Valentines Mailboxes an Early Literacy Activity

February 11, 2016 by  
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valentines mailboxes

In February, what child doesn’t enjoy receiving and sending colorful Valentine’s Day cards?

And whether children make the cards themselves or simply sign their name to a card they buy, the act of sending and receiving Valentine’s Day cards is one that promotes literacy among young children.


Because it encourages reading, writing, and even talking about the Valentine’s cards with friends and/or family.

Most children love creating a Valentines Mailbox.

They can make a mailbox for school and one for home, too.

In fact, at home encourage everyone in the family to build a mailbox and exchange Valentines and other cards, notes, and letters all month long.

The mail doesn’t need to stop when March rolls around either.

Children will be used to the practice of sending and receiving mail by that time and they probably won’t want to give it up.

In March, encourage them to create cards and notes for St. Patrick’s Day.

Of course, there are all sorts of reasons to send mail every single day.

And by making it fun for kids to send and receive mail, they start to value the written word more and more.

And they are doing so in a way that is “authentic” because they really want to be able to read what that card from their father says, or they want to know how to spell a word correctly in a message they are putting in their sister’s mailbox.

Using Mailboxes in the Classroom

Teachers can also use the mail as a way for children to write about books they read or topics they study in the classroom.

Letters or cards can be sent from one child to another answering specific questions about a specific book.

The teacher might ask the class to writer a letter to a friend in class telling who their favorite character was in the book, what they liked best about the book, what they would do differently if they were the writing a book like this, etc.

When the children finish writing the letters they can put them in the mailboxes.

Later, everyone can read the letters and share them with the class as a class activity.

Write Notes Throughout the Day

As a parent or teacher, jot little notes and put them in your children’s or students’ mailboxes throughout the day.

If you’re a busy teacher, you don’t have to send a note to every child in your class every day. Just one note a day to one student will do.

It’s also fun if kids can create a mailbox that has a flag that can be raised or lowered when someone puts mail in the box.

The raised flag lets the child know “You’ve got mail!”

In the classroom, children can make reading, writing, and distributing the mail a daily practice at a specific time.

That way, kids won’t be running around to all the mailboxes at all times of day.

They’ll really look forward to the “mail call” part of the day!

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day

January 27, 2016 by  
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multicultural children's book day

Want to help kids make sense of what they hear in the news?

Do you think more should be done to expose them to stories of different religions, customs and cultures?

Then join mom bloggers, authors, educators, librarians and people from all walks of life as they celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day and trend on Twitter at #ReadYourWorld this January 27th.

Visit to learn how you can help put thousands of free diversity books into schools and into the hands of families nationwide.

Plus you can access hundreds of resource lists and topical articles; and to learn how, for just $25, you can give a shout out to two favorite multicultural books and we’ll post your name as a Friend of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

Cambridge University Press Takes Young Readers on an Adventure

January 7, 2016 by  
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Cambridge University Press has collaborated with University College London Institute of Education (IOE) and award-winning authors to create a new primary guided reading series, Cambridge Reading Adventures.

This engaging new series will enable teachers to create a structured literacy learning route, which children will both benefit from, and enjoy.

Cambridge reading adventures


The series has been grouped into 11 Book Bands to ensure that reading challenge across the series supports teacher decision making and progress in literacy.

The 90 titles cover a wide range of subjects at each child’s unique reading level, including fictional tales, traditional settings, animal adventures and historically based and factual stories, as well as plots featuring real and imagined worlds that children can explore.

Titles include Leela can Skate by Alison Hawes and Late for School by Claire Llewellyn, both authors chosen for their expertise in children’s education and teaching.

Leela Can Skate

Edward Rippeth, Head of Primary at Cambridge University Press, said: “Children will thoroughly enjoy the adventures their reading will take them on with this series, which will instil in them, from a young age, the enjoyment and potential value of a ‘good book’.

Cambridge University Press has developed this series of books for children who are learning to read across the globe and for whom English may or may not be their first language – it is the perfect resource to support children in their pursuit of reading for pleasure.”

“Each of the stories is exciting and interesting, of high quality and contains culturally relevant reading material for children around the world. We’re thrilled to have developed this series to inspire children to read and to show we care about the experiences of young readers.”

Each book in the series follows the IOE Book Bands framework and supports the entire reading journey; from a child who is completely new to reading through to becoming a confident and independent reader.

