By Debbie Myers
The amount of time readers spend engaged with self-selected text matters.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, authors of many professional development books such as Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters (2017), argue that self-selected reading is one way to increase reading engagement. In Disrupting Thinking (2017), Beers and Probst explain a study conducted by Anderson and colleagues (1988). This study demonstrates the impact of time spent reading on reading achievement. One measure Anderson et al. use is the total number of words a student encounters based on the time they spend reading outside of school and their reading rate. The results of the study indicated that fifth graders who were in the 98th percentile read 65 minutes a day outside of school and encountered approximately 4.3 million words each year. In contrast, students in the 70th percentile read for only 10 minutes a day, decreasing the number of words they encountered to 622,000. Students in the 50th percentile read for only 5 minutes a day and encountered only about 282,000 words. Finally, students in the 30th percentile read for less than 2 minutes each day and encountered only 106,000 words each year. The disparities between the amount of time read, the projected number of words encountered, and reading achievement was striking. Anderson and colleagues concluded that teachers can have a large influence on how much time students spend reading outside of school and suggested that teachers work to connect readers with high-interest texts at an appropriate reading level.
Since the amount of time readers spend engaged with self-selected texts clearly matters, our job as teachers is to work hard to get those self-selected texts into our students’ hands. I use Book Tastings to introduce students to a wide variety of books. This post will describe what a Book Tasting is, how to host one, and some of the results of Book Tastings I have done with my students.
What is a Book Tasting?
Similar to a wine tasting or food tasting event, Book Tastings are an event where readers sample or “taste” a selection of books. This activity encourages readers to sample a large selection of books in a fairly short period of time as a way to help them find a book they are interested in reading. Book Tastings are great events to hold at the beginning of the school year, the beginning of a new quarter, or any time you feel like your students need some to sample some new reading materials.
How do I Host a Book Tasting?
To host a Book Tasting event, teachers should collect a variety of high-interest books across a range of genres. You can host the tasting in your own classroom or even ask the school librarian to pull some books for students to taste in the library.
Once you have collected your texts, create areas in the classroom to display the texts so that the covers of all of the texts are visible. You may decide to categorize the texts by genre in different areas of the room so that there is a section for fantasy books, a section for historical fiction, etc.
Pass out three sticky notes to each student. Instruct students to write "yes," "no," and "maybe" on each post-it note and put them on their desks. Students will use these to categorize the books they taste into three piles. Once readers have their sticky notes ready to go, the teacher sets the timer and gives them 90 seconds to walk around the room, gathering books for their book tasting stacks.
Readers select ten books to taste. Allow students lots of time to taste their book selections. Ideally, readers will taste books from all genres, but it is more important to make book tasting a positive experience. Therefore, I never ask students to put books back; rather, I simply remind them that I hope they will expand their reading horizons this year by engaging with different types of books and books that showcase many different perspectives. So if students have an entire stack of fantasy books, I offer a few more books to taste from other genres to help them consider some additional possibilities.
Encourage readers to sample their books in multiple ways and in ways that feel natural for them. I suggest that readers examine the front and back covers of the book and read at least 3-5 pages of the book before making a determination. I also suggest that they read the back cover or inside flap if that is something they like to do. After readers taste each book, they categorize them into three piles: a yes pile, a no pile, and a maybe pile.
After categorizing each book, readers go back to their maybe piles and sample the books again to make a yes or no determination. If readers have more than one book in their yes piles, they decide which book they will read first and add the other yes titles to their “to be read” (TBR) lists in their reading journals.
Why Use Book Tastings?
Oftentimes, students arrive in class without knowing who they are as readers because previous teachers have been the ones selecting the books they read. Because students often are not afforded opportunities to select their own reading materials, they often have a negative attitude toward reading.
At the beginning of each school year, I ask my students to rate how much they like reading on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 is “I don’t like reading yet” and 5 is “I love reading so much that I need to read ALL the books right now.” During the 2020-2021 school year, I began the year with only 22% of my students selecting a 3 or higher. When I asked my students to rate how much they like reading again at the end of the year, that number had increased to 92%.
