Monday, January 23, 2017

Books with Shiny Stickers

The first hour of my day was filled with excitement this morning! The American Library Association Announced its Youth Media Awards this morning and I tuned in to the live feed. I am always curious to learn the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards, but the other awards are also very special.

Last year's winners Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson  and Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall are two of my favourite books. I was especially happy to see a picture book win the Newbery which is usually given to a chapter book. Winnie's hometown connection to Winnipeg also makes the book special. See my post from January, 2016.

I have been following Pernille Ripp, Carrie Gelson and Colby Sharp as their grade seven and grade three classrooms made their mock Caldecott and Newbery selections. I found I had similar tastes to their lists. I have added a number of potential winners to my own collection including Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport; Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith; School's First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson ; They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel; We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen and several more.

You may notice that I didn't do very well in determining the winner! But I have enjoyed adding some really great books to my collection.
I have also added to my YA and middle years collection including The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I was quite thrilled to have an almost instant reply to my tweet congratulating him on his Morris Award given to a debut book by a first-time author.

Another debut author that I add to my must read list is Nicola Yoon. She was honoured for The Sun is Also a Star receiving the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe for New Talent Author award and a Michael L Printz honor for excellence in literature for young adults.

I am a Jason Reynolds fan and immediately purchase his books as soon as they are available. Reynolds won two awards today for As Brave as You--the Coretta Scott King(author) honor book and the Schneider Family Book Award for Ghost. Ghost also won the Odyssey Honor book award for the audiobook.

[Drumroll please} The winners for the Newbery and Caldecott medals are:

Newbery Medal

Author Kelly Barnhill

Caldecott Medal

Author and illustrator Javaka Steptoe

The book that won the most awards was March Book 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, artist Nate Powell. March Book 3 is the last in a trilogy about American civil rights activism. Awards included the Coretta Scott King award for best children's book by an African-American and the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in children's literature.  It also won the YALSA award for excellence in non-fiction for young adults. The Robert F. Sibert Informational book award for children was the fourth award.

Sarah Dessen and Rick Riordan also received recognition at the American Library Association Youth Media awards. Check out all the winners here.

Check out the #alayma hashtag on Twitter.

I have to give credit to Mr @olby Sharp for my article title today. He tweeted this morning:

Today is about celebrating books that win shiny stickers. Every other day is about celebrating ALL the great books written for kids.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 What's Hot in Literacy?

The International Literacy Association releases the results of a annual survey of literacy leaders from 89 countries and territories. You can find more information about the survey on the ILA website.

The two key findings that stood out most for me were Early Literacy and Teacher Professional Learning and Development. According to the survey, early literacy is both hot and important. The respondents found it extremely important, but it was only a hot topic for 54% of the people surveyed. I can see similarities in our province. We know early literacy is very important, but it doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves from government.  Some of our communities have excellent programs for preschool children, but families have to take advantage of the opportunity to make use of them. As we approach Family Literacy Day on January 27th, think about how you can support early literacy in your community.

Teacher professional learning and development is extremely important according to the survey, but it was only rated as 47% hot. Our reading councils, like most educators, are very cognizant of the "one-shot" workshop woes, but dollars are scarce for longer term training sessions.  We know administrators must carefully consider what PD to support.  The move to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) is an effort to improve our professional practice through collaborative learning. Don't miss the opportunity to connect with other literacy leaders at the 4th Adolescent Literacy Summit on April 12-13 in Winnipeg. Check out the Summit website for more information.

Parent engagement and access to books and content had the largest gap between what's hot and what's important. Are these topics you or your colleagues are talking about? How do we ensure our students have access to literacy materials? Are there Free Little Libraries (or some form of them) in your community? Does your school library provide access for families over the summer? What has your school done to make literacy connections with parents? Have you tried a whole school novel, one that all students and parents read?

The survey data provides material for some interesting conversations. Share your ideas!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Let's Grow Readers

If you wish further information, please call Lisa at Elm Creek School 204.436-2354
or email

Looking Back and Forward

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a good time to look back and reflect and also to look forward to the year ahead. When you look at your "reading year," what were your successes? What were your challenges? How will 2017 be different for you?

