Thursday, October 31, 2013

Something HAUNTING for Halloween!



All month, I.N.K. bloggers have explored the promise of Common Core Standards when partnered with nonfiction books.   Here I am, on Halloween, bringing up the rear.  What can I add that hasn’t already been said?  

Not much, in terms of academic prowess.  I’m not a teacher.  People don’t even see me as a “serious” nonfiction writer because of the topics I tackle.  They say I’m a little goofy.   So I’ll give you my goofy point of view about ghosts. 

For eight years, kids have begged me to write a book about ghosts.  For seven years, I have politely declined.   Then I met a boy in New Hampshire who changed my mind.  

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”  he asked. I said yes.  

“A girl died in a fire in my house, and now she comes to me at night and it scares me,” he said.  “What should I do?”

Consider that for a minute.  This boy, eight going on nine, believes he’s dealing with an apparition --  a dead girl consumed by flames. 
  
What kid has the tools to deal with such a vivid imagination, much less the possibility of it being real?   And what brain trust thought it was a good idea to tell a 3rd grader a child died where he sleeps?

When I was a kid, I had night terrors – realistic bad dreams that felt real – and I explained that to him.  He said no, these were not dreams.  The ghost was real, so we moved forward on that premise.  Remember, it doesn’t matter what WE think if HE believes this is real.  

“Okay,” I said.  “She’s not a dream.  She’s real.  Want me to tell you what I’d do, if I were in your shoes?”

“Yes,” he said, not a flicker of nonsense in his eyes.  “What would you do?”

“If she came into my room, I’d try to talk to her,” I said.  His no nonsense look was instantaneously replaced by, are you crazy?   But he listened. 

“I’d say, ‘Hey, it’s really sad that you died and I’m sorry, but I didn’t do it.  So can you stop scaring me?”  

He nodded.  “What if it doesn’t work?”  he said.

“Ignore her,” I said. His hope began to evaporate. So I pulled him back.  

“Wait, hear me out,” I said.  “When I was a kid, I loved to scare my sister.  Do you know when I stopped trying to scare her?” 

He said no.  “I stopped trying to scare her when she stopped screaming.  If she didn’t react, it wasn’t fun.  If your ghost doesn’t scare you anymore, maybe she’ll stop, too.  So try ignoring her if talking doesn’t work.”   

“But how do I ignore her?” he said.   

“What would you do if a zombie showed up at your window?”  I asked.   He said he’d be scared, and I agreed.  “Me too, totally.”  
  
“What would you do if it came a second night?”  We agreed, we’d still be scared.

“What about the third night, fourth night, fifth?  What about the sixth, seventh, eighth?  What if that zombie came TEN DAYS IN A ROW?”  I asked him.  “By the tenth night, I wouldn’t be scared, I’d be mad. Stupid zombie, don’t you have anything better to do?”

He laughed and agreed, kind of annoying after ten days, not scary.

“Great, I said. “Skip to the tenth night with your ghost.  Because, eventually, she’ll be just like that zombie – a poor sad girl with nothing better to do.” 

A thousand pound weight lifted off his shoulders.  At least he had a game plan.  

That’s why I decided to write GHOSTLY EVIDENCE: EXPLORING THE PARANORMAL (Millbrook, 2014).  Thousands of kids are watching ghost shows on television, and almost no one has time to talk with them about those shows or the fears they invoke.  Most say, “Ignore it,” but they don’t say how (or why).  

And that’s where Common Core Standards come in.  

When effectively implemented, Common Core Standards empower kids, teaching them how to gather evidence of their own.  With hard core evidence, kids become critical thinks, making it harder for our multi-media world to feed them half truths and lies.  I hope books like mine help teachers and librarians to do exactly that.

For GHOSTLY EVIDENCE, I visited three haunted houses, a haunted prison, four haunted grave yards, two haunted hotels and a haunted ship.  I read dozens of books and articles and interviewed more than fifteen experts on medicine, electricity, photography, near death experiences, mediums, ghosts and skeptical analysis.  

I put eight years of hard research into my 64 page book, hoping it would help kids challenge the information strangers will feed them.  I wrote it, hoping they’d be inspired to do real research of their own. 

When educators and authors join forces, we can teach kids the facts, sure.  But via Common Core Standards, we can also teach them how to think – how to evaluate information presented as facts.  When we give them such powerful skills, they have a shot at separating lies from the truth.  