Assisting my students in discovering books that were interesting to them not only increased the amount of time they spent reading, but also increased their attitude toward and enjoyment of reading.
This year, we are off to an even more promising start. When I asked my students to rate how much they enjoy reading at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, 63% of students selected a 3 or higher (see image on the right). These results give me hope that with the use of Book Tastings throughout the year, I will reach my end goal of 100% of students rating their enjoyment of reading at a 3 or higher.
My Fall 2021-2022 Book Tasting
On the first Book Tasting day this school year, the room was dead silent as readers tasted their books. Some students chose to take notes, while others did not.
Once each student had at least three or four books in their YES stacks, I asked them to make the most important decision a reader can possibly make: decide which book to read first.
After readers made their decision, I asked them to journal about the book they chose and why they had said yes to the books they selected.
In the end, each reader had a self-selected book and most had already started their To-Be-Read (TBR) stacks with some pretty fantastic reads!
Getting self-selected books into the hands of my readers helped students feel motivated and inspired to read - and that's exactly what I needed to initiate a positive shift in their perception of reading. On Day 5, the last day of our first week of school for the 2021-2022 school year, I gathered the last bit of data I needed, and, based on what I found, I am pretty sure my end goal thinking is on the right track. I am thrilled to share that at the end of our first week of school, my readers - as a collective group of 59 students - had read 4,895 pages of self-selected text - and many had already finished more than one book. In fact, some students had finished three or more books, and the enthusiastic chatter and sharing of books and journal entries during 'care to share' journal time told me we were off to a phenomenal start!
Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P. T., & Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(3), 285–303.
Beers, K., & Probst, R.E. (2017). Disrupting thinking: Why how we read matters. New York: Scholastic.
Debbie Myers is an 8th Grade Reading Teacher at Milton Hershey School and a member of CLA. She is also the co-planner of nErD Camp PA.
By Lauren Aimonette Liang, CLA Blog Co-editor
2022 is off to a tough start for educators. Many schools have pivoted to a temporary return to remote learning or are functioning with significant staffing issues and student absences due to Covid exposures and illnesses. There is no denying the weight of this extra burden on all working in preK-12 and university classrooms.
The CLA blog began in March 2020 with the start of the first major wave of Covid infections and subsequent changes to school environments. Xenia and I hoped this new blog could offer some practical support for CLA members and the greater education community who were using children’s literature in their newly online or remote settings. We knew our Assembly members collectively hold an amazing wealth of ideas, lessons, and outstanding resources highlighting the best of children’s literature; and we hoped the blog would become a place where educators could easily tap into this treasure-trove and share their own contributions.
Almost two years later, I am personally wowed by the posts in this blog. Each week I have gained new insights into how to effectively use a wide variety of resources and discovered exceptional lessons to use and share with the teachers and classrooms with whom I work. I find myself often revisiting the blog and clicking the category tags to remind myself of ideas that I want to try out. By the number of visits to this blog, we think that you are also finding the offerings of this virtual community to be a key resource.
This spring, the CLA Blog will continue to offer weekly posts full of lessons and resources to help support all educators as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts, however these may appear.
It is beyond difficult to predict how our classrooms, and our lives as educators, may look come March or May. But what we do know is that each of you reading this post remains committed to advocating for the centrality of literature in children’s academic and personal lives. We know that even on the hardest days you continue to share your enthusiasm for books with the children and young adults in your lives. You find ways to make stories and informational text accessible to students in all situations, and to fight back against those people or institutions that might create limits or barriers.
Each of you deserves so much more than a virtual hug of support. (Some fully paid vacations, a significant increase in salary, the actual materials you need to do your job, and a reduction in classroom sizes would be nice as a start!) While we cannot offer you these things, we do extend our most sincere thanks for the work you do every day.
We look forward to your weekly visits to the blog over the next five months. This winter and spring, the blog will feature posts from:
Lauren Aimonette Liang is Associate Professor at the Deparment of Educational Psychology of the University of Utah. She is Past President of CLA and co-editor of the CLA Blog.
