I’ll be honest, this installment of Raising Star Readers should be called “Raising Gigi’s Spirits.” The thing I miss most about spending time with my Reading Team is sharing laughter — everything from giggles to rolling-on-the-floor belly laughs.
Our Raising Star Readers contributor Ann Angel always has a unique take on selecting books for her Reading Team. Here, Ann talks about books that encourage what she calls “mindfulness moments” — titles that help kids (and adults) slow down and focus during our current “wild” times:
Our house is home to three generations. So husband Jeff and I live with Teddy, a rather rambunctious five-year-old, and his mom.… more
Raising Star Readers is grateful to have regular reminders from Anita Dualeh’s Reading Team that reading aloud isn’t an activity reserved only for families with small children. Instead, sharing and talking about books as you read them aloud together is something a family can grow into ...
As we bring this year-like-no-other to a close, Raising Star Readers contributor Constance Van Hoven shares a reflection on the power that books hold to connect us in so many ways: across time, across space, and across generations. Here is Connie’s moving reminder that “’tis the season for Reading Team angels”:
Here’s my reading team ready to head outdoors.
Raising Star Readers is delighted to introduce a new Reading Team, this one led by children’s book author Catherine Urdahl. Here, Catherine shares some heartwarming reading moments, with enough book-love and remembered summer sunshine to take the chill out of the coldest of December winds:
Juni and Catherine
I read to my daughters from the time they were infants, and now I have the joy of reading to my two-year-old granddaughter Juni and my new grandson Colby.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and a way-too-long physical separation from her Reading Team, Connie Van Hoven has continued to find creative ways for them to enjoy books together. Here, Connie describes some of the tactics she’s using — including technology and canine love — to assist her in Raising Star Readers:
My Reading Team is going to the dogs!… more
Raising Star Readers is delighted to drop in again on Deb Andries and her Reading Team as they celebrate diverse new offerings from Deb’s local library. Here’s how Deb describes the books that are helping to bring her joy:
Reading remains a joy. Reading remains a treasured moment and a teachable moment. Reading is shared.
Joyful reading occurs when the twins, Myles and Hayes, now 14 months, make every attempt to “sit” and “eat” the book!
It’s always fun to catch up with one of our Reading Teams and see what titles have become new favorites for them. This month, however, Anita Dualeh and her sons are revisiting OLD favorites: picture books that were once beloved by Anita’s boys, but that they have now outgrown at ages 10 and 12. Below, Anita describes what happens when her Reading Team reexamines these childhood favorites through their more “grown-up” eyes:
One evening a few months ago, I came down to our office to find my son Adam finishing up The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.… more
Raising Star Readers is delighted to hear that Brenda Sederberg’s Reading Team has added to its membership: welcome, Baby Phoebe! Brenda is also focusing on adding something else—she is expanding on the list of her Team’s old favorites by intentionally looking for books that are diverse and inclusive
As our Raising Star Readers column kicks off another school year, educators and caregivers both continue to face the kind of challenges few of us could have imagined last fall. Here, Ann Angel describes how her Reading Team is countering the “pandemic bubble” by adding nonfiction books to their list of favorite reads:
Hey there, parent or grandparent, raise your hand if you’re a pandemic teacher.… more
I once had an “aha” moment while giving my nephew a ride on a beautiful summer day. He was in that early stage of adolescence: old enough to sit in the front seat, but young enough that riding shotgun was exciting. But during this ride, he was giving off strange signals. He twitched. He wiggled. He squirmed. When we pulled up to a red light, I turned to look at him.… more
Sometimes, despite cramming plenty of action and conﬂict into my writing, it still falls ﬂat. I want the words to leap oﬀ the page and grab readers by the throat, and instead they ﬂop around gasping for breath.
Fortunately, there’s a straightforward revision trick that can rejuvenate such writing: a verb check.
I start by going through the piece and underlining or highlighting every verb.… more
In this Raising Star Readers update, Ann Angel shares how reading aloud helps carry on her family’s heritage of storytelling. Here’s how Ann describes it:
With Stay-at-Home a requirement in most states, mine included, I only see some of my grandkids via Skype and Zoom. But I have a daughter and grandson living with us. That means we’re balancing work and Teddy’s school, so, of course, I get involved.… more
I love book spine poetry, and it’s a great way to get young writers to engage with both books and poetry-writing. Check out your own shelves and see what stories emerge.
