My Favourites – April 2014

GravatarHello Everyone. Spring is finally here (oh no – I hope I didn’t just jinx it). In honour of our late-comer, here are a few great reads. Thank you to everyone who sent in their suggestions.  Keep them coming.

And Then It’s Spring
by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Published by Roaring Brook Press

Following a snow-filled winter, a young boy and his dog decide that they’ve had enough of all that brown and resolve to plant a garden. They dig, they plant, they play, they wait . . . and wait . . . until at last, the brown becomes a more hopeful shade of brown, a sign that spring may finally be on its way.

Spring Is HereSpring Is Here
by Will Hillenbrand
ublished by Holiday House

Spring is in the air. Mole can smell it. But Bear is still asleep after his long winter nap. How will Mole wake up Bear so they can celebrate together?


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Words on a Limb Interviews Dave Freeman

This week Spotlight on Authors is delighted to virtually visit with Dave Freeman. Although we would have preferred to visit him in person since Dave and his wife live a few miles from the ocean in beautiful West Palm Beach Florida – and since we are having a great winter this spring.

Ocean notwithstanding, here is his Mushroom Tale.

Dave is a professional who writes motivational children’s books. With forty years experience solving problems in industry and in his communities, he would like to change that title to: 

WRITER who solves problems, promotes, teaches and entertains.

Well said.

About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t recall beginning my love affair with writing. I can only remember that once I joined the real world, in a professional capacity, I was always drawn to and selected for writing assignments. From resumes, radio commercials, complaint letters and other letters to turn an angry client in to a proponent, I stepped up and surprisingly continued to hit the bulls eye on many assignments. That is simply exhilarating. Continue reading

Sight Words BINGO!

Bingo GameSight Words Bingo

Sight word acquisition is an important building block in the construction of a child’s ability to read. Once she is able to read these words, she has access to up to 75% of what is printed in almost any piece of children’s literature. How exactly do teachers and parents help children develop their stores of sight words? There are several proven techniques that any adult can use to teach sight words.

Children do not learn new words by being exposed to them only once. Repetition is key to sight word acquisition. Young readers should be given opportunities to read and write a new sight word multiple times. Repetitive reading of texts featuring certain sight words is one strategy for helping children commit these words to memory.

Once children have had the opportunity to study new sight words, games are a fun, hands on way to help strengthen their retention. These games are easy to create at home or at school and can be modified based on the particular sight words a child is learning at the time. We designed a game based on an all-time favourite, BINGO. The incentive to find a word coupled with the urge to complete a card, creates an active environment for memorizing these essential words.

The download includes 48 Sun-Moon-Star-Earth bingo cards as well as a set of 40 sight words to call out. All you need is lots of bingo chips and eager players, and you are ready to go.

Just click here to download the package.


The Battle Within

08a37230a6bf842869d68b5ccc2ead17I remember the first time I sat comfortably in my own silence.

It was a short period of silence, I must say, but even so I took breaks occasionally to escape.

Escape myself.

The moments in between those breaks though, those exasperating moments of my own silent presence, were practically eating me alive.

At first.

See, I’m always all over the place. On average, I get about three or four hours of sleep a night (if I’m lucky). No need to mention how unhealthy that is – I’m fully aware. In fact I have a deep concern that my body may physically give up on me and simply collapse but until that is to happen, the chaotic habits would continue.

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Words on a Limb Interviews Bonnie Ferrante

Bonnie Ferrante is a hybrid writer (publishing traditionally and self-publishing). Her work has appeared in various children’s and adult magazines and anthologies. She is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist lay leader and was a grade school teacher for thirty-three years, ten as teacher-librarian. Her first three novels were published by Noble Romance Publishing. In 2014, her next book, a young adult historical paranormal, Switch, will be published by Tradewind Books in Vancouver. She has received two OAC grants for her writing. She has recently entered the field of self-publishing and is greatly enjoying illustrating her own picture books. Bonnie lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. She loves to chant, bike, garden, read, volunteer, create visual and needle art, and attend live theatre.

About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I wanted to be a writer since I was a child. I was the first person in my family to go to university and money was very tight. The regional university did not have a writing program so I chose librarianship and then later switched into teaching. When I taught half time, I began writing short pieces for newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. But when I began teaching full-time, I found I couldn’t manage it all. Now I no longer teach and am writing full time. Continue reading

Writing Blind …

We asked author Victoria Zigler, to share with us her experiences as a writer and voracious reader. Here is her story.

My name is Victoria Zigler, I’m twenty-nine years old, and I’m a self-published author of children’s books and poetry.  I also just happen to be completely blind.

I was born with Glaucoma, which robbed me of the sight in my left eye at some point during my childhood, and later robbed me of the sight in my right eye.  I don’t know exactly when my left eye stopped being useful, but I can tell you that I had the eye out shortly before my sixteenth birthday, because by that time all I could see with it was light and the light caused me severe pain.  Seven years later there was a drastic change in what I could see in my right eye, and eight months after that, a few months before I turned twenty-four, I had my right eye out for the same reason.  My left eye has been artificial since I was sixteen, and my right has been artificial since I was twenty-four, but I know it’s correct to say I still have the eye condition Glaucoma, because I asked the eye specialists.

I learned to read and write when I was young, because my big brothers had homework and I wanted some too.  From the moment I learned how to read and write, I’ve been in love with the written word.  I was three when I learned to read and write print, and twelve when I learned to read and write Braille.  Books have always been my place to escape to when I needed to escape the real world, and writing has always been the easiest way for me to express my thoughts and feelings.  Continue reading

Happy Earth Day

“I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home. Let us care for Mother Earth so she can continue to care for us as she has done for millennia.”

-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Earth Day falls on April 22nd of every year.  It is recognized worldwide and honored with many events to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. I’d like to share a poem I wrote in recognition of Earth Day.  Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.

It’s Time to Give Back

Mother walked along the seashore with her son.
The boy stopped to cool off in the water.
“This ocean was put here for you,” said Mother.
“To bathe you and nourish you and let you enjoy her embrace”

Mother walked through the forest with her daughter.
The girl stopped to cool off in the shade of a tree.
“These trees were put here for you,” said Mother.
“To feed you and teach you and give you a home.”

Mother walked across a meadow with her children.
The kids lay down to rest and gazed at the sky.
“The sun and air were put here for you,” said Mother.
“To warm you and refresh you and give you life.”

The children and Mother came upon an open field.
Heaps of trash, piles of debris, mountains of waste,
All lay where her land used to be.
The children, ashamed, bowed their heads and began,

“Mother, you have given us everything, from land to the sea.
You have fed us, clothed us, healed us if need be.
Consumed in our ways, we lost our path.
We need to do more – it’s time to give back.”

Creative Commons License It’s Time to Give Back by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

In recognition of Earth Day, here are a few great reads to start up a conversation in the classroom – today or any day.
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This Used To Be My Playground

GravatarBy Lora

There are many vivid imprints in my mind from days long gone. These beautiful memories live within me and define my childhood. As I go through my day, fulfilling one obligation after another, running from one commitment to the next, sometimes I wish I could just for a moment close my eyes, travel back in time and instantly be there again – the red slide that spiraled for days, the raised stage that I had to jump really high to see past, the zoo only minutes from my home, the convenience store that catered to my sweet tooth, the sprinkler I skinned my knee on, and on it goes.

Years ago, I had a chance to go back to visit my homeland, a place I left 26 years ago but still consider a home of sorts. Nothing prepares you for the feeling you get when you embark on your journey to the past – the nostalgia, the longing, the reminiscent this used to be my playground.

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