Apply to Be On the Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Committee
The charge of the seven-member national committee is to select 30 books that best exemplify the criteria established for the Notables Award. Books considered for this annual list are works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written for children, grades K-8. More information and application materials are available on the CLAwebsite.
To be considered for the NCBLA Award committee, please email your application packet to the incoming committee chair (2022-2023) Fran Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org), by the application deadline, January 30th by 11:59pm. Incomplete or late application packets will not be considered. Committee appointments will be decided by the CLA president, current NCBLA chair, and past NCBLA chair.
Your application packet should include the following documents:
Good luck with your committee application!
Gearing Up for NCTE2022 & Winter Hiatus
by Xenia Hadjioannou, Lauren Liang, Liz Thackeray Nelson (Editors of the CLA Blog)
During the Closing Session of the 2021 NCTE Convention, María E. Fránquiz, Program Chair for the 2022 conference, announced the theme of the 2022 Annual NCTE Convention: ¡Sueños! Pursuing the Light. With this call for proposals, María is inviting us "to think of ways that we can pursue and bring light to each other, to our profession, and our organization." The full clip of her announcement is provided below.
Clip from the Closing Session at NCTE 2021: María Fránquiz announcing the theme for NCTE 2022
Published with permission | Transcript
Out of the Darkness Grows the Light
In her announcement, María Fránquiz discussed drawing inspiration from the work of Sister Mary Corita Kent, "a social justice advocate, artist educator, designer and poet" and shared Kent's poem from the 1977 serigraph titled out of the darkness.
María also referenced a recently published children's biography of Corita Kent written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kara Kramer: Make Meatballs Sing: The Life and Art of Corita Kent. The biography, which was composed in close collaboration with the Corita Center and includes reproductions of her work, was recently selected as one of the 2022 Orbis Pictus recommended books.
Golden Line Strategy
Xenia Hadjioannou is Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Harrisburg Campus of Penn State. She is Vice President of CLA and co-editor of the CLA Blog.
Lauren Aimonette Liang is Associate Professor at the Deparment of Educational Psychology of the University of Utah. She is Past President of CLA and co-editor of the CLA Blog.
Liz Thackeray Nelson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Utah. She is co-chair of CLA's membership committee and co-editor of the CLA Blog.
By Erin Knauer and Katie Caprino
Teaching and learning during COVID-19 has made us all think about our instructional practices and how we prepare future teachers. During the height of remote learning, virtual libraries with teacher read-alouds were erupting left and right. Many teachers gave other teachers complete freedom to use and/or adapt the virtual libraries. In addition, because many publishers made their products more shareable, many teachers would include links to videos of them reading the texts aloud. But with publishers’ rules returning to pre-pandemic times, we asked Is there still a place for virtual libraries? And, we, a future early childhood educator and a literacy teacher educator, say yes.
In this blog post, we will share our definition of standards-based virtual libraries, how they can help support preservice teachers as they progress in their development as teachers, and tips for how to build these virtual libraries.
What are Standards-Based Virtual Libraries?
Literacy standards support the content through academic vocabulary, knowledge building, and engaging in literacy practices as they pertain to the academic grade level of students. Standards-based virtual libraries function as a display of books that are age-appropriate, relevant, and applicable to the standards intended for a literacy-enriched classroom.
How Creating Standards-Based Virtual Libraries Help Preservice Teachers?
During the pandemic, Katie had her language and literacy development students create YouTube videos of themselves reading books aloud and link these videos to the cover images. She thought that having her students engage in what so many teachers were doing during the height of the remote learning moment gave her students an authentic assignment. However, as copyright permissions about recorded read-alouds have since changed, Katie no longer requires students to link a read-aloud video. (Preservice teachers could still link to publisher-approved read-alouds that do not infringe on any copyright matters.)
Still, virtual libraries serve an important role in providing ideas for texts that would make excellent in-class read-alouds. Additionally, these libraries provide a fun way for preservice teachers to organize and arrange books while learning about how to support their students meet state literacy standards and skills. It puts learning about standards in the context of authentic literature. In addition, they provide ideas for books that could be used in small center exploration and can be used as a means by which to provide parents ideas about texts that they may want to read to their children outside of the classroom. Preservice teachers can customize their library to be academically engaging to their students and encourage ample exploration.
