When I do assemblies and family night events, one of my main messages is about how important it is to read aloud every day. Hearing words, saying words. How can a child express language in speech or writing if they haven't experienced it fully to begin with? Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken put it eloquently: “Good writing has a musical quality to it, a mathematical quality, a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it’s read aloud.”
Even snippets of prose or poetry read aloud on a regular basis can go a long way to giving young readers access to the beauty and power of language that they can apply in their own work in the future.
On October 3, I made two presentations at the Ventura County Office of Education's library conference - one on Narrative Nonficiton and the other on our vcrareading.org Author Visit Study. Participants entered their names into a drawing. The selection of winners was extremely scientific. Entry forms were folded and placed in the bucket. The bucket was overturned on my living room floor. Two cats (one was sleeping), Cookie and Ebony, were then released to choose the winning entries. Ebony Complained loudly that they needed to choose more than one winner. So they did. The following lucky people will be receiving the following prizes:
1st Prize : Choice of a hardcover, autographed copy The Kite That Bridged Two Nations (my newest picture book for older readers) or The Recess Queen
2nd Prize: Hardcover, autographed copy of The Kite That Bridged Two Nations (my newest picture book for older readers)
Runner-up Prize: Paperback copy of Estela’s Swap (a picture book set in Ventura County)
Cynthia Reyes Cruz Santa Paula 1st Prize Winner
Kari Skidmore Santa Clara 2nd Prize Winner
Shelley Benson Las Virgenes Runner up
Maribel Carino-Alvarez Oxnard Runner up
Joanne Davidson Moorpark Runner up
Connie Echevarria Hueneme Runner up
Vicki Ludlow Conejo Runner up
Jose Resendiz Hueneme Runner up
Pam Seligman Rio Runner up
Sandi Thompson Moorpark Runner up
Robin Todarello Ventura Runner up
Denice Tousignant Ventura Runner up
Have you ever hosted an author visit? If so, you know that something special and wonderful happens to the students as a result of that interaction. It might be increased interest in checking out library books, more willingness to write, validation that creativity is something to be celebrated . . . But is any of this measureable?
I'm working with Jo Anne Pandey, Ph.D. of California State University Northridge on an author visit study -- the first of its kind. Would you be willing to help us by taking a very short survey? It will take you about 5 minutes to respond.
CLICK HERE FOR THE SURVEY
Our actual study is exploring whether an author visit can make a difference in students' attitudes toward reading, writing and revision. We conducted a study in spring of 2013 and hope to move forward with an expanded study in 2015. If you would like a copy of the pilot study results, contact me here.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
The results are in! On May 31 and June 18, I wrote blog posts about a project that teacher Kristen Nordstrom and I did to see if 1st graders could integrate engaging narrative nonfiction elements into their reports on African Animals. Take a look at this short video, and you’ll get a taste of what they produced. And note that the filming/editing and directing of this clip was done by two 4th graders. Creative kids all around!
I'm polishing my traveling goggles for my drive across the desert to Las Vegas to the annual ALA (American Library Association) conference. I'm going to be signing my book, The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge, at the Boyds Mills /Calkins Creek booth 567-569 on Sunday, June 29, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Stop by! I have a brand new bookmark to give you for all those books you'll be collecting over the weekend. I also have a limited number of posters with an Educator's Guide on the back to hand out to the first folks who pick up a copy of my book. Be sure to say hi to my hard-working editor, Carolyn Yoder, and the super energetic manager of marketing and permissions, Kerry McManus, while you're there.
How do you move kids from research to writing straight informational text to adding narrative devices to enrich their writing? That's what Kristen Nordstrom and I will be showing at the California Reading and Literature Project's Summer Literacy Workshop at California Lutheran University on June 19 (tomorrow!). We'll be doing some hands-on with participants and sharing strategies for the writing process and classroom management used with first graders. We'll also show the kids' final results. If this can be done in first grade, it can be done in any grade! Stay tuned for a follow-up on this pairing of a children's author with a classroom teacher.
Alexis loves to play with words and find out more about how the world works. The result so far? Picture books for kids and nonfiction articles in kids' magazines. And she's working on many more writing projects, too!