Doorways to the Wild and Wondrous

Sarah Nelson
Today, writing about nature and outdoor play just feels as natural and right to me as breathing. All my happy memories of chasing frogs, climbing trees, and splashing in summer lakes easily inform the stories I write.

Mélina Mangal

Melina Mangal
Méli­na Man­gal’s Self on the Shelf I looked on my shelves, won­der­ing which books to high­light. I have sev­er­al shelves, scat­tered around the house. Though I am a school librar­i­an, my home shelves are quite flu­id, as in, they’re not strict­ly orga­nized. Books are loose­ly grouped by for­mat and size, some­times by genre. I real­ly don’t have that  many books (I love to vis­it the library!),
more

Deb Andries and Her Reading Team
February 2021

Snow Uri Shulevitz
Reading teams do read together, and my Reading Team(s) and I have been doing just that. However, as you view the photos of the twins, Hayes and Myles, now seventeen months, you see them reading by themselves.

Ann Angel and Her Reading Team
February 2021

Be Kind
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

Tracy Sue Walker

Tracy Sue Walker
This month we wel­come Tra­cy Sue Walk­er, author, pub­lic librar­i­an, and pro­fes­sion­al storyteller. She’s recent­ly been reveal­ing “the truth about” a series of mys­ti­cal crea­tures, so far includ­ing drag­ons, Big­foot, and uni­corns, for Scholas­tic Book Clubs. Tra­cy describes her­self this way, “A booklover, day­dream­er, and goof­ball, I’m pret­ty qui­et unless I’m telling a sto­ry, then I’m pret­ty loud.”
more

Deb Andries and Her Reading Team
November 2020

Dancing Hands
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!
more

Candice Ransom

Candice Ransom
One green thing I wish every­one would do:  Give up plas­tic bags. It’s hard, I know, to remem­ber to car­ry a bag into a store. I wish we could give up oth­er forms of plas­tic, like the blis­ter packs encas­ing every­thing from Bar­bie dolls to Bic pens. Back in the days of five and ten stores, it was so nice to sim­ply pick an item out of a bin or off a shelf, pay for it, and not wres­tle with tin snips to get it open.
more

Brenda Sederberg and Her Reading Team
October 2020

On the Day You Were Born
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

Little Engines:
A Simple but Impactful Early Literacy Initiative

In ear­ly fall of 2019, I com­plet­ed a grant appli­ca­tion through our local ear­ly child­hood board. I pro­posed a new ear­ly lit­er­a­cy pro­gram called Lit­tle Engines. Each month, we will have an ear­ly child­hood pro­fes­sion­al pro­vide a sto­ry­time pro­gram with activ­i­ties. These include lit­er­a­cy, nutri­tion, child­care, school readi­ness, music/recreation, creativity/arts, and STEAM. The library pro­vides fam­i­lies a tote bag that includes var­i­ous activ­i­ties and a book to enjoy at home togeth­er.… more

Deb Andries and Her Reading Team
April 2019

The Gingerbread Baby
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

Knowing Your Past to Make Peace

Shi-Shi-Etkp
Wel­come to Peace-olo­gy. We are two children’s authors team­ing up to review children’s books with peace in mind.  Ellie: The oth­er day, I looked over the shoul­der of my five-year-old to see what he was draw­ing. There was the Ire­land flag on the left, the Nor­way flag on the right, and he was fin­ish­ing the Unit­ed States flag in the mid­dle.… more

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
Such a charm­ing book! From Nik­ki Grimes, we hear the sto­ry of a young boy stalling his bed­time, all the while col­lect­ing a menagerie of imag­i­nary crea­tures. This is a child who has well-prac­ticed ploys for avoid­ing bed­time. His par­ents respond with play­ful­ness and good humor. Mom and dad are patient but, final­ly, the child is too sleepy to stay awake.… more