How Does a Standards-Based Virtual Library Look?
Below is a snapshot of a standards-based virtual library Erin created for Katie’s course. Kid-friendly and visually-appealing, Erin’s library includes an original Bitmoji figure and the covers of ten contemporary picture books she selected. Creating a Bitmoji helps preservice teachers envision themselves in the role of teacher and makes the virtual library more personal. If you would like more information about virtual libraries, please see Minero’s Edutopia article “How to Create a Digital Library That Kids Eat Up.”
Each of the books below relate to a specific first-grade Pennsylvania state standard.
We acknowledge that Google Slides can be used to create virtual libraries and that attribution can be given for each image added to a virtual library. We also acknowledge that many teachers gave permission to other teachers to use their virtual libraries. We would encourage each teacher educator to think about how to address attribution when assigning virtual libraries.
What types of books are featured in Erin's Virtual Library?
In the assignment, students were asked to select contemporary picture books (written within the last 10 years) that would help them teach literacy standards at a particular grade level. The chart below documents two books that are featured in Erin's standards-based virtual library to show the types of books that could be included. We acknowledge that each state has its own literacy standards, so rather than identify specific standards met, we consider the overarching literacy skills that could be met by each.
Figure 2. Featured Books in the Virtual Library by Erin Knauer
What are Five Tips for Creating Standards-Based Virtual Libraries?
After completing the assignment, Erin considered five tips she would recommend to fellow preservice teachers.
We are super excited to see examples of your standards-based virtual libraries!
The authors would like to thank the Mellon Foundation for funding for this blog post.
Erin Knauer is a junior Early Childhood Education Major and Music Minor at Elizabethtown College. She excitedly looks forward to having her own classroom and continuing to keep up with the latest educational research. She is a member of the Children’s Literature Assembly.
Katie Caprino is an Assistant Professor of PK-12 New Literacies at Elizabethtown College. She taught middle and high school English in Virginia and North Carolina. She holds a BA from the University of Virginia, a MA from the College of William and Mary, a MA from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Katie researches and presents on children’s, middle grades, and young adult literature; the teaching of writing; and incorporating technology into the literacy classroom. You can follow her on Twitter at @KCapLiteracy and visit her book blog at katiereviewsbooks.wordpress.com. She is a member of the Children’s Literature Assembly.
By Amina Chaudhri and Julie Waugh, on behalf of The Biography Clearinghouse
One of the most profoundly devastating schemes of the colonial project was to erase Indigenous knowledge: religious, intellectual, social, cultural, aesthetic, scientific. In the Afterword of Sharuko, Monica Brown extends readers’ knowledge of the importance of Julio C. Tello’s work as an archaeologist in undoing the damage of colonial erasure. He spent his life raising awareness about Indigenous Peruvian ways of knowing, as evidenced by his research. Julio C. Tello was Indigenous and spoke Quechua, so his investment in countering the dominant narrative was personal as well as professional. Today, he is a celebrated figure in Peru, and through Sharuko, young readers can come to value his accomplishments as well.
This entry of The Biography Clearinghouse offers a variety of teaching and learning experiences to use with Sharuko: el Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist, a bilingual biography of Julio C. Tello, written by Monica Brown, and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. In addition to a recorded interview with the author in which she discusses her research process and the craft of creating picturebook biographies, we include suggestions for learning about Peruvian textiles, the Quechua language, and variations on the trait of bravery. Below are two ideas inspired by Sharuko.
Connecting the Past and the Present
Sharuko is the biography of a man who lived from 1880 - 1947, yet his work as an archeologist and conservationist is relevant today. His legacy includes the Museum of Anthropology, in Lima Peru, that houses the artifacts he discovered and wrote about. His research spotlights the accomplishments of Indigenous Peruvians and tells the story of Peru’s past that colonialism tried to erase. In her interview, Monica Brown tells us about a “magic moment” in the process of creating this book, in which she imagined a Quechua word - sharuko- emblazoned across the front as its title. In this way she continues Tello’s legacy, using her privilege as an established writer to highlight the Quechua language and the contributions Tello, an Indigenous scholar, made to the world.