The books in the programme use impeccable and rigorous pedagogy and are structured in such a way that parents and older children are able to follow a clear progressive route, in line with the reader’s linguistic improvement, gradually exposing each child to more advanced words, and a level of content which is suitable for his or her age.

Written and edited by carefully selected authors who have been chosen for their expertise in children’s education and teaching, and who bring English language to life for learners, Cambridge Reading Adventures features notable names such as Lauri Kubuitsile, Jonathan and Angela Scott and Ian Whybrow, best known for the million-selling series Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs.

The series is edited by Sue Bodman and Glen Franklin who are national leaders at the IOE’s International Literacy Centre. Both Sue and Glen are experienced teachers and adult educators, and are published authors in their own right. They are the editors of the highly influential ‘Which Book and Why: using Book Bands and book levels for guided reading in Key Stage 1’.

Professor Andrew Brown, interim Director UCL Institute of Education, Professor of Education and Society, explained: “Cambridge Reading Adventures is designed for young children learning to read for whom English is a first or second language, all over the world! The series has resulted in texts designed specifically for guided reading and we are proud to be involved with a venture that seeks to improve the experience of learning to read, for parents and their children.”

About Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest publishing house and second-largest university press in the world. The department of the University of Cambridge is both an academic and educational publisher with a global presence in more than 40 countries, publishing over 50,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries.

About Cambridge Reading Adventures

The exciting reading scheme has been created in collaboration between Cambridge University Press and the UCL Institute of Education. Created to provide more than a series of books, it is designed around a pedagogical approach that is child centred. As well as high quality, engaging texts for children, the series contains materials for professional development.

About the UCL Institute of Education

The UCL Institute of Education is a world-leader specialising in education and the social sciences. Founded in 1902, the Institute currently has more than 7,000 students and 800 staff. In the 2014 and 2015 QS World University Rankings, the Institute was ranked number one for Education worldwide. It was shortlisted in the ‘University of the Year’ category of the 2014 Times Higher Education (THE) awards. In January 2014, the Institute was recognised by Ofsted for its ‘outstanding’ initial teacher training across primary, secondary and further education. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, 94% of our research was judged to be world class. On 2 December 2014, the Institute became a single-faculty school of UCL, called the UCL Institute of Education.

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 35,000 students from 150 countries and over 11,000 employees. Our annual income is over £1bn. | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel

Showcase Your Book Here in January

December 23, 2015 by  
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Have you written a children’s book that has just been released or will be released in January?

Great Idea

Here’s a Great Idea!

Let us set up a 5-day virtual tour for your book when you register for our January 2016 Author Showcase.

Virtual book tours are a great way to help parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and just anyone who BUYS children’s books learn about you and your book.

Just click on “showcase your book” in the top menu bar of this page.

photo credit: starburst light bulb via photopin (license)

Children’s Crafts for the Holidays, or Any Day!‏

December 7, 2015 by  
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Looking for creative ideas to keep the kids busy during winter break?

Check out Capstone’s Craft-It-Yourself books–several titles to give endless inspiration to spark their imaginations this season!

kids crafts capstone

Ages 8-13

Children’s Crafts for the Holidays, or Any Day!‏ by Mari Bolte

There’s nothing more fun than giving the perfect hand-crafted gift! From simple hostess gifts to fully personalized gifts for that very special someone, Make It, Gift It has everything you need to get started. Learn how to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces for every important person in your life.

Custom Confections: Delicious Desserts You Can Create and Enjoy by Jen Besel

Create custom desserts with ease. Or decorate all kinds of creative confections like a pro. Forty fun, simple recipes will have kids (and kids at heart) creating delicious desserts to decorate and devour! Step-by-step instructions and photos make red velvet cookies, black and white angel food cake and much more.

Fashion Forward: Creating Your Look With the Best of Vintage Style by Rebecca Langston-George, Liz Sonneborn, Allison Crotzer Kimmel, Lori Luster

Go retro with style! Step into a thrift shop or your grandma’s closet, and you’ve stepped into a world of fashion possibilities. Learn how to wear those fashion finds or how to create the looks yourself.

DC Super Heroes Origami by John Montroll

What happens when you combine Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League with the art of origami? You get the most incredible collection of paper-folding projects ever assembled. These 46 models, meticulously designed by internationally renowned origami master John Montroll, are guaranteed to amaze. Also included in the back of the book are 96 sheets of specially illustrated folding papers to make your DC creations truly come to life. When you fold these models, your friends will believe you’re the one with super powers.

