Monday, June 27, 2016

LOVE THAT BOY by Ron Fournier

On a road trip this past spring, Paul and I listened to LOVE THAT BOY: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips and My So Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations by Ron Fournier. 

The book is for all parents, but it particularly centers on the author's reaction to his son Tyler's late (age 12) diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. Which is why Paul and I couldn't wait to read it: we, too, have a son (Andrew) who got a late (age 17) diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. (Andrew gave me his blessing to write this blog post.)

In fact, our stories are eerily similar. Here's an excerpt from the book that we could have written (except for the names and the job, of course!):

"All good things in my life start with Lori, including the story behind this story. Tyler was 12 years old and I was consumed by the 2010 congressional elections when Lori became hooked on a new NBC drama called Parenthood. It featured a large and loving extended family of Bravermans, including a boy named Max who had Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of Autism. Max frequently lost his temper, rarely made friends, and fixated on insects. His parents, Adam and Kristina, ricocheted between pride and fear. While they recognized max was gifted in his own ways – he was brilliant and preternaturally genuine – they couldn't escape the fact that he was a social misfit.

From the first episode, Lori recognized Tyler in Max – and cried. While our son's issues weren't as severe as Max's, Lori now realized that Tyler's social awkwardness was more than a phase. He wasn't just quirky. His fixations weren't just cute; they were a clue. His grades had fallen. Classmates teased him. He had no friends except for boys on the block, who didn't play with Tyler as much as they tolerated him. Lori thought, He's not going to outgrow it. She watched three more episodes by herself, not wanting to share her fears with me, because I might confirm them. Instead, she kept telling herself, I don't want him to be autistic."

Yes, after years of anxiety and anger and confusion, during which our son attended six different schools and two separate rounds of homeschooling, after talks with principals and teachers and parents who never once suggested Asperger's, and sleepless nights and teary phone calls and worry, indecision, fear...we discovered through a TV show what was going on with our son.

It makes me cry, still, when I think of it. So much grief for what we could have done had we known -- mostly, I think, we wouldn't have been so hard on ourselves, or on him. We found such relief in a diagnosis -- finally, a word to pin it on! We're not alone! Our son wasn't being willful all those times, he's just wired differently!

I also love this passage in the book:

"Why did it take so long? The most benign explanation is that Asperger's is easy to overlook because Aspies are so well-spoken and intelligent, according to [Temple] Grandin and other experts, especially when it comes to their favorite subjects.

Another excuse: We were enchanted. You've heard the expression “Kids say the darnedest things.” They all do. But kids with Tyler's particular wiring are uniquely bright and expressive, which makes them hypnotizing."

That's Andrew. And we're still enchanted!

In specific terms, I'm not sure Andrew's life would have looked much different if we'd known sooner. We we very proactive in helping him find tools to deal with his life in as positive a way as possible. For a family without a diagnosis, I think we did a lot of good things. But. I still wish I'd known when he was a toddler. I wish I'd had that word "Asperger's." Those years would have been more peaceful.

As for Andrew, the a-ha moment came for him after watching the play THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE NIGHT-TIME on Broadway. He recognized himself in that play and ever since has referred to himself as a happy Aspie. He still struggles with things like social situations and reading body cues, and he is largely a loner. But don't we ALL struggle with something? He's smart and kind and witty and steady and dependable. He's precious, is what he is. As all kids are, whether they meet our expectations or not.

And that's really the point of this book. Here's a final quote for you:

"From their first breath – if not sooner – our dreams for our children are at least in the ball park of perfect, because great grades, championship trophies, lots of friends, and professional success lead to happiness, right?

Actually, no. When a parent's expectations come form the wrong place and are pressed into service of the wrong goals, kids get hurt."

The best thing we can do for our kids -- and anyone -- is love them just exactly the way they are. 

If you're a parent or know a parent -- read this book.

Friday, June 24, 2016

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons by Julie Fogliano

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! I am busy with the Buttercups, but I invite you to visit Diane at Random Noodling for Roundup. Also, dear Jan has posted a fun little interview at Bookseedstudio for those who might want to know a little more about me and my poetry books. I'm so grateful, Jan, to know you and call you friend!