Begin by reading Sharuko aloud with students, inviting them to note the chronology of his life, from boy to researcher, the people who supported him along the way, and his connections to history as depicted in the text and images. In analyzing this biography, teachers might scaffold students’ understandings of:
Thinking Like an Archeologist
Sharing Sharuko can provide a similar introduction to the complexities and exciting puzzles that define the field of archeology. Archeology is about telling the human story. Invite your students to act as archeologists, researching, writing, and considering the different perspectives that inform archeological work. Teachers can find teaching ideas related to archeology on the website of The Society of American Archeology.
The teaching and learning suggestions below are designed for teachers to plan experiences that involve thinking like an archeologist:
For more teaching and learning suggestions, visit the complete entry on Sharuko, on The Biography Clearinghouse website.
Amina Chaudhri is an associate professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, where she teaches courses in children's literature, literacy, and social studies. She is a reviewer for Booklist and a former committee member of NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.
Julie Waugh shares a 4th grade teaching position at Zaharis Elementary in Mesa, AZ and serves as an Inquiry Coach for Mesa Public Schools. She delights in the company of children surrounded and inspired by books. A longtime member of NCTE, and an enthusiastic newer member of CLA, Julie is a former committee member of NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.
CLA Board Elections & CLA Awards
BY XENIA HADJIOANNOU, LAUREN LIANG & LIZ THACKERAY NELSON
Thank you to the Outgoing CLA Board Members
Term: January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Congratulations to the Newly Elected CLA Board Members
Term: January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2024
By Joanne Yi
At the tail end of 2020, I completed my dissertation, a large-scale study of Asian American children’s literature. In total, I immersed myself in over 350 Asian American picturebooks, published across the last 25 years. This number surprises many, in part, because it is admittedly a large number to study, but also because few Asian American, bicultural stories are popularly known beyond perennial classroom favorites such as The Name Jar (Choi, 2001) and My Name is Yoon (Recorvits, 2003). Below, I share an adapted excerpt of this work and suggest titles for teachers, librarians, and parents to read and learn about beautiful and resilient Asian American identities and experiences:
The last few years have brought to light the increasing importance of the #OwnVoices movement in publishing, which highlights and buoys stories that authentically reflect their authors. In my analysis of Asian American picturebooks, it was evident the stories written by Asian American authors were often tomes of lived experience. They included family histories in prison camps, refugee journeys, memories of grandparents, difficult immigration experiences, and much more.
As I read Love As Strong As Ginger (Look, 1999), Hannah is My Name (Yang, 2004), A Different Pond (Phi, 2017), and Drawn Together (Le, 2017), I felt pangs of recognition as I recalled my childhood. These picturebooks were Asian American counterstories (Delgado, 1989), narratives that were different in content, perspective, and ideology from those reflecting the mainstream. The latter often racializes Asian American characters, stereotyping them as a monolith, as perpetual foreigners, and as model minorities. In contrast, the power of counterstories is, as Couzelis (2014) wrote, their “potential to destabilize dominant national myths that act as ‘universal’ histories” (p. 16).
It is important to realize that many of these stories were intentionally created to provide Asian American representation. Many stories were inspired by the authors’ own childhoods in the United States and were often tied to specific memories, such as playing with cousins while the adults played mahjong or fishing for that evening’s supper, rather than general experiences, such as moving or acclimating to a new school.
Several of the texts that disrupted stereotypical tropes did so because the illustrators figuratively drew themselves into stories not originally written with Asian American characters in mind. It’s no small matter that illustrator Louie Chin depicted Asian American siblings in a silly story about dinosaurs crashing a birthday party (Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, 2018), for example, or that Yumi Heo perceived Bombaloo, an imagined manifestation of anger and petulance, as a little Korean American girl (Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, 2002). These stories are meaningful, not because the starring role in a “White” story was filled by an Asian American, but because the stories finally aligned with the imaginations and realities of Asian American children themselves.
