Friday, August 18, 2006


With the start of school looming around the corner, I thought I'd focus on some outstanding resources available that will make you a children's literature expert!

The classic guide to read-aloud has just been reissued with new, up-to-date research supporting the most successful approach in pedagogy, a bevy of helpful hints, lessons we can learn from Oprah, Harry Potter and cyberspace, a treasury of read-aloud titles, and a whole new chapter of inspiring testimonials from parents and teachers. This book by my hero (xoxoxxo) is possibly the most important book you can read before entering the field of education, and should be required reading by everyone who comes in contact with children. A journalistic coup de grace, I'm thrilled it is still going strong and finding new audiences to empower. Believe me, if you read this, you'll always find time for read-aloud!

There are very few parenting books I have read that I could shout, "I didn't want it to end!" but that is the case with this candid tell-all of a mother who is is passionate about books, and is eager to pass her enthusiasm on to her daughters. The author faces challenges as she realizes that there are all different kinds of readers in the world, and a variety pack happens to exist within her own household. An extemely brave parenting confessional, many scenes will ring familiar as Nash struggles with the tensions of parent-teacher conferences and the competition she feels as one child lags in the great reading race, and shares those shining moments when street signs begin to make sense and the world of words begins to crack open like a treasure chest. Besides offering all sorts of pragmatic suggestions and ideas at the end of each anecdotal chapter (such as "The Birthday Journal," "Soak up the Pleasures of the Bookstore," "The Three Chapter Rule," "One Dad's Storytime Secret," "What You Get When You Turn Off the TV"), there are several specific book recommendations and lots of good family dialogue that rings true. In all of its honesty, this book offers the great gift of perspective, and invites us to celebrate our children wherever they are on their reading journey. "I glanced around the little cabin, now dark with the night and lit by the fire. My whole family was there and it felt like we were in a state of grace. I realized that it wasn't really about anybody's ability to read, and it wasn't about any of the books that were being read. It was about just being able to be together in a quiet room, at peace in each other's presence." Sigh!

BOOKS TO GROW WITH: A GUIDE TO USING THE BEST CHILDREN'S FICTION FOR EVERYDAY ISSUES AND TOUGH CHALLENGES by Cheryl Coon (Lutra Press) I think this is one of my most dog-eared resources. Though I have long advocated that all good books are character education books, people continue to ask for books that deal directly with issues, making this title one of my most dog-eared reference books. This extraordinarily comprehensive and approachable guide solves the problem so many teachers and parents face: finding just the right children's books to address a problems! This author really did her homework in creating this resource of excellent recommendations falling under such clear and helpful headings as sharing, bullies and teasing, feelings, fears, babysitters, stuttering, being gifted, boasting, honesty, sleepovers, self-esteem, adoption, moving, glasses, divorce, strangers, aging, illness, disabilities, death, and many more, making it sure to be dog-eared by booksellers, counselors, physicians, parents and educators. When it comes to prescribing bibliotherapy, Cheryl Coon has the country's best bedside manner, so the next time you have an issue, don't reach for a tissue, grab this title instead. And just FYI, this author is a great speaker to boot.

CHILDREN TELL STORIES by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (Richard C. Owen Publishers) This truly generous and invaluable guide written by two seasoned performers is "the" book for creating a new generation of oral storytellers. I discovered the first edition as a teacher, and with a cheerful, can-do voice, it walked me through all the steps of becoming a better storyteller, and sharing that skill with my students. No educator should be without this amazing tool for exploring the power of narrative, and creating an appreciation for the special talent behind the oral tradition. The new edition is an even bigger treasure trove than the first, has a four-week sample timetable for easy use in planning and preparing a storytelling unit (teachers, resist kissing the page, if possible), and includes a DVD that features videos, web links and printable stories. You will be amazed at the stories both you and your students are able to bring to life, the and the confidence and enthusiasm with which you will be able to do it.

BOOKS KIDS WILL SIT STILL FOR #3: A READ-ALOUD GUIDE by Judy Freeman (Libraries Unlimited) I am actually pulling at the hair on my head, trying to decide where to begin to describe this lifework of one. Amazing. Woman. Starts with a list of seventeen things you need to know to be a good school librarian. Then sections on awards, reading aloud and reading alone, how to integrate books across the curriculum, how to do storytelling and reader's theater, and then, and then, and then! there is an annotated (!!!) list of over a THOUSAND recommendations, divided be genre (such as fiction, fairy tales, poetry, nonfiction), and each recommendation contains a "germ," or a springboard to discussion, a weblink, a project idea...and then, and then, and then! Every title has a mammoth list of related titles! Whooooaaaah. The thing that differentiates this title from other resource books is that this book, despite its dictionary-like girth, despite its encyclopedia-like wealth of knowledge, has personality. You can feel Freeman's enthusaism and heart on every page, and her desire to pass on everything she knows to you, to make a community of readers a reality in America. Despite its price tag, being from a specialized publisher, I have found this book to be worth every penny, a one-stop shop for all you need to know about children's literature. The admiration I have for this woman and this boggling project brings tears to my eyes.

HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE READING (Algonquin) Judy Freeman is a tough act to follow, but I'll remind you that my book is handy for its thematic lists, and for the motivation-based approach that affirms that there is hope for every child to be a lifelong lover of books.

Also of interest:
Even if you're not a teacher, you can make a huge difference in a classroom by visiting one of my very favorite websites, DonorsChoose, in which teachers post mini-proposals that need our funding. Beyond being a brilliant initiative, it sure is fun reading what creative ideas teachers have!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


Andromeda Jazmon said...

I want all of these! Thanks for the recommendations.

Anonymous said...

I am ridiculously excited after reading this post!! I kept reading along and as I scrolled down, silently cheering to find another great book I will now have to go out and buy!

I am in my last year of school for my elementary ed. degree. I've been looking forward to reading the latest edition of Jim Trelease's book, as my old edition inspired me to the point that I was quoting it to anyone who listened.

How to Get Your Child To Love Reading is one of my favorite resources. I have used it to find books for my toddler son, to build my future classroom library, and as a springboard for developing unit plans.

I can't wait to read the rest of these books. Esme, I love this blog and check it every morning. You are one of my heros.

Anonymous said...

If you would like to learn how to read aloud, then Mem Fox's READING MAGIC is a great place to start to teach parents and teachers how to go about reading a book aloud to students.
(I'm honestly surprised it didn't make your list, Esme!)
Love Tessa xo

Anonymous said...

but my, you are modest. -- A devoted fan in St. Louis


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