Jan 22

Using The Boy Who Ran as a Teaching Tool

The Boy Who Ran Today, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Michael Selden for Day 3 of his virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center.

Using “The Boy Who Ran” as a Teaching Tool

If I were using THE BOY WHO RAN as a teaching tool, I might link the story of the boy having overcome adversity with other noted efforts, like the digging of the Panama Canal or the Apollo Mission. His mission in the book, which he tackled with the same intensity he used to run silently through the forest, was to learn to hunt, but really to become an integral part of the village.  I tried to show the focus he used, both here as well as in the way he behaved with White Flank as well—a singular purpose, undeterred even by his nemesis.

At the same time, you can see him changing as well, opening up to the concept of friendship with Morning Song and Gray Wolf. Finally, he was forced to face the ghosts of his past and resolve this and it freed him of the spell that kept him silent.

I’d want to show students how allowing himself to be shackled this way was foolish, that it was the sharing of skills and a sense of community he lacked. He waited far too long to open up, and this could serve as a lesson to seek help and advice.

Finally, I’d use the information I gathered and tried to share about the history of the times and to seek out links about the tools, foods, artifacts, and what we’ve learned about the people of the time. Note the link shown between White Flank and the boy. People of the times, apparently, had a sense of spiritual transformation between animal and human “forms”.

ColoradoMichael Selden has lived all around the world and has been an eyewitness to numerous historical events such as the building of the Berlin Wall. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. Mike was graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Colorado Springs Colorado and later earned a degree in physics from the University of Florida.

He has worked as a research physicist, program manager, and principal investigator on numerous scientific and engineering efforts his career. He first developed technologies and techniques that helped expand our understanding of the earth and the earth-moon system and even to validate the relativity principle of equivalence.

When Michael is not writing, reading or staying abreast of the latest developments in the world of physics, he likes to travel and hike, cook, and ride motorcycles, meet up with friends. He is learning how to fly-fish and hunt.

Find out more about Michael Selden and his book at www.michaelselden.com.

* The picture with the gorgeous scenery is where Michael lives and writes at 8500 feet. It’s in the middle of a million acre park in a town called Woodland Park, Colorado.
~~~~~

To continue following Michael’s book tour, visit http://writingforchildrencenter.com/

Jan 14

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

Susanna HillToday, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. This is Day 3 of her virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center. Susanna will be talking about how her books can be used in a classroom setting.

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

I am in awe of teachers.

The patience, good humor, intelligence and caring that go into a career in teaching are monumental.

The job they do is one of the most important jobs there is and every teacher I’ve met is more than up to the task.

So I don’t think I have much to tell them about using books in their classrooms 

As far as my own books, though, I can suggest that PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS could be included in a Groundhog Day unit for preschool through Grade 2.  The story illustrates what happens on Groundhog Day, and back matter is appended for ease of lesson expansion in the classroom.  I also have quite a few free downloadable activities on my website which teachers might like to incorporate including coloring pages, paper doll kits, mazes, word searches, madlibs, library activities, and classroom guides.  (Please see http://www.susannahill.com/resources.html).  PHYLLIS can also be fun for signs of spring activities and classroom predictions about 6 more weeks of winter or early spring.

Most of my other books can also be used in the classroom for one unit or another.  APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS!, a sequel to PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS, is about April Fools’ Day and could be incorporated into a unit on that holiday, or on spring.

NOT YET, ROSE is about a little girl waiting for a new baby and could be included in a unit on families.

CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP is about a child who has trouble falling asleep and could be used in conjunction with discussions about bedtime and imagination and problem solving.

NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE is about brothers who take their mother’s instructions a little too literally and could be used in conjunction with talking about actual meaning vs. intended meaning, puns, or language.

ALPHABEDTIME! (forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books in 2015) will be able to be used for younger children learning the alphabet.

As a picture book writer, I like to see parents and teachers use picture books and expand on what they have to offer.  I run a weekly feature on my blog called Perfect Picture Books.  Each week twenty or more new books are added to our alphabetized and themed lists.  The books are always ones that are highly recommended by the reviewer and they are always accompanied by expansion activities to make life a little easier for parents, teachers, and homeschoolers looking for a way to include picture books in lesson plans or daily activities.  (Please see http://susannahill.blogspot.com/p/perfect-picture-books.html)  (I’m in the process of updating to a more user-friendly format, so please be forgiving as the transfer takes place – not all the books are currently on the lists.)

I hope you’ll come visit! 

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS Susanna (Leonard) Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)

Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.

To check out tomorrow’s hosting link, please visit the National Writing for Children Center site: http://writingforchildrencenter.com/

 

Jan 06

Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Sally O. Lee

SALLY  O  Lee Today, I’m hosting Day 3 of a 5-day virtual tour (sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center) for Sally O. Lee’s new book, Pop! Pop! Bam! Bam!

Sally offers some tips that teachers can use to create a discussion after a classroom read-aloud.

Sally’s Tips for Teachers

I think my books are very good as teaching tools but not in a preachy way. Pop! Pop! Bam! Bam! helps start a discussion about how to deal with disabilities, how to accept people for who they are, how to accept ourselves, how to deal with bullying, how to deal with school shootings.

The truth is we all have to find our way in the world. Here are some discussion questions about that:

How do you do you find your way in the world?
How do you live an independent life?
How do you deal with people who can’t accept you?
How do you accept yourself?
How do you move on if a situation is unacceptable?
How do you find people who and accept you for who you are?
How do you deal with the loneliness that is inevitable for all of us from time to time?
How do you become your own best friend?
How do you report abuse?
How do you trust?
Who do you trust?

There are a million questions that are worth asking, these are just a beginning.

Sally LeeAbout Sally O. Lee

Award-winning author, Sally O. Lee earned her BA in Studio Art and Art History (with distinction) from Colby College and then went on to study graphic design and painting in Boston (Art Institute of Boston) and in New York City (New York Studio School). She has had several shows of her work and received an art grant from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conceive and create a series of paintings, and from this came her 2002 exhibition- A Journey Into Abstraction. Some of Ms. Lee’s paintings are in various private collections in the US.

In recent years, Ms. Lee has begun to write and illustrate children’s books. Some of them deal with the struggles of living with some form of handicap…or, as the author prefers to call it, imperfection. Many of her illustrations have been published and she has earned both academic and public recognition for her important work in children’s books. She has had illustrations published in Worldlink Magazine, IEEE Magazine, and several other publications. Sally has illustrated and written 29 books for children.

About the Book

School shootings are a topic no one wants to talk about, especially with young children. Yet, they do occur, so many young children are fearful. This is the story of an angry man who goes in to a school with a gun and hurts people. It is also a story about those who survived and how they coped.

Find out more about Sally O. Lee and her books at http://www.leepublishing.net

To follow Day 4 of Sally’s virtual book tour, tomorrow go to: www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com

