
October 15, 2012
Confession:  I love Nelson DeMille's John Corey books!  Yes, I recognize that they are testosterone-packed, thrill-rides, filled with Mr. Corey's wry, and sometimes sexist observations, but I love them anyway.  I can't wait until the new book comes out tomorrow, and thanks to my Nook, I don't have to!  I have pre-ordered The Pantherwhich will magically appear on my Nook at midnight.  So, for convenience, suspense, impatience and excitement, this round goes to... Nook, making the current count, Nook - 6,  Book  - 4.  Who will win the heavyweight championship?  Tune in to find out.

                                          Three Generations of Nook Readers

Happy reading,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Rosie Project

I just finished reading The Rosie Project, by  Graeme Simsion.  This romantic comedy follows the misadventures of a brilliant geneticist in his quest for the perfect wife.  Since social encounters are awkward for this man who, at first,  does not realize that he suffers from Asperger's, he develops a questionnaire to find a suitable life-mate.  Enlisting the assistance of a fellow professor and his wife, he commences "The Wife Project" with the precision of a university study.
Enjoy this funny look at dating rituals and social conventions as your next beach read.

Happy reading,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Grand Central

I just finished reading Grand Central, a collection of short stories about the various people coming and going through Grand Central Station on a September day in 1945.  I first picked up the book because I love Grand Central; its history, its architecture, the whisper corners, and because I was intrigued by the idea of a book about the stories behind all the people whose paths cross at the busy terminal.  It isn't a light-hearted look at intersecting lives, though.  Because it is set at the end of World War II, there are some very disturbing  stories behind what brought particular characters to the station that day.  Pick it up if you are looking for historical fiction, or if you thought your days of reading short story anthologies were behind you.  It will bring you back to school.  If you aren't familiar with Grand Central Station, itself, here a post that I wrote for literacyconnectionsblog during the 100 Anniversary exhibit at Grand Central:

February 25, 2013
Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station is home to an exhibit honoring the 100th anniversary of the Grand Central Terminal.  Hurry to see the exhibit before it closes on March 15th, but take time to admire the beautiful architecture of this historic building.  While taking in the beauty and history, why not try some science in the "whisper corners?" 
Kids are sure to love the experience, and you can discuss how the domed ceiling helps the sound waves travel.  For a literary connection, you can read about this phenomenon in the "Whisper Lake" scene of the book, If You're Reading This it's Too Late,  by Pseudonymous Bosch.  And if exploring Grand Central makes you hungry, I highly recommend Michael Jordan's Steakhouse overlooking the Main Concourse.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When Harry Met Sally - 25 Years Later

When I read this USA Today piece on the 25th anniversary of When Harry Met Sally, I couldn't help reflecting on what a great movie that still is.  Of course, if you've read my blog before, you know what a genius I think Nora Ephron is.  Here are a few of my previous posts about her from my Literacy Connections blog:

June 27, 2012
Tonight, from 6:30-9:30 you can join an online discussion of Mark Harris's ballpark novel, Bang the Drum Slowly.  The novel is about a pitcher for the New York Mommoths (supposed to be the Yankees) and his ill teammate.  The discussion takes place at the City Room blog.
The city and the world lost a literary luminary last night when Nora Ephron died of pneumonia brought on by leukemia.  One of my favorite filmmakers and writers, Ms. Ephron was a master of the romantic comedy. When Harry Met Sally is still one of my all-time favorites.  Her movie, You've Got Mail,  is more love-letter to the city of New York than love story.  I want to stroll around Manhattan every time I watch it.  I loved her last two books, I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, and I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections. 
To the feminists who criticized her for not writing strong enough women in her books and movies, I can only say that Ms. Ephron, herself, should have been a strong enough role model for you.  She was a White House intern at a time when that was something to be proud of, a journalist, and talented writer.  To Carl Bernstein, I can only say, "What were you thinking letting someone like that go?"
Happy reading,

June 28, 2012
Nora Ephron taught us the difference between high maintenance and low maintenance women, and gave us the classic line, "I'll have what she's having," but what she really did was articulate perfectly what so many of us were really thinking.  Her work resonates with female fans because many of her observations feel like someone verbalizing our inner thoughts much more eloquently than we could ever hope to verbalize them ourselves.  Watching her movies, reading her books, seeing her being interviewed felt like spending time with girlfriends.  She got women; she got the importance of female friendships; and she got what we were hoping for in a romantic relationship. 
Some of her most memorable lines are below:
        On Writing:
"I don't care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head you're also writing your Oscar acceptance speech."