The difference lies in stories from Asian Americans and storying about Asian Americans. Myths of the model minority are laid bare with authors’ own stories and family histories of poverty, post-immigration traumas, language barriers, and cultural clashes. They are in stark contrast to those more commonly heard tales of joyous overseas adoptions, racially ambiguous people, fearsome ninjas, and fragile origami, and the myths that come with them. Such stories do not produce connections or reflections for readers. Rather, the defining characteristic of the most notable picturebooks was their commitment to authenticity and the telling of lived experiences.
Recommendations for Picture Books
I encourage educators and families to explore the diverse richness of Asian America and share these stories with the children in their care.
Dissertation excerpt adapted from
Yi, J. H. (2020). Representations, Racialization, and Resistance: Exploring Asian American Picturebooks, 1993–2018 (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University).
Couzelis, M .J. (2014). Counter-storytelling and ethnicity in twenty-first-century American adolescent historical fiction (UMI No. 3620806) [Doctoral Dissertation, Texas A&M University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Delgado, R. (1989). Storytelling for oppositionists and others: A plea for narrative. Michigan Law Review, 87(8), 2411–2441.
Joanne Yi earned her PhD in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education from Indiana University. A proud MotherScholar and former elementary teacher from Philadelphia, her research interests include critical literacies, textual analysis of diverse children’s literature, issues of inclusion and belonging in elementary and early childhood contexts, and reading education.
By Mary Ann Cappiello and Jenn Sanders, on behalf of The Biography Clearinghouse
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear.” This quote greets readers of Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham’s latest collaboration, Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed the World. Kerley drops her readers right into the busy preparations for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration, grounding readers in Eleanor’s public identity as the forthcoming First Lady. But then Kerley brings the readers back in time to Eleanor’s unhappy childhood and early adolescent years. Kerley’s characterization of Eleanor builds across the text: shy and quiet girl, engaged intellectual, socialite seeking purpose by teaching calisthenics in settlement houses and researching working conditions in garment factories, and, ultimately First Lady of the United States. As First Lady, Eleanor’s travels continued around the United States and across the Globe as she investigated working conditions, discrimination, and the effects of the devastation of The Great Depression and World War II. Kerley concludes the biography with Eleanor’s position as delegate to the newly formed United States General Assembly, working on the committee that authored the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Throughout the book, illustrator Edwin Fotheringam works with visual metaphors to emphasize Eleanor’s unflagging energy and her ability to bring people together. In the cover illustration, Eleanor jumps off of a globe, streaming a banner of paper dolls holding hands that trails in her wake. Fotheringham peppers the book with swirling lines of motion, highlighting Eleanor’s boundless verve, vivacity, and constant travel. Fotheringham also continues the hand-holding motif throughout the book to reinforce the ways in which Eleanor Roosevelt brought people together and made them feel seen, heard, and respected. Paper dolls thread through the backgrounds, and Eleanor is often depicted holding hands or connected to the people with whom she is interacting, like one long, human, paper chain.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s life work supporting families in under-resourced communities, creating safe working conditions, and promoting world peace has never been more relevant. While we have not lived through the same long-term economic devastation of The Great Depression, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis for millions of Americans and billions across the globe. Congress and the White House are engaged in complex conversations and negotiations about the role of government, debating what social programs, safety nets, and infrastructure investments are appropriate in the 21st century; the same kinds of conversations Eleanor Roosevelt engaged in with her husband and their White House staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how very interconnected our world is, a theme exemplified in the life and work of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Using the Investigate, Explore, and Create Model of The Biography Clearinghouse, we offer a range of critical teaching and learning experiences to use with Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed the World on our site. In our interview with Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham, you can learn about their research and creating processes. Highlighted here are two ideas inspired by the book.
First Ladies and Social Media
During our interview, Barb Kerley shared that she found a treasure trove of information about Eleanor Roosevelt’s daily life in archives of Eleanor’s (almost) daily column, “My Day,” which ran in papers across the country from 1935 to 1962. Laughing, Barb suggested that the column was Eleanor Roosevelt’s version of social media. After reading Eleanor Makes Her Mark, leverage Eleanor’s “My Day” column as an opportunity for your middle school students to explore how First Ladies have used the tools at their disposal to communicate directly with the public.