Melanie Heuiser Hill

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This stack is large­ly the Self-On-The-Shelf stack of my child­hood. There would be stacks of oth­ers, as well, you under­stand. I was sur­prised how many were miss­ing when I went to pull books for this col­umn, actu­al­ly. Where were all the Judy Blume books? Where was How To Eat Fried Worms? And, I sup­pose if I’m real­ly hon­est, I would need to include a small stack of Guin­ness Book of World Records from the late seventies…I wore the cov­ers off those books.… more

Reading Books Through the Lens of Peace

Peace
Wel­come to Peace-olo­gy. We are two children’s authors team­ing up to review children’s books with peace in mind.  Caren: After all our inter­views for our book Sachiko: A Nagasa­ki Bomb Survivor’s Sto­ry, I asked the book’s inspi­ra­tion, peace edu­ca­tor Sachiko Yasui, if she had any last words she would like to share with children. Sachiko’s response was to think about this: What is peace?more

Skinny Dip with Marsha Wilson Chall

One of my all-time favorite books is Up North at the Cab­in. There is some­thing quin­tes­sen­tial about the cab­in expe­ri­ence for many peo­ple who live in the Upper Mid­west. This book, by our Skin­ny Dip­pin’ author Mar­sha Wil­son Chall, has engaged read­ers and lis­ten­ers for 27 years! Mar­sha has cre­at­ed many pic­ture books that show­case her sto­ry­telling tal­ents, includ­ing Bona­parte, One Pup’s Up, and The Secret Life of Fig­gy Mus­tar­do.… more

Ann Angel and Her Reading Team
October 2019

Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree
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

Pass the Ps Please – an Evening with Dav Pilkey

Maurna Rome
Pos­i­tiv­i­ty, prac­tice and per­sis­tence… a pow­er­ful approach to over­com­ing a mul­ti­tude of chal­lenges and unbe­liev­ably bad school expe­ri­ences. The one and only, Dav Pilkey, shared sev­er­al heart­felt sto­ries to inspire kids (and adults) dur­ing his recent stop in St. Paul as part of his “Dog Man, Do Good Tour.” With humor and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, Dav explained that as a kid with both ADHD and dyslex­ia, read­ing was any­thing but pleas­ant.… more

Brenda Sederberg and Her Reading Team
September 2019

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

Ask Me About … My Amazing Students!

Maurna Rome
New year. New grade lev­el. Same class­room filled with same amaz­ing kids from last year (along with sev­er­al love­ly new addi­tions). Just wrapped up the sev­enth day of school and the same ques­tion keeps run­ning through my mind… how did I get so lucky? “Loop­ing” (mov­ing up a grade lev­el) with a class that you absolute­ly adore from the year before is pret­ty much like win­ning the “teacher lot­tery.”… more

Deb Andries and Her Off-to-School Reading Team
September 2019

The Day You Begiin
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

Deb Andries and Her Reading Teams
May 2019

Guess How Much I Love You
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

Successful

Maurna Rome
Suc­cess. Thesaurus.com offers more than fifty syn­onyms for the word “suc­cess”… accom­plish­ment, fame, hap­pi­ness, progress, tri­umph, and vic­to­ry all have a place on the list. With test­ing hys­te­ria mak­ing the rounds in schools and class­rooms every­where, the def­i­n­i­tion of suc­cess as it relates to read­ing, has like­ly weighed heav­i­ly on the minds and hearts of many teach­ers.… more

The Arrow of Time

Candice Ransom
When you walk into our house, you know imme­di­ate­ly my hus­band and I are read­ers. The din­ing room is des­ig­nat­ed as the library, but there are book­cas­es and books in every sin­gle room, includ­ing the bath­rooms. We sub­scribe to The Wall Street Jour­nal and the Sun­day New York Times, as well as Smith­son­ian, Audubon, and Sky and Tele­scope.more