"If you were a college graduate (like me) who had worked on your college newspaper (like me) and you were a girl (like me), they hired you as a mail girl.  If you were a boy (unlike me) with exactly the same qualifications, they hired you as a reporter and sent you to a bureau somewhere in America.  This was unjust but it was 1962, so it was the way things were."
  -I Remember Nothing

        On Relationships:
"Verbal ability is a highly overrated thing in a guy and it's our pathetic need for it that gets us into so much trouble."
                                                                                                                                                            - Sleepless in Seattle
"You don't want to be in love.  You want to be in love in a movie."
                                                                                                                                                            -Sleepless  in Seattle
"Well it was a million tiny little things that when you added them all up, they meant that we were supposed to be together...and I knew it.  I knew it the first time I touched her.  It was like coming home...only to no home I'd ever known...I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew.  It was like...magic."
                                                                                                                                   -Sleepless in Seattle

         On Aging:
"Oh how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six"
                                                                                                                               -I Feel Bad About My Neck
        On Reading:
"When you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."
                                                                                                                                -You've Got Mail
"Reading is one of the main things I do.  Reading is everything.  Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person.  Reading makes me smarter" 
                                                                                                                                                        -I Feel Bad About My Neck
Check back in tomorrow to see my favorite of all Nora Ephron quotes!
Happy reading,

June 29, 2012

Well, as promised, here it is - my favorite of all Nora Ephron quotes.  Enjoy!

Happy reading,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Winner in the War Between Amazon and Hachette

I love this story.
If you are unfamiliar with the war between Amazon and Hachette Publishing, you must watch the clip of Stephen Colbert  explaining the issue.  Go ahead, open another tab and watch it right now.  It is that funny. Then, read this New York Times article.  (To fully appreciate it, you have to do it in that order - watch the clip, read the article)

Happy reading,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Walter Dean Myers

There is a beautiful post about Walter Dean Myers on the beyondliteracylinkblog.  Full disclosure: The blogger, Carol is a friend of mine and the specific book she is writing about is a book that she gave to me.  I appreciate it even more now, knowing how much it meant to her and her teaching.

Happy reading,

Sunday, July 6, 2014


My reading this week has left me feeling sandwiched between two generations.  First I read a book that I gave to my mom, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50, by Annabelle Gurwitch.  She enjoyed it so much that she let me read it after she was through.   It was a funny look at the terrible crime of getting older in our society.  For all of the wry wit, there was, however, one heartbreaking part that I was not prepared for.
Then, this weekend, I went shopping with my children and some of my nieces and nephews.  Feeling like the young, cool aunt taking the kids to places like American Eagle and Abercrombie, I proudly held up outfits that I thought were cute,  only to have one niece shake her head at me.
"Aunt Chrissy, with a high-waisted skirt like that, a person would need a belly shirt."
Needless to say, I was not a cool enough aunt to buy anyone a belly shirt.  The skirt went back on the rack, and I went home and read two Lauren Conrad books that I have seen my students read, Beauty and Style. And after that reading, am I any more beautiful?  No.  Any more informed about style?  Maybe, but I still wouldn't count on any 'tweens wanting my fashion advice.  My credit cards, yes; my fashion sense, no.

Happy reading,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Second Sight Saturday

Here is a post from last year:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights!

Happy (almost) Independence Day!