Paper Artist: Creations Kids Can Fold, Wear, Tear or Share by Jennifer Phillips, Gail D. Green, Kara L. Laughlin

Paper is not just for drawing! Budding artists use paper to create everything from lanterns to picture frames. Simple, step by step instructions and big, full color photographs help readers maximize their potential.

Paint It: The Art of Acrylics, Oils, Pastels and Watercolors by Mari Bolte

Think you can make a masterpiece? It doesn’t matter! Have a blast and express yourself in paint. Create with Color will show you the basics in acrylic, oil, pastel, or watercolor painting. Each engaging title teaches basic techniques through projects of progressive difficulty. Step-by-step instructions and timely tips encourage artists to explore their imagination.

Adam Reed Wins Three Coveted Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for Bee in the Sea

November 18, 2015 by  
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CHANDLER, AZ (November, 2015) – The judges of the 2015 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in all genres of literature have spoken, and Adam Reed and his children’s book, BEE IN THE SEA, has been awarded in multiple categories:

* 1st Place in Newbie – First Time Author category

* 1st Place in the Animals/Pets category

* 1st Place in Children’s Picture Books 5 & Younger

bee in the sea

“Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a First or Second Place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda F. Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

“Writing children’s books has become somewhat of a hobby of mine, since my daughter was born earlier this year,” said Adam Reed, EVP of Thinkfactory Media. “This was my first published book and the moral of the story is that anyone can do anything if they just try, and funny enough for me it was just writing this book! Teaching life lessons is something every parent must do and this is a fun tale that I hope everyone shares with their children so we can empower them to go after their dreams.”

BEE IN THE SEA is a funny and adventurous story about a young bee who one day finds himself in the middle of the sea. Surrounded by curious sea creatures and fantastical ocean life, he undertakes a magical journey making many friends along the way. The book has an important message that children everywhere will respond to teaching them that if bees can swim and fish can fly, they too can do anything they try. It retails for $9.99 and can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For a complete list of winners, visit and click on “Winners.”

The next Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest is already underway. Submissions postmarked August 1, 2016 or earlier are eligible for the Early Bird reward: a free e-copy of The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing or Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show written by Radke. Final deadline for submissions is October 1, 2016. The Early Bird deadline for the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards Contest, which recognizes outstanding literature in all children’s books, is March 1, 2016. May 1, 2015 is the final deadline. For complete rules and submission forms for either contest, visit and click on the contest of choice.

To learn more about Five Star Publications, celebrating 30 years of business in Chandler, Arizona, visit, email or call 480-940-8182.

Adam Reed is the Executive Vice President of Thinkfactory Media and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company including creative and business development, along with day-to-day production across all series. For the past 11 years, Reed has been instrumental in transitioning the company into a thriving mainstay network supplier and has been an integral part of every production the company has developed and produced.

He started Thinkfactory Media’s rapid growth by co-creating Gene Simmons Family Jewels, and was instrumental in developing a large unscripted slate for the company by producing hit shows such as: Marriage Boot Camp (We tv), Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars (We tv), Married By Mom and Dad (TLC), Dead of Winter: The Donner Party (The Weather Channel), Vet School (Nat Geo WILD) Preachers’ Daughters (Lifetime), as well as franchising the highest rated series in the history of TV One R&B Divas: Atlanta and R&B Divas: Los Angeles (TV One). Bee in the Sea is his first published children’s book.

WinterCon Celebrates Star Wars, Comics December 5-6

November 17, 2015 by  
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[New York] The worlds of comic books and science fiction collide with spectacular results and everyone comes out a winner at Wintercon, December 5-6, 2015 at the Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, New York!

With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens due in theaters, Star Wars will be a huge part of this convention. The original Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Jeremy Bulloch, and young Boba Fett from Attack of the Clones, Daniel Logan, head up an all-star celebrity guest contingent.

In addition to Bulloch and Logan, guest appearances include John Morton (Dak Ralter in The Empire Strikes Back), Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger in Star Wars Rebels), panels, costume contests, the Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars group The 501st Legion, and superstar Star Wars comics artists John Cassaday and Dave Dorman.