Did I come to any conclusions writing my book about ghosts?  Yes.  I decided there was enough information to justify further scientific study, but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.  We’re far too invested in superstition and disbelief to move past fear toward facts. 

Common Core Standards could change that.  It could usher a new generation toward discoveries we have scarcely imagined, much less proven.  And that’s an unfolding mystery I can get behind. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cousin Ida


We are one day from the end of our month’s discussion about Common Core State Standards. Like Steve Sheinkin's blog yesterday, I purposely waited till the end of the month to steal - I mean figure out how to talk about CCSS. I reread the blogs to see if anything is missing. There is. We’ve not yet discussed cousin Ida. This surprises me because cousin Ida is the whole shebang, the common core when it comes to standards.
My cousin, Ida Kravitz, was a teacher and later an administrator in Philadelphia. She still lives in the same house where as a child I spent so many hours learning to love learning. She taught numerous subjects, but history and reading were her babies. Here’s what made her a great teacher:
First, Ida knew her material cold. Say a country, give a range of dates, and off she'd go. Second, she revealed an unapologetic passion for whatever subject she taught. Her enthusiasm was contagious. And third, you couldn’t help but get sucked in by her extraordinary story telling. These three points: facts, passion, and good story telling are what I consider the most important standards for teachers and for writers, and come to think of it, for much of life.

As a kid I was a daydreamer. I spent classroom time in a world of make believe, passing notes to friends, and sneaking tiny pieces of the tuna fish salad sandwich on rye bread that my mother made for lunch. Tuna fish salad is not a good thing to give to a kid who daydreams and sneaks snacks in class. The teacher can smell the tuna when you open the wax paper wrapper. (No baggies back then.) It’s better to give kids peanut butter and jelly, or cheese, or baloney.
In those days classes were taught from very dry textbooks. History covered this king and that, this battle and that. More time was spent learning the chronology of French and English royalty than about slavery. I remember only a half paragraph devoted to Native Americans. When I asked, really, really politely, why, I got into a lot of trouble. A lot of trouble.
I tried hard to concentrate but history especially was bor-ing! Since I was close to failing, a B- was considered failing in my family, my totally panicked parents brought in the top gun: COUSIN IDA.
            Once a week, and before a test, I was driven across town to Ida’s house where she tutored me in history. This was no easy feat because Philadelphia is spread out and the drive took up most of the afternoon.
            Ida would ask what period a test covered. England, 1485 – 1558.  “Ah, the Tudors!” she’d rub her hands gleefully, “Now that’s a family! This will be fun.” She then proceeded to fill my head with stories, stories of sex, intrigue, and murder. There were details, marvelous details – how people dressed, what they ate, how they ate, who they loved. Between roasted wild bore, damask, brocade, bosom-popping dresses, and red stains on bed linen, she threw in the names of royals, laws, and a battle or two. It was unforgettable.
            I started to get top grades in history. After a bit some of my classmates would wait for me to return home from cousin Ida’s. I told them all the super stories I had learned. The retelling of Ida’s stories reinforced learning, and was a way in with the popular kids. It was a win-win. 

When visiting schools it’s heart-warming to meet many a cousin Ida. If Common Core standards help teachers deconstruct our books to benefit their students, I say go for it. But please, please, please don’t overlook cousin Ida standards.
This month some INK writers deftly deconstructed their own books following CCSS key ideas. Others explained why they did not. One thing all the INKers have in common is they are Cousin-Ida-Writers. So let’s keep our eye on the prize: learn the subject, share it with passion, and tell a good story. That’s a common core we can all agree on.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Advice from an Expert (not me)



I thought I was being so smart. When we decided to dedicate October to a discussion of the Common Core, a subject I don’t have much to say about, I grabbed a date at the very end of the month. My plan: see what other people wrote, and liberally borrow ideas for my own post. But now it’s all been said, and said well, and it seems unhelpful to repeat. So I’m going in a different direction.

Luckily for me, at a children’s and teen literature conference earlier this month, I got to see librarian, supervisor of librarians, and all-around Common Core expert Sue Bartle give a presentation called “The Common Core, Nonfiction, and You!” Two things she said grabbed my attention. First, and I quote, “I don’t care about the Common Core. I care about nonfiction.”

Second, she mentioned that she once played Benedict Arnold’s mother in a school play.

But back to the Common Core. With all the concerns among parents and educators about how they will be implemented, Sue clearly feels that the new standards are bringing positive attention to nonfiction. After the talk, she generously agreed to chat further about how the CC will impact nonfiction authors.

