Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dinner with Jackie (ALA - Chicago)

Before leaving for Chicago and the 2013 ALA convention we made plans to gather a few librarians/book friends to celebrate the forthcoming book Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Readers to Eaters, 2013).  In preparation - a favors, we made miniature boxes featuring the new book and a few of other titles she has had published.  Inside were some growing seeds and a brochure to introduce Farmer Will Allen to those at the dinner.  If you wish to create these boxes (to use as a jackdaw container, a favor with planting seeds, snacks during story hour, literary artifact) - here's a template for the box. (pdf file)  If you would like to invite Jackie to your school or library please contact McBookwords.

Dinner with Jackie at the Tavern at the Park --
On the first night in Chicago at the American Library Association's conference, and from my window at the Hilton Chicago (25th floor), the sky is dimming as the sail boats find their way along the river.  By the time I was ready to leave for dinner with Jackie (Jacqueline Briggs Martin) the windows were streaked with rain.

But there are taxis on Michigan Avenue right outside of the Hilton, so I grabbed one and headed to the Tavern at the Park to meet 8 other librarians and Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

The atmosphere at the Tavern at the Park was excellent. The waiter, Nicholas, was very accommodating, and service was efficient and non-intrusive.
I had Steak Diane and it was delicious, tender and very very good.   I asked the waiter to substitute a baked potato for the whipped potatoes and the entree was superb.
Dr. Linda M. Waskow, a library media
technology specialist from Beaufort SC and
Jacqueline Briggs Martin.
Philip Lee, publisher of Jackie's newest book, Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Readers to Eaters, 2013) generously sent along copies of the book for each of us attending the dinner.
Each of us was able to get our book autographed by Jackie.

A few pictures.

BTW GREAT FOOD - Check out the Tavern at the Park.  Their menu is on the web
Jean Gerlach and Jacqueline Briggs Martin with Farmer
Will Allen and the Growing Table.

Jean Gerlach has been a school librarian in such places as the St. Maur International
School in Yokohama (Japan), in New York (Orange-Ulster Boces), and in Stuttgart, Germany.  Her passion is promoting Peace.  She has a snow machine that comes into play when Jacqueline Briggs Martin's Snowflake Bentley and the study of snowflakes is in the curriculum.  We would love to see pictures of the snow machine.

Jackie and one of the first copies of Farmer
Will Allen and the Growing Table
(Readers to Eaters, 2013).

Check out information about this new book by following the links on Jackie's website at
Susan Grigsby and Diane Cordell, educational consultant,
and teacher librarian emeritus from Queensbury, NY

Linda Martin and Jenny Schwartzberg prepare to order.
Susan Grigsby is a passionate advocate for libraries, the freedom to read, and for strong library programs in pubic schools. She was the 2011 Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year.  Each summer she puts together the state library association's 2-day professional conference for Georgia's school librarians.

Diane Cordell is a teacher librarian, emeritus, and currently works on special projects for the CyberSmart Educational Company.  On Cybersmart's website at she is described as the "Chief Cyber Smarty."
Jean Gerlach and Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Barb Langridge, Founder of ABookandaHug.Com
and Dr. Linda M. Waskow.

Linda Martin was School Librarian of the yar for Georgia in 2007, and is a sought after storyteller - having performed from New York to Hawaii.  She is currently an ALA Councilor.  Besides being very interested in the art of storytelling, she makes jewelry and plays around with her ukulele.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is an author in her own right.  She was editor-in-chief of Multicultural Review for 16 years and more recently is a author of resources for educators and of young adult fiction.  Her young adult novel Gringolantia (2009) was a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults and given an Americans Award Honorable mention from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.  Her most recent novel, Rogue (2013; A Junior Library Guild selection) portrays an eighth grader with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome and an X-men obsession.  Miller-Lachmann also hosts a bilingual program on WRPI-FM and teaches 7th graders (part-time).

Barb Langridge is passionate about exciting young learners to read.  She maintains a website at where she shares book recommendations, and she regularly interviews authors for her area television station.  Those videos are accessible on the site.
She truly believes books make magic.

Dr. Linda M Waskow is from Beaufort, SC where she is an information specialist in Beaufort Elementary School.  She maintains a blog at where she occasionally posts her thoughts on kids and technology -- and books.

Diane Cordell and Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Jacqueline Briggs Martin - Autographing
a copy of Snowflake Bentley

Jacqueline Briggs Martin - autographing an advanced
copy of her soon-to-be released book -
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table for Linda Martin.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Linda Martin -- wish
I knew what the joke was.  #9
Susan Grigsby and Jacqueline Briggs Martin as Jackie
prepares to autograph a copy of Jackie's 1998 book,
Snowflake Bentley.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin and author Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Lyn Miller-Lachmann, who is rarely seen in anything but a t-shirt, hoodie, and jeans, dressed up for this special event.
 The evening was indeed a special event, we all had great conversation, stories to tell, books to be signed, and many good laughs and certainly a good time.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin autographing her Farmer Will Allen
and the Growing Table
for Jenny Schwartzberg -
Gift Specialist and Collection Development Assistant
at Newberry Library

