Arts/Crafts, Cultivating curiosity, Education, Homeschool, Parenting, Reading

Tools and Activities for Keeping At-Home Kids Busy

For those who have students home from school due to COVID-19, children’s book creators are putting together a number of resources to keep your students occupied and engaged. Aside from creator content, I am also sharing some of my favorite sites for kid-friendly activities and content. My goal is to keep this site updated as I find out about more.

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✈✈ Thanks for helping WOOD, WIRE, WINGS take off! 💥💥

 

Wood, Wire, Wings

takes off!



Thanks so much to everyone who came to my Barnes and Noble book launch and helped raise money for Valley View Elementary School. It was such a thrill to see so many family, friends, and young readers. It’s not too late to support Valley View’s school library by buying a book of your choice at BN.com and using the school’s bookfair ID at checkout. See the graphic below for where to enter the ID. The fundraiser ends 3/7.






Support books you love without spending a dime

I know that not everyone will be able to buy my book, but please know there are SO MANY other ways you can help authors like me. Here’s a great post from LitReactor about how to support your favorite books without spending a dime.

  • Consider asking your library to buy the book.
  • No matter where you read the book, please review it at the book retailer of your choice. This helps others discover the book.
  • If you see the book in a bookstore or library, turn it face out on the shelf.
  • Take a selfie with the book and share it on social media.

I’ll be honest, I have so many author/illustrator friends, and I can’t buy all of their books. BUT these are some of the things I do to support them.









News

✈✈ Help me celebrate WOOD, WIRE, WINGS as it soars onto bookshelves! 💥💥



I’m thrilled to announce my true picture book, WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, will take off Monday, March 2nd at Barnes & Noble in Palmdale, CA. Join me at 6 p.m. for a storytime, a STEM activity, and book signing. A percentage of purchases (of any books, plus, music, games, and toys) will support the school library at Valley View Elementary School. Just mention the Valley View Bookfair and/or bring a copy of the flyer above. You also can donate books from teacher wishlists for their classroom libraries.

Not local? You can still help me celebrate by ordering merchandise online (gift cards and ebooks excluded) and using Bookfair ID 12584280 at checkout between March 2 and March 7.  Let’s celebrate literacy together by raising money for our school libraries! Learn more about Bookfairs at B&N.



Books I’m Over the Moon About









Books, Education, Homeschool

Nonfiction PB Pairings: Reading the stories behind children’s classics

Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations

I just finished two wonderful nonfiction picture books that reveal how two classic children’s books came to be. And that made me think about what fun it would be to pair these picture book biographies with the children’s classics in the classroom.

First up is FINDING NARNIA by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Jessica Lanan (Roaring Brook, November 2019). In our schools, students read C. S. Lewis’s THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE in fifth grade. A magnificent companion, FINDING NARNIA is the story of (C.S. Lewis) and his brother Warnie, the imaginative world they invented as children, and how those childhood stories grew into the world of Narnia.

Next, MIEP AND THE MOST FAMOUS DIARY by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Jordi Solano (Sleeping Bear Press, August 2019), explains how Miep Gies rescued Anne Frank’s diary when Anne and her family were taken by the Nazis. This book pairs perfectly with Anne Frank’s DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL, which our students read in 7th grade.

For younger readers, Melissa Sweet’s SOME WRITER! THE STORY OF E. B. WHITE (HMH, 2016) could be read alongside E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB (approximately 3rd grade).

Finally, I’m looking forward to the forthcoming BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST by Lindsay H. Metcalf, illustrated by Junyi Wu forthcoming in September from Albert Whitman. What a great book to read alongside THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT.

The takeaway: if your classroom is reading a classic work of literature with students, check your library to see if a picture book biography is available about the author. PB bios and classic children’s books are always better together.

If you have other great pairings, please share them in the comments. I’ll add them to the Pinterest Board I’ve started.

Books, News, school visits

📣 Now booking — Free Skype Visits for World Read Aloud Day 📚 Feb. 5, 2020

 


Teachers and librarians, I’m now booking free 15-minute Skype visits for World Read Aloud Day on Feb. 5, 2020! My schedule, along with those of 50+ other creators, is available on author Kate Messner’s website.

To book, just send me an email at creatingcuriouskids [at] gmail [dot] com with the following information:

1. What’s your name and where do you teach? Please include your school, city, and time zone.

2. What are ALL the time slots that would work for you, based upon my availability on Kate’s site? I will certainly try to meet your first choice, but the more flexible you are, the more likely it is that I’ll be able to accommodate your request. Please note that once your visit is scheduled, I may not be able to reschedule.

