Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Preview

Yes, we're already looking past the holiday season to what's happening in the New Year. We've got some great authors lined up plus a few more possibilities in the works. And Jane is busy building recommended reading lists to go with the 2014 talks. Here's what we have planned, with a little extra information if you want to start thinking ahead . . .

January 18th, 11 am: Boys and Books with Duncan McDougall of Children's Literacy Foundation and Dan Greene, U-32 High School Librarian - A discussion of how to engage boys who are reluctant readers in trying more books, and expanding the range and complexity of their reading.

This talk was one requested by in our educator surveys over the summer. Here are some articles that have caught our eye as we think about this topic.

Percentage reading for fun at least 5 times / week (From American Library Association)
March 8th, 11 am: Writing Workshop with authors Kate Messner and Jo Knowles - Participants should be prepared to do their own writing in this workshop that will be full of ideas for both the classroom and teachers’ own writing interests.

Both Kate and Jo have a lot of great materials posted online about writing and educators who write.  Here are some starting points:
March 22nd, 11 am: Grace Greene of the Vermont Dept. of Libraries presents the 2014-2015 Dorothy Canfield Fisher List - An overview of the newly announced DCF list and resources for building activities around these books.

We can't give you a sneak preview of this one, because we also won't know the list until March. But check out Dorothy's List - a new VPR program profiling books on the current DCF list. Also, see this list of 2013 DCF materials from the VT Department of Libraries.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 In Review . . .

We've had a lot of great talks in 2013. In case you missed them, here is a review with links, notes, and related resources. . . as you might be able to guess, the next post will be a 2014 preview.

Picture Books Inspire Love of Learning

Okay, technically we're starting off with a 2012 selection, not 2013, but it was a great talk by Grace Greene, David Martin and Leda Schubert about picture books and the love of learning, and comes with many resources and handouts: Inspiration for Picture Books & Early Literacy 

Related to some of the topics covered in that talk, we recently noted a Publisher's Weekly Toolkit on Picture Book & Common Core (see here). Also, if you haven't seen it yet, check out the archive of Candlewick Press' 2012 yearlong celebration of picture books We Believe in Picture Books.

David Martin came back to the store in January of 2013 to talk with us about having fun with words We have a two part post follow up on Bad Jokes & Early Learning plus a Pinterest board of recommended Read Aloud Books from Jane.  

Research Can Be Fun 

One theme that authors visiting Bear Pond often address is the research that goes into writing their books - both for fiction and nonfiction.

Leda Schubert walked us through the research behind picture books in her November, 2012, visit to the store. 

Jenny Land and Natalie Kinsey Warnock took us into place-based research for their historical fiction, starting with the places, people, and stories around us. This post on Exploring Family and Place includes notes from their talks as well as additional resources for teachers. 

We got another take on looking at our own, local communities and finding questions to answer at our November 2013 event on Agricultural Literacy Week. Picture book author Gail Gibbons shared how she gets ideas for her food and agriculture-related nonfiction, and Abbie Nelson shared resources for teaching about agriculture in the classroom.

Facts Can (and should) Build Great Stories

Originally, Rebecca Rupp and Tanya Lee Stone were scheduled to visit the store in February. The flu intervened, so we'll have to bring them together here in the reviews. Rebeccca and her son Josh visited in February, while Tanya did a follow up visit in September. Still, you'll see related themes of using facts to build engaging stories first in Nonfiction with Personality (Rebecca & Josh) and then in Combining Passion & Research for Compelling Nonfiction (Tanya).

Great nonfiction means solid research as well as solid storytelling skills. One resource that Tanya recommends is the I.N.K. blog (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids). We'd also recommend checking it out - a roster of 30 authors take a day a month to talk about the best of nonfiction writing for a young audience. Find it at

For a slightly different take on facts building stories, authors Jon & Pamela Voelkel visited us to talk about Successful Author Visits to classrooms, schools, libraries and other organizations. They write a popular adventure series called the Jaguar Stones. Their presentations and web resources blend writing, theater, hands on projects, interviews and more to teach about Maya culture and history, all with a strong storytelling element. The information they provided was for any author visits (not just theirs) but definitely check out their own materials at

Writers on Writing 

In April this year, Bear Pond Books hosted a book party for Linda Urban's The Center of Everything. It wasn't technically part of the author-educator series, but still covered a lot of great ground so we're closing here with Linda's reflections on creating her books.