Here are some of my own eﬀorts to show you how easy it can be.
Where She Went
Looking for Alaska
Tracking daddy down
Looking for Alibrandi
In search of Mockingbird
Where the kissing never stops
Don’t you know there’s a war on?… more
We’re especially delighted to celebrate with Deb Andries (a.k.a. Grammy) this month as she launches her newest Reading Team. Here’s how Deb describes the experience:
My heart has always felt this “explosion of love” when we’ve welcomed a grandchild into our family. I vividly remember when our grandson Parker, now 14, was born, and the pure and elevated joy I felt.… more
In this addition to Raising Star Readers, we check in again on Anita Dualeh and her Reading Team. Along with many of us, they’re using books as a distraction and a consolation while living with the massive changes brought about by the threat of COVID-19. Here’s how Anita describes this shared moment of history-in-the-making:
In the past month, my kids haven’t had much formal schooling.… more
In this addition to Raising Star Readers, we check in again on a Reading Team that morphs each time we meet them (depending on who’s willing to sit still long enough!). This time around, Connie (Gigi to her grandchildren), is celebrating a reading milestone that will resonate with every book lover. Here’s how Connie describes it:
I brought along several book choices on a recent Colorado visit to my Reading Team: Priya (3 years) and Nikhil (15 months).… more
In my town, parallel parking was known as the “skill most likely to rattle” new driving candidates and ultimately cause them to ﬂunk their on-road driving test.
Luckily for me, I was assigned a gigantic pickup truck the day we practiced parallel parking in the student lot for Driver’s Ed class. By the time class was over, I could have wedged the Titanic between icebergs and come out safely on the other side (as long as the icebergs had highly visible orange safety cones sticking up out of the water).… more
Norma Gaffron is thrilled to have this chance to share her family’s long tradition of reading aloud. Her children and grandchildren are now grown, but they took the time during their Christmas Eve celebration to share a picture book together. Norma’s son Tim took the photos of Lauren (21), Norma (88), and Erik (25) enjoying Tuesday by David Wiesner.… more
Raising Star Readers relishes this chance to catch up with Ann Angel and her multigenerational Reading Team. For this entry, Ann was especially focused on how the words and visual art in picture books lead kids to think and to dream. Here’s how Ann describes it:
Long before I had kids and grandkids, I thought I’d grow up to be a visual artist.… more
Raising Star Readers is delighted to introduce a new Reading Team, one that highlights how rewarding it can be to continue a practice of reading aloud with children as they grow older.
Anita Dualeh’s Team includes her sons Adam, age 12, and Caleb, age 9. As Anita explains, “While I encourage independent reading, I believe reading aloud is equally important, and for every age.… more
There’s a quote about sculpting, attributed to Michelangelo, that I often paraphrase for students when I’m talking about the art of revising:
In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.… more
Raising Star Readers is delighted to introduce a new Reading Team centered around YA author and Wisconsin resident Ann Angel. Ann says: “One of my greatest pleasures as a grandparent is sharing a book with my grandkids that was a favorite with my kids when they were growing up. Another great pleasure is seeing my grown kids pull out a book they loved and read to it their children with the knowledge that they’re sharing a great love of story and reading.… more
This addition to Raising Star Readers features the theme “If you read it, they will come.”
As Connie (Gigi to her grandchildren) explains: “Our reading team hit a bump in the road! On a recent trip to Colorado, I introduced the picture book Grumpy Monkey (written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang) to Priya (now 2½) and Nikhil (now 10 months).… more
Bookology readers first met Brenda Sederberg’s Reading Team partner Sylvie when she was only two days old. At that time the two were sharing one of their very first read-alouds. Now Gram and Sylvie have had the chance to share a whole wonderful year of reading together!
