The Joy of Sharing Books on WORLD READ ALOUD DAY

World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is an annual event where schools invite authors to read from their books and share the love of reading with students and teachers. On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, I had the pleasure of visiting two different classrooms to share my books with students across the country.

ActivityHubBanner

Thank you staff and students from the fifth graders at Kenosha School in Wisconsin who wanted to know my favorite poems from WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. wrad

Three classes joined in and asked me some wonderful questions about writing, how I chose the names for my characters, the setting, and why the book is in verse. Thank you Ms. Andre, Ms. Steele, and Ms. Langerman, and all your students for their interest and enthusiasm.

My second visit of the day was with the George A. Jackson Elementary School in Jerico, NY. District Media Specialist Danielle Melia and her 3RD, 4th, and 5th grade classes were excited to hear some of the poems from WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. Some students asked questions about the book and how I got my idea for the story.

jerico

THANK YOU to the media specialists, teachers, and students for inviting me into your classrooms and for your enthusiasm about my book. HAPPY WRAD!

Advertisement

Three Cheers For Tuscaloosa Academy! My First Classroom Visit in 2023.

I always look forward to a new year because that usually means a chance to connect with students and teachers through author visits. Last week I had the pleasure of a virtual visit to GINGER STEWART’S 7th and 8th grade classes at TUSCALOOSA ACADEMY,  in Tuscaloosa AL.

alabama school visit

The classes were in the middle of reading  WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY and had some wonderful questions to ask about the book.

They were eager to share their enthusiasm about the story, and their favorite characters. Mrs. Stewart had them read sections each day and then they talked about it and shared their thoughts.

They also did character studies regarding the traits and behaviors of each character.

AL3

It was so gratifying to see the students enthusiasm for the story. It was also music to my ears when Mrs. Stewart said the class liked the book better than their previous read aloud CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN.

Thank you students for an enjoyable visit and for the book love! I hope I can visit your wonderful classroom again some time. And a BIG thanks to Mrs. Stewart for choosing to share WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY with her students.

AL 1AL2

I Resolve to…Cut Back on…

…PLASTICS! Stories about the plastics floating in our oceans and waterways and the dangers this poses to marine life seem to fill headlines. One statistic stated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than marine life.  That’s a pretty sobering statistic.

Many communities banned plastic straws and some even eliminated plastic bags as an option when shopping for groceries. At the start of a new year, when our minds are focused on “resolutions” and starting fresh, I am resolving to work on cutting back on the use of plastics in my life.

I already use cloth bags for groceries. I have stopped asking for straws at restaurants. I try to recycle as much plastic as I can. I also try to store food in containers that can be reused. I have a stainless steel bottle that I take to the gym and refill. I also use a pitcher with a filter in it for drinking water, so I don’t buy those plastic bottles. (FYI: bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline when you buy it in those portable bottles. Think of how much money you’d save each year if you went to a filter system.)

I know there is more…much more that I can do.  If healthy oceans and marine life are important to you and your families, maybe you’d like to know what YOU can do to cut back on plastic use.  

One company is making a difference. 4ocean cleans up ocean plastic from oceans around the world, collecting and recycling it into bracelets that support and help pay for the continued clean up effort. You can help by buying  a bracelet. Each bracelet purchased pays for the clean-up of one pound of ocean trash.  Visit: http://www.4ocean.com

file8751249223201

Visit:  http://www.myplasticfreelife.com   for 100 IDEAS and WAYS to get rid of plastic in your life.

May 2023 be a healthy year for all of us!

Gingerbread Houses Are Welcome Holiday Treats by Marilyn Ostermiller

Gingerbread houses are a treasured Christmas tradition, dating back to the early 1800s in Germany after the fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel” was published by the Brothers Grimm. The original tale included the line, “When they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes, and the window was made of transparent sugar.”