Here at Live Your Poem I've been savoring WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrations byJulie Morstad. Please find below a sample poem from each season. Note the child-like sense of wonder in these poems as well as the e.e. cummings lack of capital letters and punctuation, What fun for sharing with young readers!

march 24

what the snow left behind
was a red scarf
next to a wooden carrot
one blue mitten
a big snow shovel
a little snow shovel
and mud
and mud
and mud
and more mud
and muddy mud
and mud

july 28

if you ever stopped
to taste a blueberry
you would know
that it's not really about the blue, at all

september 22

i still love you sunshine and swimming and sea
and strawberries, you know that i do
but i'm ready to move on
to something that's new
so now, i am waiting for sweaters

january 30

it is the best kind of day
when it is snowing
and the house
sounds like slippers
and sipping
and there is nowhere to go
but the kitchen
for a cookie

copyright Julie Fogliano


Aren't those wonderful?! Happy Tomato Season, everyone. xo

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Buttercups are Here!

Yes, it is that time of year again... Camp Buttercup: for Brave & Creative Girls!

We are busy adventuring, but I did want to share our traditional welcome-on-the-porch picture:

Anna, BrenLeigh, MadiLynn

and some quilt-ish chalk art:

More to come! Meanwhile, happy adventuring to all of you!

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Default Setting

In spite of everything, there is one song in this world that I will often find myself humming: the Christmas hymn "Joy to the World."

 What's YOUR default setting?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rooted by Thirst by Tina Mozelle Braziel

Hello and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup. I've been in that grief time warp this week, missing my father, which makes me especially delighted to have a visitor today -- poet Tina Mozelle Braziel who is here to share with us her brand-new (first!) chapbook ROOTED BY THIRST, delivered to the world by the good folks at Porkbelly Press:

Tina has graciously given me permission to share one of my favorite poems from the collection here, with all of you. Thank you, Tina! AND: I'm giving away a copy. Simply leave a comment by Tuesday, June 21, and Maggie our cat will select a winner!
To Shake Another 
by Tina Mozelle Braziel
When heat visibly wavers over our truck hood,
we feel like puddles, our skin as thin as a frog's.

From the broom sage, the rattle of katydids
ripples through us. I first felt sound in grade school

when a struck tuning fork touched another. Its quaver
shook the other fork into its own humming. Evenings then,

when pines shivered with the chirr of peepers, I wondered
how frogs carry quivering metal inside their tenderness.

Today pressing my cheek to our house frame, I hammer
listening to how all the driven nails resound. Each strike

deepens the note ringing out from here to beyond
the ridge. In it, I feel the reverberation of hammer,

anvil, and stirrup of when he first called my name
setting all of me, what is tender and mettle, abuzz.
And now, here's Tina, responding to some simple prompts:

The Difficult:
Finishing poems is always difficult to me. I find that final revisions are tough to fathom, on the one hand. And on the other, I feel the urge to keep revising, to linger in the space of the poem I’m writing for a while longer. So I swing between those two states, wanting to stay or trying to get out. Putting poems in print doesn’t seem to solve my dilemma since I’ve already revised a poem or two in this collection.
The Delicious:
My first inclination is to talk about how much I enjoy building and living in our house. In our case, building means that my husband and I do the hammering and the heavy lifting. And “living in it as we build it” means we still need to lay floors, plumb the place, and put in cabinets. But you are asking me about poetry instead of life. Yet that is what I savor most about these poems, how entwined they are with how I’m living. I also enjoy how building a house and home feeds my poetry, one creative act nourishing the other.
Emerson claims that “Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the work-yard made.” That rings true to me, especially when I discover words like “rock-bar” and “squarings” that feel so invigorating. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the term “sistering” which means nailing one board against another for additional strength. Such concepts and words recalibrate my perspective of what makes a home, what it means to claim a place as our own. And that feeds my writing.
We plan to burn lines of poetry into walls of our house. It’s a plan inspired by seeing the lines Robinson Jeffers inscribed on the walls of Tor House, the home he built in Carmel, California, back when the coast at Carmel was mostly wild. My husband has already chosen a few from this collection for our walls. I love that some words inspired by the house will become part of it.
The Unexpected:
I come from a working class background which is something I always strive to honor in my poetry. Now it feels even more significant that many of my family members are or were builders of one sort or another. My father is a construction worker / bridge builder as was his father and brothers. My husband’s father built the house he grew up in. My grandfather was a brick mason. He and my grandmother built a house together in Pell City. Like us, they moved in before it was completed and continued to build. But I didn’t learn that Mozelle, my grandmother, helped with the construction of their house until we began to build ours. It was then that my family started making comments that I wasn’t named “Mozelle” for nothing (I am named after her), something they had been prone to say when I quilted or knitted. Learning that bit of family history was unexpected as well as the feeling I am now more closely linked to a family tradition. When I was a kid, my father’s mother would claim that her sons and husband’s “shop talk” were building so many bridges she couldn’t make it through the living room. I am now the tom-boy who has grown up, joining the men in this talk and work. The tangibility of it, how those words become a built thing, prods me to make my poetry to do that as well. That’s unexpected too—“shop talk” challenging poetry to do more and be more real.
Something More:

I’ll soon finish a book-length manuscript about homebuilding, more poems about the house we are building, some about the house my grandmother helped build, poems about what develops or challenges a sense of home and what it means to be from and of a place. Our relationship to the natural world is something I keep turning over, examining from different perspectives. I’m writing non-fiction essays about our land and how we use it. Even though I was once an avid rock-climber and caver, I spend more time outside now than I ever had before. The house requires as well as provides this connection. We live down a dirt road, out of sight from our neighbors. Most of our walls are glass. So even when we are inside, the outside is with us. We heat our house with wood cut from our property or from our neighbors’. Not only do we spend time outside cutting and hauling wood, but we also appreciate the woods in a new ways. For example, my love of dogwood trees has grown since I’ve become familiar with how hot and fast its wood burns. We don’t cut them for firewood until they die of natural causes—our goal is to create a grove of dogwoods by cutting away the other trees and giving the dogwoods the light and room to flourish. I understand why the grove of dogwood that William Bartram found in Alabama were destroyed. Dogwood is great firewood.   
Tina Mozelle Braziel, a graduate of the University of Oregon MFA program in poetry, directs the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her poetry has or will appear in The Cincinnati Review, Southern Humanities Review, Tampa Review, and other journals. Her chapbook, Rooted by Thirst, was published by Porkbelly Press. She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building on Hydrangea Ridge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Last Book

Thank you to all you wonderful folks who have reached out during this time of grieving. My father died last Wednesday, June 8, in Bismarck, ND. You can read the obituary here. I have about a zillion poems swimming in my head -- mostly I am just trying to take everything slowly and feel it all. It's hard.

One of the things I learned is that the last book Papa was reading was by Never Go Back by Lee Child. (Jack Reacher #18) His bookmark rested on pages 194/195. And he was using a bookmark I'd sent him! (Those who read this blog or who have heard me speak know that my father, for most of his life, has read, on average, a book a day. One of the things I brought home with me was his book catalog/diary. It contains all the titles he's ever read! Talk about a treasure!)

There were so many difficult moments, but there were some wonderful ones, too. Through it all, I tried to keep in mind these words from my father himself, which we had printed on the memorial service program:

“There is so much in life to be savored. But, first, it’s got to be noticed. Won’t you join me today in making a sincere personal commitment to remember to notice the blessings in life and to absolutely devour and savor each one?”
- Ken Dykes

These two poems were also part of the service:

The best part was being with family. Me and two of my siblings shared a hotel room. We convened with other loved ones in town: our stepmother and stepbrother and another brother and his girlfriend and so many fine folks who worked with or were friends with Papa during his 9 years in Bismarck, North Dakota. We shared a lot of meals and a lot of tears. Old wounds began to scab over. We laughed as we remembered the unique and precious person our father was. He gave us the greatest gift you can give another - LOVE. I'm so grateful.
after the ceremony of celebration for Papa's life

For the past several years my father and I have had a daily phone habit. Mostly I called him, and we would share about our day. I learned so much about him this way, and I felt so close to him. My emptiest moments have come when I pick up my phone and realize he's not there anymore to answer.

But he's with me. He's with all of us. This I know. And he was the biggest champion of my writing, bar none. And so I will write through this and about this and then write some more. I don't think I knew this until this moment, but all my words are somehow for him.

I'll do my best, which is all he ever asked of me.