To celebrate Sylvie’s first birthday, Brenda is highlighting the three books that have become Sylvie’s favorites over that special year.… more
Starting kindergarten is a special time, and it’s really special when you get to read books with Grammy to get you ready! For this addition to our Raising Star Readers feature, we’re delighted to once again be showcasing Deb Andries, a National Literacy Consultant who lives in Wisconsin, and two of her grandchildren, who are both starting kindergarten this fall.… more
Something that has always stuck with me from pioneer tales is the images of the keepsakes and other non-mandatory items pioneer families often had to discard on the trail as the trip became harder and the oxen grew weary of pulling the overloaded wagons.
This is just one of the reasons on the very long list of why I would have made the world’s worst pioneer — I can’t pack for a weekend without schlepping along half my household goods.… more
For this addition to our Raising Star Readers feature, we’re delighted to once again be showcasing Deb Andries, a National Literacy Consultant who lives in Wisconsin, and her grandchildren: Finley and Grayson, who live in Cumberland, Wisconsin, and Emmersyn, who lives in Sartell, Minnesota. Grammy and her Reading Teams recently shared Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, while enjoying milestone read-togethers during their Mother’s Day celebrations.… more
Once, in one of my (not uncommon) moments of thinking that I could no longer handle the ﬁnancial uncertainty of the children’s book writing life, I read a book that purported to match creative people to potential career pursuits. I read the advice, ﬁlled out the quizzes, and ﬁnally received my assigned “type.” With great anticipation I turned to the section at the back of the book where possible career paths were listed by type.… more
Recently, I’ve been thinking back on a time when my focus was riveted on helping to care for a family member who was dealing with serious medical issues. It’s been stressful to have this large “life moment” disrupt my normal routine, but it also brings with it a certain kind of clarity. It’s kind of like driving at night on a country road, when the only thing you see clearly is what is illuminated by your headlight beams; you’re aware of the shadowy shapes of other objects ﬂashing by along the roadside, but the illuminated area in front of you is what gets your primary attention.… more
A few years back, I had one frightening week. I had my head down, working hard, when I heard a commotion outside. I got up to look out my front window and saw the SWAT team marching towards my house, carrying guns and wearing bullet-proof vests. Once the sound of the news helicopters alerted me to turn on the TV, I found out what was going on: there had been a workplace shooting in my normally quiet neighborhood, and at first law enforcement thought the gunman might be on the loose.… more
When I was a kid growing up in the north woods of Minnesota, a group of my neighborhood friends had a “Chipmunk Fort.” It was constructed out of a pile of old fencing materials in my friend Paul’s backyard; each kid had their own “house” in the fort. We spent some time collecting pretty rocks and oddly shaped sticks and soft clumps of moss to decorate our houses.… more
Ask your young writers to imagine a social media proﬁle for their main character. What games do they play? Do they win? Do they cheat? What would their online proﬁle say? Do they lie when they’re online, and if so, what about?
For this addition to our Raising Star Readers feature, we’re delighted to be showcasing another new Star Reader: Baby Nikhil was just 2 months old when he joined the Reading Team that also includes his grandmother Constance Van Hoven (Connie) and his big sister Priya (2). The team was celebrating Connie’s first opportunity to meet her new grandson, who lives with his family in Colorado.… more
For this addition to our new Raising Star Readers feature, we’re honored to be showcasing a brand-new Star Reader: Baby Sylvie was only two days old when this photo was taken! She’s pictured with Gram (Brenda Sederberg), as the two of them share Debra Frasier’s classic picture book On the Day You Were Born at Sylvie’s home in Duluth, Minnesota.… more
We’re delighted to feature Bookology follower Deb Andries and her grandchildren to kick off our new Raising Star Readers column! The column’s goal is to showcase different Reading Teams as they read together during milestone celebrations.
Deb, a.k.a. “Grammy,” was able to enjoy two milestone read-togethers to kick off her Christmas season. In the photo above, Grammy shares The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, with grandsons Grayson (5) and Finley (3) in Wisconsin.… more
To be able to learn how to get somewhere, I have to drive the route myself. Riding shotgun doesn’t work if I’m trying to memorize the route; somehow the feeling of the necessary twists and turns has to seep up through the steering wheel and into the pores of my hands for me to be able to reliably retain it.… more
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