Yesterday, a friend and I took our children to the New York Public Library to see an exhibit of one of two known surviving copies of The Declaration of Independence, written in Thomas Jefferson's own handwriting.  According to the exhibit, before the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4th, a number of revisions were made to Jefferson's original text.  Concerned about the revisions, Jefferson made several copies of the text he originally submitted to the Continental Congress.  He underlined the passages which had been revised.  One of those notable revisions, was Jefferson's lengthy commentary on slavery:

     "of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the  Christian king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable  commerce and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another"

This section, which was omitted to appease Georgia and South Carolina, could launch several class discussions and debates, but there are several other revisions worthy of analysis and debate as well.

Most surprising to me, was how small this 4-page copy of the Declaration of Independence was.  I imagined a large parchment, but each of these sheets seemed no larger than an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.  The Bill of Rights, on display for the first time with the Declaration of Independence,was much larger, but due to age and low lighting in the exhibit area, it was much harder to read.

Today is the last of this three-day exhibit, so I urge anyone near New York to try to see it.  It was amazing to see these founding documents of our democracy on display in a free public library, which, like a free public education, is a bedrock of democracy.

Happy reading,

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth and a Friday Film Clip

Happy Fourth of July!
On this rainy Independence Day, I've been thinking about my favorite summer movies, and so far my favorite movie of this summer is Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  Hysterical!
Enjoy the clip below.

Happy 4th,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Two Independent Bookstores to Close

This Publishers Weekly article about the impending closure of two independent bookstores in Connecticut made me think of one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail.  Enjoy the film clip below, and support small businesses in your neighborhood.

Happy reading and shop small,

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bite-Sized Magic

Last night, I finished reading Bite-Sized Magic, the third book in the Bliss series, by Kathryn Littlewood.  It was my least favorite of the series, because it contained the fewest magical back stories.  However, it is very relevant to today's social and economic issues.  It could stand as a parable about the dangers of corporate personhood and growing monopolies.  It certainly could launch a discussion about greed and class and injustice.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars, and I have to say it is difficult to watch the Stanley Cup Finals with tears in your eyes.  Thank you very much, John Green, for writing such a compelling book, that I couldn't put it down, even to watch the Rangers battle for their lives!
Thankfully, my attention was divided between the book and the hockey game, otherwise I think it would have been even more upsetting.  While many of my students and my own children's friends have read and loved the book, I think it is probably emotionally easier for 'tweens or teens to read this book, than it is for a parent.  For that reason, although it is beautifully written, I'm not sure I would recommend it for parents to read.  Too disturbing.

Happy reading,

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Articles Out Now

The June/July issue of Scholastic Parent and Child is out now, and in it are two of my recent articles.  The first, "Opting-Out is In, But Does it Work?" contains the opinions of three experts who weigh in on the issue. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand to see the opinions of Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director for Fair Test: National Center for Fair and Open Testing; Diane Hernandez, Director of Assessment Development for the California Department of Education; and Carol Varsalona, literacy consultant. The second, "Field Guide to the Introvert" offers tips for helping your introverted child thrive in his or her own way.

Happy reading,

Saturday, May 31, 2014

ALA Summer Reading Lists

Keep children reading over the summer to prevent a loss of skills known as the "summer slide."  Encourage them to select their own books to see that reading is a pleasurable activity and to motivate them to become lifelong learners and readers
The ALA, American Library Association has released suggested summer reading lists to help you get started.

K-2 Books 

3-5  Books

6-8 Books

Happy summer reading,

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou has died.  I'll never forget the first time I read an excerpt of her best-known work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Read the Publishers Weekly piece on her literary contributions  here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Quoted in National Magazine!

An editor I know is looking for an educator to comment on "number partners" or "graphing/ungraphing."  If you have expertise with either of those, and would like to be quoted in a national parenting magazine, please email bookgirlblogger(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy reading and quoting,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Children's Theatre Playwright Competition

The Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center is holding a Children's Theatre Playwright Competition for unpublished writers.  For more information visit

Happy reading and writing,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Children's Publishing News

According to Publishers Weekly:

Jill Freshney has been promoted to the newly-created position of senior executive managing editor, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Happy reading and writing,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Dash of Magic

Enchante`!  That is how I felt after reading A Dash of Magic, by Kathryn Littlewood.  Set in France, with allusions to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre, Versailles, Marie Antoinette and the Eiffel Tower, this confection of a cooking-contest story contains all the ingredients of a good read!  I can't wait to start the next book in the series.

