In a recent Horn Book article, Kate Messner offers five tips to get kids writing. I’d like to offer a sixth: read aloud How to Write a Story by Kate Messner to a child. It will offer joy and excitement to the writing process.
In this picture book beautifully illustrated by Mark Siegel, Kate offers step by step directions to write a story. She begins with searching for an idea. As writers, we know ideas are everywhere. We collect them in writing notebooks and save them for the moment we know we must write about them. Through the illustrations and words, Mark and Kate bring the process of collecting ideas to life.
In the remaining steps, Kate gives tips on how to develop setting, characters, and plot. She delves into the introduction and organization of the story. She encourages writing a draft and returning for revision after the story has had time to “blossom and grow.” Kate concludes with what to do with a story when it is finished–– share it with friends.
If you’re looking for a way to spend an afternoon, read aloud How to Write a Story to a child. Be sure to have a writing notebook and writing utensil on hand for you and the child. You won’t be able to resist the urge to write!
~Dr. Anastasia Gruper, A to Z Board Member & Contributing Writer
For kids everywhere, this past school year ended with virtual goodbyes and feelings of uncertainty around what will happen in August. Teachers and students tried their very best during the remote learning, but at times, it was challenging to stay motivated and engaged. So now with summer in full swing, I believe one great way to support kids, academically and emotionally, is through small neighborhood book clubs.
With a selection of four different books to choose from, I invited my 4th-grade neighbor to join me in some fun summer reading outside on the patio. We are currently reading The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani which is a fantastic story of a girl traveling from Pakistan to India during the partition of 1947. Like any good book club, we have enjoyed snacks while reading favorite parts, and of course, have gotten off topic with conversations about getting your ears pierced, picking out the right cat from the local shelter, and discussing the importance of why people are protesting in the world right now. Sure, the book has supported Penelope’s reading comprehension, but more importantly, our conversations have generated connection which will elevate her social emotional skills and promote the love of reading. And more good news–my book club partner has invited two more neighbors to join us in our next book, Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed.
(Thanks to Dr. Mal Keenan for the blog post this week)
On June 28th, A to Z Literacy Movement volunteers hosted their annual free book fair for 300 students attending summer school in Crystal Lake. Girls and boys in grades one through eight were able to self-select two books to take home . . . that’s 600 books to enjoy! Yeh!
In addition, we have shipped the last of our four
shipments for 2018. One major celebration was sending children’s books to a small library in Pakistan – a new country for us to connect with and support young readers. And while the cost of shipping has increased, we are still deeply committed to getting books into the hands of children around the world.
On July 20th, Betty, Alia, and Mal will head back to Zambia to work with our partner schools, Shine Zambia Reading Academy and School of Hope. Be on the lookout for an email with details of their experiences.
And as always, thank you for continuing to support us and believing in our mission to increase the love of reading everywhere. We could not do this work without YOU!
It all starts with a fundraiser – like dodgeball tournaments at Bernotas Middle School and Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake, Illinois. These fantastic schools hosted their annual A to Z Dodgeball Tournaments to raise funds for the shipping of books.
A to Z volunteers then hit the local libraries (post book sales) to gather free children’s books. (Library books are especially awesome as the sturdy hardcover selection provides a balanced assortment for our recipients.) Once the books are hand-picked, they are then boxed up, addressed, and bagged. Ready for the post office!
At the post office, the patient postal worker, Donna, methodically weighs each box, types in all of the shipping information, and ensures each M-Bag has a customs form attached to the M-Bag tag. It’s a process . . . and the line of people behind us usually grows as we work through each box . . . it takes between 30-40 minutes.
Today we shipped six boxes of children’s books to a new country – Pakistan. So exciting! Shearyar Arif Jessani found our nonprofit via the internet and requested an A to Z shipment for a small community library. The little library will serve as a reading room for children in the area and the boys and girls will be able to check library books out as well.
As always, we are so grateful for our supporters who continue to help us meet our goals and live out our mission to increase the love of reading and get books into children’s hands.
