Archive | September, 2010

Teachable Moment: Special Days

30 Sep


Firefly October Featured Book: The Spooky Wheels on the Bus

This humorous, Halloween-themed version of the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus” is a perfect new book for the season. It features a shiny foil cover with vibrant illustrations on each page, and children will love following along with the bold, repeating text. The story chronicles one bus driver’s night as he cruises through town on Halloween, picking up all sorts of unexpected passengers. Plus, the story provides a great opportunity to practice simple counting skills. From “one spooky bus” to “ten goofy ghosts,” children will enjoy counting and singing along to this not-so-spooky Halloween rhyme!

In addition to being a fun read-aloud, we especially love this book because it’s a wonderful introduction to the holiday. Reading stories like this one about Halloween helps children understand why holidays are special days. They can pick out images from the story that signify Halloween to them, such as jack-o’-lanterns, black cats, mummies, and witches. You can also talk to your children about what words like “spooky” mean to them. Discussing what makes certain days more special than others helps young children make sense of their world.  Costumes, candy, decorations—it can be overwhelming for a kid to take in all at once, but a lot goes into making holidays special. Once your child understands the holiday better, celebrating can be all the more exciting!

What are some other books you’ve found that provide teachable moments?


FIRST CLASS: Help for New Teachers!

29 Sep

Walking into your FIRST CLASS for the very first time as a new teacher can be really overwhelming.

We think it would be so helpful if teachers (and parents) could lend a hand to new teachers by sharing the top five things they wished they had known when they first set foot into their classrooms.

We can start by letting you know how Book Clubs can help:

  1. Build your classroom library quickly and easily! In addition to the monthly rewards you receive for ordering, you (as a brand-new teacher) can receive up to 25 FREE Books throughout the school year. Click here for more info.
  2. Build your classroom library with Bonus Points! Each order earns you Bonus Points, which you can use to build your dream classroom. You can use your Bonus Points to get FREE Books from the monthly catalogs, teacher resources from our new Teacher Essentials catalog, and classroom materials from our Classroom Bonus catalog!
  3. Engage your classroom through ClassroomsCare, a motivational reading program that teaches students about giving to kids in need.
  4. Engage your class via contests, curriculum tie-ins, and more—all found in the teacher pages of our monthly catalogs. Visit Contests, Etc. for more information.
  5. E-mail or call us if you have any questions! You can reach us at your exclusive FIRST CLASS in-box at firstclass@scholastic.com.  You can also call us at 1-800-SCHOLASTIC (1-800-724-6527) and follow the prompts for new teachers.  We’re here to help!

Here are some other useful tools:

Happy Birthday to Us: We Have a Winner!

29 Sep

A HUGE congratulations goes out to Judy D. for winning a box of books! And a heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated—we loved hearing what you had to say. Some of you loved the recommendations, some loved the discussions, and others loved being in the know about children’s literature news! It’s because of you that our Facebook page has become such a success, and we literally could not do it without you!

We look forward to another great year of conversation with all of you!

Sweet Dreams for Our Children This Winter Thanks to Scholastic and ClassroomsCare

28 Sep

While most people take clean, warm pajamas for granted, thousands of children right here in the U.S. go to bed each night without them. Instead, they just keep on the same clothes they’ve already worn for too many days and nights—clothes that are soiled, wet, and hardly their size. While volunteering at different shelters, I noticed the children who stayed there went to sleep in their regular clothes. I later learned it was because the children didn’t have any pajamas, and that some of the children didn’t even know what pajamas were. I felt strongly that these children deserved a loving bedtime, complete with pajamas and a storybook, just like I’d had as a child. In 2001, I founded Pajama Program, a nonprofit organization that provides pajamas and books to underprivileged and foster kids to give them the bedtime all children should have.

Magical Books
Scholastic Book Clubs and ClassroomsCare heard my stories and immediately reached out to help. We agreed: Bedtime is an extraordinary time, a time for children to feel safe and to dream of wonderful things that can happen tomorrow, and to dream about what they can be when they grow up. The books complete a nighttime ritual that so many of us took for granted…when Mom or Dad said, “OK, get your pajamas on and I’ll be right in to read you a story.” The children of Pajama Program seldom hear these comforting words. Thousands of them live in orphanages, group homes, and shelters, and are shuffled often between temporary living facilities. They are removed from school at the same time they are removed from a home. Often the books we give them are the only books they will have for months at a time.

