Category Archives: Librarians

Celebrating Stories about America’s National Parks!

Junior_Ranger_logo

courtesy www.nps.gov

Happy Birthday America!

In honor of July 4th, and family travel season, I thought I would write about one of this country’s greatest treasures: The National Parks System. I’ve come to more deeply appreciate the NPS through my middle-grade reading kids, who are obsessed with the “Junior Ranger Program” – a program available at almost all U.S. National Parks and Monuments. On visiting a park – great or small – our children will ask the ranger if they have a junior ranger program. This is usually a printed booklet that asks the kids to to age appropriate activities relevant to the park — everything from taking a hike, attending a ranger talk on geology or nocturnal creatures, reading about a historical event or figure, and then completing various puzzles, activities and games. On completion of a booklet (which may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 or 3 hours), the ranger checks their work and viola! They are sworn in to be junior rangers!

5623805_f520My kids are really excited to collect the various junior ranger badges — there are about 400 in this country and my kids have 72 each — but others enjoy collecting patches, or stamping their “national parks passports” with stamps from various parks. It’s a great way to see America, and have the kids be the instigators and navigators of family trips (rather than the ones who dread going places and drag their feet) But you don’t have to go far (usually) to find a great NPS site – there are many smaller sites that you may not know about right around the corner from you! Just visit www.nps.gov to look at the list of wonderful junior ranger program-containing sites. (There is also a web ranger program, and several you can do online!)

There are many TERRIFIC books for kids to learn about national parks: check out some great lists here and here. When we visit a site, we often try to read something that gets us excited about what we are about to see. There’s undoubtedly a biography, nonfiction or fiction for every middle grade reader that would be appropriate to read about almost every park! Here are some thoughts that might make your summer NPS vacation both informative and literary!

 

1. Visiting Boston’s Historic Sites or just stopping by on your way to the Cape? There are several junior ranger programs in the area. And while you’re clocking miles on I-95 why not give your middle grade biography or history buff Who Was Paul Revere?

Who Was Paul Revere?

courtesy barnesandnoble.com

courtesy barnesandnoble.com

2. Heading to Florida for a beach vacation or to visit Disney? Take a day trip to the Everglades or the several other terrific NPS sites in Florida! Maybe your mystery reader will enjoy Nancy Drew 161: Lost in Everglades. 

3. Going to the big parks in Arizona? What about giving your animal-loving reader that old classic Brighty of the Grand Canyon

4. Of a literary or oratorical bent? What about visiting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s home in Cambridge or Edgar Allen Poe’s Birthplace in Philadelphia or Fredrick Douglass’ National Historic Site in Maryland?

 

Feel free to add your favorite park/vacation related books below! And enjoy your summer exploring this nation’s beautiful parks!

Here’s an adorable link to get your younger travelers excited about national parks:  Sesame Street Explores National Parks

 

Freedom Summer 1964: Looking back with a new generation


Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around
traditional song that became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s

Fifty years ago this month, the arduous efforts of civil rights advocates through the 50′s and 60′s coalesced in Mississippi as thousands organized to push for voting rights long-denied to African Americans.  Our nation’s work for equity and social justice goes on today, and the examples set by those who would not give up are treasured by ongoing generations of readers.  In their remarkable book, Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk about the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made it Happen,  Casey King and Linda Barrett Osborne share interviews that fourth graders conducted with family members and others who worked for justice during this time.

Starting with Oh, Freedom!, Seattle teacher Kay Yano built a unit on Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Movement so that her fifth-graders could also learn from — and be inspired by — this important time in our history.  Kay’s goal was “to draw students into the lives of some of the leading voices of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s and to see that they were all ordinary people who saw injustice and felt moved to action from it.  I want students to understand that people just like us can rise up and do extraordinary things, and that when we work together, we are able to be change agents.  My hope is that students can find that place in themselves that resonates with these leaders and find the ability to be change agents too.”

A Sampling of Books about the Civil Rights Movement and Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; ill. by Jerome Lagarrigue.  Friendship defies racism for two boys in this stirring story of the “Freedom Summer” that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now in a 50th Anniversary Edition with a refreshed cover and a new introduction. (Indiebound description)

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges.  This is a book written by Ruby Bridges herself!  She writes in her memoir about her experience, accompanied by Federal Marshals, of being a 6-year-old who became the first black student to attend her elementary school.  This book has articles that appeared in newspapers at the time and helps to create a context for her remarkable story of courage (Kay Yano description).

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Muñoz Ryan; ill. by Brian Selznick.  This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Marian Anderson, who was a gifted singer who was prevented from performing at the Metropolitan Opera and Constitution Hall because of discriminatory policies.  However, she was invited by President Roosevelt to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where she performed in front of an appreciative crowd of 75,000 people.  This performance opened doors for her and for others that had previously been closed. (Kay Yano description)

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni; ill. by Bryan Collier.  Rosa Parks’s story is told here, both her life leading up to the moment where she “sat down to stand up” for the African American community in Montgomery, Alabama.  The story then moves into the resulting bus boycott and some of concrete results of her actions of civil disobedience. (Kay Yano description)

As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing Walk toward Freedom by Richard Michelson; ill. by Raul Colon Tells the parallel stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel (a Polish-born rabbi who fled Nazi Germany) and how they came together in the March To Montgomery.  It talks about the many influences and common experiences of oppression that both men faced and how they found commonality that helped to cement their alliance. (Kay Yano description)

Revolution by Deborah Wiles.  It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer.  As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel COUNTDOWN award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place — and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what’s right. (Indiebound description)

Learn more about Deborah Wiles’ “60′s Trilogy” in MUF team member Laurie Beth Schneider’s interview with Deborah Wiles and her editor, David Levithan

Thank you to Kay Yano for sharing her unit ideas!

