Category Archives: Literacy Events & Projects

November Literacy Links & Events

Each month, I’ll update “what’s happening” for  literacy advocates.  You’ll discover upcoming  author events, book sales, reading council meetings and even how to swap your books for free!

weblog_icon_600_120_1

Let’s start with those free books.  Check out PaperBackSwap.com for the easiest way to swap the books you don’t need or read any more (cookbooks, craft books, even Cliff notes, anything with an ISBN!)  You list the books and when someone requests one, you print the mailing label (and postage if you want) and mail it media rate.  You’ll receive a credit when it’s received and you can then go swapping.  You receive credit just for signing up and if you use my name as a referral, I even earn a credit.pbs_logo-V2

Another great place to get bargain books is the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library warehouse book sale.  Check their website, www.plfriends.org, for dates of sales.  Regular prices are $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hard-bound books and they’re organized just like in a library!  Easy to find and easy to buy.  Become a “friend” and you even get a discount.  You can also purchase books online at their Books for Good site that benefits local charitable nonprofit groups.

November is a busy month for book lovers.  

It’s National Picture Book Month. 

Check out www.picturebookmonth.com for ideas on how to celebrate and to read essays by famous children’s authors and illustrators on why picture books are important.

Mark your calendar for these special literacy events.

Newbery medalist Cynthia Kadohata will be signing at the new Changing Hands Book Store, 300 W. Camelback Rd., on Saturday, November 1 at 2pm.ckadohata pic

thing about luckYou may know her for Kira-Kira, Weedflower and The Thing About Luck, recipient of the 2013 National Book Award.  Her latest book released in September is Half a World Away.

gbsholi14

Mark your calendar for the Teachers Open House and Annual Sale (40% discount to teachers!) at Gardner’s Book Service on Saturday, November 8 from 9am-2pm.  Free gifts, food, door prizes and more so get your list and head to Gardner’s to shop.  Don’t forget to sign up for their free professional development workshops.  I presented the Power of the Picture Book in October and upcoming workshops include the Grand Canyon Reader Award.  Librarians Kerrlita Westrick and Shirley Berow will book talk the nominees for the GCRA on Saturday, November 22, 10 – noon.  Please register for this free workshop by calling 602.863.6000.

gcra featured image

 

There is no meeting for the Greater Paradise Valley Reading Council in November but mark your calendar for Thursday, December 11, 4-6pm at the Paradise Valley Unified School District office, 15002 N. 32 Street, Phoenix.  Free to GPVRC members, $5 for guests.

Best of the Best – Footprints from the States   Join us for a walk around the states as we share books and good eats representing each of our home states. Bring a book and a food dish representing your home state. “Name That State,” state “literary mystery” activities and a state-themed white elephant sale will be featured to help fund community service projects. Come join us for some “state of the state” food and holiday fun!logo read

Power of the Picture Book workshop

 

Floyd Cooper and Barbara Gowan

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your knowledge of picture books.  I participated in an intensive literacy workshop this summer at the Highlights Foundation in Boyds Mill, PA.  At the helm was Rosemary Agoglia, the Senior Museum Educator at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, along with special guest illustrators Floyd Cooper and Vera B. Williams.

We experienced how to evaluate art using Visual Thinking Strategies, the Whole Book Approach as a story-time model and discussed elements and principles of book design in a session called Picturing Stories.

Rosemary Agoglia of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Rosemary Agoglia of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Whole Book Approach
Whole Book Approach

IMGP3068
Vera B. Williams

Vera B. Williams, the Caldecott Medalist, is the author/illustrator of many children’s books including A Chair for My Mother.  If you are familiar with the book, you may recognize a similarity between the chair’s cover and Vera’s blouse.

IMGP2979
Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper uses an eraser to create his unusual illustrations.  He takes away color and the results are amazing.

 We tried his technique using chalk and gum erasers.  IMGP2991I was so thrilled with all the new ideas that I learned at this workshop and want to share them to you.  I presented the Power of the Picture Book at Gardner’s Book Service in October and will update this post with new dates and locations of future Power of the Picture Book workshops.  Participants in my Power of the Picture Book workshop look at art with a fresh approach that will help link literacy and learning to picture books.  Discover the power of picture books by exploring the illustrations and the messages they share with readers.  I bring over 100 picture books for participants to explore in this hands-on workshop.  Schedule this professional development workshop at your school for your staff.