3. How many students will I be Skyping with, and what grade(s) will be included? 

4. What book(s) will the students have read before our Skype visit? This is not required for WRAD (which involves reading my books aloud, of course) but students tend to have a better experience if they are familiar with my books in advance and brainstorm questions. You can find a full list of my books on my website.

5. What is your username on Skype? If you do not have a username yet please go to the Skype website, sign up for an account, and get a username before you email me.

6. Please provide a classroom or cell phone number where you can be reached on the day of our scheduled visit in case of technical difficulties.

If Feb. 5 doesn’t work for you, remember I’m offering free,15-minute Skype visits for classrooms and libraries who have read WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: EMMA LILIAN TODD INVENTS AN AIRPLANE with their students after its release on Feb. 25 (through May 31).

Want to make sure you don’t miss release day? Mark the book “to read” on Goodreads, and you’ll get an email when it releases. Or preorder at your store of choice. Need one more nudge? Below is a picture of a recent Skype I did with fourth-graders in Tulare, California.

ICYMI: Blog Roundup

 

How do authors leave “fingerprints” all over their work? Check out my discussion of author voice and point of view in this #STEMTuesday post.


Books I’m Over the Moon About






News

📣 Announcing free Skype visits for teachers and librarians, my latest book recommendations 📚, and more

Coming soon: Free Skype Visits for

WOOD, WIRE, WINGS



In just four months, WOOD, WIRE, WINGS will be out in the world. I’m celebrating the final countdown by offering four months of free, 15-minute Skype visits to teachers and librarians who read my book with their students.

Here’s the fine print: Once the book releases February 25, 2020, read and discuss the book with your kids. Then reach out to me at creatingcurioukids@gmail.com or through my website to schedule a virtual, 15-minute visit with your classroom or library. I can FaceTime and Google Hangout too. Virtual visits must take place between February and May 2020.

Want to make sure you don’t miss the release day? Mark WOOD, WIRE, WINGS “to read” on Goodreads, and you’ll get an email when it releases. Or preorder at your store of choice.

I’ll have an educator’s guide available in February chock full of ideas for using my book in your classroom or storytime.


ICYMI: Oh, the places I’ve been

  • Looking for more ideas to connect kids with real-life authors and illustrators? Check out my blog post on the Soaring 20’s blog for suggestions.
  • Meanwhile, Kathy Temean graciously hosted a cover reveal for WOOD, WIRE, WINGS on her Writing and Illustrating blog (scroll down), though all you lovelies saw the cover ages ago.

Books I’m Over the Moon About





#MentorTextMoment

#MentorTextMoment: Look I Wrote A Book!

As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Book: Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!)

Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones

Illustrator: Neal Layton

Publication Info.: Schwartz& Wade, July 23,2019

Ages/Grades: ages 4 to 8 (or aspiring authors of all ages)

Categories: second-person POV, expository nonfiction, how-to structure

First lines: “When you want to write a book, first you need a Good Idea.”

Overview (from the publisher): “Want to write a book? Well, the spunky, know-it-all narrator of this side-splitting story can tell you just how to do it. She walks readers through the whole process, from deciding what to write about (like dump trucks or The Olden Days) to writing a story that doesn’t put everyone to sleep and getting people to buy your book (tips: be nice, give them cookies, and if all else fails, tie them to a chair).”

What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:

After reading this book, I’m left wondering why I have shelves and shelves of “how-to-write” books with hundreds of pages. All I need is Look! I Wrote a Book! Lloyd-Jones and Layton have crafted a concise, hilarious, yet so-helpful how-to book for beginning students and aspiring grown-up writers alike. Lloyd-Jones helps readers assess their ideas, figure out their audience, plot, draft, revise, and even create titles (my weakness for sure).

For aspiring nonfiction authors, this book is a wonderful example of the less-used “how-to” expository text structure. Paired with a second-person POV, the reader is left thinking “sure I can write a book.”

Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:

  • Write a book following Lloyd-Jones’s instructions. Is there any better activity? LLoyd-Jones even tells you what materials you need to get started (table, pencil, paper, stapler, etc.)
  • Artists Helping Children has instructions for making many types of books, including scrolls, heart-shaped books, and a fold-in square book.
  • Many creators like to have a special journal for their ideas and doodles. Buy a composition notebook or inexpensive sketchbook and decorate with torn paper and spray adhesive. Or make your own recycled journal like this one.
#MentorTextMoment, Uncategorized

#MentorTextMoment: Dancing Hands

As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Book: DANCING HANDS: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

Author: Margarita Engle

Illustrator: Rafael Lopez

Publication Info.:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 27, 2019)

Ages/Grades: four to eight years (preschool and up)

Categories: third-person POV, narrative nonfiction, biography, interiority, heart

First lines: “When Teresa was a little girl in Venezuela, Mama sang lullabies while Papa showed Teresita how to let her happy hands dance across all the beautiful dark and light keys of a piano.”