To learn more about the column, you can explore the resources of The George Washington University’s Digital Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Read her column by year or search for specific content across the years. After students have had an opportunity to read some columns, have them compare and contrast them with one another. What do they learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, and the circumstances of the world she lived in? How do the columns extend the understanding of Eleanor’s public life they received from Eleanor Makes Her Mark? How do they challenge their understanding?
Next, provide students with the opportunity to compare and contrast how the current and most recent First Ladies have used social media to speak with the public. Because some comments on social media are not appropriate for tweens to read, we recommend that you select some tweets from each First Lady and share them with your students. You can choose from First Lady Jill Biden’s (@FLOTUS) Twitter account, former First Lady Melania Trump’s (@MELANIATRUMP) Twitter account or her archived @FLOTUS Twitter account, former First Lady Michele Obama’s current (@MichelleObama) Twitter account or her archived @FLOTUS Twitter account, and former First Lady Laura Bush’s current (@laurawbush) Twitter account.
Synthesize the exploration by asking students to compare and contrast what they see as most valuable in the communications they explored. Why is it important for First Ladies--or First Gentlemen, or First Spouses--to communicate directly with the public? What kind of information is valuable for them to share, and why?
Creating Diagrams to Add Information
Writers and artists often choose to represent information visually with a diagram. Ed Fotheringham talked about his process of researching the floorplans of the White House and deciding how to show the inside of the White House. He ultimately settled on a cut-away diagram that is similar to a cross-section diagram. Diana Aston and Sylvia Long also use diagrams masterfully in their informational books An Egg is Quiet (2006) and A Seed is Sleepy (2007). Explore the power of diagrams to carry information with your students.
Visit The Biography Clearinghouse for several more teaching ideas for Eleanor Makes Her Mark and the other biography units we have on the website!
Mary Ann Cappiello teaches courses in children’s literature and literacy methods at Lesley University, blogs about teaching with children’s literature at The Classroom Bookshelf, a School Library Journal blog, and is a former chair of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction K-8.
Jennifer Sanders is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at Oklahoma State University, specializing in representations of diversity in children’s and young adult literature and writing pedagogy. She is co-founder and co-chair of The Whippoorwill Book Award for Rural YA Literature and long-time member of CLA.
By Peggy S. Rice and Ally Hauptman on behalf of the Ways and Means Committee
Paola Escobar, award winning illustrator of picture books such as the Pura Belpré winner, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, is also a graphic designer. As a child, she enjoyed illustrating stories about her family and culture that were told by her Columbian grandmother. This inspired her to become a children’s book illustrator. She collaborates with publishers all over the world to celebrate cultural diversity.
Illustration for Auction: This detailed, double-page spread illustration from Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia Lopez (2020) depicts the cultural diversity of Lake Jackson, Texas, the Southwest town the Quintellas moved to when Selena was a young child in the 1970s. This picture book biography includes a thorough narrative of the singer’s life for children. Paola’s detailed, double-page expressionistic illustrations provide the reader with insights into the family’s immersion in music and their hard work ethic.
Deborah Freedman, noted author-illustrator, creates connections to nature through the creation of lovable personified characters.
Illustration for Auction: This heartwarming matted illustration from Carl and the Meaning of Life depicts the field mouse asking Carl the question that sets him on his adventure, meeting creatures of the forest and discovering that everyone can make a difference by being themselves with even the smallest creature. Freedman presents a worm’s eye view of the web of life through the perspective of lovable Carl, providing children an opportunity to understand the wonder and interconnectedness of nature and develop a love for worms or overcome a fear of worms.
Aaliya Jaleel, a Sri-Lankan American illustrator who illustrates fiction and nonfiction texts that depict perspectives of Muslims, uses bright pastel colors and flowers to create hope and inspiration.