“Everyone who reads with students should immerse themselves in this workshop.”  Librarian, SS. Simon & Jude Cathedral School

PD for you and for me!

PD!  What is PD?  Professional Development!  I’m a big fan of continuing education and love to share what I learn.  This summer is  one big learning experience and it started with the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference held in New Paltz, NY (took a plane, train and bus to get there!) in June.  It was a gathering of writers, illustrators, editors and agents, all focused on the business of nonfiction.  I attended seminars on everything from what’s new in digital nonfiction to how to brand yourself to how to write for the school market and even assessment tests.  An editor from National Geographic Kids critiqued my proposal and motivated me when she announced that they are actively expanding their children’s book line.  I love the Nat Geo tag line – “where curiosity runs wild” since that could be my motto too.

I was especially curious about the demonstration of 3D Printing sponsored by the SUNY engineering department.  Imagine scanning a person and then making that image in plastic.  That’s what they did to one of the conference participants.  3D Printing is the theme for an upcoming issue of Odyssey science magazine for kids so I took lots of photos, asked lots of questions about this new technology  and then sent in my query and received an assignment for the magazine!

The American Library Association held their conference in Las Vegas and it was two days of nonstop walking and talking to exhibitors.  That translates to free books, free books and more free books as the publishers are busy promoting their new lists and giving away ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies.  I signed my book D is for Desert – a World Desert Alphabet in the Sleeping Bear Press booth and then had a great dinner afterwards.  What could be better than lively conversation with a teacher, librarian, authors and editors?

My goal at ALA was to meet editors who might be interested in my manuscript, How to Read a Building, and to look for books to offer to members  in the Catholic Kids Book Club, my latest project. (post coming soon)

Next up on my “summer school” schedule is Honesdale, PA and the Highlights Foundation workshops – the Craft of Writing Short Nonfiction and the Power of the Picture Book.  I’ll have the opportunity to work closely with award-winning nonfiction writers and editors. Two years ago, I met Candace Fleming and am thrilled to be able to learn from her again.  There will even be a session on nature photography.  The second workshop involves educators from the Eric Carle Museum and National Writing Project who will present sessions about visual thinking strategies and the whole-book approach.  Illustrators Floyd Cooper and Vera B. Williams will be special guests at the Power of the Picture Book.  A tour of Highlights and Boyds Mill Press is also part of the fun.

The Highlights Foundation celebrating thirty years in service to children’s writers and illustrators offers a variety of programs, workshops, and retreats.  If you are interested in learning the craft of writing for children, check out www.HighlightsFoundation.org  

Last stop for the summer will be the National Book Festival in Washington, DC and a jam-packed day of author talks.  (Check out my post from last year’s festival to discover how authors find their ideas.)book festival

Imagine all the new information that I’ll be exposed to and then sharing it with you!  I already have professional development workshops scheduled for the Paradise Valley Unified School District (teachers check out the Course Wizard site for 8 workshops this fall) and at Gardner’s Book Service in Phoenix.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 18 and the Writer’s Toolbox: Strategies for Reading and Writing Nonfiction.  Contact Gardner’s to register for this free workshop.  www.gbsbooks.com

Special thanks to the Arizona Commission on the Arts for awarding me a Professional Development Grant to help defray the travel and conference fees for my summer learning experiences. arts commission

If you’d like to offer workshops to your staff, click on the header for my page – Professional Development Workshops for Educators.

TFOB and WOW

What is TFOB and WOW?  Tucson Festival of Books and Worlds of Words.  Both are located at the University of Arizona.  The Tucson Festival of Books is a weekend of author spotlights and presentations, kids’ activities, book vendors and displays, top notch entertainment, Science City and much more!

Children and Young Adult authors like Lois Lowry, Robert Sabuda, Cornelia Funke, Sy Montgomery and Jacqueline Woodson were just a few of the 2014 all-star authors.  And of course, there were plenty of adult authors, too.