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Taking the Lead in the Library - Common Core Standards

 Common Core • Literacy • Author Visits
and How to Fund Author Visits

Literacy is at the core as the standards put forth by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers are coming into states across the nation.  Reading and literacy is emphasized across the entire curriculum: math, science and social studies.  Active engagement with the text is a goal of the standards.  A focus on fiction will stay but sharing that focus at least equally will be informational texts moving toward a ratio of 45% fiction to 55% informational texts at eight grade with the ratio shifting to 30% fiction to 70% informational texts by the time of high school graduation.  As readers move toward more interaction with text activities should move toward providing access to information background and overview, and with varied selections, readers must be exposed to multiple perspectives in order to assist the reader in interpretation of what is being read.

Common Core's overarching goal is literacy.

Author visits can provide the ultimate in literacy experiences.  Learning how an author utilizes research and primary source material emphasizes the role of informational text and primary sources.  Scheduling an author visit to your school is a sure-fire way to help put the focus on these common core standards.  Those authors who write, or illustrators who illustrate,  with a historical perspective or whose books emerge from another time period/setting can bring a focus on both literacy and social studies for example, the influence of setting on characters and plot; the concept of place in American (or world) history, changes in communication and transportation over time, and the economic and social consequences of personal decisions.

As with all activities in school any author visit should begin with a goal.  What are you trying to achieve/teach?  Authors might fit a specific goal (such as a diversity goal, writing, etc.)
While we can not list all the applicable standards for every grade level ( there are some notable examples.  For example each of the English Language arts standards include specifics in the "Craft and Structure" category.

(From the standards for third grade but similar for other grade levels) 
  •  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.5 Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.  And author provides first hand analysis of a body of work that can provide a mentor text for readers future independent analysis. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.9 Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
These are just three of the many standards that could be part of an author's focus.  The key is not just the author's visit but the preparation that leads up to the author's appearance:  reading of books, asking questions, working to determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.2.  The day the author visits should be the culmination of a total literary focus.  The best author appearances come after thorough preparation -- reading, discovery, exploring, and thinking.

An author appearance can provide so much inspiration and boost the literacy component in any area of the curriculum, and at all levels.  Educators can use a pending author appearance as a stimulus for many activities leading up to the events and post appearance.  The practical conventions of preparing for an author visit are outlined in an online article, "Make the Most of An Author's Visit,"  at  The article outlines everything from making the arrangements to follow-up activities.

The individual activities created to prepare for the author will depend on the specific goals educators identify for the author focus.  There are many resources that will assist in identifying sources and resources.  Check out McBookwords: Author Visit Resources at

Funding an Author Visit

Schools never have enough funds for all the things they want to do.  But for those that wish to utilize the expertise of authors/illustrators to boost the literacy factor in their classroom/library can, with creative effort, find the resources.


Gateways to More Information / Fundraising ideas

Ideas for Cutting Costs - Not Cutting Corners

Briefly pairing library events with day long school visits, joining with local reading / library organizations, or with local literacy organizations such as local councils of the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators to coordinate events, share travel expenses, negotiate a reduced rate.  Download a pdf list at

    Reference Book

    Reference book regarding author visits: ABCs of an Author Illustrator Visit by Sharron L. McElmeel, (Linworth Publishing) -- from the publisher:
    Build excitement about reading with successful author/illustrator visits and "virtual visit" celebrations
    Here's step-by-step help in organizing actual visits or "virtual" celebrations--including lively curricular activities. You'll find new models to help you gather community support, plus new ways to obtain funding and involve co-sponsors. All the necessary steps are covered: the choice of person, timing, place, equipment...getting the books, resource booklets, and videos...helping teachers publicize the event to students (including activities tied to various content areas)...and holding "proxy visits," events celebrating author/illustrator works, "Read-ins," or visits by e-mail. A number of reproducible forms help make any event flow smoothly--also aided by all the updated contact and related information in the resource section.
    Expanded with more ideas, guides, and updated resource information, including websites and new books
    Gives many examples of curriculum-related activities and ways to use the event to promote literacy
    Presents alternatives to on-site visits, author-focused celebrations, and virtual visits
    Promote enhanced literacy through an exciting celebration of books and the authors and illustrators who create them You'll build a love of reading, show connections between books (developing higher order thinking skills), and promote reading comprehension as young readers grow in authentic response to their reading.
Author Appearances

This post is sponsored by McBookwords - Arrange author visits with a select group of authors and illustrators: Jim Aylesworth, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Rebecca Davis, Colin Bootman, F.T. Bradley, Jeni Reeves, Sharelle Byars Moranville, Nicole Rubel, Barbara Santucci, and Carol Gorman.  Cost of an author visit depends on specifics for the visit but generally includes an honorarium and travel expenses.  There is no additional cost for booking author appearances through McBookwords.  In fact, schools and libraries always receive more value as the professionals at McBookwords will help with all arrangements, field questions, provide suggestions for logistics, and help to make sure every aspect of the visit goes smoothly and results in a rewarding experience for all involved.