Thursday, April 17, 2014

Great News from the NCBLA!

NCBLA Planning 
In Search of Wonder:
Common Core and More
Professional Development Day
October 17th, 2014 in Perry, Ohio

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance is launching a new education initiative—In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More—in  Northern Ohio this fall! This inspiring professional development day is designed for teachers, librarians, and caretakers—any and all adults who live with and work for young people!

In Search of Wonder: Common Core and More” will take place on NEOEA Day, October 17th, at the Goodwin Theatre in Perry, Ohio and will feature authors Katherine Paterson, Nikki Grimes, Tanya Lee Stone, Steven Kellogg, and a soon-to-be named YA author! 

For more information and registration details, click here

We are working with Perry, Ohio School’s chief media specialist Jodi Rzeszotarski and the Cleveland Public Library’s Director of Children’s Services Annisha Jeffries to plan the day’s schedule so we ensure In Search of Wonder addresses the Common Core needs of all teachers and librarians.

Recently, I spent time with Jodi at the Perry Schools touring their beautiful facilities and had an inspiring afternoon working with Annisha and her talented and energetic staff at the Cleveland Public Library (CPL). 

As a teen working in downtown Cleveland, I spent most of my lunch hours at the CPL, so it was with special joy that I saw all the remarkable changes Annisha and her staff have created—a new teen room, the only safe harbor for teens downtown, a beautiful arts center for creative activities, and the huge reading rooms overflowing with books, looking out onto the city and the lake. Annisha and her staff have accomplished so much in two short years! 

Mary Brigid Barrett
President and Executive Director
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celebrate National Library Week!

Lives change @ your library:
Celebrate National Library Week
April 13-19
This week, and throughout April, libraries in schools, campuses, and communities nationwide are celebrating National Library Week as a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.  
Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Often the heart of their communities, campuses or schools, libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study.  Libraries are trusted places where everyone in the community can gather to reconnect and reengage with each other to enrich and shape the community and address local issues. 
Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them.  Whether through offering e-books and technology classes, materials for English-language learners, programs for job seekers or those to support early literacy, librarians listen to the community they serve, and they respond.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.  
To learn more, be sure to visit your local library!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Celebrate Poetry Month

Share a Poem with the Kids in Your Life!

National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 with the ultimate goal of widening the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. 

Here are ten
suggestions from the Academy of American Poets for celebrating National Poetry Month:

1. Read a book of poetry.
2. Memorize a poem.
3. Revisit a classic poem. Maybe a Shakespearean sonnet?
4. Put poetry in an unexpected place...perhaps on your child's pillow?
5. Bring a poem to your place of worship.
6. Attend a poetry reading at your bookstore, library, or coffee shop.
7. Support a literary organization.
8. Take a poem out to lunch.
9. Recite a poem to family or friends.
10. Add your favorite verse to your email signature.

Visit to discover the remaining 20 ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month! Which is your favorite? What other ideas can you come up with? How can you integrate poetry into your family's daily life?

MORE Poetry Resources!

Poetry lovers who also enjoy American history may delight in reading Gregory Maguire's poetic metaphor about the White House titled "Looking In, Looking Out" and Nikki Grimes' poem about a blind student's visit to the White House titled "Staking Claim." Both are available exclusively on

Also be sure to review the diverse poetry included in the printed anthology Our White: Looking In, Looking Out, which is available in libraries and bookstores. Included in the Our White House collection are Jane Yolen's imagined conversation between John and Abigail Adams titled "The White House First Residents," Jack Prelutsky's humorous poem about the Clinton's cat titled "I Live in the White House," Jon Scieszka's rhyme titled "The White House," Lee Bennett Hopkins' poem titled "Good Nights," Kate DiCamillo's touching piece about Lincoln's death titled "In Early April," and Paul B. Janeczko's haunting "Mary Todd Lincoln Speaks of Her Son's Death, 1862."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

New York Times Article Explores the
"Word Gap" Between Children from
Low-Income and Affluent Families

In the same way that we say you should feed your child,
brush their teeth, you should be stimulating their brain
by talking, singing and reading to them
- Ann O’Leary, Director of Too Small to Fail.