It’s easy to imagine how magical that sight would be to children. It would be almost impossible not to reach out to discretely grab a corner of the roof to taste or pluck a gumdrop from the door.

nut house

Gingerbread Houses can be lots of fun to make. An online search reveals easy-to-follow video instructions

Getting together with friends for a group gingerbread house construction project can become a holiday tradition. Everyone brings their own dough, royal icing, and candy for decorating. A basic homemade gingerbread house starts with patterns for four walls and a peaked roof. Printable gingerbread house templates are available online.

gingerbread templates

After the gingerbread is baked, cooled and cut to order, royal icing is the edible “glue” that olds it together. Royal icing is made from softly beaten egg whites and powdered sugar. The usual proportions are 2 egg whites to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon glycerin (to prevent the icing from setting too hard) and about a pound of powdered sugar, according to

hhttps://www.confectionperfection.co.uk/

Lots of different candies are used to decorate the houses, including peppermint sticks, licorice, and gumdrops.

pretzel house

Children especially like to be involved. A Plan for the Gingerbread House: A STEM Engineering Story, is a book for ages 4 through 12. The plot revolves around a Gingerbread man and woman who need a new house. A team of kids struggle to create the perfect gingerbread house for them. Darcy Pattison is the author, and John Joven, the illustrator.

6116NEf+O8L._AC_UL116_SR116,116_

As for the original inspiration for gingerbread houses, “Hansel and Gretel” books are available in versions for all ages.

Anyone who is in the vicinity of Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., through Jan. 2, 2023, can view the entries in the National Gingerbread House Competition. Whimsical and elaborate, these handmade gingerbread houses come in a variety of sizes, shapes, complexity and theme. There are rustic cabins, gumdrop-adorned castles and sugar spun landscapes. The entrants compete for more than $40,000 in prizes. Here’s the link about the winners of the 2022 competition.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/omni-grove-park-inn-announces-170800591.html?fr=yhssrp_catchall

thumbnail_img_1886

Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who especially enjoys writing for children.

1, 2, 3, 5, 8…It’s Fibonacci Day! Here are Some Books to Help Celebrate.

Have you heard of the Fibonacci Sequence? It’s a number sequence that is based on adding the number that appears before it to get the next number in the sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…You probably already knew that. Did you know that there are  numerous examples of this sequence in nature? Today is Fibonacci Day and here are some kid-friendly books that honor the boy who discovered this sequence: Leonardo Fibonacci

BLOCKHEAD by Joseph D’Agnese

blockhead fibonacci cover

As a young boy in medieval Italy, Leonardo Fibonacci thought about numbers day and night. He was such a daydreamer that people called him a blockhead.

When Leonardo grew up and traveled the world, he was inspired by the numbers used in different countries. Then he realized that many things in nature, from the number of petals on a flower to the spiral of a nautilus shell, seem to follow a certain pattern. 

The boy who was once teased for being a blockhead had discovered what came to be known as the Fibonacci Sequence!
Blockhead is a 2011 Bank Street College — Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Blockhead has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Catalan.  

 WILD FIBONACCI: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed: by Joy N Hulme illustrated by Carol Schwartz

wild Fibonacci cover

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. . Look carefully. Do you see the pattern? Each number above is the sum of the two numbers before it. Though most of us are unfamiliar with it, this numerical series, called the Fibonacci sequence, is part of a code that can be found everywhere in nature. Count the petals on a flower or the peas in a peapod. The numbers are all part of the Fibonacci sequence.

In Wild Fibonacci, readers will discover this mysterious code in a special shape called an equiangular spiral. Why so special? It mysteriously appears in the natural world: a sundial shell curves to fit the spiral. So does a parrot’s beak. . . a hawk’s talon. . . a ram’s horn. . . even our own human teeth! Joy Hulme provides a clear and accessible introduction to the Fibonacci sequence and its presence in the animal world.

GROWING PATTERNS  by Sarah C Campbell (Author) Richard P Campbell (photographer)

patterns cover

An ALSC Notable Children’s Book

A wonderful introduction to one of the most beautiful connections between mathematics and the natural world–the Fibonacci sequence–through a series of stunning nature photographs.

Discover the biggest mathematical mystery in nature—Fibonacci numbers! Named after a famous mathematician, the number pattern is simple and starts with: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. Each number in the sequence comes from adding the two numbers before it. What’s the mystery? The pattern crops up in the most unexpected places. You’ll find it in the disk of a sunflower, the skin of a pineapple, and the spiral of a nautilus shell.

This book brings math alive, celebrates science, and will inspire kids to see nature through new eyes.

You and your kids can also celebrate the day by sorting coins, buttons, cheerios, macaroni, or other small objects into piles using the sequence. How far can you go?

Amalia Hoffman Presents: Hanukkah Nights. A New Picture Book of Celebration + A giveaway.