“I keep hearing it’s going to be great for us,” I said. “Do you think that’s true?”

“Absolutely” was the short answer. Teachers have lots of concerns about implementation, she said, especially about the added emphasis on testing. But the increased attention on nonfiction is a great thing. “Teachers need help getting kids excited about reading, and that’s where your books come in.”

I asked about how the Common Core might change the way nonfiction is viewed. She explained that it’s pretty common for librarians to know fiction better than nonfiction, and to see nonfiction largely as something kids ask about when they have to write a report. The Common Core can “elevate nonfiction,” she said, “and get more people talking about it.” She thinks the CC will be great for those readers, often boys, who naturally prefer nonfiction, but who are sometimes steered toward “real literature”—that is, novels. A good book about snakes should count as “real” reading, Sue said.

“So with the librarians you supervise, you’ve seen an increased interest in nonfiction?”

Yes, she said. “Librarians and teachers often ask, ‘Tell us books, tell us what’s good.’ Everyone knows about Jim Murphy, how great his books are.” And they’re hearing more about other great authors—she mentioned Tanya Lee Stone’s Courage Has No Color and Sue Macy’s Wheels of Change. “Great books that can accomplish what Common Core sets out to do.” She’d like to see publishers promote their nonfiction titles as aggressively as they do their fiction, and thinks it may happen. “We’ll see.”

Seems like good news, right? But then I got the question I’m most interested in: “Should writers pay attention to the Common Core?”

“Continue to do what you do,” she said. “Don’t spend time thinking about Common Core. We look for good stories. If you take the time to weave in the Common Core, we’re going to see it, and not in a good way.”  

“But what if someone writes a good book, and it doesn’t meet the standards?” I asked. “Isn’t that a danger?”

“A book on almost any subject can meet the Common Core, can be used in a Common Core way. The key is: can the book be a starting point for going deeper, for analysis? Can it spark engaged reading and stamina?”

“So writers should know about the Common Core standards, understand them, but only after writing should we think about how they relate to what we have done—is that about right?”

“Yes,” she said, adding, “I beg you never to have the standards sitting there when you write.”

Sue Bartle is the School Library System Director at E2CC BOCES in western New York. Check out her blog at: http://nonfictionandthecommoncore.blogspot.com

Las Vegas, Non-Fiction and the CCSS for Math




I'm just back from Sin City, known to some as Las Vegas. I swear I was sinless. Not a single quarter went from my pocket to the slot. (I've seen the math and I know slot machines are a bad deal -- except for the casino.) I went to Vegas because I gave a talk there at the Western Regional Conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and when I wasn't speaking I was attending sessions. I wanted to see what the math people had to say about the Common Core State Standards.

Most of the media spotlight on the CCSS has focused on tests and the scary prospect of falling test scores under the CCSS. Math educators, on the other hand, talk a lot more about teaching students than what will happen when the students (and the standards) fall victim to the latest round of standardized testing. One plank of the CCSS is the Standards for Mathematical Practice; these are the forms of expertise that teachers at all levels should seek to develop in their students. For example, the first one says, "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them." Can't argue with that.

The other thing I heard a lot was the word "rigor," which is designated as one of the three key instructional shifts of the CCCSS for Mathematics. (I knew you were wondering: the other two are Focus and Coherence.) And, as it turns out, "rigor" is a controversial word in math circles. Can you figure out why?

Well, as with so many things these days, there's the Tea Party crowd and there's the rest of us. To the Tea Party-goers, rigor means "more "(problems), "faster" (answers), "better" (% correct) and "higher "(test scores, of course). To the math educators I heard at NCTM, "rigor" means three elements: "conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application with equal intensity," as explained in "Key Instructional Shifts of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics."  A metaphor proffered by one presenter was that of a three-legged stool. Rigor is the stool and the three legs are those three elements, apportioned equally if the stool is going to stay upright and level.

Wow! Conceptual understanding and application equal to skill and fluency? Yep. I've always thought that was the right equation and now the notion is ascendant with the CCSS. I've been thinking about where non-fiction fits in. My first thought, echoed by those I spoke with, was the "application" component. After all, through stories, readers see how math concepts can be applied to the real world. To pick one classic of the "math-lit" genre, Pat Hutchins's The Doorbell Rang comes to mind. Two children are about to enjoy a plate of twelve cookies when the doorbell rings and a guest arrives ... then another ring and two more guests ... then another two... then six more ... then.... (you'll just have to read the book to find out). Each step of the way, to their long-faced chagrin, they must modify their calculation of how many cookies each of them will get. With an enlightened teacher or parent at the helm, the math will be rampant. Here, in delightful literary form, is an application of addition, division, factors, even algebra.

