When I Grow Up

18 Feb

Two of my favorite young readers, Keira and Alyssa, introduced me to a fantastic book written by Al Yankovic (also known as “Weird Al”) called When I Grow Up

The main character Billy is asked what he wants to be when he grows up…and he comes up with some pretty amazing career ideas, like a professional pickle inspector.  The wordplay, rhythm and humor are fantastically creative, keeping both kids and adults engaged in the book. The illustrations by Wes Hargis are whimsical and detailed offering the reader another dimension into Billy’s dreams of the future.


Amazing Mini-Libraries That Will Inspire You to Read

15 Feb

goodmagazine-gif1This inspiring article comes from GOOD Magazine, thanks to Dennis for sharing it with me:




Do judge a book by its cover (and color)

3 Feb

The old English saying reminds us ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but a new book launch from Random House asks us to think otherwise.

Print medium collected as art:

book colors

There are thirty classic books in all, the words and stories on the inside haven’t changed, but the covers are aimed at catching design-savvy customers who can use the books to decorate a room. The price for the color-coded books are slightly higher than the original paperback. According to the Toronto Star article, “the design team worked to pair the colours with the themes of the book: darker shades for deep books and lighter ones for less serious tomes.”

Three years ago when I met my future husband, I walked into his apartment to see that he and his architecture roommates had color-coded their books so it looked something like this:


I thought it was a bit obnoxious at the time, but the reality is that living in an apartment gives minimal opportunity to express oneself in such a small space, and this is a way to be practical and deign-savvy.  Personally I love being surrounded by books, and find comfort in the paper. However, for me I prefer to organize my books by subject and will not be color-coding anytime soon.

Thanks to Tim Alamenciak (staff reporter) and the Toronto Star

Tequila Mockingbird

24 Jan


This is a hysterical article I read in McLeans about the odd requests that book sellers get from patrons.  ENJOY!


Snowy Day Reads

22 Jan

Weather often dictates our moods, even our reading moods.  When it’s rainy I feel more mellow and I am inclined to curl up on my couch with a novel. During the summer, I like to enjoy the sun on my back deck with a cold drink and a magazine.

For some of us the snow is invigorating, for others it is an annoyance.  No matter how you feel about the winter weather, here are two books that make snowy days more enjoyable.

For Kids:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The book is about a boy named Peter exploring his neighborhood after the first snow of the season. It is also a Caldecott Medal winner for illustrations

For Adults:

Smillia’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg

Smilla uses her knowledge of snow to unlock the mystery of a young boys death. The book was also made into a wonderful movie staring Julia Ormond as Smilla.


What is Folk Literature?!

18 Jan

In an effort to clean my home office, I went through my graduate school binders and came across a well-organized handout by Professor Richard Feldman, that describes the genres within folk literature, and I included some of my personal favorite examples from children’s literature:

A fable is very short, with a moral at the end.  Characters are usually talking animals.
The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney


A folk tale is a story, also usually with talking animal characters, which uses a pattern (numbers, repetition).
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald Mc Dermott


A fairy tale is similar to a folk tale, but the characters are people. There are obvious “good guys” and “bad guys”, and magic is usually involved. Cinderella would be a classic example, and The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieska would be a more contemporary example.


A myth is a magical story about how natural forces work (death, creation, weather). Sometimes myths have gods, goddesses, or heroes.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

A legend is similar to a myth, but it is based on actual historical events or people.
Becoming Buddah: The Story of Siddhartha by Whitney Stewart and Sally Rippen


A tall tale is a story about a heroic person who did completely outrageous, impossible things.
Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg

Paul Bunyan
Happy Reading

Linking Literature and Dramatic Play

11 Jan

I recently discovered a photo from my childhood of my brother John and me acting out the Declaration of Independence. I have fond memories of preparing for this afternoon activity:  putting our costumes together, using the encyclopedia and collecting older antiques from around our house to use during our ‘play’.  Seeing the photo as an adult (and as an educator) I realize how important acting out this historical event was (as opposed to just reading about it) to my understanding of the Declaration of Independence.