Danger Season Brings the Chilling Nights
October 1 marks the beginning of “Danger Season,” the most difficult time for the children we serve. Temperatures drop at night and the children are afraid and lonely. Many of them have been abused or abandoned, and have never enjoyed the simple comfort of a mother or father tucking them into bed in warm pajamas and reading them a magical storybook.

Thank you, Scholastic—you are giving these children their dreams again, dreams of what magic tomorrow may bring and dreams of becoming anything they want to be when they grow up.

Genevieve Piturro
Founder/Executive Director
Pajama Program

Teacher Town Hall: Recap

27 Sep

Did you all watch and/or participate in the Teacher Town Hall last Sunday?

Pro-charter school, pro-public school, pro-tenure, anti-tenure—the opinions were strong, poignant, and conflicting.  It’s clear that there is no “one” answer to enhance America’s educational system.  But what do you think can help make a difference? And perhaps this question is more meaningful to you: What do you already do to affect lives? We heard from teachers who spend over $1,000 to help stock their classrooms, from teachers who stay until late in the evening to help supervise study hall for their students—I’m sure you have more to share.

Thank you to all of the teachers out there who help make a difference.  Really, we salute you. 

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, you can learn more here: www.educationnation.com. Education Nation is throughout the week of September 26th, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

24 Sep

The owls of Ga’Hoole have had a pretty exciting fall, with the theatrical release of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole happening this week. (Today, in fact. Right now. What are you doing here?)

I’ve been asked by the awesome Book Talk staff to talk a little bit about the film, and how it compares to the books. Beware, there might be some *SPOILERS* below. If you want to go see the film now, we’ll wait here patiently.

Back? Cool. Let’s just start.

…….

Legend of the Guardians covers the story of the first three books of the Ga’Hoole series. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but the movie handles it with skill and gallgrot (an owl word meaning nerve). Of course, certain things have to be shortened, changed, or even cut when you are turning a book into a film, but screenwriter John Orloff has done a great job being faithful to the spirit of the books. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Watch this YouTube video made by Kathryn Lasky to get her opinion on the film.)

The movie follows Soren, a young owlet who falls out of his family’s nest and is kidnapped by the evil St. Aggie’s—an “orphanage” that turns young owlets into mindless slaves. He manages to escape, however, and then he and his new band of friends seek out the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a noble group of owl warriors thought only to be legend.

The movie focuses a lot more on Soren’s family, closing in and fleshing out some of these relationships. Kludd, Soren’s dubious older brother, gets a much bigger role in the film, as does his younger sister Eglantine—though she is ostensibly a ball of fluff with eyelashes. In fact, Eglantine steals pretty much every scene she’s in. Her cuteness is hard to resist, and there’s a very fluffy Beanie Baby available of her through Ty Inc.

That’s not to say the movie is all sweetness and down feathers, though. The owls of Ga’Hoole are warriors, and much like the books, there’s a lot of exciting aerial combat and clinking battle claws.

Also like the books, the film might be a better fit for kids about ages eight and up. The fighting can be a little intense (the director is Zack Snyder, after all), and the story might be a bit involved for younger viewers. (I had a toddler sitting in front of me that became very vocal about his shrinking attention span toward the end of the screening.) Still, the graphics are so beautiful and the story so fast-paced and fun, I think Ga’Hoole fans of all ages will really get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters on-screen.

Be sure to check out the first Guardians of Ga’Hoole book, The Capture, on Arrow and Lucky this October!

This post comes to us from a friend in our Trade Editorial department, Zach. He is the expert on all things Guardians of Ga’Hoole!


Happy Birthday to Us!

24 Sep

That’s right. The Scholastic Book Clubs Fan Page is 1 today! Woo hoo! First of all, we’d like to thank YOU! It’s because of all of you children’s book and reading enthusiasts that we are here. Without you, the page would not be the unbelievably great community it has become. It is a pleasure and a privilege to come into work every day and have such great discussions, and to be able to see teachers and parents share ideas about reading. The Facebook page is just one way we are trying to communicate with our wonderful and loyal customers. We are using Twitter and this blog as well to keep the conversation about books and reading going so no matter what platform you use, we are there for you.

To reward our loyal fans (as well as our new fans), we are giving away a box of grade-appropriate books! We want to hear why you love our page so much! Here’s how it works: To enter, be sure to comment on this post with the phrase “One thing I like about the Scholastic Book Clubs Page is…” and tell us one thing you like about our page. You must be over the age of 18 and a valid U.S. resident; click here for complete rules. You will have from today, September 24, 2010, at 12 p.m. EST until 12 p.m. EST on September 27, 2010, to enter (and only one entry per person). We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, at 12 p.m. EST.