But what about the other two legs of the stool? Can non-fiction add to their support? You've no doubt figured out my answer: of course. Take conceptual understanding. I'll choose a book of my own,  If Dogs Were Dinosaurs, which is a companion to the earlier If You Hopped Like a Frog. Both are about proportion, The first compares animal abilities to corresponding abilities of animals; the second looks at relative size (scale) through preposterous examples. "If a submarine sandwich were a real submarine. . . a pickle slice could save your life." The math is explained in the back — and it's easy! See the funny examples, read the back matter, try a few examples of your own (thank you, teachers), and voilĂ : ratio and proportion make sense. Daunting (and boring) no more. Many have told me so.

Computational fluency is a tougher nut for an author to crack and I would say that in most cases it should not be the goal of a non-fiction author unless her paycheck comes from a textbook publisher (in which case, she probably doesn't write on this blog!). But I won't disallow the possibility of "procedural skill and fluency" being a side benefit to a "real" book. Take If You Made a Million, my book for young children about the math of money. Five coin combinations equivalent to a quarter are given (one quarter,  two dimes and a nickel, three nickels and a dime, five nickels and 25 pennies). Does that mean there are only five? One second grader explored this question -- and found thirteen. Two students in the same  class determined that there are 49 coin combinations that equal fifty cents. ("We were proud of our work because we finally finished it," they wrote.) Think of all the basic skills practice that went into that determination! It didn't feel like drudgery because it wasn't. But the skills were basic just the same.

So, as is often the case (especially around this blog!), non-fiction is the answer. By no means is it all that's needed to meet the Common Core math standards, but it sure can help the stool stand up proud, tall and well balanced.













Friday, October 25, 2013

Creativity and the Common Core

This month on Interesting Nonfiction for Kids the topic has been the Common Core Curriculum.The posts have been varied and informative – an invaluable resource for educators.

Everyone has been talking about the Common Core, from my eight-grade son’s Language Arts teacher to Arne Duncan to Matt Damon. When I mentioned to my husband that for this month I had to write something about the Common Core, he had no clue to what I was talking about, though that term was thrown to us the entire Back-To-School night.

President Obama said in a July 2009 speech,
“You get to decide what comes next. You get to choose where change will take us, because the future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground; the future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create. That is the source of power in this century. And given all that has happened in your two decades on Earth, just imagine what you can create in the years to come.”
The much-quoted portion of that speech is the line, “the future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” The government through Common Core is trying to address the “young people with an education” issue, but we seem to be missing half of that equation – imagination to create.

For your Friday entertainment, I’ll leave you with this wonderful TED talk by Sir Kenneth Robinson. He says all I would like to write about creativity, schools and our students, but about 1,000% better. Whether you have already seen this or not, it’s always aspirational and timely. Our challenge is to now implement creativity in the classroom.
The ideas of our students are the future.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Joy of Exploring Book Structure with the Common Core

Like many fellow INK bloggers, I don’t think about the Common Core while writing my books. Yet when I read the Common Core anchor reading standards, I get a sense that they are designed to get kids to explore some of the things that I DO think about when I write a book.  Maybe that is not such a bad thing.

Take, for instance, structure. The reading standards (especially CCRA.R.5) ask students to think about how a piece of writing is structured and why the author might have structured it that way.  I think about structure. I obsess about structure.  Considering how to structure a book is the most fun, the most creative, and perhaps the most important part of my writing process.

Structure is a the-world-is-your-oyster kind of thing.  The options for structuring a piece of writing to inspire, entertain, and inform are endless. I can be creative, literary, artistic, poetic, humorous, vivid, and suspenseful. I can use metaphor, imagery, narrative arc, voice, or any other tool I’d like. When I write, I’m like a curator at a museum. I get to decide what to focus on and how to present it. So half the fun is figuring out: What is the best way to tell this story? What interesting or clever structure will make this amazing material come to life for readers?

Let me give you an example. Since the release of two new books this year, I now have three books for young readers on volcanoes. Each has a completely different structure.