It is always a delight to feature a new book by author/illustrator Amalia Hoffman. Her newest one is HANUKKAH NIGHTS. Amalia is excited to share the book with readers and will give away a copy to one.

thumbnail_Hanukkah nights cover H R

Here is my review of HANUKKAH NIGHTS:

“A simple and festive celebration of the eight nights of Hanukkah and the lighting of the menorah. Children will delight in being able to count and create the colorful lights themselves through various painting techniques. A thoughtful and creative addition to the holiday genre.”

thumbnail_Hanukkah Nights Press Release

thumbnail_Hanukkah Nights storytelling presentation

For a chance to win a copy of this creative take on the eight days and nights of Hanukkah, leave a comment. One winner will be chosen at random and announced later this month.

Five COUNTING Tips to Get the Most out of HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD by Laura Sassi + A Giveaway

I chose for my new book HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD to both rhyme and count because it has all the right components: a kid-friendly setting and theme (It’s Jesus’ birthday in the stable), fun, countable characters and items, a young intended audience, and a poignant, upbeat feel.

thumbnail_HappyBirthdayChild_COVER 2

But there’s another reason I decided to infuse counting into this particular story. Counting is not just something that little ones love to do, it can also be a soothing, rhythmic way to slow ourselves down when we are rushing through a story (or through life). The process of pausing to count images on a spread, or stars in the sky (or whatever) compels us to pause for a moment to look, to point and to ponder.  And that’s exactly what I hope little ones and their caregivers will do as read this simple counting Christmas story.

With joyful counting in mind, here are five tips for using COUNTING to get the most out of HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD as you enjoy it with little ones, ages 2 – 4.

  1. Do some pre-read counting. Before reading, get your little ones in the mood by counting to ten together using fingers or toes. Then look around your reading space and see what else there is to count. Maybe window panes or number of chairs or cozy pillows? Close by asking if they will help you count in the book they are about to enjoy.
  2. Count items on book cover. Before opening the book, see if your little ones can 1) guess what the story might be about using picture clues from the cover and 2) count things on the cover. For HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD this could include counting eyes, halos, animals, hands and feet and one big star.
  3. Read, pause, point and count across each and every spread. Now is the time to enjoy the story, pausing to engage with the text and illustrations, counting as you go. With HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD, it’s nice to conclude the story with this thought: How about we count the days until Christmas together? Then, using a calendar, X off and count each day until Christmas.
  4. Make numbers out of dough! After reading the story, grab some play dough. Then using the numerals in the book as models, have your little ones roll the dough into coils and then shape into one of the numerals from the story.  Roll the remaining dough into little balls to match the numeral.  Or, for extra fun, shape them into their corresponding items in the story.  (Ex:  six spiders) Squish and repeat as often as is fun.
  5. Go on a post-reading COUNTING hunt. After reading the story, extend the counting fun by investigating your tree or a family nativity and counting items. Count by color, shape, or any other category, looping in the thought that we are also counting with anticipation the days until Christmas, Jesus’ birthday!

BONUS FUN:  Be sure to check out https://happybirthdaychristmaschild.com for more book-themed fun including the book trailer, an inspirational message, a downloadable activity kit and purchase links.  (Available wherever books are sold.)

 

 

Activity kit:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/supadu-imgix/paracletepress-us/pdfs/discussion_guides/DG-9781640607996.pdf

Laura Sassi        

laura sassi shot  PARACLETE PRESS will give away one copy of the delightful book to a person chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post (US residents only).

GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, August ’14)

GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, October ’15)

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, Spring ’18)

LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, Fall  ’18)

EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Zondervan, Fall ’19)

LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books,  Spring ’21)

BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, Spring ’22)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD (Pareclete Press, Fall ’22)

https://www.facebook.com/LauraSassiTales

http://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/

twitter.com/laurasassitales

https://www.instagram.com/laurasassitales/

One Small Thing You Can Do For Mother Earth.

As we transition from summer into fall, many of us plant bulbs, flowers, and tidy up our gardens. How about adding a tree seedling as well?

Trees are the “lungs” of the planet. If we want to breathe cleaner air, reduce global warming, and decrease our carbon footprint, the easiest and one of the most planet-friendly things you can do is PLANT TREES. If you are in an area where there is no space for trees, consider supporting organizations that plant trees around the globe.

Check out the search engine ECOSIA: 80% of their advertising revenue goes to tree planting all over the world.  They’ve already planted more than 100 Million trees worldwide.

https://www.ecosia.org

You can also visit: http://www.TreeSisters.org 

This organization is a major INTERNATIONAL tree planting charity that has already planted more than 19 million trees in tropical areas of the world.

