Plan A Bookish Vacation: Visit the World of Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island

Bookish Destination: Prince Edward Island, Canada

Summer is almost here. This is the perfect time to plan a bookish vacation to immerse yourself in the world of one of your favorite characters. If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan or have a child in your life who has loved the book, a trip to Prince Edward Island would be a magical experience.

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©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

 

 

aoggcover.jpgAnne of Green Gables is the first book in the beloved series by L.M. Montgomery. As the book opens we meet eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan who has come to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island.  What Anne thinks is a dream come true has actually been a mix-up–the orphanage was supposed to send a boy. We cross our fingers that Anne (and we as the reader) will get to stay in the wonderful world of small-town Avonlea, with its endearing characters and stunningly beautiful scenery.

To say Anne of Green Gables stole my heart as a child is an understatement–I’ve read the books more times than I can count and Anne is even my daughter’s namesake. I know there are many more kindred spirits out there who would love nothing more than to step into the world of this story. Since L.M. Montgomery drew on her own experiences living in PEI, traveling there is the next best thing.

 

Here are five stops to make on your bookish trip to Prince Edward Island:

 

1. Green Gables Heritage Place

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Photo Via: http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/greengables

This is the quintessential stop for Anne fans. Green Gables Heritage Place is in Cavendish (the real Avonlea) and this site is where L.M. Montgomery is believed to have drawn inspiration for Green Gables. The farmhouse belonged to cousins of Montgomery’s grandfather and is now part of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s National Historic Site.

You can take a tour of the house (furnished with items from the book like a dress with “puffed sleeves”), walk through the “Haunted Wood”, and stroll down “Lovers Lane”. This was the highlight of my visit to PEI when I made my Anne Shirley pilgrimage in 2014.  You can’t help but feel Anne’s presence as you take in this site and feel the story come to life.

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©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

Read more at: https://www.tourismpei.com/green-gables-house

 

2. The Anne of Green Gables Museum at the Campbell Homestead

Credit: ©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester
©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

L.M. Montgomery used to visit her Uncle John and Aunt Annie Campbell on this farm in Kensington and described it as the “wonder castle of my childhood”. She even chose to be married in front of the fireplace here. During your visit you can see the “Lake of Shining Waters”, take a carriage ride with “Matthew” as your driver, and view some of Montgomery’s belongings. Like the Green Gables Heritage Place, you definitely feel as though you are stepping into the setting of Montgomery’s books at this site. For devoted Anne fans looking for a wedding venue, you can even follow in Montgomery’s footsteps by holding your ceremony in the parlour.

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©Tourism PEI / John Sylvester

Visit http://www.annemuseum.com/index.php to learn more.

 

3. Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace

 

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Photo Via: http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/greengables

Located in New London, this is the home where L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874. Highlights at this site include Montgomery’s personal scrapbooks and a replica of her wedding dress. A great stop to pay homage to an incredible author.

Read more at http://www.lmmontgomerybirthplace.ca

 

4. Dalvay By the Sea

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http://www.dalvaybythesea.com

If you’re a fan of the 1980s Anne of Green Gables movie adaptations, you must add Dalvay-by-the-Sea to your list. Known as the White Sands hotel in the movies, this is where Anne gives the “Highwayman” reading. Kate Middleton (a fellow Anne enthusiast) and Prince William even visited Dalvay-by-the-Sea on their Canadian tour in 2011. I recommend stopping by for high tea while you channel your inner Megan Follows.

For more visit: https://www.dalvaybythesea.com

 

5. Anne of Green Gables the Musical at the Homburg Theatre

Anne of Green Gables the Musical, showing in Charlottetown at the Homburg Theater is now in its 54th season. I have not gotten to see this one myself, but after looking at the trailer and listening to some of the soundtrack (both below) it is on my list for a future pilgrimage!

 

 

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Anne of Green Gables The Musical Soundtrack

 

If you’re trying to convince your family or friends to make this Anne piligrimage with you, Prince Edward Island also has fantastic fresh seafood, beautiful scenery for long bike rides or camping, and pristine beaches.

 

Preparing for your Trip

 

Read

Read (or re-read for the hundredth time) Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series.