Happy reading,

Saturday, May 10, 2014


 Hooked brings to life the hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups of 20-somethings over the course of a Columbus Day weekend in a cramped, New York City apartment.  Written by Danielle Burby, this production was staged by The Bare Bones Theater Company, in Northport.  The intimate venue really helped me feel like I was right there in the apartment as this group of friends and lovers navigated the rocky road to romance.
Ms. Burby, the playwright was in the audience, and I couldn't help wondering what it must feel like to see your  own words performed live on the stage!  (I'll have to ask her client, Mimi Cross, the fellow writer who gave me the tickets. Thanks, Mimi!)
Tonight is the last performance of this production, so if you are free, I highly recommend that you go see it.

Happy reading,

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Article Out Now - Learning Disabilities

The May, 2014 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child is out now, and in it is my piece on learning disabilities.  While researching this piece, I learned many interesting things from the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, Ed.D.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Middle School Math Materials for Common Core

Here is a link to PBS resources for Common Core math in the middle school.  Enjoy!

Happy reading and computing,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Bliss

I just finished reading the aptly-named Bliss, by Kathryn Littlewood.   This middle-grade novel combines magic, mystery, muffins and a motorcycle-riding aunt.  Rose, the twelve year-old protagonist discovers that her family owns a magical cook book.  When her parents are called out of town, Rose and her siblings cook up some chaos.  Hungry for more, I just ordered the sequel, A Dash of Magic.

Happy reading and baking,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Joy Cowley - Writing Workshop

Loved the book, Mrs. Wishy-Washy?  Want to write for children, but not sure where to start?  Join Joy Cowley and Suzanne Bloom for a week long  writing workshop offered by The Highlights Foundation.  Click here for details, and maybe someday I'll be reviewing your book on this blog, or in a national magazine!

Happy reading and writing,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What I'm Reading Now

I just finished reading Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen.  If you've read my blog before, you know that I love the way Anna Quindlen writes.  I found this book a little more difficult to get into than some of her others, but about halfway through, I was really hooked.  Of course, what I really loved was the dedication:
                     "For all the teachers who helped make my work possible- and for my favorite teacher, 
                      Theresa Quindlen"

How can you not like someone who appreciates teachers and gets the fact that the teaching profession makes all other professions possible?

Happy reading,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Article Out Now!

No Foolin' - the April issue of Scholastic Parent and Child is out now.  Here is a sneak peek at my "Field Guide to Class Clowns."

Happy reading,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Secret Ingredient

I just finished reading The Secret Ingredient, by Laura Schaefer.  I loved all of the recipes and food references in this sequel to The Teashop Girls, but I feel adults will love this book more than the middle graders and young adults for whom it was intended.  While I personally love visiting farmers' markets, I'm not sure how many young adults truly appreciate the importance of using the freshest, locally-grown ingredients in their cooking.  Also, sometimes the protagonist's voice felt a little too grown up for me.  I've worked with middle-graders for years, and I've never once heard any of them discuss someone's "pleasant demeanor," as does the eighth-grade protagonist of this book.  Still, if you love cooking, tea and organic foods, and are looking for a quick read without any violence or inappropriate language, this may be the book for you.  There are even a few references to fashion models and actresses being too thin and unhealthy looking, a point that can't be stressed enough with youth who are bombarded with images of superficial beauty ideals. 

Happy reading,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writer's Retreat

Here is a week-long retreat for writers.  Hone your craft in the Poconos under the tutelage of some of the most accomplished professionals in children's publishing.

Happy reading and writing,

Monday, March 24, 2014


I saw Divergent this weekend and loved it, as did many of my students who also saw the movie.  One of my students, an avid reader who loved the books, didn't like the movie.  We had a quick discussion about it in class.  A more interesting discussion however, would be which faction would you choose if you were a character in the book?  Abnegation? Amity? Candor? Dauntless? Erudite?