For me, it was a place to learn, a place to share and a place to renew.  I attended presentations by nonfiction authors Sandra Markle and Kathleen Krull and also presented a seminar on Discovering the World of Science through Alphabet Books.

Native American author Tim Tingle performed in one of the tents in the children’s area.  Afterwards, we chatted about where he gets his ideas for his stories.  Author Nancy Bo Flood also enjoyed his musical performance and was excited to meet him since Tim is one of the authors in an upcoming anthology of contemporary Native Americans that Nancy is editing.  My biography of golfer Notah Begay will appear in the collection on athletes.

Mark your calendar for March 14-15, 2015 and join thousands of bibliophiles at the Tucson Festival of Books.  Follow all the activity on their website –  http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org

In addition to all the festival activities, I had the opportunity to tour the newly remodeled Worlds of Words in the College of Education at the U of A.  The mission of WOW is to build bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature.  The center is beautiful with specialized reading rooms, classrooms and workshop space plus an estimated 25,000 volumes focusing on world cultures and indigenous peoples.

World of Words at U of A
World of Words at U of A

Worlds of Words is offering free loan of language and culture kids around specific global cultures to K-8 classrooms and libraries.  The kits contain picture books and novels, beginning language materials, and several cultural artifacts.  In addition, the kits come with a guide containing inquiry strategies and curriculum resources.  Contact Richard Clift, Coordinator of Collections and Outreach at WOW for information at cliftric@email.arizona.edu

Bringing the desert to DC

Can I stow a saguaro in my suitcase?  Or a tarantula in my tote bag?  I don’t think so but I am packing some unusual items to share at my program and book signing at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.  On Wednesday, August 13, I’ll be presenting my book, D is for Desert – a World Deserts Alphabet, in the Discovery Room at the museum.  It will be fun to share my experiences of living in the desert with visitors to Washington, DC.  I expect many will have never ventured into the land of sun, sand, and scorpions.  I’ll do my best to introduce them to the wonders and beauty of this biome and how plants and animals are adapted to life in this arid environment.

The event at the Discovery Center was a huge success with over 30 families taking a trip to the deserts of the world.  Afterwards, my grandson Thomas helped me sell books in the museum lobby.smithsonian presentation

Lake Titicaca Literacy Project

“Barbara, some nights I can’t sleep because I have this dream – the dream to bring literacy to the people of the islands.”  “Victor,” I replied, “I know people in Arizona that will help you.” And so the Lake Titicaca Literacy Project was born.

island scenes-3-1

Situated in the snow-capped Andes at over 12,500 feet and bordering Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and site of the famous Uros floating islands. These islands composed of thick mat-like layers of tortora reed, a cattail-like rush, are home to members of the Uros tribe or “people of the lake.” The tortora is the source for their food, shelter, transportation, and livelihood. About fifty islands float in the shallows with only a few families inhabiting the smaller ones. Children row their boats to the school on the largest island. Victor Pauca, my guide, distributed books to a young mother on Toranipata Island as he checked on her progress of reading to her son. Victor realizes the importance of literacy and how it can offer opportunities to the island people.uros floating islands-39

Our journey continued as we traveled for three hours under the intense sun to Taquile Island, a fixed island, fifteen miles away. Here I would visit a school to share the pencils, notebooks and picture books that I brought from home. The terraced hillsides of the island were visible from a distance. Corn, potatoes, fava beans and quinoa are the main crops for this self-sufficient community of about 1200 people.

Silvano and several schoolchildren met us at the dock. Silvano wore the traditional dress of a married man – black pants and a white flannel shirt, a wide, colorful, woven belt called a chumpis and a chullo, a knit cap ending in a red tassle. Boys wear chullos with white tassles. Women and girls dress in multi-layered skirts, colorful blouses and dark shawls for protection from the sun. As we slowly hiked the steep stone path to the missionary school, I was handed an aromatic herb to smell to help alleviate the shortness of breath caused by the thin air of the altiplano.

The young professora and her students greeted us with wide grins and laughter and enthusiastically showed me their one-room school.