 

 

You can also read the wonderful Emily books, which feature another of Montgomery’s heroines.

 

Listen

I recently listened to the entire Anne series again using Librovox’s free audiobooks. I enjoyed revisiting Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams again in particular.

 

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You could also request an audiobook from your library or listen to Rachel McAdams read Anne of Green Gables on Audible.

 

 

Share

If the little ones in your life are too young to listen to an entire novel, share one of these books with them. I love Anne of Green Gables: A Places Primer, a board book that highlights locations like “The Lake of Shining Waters” with gorgeous illustrations. For a more traditional retelling, I really enjoy Usborne’s picture book version of Anne of Green Gables. 

 

Watch

Watch an Anne of Green Gables adaptation. In my opinion, nothing has topped the classic 1984 CBC movie version. I know this one by heart. Make it a viewing marathon and continue with the sequel!

 

 

 

Celebrate Poetry Month

 

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April is Poetry Month! Celebrate by reading poetry with the children in your life or by picking up an adult collection. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Children’s Collections:

For collections that celebrate poetry and reading, try Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poetry by Kwame Alexander and Book Speak!: Poems About Books by Laurie Purdie Salas:

 

 

 

 If you’re looking for a funny poetry book, try A Light in the Attic or anything else by Shel Silverstein, Laugh-eteria by Douglas Florian, and I’m Just No Good At Rhyming And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris.

 

 

 

Travel the world, celebrate sports, and explore animal life in these collections: The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry Edited by J. Patrick Lewis, Amazing Places with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Good Sports: Rhymes About Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More by Jack Prelutsky.

 

 

For fun, creative pairs of poems that can be read in reverse I recommend Mirror Mirror, Follow Follow, or Echo Echo, which are all by Marilyn Singer and are based on fairy tales and greek myths.

 

 

 

You could also celebrate Poetry Month by reading a novel in verse. These also make fantastic choices for listening to as audiobooks.

Novels In Verse:

From Kwame Alexander’s Crossover (Plus Booked and Rebound), to Sharon Creech’s Moo and Another Day As Emily there is great kids’ realistic fiction in verse! (Bonus for Poetry Month: Another Day As Emily’s Susie decides to try living like poet Emily Dickinson).

 

 

For a historical read in verse try Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai or Jacqueline Woodson’s incredible memoir Brown Girl Dreaming.

 

 

 

 

For a beginning chapter book in verse read Gone Fishing (Also Gone Camping) or the sweet, funny series of books beginning with Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie by Julie Steinberg.

 

 

I also adore “A Child’s Garden of Poetry” which HBO created with the Poetry Foundation. You can watch video clips of some of the poems on The Poetry Foundation’s website. 

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Check out “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson, read by Claire Danes and also shared with sign language. It’s one of my favorites.

 

Poetry for Adults

I usually spend so much time sharing children’s poetry during April, that I haven’t made enough time for adult poets! This year, I picked up two collections from my local public library, Yeats’s When You Are Old: Early, Poems, Plays, And Fairy Tales And Maya Angelou’s The Complete Poetry:

 

 

 

What books will you be reading and sharing during National Poetry Month?

 

 

 

10 Bookish Reads to Cozy Up With Next

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Is there anything better than “books about books”? This is a genre I can’t get enough of. Turning the pages and spotting references to favorite books and authors, finding out the characters inhabit bookstores or libraries each day, and reading loads of dialogue between characters about the titles they love––heaven!

Here are 10 Bookish Reads for you and the little ones in your life. Happy reading!

ajfikry1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

If you are on the lookout for your next bookish read and have not yet picked up this gem of a book, place your library requests or bookstore orders immediately! This is a reading experience to be treasured. I grabbed this book and curled up on the couch with it anytime my daughter was asleep one rainy Saturday and alternated between laughing out loud, reaching for the tissues, and looking for another book dart to mark a passage I loved. A young toddler comes into the life of a thirty-something widower bookstore owner, changing the course of not only their “stories”, but also the entire community’s. Bookish references abound in this one and great reads are at the center of the characters’ lives. This book was also a wonderful fictional look at raising a reader. A.J. Fikry has certainly zoomed to the top of my list of recent favorites–highly recommended.