Happy reading and choosing,

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bringing the Back Office Up to Speed - An Inspiring Story!

Looking for a true story of  hard work, integrity and success?  Look no further than the current issue of Hispanic Executive.  Of course, I'm a little partial because the current issue features family friend, Gus Diaz.  Kudos!

Happy reading,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Middle School Vocabulary Lessons

Here is a great article on vocabulary strategies used in a sixth-grade classroom.  I'm sure you'll feel validated to see many of the practices you are already using in your own classroom discussed by the author, Katie Doherty.  Quite possibly, you'll also find a new spin to revive something you are already doing.

Happy reading,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Teashop Girls

 Over the past few years, I've had some students choose The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer as their independent reading book.  I've always been impressed with the vocabulary as students read aloud to me and discuss the book during our weekly conferences.  With words like "blissful," "Zenlike," "amidst," "precariously," 'deranged," and "luxuriantly"  appearing in the first chapter, I figured I should give the book a try.  Besides, how could a book which touts the obvious superiority of tea over coffee, be bad?
After reading it, I think it is a fine choice for independent reading.  I'm not sure it is literary enough for a classroom text, as I don't see enough opportunities for the deep analysis called for by the Common Core, but there are definite teachable moments.  Aside from the challenging vocabulary in context, there are also epigraphs at the start of each chapter.  These epigraphs offer opportunities to discuss primary sources and what they reveal about the time period, as well as the chance to make connections between the epigraph and the central idea of the chapter.  There are also delightful recipes and tea-service tips, as well as copies of vintage ads for tea.
So... curl up with some scones and your favorite brew, and enjoy!

Happy reading,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

T.V. Debut!

Watch the lovely and talented, Jillian Lawton at 9:00 p.m. tonight  in Deadly Sins, on Investigation Discovery/Discovery ID.  The channel varies depending on your cable provider, but if you miss it tonight, you can catch it Sunday at 2 p.m.

Happy reading and viewing,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Article Out Now

Read my article on lefties and learning in the March issue of Scholastic Parent and Child.  It is always exciting to see one of your own articles in print, but this one is especially thrilling for me.  While researching this article, I had the honor of communicating with Howard Gardner.  That's right, THE Howard Gardner who developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences.  He could not have been more professional, more gracious or more helpful.  I'm an even bigger fan now!

Happy reading,

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day Biography Reading List

The New York Public Library has posted this list of presidential biographies in honor of President's Day.

Happy reading,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowy Valentine's Day Activity

Kids stuck indoors?  Try this Valentine's Day activity that my daughter learned.  Make Rice Krispie  Treats using the traditional recipe found here.  Then shape them like Hershey's Kisses, wrap them in foil, and write your own  version of the trademark Hershey flags, with customized Valentine's Day messages.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award

The New York State Reading Association has announced the ballot for the 2014 Charlotte Award.  Students can vote for their favorite titles by reading the book(s) for their age division, or having the book(s) read to them, and then completing the ballot with the help of a teacher or librarian. 
The titles on the ballot are:


Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders & Creepy Insiders Anthony D.Fredericks/Jennifer DiRubbio Dawn Publications 2011

Because Amelia Smiled David Ezra Stein Candlewick Press 2012

Cloudette Tom Lichtenheld Henry Holt /Christy Ottaviano 2011

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships Catherine Thimmesh Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011

Goldilocks and Just One Bear Leigh Hodgkinson Nosy Crow 2012

I Need My Own Country Rick Walton/Wes Hargis Bloomsbury 2012

Jangles: A Big Fish Story David Shannon Blue Sky Press 2012

Penguin and Pinecone Salina Yoon Walker 2012

Spike the Mixed Up Monster Susan Hood/Melissa Sweet Simon & Schuster 2012

Who Has This Tail Laura Hulbert/Erik Brooks Henry Holt 2012



Ben Franklin His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z Alan Schroeder/John O’Brien Holiday House 2011

Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond Dorothy Hinshaw Patent Walker 2012

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson Peggy Thomas/Laura Jacques Calkins Creek 2011

Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller Doreen Rappaport/Matt Tavares Disney/Hyperion 2012

Kizzy Ann Stamps Jeri Watts Candlewick Press 2012

May B: A Novel Caroline Starr Rose Schwartz and Wade 2012

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds A Civil War Hero Marissa Moss/John Hendrix Abrams 2011

Same Sun Here Silas House/ Neela Vaswani Candlewick Press 2011

A Storm Called Katrina Myron Uhlberg/Colin Bootman Peachtree 2011

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives Gene Barretta Henry Holt /Ottaviano Books 2012



Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur Tracey Fern/Boris Kulikov Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2012

Dogs of Winter Bobbie Pyron Arthur Levine Books 2012

Gifts from the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology Lise Lunge-Larsen/Gareth Hinds Houghton Mifflin 2011

Hidden Helen Frost Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2011

Mighty Miss Malone Christopher Paul Curtis Random House 2012

A Monster Calls Patrick Ness/Jim Kay Candlewick Press 2011

My Brother’s Shadow Monika Schroeder Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2011

Shadow Michael Morpurgo Feiwel and Friends 2012

Surviving the Hindenburg Larry Verstraete/David Geister Sleeping Bear Press 2012

Wonder R.J. Palacio Knopf 2012



Ashfall Mike Mullin Tanglewood 2011

The Amazing Harry Kellar Gail Jarrow Calkins Creek 2012

Cinder Marissa Meyer Feiwel and Friends 2012

Freaks Like Us Susan Vaught Bloomsbury 2012

The Giant and How He Humbugged America Jim Murphy Scholastic 2012

Ice: The Amazing History of the Ice Business Laurence Pringle Calkins Creek 2012

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Ransom Riggs Quirk Books 2011

Never Eighteen Megan Bostic Graphia 2012

October Mourning Leslea Newman Candlewick Press 2012

Wolf Mark Joseph Bruchac TU Books 2011

For more information, click here

Happy reading,

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Teachers Spend

Plenty of people make a lot of noise about teacher salaries, but we never hear anything of what these teachers give.  The current issue of NEA Today lists these statistics on teacher spending:

99.5%    Percentage of teachers who reported buying essential classroom materials out of pocket

$945      Average amount of money teachers spent on out of pocket expenses during the school year

30%      Percentage of teachers who say they've bought warm clothing for their students

67%      Percentage of teachers who say they've purchased food for their students to meet nutritional

$37      Average amount teachers spend a month on food for students who come to school hungry

$1.6 BILLION   Estimated total out-of-pocket teacher spending last year 

Check out the current issue for these statistics and more

Happy reading,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Henson Launches Publishing Division

Publisher's Weekly reports that The Jim Henson Company is launching a new publishing imprint.  Their first series is aimed at girls age 7-9.  Read about it here.

Happy reading and writing,

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I'm Reading Now

Or rather, what I wish I were reading now, if I weren't so busy~
I recently picked up Mary Matalin and James Carville's new book, Love and War.  I'm not that far into it yet, but I can't wait to read the secrets behind the twenty-year marriage of politicos who are polar opposites.  How could they live together when they work so passionately for opposing sides?  Remember, I'm not talking about normal couples who have different views on things, healthy debates and lots of making up.  No, I'm talking about people who live, breathe, eat and dream politics for opposite sides.  People who have worked tirelessly leading opposing presidential campaigns.  People who write that they didn't even speak to each other after the Florida recount.   And speaking of speaking, what could their pillow talk possibly be like?  While I'm wondering about all of these things, do you think it matters?  Do you think that a person's political views are just that, views, or in some extreme cases, are they something more, an extension of their morality? 

Happy reading,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Second Sight Saturday: Super Books for Super Bowl Weekend

I originally posted this on February 3, 2012:

Super Books for Super Bowl Weekend!                                                                                                                       
brian's song

 February 3, 2012
Motivate some of your reluctant readers with the football-themed books below.  Don't forget the classic, Brian's Song, a favorite book of one of my favorite people!

Happy football reading,