Brenda Sederberg and Her Reading Team
February 2019

The Stuff of Stars
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

Deb Andries and Her Reading Teams
January 2019

The Stuff of Stars
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

Serendipity

Maurna Rome
I love the word “serendip­i­ty.” I also love when I actu­al­ly expe­ri­ence the feel­ing of serendip­i­ty. It shows up unex­pect­ed­ly in moments when I feel a sur­pris­ing con­nec­tion or hap­py coin­ci­dence between two seem­ing­ly sep­a­rate things. It makes me believe in the pow­er of the uni­verse and often leaves me ques­tion­ing whether these occur­rences are more than a fluke. I espe­cial­ly love when serendip­i­ty shows up in my teach­ing, learn­ing, and lit­er­a­cy life.… more

Summer Reading

When I say “sum­mer read­ing,” you think about … a good nov­el, right? I have a cou­ple of suggestions. Every kid should have these two books tucked in their beach bags, ready for a car trip, or packed for sum­mer camp. Seriously. In between the read­ing out loud of those nov­els you’ve been sav­ing up all year, or the lis­ten­ing to an audio book on the car radio, or the flash­light read­ing in the pitched tent in your back­yard, I hope you will share these books.… more

Skinny Dip with Lester Laminack

Lester Laminack
Lester Lam­i­nack is sought after as a speak­er in school dis­tricts all over the coun­try. A retired pro­fes­sor, active­ly involved in lit­er­a­cy on many lev­els, he’s thought­ful, artic­u­late, and has a sparkling sense of humor.  We’re pleased that this very busy author and speak­er took time to share his thoughts with Bookol­o­gy’s read­ers this month. What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book? more

Skinny Dip with DeDe Small

DeDe Small
DeDe Small shares her enthu­si­asm about books, read­ing, and lit­er­a­cy with her stu­dents at Drake Uni­ver­si­ty in Des Moines, Iowa. We invit­ed DeDe to Skin­ny Dip with us, our first inter­view in the New Year. When did you first start reading books? I don’t actually remember learning to read but I do always remember having books. I even came up with my own cataloging system in the later elementary grades.… more

True Story

Candice Ransom
Recent­ly I attend­ed a writer’s con­fer­ence main­ly to hear one speak­er. His award-win­ning books remind me that the very best writ­ing is found in children’s lit­er­a­ture. When he deliv­ered the keynote, I jot­ted down bits of his sparkling wisdom. At one point he said that we live in a bro­ken world, but one that’s also filled with beau­ty. My pen slowed.… more

The Sameness of Sheep

Candice Ransom
Once, when I dis­cussed my work-in-progress, mid­dle-grade nov­el with my agent, I told her the char­ac­ter was eleven. “Make her twelve,” she said. “But eleven-year-olds aren’t the same as twelve-year-olds,” I protest­ed. “Those are dif­fer­ent ages.” “Make her twelve,” she insist­ed. “The edi­tor will ask you to change it anyway.” I didn’t fin­ish the book (don’t have that agent any­more, either).… more

Skinny Dip with Patti Lapp

Patti Lapp
A ded­i­cat­ed edu­ca­tor in Penn­syl­va­nia, we invit­ed Pat­ti Lapp to answer our twen­ty Skin­ny Dip questions.  Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why? Mr. Jor­dan was my favorite teacher who taught 7th grade. He was fun­ny and straight­for­ward; all of us stu­dents respect­ed him, and he cer­tain­ly kept every­one in line. I attend­ed a Catholic school, and he was unique in that setting.… more

The Book Box

Candice Ransom
For a fic­tion work­shop, I asked par­tic­i­pants to bring in child­hood books that influ­enced them to become a writer. Nat­u­ral­ly, I did the assign­ment myself. Choos­ing the books was easy, but they felt insub­stan­tial in my hands, vin­tage hard­backs that lacked the heft of, say, the last Har­ry Pot­ter. When it came my turn to talk, I fig­ured I’d stam­mer excus­es for their shab­by, old-fash­ioned, stamped jack­ets.… more

Food for Thought

Maurna Rome
As the first month of a new school year comes to a close, I offer some food for thought about nour­ish­ing our teach­ers. Lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly. Years ago when I was work­ing on my administrator’s license I dis­cov­ered a gem of a book called If You Don’t Feed the Teach­ers, They Eat the Stu­dents! Guide to Suc­cess for Admin­is­tra­tors and Teach­ers by Neila Con­nors.… more

No Pigs in Space?