 

You can also check out this interview with the author, Gabrielle Zevin from NPR:

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FirstImpressions

2. First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

I got this book recommendation from a wonderful “Lifetime mother-daughter book club” episode of my favorite reading podcast, “What Should I Read Next” with Anne Bogel. (If you haven’t listened to this book recommendation podcast, this would be a great episode to start with. This book was recommended by the mother and daughter on the show sharing their favorite reads and getting book recommendations.) First Impressions is a bookish mystery for Jane Austen fans and Anglophiles, that alternates between Jane’s perspective and modern day Sophie Collingwood’s, a recent Oxford graduate about to take on the greatest literary puzzle she could imagine. Bonus–it will inspire you to re-read Pride and Prejudice. 

 

The Wilder Life

3. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

Little House on the Prairie fans, this is the book for you! Wendy McClure shares her account of immersing herself in the world of the series and embraces all things Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m fascinated by how Wilder,  like L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott blended the real stories of her upbringing and family life with fiction. Like Avonlea and Orchard House, the setting of the various Ingalls’ homesteads is also such a rich part of the story and McClure makes pilgrimages to them all–from the Big Woods of Wisconsin, to Plum Creek, and South Dakota. This is a delightful literary travel memoir and reflection on the series. For a more scholarly look at the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and reality versus fiction in her work, you can also check out Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser.
onetrueloves4. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty or Jojo Moyes and haven’t picked up a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, I highly recommend this author. She writes smart, tug-at-your-heartstrings women’s fiction that is impossible to set down. In One True Loves, Emma Blair has spent her twenties with her high school sweetheart Jesse, traveling the world and having adventures far from their small Massachusetts hometown. After being married for only a year, tragedy strikes and Jesse’s helicopter crashes somewhere over the Pacific. Emma moves back home to rebuild her life and takes over her parents’ bookstore. After several years, she falls in love again with Sam, an old friend, and becomes engaged. When Jesse is found alive, Emma’s world is turn upside down. Keep the tissues handy as you’ll be as torn as Emma about how to choose between the husband she lost and the fiancé she has built a life with. This book also dives into Emma’s complicated relationship with her family as well as the world of the bookstore, which she rebelled against growing up.

 

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5. The Losers Club by Andrew Clements

The wonderful Andrew Clements has done it again with another funny, relatable, middle-grade school story–and in this one, he celebrates being bookish! This has taken the top spot as my new favorite Clements book and was a hit when I helped choose it as the 4th and 5th grade parent/child book club pick at my school. Alec is a lifelong bookworm who is actually constantly being sent to the principal’s office for reading too much at school. (Which breaks my librarian heart!) In the after-school program, he’s forced to sign up for a club, but he just wants to spend his time reading. His solution–call the club “The Losers Club” and hope no one else wants to join so he can read in peace. When things don’t exactly go according to plan, Alec makes some interesting discoveries about himself and the people around him. Clements weaves in a stellar book title every few pages and even includes a full list of books read by Alec and his classmates at the end of the story –the young readers in your life will devour this title.

 

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6. Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli

This is a quick read that completely warmed my heart. I read it in a few hours one afternoon and couldn’t wait to recommend it to students. Eleven-year-old Suzy researches Emily Dickinson as part of a summer program at the public library. When things don’t seem to be going her way, she decides to channel her inner Emily and live like a 19th-century recluse. Her experiment exasperates her parents and baffles her friends, but left me charmed. This book was in my reading pile because it’s part of this year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Award program. 4th, 5th and 6th graders across the state are presented with 25 nominated books. If they read 5, they are eligible to vote for their favorite. Many states have reading programs for elementary kids, and the nominee lists are great places to seek out new books for the little ones in your life.

 

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7. Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids, Edited by Elissa Brent Weissman

I flipped through this book gleefully as I saw how many author contributed, from the author of my childhood favorite Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine, to authors and illustrators of incredible contemporary titles like Wonder (R.J. Palacio), One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia), Escape from Mr. Lemencello’s Library (Chris Grabenstein), and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Grace Lin). This is a fascinating look at the varying journeys of accomplished authors and illustrators–the childhood sketches, attempts at novels, and encouragement from teachers and parents that got them where they are today. A truly inspirational and entertaining read for kids and adults alike.