Illustration for Auction: This vibrant, matted and framed illustration from Muslim Girls Rise (Mir, 2019) depicts one of the nineteen Muslim women leaders of the 21st century featured in this collection of brief, information-rich biographies. Jaleel’s vibrant illustrations add inspiration and create hope, encouraging readers to “find their passion” while providing Muslim women role models.
Tim Miller, imaginative author-illustrator of hilarious animal fantasy, written by himself and other authors, uses a cartoon style to capture readers’ attention.
Illustration for Auction: This illustration from Tiny Kitty, Big City depicts a tiny, brave, playful kitty on her adventure through the big city that ends with her finding her forever home. An advocate for animal rescue, the story was inspired by the author-illustrator’s experience rescuing a litter of kittens in New York City and finding them homes.
Pete Oswald, talented author-illustrator of fiction, is also an award-winning production designer of animated films such as The Angry Birds Movie. Many of the books he has illustrated are modern fantasy with delightful personified characters, such as a cookie, providing young readers with opportunities to laugh as they develop understandings of important themes (truth in fantasy).
Illustration for Auction: Although Pete created this original specifically for the CLA auction, this delightful frog could be discovered by the characters in his wordless book, Hike (2020). This adventure of a father and child experiencing the beauty of the natural world includes detail-rich panels and textured panoramas that create opportunities for readers to be immersed in nature.
Melissa Sweet, award-winning American author-illustrator, not only illustrates stories she writes, but also collaborates with other authors. With fiction and biographies, she captures readers’ attention through the use of watercolor, mixed media and collage.
Illustration for Auction: This mixed media illustration from A River of Words depicts the poet, William Carlos Williams, looking out his window for inspiration from nature. Williams earned his living as a physician, but writing poetry was his passion. This picture book biography is the 2009 Caldecott Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book, A Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book and an NCTE Notable Children’s Book.
As you can see, there are some striking pieces of art in this year’s auction. A special thank you to all of the illustrators who so generously donated their work and to Patty Rosati at HarperCollins Children’s Books, our publisher liaison. See you at the auction!
2021 Art Auction Details
Peggy S. Rice is an associate professor in the Department of Elementary Education at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She is a member of the Ways and Means Committee for CLA.
Ally Hauptman is an associate professor at Lipscomb University. She is the chair of the Ways and Means Committee for CLA and a serving CLA board member.
The Art of the Virtual Book Tour
By Kathryn Caprino and Erin Knauer
Teaching and learning during COVID-19 has changed the way many of us and our students have encountered books. No matter the format, we have been committed to engaging our students with meaningful literacy experiences. Some of us created virtual libraries for our students during remote learning, and others referred students to author websites with read-alouds.
In this blog post, we, a literacy teacher educator and a future early childhood teacher, share one way to build on the ever-present technology tools constantly within our students’ grasp: the virtual book tour.
What is a virtual book tour?
A virtual book tour is a digital tool that guides a reader through a text via a series of pre-, during-, and post-reading pathways.
Why use virtual book tours?
Purposefully, a virtual book tour explores a book’s storyline in depth, offers questions throughout, and encourages students’ reading of similar books. Designed with an essential question in mind, virtual book tours allow students to think critically about big picture questions. These book tours can be used with a whole class, during book clubs, and/or during centers.
What does a virtual book tour look like?
Whereas there is no one way a virtual book tour can look, here are some sample screen shots of parts of a teacher’s virtual book tour for When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jameison and Omar Mohamed so that you can get some ideas.
How do I create a virtual book tour?
Here are some steps to follow when creating your virtual book tour.
You’re On Your Way
Now that you have some ideas about digital book tours, we wish you the best as you create your own! We would love to see the digital book tours you create!
The authors would like to give credit to Laura Carr, who shared her virtual book tour with us.
Kathryn Caprino is a CLA member and is an Assistant Professor of PK-12 New Literacies at Elizabethtown College. She blogs frequently at Katie Reviews Books and can be followed on Twitter @KCapLiteracy.
Erin Knauer is a junior Early Childhood Education Major and Music Minor at Elizabethtown College. She excitedly looks forward to having her own classroom and continuing to keep up with the latest educational research.
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