In the New York Times article "Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word," Motoko Rich writes:

Amid a political push for government-funded preschool for 4-year-olds, a growing number of experts fear that such programs actually start too late for the children most at risk. That is why Deisy Ixcuna-González, the 16-month-old daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is wearing a tiny recorder that captures every word she hears and utters inside her family’s cramped apartment one day a week.

To read the complete article, click here

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Science and Literature Field Trip

Sherlock Holmes Exhibition
Traveling Worldwide,
Now at Center of Science and Industry
in Columbus, Ohio

We separated the science lessons from the interactive mystery
so the mystery was a place to practice and
use the information you already learned.

- Exhibition Creator
Geoffrey M. Curley 

“The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes,” a traveling exhibition now at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, invites history, literature, and science fans of all ages into the streets of Victorian London, where you can follow in the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes and work side by side with the legendary literary figure.  Featuring more than two dozen hands-on, interactive exhibits and 300 original manuscripts, publications, period artifacts, film and television props and costumes, the exhibition encourages visitors to become Holmes’ eyes and ears as he "tackles a baffling new case in a world steeped in innovation and experimentation"

To read the review by Karen Jones "Entering World of Literature's Great Sleuth" in The New York Times, click here

To learn more about the exhibit at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, click here

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Activist Alert

Ask Your Senators to Support Funding for Libraries and Literacy!

Appropriations season is heating up in Washington, DC. Please call your U.S. Senators by Wednesday, April 2 and ask them to sign two separate "Dear Colleague" letters that will greatly help libraries:

Support Funding for LSTA in FY 2015
Ask your senators to support funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Here's why:

  • LSTA is the primary source of funding for libraries in the federal budget
  • LSTA helps many public libraries provide services to users that include, but are not limited to: job searches, résumé building help, digital literacy workshops, access to e-government services, etc.
Your senators can sign a letter indicating their support for LSTA in the FY15 budget, here's how:
Democrats: Ask your senator/s to contact Sen. Jack Reed's (D-RI) office to sign the LSTA letter.
Republicans: Ask you senator/s to contact Sen. Susan Collin's (R-ME) to sign the LSTA letter.

Support Funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Competitive Grant
Ask your senators to support Childhood Literacy in FY 2015. Here is why:
  • Congress included $25 million in the FY15 budget for this competitive grant administered through the U.S. Department of Education to support school libraries and national nonprofit literacy organization working toward childhood literacy
  • A minimum of half of this money will go as a competitive grant to low-income school libraries to help update their books and materials.
Ask your senators to sign a letter supporting Childhood Literacy in FY 2015, here's how:
Democrats: Contact Sen. Jack Reed's (D-RI) to sign
Republicans: Contact Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-IA) office to sign

It is SO EASY to make these phone calls! On the ALA Legislative Action Center page, type your zip code into the "Call Now" box to find the number for your senator. Please ensure you call by April 2.

Thank you for supporting literacy and libraries!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Print and Share Our Readers Theater Scripts

Create Drama in Your Classroom or Library Reading the Readers Theater Script
for Grace Lin's Starry River of the Sky

The art of Readers Theater provides an inexpensive and compelling way to get kids reading! Readers Theater is similar to a radio play in that no costumes or props are required. Readers simply stand on stage--or in the front of the classroom!--and read their lines from a script, using their voices to dramatize the production.

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, recently presented a Children's Literary Lights Readers Theater presentation at the 2013 National Book Festival. Following the Festival, the NCBLA created a Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, as well as several scripts, for adults to share with the young people in their lives.

Author and illustrator
Grace Lin.
In Grace Lin's
middle-grade novel Starry River of the Sky (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), the moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can't help but notice the village's peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper's son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit? But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

The Readers Theater script for Starry River of the Sky engages young people in the folktale "The Story of the Old Sage," one of many embedded in Lin's novel.

To print and share Lin's Readers Theater script for
Starry River of the Sky, click here.

To learn more about Readers Theater and to print our Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, click here.