 

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8. A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker

This delightful picture book makes kids of all ages laugh out loud. Bear is a bit of a curmudgeon and has all the books he could ever need (seven to be exact). Why would he possibly want to go to the library with Mouse? A sweet, funny tale about being open to trying new things and discovering your next favorite book at the library.

 

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9. Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr

Why does reading make us happy? Is it being able to read the signs at the zoo? Or sharing a story with a friend? Todd Parr explores the many wonderful reasons why “Reading Makes You Feel Good”. A perfect book to share with the littlest readers in your life. I love to ask my K-2 students why they love to read after sharing this title. They always come up with adorable reasons!

 

TheLibrary10. The Library by Sarah Stewart

Elizabeth Brown was born a bookworm. Her piles of books are her constant companions. She even creates a check-out system for lending books out to friends when she is away at school. (I love that she conducts “midnight raids” to take overdue books back from classmates). When others are out socializing, she’s staying in content with her book. She also reads while grocery shopping and vacumming (if only she’d had access to audiobooks!). As she gets older and moves into a house of her own, the piles of books become towers until she eventually runs out of room. The solution? Create a public library for her town. This is a fun bookish read aloud for kids of all ages and certainly pleases us bookish introverts!

Caldecott, Newbery and More ALA Youth Media Awards Announced

Yesterday was my SuperBowl, a day librarians and children’s book fans look forward to with so much anticipation and excitement–the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced!

For more background on these prestigious awards you can read my previous post, Get Ready for the Oscars of Children’s Books.

As with every year, some of the winning books are ones I’ve read that I cheered for happily and many others sounded fantastic and are now added to my very long TBR list and/or “books to order for the library” list.

Here is just a sampling of this year’s incredible winners. I hope you discover some new books for your “To Be Read” list as well!

wolfsnowThe Caldecott Medal went to Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell. This mostly wordless picture book was the first book we read for our Mock Caldecott, so I was definitely cheering when it was announced! This is a wonderful read aloud because children need to use their imaginations to determine how the pictures are telling the story. A girl and a wolf are both lost in a snowstorm…can they each find their way home?

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Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly is the winner of the Newbery Medal. I realized I purchased this for the library, but hadn’t read it yet, so it’s now at the top of my list! The publisher calls it, “a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships. Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero).”

You can also check out the book trailer from the author:

 

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The Coretta Scott King Author Award went to Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. I cannot wait to read this book from the author of Harlem’s Little Blackbird which is described as, “a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it’s trying to break her.” This book also won a Newbery Honor.

The Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award went to Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander. This stunning book was part of our Mock Caldecott this year and I’m looking forward to all the ways we can use this one for Poetry Month (April).

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La Princesa and the Pea by Juana Martinez-Neal is the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner and this familar story gets “a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling” according to the publisher. 

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar is the Pura Belpré Author Award winner is described as an  “unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age novel – based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s – a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. ” You can see a book trailer from the author:

 

CharlieMouse

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winner. “Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana.” (from the publisher).
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Twelve Days in May by Larry Dane Brimner is the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award winner. “Noted civil rights author Larry Dane Brimner relies on archival documents and rarely seen images to tell the riveting story of the little-known first days of the Freedom Ride.” (from the publisher).

 

 

For the full list of winners and to watch the video of the awards you can visit: ALA Youth Media Awards 2018. Happy Reading!

Celebrate Black History Month with these Picture Book Biographies

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite picture book biographies published in recent years. These books would be great to share with the children in your life all year long, but especially during the month of February, which is Black History Month:

SplashofRed

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin is an inspiring biography of artist Horace Pippin, with stunning illustrations you’ll marvel over. This book is by Jen Bryant and one of my favorite illustrators, Melissa Sweet. Horace Pippin is someone who did whatever it took to create his art, no matter the obstacles. Whether it was searching for charcoal or discarded paint for supplies, or figuring out a way to paint again after his arm is severely injured during World War I, he never gives up and eventually becomes a respected painter with his work in museums. For more information on the creative process behind the book, you can check out an interesting interview with the author and illustratore` from Two Writing Teachers.