But the science fiction component won’t be limited to Star Wars! Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, and Power Rangers Austin St. John and Jason Lee Scott will be joined by Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens, original Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima, Tsugutoshi Komada (Godzilla vs Megalon’s – Jet Jaguar making his first appearance anywhere!), Linda Harrison (Planet of the Apes’ Nova), Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy), and Michael Wright (V – The Series).

They’re joined by all-star comic book artists Neal Adams (Batman), James O’Barr (The Crow) and Billy Tucci (Shi), who head the roster of creators. WWE superstars Mick Foley, King Kong Bundy and Tito Santana will also be on hand as will David Harris and Terry Michos from direct Walter Hill’s 1979 cult classic film The Warriors. World renowned cosplayer Yaya Han is on the roster as well.

The show will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 6. Resorts World Casino is located at 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11420. There are free shuttles from Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

“We’re excited to bring New York fans a great line-up of comic book guests, celebrity guests, and vendors,” said Frank Patz, the show’s co-promoter, who also produces Long Island’s annual Eternal Con. “With gaming tournaments, costume contests, a huge dealer room, and Q&A panels, it’s going to have something for everyone.”

“WinterCon is a superb kick-off to the holiday season,” said Michael Carbonaro, the event’s other co-promoter, the veteran promoter of the Big Apple Con. “Sunday is kids day at the show. In addition to the costume contests and other kids events, we’ll have a Jedi Accademy and every child attending it will get a free light saber.”

Single day tickets are $25 for Saturday and $20 for Sunday for adults, $15 for Saturday and $8 for Sunday for kids. Weekend passes are $40 for adults and $20 for kids. Special VIP packages are also available for $85. For more information, visit the show’s website,, or email

NSTA and CBC Unveil 2016 List of Top Science Trade Books for K-12 Students‏

November 15, 2015 by  
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ARLINGTON, Va.—November 13, 2015 — The National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council have released their annual list of “Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2016.” The list represents the best trade books published in 2015 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


“The books on the Outstanding Science Trade Books list help students to explore the world around them,” said NSTA President Carolyn Hayes. “These amazing books will fascinate and captivate student readers with both their content and style, leaving students wanting to revisit them again and again to learn more.”

Members of a book review panel made up of science educators and literacy professionals appointed by NSTA selected 49 books for the list from a roster of roughly 200 submissions. The list of winning titles includes topics that range from Steve Jobs to flying cars and features beautifully illustrated picture books, heart-warming stories, reference and encyclopedia-type texts, and poetry.

The review panel based their decision on their extensive knowledge of the field and looked for the very best books that they believed would inspire kids. Books also meet rigorous subject matter guidelines including:

· Science content must be accurate;

· Where conflicting scientific theories exist, as many views as possible are
represented; and

· Facts are not oversimplified so that information becomes misleading.

NSTA and CBC have collaborated on the list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students since 1973 in an effort to help science educators access quality books that support student learning in science education. In addition to being featured on both organizations’ websites, the list will appear in the March 2016 issues of NSTA’s elementary, middle level, and high school journals for teachers.

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA’s current membership includes approximately 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

NSTA Press® produces 25–30 new books and e-books each year. Focused on the preK–college market and specifically aimed at teachers of science, NSTA Press titles offer a unique blend of accurate scientific content and sound teaching strategies. Follow NSTA Press on Facebook for the latest information and new book releases.

About the Children’s Book Council

The Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading.

The CBC works annually on reading lists and round-ups to help teachers, librarians, parents, caregivers, and booksellers discover wonderful books for the kids and teens in their lives. Learn more at

November is PIBOIDMO

November 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog

Did you know that November is National Picture Book Idea Month or PIBOIDMO?

The object of PIBOIDMO is to generate one new idea for a picture book every day in November.

You don’t need to develop all of these ideas into complete picture book manuscripts. Just come up with 30 new picture book ideas.

Later, you can go back and decide which of your ideas are worth working on further so they become complete picture book manuscripts.

Click on the illustration, below. It will take you to Tara Lazar’s blog, where you’ll find a new post by a children’s book author or illustrator each day this month that offers helpful tips for generating picture book ideas. You can also become an official participant in PIBOIDMO and be eligible to win some great prizes.


Margot Finke is Interviewed on Book Bites for Kids

July 21, 2015 by  
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Children’s author Margot Finke will talk about her new books on Book Bites for Kids. The show will air LIVE on blogtalkradio on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. central time.

To listen to the show, at airtime on July 21st, go to


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