Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24th: National Day of the Cowboy - A Poetry Break

July 24, 2010 marks the sixth annual National Day of the Cowboy. Cowboy Day was created by the Nation Day of the Cowboy organization as a way to celebrate and keep alive the cowboy heritage and their contribution to America's western history and culture. Celebrate the rich cultural spirit of cowboys and cowgirls with a collection of books like Back Cowboy, Wild Horses: A True Story by Julius Lester and other poems from Home on the Range.

Hats off to the Cowboy
by Red Steagall

The city folks think that it's over.
The cowboy has outlived his time-
An old worn-out relic, a thing of the past,
But the truth is, he's still in his prim.

The cowboy's the image of freedom,
The hard-ridin' boss of the range.
His trade is a fair one, he fights for what's right,
and his ethics aren't subject to change.

He still tops his hats to the ladies,
Let's you water first at the pond.
He believes a day's pay is worth a day's work,
And his handshakes and words are his bond.

Janeczko, Paul B. 1997. Home on the Range: Cowboy Poems. Illus. by Bernie Fuchs. NY: Dial Books. ISBN: 0803719116.

Have fun celebrating the cowboy heritage by creating personally designed bandanas created by cutting used, clean bed sheets that are cut into triangles and providing color markers. Invite the children to share what they think about cowboys and what their life is like, and invite them to share it in poem form.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16th: Arnold Adoff's Birthday - A Poetry Break

Children's poet and NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children honoree Arnold Adoff's birthday is July 16! Bring a collection of Adoff's poetry books and your list of favorite poems to share along with the following poem. For the poem "There is A Wading Pool in Our Park," described where and how you cool off during the heat of summer.

There is A Wading Pool in Our Park
by Arnold Adoff

There is a wading pool in our park,
a swimming pool for the bigger kids,
and a bathtub full of cool water
later on when...I get back home

But right now the hydrant
is open and this stream
of water out in an arc
so cold we shiver in the steaming

There are rainbows
though the highest
splashes of water,
through of water,
through the highest
reaches of water,
through the highest

Cold wet colors this hot day.

Adoff, Arnold. 1995. Street Music: City Poems. Illus. by Karen Barbour. NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 0060215224.

Invite the children to share how they like to keep cool during the hot summer. Have them write a poem that describes their swimming pool or yard sprinkler and hot it feels to be wet and cool.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nonfiction: Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

This is a reposting of the review for the book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, which was originally published October 26, 2007 for a course during my MLS degree. This is a great book and I hope that you find it informational!


Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. (2005). HITLER YOUTH: GROWING UP IN HITLER’S SHADOW. NY: Scholastic Nonfiction/Scholastic, Inc. ISBN: 0439353793.

Through the lives of twelve teenagers involved in the Hitler Youth, author Susan Bartoletti tells the powerful and detailed story of how Germany’s children were used to strengthen the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power during the twelve years of the Third Reich.

In her Author’s Note at the end of the book author Susan Bartoletti tells the story of how an article stating that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party “‘rode to power on the shoulders of the politically active youth’” had fueled her strong and deep interest in the story of the children living in Germany during the Third Reich. For two years, she visited museums and libraries to pour over books, articles, diaries, and letters to learn more. She even visited Germany to see Berlin and other sites where the Hitler Youth did many of their activities. To finalize her research, Bartoletti interviewed many former members of the organization to hear their personal accounts. To gather further insight of this riveting history, she found stories of Jewish children and youth who lived during the Third Reich. Her goal, she states, is “an attempted to” gain an understanding and to “make sense of the fact that adults taught young people to hate, to kill, and to feel superior over others. After all, the Hitler Youth weren’t born Nazis; they became Nazis” (Bartoletti, p.161-62).