~~~~~

 

Jul 21

Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences

children's booksThere are a number of genres within the children’s book arena. The target audience ranges from babies right on through to young adults. This provides a unique situation for writers to pick and choose a genre that feels comfortable to write in, while still remaining within the children’s book market.

Each genre is geared toward a specific age group and has its own set of rules and tricks.

Children’s Books: An overview of the different genres and a description of each:

Bedtime stories: These stories are simple and soothing. They are written to help lull little ones off to sleep and are in the form of picture books. The age group can be from newborn to five or six years of age.

An example of a bedtime story is Day’s End Lullaby by Karen Cioffi. The classic Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is another example of a bedtime story.

Board Books: Board books are simple picture books geared toward babies and toddlers. They are designed to hold up to a toddlers prying and pulling fingers. Board books can be black and white or very colorful. These books usually teach simple concepts, such as numbers from one to ten, days of the week, colors, and simple words.

An example of a classic baby board book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is also a board book, a very well known.

Picture books for the 2 – 5 year old group: These books are meant to be read aloud the child. Rather than simply concept themes, simple story lines can be written with short sentences and words. These books are for children in the ‘pre-reading’ stage and the word count can range from 100 – 500 words.

An example of a very young child’s picture book is The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

Picture books for the 4 – 8 year old: This genre makes up most of the picture book market. These books are also meant to be read aloud to children, but for the older child it can be read individually. The pictures will give a visual element for children learning to read, helping with the comprehension of the text. The wording and themes can be a bit more interesting, but still rather simple.

For the writer, in this genre you will need to use introduce ‘showing’ to create an engaging reading experience for the child. The average picture book is 32 pages and under 1000 words.

Two examples of picture books for this age group are Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Owen by Kevin Henkes.

Easy (early) readers are usually for the 5-8 year old group. Children in this group are transitioning from picture books and are developing their reading skills. The stories though should still be kept relatively simple and have only one POV. The font size gets smaller with these books and the word count is between 500 and 1,500 words. While these books are very short, they are divided into chapters. Illustrations are strewn here and there throughout the books. The easy readers usually come in series.

Examples of easy readers are LING AND TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME by Grace Lin and the Cam Jansen mystery series by David Adler.

Chapter books for the 6 – 9 or 7 – 10 year old group: Children in this group are learning to read. The vocabulary and storyline is expanding, but clarity is still a must. These books are designed to be read by the child and the word count is usually between 5,000 and 15,000. Interestingly, these books may be labeled as ‘early readers’ or ‘easy readers’ by educational publishers.

An example of a chapter book is Clarice Bean, that’s me by Lauren Child, another is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

In regard to Because of Winn-Dixie, the protagonist is ten years old. Since children tend to read-up (the protagonist will be 2 – 3 years older than the reader), the target audience is around 7 – 8 years old, placing it within this genre and possibly the younger end of middle grade.

Middle grade books: The middle grader is between 8 and twelve years old. The middle-grader will go for stories that he can associate with and characters he can form a bond with. The word count is usually a minimum of 20,000.

As the child is able to comprehend more and is maturing, so should the stories. Stories and conflict can be more involved and you can now introduce more than one protagonist or point of view. This age group can also be introduced to science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries.

There are simpler middle grade books with less complex story lines and range from 20,000 to 35,000 words. And, there are the upper middle grade books  that run from 40,000 to 55,000 words and are geared toward the 12 year old. This type of book might be considered a ‘tween’ book.

An example of a simpler middle grade book is Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi. The early Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling are also middle-graders.

Young adult books: This genre encompasses the twelve to sixteen and up age group. YAs can be edgy; plots and characters can be complex and serious issues addressed.

An example of a young adult book is An Audience for Einstein by Mark Wakely. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer is also in the YA genre.

A useful way to get a better idea of what the different genres consist of is to visit your local library and talk to the children’s section librarian. She’ll be able to show you books in each genre and give you tidbits of information on which are the most popular, which are classic, and much more.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Imagery and Your Story
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

Let's talk about your children's writing projectLet me take a look at your story. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

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