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Red Reading Boots

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The Very First & Last Page

Last week I zoom-vis­it­ed a kinder­garten class to read my own pic­ture book. The class was ter­rif­ic and at the end we had a time for Q & A. They are work­ing on the dif­fer­ence between ask­ing a ques­tion and “shar­ing.” It’s an impor­tant and dif­fi­cult skill. One lit­tle girl, who might’ve been a stringer for the New York Times, or per­haps an after-school pros­e­cu­tor, so mature and earnest in her ques­tion­ing was she, asked to see “the very first page of the book.”… more

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Shall I Knit You a Hat?

I’ve received a won­der­ful ear­ly Christ­mas gift this year — two new reg­u­lar sto­ry­times to con­duct. Both inter­est­ed in the season’s books — and do I have Christ­mas books to share! The only down­side — and I can live with it — is that it’s via the tech­nolo­gies with which we see peo­ple these days. I’m so grate­ful for the Zooms, the Face­Times, the Face­book Lives…it’s the only way to safe­ly see folks and it makes things like sto­ry­time pos­si­ble.… more

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Poetry Teatime

On Hal­loween morn­ing, Pooh Bear came for a vis­it on our porch. There was cof­fee for her par­ents and hot choco­late with whipped cream and sprin­kles for her, as well as a round of pas­tries for all. A love­ly morn­ing, how­ev­er dis­tanced and masked we had to remain. 

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Enola Holmes

I sent the email as a joke, real­ly. Net­flix sent me the announce­ment that the much antic­i­pat­ed Eno­la Holmes movie would pre­mier on the upcom­ing Wednes­day, and so I sent our (grown-up) kids an email with words I cer­tain­ly nev­er thought I’d utter and don’t real­ly under­stand: We should have a Net­flix Party! (For those of you who also don’t under­stand this — though I rec­og­nize I’m like­ly part of a dimin­ish­ing group of peo­ple — a Net­flix Par­ty is a new fea­ture of Net­flix in which Net­flix syn­chro­nizes your video watch­ing on your sep­a­rate devices in your sep­a­rate places and adds a group chat to the screen.… more

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Thanks for the Memories, Miss Rumphius!

Today, the day I am writ­ing this col­umn, has been a long one. It start­ed with a 4 a.m. alarm. It is the day Dar­ling Daugh­ter moves to col­lege. In Boston. Which is far from Min­neso­ta and so neces­si­tates a plane ride. Dur­ing a pan­dem­ic. Alone, as her uni­ver­si­ty is not allow­ing par­ents on cam­pus dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time.… more

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Almost Time

I’ve been wait­ing for Eliz­a­beth Stick­ney and Gary D. Schmidt’s Almost Time for quite awhile. Seems appro­pri­ate — it’s a book about wait­ing, after all. I read very ear­ly drafts of it years ago, so long ago that I can hard­ly recall details — only that it’s about the mak­ing of maple syrup. What I dis­cov­ered upon read­ing it in pub­lished form is that in addi­tion to being about the mak­ing of maple syrup, this book is also about the solace found in wait­ing and work­ing togeth­er.… more

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Storytime in the Time of Coronavirus

I’ve had the great joy these last few weeks of pulling togeth­er “dis­tanced” sto­ry­times for a few fam­i­lies who could use a half hour of sit­ting on the couch and let­ting some­one else enter­tain and inter­act with the kids. This has been a stretch for me. Though I’m grate­ful for all of the apps and plat­forms that allow us to see and talk vir­tu­al­ly — dur­ing this time, espe­cial­ly — I would not choose to do sto­ry­time this way.… more

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The Rabbit Listened

In my cur­rent reg­u­lar sto­ry­time group, I have a lit­tle one who insists he has what­ev­er book I’m read­ing at his house, too. I hold up a book and he jumps in excite­ment. “I have that book at my house!” he says, while his par­ents shake their head behind him. I tease him say­ing, “We must have exact­ly the same book­shelves.”… more

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Heidi Bread

I real­ized (again) over the win­ter hol­i­days this year that much of hol­i­day friv­o­li­ty cen­ters on food. I’d have it no oth­er way, myself, but I must say that after a couple/few weeks of eat­ing grand meals, too many sweets, and grab­bing tea/coffee more often than usu­al, I crave sim­plic­i­ty when I sit down for lunch in the mid­dle of a writ­ing day.… more

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Hey! Unto you a child is born!” I think of this line each and every Christ­mas Eve when the Christ­mas sto­ry accord­ing to Luke’s Gospel is read. If I’m the one doing the read­ing, and you were to pay close atten­tion, you’d prob­a­bly notice that I have to take a nano-sec­ond pause so as to drop the “Hey!”… more

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

In my sto­ry­time bag this past month I’ve been car­ry­ing The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar by Eric Car­le. I don’t always use it, but I like hav­ing it with me — I know it will always work. When I pull this book out of the bag, there are smiles, clap­ping some­times, and always a cho­rus of  “I have that book!”… more

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Bee-bim Bop

I’ve been on the sto­ry­time cir­cuit this last month as I have a new pic­ture book of my very own. Read­ers of this col­umn know how much I adore sto­ry­time, so wher­ev­er I’ve gone to read my book, I’ve asked if I can do a whole sto­ry­time, the bet­ter to read oth­er pic­ture books, as well.… more

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Moving Books

Many momen­tous things have gone down in our house this sum­mer. #1 Son grad­u­at­ed from col­lege in May, is gain­ful­ly employed (local­ly!) as a soft­ware engi­neer, and has recent­ly moved to an apart­ment. Dar­ling Daugh­ter start­ed her senior year of high school last week and is busy work­ing on col­lege appli­ca­tionsIt makes me a lit­tle light head­ed to think of it.… more

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Strictly No Elephants

  It had been one of those news days…. Actu­al­ly, there had been a string of such news days — hate-filled head­lines, bom­bas­tic egos, dan­ger­ous threats. The world seemed extra prick­ly and dan­ger­ous. It’s at these times that I espe­cial­ly like read­ing with kids. For­tu­nate­ly, I had a read­ing gig all lined up at an ele­men­tary school — it was the week lead­ing up to Read Across Amer­i­ca.more

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Kids & Books…Books & Kids

Last week I was a teacher-pre­sen­ter at a young authors and artists con­fer­ence for a cou­ple of days. Tremen­dous fun — the kids who come to these things want to be there and want to learn. They’re read­ers, writ­ers, artists! They are an engaged, engaging, and exu­ber­ant lot, which I enjoy immense­ly. I taught six ses­sions on bring­ing con­flict to your sto­ries — “Mak­ing It Even Worse” was the title of my ses­sion.… more