 

GeorgeMosesPoet

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate is a powerful story of determination and resilience. Enslaved in North Carolina, Horton loved words and manages to teach himself to read and begins to compose his own poems. When he is sent to sell produce at the University of North Carolina: Chapel Hill  and is teased by students there, Horton distracts himself by reciting his poetry. The students see his talent and actually start paying Horton for poems for their sweethearts while word spreads of his poetry. George Moses Horton faced incredible adversity over the course of his life which Tate does not shy away from, including being sold and separated from his entire family at seventeen, but he perseveres to become a published, sought after poet.

You can view a book trailer from the author here:

 

 

Harlem'sLittleBlackbird

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills shines a light on Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills. With its lyrical writing and stunningly beautiful illustrations by Last Stop on Market Street’s Christian Robinson, this is a book that completely immerses you in Mills’ life and story. Florence Mills, the child of former slaves, became a prominent performer who used her incredible voice and talents to pave the way for other African American performers, help others, and promote equal rights. Highly recommended.

For an interview with author Renée Watson, check out this post from the great Mr. Schu’s Watch.Connect.Read.

Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, February 3rd

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Saturday, February 3rd is Take Your Child to the Library Day. This is a great day to celebrate all that libraries offer to children–and adults!

I absolutely love my local public library, the Chelmsford Public Library, and it’s often #TakeYourChildtotheLibraryDay around here! We’ll stop by after school sometimes and always go at least once on the weekend.

If you haven’t been to your local library in awhile, this Saturday would be a great day to go check it out. Many libraries are offering special events for children, you could check out the library’s calendar. My library is offering drop-in play and crafts for children of all ages.

While you’re there, sign up for a library card if you haven’t already. Make sure you bring proof of address (a utility bill or your license works). Once you’re signed up, you and your little ones could check out some great new books from the children’s room. And while you’re at it, borrow a few new titles for yourself! If you’re not sure where to start, maybe check out one of the books from these posts: Books to Curl Up With this WinterGet Ready for the Oscars of Children’s BooksBooks and Podcasts for the New YearAre there “Windows and Mirrors” on My Child’s Bookshelf?, or Windows in the Books We Read.

You could also choose a dvd to check-out for a weekend movie night (often for free!), some magazines to relax with, and take a peek at the museum passes your library offers.

Grab a library events calendar to take home as well. There are so many fun, free activities for adults and children available at the library–storytimes, crafts, book clubs, author visits, special guest speakers and much more.

Beyond the physical library, there are many digital resources you can take advantage of as well. Did you know you can download audiobooks and ebooks (for free!) from your local library?

You can also go on the library’s online catalog and request any books you want. If they don’t own the book, they’ll borrow it from another library for you. And if it’s checked out, they’ll place a hold. Then you’re alerted when the book comes in, and it will be waiting for you when you stop in the library. Magic!

I’ll have more tips on navigating all that your library offers online in an upcoming post.

Happy reading and I hope you enjoy #TakeYourChildtotheLibraryDay!

Get Ready for the Oscars of Children’s Books

 

 

Book award season is here! This is such an exciting time of year. The American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards take place on Monday, February 12th. These are essentially the Oscars for children’s books! Many prestigious book awards will be announced including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Awards, and more. There is a livestream of the event beginning at 10am EST, which I will definitely be watching! I will also make sure to post a link to the recording of the event. Watching the awards with the little ones in your life can be a great way to build enthusiasm around books and reading.

After the awards are announced, sales of the books skyrocket and authors’ and illustrators’ lives are forever changed. Taking a look at award lists, past and present, is a fantastic way to find your next book to read.

To get in the award season spirit, you and your child could check out some of the past winners from your local library and read them together over the next two weeks. These books are the best of the best!