If I reflect on some of my successes last year, I would include these:    
  • I spent more time in classrooms sharing books with students in 2016! Thanks to invites from friends, I was able to chat with middle years students about their reading preferences and to share some of my favourites. I hope to continue in 2017.
  • I read a lot of books! I have developed a real love for picture books, middle years books, and young adult literature. I actually will more often choose to read "children's" books rather than "adult" books.  I do not like the terms used to describe books as being for children or for adults. I know I read "adult" books long before I was an adult and referring to picture books as "children's" books prevents far too many people from reading really great books. Definitely come to the 4th Adolescent Literacy Summit in  April to hear Pernille Ripp speak about how she uses picture books in her middle years classroom. 
  • Being able to see literacy growth in children teaches us a lot about how we can develop literacy skills. I am fortunate to have grandchildren for my hands-on research. My five-year-old granddaughter shares her picture books with me, often calling to remind Grandma to bring back a book as she wants to read it again! Although she doesn't officially read yet (starts K in 2017), I wanted to introduce her to non-fiction so I bought her the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs. By summer she had several more non-fiction titles and she explained to me she was now very "sciency" so I could buy more science books. I bought Chris Hadfield's The Darkest Dark  and Ada Twist Scientist because Grandma still loves picture books! Watching a child develop literacy skills makes me pay much closer attention to tips and tools to develop listening, reading and comprehension skills.    

I had many new experiences related to literacy this year as well. Let me share some with you:
  • I expanded my Twitter world. I have been tweeting for a few years, but in the past year and a half I have really developed a PLN through Twitter. I now often have conversations with authors and I know authors want comments on their books. I have received book plates, bookmarks, free books, and book bags from authors I have met through Twitter. I especially enjoyed meeting Jon Klassen @burstofbeaden in Winnipeg in December. Twitter  is my social media of choice!
  • In July, I officially became the Provincial Co-ordinator for the International Literacy Association in Manitoba.  Full of trepidation, knowing I would never fill the shoes of my predecessor Carol Hryniuk-Adamov, I traveled to Boston to the ILA Convention along with a number of other Manitoba participants. What an experience! The conference was mind-boggling--if you have an opportunity to attend, GO! But it was also intimidating to see such big names in literacy, to meet some idols, and to recognize how lacking I really was to fulfill the role of Co-ordinator. However, I am determined to simply do the best that I can and to trust the wisdom provided by my predecessor and others. Meeting and working with literacy leaders--teachers, reading specialists, authors--has been inspiring and fulfilling and I hope to learn more from many of you in the next years of my three-year term.
  • Another foray I have made to increase my knowledge base concerning literacy is listening to podcasts and webinars. Jennifer Serravello, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Jennifer Gonzalez, Jon Spencer, Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker are my teachers and I have learned so much from them! I participate in School Library Journal webinars which led me to Canadian publishers that I was unaware of and a number of great Canadian books. I learned about Kate Messner's writing process as she answered student questions in a Google Hangout. Mo Willems’ and Jason Reynolds’ interviews on The Yarn podcast are not to be missed. Dav Pilkey has a great interview on Scholastic's blog. Students should hear from these authors! I love the audio or video presentations as I can listen and watch anytime that suits me. I register ahead of time for the webinars and then get the link, but being a participant in real time is also cool.
Image result for theyarnpodcast   
  • The last item I want to share with you involves FaceBook. I used FB as a personal connection with friends and family, but I have discovered really useful conversations and information can be found on it if you follow sites such as Notice and Note Book Club, Global Read Aloud, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). I especially love it when I see my MB literacy friends recommending strategies or book titles on these sites 
I hope you take some time to look back at your year in reading and consider your successes and how you might challenge yourself to meet some new goals for your classroom or your own children. Even if you don't take time to list them, let your reflections guide you as you plan for the upcoming term. We are growing readers !

I would appreciate your conversation on Twitter @percreads or @barblepp or by leaving comments on this blog. Don’t forget to follow  ILA online or @ILAToday and save the date for ILA2017 in Orlando, FL July 15-17th.

(An edited version of this blog post was provided to @RCGW for their newsletter.)