VOLCANO RISING, a picture book for young kids, age five to nine, focuses on the creative force of volcanoes, how volcanoes shape the landscape, building mountains and creating islands where there were none before. The book is organized around an idea: creative eruptions. I introduce the concept, explain it, and then give eight vivid examples. The book also has two layers of text. In the first, I employ lyrical language so that it’s lovely to read aloud. The second layer offers more detailed descriptions of fascinating creative eruptions for parents or teachers to share with kids or for independent readers to explore on their own.

WILL IT BLOW? is designed to be a fun, interactive way for kids age six to ten to understand and use cutting-edge volcano monitoring by drawing a playful parallel between volcano monitoring and
detective work. The book introduces Mount St. Helens as the suspect, and the chapters describe
clues that volcanologists gather. Each chapter ends with a real case study from Mount St. Helens’ 2004-2008 eruption where kids apply what they learned about clues to guess what Mount St. Helens might do next. WILL IT BLOW? offers pretty hefty scientific material presented through the lens of detective work.

ERUPTION! VOLCANOES AND THE SCIENCE OF SAVING LIVES is for older readers, kids age ten and up. It’s a no-holds-barred immersion into the destructive power of volcanoes and the intense challenge of predicting deadly violent eruptions. I follow a small team of scientists as they work on the flanks of steaming, quaking, ash-spewing volcanoes all over the world—from Colombia and the Philippines to Chile and Indonesia—as they struggle to predict eruptions and prevent tragedies. I chose some historical eruptions and some current ones to show how the scientists' work has evolved over time, and tried to weave together the scientific process with suspenseful, nail-biting material to pull readers through.

One topic, volcanoes, with three very different structures.  What does this mean for what might happen in the classroom with my volcano books? Teachers could have students look at all three of these books and describe their structures and what they accomplish.  To explore the structure of VOLCANO RISING, a teacher could ask: Why did the author chose the eight volcanoes that she features in this book? What is the purpose of the two different layers of text? How do the layers affect how the book might be used?  To delve deeper into the structure of WILL IT BLOW? a teacher could ask: How is the theme of volcanology-as-detective-work reflected in the structure of the book? How does the opening chapter set the stage for the rest of the book? What is the common structure found in each chapter and what does that structure accomplish? For ERUPTION, students could explore: Why does the author tell the stories of several eruptions? Why those eruptions? What does each add?

Why stop with my volcano books? Students could check out three more volcano books and describe how they are the same and different. Teachers could even ask students to brainstorm ideas for three more ways one could structure a book about volcanoes. To me, structure is about both creativity and synthesizing information, so exploring structure can offer both hard-core analysis and a creative outlet.

I’m a little obsessed with structure, so teachers and students probably have lots to talk about by picking apart the structures of my books.  My nonfiction picturebook biography THE PLANET HUNTER: THE STORY BEHIND WHAT HAPPENED TO PLUTO explains why Pluto is not considered a planet anymore by telling the true story of the astronomer behind it. I use the structure of a narrative arc, which is commonly used in fiction, with a character (astronomer Mike Brown) who wants something (to find more planets in our solar system), rising tension, a climax and a resolution. Teachers can explore narrative arc structure with students by having them find these parts in the story.

In my nonfiction picture book biography of Maria Anna Mozart –Wolfgang Mozart’s older sister who was also a child prodigy – I used the structure of a piano sonata, the type of music Maria Anna played most often, as the structure for the book. So in FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC, I divided her story into movements and employed other other musical notations to highlight events in Maria Anna’s life.  The Mozart children’s whirlwind musical tour of Europe is in a section called Allegro (the fast tempo of the first movement of a piano sonata). When Wolfgang climbs into a carriage headed for Italy, leaving his sister behind, the section is Coda (an ending.) In a section titled Fermata (in which everything stops), Maria Anna's piano warps in the frigid weather, and in Cadenza (a passage for a soloist to improvise), Maria Anna weeps for Wolfgang, who dies so young. Classroom discussions about this structure could address: How does the sonata structure shape the book? What constraints did using this structure put on the author? What did the structure add?

Basically, I think the standards open the door to asking readers to notice a book’s structure, to think about why a book is structured the way it is, to imagine how it could have been structured differently and to consider a variety of ways to structure their writing, too. 

What might this look like in the classroom more generally? Talk about books with interesting structures. Find books on the same topic or subject matter with different structures and discuss how the structures differ and how that affects the book.