Each medal in the list below has a link to the American Library Association page, with more information about the medal and access to a full list of the winning books:

caldecottThe Caldecott Medal is awarded “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” The list of amazing Caldecott winners you’ll want to read aloud to your kids is a mile long: This is Not My Hat (2013),  A Sick Day for Amos McGee (2011), Jumanji (1982), Where the Wild Things Are (1964), The Snowy Day (1963), and many more.  You have probably seen the gold medal, or the silver Caldecott Honor medal on many of your favorite picture books. 

 

I do a mock Caldecott with my 3rd graders where they get to vote for the book they think should win the Caldecott. If you’re looking for more books to get in the Caldecott spirit, you could read some of the books they are giving high ratings this year:

 

 

 

newberyWhile the Caldecott focuses on a book’s illustrations, the Newbery Medal is for the writing and is awarded “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” There are so many incredible Newbery winners to add to your To Be Read list including Last Stop on Market Street (2016), The One and Only Ivan (2013), The Tale of Despereaux (2004), Bud, Not Buddy (2000), Number the Stars (1990), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968) and many more.

 

 

The Caldecott and Newbery medals are the ones I get the most excited to see revealed each year. I was lucky enough to attend the ALA Youth Media Awards in 2016 when the ALA Midwinter conference came to Boston:

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I waited in line with hundreds of librarians at 6am to get a good spot for the award announcements. Awards are chosen by committee and there are no nominees or information shared ahead of time, so there is extra anticipation. I took videos of the 2016 Caldecott and Newbery announcements. The quality isn’t great, but you can see the exciting atmosphere in the room for yourself:

Caldecott Announcement 2016 Video

Newbery Announcement Video 2016

 

Here are some of the other very prestigious awards:

coretta scott awardThe Coretta Scott King Awards are given “to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Some of the wonderful past winners you could check out are Elijah of Buxton (2008), My People (2010), Heart and Soul (2012), and Firebird (2015).

 

 

 

pura belpre

The Pura Belpré Award is given “to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” Some of the past winning titles include Juana and Lucas (2017)Drum Dream Girl (2016), I Lived on Butterfly Hill (2015), and The Dreamer (2011).

 

 

Geisel_200The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given, “to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.” Past winners you might want to check out with your beginning reader are We Are Growing! (2017), The Watermelon Seed (2014), Up Tall and High (2013), and Bink and Gollie (2011).

 

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The Robert F. Sibert Medal is given, “to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. ” Some past winners for nonfiction fans to checkout include Giant Squid (2017 Honor Book), Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras (2016), Balloons Over Broadway (2012), and We are the Ship (2009).

 

If you’d like to see more of the past winners so you can add to your To Be Read pile, visit the ALA Youth Media Awards page.

I will be posting a full list of the 2018 ALA Youth Media Award Winners on the blog and remember, you can check out a live stream of the event on Monday February 12th at 10AM EST. I’ll also link to the recording of the award ceremony if you can’t watch it live. Get the popcorn ready for your viewing party!

 

 

 

Are there “Windows and Mirrors” on My Child’s Bookshelf?

If you have not seen this Ted Talk by author Grace Lin, “Windows and Mirrors on Your Child’s Bookshelf”, it would be so worth your while to take a few minutes and watch it. This is a powerful look at the importance of children seeing themselves in the books they read (mirrors) and also having books that show them other children’s experiences (windows):

 

 

 

In my school librarian role, I try to purchase and promote a wide variety of books so that all students have windows and mirrors in the library in terms of race and culture as Grace Lin talks about, but also in terms of family makeup, experiences, religion, special needs, learning differences, and more.

As a mom, I want to make sure that my daughter’s bookshelf is filled with a variety of books as well–some that reflect her experiences and others that help her walk in someone else’s shoes, build empathy, and expand her worldview.

Here is a place to start if you are seeking out windows and mirrors for the little ones in your life:

 

Stella by Starlight and Out of My Mind are two stellar middle grade chapter books (that’s upper elementary/early middle school) by the incredible Sharon Draper. This author is so skilled at putting you in a particular character’s shoes and her books are impossible to put down.

Out of My Mind is a book I recommend all the time in the library for fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio and students love it. In this novel, we see the world through the eyes of Melanie, a brilliant eleven-year-old with a photographic memory who also has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, talk, or write. After being dismissed and underestimated by classmates and teachers her whole life, everything changes when Melanie is finally able to make her voice heard. This is such a powerful story.