Image result for Treescapes. Size: 151 x 160. Source: www.pinterest.com

Here’s an interesting statistic regarding Global Warming:

If worldwide we plant 3 billion trees in areas such as open fields, backyards, schoolyards, empty lots, etc, not touching agricultural areas used for food production, we would END Global Warming.

Three Billion might seem like a lot, but that’s less than one tree per person. Every tree counts and helps make our air cleaner and our environment healthier.

gum tree

Is there a place in your yard, neighborhood, community that could be home to a tree?

trees

Please share this post.

International Day of Peace: What You Can Do.

Tomorrow, September 21, 2022 is the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. If there is one things our planet needs more of, it is peace. Setting aside a day to recognize, reflect, and honor the idea and concept of PEACE may seem futile in our violent and contentious world. But I believe that focusing on peace and recognizing ways to live a more peaceful life can have a ripple effect.

This year’s theme is Anti-racism. To learn more about how to incorporate this theme into lessons and how to foster PEACEFUL solutions to conflicts, check out the official website:

https://www.boldsky.com/insync/pulse/international-day-of-peace-2022-date-theme-history-and-significance-141283.html?story=4

peace 2

How can we observe International Day of Peace? (ideas and suggestions are taken from the National Day Calendar website: https://nationaltoday.com/international-day-of-peace/

 

peace

  1. Observe the global “Minute of Silence”

In 1984, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Pathways to Peace inaugurated the Minute of Silence. At noon in each time zone, this observance of silence creates a “Peace Wave” around the world. Individuals, organizations, communities, and nations are invited to participate in this shared and practical act of peace-building.

  1. Host a global peace feast

Bring people together with a ‘global’ potluck, encouraging your friends and neighbors to share a unique dish from various countries or cultures. Breaking bread together is one of the oldest yet most effective ways to bring peace into your life. Interfaith and intercultural discussions can make the evening even richer.

  1. Foster peace through education

Let peace begin at home with you and your family. Teach your children key concepts that promote peace such as conflict-resolution, peaceful dialogue, consensus-building, and the choice of non-violence.

5 Factors That Promote A Culture Of Peace

  1. ​Seek to understand

Around the world, we are more alike than different; seek common ground, understand and value the differences you find in the people you meet and cultures you experience different from your own.

  1. ​Promote economic and social stability

Eliminating poverty, food insecurity, and social injustice leads to a stronger culture of peace because it removes common causes of unrest and violence.

  1. ​Respect all human rights

​At the core of peaceful relations is the belief that all humans are valuable – no one group being better than another; see how you can contribute to this understanding in your sphere of influence.

  1. ​Advocate for equality

Support the advancement of women in society through political and economic initiatives; actively oppose violence against women and girls in your community and promote the elimination of discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Choose democratic principles

​Encourage the democratic participation of all peoples in your community so that every voice is heard in civic decision-making and corruption in political leadership and operations is eliminated.

 DID YOU KNOW?   The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

In the words of JOHN LENNON, GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.   PEACE

 

Save Seeds…Save Life…Spread Some Beauty

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the critical importance of SEEDS.  It’s not something we think much about, but our very lives depend on seeds.  Without them, we have no food.  And we all know how important food is.  If you hold seeds in your hand…you hold life.  Monsanto and other companies hold patents on seeds.  Think about this: THEY CAN CONTROL THE WORLD’S FOOD.  If we want to ensure biodiversity and ample food for future generations, we need to preserve seeds and all the abundant varieties of foods they represent.  How can we do it?

Saving seeds was common practice for our ancestors, to ensure that there would be food even during lean times.  As mechanization and hybridization took over farming in the 20th Century, the practice was lost….but thankfully, not forgotten.

SEED BANKS are popping up in an unusual place…your local library.  There are more than 600 seed libraries in North America.  These collections will provide a free packet of seeds, information on gardening and seed saving techniques.  SEED SAVERS is responsible for much of today’s seed library stock.  It has 25,000 varieties – many of them rare or exclusive – dating before WWII. These seeds belong in the public domain and cannot be patented. The goal is to get these seeds into as many people’s hands as possible.  Why not visit your local library and plant some seeds?

seeds

For more information on this important program visit: http://www.seedsavers.org

http://www.libraryseedbank.info

You can spread some beauty in your own backyard by making some wildflower SEED BOMBS. 

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Seed-Bomb

For more garden crafts visit:  http://www.redtedart.com/garden-crafts-challenge-get-crafty/