Overview (from the publisher): “As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?”

What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:

This book arrived at the perfect time in my writing journey. In my current picture book draft, I’m struggling to remember to focus on the main character’s internal journey, to slow down and share not just facts, but feelings. Engle does an excellent job of tracking Teresa’s emotional journey in this book. Here’s an example: “Poor Abraham Lincoln! Teresa hoped she could entertain the president, his grieving wife, and their two surviving sons. …But Teresa was brave, and she believed in trying her best…” Engle shares not only Tersa’s internal thoughts (“Poor Abraham Lincoln!”) but her feelings too, with words like “hoped,” “believed,” “remembered” and so on. This is such a wonderful reminder of what a picture book biography is about: a person, not just a plot.

Another element I admire about this book is how Engle elegantly shows why studying music matters. In this case, Teresa’s song comforts — for just a moment — a grieving family. What a beautiful testament to why the arts are important in daily life.

Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:

#MentorTextMoment, Books

#MentorTextMoment: Muslim Girls Rise

As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Book: MUSLIM GIRLS RISE: Inspirational Champions of Our Time

Author: Saira Mir

Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel

Publication Info.:  Salaam Reads (October 29, 2019, available for preorder wherever books are sold).

Ages/Grades: first grade and up (ages 6 and up)

Categories: collective biography, expository, third person

First lines:

“Rise

verb /’riz

  1. to appear above the horizon
  2. to increase in intensity
  3. to attain a higher level
  4. to come into being
  5. to exert oneself to meet a challenge”

Overview (from the publisher):

Little Leaders meets Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls in this gorgeous nonfiction picture book that introduces readers to nineteen powerhouse Muslim women who rose up and made their voices heard.

Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders.”

What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:

A little backstory: I lived in Dharan, Saudi Arabia for two years growing up, so I have strong feelings about the overwhelmingly negative way the religion of Islam and its people are portrayed in America today. With that in mind, Saira Mir’s inspirational and empowering book about modern-day Muslim women heroes is a breath of fresh air. In this book, kids meet Amanda Saab, an outstanding cook, who feeds her neighbors’ souls and bellies with her Dinner With Your Muslim Neighbor program.

They meet Amani Al-Khatahtbeh who started the website Muslimgirl.com as a place of positivity for Muslim young women.

They meet a fashion designer. A congresswoman. A flight controller. Activists. Athletes. Comic book creators. As Saira Mir reminds us, “Muslim women make history every day. … By refusing to give up they achieved greatness.” This book would be motivational reading for any child.

For writers, collective biographies are less common than single-subject biographies. Yet, they provide wonderful, bite-sized reading. The key to a successful collective biography is a strong theme and takeaway that unites all the subjects. The unifying principle is normally discussed in an initial spead and re-emphasized at the end. Other notable examples include WOMEN WHO DARED, GOOD NIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS, and WOMEN IN SCIENCE.

Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:

 

 

News

September News: Critiques, creativity tips and more

Mega Soaring 20s Critique Giveaway

a2e071a3-b955-4fb1-ad7c-3579fcada8ddGif by Isabella Kung

Authors and Illustrators! The Soaring 20s (including yours truly) are giving away 20 (plus six more) critiques of picture book text or illustration/book dummies. Full details on how to enter on our newly launched website. There are many more giveaways and a lot of great content to come, so follow our blog, check us out on Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter.


In case you missed it…

e01658cc-3c44-412e-ac21-8f83066b6d72TEACHERS: What do good writing and our pets’ senses have in common? Find out in my first #STEMTuesday post with an exercise for writers of all ages. Click here to read.

WRITERS: Get creativity tips! Recently I discussed my creative process on NFReads.com. For me assembling facts and shaping them into a story is much like solving jigsaw puzzles.

COVER REVEAL: While, YOU very special people saw the cover of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS ages ago, industry insider Kathy Temean just featured the cover on her blog. Also, she’ll be hosting a giveaway of the book in February.


26abbd2c-8871-4cde-868e-83287fc33e28

This month I launched a yearlong partnership with Ms. Nolan’s fourth-grade class at Roosevelt School in Tulare, California. I’ll be sharing books, writing tips, and so much more with these students throughout the school year. Learn more about #KidsNeedMentors here.


New book trailer: A big thank you!

Thanks to YOU, my amazing newsletter subscribers, I was able to finalize my book trailer for WOOD, WIRE, WINGS. Want to preview the book? Click on the image above to view the trailer. And THANK YOU for providing such helpful input and feedback.