This is the blog of children's book author and elementary school teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Full of Crap

I recently had an interesting conversation with my third graders about the use of bad words in books. And by bad words, I'm not talking about the traditional curse words. They objected to words like crap, hell, and damn. The problem, they said, was that these are words that they are not allowed to say in front of their parents and they often read books to their parents.

What would they rather the characters say? Here are some of their suggestions:
- fudge muffins
- poop on a stick
- peacock
- fiddlesticks
- Go eat pie.

Darn it seemed to be okay as well.

What do you think of the use of bad words in middle grade books? Do you have any other substitution suggestions?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Must Read This Summer

Every year as I set up my third grade students' summer reading goals, I like to set my own. Here are the books I must read this summer. It's a good thing that I am a fast reader. There's so many great new books to read!

One For the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
Son by Lois Lowry (completed June 10)
Pie by Sarah Weeks
Winterling by Sarah Prineas
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Spaceheadz Books 2 and 3 by Jon Scieszka
Sisters Grimm Book 9 by Michael Buckley
One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Floors by Patrick Carmen
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Interesting that they are all middle grade this year. A shout out to the publishers for working to get middle grade kids some really amazing books!

Here's a fantastic list from The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors of other middle grade books that will be around to read this summer.

What are your Must Reads This Summer?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Encouraging Summer Reading

It's been called "the summer slide," the downward spiral of kids' reading level because they spend two months avoiding books. As a third grade teacher, I've worked with those kids. The ones that can't sit still long enough to get through a page or two of a book until at least a month of school has passed. Here are some things teachers and parents can do to keep kids interested in reading during the summer.

1. Make sure kids know about great books
We end the year by having our local librarian come to the school to give book talks and launch the library's summer reading program. Then I continue that work by spending the last two weeks sharing book talk videos, trailers, talking books, and having each child give a book talk on a book they loved reading during the year. Hopefully by the time we're done sharing, kids will have a list of a few books they want to read.

2. Set summer reading goals
Our last unit is a unit of reflection and goal setting. Students take a look at the skills and strategies they learned throughout the year and rate themselves on the ones they use all the time, some of the time, and almost never. Then they set a goal for practicing an unused or rarely used skill/strategy and one for determining the books they will read. Some kids say that they'll read a certain number of books. Others list very specific titles, many of which have been discovered during all the book talking. Once my students have finished setting their goals, I laminate their sheet and send it home along with questions parents can ask their kids when they read.

3. Host summer reading competitions
Along with encouraging my students to take part in the local library's program, this year I started a summer reading and writing blog for my students to share their summer book reviews (and stories). In the fall blog participants will be thanked with an after school ice cream party.

1. Sign your kids up for your library's summer reading program and make it a priority to get there.

2. Allow your kids book choice.
Summer reading is not about challenge, it's about interest. Kids don't learn to be better readers by reading Lord of the Rings going into third grade. They get to be better readers by reading, discussing, and thinking about books they can understand and enjoy.

3. Keep track of summer reading.
Kids can get very busy during the summer. Starting some kind of sticker chart or calendar to show when your child is reading can remind them (and you) to do at least 20 minutes of reading four days a week.

What do you do to get your kids reading over the summer? Do you have any summer reading sites, book talks, or trailers to recommend? Leave a comment below and tell me about it. Happy summer reading!