Though set in 1930s North Carolina, Stella by Starlight, also by Sharon Draper, is so relevant to our lives today. Stella must find courage and strength in order to stand up to the forces of hate and racism in her town, where the Ku Klux Klan has become very powerful. I often show book trailers to my students (like a movie trailer, but for books) and there is an excellent one for Stella by Starlight where Sharon Draper shares how her grandmother’s journal helped inspire the story:

 

 

 

I love these two books so much and they both feature family makeups and cultures that might offers windows or mirrors for the children in your life.

In Just Like Me, three girls with a unique connection are sent to summer camp together. Julia, Avery, and Becca were adopted from the same orphanage in China as babies and their families have stayed in touch, referring to the girls as one another’s “Chinese sisters”. Everyone expect the girls to be close, but the last thing Julia wants is to go to Camp Little Big Woods together and she certainly doesn’t want anything to do with her Chinese heritage. This is a heartfelt story about growing up and figuring out where you belong, set amidst the adventures of a summer camp readers will long to attend.

The Misadventures of Family Fletcher has a classic, old fashioned family story feel that reminds me of another favorite series, The Penderwicks. The book opens at the start of a new school year and follows the everyday ups, downs, and adventures of “Family Fletcher”–navigating friendships, trying out for the school play, adjusting to a new school, camping trips, and holidays. This tale of Papa, Dad and adopted brothers Sam, Jax, Eli and Frog will make children wish they were one of the neighborhood kids that can just pop in and join the fun at the Fletchers’ house.

 

Don’t Throw It To Mo! by David Adler and Ling and Ting  by Grace Lin are engaging, funny early readers with a diverse cast of characters.

In Don’t Throw It To Mo,  Mo is seen as a “butterfingers” on the football field (which is literally true since his creative coach has had him practice catching a slippery football coated with butter!). Can he make the winning play for his team? Get a Hit Mo! is also available now and I hope we’ll see more to come in this series!

Ling and Ting Twice as Silly is one of the many fantastic books by Grace Lin you can add to your child’s bookshelf. This is the fourth book in this series and it’s my favorite. Each chapter is laugh out loud funny and their silly adventures make a great read aloud.

 

 

RadiantChild

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe tells the story of artist Jean Michel Basquiat who was famous for his collage style paintings. The illustrations in the book are incredible, Javaka Steptoe actually used wood and materials he found on the streets of New York to create the beautiful collages in the book. This book also won the highest picture book honor in the US, the Caldecott Medal.

 

 

LastStoponMarketStreet

What seems like a simple bus ride with a boy and his nana, becomes a rich experience of shared wisdom and lessons about appreciating our everyday lives in Last Stop on Market Street. This book won some of the highest honors in children’s literature: a Newbery Medal, Caldecott Honor Medal, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Check out the book trailer which features the creative team behind the book: author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson.

More about those exciting children’s book honors to come. It’s almost time for the Oscars of children’s books!

Windows in the Books We Read

One of my goals in recent years has been to seek out books with diverse authors and characters, ones whose race, ethnicity, or experiences are different than my own. I want to make sure I’m reading books that offer a window into others’ lives and experiences, not books that just mirror my own. Through books we can travel to different countries and communities and experience life through someone else’s eyes.

If this is a goal of yours too, perhaps for 2018, here are some adult books I read last year in this category–some serious and thought-provoking, others light and fun.

Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is one of the most compelling books I’ve read in recent years. This epic novel follows the descendants of half-sisters Effia and Esi through 300 years–both in Ghana and the United States. At the start of the novel, these characters live in two different villages in Ghana, but both wind up at Cape Coast Castle, under very different circumstances. Effia leaves her village to be married to an Englishman and live at the castle, while Esi is imprisoned in the castle’s dungeons and is eventually sold into slavery in the United States. A thought-provoking look at how where we have come from shapes our lives and certainly a novel that will stay with you.