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow is an extremely well organized. After providing a table of contents, which list the chapter headings, Bartoletti introduced the twelve young people who are in the book by providing their photographs and a brief biographical tidbit that gave their birth year, where they were born and how they were involved in the Hitler Youth. The life of the organization from its beginning to its end is wonderfully illustrated and organized through the ten chapters, which hit on the major events during the twelve years of its existence, for examples the murder of Herbert Norkus, who became a Hitler Youth martyr, the change of the school system, the beginning of the Holocaust, which also includes the discrimination against Germany’s own mentally and physically “unfit” citizens (Bartoletti, p. 93), when Hitler made all remaining eligible children join the Hitler Youth under threat of hard labor at a concentration camp, and when the Allies invaded Germany in 1945.

The chapters also illustrate the progression of the twelve young people’s, as well as hundreds of other children, feeling towards the organization. For example, Helmuth Hubener, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, and Rudolph (Rudi) Wobbe eagerly joined the Hitler Youth, as did all the children; however, they soon grew tired of the regime and began to listen to the illegal foreign radio stations and began to distribute anti-Nazi leaflets. Another resistance group called the White Rose was lead by another Hans Scholl when he became a medical student at the beginning of the war (Bartoletti, p. 118-19).

The text reads like a story; however it is full of information. To add personal anecdotes to the already gripping information, actual pieces of dialogue from the interviews and correspondence of former members of the organization are included to give the readers a clear insight into the thoughts and feelings of the children as well as their parents. A good example of this is when the Scholl children, Inge, Hans and Sophie, joined the Hitler Youth despite the disapproval of the father, Inge states that they “‘entered into the Hitler Youth with body and soul, […] and we could not understand why [their] father did not approve, why he was not happy and proud…. Sometimes he would compare Hitler with the Pied Piper of Hameline, with his flute, led the children to destruction’” (Bartoletti, p. 30). Despite all of the factual details, having been written in a story-like format with actual pieces of dialogue the book has a constant ease of crystal clear understanding and smooth flow from chapter to another.

Through out the entire book, with at least one on every page, Bartoletti provides black and white photographs depicting what life was like during Nazi Germany. There are pictures of children in uniforms performing all sorts of duties and activities, there are pictures showing the destruction that the Third Reich had caused, as well as members at the time of being captured by American soldiers and pictures of the children performing their punishment labor. The use of these photographs provides the visuals to the at time chilling text, and allows the readers to see the faces and environment that the members live in, letting them know that the Hitler Youth was only made of up children.

The final element to the story of the twelve young people who are in the book is the Epilogue. This rare glimpse into the lives of these people allows the readers to learn what happened to the young people who survived the war and provides their thoughts and feelings of their actions while being members of the Hitler Youth.

There are several of ways to access the information found in this amazing book. The chapter headings and the table of contents is one way for readers to find a specific time or event that is discussed. In the back of the book there is an Index, which provides the page of numbers of various topics within the book. Bartoletti also provides an index of where her quotes came from, a time of the Hitler Youth, and finally a note about the photographs used, explaining that the photographs in the book is only a “sampling of the millions taken during the Third Reich,” and recommends the readers who would like to view more photographs to visit the online collections at the Library Congress and at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (p. 163).

With all these amazing educational details and personal anecdotes of the lives of the children during the power of the Third Reich Bartoletti’s Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow is a powerful and captivating book that allows readers of to truly learn about the Hitler Youth through the eyes of its members that were the exact same age. This book will provoke critical thinking and powerful discussions.

