Sunday, August 29, 2010

More free stuff

I like free stuff... and even more than I like free stuff, I like instant stuff.  You know, those things where you say, "I wish I had a ____", and then in less than 5 minutes you have one.  I like that.

Well, thank you to my Facebook friend Angela for pointing me in the direction of this site: .  On the Printable Paper site, you get more than lined paper and graph paper... there are budgets, calendars, story boards, and "Teacher Resources" galore.  My favorite category?  Game score sheets!  Everything from Bunco and Basketball to Whist and Yahtzee, all in free, printable PDF format.  I am one happy girl.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Scrabble score sheet... yet, here it is!

So, if you need a Rounded Doorknob Template, or a Knitting Graph (portrait or landscape!) you know where to go.

Check it out!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We're pretty excited about Mockingjay around here

It's here!  It's August 24, the day the Hunger Games trilogy comes to completion.  When, oh when, will the Guy In The Brown Truck arrive?

Here are a couple of reviews: one from the LA Times and one from USA Today.

Suzanne Collins will also be doing a Mockingjay book tour, mostly in the Northeast but with several other stops as well.  Click here for dates.

Happy reading!  (Let me know what you think of the book!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Little House on the Prairie: another look

I haven't thought about this one in a while... since Library School days, actually.  In one of my Children's Lit classes, we discussed some of the classics, and how the books of our childhood, however endearing, actually act to perpetuate stereotypes and racial discrimination.  You might recognize a few of these titles: The Five Chinese Brothers,  The Indian in the Cupboard,  Little Black Sambo, The Matchlock Gun, The Courage of Sarah Noble... the the list goes on and on.  But the Little House on the Prairie series, because it is so adored, tends to get a free pass regardless of the racist remarks present throughout several of the books.  Most people are willing to overlook the descriptions of the "savages" because they feel it is a historically accurate representation of life on the frontier (actually it is a very one-sided representation), and simply a portrayal of the fear the Ingalls family lived with.  But when we hand those books over to our kids today, what are we telling them? 

While there are many in my field who are staunchly anti-Little House, I'd like to take the middle path.  Truly, these books are a slice of Americana.  They are certainly a part of the American social lexicon, and an excellent introduction to chapter books for budding elementary readers.  Girls, especially, get hooked on the series and before they know it, they've read 8 chapter books and are building fluency to boot.  They take us back to a simpler time and place, where a piece of candy in a Christmas stocking was a marvel, and a hand-sewn doll was treasured and adored.  That's nice.

So, what's my recommendation for taking this middle path?  Read the Little House books, but talk about them with your kids.  Talk about racism.  Talk about westward expansion, and what that meant to the native peoples that were displaced.  And while you're at it, read some books from the Native American perspective.   My favorite?  The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich.

In The Birchbark House, we get to see the same slice of time (1840's) through the eyes of a 7-year old Ojibwa girl named Omakayas.  Many of the same themes are present: family life, living off the land, harsh winters, and a brave little girl facing it all.  The Porcupine Year is the follow-up. 

Happy reading!