To learn more about Grace Lin and her books, visit her website:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Congratulations to NCBLA Volunteer Writer Renee Critcher Lyons

Foreign-Born American Patriots
Now Available at a
Book Store or Library Near You

The NCBLA congratulates our volunteer writer and Advisory Board member Renee Critcher Lyons on the publication of her book Foreign-Born American Patriots: Sixteen Volunteer Leaders in the Revolutionary War (McFarland), now available on shelves in a library or for purchase from a bookstore near you.

Foreign-Born American Patriots portrays sixteen volunteers:  the writers, soldiers, merchants, farmers, sailors, guerilla fighters, pirates, financiers, and cavalry leaders, who traveled from abroad to join the American revolutionary cause. Such portraits consider Patriots John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, and Baron von Steuben, but also lesser known heroes, such as Founding Father Pierce Butler and Washington’s One-Man-Army, Peter Francisco.  Each profile discusses the personal experiences influencing the volunteer leader’s decision to fight for the fledging country, the sacrifices these brave men endured for the benefit of an American victory, and the unique talents respectively contributed to the war effort.  All chapters include a listing of landmarks (or in some instances, lack thereof) which honor these incredible visitors or immigrants who ensured the perpetuation of the ideals and values of the American Republic.
Renee’ Critcher Lyons is an assistant professor in the School Library Media Program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, teaching children’s and young adult literature.  Prior to her appointment at ETSU, she served as a school/instructional librarian for eight years at the elementary and middle school level and nine years at the high school/community college level.  She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and the Appalachian State University Masters in Library Science Program. 

Be sure to check out these online articles by Renee on

Monday, March 3, 2014

Celebrate Read Across America Day TODAY

Grab your hat and read with the Cat in the Hat today, Monday, March 3, 2014, for the 17th annual Read Across America Day. The Seussical celebration kicks off a week of reading across the nation as NEA members gather students, parents, and community members together to share their love of reading.

For an extensive list of resources to make the most of reading in your classroom, library, or home, visit the NEA website.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Celebrate Black History Month

Share Stories of African American Heritage with Young People

Resources for sharing the history and accomplishments of African Americans with the young people in your life abound. 

On Reading, discover not only reading lists, but also video interviews with such award-winning authors and illustrators as Ashley Bryan, Bryan Collier, Christopher Paul Curtis, Nikki Giovanni, Nikki Grimes, Patrick and Fredrick McKissack, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Emeritus Walter Dean Myers, Kadir Nelson, Jerry Pinkney, and MORE! Click here

On the Horn Book, check out a comprehensive reading list categorized by Picture Books, Chapter Books, Intermediate, and Older. Click here

In the NCBLA's anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, kids can dig deep into America's past and discover how slaves helped build the White House ("Slaves Helped Build the White House!" by Walter Dean Myers), read the memoir of former slave Paul Jennings' account of working in President Madison's White House ("The First White House Memoir: 1865"), and learn about Elizabeth Keckly, who served as seamstress to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln ("Elizabeth Keckly" by Patricia C. and Fredrick L. McKissack). And in the paperback version, young people can read Nikki Grimes' poem "Inaugural Morning" illustrated by A. G. Ford, which provides a poignant account of President Obama's first inauguration.

Our White House is available in both hardcover and paperback. Ask for it at a library or bookstore near you! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Celebrate Presidents Month!

Play Presidential Trivia!

Do you know which president was the first to live in the White House? (Hint: It wasn’t George Washington!) Do you know which president served the shortest term? (Hint: He was president for 31 days in 1841.) Do you know which presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Find these answers—and make up your own presidential trivia questions to ask young people!—by digging into the NCBLA’s Presidential Fact Files on the NCBLA's education website, the companion website to the NCBLA's art and history anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

The Presidential Fact Files is a treasure trove of information for every one of our nation’s presidents that includes the dates of each president’s terms, party affiliation, family information, as well as legacy summaries and famous quotes. Using the information on each president’s page, you can quickly make up a list of questions regarding a president’s accomplishments or failures, an event that took place during the president’s term, or a famous line from a speech. Each presidential page also includes a “Did You Know?” category, which features additional facts perfect for a trivia game, such as the fact that George Washington was the only president to be elected by a unanimous vote and Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jot down questions, type them up, or create questions on the fly by reading the Presidential Fact Files web pages from your smartphone or tablet computer. You can choose to play presidential trivia with just a couple people, or you can play with a large group divided into teams. Encourage kids to review the presidential and first lady facts and write their own trivia questions to share with friends and the adults in their lives.