Bartoletti (Kids on Strike!) offers a unique and riveting perspective on WWII by focusing on the young people who followed Hitler from 1933-1945. The narrative primarily focuses on members of the Hitler Youth, but also profiles some of the group's dissidents and its Jewish targets. Hitler began his quest for dominance with young people, recognizing them as "a powerful political force" and claiming, "With them I can make a new world." Bartoletti describes how the propaganda of the Hitler Youth attracted children: "The overnight camping trips, campfires, and parades sounded like a great deal of fun," said one 12-year-old. But the organization also emphasized loyalty to the Third Reich above all (including family-one eight-year-old, Elisabeth Vetter, turned in her parents to the Nazis). The author personalizes the war by placing identifiable individuals at the center of the events, such as Sophie Scholl, who moved away from Nazi ideas as a teen and in college joined the "White Rose" group that published pamphlets detailing Nazi evils and urging resistance-a crime for which she and others were executed. Powerful black-and-white photographs testify to the lure and also the cruelty of the Nazis. Bartoletti's portrait of individuals within the Hitler Youth who failed to realize that they served "a mass murderer" is convincing, and while it does not excuse the atrocities, it certainly will allow readers to comprehend the circumstances that led to the formation of Hitler's youngest zealots. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. (May 23, 2005)

Gr 5-8-Hitler's plans for the future of Germany relied significantly on its young people, and this excellent history shows how he attempted to carry out his mission with the establishment of the Hitler Youth, or Hitlerjugend, in 1926. With a focus on the years between 1933 and the end of the war in 1945, Bartoletti explains the roles that millions of boys and girls unwittingly played in the horrors of the Third Reich. The book is structured around 12 young individuals and their experiences, which clearly demonstrate how they were victims of leaders who took advantage of their innocence and enthusiasm for evil means. Their stories evolve from patriotic devotion to Hitler and zeal to join, to doubt, confusion, and disillusion. (An epilogue adds a powerful what-became-of-them relevance.) The large period photographs are a primary component and they include Nazi propaganda showing happy and healthy teens as well as the reality of concentration camps and young people with large guns. The final chapter superbly summarizes the weighty significance of this part of the 20th century and challenges young readers to prevent history from repeating itself. Bartoletti lets many of the subjects' words, emotions, and deeds speak for themselves, bringing them together clearly to tell this story unlike anyone else has.-Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. (June 1, 2005)

*Read more books like The Way People Live: Life in the Hitler Youth by Jennifer Keeley to learn more about the Hitler Youth
* Learn about the lives of children during the Second World War with books like Remember World War II: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories by Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson.
*For those who are interest, learn about the Holocaust with books like A history of the Holocaust by Yehuda Bauer and Nili Keren, and Ten Thousand Children: True Stories Told by Children Who Escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport by Anne Fox and Eva Abraham-Podietz
*Open up an opportunity for the young people to have a discussion where they can share their thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 11th: Babe Ruth's Major League Baseball Debut - A Poetry Break

On July 11, 1911, ninety-nine years ago, George Herman "Babe" Ruth was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Boston Red Socks, marking his debut to the Major Leagues and the beginning of his career as one of the most famous baseball players in American history. Prepare for sharing this poem by also sharing other poems from the book At the Crack of the Bat, collecting poetry books about America's favorite pastime like Lee Bennett Hopkin's Extra Innings: Babseball Poems and That Sweet Diamond by Paul Janeczko, as well as books about Babe Ruth and other great ball players.

Along Came Ruth
by Ford Frick

You Step up to the platter
And you gaze with flaming hate
At the poor benighted pitcher
As you dig in at the plate.
You watch him cut his fast ball loose,
Then swing your trusty bat
And you park one in the bleachers-
Nothing's simpler that that!

Morrison, Lillian. 1992. At the Crack of the Bat. Illus. by Steve Cieslawski. NY: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN: 1562821768.

After sharing the poem and exploring some facts about Babe Ruth and baseball, invite the children to write their own poem, such as bio-poem, about the "Great Bambino" and the sport itself. Invite them to share what they love about baseball and if they have their own favorite player or team. For a fun snack, have cracker jacks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beat the Heat with Some Cool Summer Reads!

We're all about to be right smack in the middle of Summer. Especially for those in Texas! Beat the heat with some awesome books. These are some of my favorite books and some new ones that I have passed my desk and peaked my interest. Check them out at your local library! And don't miss out on the Summer Reading Program!