The people of Taquile Island are recognized for creating the finest textiles in Peru. Girls and boys are proficient knitters by the age of seven but can they read? School supplies are minimal and books are hard to find on the remote island. Yet, Victor is determined to help the indigenous people of Lake Titicaca. It is his dream to build community libraries, offer parent education programs and encourage families to acquire the habit of reading. He believes that literacy will lead to people with leadership skills, a necessity for the future of these communities.

Since that boat ride on the lake, Victor has seen his dream become a reality.  The Greater Paradise Valley Reading Council (part of the Arizona Reading Association) adopted the Lake Titicaca Literacy Project as their international community service.  We held raffles and book fairs to raise money.  School kids had used book sales.  It only takes $2000 to build and furnish an island library.  Victor’s plans are for libraries in seven communities.  I completed the Developing Countries grant from the International Reading Association that resulted in a $1500 donation.  Visitors to Peru have joined Allways Travel and Victor in donating their time and money to help community members build their libraries…brick by brick and book by book.  In 2014, this grass roots project that began on a boat ride eight years ago was nominated by USBBY, the United States Board on Books for Young People, for the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People)-Asahi Reading Promotion Award.  Although we did not win the $10,000 prize, more people have become aware of the Lake Titicaca Literacy Project.

If you would like to help Victor in his dream to bring literacy to the people of the lake, contact him at All Ways Travel (his daughter started the travel agency to promote socially responsible tourism.)

http://www.titicacaperu.com

school-15

National Book Festival 2013

What could be better than a weekend at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC?  Huge tents covered the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Castle and thousands of bibliophiles (including my grandsons!) gathered to listen to their favorite authors.  The Library of Congress sponsors this wonderful event.festival sponsors I parked myself in the front row in the children’s tent and enjoyed inspiring words from award-winning authors about where they get their ideas for their stories. Katherine Applegate wrote The One and Only Ivan in 1st person gorilla!  She read an article in the NY Times over 20 years ago about a gorilla in a Tacoma, WA shopping mall.  That story is the basis for this Newbery Award winning book.  And Katherine recently paired with illustrator G. Brian Karas  so watch for the picture book, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla in October 2014.  In the Caldecott winning book Locomotive, author/illustrator Brian Floca tells the story of a steam locomotive similar to the one in a park in his hometown. Lesa Cline-Ransome and her husband, James, write picture book biographies giving them the opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations of famous people.  They gave the advice to write about what you know and love and that’s evident in their book Light in the Darkness.  Where do they look for ideas?  the obituary pages! Richard Peck’s The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail grew out of a trip to London.  He saw a mouse darting around an old castle.  Why not tell a story from the point of view of the mouse?  And so he did.  Even Queen Victoria is in the book.

Christopher Myers, the son of award-winning author Walter Dean Myers, speaks at youth prisons.  Questions from prisoners about “power” led him to the idea of the power of the pen, a new release coming from Hyperion books.  Growing up with five brothers and being a really funny guy has benefitted Jon Scieszka (his name rhymes with fresca) with ideas for books like Smash! Crash! and Battle Bunny.  How about a book with a chapter written in “hamster?”  Just download the free hamster language app and you’re all set to enjoy Spaceheadz. Creative people like Suzy Lee can turn a day chasing waves at Galveston Beach into a book called Wave.  Her design was used on the Festival posters and promotions.  Katherine Paterson was at a women’s conference when she heard about letters written by Vermont farm girls.  Anyone know which book that became? “It seems like I always have a pencil in my hand, ” remarked illustrator Mark Teague.  His pencil is not for writing words but for sketching illustrations.  Teaming up with award-winning author Jane Yolen, How do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? is just the latest book in that series for preschoolers.  Did you know that each book features different dinosaurs?

In addition to the author and illustrator presentations and panel discussions, there are huge tents filled with books and book sellers.  In the Let’s Read America tent, each state is represented by “their books” and kids travel from table to table getting their reading passport stamped. And of course, there are free books, posters and more plus fun photo opportunities with our favorite storybook characters.

You don’t have to travel to our Nation’s Capital to enjoy a book festival.  The Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus is a great event.  Spend the weekend soaking up all the wit and wisdom from your favorite authors.  Mark your calendar for the 7th annual TFOB March 14 and 15, 2015.