“Having worked with A to Z Literacy since building our literacy school, Shine Zambia Reading Academy in 2009, I know personally how much their help has contributed to the success of our school. Not just support through financial sponsorship of teachers’ allowances and pupil lunches, or through books donated and shipped to Zambia to stock our school library, but in the training provided to our teachers. This training has been given by Mal and various volunteers who have sacrificed their time to work with our teachers for around a week almost every summer for the past 5 years.
I wanted to find out first hand how A to Z and its visits to our school over the years have impacted our teachers, so I asked them. Upon my request, our teachers had a meeting to discuss it and wrote back to me with feedback. The teachers unanimously agreed that they had all been greatly impacted by the A to Z training sessions and feel their teaching style has improved. They specifically mentioned the strategies they were taught for reading with pupils, improving pupil writing skills and conducting group discussions in class. Here’s a quote from our Head Teacher, David Mulenga, about writing strategies: “We were particularly astounded at how well our own Year 2 pupils were able to write, all by themselves. We learned this particularly from Dave. He would show them a picture card and ask them to say what they can see from it and he wrote those things on the blackboard. He would then ask the pupils to write their own stories about any of those things written on the board. Wow! It was amazing to see the ideas that came from the children!”
We truly appreciate A to Z Literacy’s guidance over the years in making our literacy program even stronger and we hope to continue working in partnership for many years to come.” – Vineet Bhatnagar
Without you, we would not be able to meet our goals of promoting literacy to students in Zambia and providing professional development to teachers where the need is substantial. Thank you for understanding the mission of global literacy and the importance of reading.
Yes, I wish to make a special year-end gift to help get books into the hands of children who want read. (click here)
A to Z Literacy Movement, Inc is a non-profit 501c3 organization. Your tax-deductible contribution will help promote literacy and increase the love of reading for children living in poverty-stricken areas.
By Betty Trummel
As I took a look at my tiny class Christmas tree last week, I saw the gift of books and reading for my 30 students. Each package under the tree contained a bright, shiny, new chapter book.
I thought about so many children around the world who don’t have new books or any books at all. In many places literacy is not the reality of everyday life.
The work we do as part of A to Z Literacy Movement is on a small scale, but it is mighty. I’m thinking back to our trip to Zambia this past June, and how exciting it was to see gently used and new books in the hands of the children and teachers at the Village of Hope and at Shine Zambia Reading Academy.
We’ve given the gift of books and reading to so many, just as I have in my 36 years of teaching. How can you help give the gift of literacy this holiday season?
By Kalan Gott
The Hungry Caterpillar is a well know children’s book documenting the days of eating precede a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. Not only is it a cool book because of the pictures (and that tiny hole in the food on each page that shows you where the caterpillar ate), but because I’ve decided it is a metaphor for a child’s relationship with reading. Just so you all know, I didn’t ask Eric Carle about this metaphor. I’ve just decided it is a thing from watching my 8 month old daughter begin her relationship with books. Like the caterpillar, she is hungry. Yes, of course, for actual foods. But also for books, letters, language, and the delicious cardboard they are printed on. Even though she is just knawing at the pages right now (literally so hungry for knowledge that she is eating the pages of the books), she is already starting to play with turning the pages, looking at the pictures, and laughing at the onomatopoeia. I am excited to see her blossom (not into a butterfly- that would be too Kafkaesque) into a reader who engages with the words and stories of fabulous writers. For now it is baby steps, but one day…
By Ann Yanchura
If you’re lucky enough to have books all over your house or your classroom, then stop and take a moment to feel grateful. There are so many homes and schools where the choices for reading are slim or even nonexistent, and my heart aches for the children and adults who live in a world bereft of the love of the written word.
Most of us reading this blog have been raised to have our pick of many exciting and beautiful titles to choose from whenever we want to curl up and get lost in a book.
‘Tis the season for settling in for some warm winter reading.
‘Tis the season for browsing the bookstores for the perfect gift for your loved ones.
‘Tis the season to share your books and love of reading with others.
‘Tis the season to be thankful for books, large and small, old and new, heavy and light, funny and sad, true and not-so-true.