To develop writing skills, kids could brainstorm at least three different possible structures for a piece of writing. (I do this before writing my books, though I don’t limit myself to only three.) Student could write about the same topic more than once, employing very different structures. (I often write multiple drafts of different parts of my books, testing out different structures.)

Encouraging students to consider creative ways to structure a piece of writing can give kids a way to really engage with the material and make it their own. To me any topic becomes more interesting if I ask myself: How could I structure this to be the most interesting and most effective?  If teachers encourage kids to think creatively about structuring their writing, students may engage more deeply with the material and, ultimately, write pieces that are more interesting to read.  

Elizabeth Rusch

P.S. While my books offer good opportunities to discuss structure, I think they can also spur discussions around other elements of the Common Core, such as theme (R.2), word choice (R.4),  and point of view (R.6). To give teachers ideas on how to use my books to support Common Core learning, I have created a short, half-page Common Core Bookmark for each of my books based on the reading anchor standards. Click on a title to get the short guide:


If you happen like the format I created to distill my Common Core-related ideas about my books into a half-page bookmark, please feel free to use this blank version

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Publishers Are Doing


I’ve never studied educational theory, and only visit schools as “queen/author for a day.” So I was rather nonplussed when we agreed to write about Common Core Standards this month. I figured other bloggers would say lots of great things before my late-in-the-month turn – and I could copy off their paper.  Well, they did, and I really don’t have anything to add.

Except that Cheryl Harness’s “shame-faced cinders” (in her recent post) reminded me of the cinders still lurking in my hiking boots from my recent tortuous climb up Stromboli…..



….and Mount Etna.




Then Caroline Arnold, a good friend and good writer (like Charlotte), described a recent talk she gave on the subject wherein she discussed what her publishers are doing about the standards. So I’m copying off her paper instead. Here are what a few of my editors say about Common Core Standards and nonfiction books.

Lerner and Carolrhoda Books

Editor Andrew Karre’s responses were swift, short, and sweet. 

1. Have the Common Core Standards brought any change to the number or type of books you are acquiring?

Yes, to a certain extent.
2. Are you making any changes to the back matter to relate more directly to the standards?

 Not many. Our back matter was already pretty robust. In that case CC confirmed our approach.
3.  Have you changed your marketing strategy to accommodate the standards?

Yes, definitely.
4.  Any other comments about the standards and what they might mean to your list?

I think it means great things for creative, thoughtful, author-led nonfiction—which is to say I’ll be able to continue doing it and maybe do more of it. I think it’s a huge boon for poets.
Katie O’Neel, publicist at Lerner and Carolrhoda, elaborated.
We have started to include the Common Core correlations of each title in our catalog front list. We have also created Common Core libraries, which provide curated bundles of books, in library-bound or multi-user ebook formats, that have particularly strong correlations to the Common Core. We have also created hundreds of Common Core teaching guides that are available for free download on our website.

It’s all very user-friendly at https://www.lernerbooks.com/pages/common-Core.aspx


Holiday House

Editor Julie Amper weighed in.

“Holiday House has always published books with the school curriculum in mind. New we are adding information on how the book fits the Standards and how it could be used. In both our catalog and on our website we have annotated how books fit the Standards and how they might be used.

We do not see the Common Core Standards as a departure from what good teachers having been doing for a long time. The Standards aren’t teaching new or different information, but are rather a checklist of skills teachers have worked on with their students for years.  We see great opportunities for creative teaching by adoption of the Common Core Standards and use of trade books and other materials in the classroom.”

The Holiday House website’s home page has a link to Common Core State Standards which links to Teaching Ideas, Titles by Subject, and teachers’ materials.   www.holidayhouse.com


Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek

Boyds Mills Press, with their well-respected Calkins Creek American history imprint, and Word Song, a poetry imprint, are poised to take advantage of Common Core Standards. Kerry McManus, publicist for Boyds Mills and Calkins Creek, reports that the spring 2014 catalog will link the new titles to various standards, and Educators’ Guides will do the same.


Chicago Review Press

With a large back and front list of middle grade activity books to draw on, Mary Kravenas, Marketing Manager, writes,

There hasn’t been a huge sea change in how we look at acquiring books. If anything, the CC standards have confirmed what we had already established with our list -- the strength and importance of non-fiction books for K-12 students. We do look a little deeper now when we’re positioning a title, discussing what standards a title addresses, and it reaffirms our commitment to quality non-fiction.”

So teachers and writers, just....