Rufus Blasts Off!
Some of my read­ers know that the very first sto­ry I wrote (in sec­ond grade) was Pigs in Space. I still have it. I still won­der what­ev­er prompt­ed me to write it. This was before the Mup­pets launched their pigs into space. And it was def­i­nite­ly before Kim T. Griswell and Valeri Gor­bachev launched their pig into space in Rufus Blasts Off!… more

Describe 10 Things in Your Perfect World

Maurna Rome
Mon­ey that grows on trees. Free hous­es, free cars, free food, and free phones. More books, more pets and more med­i­cine for sick peo­ple. Clean water. Par­ents who don’t fight. These are the wish­es of JD, a sin­cere and striv­ing eleven-year-old read­er I am tutor­ing this sum­mer. The prompt that pro­duced his wish list (which per­fect­ly out­lines the foun­da­tion of Maslow’s hier­ar­chy of needs) was “Describe ten things that would be present in a per­fect world.”… more

Knowing My Own Mind

There are times when I don’t know my own mind. Worse, there are times when I think I know my mind per­fect­ly well and then find an entire­ly dif­fer­ent mind on a lat­er vis­it to my opinions. Which feels almost as though I have no mind at all. Some time ago one of my favorite writ­ers came out with a new nov­el. I had been wait­ing for her next book for years, so, of course, I signed up to have it pop into my elec­tron­ic read­er at the first oppor­tu­ni­ty.… more

Capitulate vs Conquer

Maurna Rome
As I eager­ly gath­ered up my ideas and insights for a fol­low-up arti­cle about last month’s “Mys­tery Read­er” top­ic, I found myself try­ing to nego­ti­ate two seem­ing­ly incom­pat­i­ble schools of thought regard­ing effec­tive lit­er­a­cy teach­ing and learn­ing. I am a huge pro­po­nent of stu­dent choice and voice (instead of teacher- or cur­ricu­lum-dic­tat­ed text selec­tions), teacher exper­tise (instead of reliance on script­ed pro­grams), and fos­ter­ing a life­long love and moti­va­tion for read­ing (instead of seek­ing the holy grail of high test scores).… more

Skinny Dip with Suzanne Costner

Suzanne Costner
We’re thrilled to Skin­ny Dip with out­stand­ing edu­ca­tor Suzanne Cost­ner, Thanks to Suzanne for answer our ques­tions dur­ing her very busy end-of-the-school-year hours. Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why? My favorite teacher was Mrs. Hill in 4th grade. She read to us every day after lunch: Stuart Little, Where the Red Fern Grows, James and the Giant Peach.… more

Mystery Readers

Maurna Rome
In this col­umn, I’m pleased to share a brief overview of Nur­tur­ing the Devel­op­ment of Reflec­tive Read­ers,” a ses­sion I attend­ed at “Echoes of Learn­ing,” the lit­er­a­cy con­fer­ence at Zaharis Ele­men­tary in Mesa, AZ. Kris-Ann Flo­rence and Megan Kyp­ke, sec­ond and fourth grade teach­ers, shared how they pro­mote reflec­tion and enhance com­pre­hen­sion by using a stu­dent ver­sion of mis­cue analy­sis to help read­ers under­stand the impor­tance of mean­ing-mak­ing.… more

Skinny Dip with Aimée Bissonette

Aimee Bissonette
We’re thrilled to Skin­ny Dip with Aimée Bis­sonette, who is the author of two acclaimed pic­ture books so far, North Woods Girl (Min­neso­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Press) and Miss Col­fax’s Light (Sleep­ing Bear Press). Thanks to Aor tak­ing time away from writ­ing and work to answer Bookol­o­gy’s ques­tions! When did you first start reading books? My best friend, Lyn, taught me to read when I was 5 years old.… more