Easy Picture Books
  • Dinosaur Starts School by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Possum Magic by Mem Fox
  • My Garden by Kevin Henkes
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
  • The Dot by Peter Reynolds
  • Ish by Peter Reynolds
  • A Chair for Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
WP-CC's All-Time Most Favorite Author: Mary Downing Hahn
From the moment I read The Doll in the Garden I was hooked to her novels. Her books are perfect for any season, but her ghost stories are the best during summer. They are scary, but not too scary - a perfect mixture. The Doll in the Garden still gives me chills and I really love time For Andrew. Explore her awesome books that I've listed below by genre:

Ghost Stories
  • All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story
  • Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story
  • The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story
  • The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story
  • Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story
  • Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
Historical Fiction
  • Anna All Year Round
  • Anna on the Farm
  • As Ever, Gordy (sequel to Following My Own Footsteps)
  • Following My Own Footsteps (sequel to Stepping on Cracks)
  • The Gentleman Outlaw and Me - Eli
  • Hear the Wind Blow
  • Promise to the Dead
  • Stepping on Cracks
  • Closed for the Season: A Mystery Story
  • The Dead Man in Indian Creek
  • Following the Mystery Man
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
  • Daphne's Book
  • December Stillness
  • Janey and the Famous Author
  • The Jellyfish Season
  • The Sara Summer
  • The Spanish-Kidnapping Disaster
  • Tallahassee Higgins
  • The Wind Blows Backwards
  • Look for Me by Moonlight
  • The Time of the Witch
  • Witch Catcher
JF and YA Books for All!!!

Great Mysteries to Solve
  • Who Stole the Wizard of Oz by Avi
  • A great trilogy by Blue Balliett
  • Chasing Vermeer
  • The Wright Three
  • The Calder Game
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Kongsburg
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatly Snyder
Need a Little Action with Your Greek Mythology?
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
  • The Lightning Thief
  • The Sea of Monsters
  • The Titan's Curse
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth
  • The Last Olympian
  • The Demigod File
Ooh, Vampires! (beyond Twilight!)
  • Look for Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn
  • The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
  • Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde
  • The House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast:
  • Marked
  • Betrayed
  • Chosen
  • Untamed
  • Hunted
  • Tempted
  • Burned
  • Get ready for the next book Awakened coming January 2011!!!
  • Also get ready for the House of Night Fledgling Handbook 101 that's being released October 26, 2010!!!!!
"Swish and Flick!" - What is summer would it be without some Harry Potter?
by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Great Guy Read
  • The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
  • The Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Study in Scarlet
  • The Sign of Four
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Hounds of Baskervilles
  • The Valley of Fear
  • His Last Bow
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • the Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan
  • The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan (sequel to The Last Thing I Remember)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Girls Have Adventures and Misadventures Too!
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • Hunger Games by Susanne Collins
  • Catching Fire by Susanne Collins (sequel to Hunger Games) (get ready for the next book Mockingjay coming August 2010!!!)
  • The Gentleman Outlaw and Me - Eli by Mary Downing Hahn
Can't Mess with the Classics!!!
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (and the remaining original Oz books)
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • The Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Beowulf translation by Seamus Heaney (Heaney's translation is the best out there, plus you can see the Old English text along with the English translation!)
  • The Nancy Drew mysteries by Caroline Keene
  • The Hardy Boys mysteries by Franklin B. Dixon
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis
  • The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe,
  • Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (get ready for the new movie coming December 2010!!!)
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Magician's Nephew
  • The Last Battle
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
What would Summer be
Without a little

  • Shout! Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert
  • Give Yourself to the Rain: Poems for the Very Young by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Don't Step on the Sky: A Handful of Haiku by Miriam Chaikin
  • Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George
  • Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George
  • Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield
  • Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • Pocket Poems by Bobbie Katz
  • I Once Ate a Pie by Patricia and Emily MacLachlan