Dramatic play is an amazing way for children to access literature. During dramatic play children are creating the story as they go. When dramatic play is used in conjunction with a book or with other pieces of literature it takes the understanding of the written word off the page and to a new level.

For children learning vocabulary, the dramatization of words can be an effective means of study. In the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, the story of a little girl who didn’t like her name, the teacher could act out the word wilted for her second graders, effectively demonstrating how a girl could wilt. (Tompkins, 2010).


Dramatic play, in conjunction with or without literature can also gives children more playing time with peers, better verbalization and vocabulary (I can assure you my brother and I had to look up a lot of words for our play!), a curiosity about the world, longer attention spans, and practice in cooperation.

A few ideas include:

-Act out new vocabulary words

-Bring history to life and act out an event from the past

-Read a book and act out an important scene between characters

-Bring poetry to life through dramatization

Whether you are a parent, caregiver or teacher there are many wonderful ways to incorporate dramatic play into reading.

Guest Post- Julie Vick!

6 Jan

Mother Reading Story To Son

The article below is from the Philadelphia Inquirer written by my mom.  It’s about a mother and child book group, and it’s an awesome article about reading, friendship, and how books can open so many new worlds.



Cool Inventions in Reading

25 Nov

For my graduate thesis, I focused on the challenges for young readers in developing countries and in under financed school systems where books are lacking. How does one learn to read without books?  In response to this question, I created a movable children’s library and reading center called the The Global Reading Rug (image above).  It gives students and teachers access to books, teaching materials, and the joy of reading on the rug.

I’m always inspired by the innovations of others, and I’d like to share two inventions in reading that I think you will like too.

Street Books, based in Portland, Oregon, is a bicycle powered mobile library created by Laura Moulton that gives people living outside access to books.  Patrons are not required to show ID or proof of address and are asked to bring books back when they are able.  The first summer of Street Books was very successful, and patrons not only returned books but shared their book reviews with others through the Street Books blog.  Check out this video to learn more about Street Books:


Biblio-mat is a new vending machine that dispenses second hand books.  Located within the Toronto book store Monkey’s Paw, for a Toonie ($2), you can pick up a randomly selected book from the vending machine.  Designed by animator Craig Small, “it’s defiantly struck a chord with the customers” said store owner Stephen Fowler.  Check out this video of the Biblio-Mat:


It’s Never Too Early To Start Reading…

23 Oct


Reading to a baby in the womb may have a positive effect on fetal development.  According to the National Institutes of Health, prenatal enrichment includes stimulating the baby in utero through singing, reading and talking.  Although parents may be interested in this kind of stimulation in order to enhance a baby’s intellectual development, the best benefit may be the mother’s sense of calm while reading. Other benefits include bonding between the baby and mother, as well as the baby’s ability to recognize the mother’s voice prenatally.  One great blog, The Reading Womb, thereadingwomb.wordpress.com, is all about the benefits of prenatal literacy. 

You might be wondering…

When can a baby start to hear in the womb?  Most research says that babies hear inside the womb at about 17-18 weeks and are hearing things outside the womb around 24 or 25 weeks, as their ears and hearing become structurally complete.  

Does playing music (or reading Shakespeare) make you baby smarter? Most doctors would say this theory is highly exaggerated, and that there is no solid evidence.  Some experts are concerned that using speakers on or close to your belly could disrupt natural sleep and growth patterns.

What should I read to my baby? Anything! It’s less about the context of the book, and more about the voice, tone and rhythm. Try reading different kinds of material aloud and see what suits you.  Poetry, novels, even the phone book (do they still exist?) will give you time to relax and allow the baby to hear your voice.  When an expectant mother’s heartbeat and breathing slow down it has positive effect on the baby’s growth and development.