Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Awards

Today is a big day for Children's Literature... The American Library Association announces it's Youth Media Awards... including the Caldecott and Newbery Awards but also many more.

On facebook & Web 

Recognition for Maine Author/illustrators includes Phil Hoose's Moonbirds, Toni Buzzeo's One Cool Friend and Daniel Minter's illustrations in Ellen's Broom !

Newbery 2013: “The One and Only Ivan,” written by Katherine Applegate

Caldecott 2013: “This Is Not My Hat,” illustrated and written by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press

Coretta Scott King : CSK Illustrator 2013: Bryan Collier, “I, Too, Am America,
CSK Author 2013: Andrea Davis Pinkney, “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America,” illustrated by Brian Pinkney,

Stonewall 2013: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

I think we should find a way to get as many of these books as we can for the FSP library... use comments for ideas!

Also, check out this great resource for learning how to pronounce authors' names and then to dig in about them and their books... and check out #alayma    #kidlit on twitter for conversations about reading and teaching these books.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Climate Activism

FSP 7th and 8th graders are learning about Climate Science at the same time that climate activists are moving forward with protests against drilling for Tar Sands Oil and the building of a pipeline that would move that oil from Canada through the U.S. to be sold internationally.  And, the 350.Org project on divestment from fossil fuels is growing...

For me, mothering provides the impetus and courage to not look away.  Still, this video is a bit heart-wrenching.

There are so many opportunities for action right now.

Learn more about 350.Org Maine and actions planned for Wednesday January 23

Tar Sands Free Northeast Day of ACTION - Portland, MaineSee Chasing Ice at SPACE on Friday January 25th

Attend the super-big rally and march on January 26th

Learn more about Idle No More and their January 28th World Day of Action

Ask some 7th & 8th graders about what they've learned

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Share your ideas in comments!

Ideas (that don’t require cleaning your house) for Winter Fun as a Group
Book a pool party or just meet for “open swim” at a community pool (we’ve had good luck @ Cape Elizabeth’s pool - there’s a hot tub and it costs $5.00 for non residents (or book a music or bowling or gymnastics party and share the cost.) 

Bring some board games to the top of the Portland Public Market
Meet for Friday Night Open Gymnastics, or at the Children’s Museum (1st Fri $1.00) 

Take a winter hike / snowshoe @ Pineland and have cocoa in the visitor’s center. 

Gather at a WinterKids Winter Festival or the Portland Flower Show (preshow essay contest here – maybe a writing party at school one afternoon? 

Families with younger children – hire some eighth graders to entertain your kids; they need to raise $ for their trip to D.C. – and try Parent’s Night Out ideas from Maine.Today
Share more ideas at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MLK Day Events

Curious City is planning MLK day events for kids, (as part of the larger Portland NAACP breakfast) which is so lucky for kids! 

I'm also reminded, at this time, of the wisdom imparted by Annie Sibley O'Brien and Krista Aronson during last year's "Books As Bridges" program... as much as this is a time to engage around questions of race and racism, poverty and economic inequality, and our capacity for justice, it is an opportunity to create new connections and relationships that honor ways we are similar to those different from us and ways we differ from those who seem just like us.

Scroll through some old posts for lots of links to book sites...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This comes from David LeGraffe, who helped bring Portland Playback to FSP for the arts intensive last fall... Playbacks happen during First Friday each month - it could be a great parent outing!

Commentary: Best-kept secret to creating social change is… improv
Marc Evan Jackson, Good blog, 9/22/12

I hold the secret to the fastest, widest ranging, longest lasting, and certainly most fun path to positive, global social change: Everyone in the world should take an improv class. I have never been more serious about anything in my life. If more people improvised, there would be no war.
Improvisation is the art of making it up. Winging it. Often used in theatre, it is the creation of a scene or tiny play that arises from a suggestion from the audience, a tiny play for which the script is made up on the spot. If all you can think about right now is "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," then please allow me to elaborate. In order to be good at improv, you must adhere to a few pretty stringent rules. You must listen to others. You must agree with what's going on, and respect those you're working with. You must: Get along. Work together. Be fearless. Show up with energy. Be willing to look silly and even fail. Your job, while improvising, is to put yourself in the other person's shoes, and make them look good, and more than anything you must learn to obey the precept: Don't be a dork. As a result, a completely delightful by-product of improv is a set of unbelievably great skills for citizenship. Those who improvise become nicer, more informed, more interesting, more interested people. Full disclosure: There is a down side. Improv will make you realize how awful we humans are to one another. It will point that out to you every time someone begins speaking while someone else is already speaking, and make vivid who in your life is or is not listening. You will see the fear-driven, selfish, self-aggrandizing motivations behind what everyone is saying and doing as they interrupt one another. Once you are exposed to improv, Thanksgiving dinner with your family will become more unbearable than it has ever been.  I am an actor. I make my living improvising. But improvisation's beneficial impacts can and will help anyone, in any profession, of any age, in any circumstance. Seriously. We've taught this to prisoners - prisoners in prison - and they have raved about the good it's done in their lives. Surely it can help you too.
David La Graffe