Spring Break 2017

Maurna Rome
I’m still rel­ish­ing the mem­o­ry of spring break. Sur­round­ed by moun­tains and plen­ty of sun­shine, I stum­bled upon a lit­er­a­cy oasis that up until then, I had only vis­it­ed in my dreams. Almost a month lat­er, I am still intrigued and inspired by what I expe­ri­enced. I knew instant­ly that this mag­i­cal place would be the top­ic of my next Bookol­o­gy con­tri­bu­tion. In fact, I believe I have enough mate­r­i­al for a year’s worth of arti­cles about this very spe­cial sanc­tu­ary of learn­ing.… more

Everything You Need to Ace Five Subjects

Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook
I’ve had this TBR pile of five very attrac­tive, come-hith­er-look­ing books beg­ging to be rec­om­mend­ed for weeks now. The spines are bright pri­ma­ry col­ors so I know that even when I shelve them they will be call­ing to me. And I think they’ll be call­ing to your stu­dents as well. I open what are for me the two scari­est vol­umes (eat your veg­eta­bles first — oops, as an adult, I find I LOVE veg­eta­bles), Every­thing You Need to Know to Ace Sci­ence in One Fat Note­book: Notes Bor­rowed from the Smartest Kid in Class (Dou­ble-Checked by Award-Win­ning Teacher) and Every­thing You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Note­book: Notes Bor­rowed from the Smartest Kid in Class (Dou­ble-Checked by Award-Win­ning Teacher).… more

A Story for the Ages

The Rabbits' Wedding
For the past two years my hus­band and I have had the good for­tune to spend the wan­ing days of sum­mer in Door Coun­ty, Wis­con­sin. There we have dis­cov­ered a vibrant arts com­mu­ni­ty. A boun­ty of the­atre, music, and fine arts is there for the picking. This year, as I scanned the pos­si­bil­i­ties for our vis­it, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the Penin­su­la Play­ers’ Mid­west pre­mière of a new play by Ken­neth Jones called Alaba­ma Sto­ry.… more

Books for My Grandbaby and Me

Maurna Rome
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of books and read­ing. I am actu­al­ly an even big­ger fan of babies. I am instant­ly smit­ten. I can think of noth­ing bet­ter than cud­dling an infant, blan­ket­ed by that new baby smell, read­ing to an audi­ence of one. You can imag­ine how thrilled I am to announce that there’s a new baby in town!… more

Books as Therapy

I con­fess to using books ther­a­peu­ti­cal­ly. When my kids were lit­tle and the day had gone wonky and none of us were at our best, a pile of pic­ture books was a sure-fire way to reset us all. It was part­ly the snug­gles, but most­ly the shared expe­ri­ence of read­ing the sto­ries we loved. As they’ve grown, I’ve been known to read them hap­py books when they are sad (and some­times sad books, just to help us lean into it) and sil­ly books when anger and tears have had their way with us.… more

Telling a Story the Hard Way

Space Dumplins
by Vic­ki Palmquist I’ve just fin­ished read­ing the graph­ic nov­el Space Dumplins by Craig Thomp­son, with col­or by Dave Stew­art (Graphix, 2015). I am over­whelmed by the work that went into this book. First off, it’s an engross­ing, turn-the-page sto­ry with an appeal­ing cast of char­ac­ters. As read­ers, we care about what will hap­pen. That’s a good start.… more

Don’t get took! Read a book!”

Reading Ahead bubble
by Vic­ki Palmquist I go crazy when I hear that Vaun­da Michaux Nel­son has anoth­er book com­ing out. I’m a fan. For my own read­ing life, No Crys­tal Stair: a doc­u­men­tary nov­el of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem book­seller, is one of my top ten books in the last ten years. I found every aspect of that book sat­is­fy­ing.… more