 

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is the first book in a completely binge-worthy series that I fell in love with this year. As the series opens, Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer with her boyfriend, Nick Young, at his family’s home in Singapore. What she doesn’t realize is that Nick is heir to one of the biggest fortunes in Asia and she is entering a world of wealth like she could never imagine, one where she is not going to be accepted easily. These books are funny, impossible to put down, and would be perfect to take on vacation. A movie version is also due out this summer.

 

TheWindfall

The Windfall by Diksha Basu, set in modern day Delhi, has the wit and humorous observations of a Jane Austen novel. Mr. and Mrs. Jha have lived in the same tight-nit, middle class housing complex for thirty years. Now that Mr. Jha has come into millions selling his website, they will be moving to a wealthy suburban neighborhood where he becomes obsessed with “keeping up with the Joneses”. My favorite storyline follows Mrs. Ray, a neighbor from the old housing complex and a young widow in her 40s, who befriends the eligible brother of the Jhas’ new neighbors.

 

TheExpatriatesThe Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee is told through the point of views of three women who are expats in Hong Kong. If you’ve ever lived abroad or wondered what that experience might be like, this would be a great book for you. Mercy, a Korean American from Queens, has recently moved to Hong Kong after graduating from Columbia and is floundering. Margaret and Hilary, “trailing spouses” who moved there for their husband’s jobs, live in a privileged, Western bubble where the isolation and strong yet fleeting bonds are described much like being at college for a few years. The lives of these three women become intertwined, with some disastrous and heartbreaking consequences. This is a sharp, carefully observed novel that will keep you turning the pages.

 

TheHateUGiveThe Hate U Give is a timely Young Adult novel with an important perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement–it’s also a completely absorbing story that left me up late at night trying to finish. Starr Carter is getting a ride home from her friend Khalil when they are stopped and he is killed by a police officer (he is unarmed). Khalil becomes a national headline and in the face of intimidation and threats to her life, Starr must decide whether to speak up and tell the world what really happened that night. Some of my favorite books are the ones that shift the lens through which I see the world after I walk in the shoes of a particular character. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is one of those characters. Highly recommended.

Jacqueline Woodson is the New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Exciting news about an incredible author! Jacqueline Woodson is the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature!

 

According to the Library of Congress, in this position her role will be to ” raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.” Ambassadors have a two-year term and past ambassadors include Gene Luen Yang, Kate DiCamillo, Walter Dean Myers, Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka.

The inauguration ceremony was held on January 9th and presided over by Librarian of Congress Carla Haden:

 

This is a great time to read a Jacqueline Woodson book, on your own or with the little ones in your life. She has many amazing titles, but here are two favorites of mine I’d recommend starting with.

Her picture book “Each Kindness” is so thought provoking and would be a great read aloud for elementary-age children.EachKindnessI’ve read this one to many classes and it sparks wonderful discussions about the way we treat each other and the impact our kind acts can have in the world.

Her incredible memoir “Brown Girl Dreaming” is technically middle-grade, but I would definitely recommend this one to adults and kids alike:

BrownGirlDreaming

This book in verse is a beautifully written account of what is was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in South Carolina and New York–told in a series of poems.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about Woodson taking on this role is I’m hopeful the “We Need Diverse Books” movement makes even more progress while she is ambassador. It is so important that kids see themselves in the books they read and that they also are able to put themselves in others’ shoes. More on that to come in the next few posts!

As Woodson said during the inauguration, “I think that books can change us. They can help us begin to have the bigger conversations. They can help us see worlds and identities and ideas that we’d never thought about before…”

You can watch the Inauguration Ceremony here:

 

It’s a long video and there are a lot of introductions. If you skip ahead to 29 minutes you can see Woodson receive the medal. She is then interviewed by the Librarian of Congress, shares her remarks, and takes questions from children in the audience.

To learn more about Jacqueline Woodson and her books, you can check out her great author website.  The librarian in me loves that she gears sections of it toward what children really want to learn about an author during research: “What is your favorite color?”, “Why do you love writing so much?”, “What are/were some of your favorite books?”, and “What is your favorite food?”. She even has a lengthy list of fun facts about herself. I’ll definitely be sharing this with the kids in my life.