Katherine Schlick Noe teaches beginning and experienced teachers at Seattle University. Her debut novel, Something to Hold (Clarion, 2011) won the 2012 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award for middle grade/young adult and was named a 2012 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.  Visit her at http://katherineschlicknoe.com.

Book Expo America – Photo Essay & Musings

I just got home from my first ever BEA (Book Expo America) bookseller convention held at the Javits Center in New York City. It’s been nearly 10 years since I visited New York and, though I came very close to canceling the whole thing 3 weeks before, the experience ended up very much worth all the flights from my tiny corner of the world in the Southwest, the Dramamine (ha!) and the angst/worry/nerves/chewed fingernails.

Javits_Center_11av_jeh

Javits Center, New York City

Highlights of my experience:

1. This summer my 4th novel will publish with Scholastic (THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES) and I finally got to meet my talented and terrific editor for the first time. Scholastic also set me up with an ARC signing – we estimated at least 100 copies in 45 minutes. Whew! So much fun.

2. I was also able to meet my Harpercollins editor for the first time (FORBIDDEN, Nov ’14) and discuss edits for Book 2 in the trilogy as well as their forthcoming marketing/publicity plans. My editor called it a “robust” marketing plan – whoo hoo!!

I’ve been to ALA and IRA Conventions before, which are geared toward librarians and teachers, while BEA is put on by booksellers (although teachers, librarians, publishers, authors, and READERS, are there in wild abundance.)

I discovered that agents, foreign agents from around the world, movie people, as well as folks from outside publicity firms are also at BEA in strong numbers. I was able to meet and chat with Scholastic and Harpercollins sales and marketing folks manning their respective booths eager to talk about upcoming Fall titles.

BEA Diversity Panel

The WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel Members. I missed it but I heard it was FANTASTIC!!! Raves from everyone who attended.

BEA Diverse

As you can see from the standing room only crowd waiting for the Diversity Panel to begin.

My two days was so wild and crazy with appts, panels, classes (yes there are many of these, much more than I expected), lunches, and autographing sessions, I neglected to take a picture of the Autographing Area. Believe me, there were THOUSANDS of people there to snag ARCs and meet their favorite authors. I did notice that Adult and Young Adult authors were in higher abundance than Middle-Grade Authors. I had one of the few MG ARC signings and the line was crazy huge. I signed like a mad woman, (while trying to simultaneously chat with the terrific readers and booksellers and librarians – my publicist and editor unpacking and opening the books as fast as they could next to me) that I have NO pictures. Truly, I was there! Really! :-)

BEA Children’s Book Breakfast: Carl Hiaasen, Mem Fox, Jason Segal , and Jeff Kinney (l to r)

Your Average Book-Lover Citizen was able to attend on the final day of Saturday since the BEA convention organizers added a Book Con day (also called Power Reader Day) to the schedule. The public was able to purchase tickets, grab ARCs as well as enjoy demonstrations, games, and panel events with their favorite authors.

Read a great recap of panels and events here: BEA Round-Up by Publisher’s Weekly

Pics From the Floor!

IMG_1041

I *am* partial to the purple flooring . . .

IMG_1044

Middle-Grade Books!

IMG_1045

More Books!

IMG_1046

Scholastic titles that have sold internationally.

IMG_1049

IMG_1057

A Lego Bounty Hunter: couldn’t help myself.

IMG_1061

The aisles go as far as you can see in both directions.

IMG_1062

Audio Books!

IMG_1063

Publisher’s Weekly as well as Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and other reviewers were represented.

IMG_1064

I tried to snap displays of MG books for y’all.

IMG_1065

Barefoot Books

IMG_1067

Self-Explanatory. :-)

IMG_1068

Ditto!

IMG_1069

Gorgeous weather enjoyed by all – except when it suddenly poured rain trying to get a taxi to the airport Saturday late afternoon. Some of my ARCs got wet in my bag. :-(

 

Was anybody at BEA that I missed? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

June 27-28 I’m headed to the American Library Association Summer Conference – raise your hand if you’re going! Would love to meet more readers and writers.

Kimberley Griffiths Little’s newest MG novel will release July 29. THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES has already received terrific reviews from Kirkus, PW, and School Library Journal said, “A perfect choice for lovers of ghost stories, historical fiction, or just a good yarn.” Stay tuned for her launch with giveaways right here on MUF. Find Kimberley on Facebook. and Twitter:@KimberleyGLittl

Teacher’s Guides, Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides, and book trailers “filmed on location” at her website.