If you plan to play with a group of kids who are different ages, you might want to consider creating a rating system for your questions, such as Easy, Average, and Advanced. Or, consider awarding bonus points for a particularly difficult question.

You can expand your trivia coverage by creating some questions based on America’s first ladies using the NCBLA’s First Lady Fact Files. You can also create questions based on the informative essays and stories in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Be sure to take a look at the presidential images and notes in Bob Kolar's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Who's in the House?" Kolar's illustration is featured above.

Sample Trivia Questions and Answers

• Which president was the first to live in the White House? (Answer: John Adams)
• Which president served the shortest term? (Answer: William Henry Harrison)
• Which president is famous for having said, “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you––ask what you can do for your country?” (Answer: John F. Kennedy)
• Which president was the first to use electricity in the White House? (Answer: Benjamin Harrison)
• Before the passage of the 22nd amendment, presidential terms were not limited to two. Which president served FOUR terms? (Answer: Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
• Almost any adult American citizen is qualified to become president. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the exact qualifications. What are they? (Answer: Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes that anyone who is a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and has lived in the United States for at least fourteen years can become president.)
• Which presidential candidate was the first to promote his candidacy using television? (Answer: Dwight Eisenhower)
• Which president proclaimed "The Star-Spangled Banner" to be our national anthem? (Answer: Herbert Hoover)
• Which president campaigned successfully in 1840 using the populist slogan "Log Cabin and Hard Cider?" (Answer: William Henry Harrison)
• Which president was so well-known for his silent nature that during a dinner party a guest teased that she had bet a friend she could entice the president to say more than five words during the meal, to which he answered, "You lose?" (Answer: Calvin Coolidge)
• Which first lady worked with the Library of Congress to create the National Book Festival, an annual event first held on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2001? (Answer: Laura Bush)
• Who was the only presidential candidate to ever be elected by a unanimous vote? (Answer: George Washington)
• Which president considered himself to have been a "sissy" as a child, having said, "If there was any danger of getting into a fight, I always ran?" (Answer: Harry Truman)
• Which president was the first one to throw the first pitch in a major league baseball game? (Answer: William Howard Taft)
• Which president met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to improve relations and negotiate a treaty to eliminate a substantial number of nuclear missiles? (Answer: Ronald Reagan)
• Who was the first First Lady to sit in Cabinet meetings? (Answer: Rosalynn Carter)
• Which president was honored for his pioneering work in the discovery and study of fossils by having a species of mastodon named for him? (Answer: Thomas Jefferson)
• Which modern president is credited with passage of the Family Medical Leave Act? (Answer: Bill Clinton)
• Who assumed the presidency upon President Lincoln's assassination? (Answer: Andrew Johnson)
• Which president, in the wake of 9-11, took time off from his duties at the White House to throw the first pitch at a Major League Baseball playoff game in Yankee Stadium to show his support for New Yorkers? (Answer: George W. Bush)
• Which first lady hired a French chef to run the White House kitchens? (Answer: Jacqueline Kennedy)
• Our 43rd president, George W. Bush, is the son of former President George H. W. Bush, who served as America's 41st president. Who was our country's first father and son pair to both be elected as president? (Answer: John Quincy Adams served as our sixth president. He was the son of our nation's second president, John Adams.)
• Which president, having been thrust into the position following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, made the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan as a means to end World War II? (Answer: Harry S. Truman)
• Who is the only vice president to have assumed the presidency for a reason other than the president's death? (Answer: Gerald R. Ford)
• Who was the first and only president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? (Hint: He served from 1921 through 1930). (Answer: William Howard Taft)

For more activities to help you celebrate Presidents Month, click here