Thank you again for being with me on this journey. It means a lot. xo

Friday, June 10, 2016

It's a Fresh Delicious Art & Poetry Show: Meet Barb Faust & Young Learners in Room 128 A!

Buttons! Love!
Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit dedicated poet and educator Carol at Beyond Literacy Link for Roundup. (And a favor, PF friends: would someone please add this post to the link up? I am in the middle of difficult things and would be so so grateful!) 

And now, I am so so happy to introduce to you wonderful soul and teacher Barbara Faust and the artists of Room 128 A

Watermelon-sized thanks to one Amy Ludwig Vanderwater for introducing us! Among so many other things, Amy is a connector. She generous and kind. And she knows everyone! Mwah! Thank you, Amy.

And now.... take it away, Barb!

"Hi Everyone!  I am very excited to a guest on Irene’s blog thanks to her generous invitation after an introduction by our mutual friend, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater  creator of another wonderful website, The Poem Farm.  Thank you, Irene and thank you Amy for introducing us!

Springtime in Buffalo in a pre-k classroom means creating art for two special occasions—Mother’s Day of course and the Pre-k Art Show.  Every year each Pre-k class in Buffalo creates original artwork that hangs in Buffalo’s City Hall for the month of May.   Each year I look for something not only original but meaningful for the children in my Montessori classroom to make—but what this year? Farmer’s Markets and food are an important part of our school and the Buffalo culture.  When I found Fresh Delicious on the Poem Farm website I purchased it immediately.  The children have been learning to recite “Tomato” and “Strawberry Jamboree” from Irene’s book.  One morning as I watched the 3, 4 and 5 year olds in my class recite “Tomatoes” I knew—Irene’s poetry was the inspiration for our Art Show poster.

WOW! What a smorgasbord of poetry and art!

I brought strawberries in one day, then tomatoes and finally cucumbers.  On the first day with each fruit we passed it around, touched it, smelled it and I took down the words the children said.
an angel! inside a TOMATO!
Then I cut the fruit in half in front of them passed it around cut and continued taking down the words the children said knowing poems would appear.  You can imagine how it feels to hear a kindergartner notice “an angel when you make it in the snow” lying right inside of a cut tomato.  Or a three-year-old see “jingle bell lights like Santa” travel along the edges of a cut strawberry.

Jingle bell lights! Ho Ho Ho!
"After this oral writing the children have a variety of options.  They can choose to draw, paint or photograph the fruit available.  When their work is finished—the words and the visual arts,  I match the poems with the photos and mount them on the poster for City Hall with a thank you to Irene for her inspiration.  In the photos you see some of their work matched with their poems.  You can also see a photo I took  [see below] of two of our kindergartners at work making art—one observer—one photographer who has arranged her shot of the inside of the strawberries that will become part of the poster. What I really love is the joy that making art paints on their faces.

This year we have begun to perform our poems more often while standing in our classroom. The children have memorized everything from Langston Hughes’  “My People” to Irene’s Fresh Delicious work.  In these early spring mornings, our room flooded with light I watch eighteen children drawing circles in the air and throwing an imaginary baseball as they recite Irene’s “Tomatoes” and see the same joy on their faces as I see in the photo of the kindergartners creating their own photographs.


Thank you again, Irene for the opportunity to share their joy and their work and to Amy LV for our introduction."
Oh, to be a child in Barb Faust's classroom! What joy! And to be a poet whose words are being feasted upon in this way... I'm honored and humbled and completely inspired. Thank YOU, Barb, and these amazing young poet-artists! Happy summer to all!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

One Little Word: PAPA

Papa & me, March 17, 2016
Those of you who follow this blog know that my father in faraway Bismarck, ND has battled numerous health issues over the past eight years, including multiple cancers.

A few weeks ago he fell and broke his hip. Initially his Florida cracker spirit shone through it all -- he was going to beat this thing, just watch him!

Since then he's been hospitalized where he's had good days and bad ones.

Over the past few days his body has grown weary of fighting -- and my heart is broken. It's so hard to say goodbye. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Also: I prepared a post last week that is scheduled to publish on June 10 Poetry Friday. It's a very special guest post by a very special teacher and her young poet-artists. I hope you enjoy it, and I will be back when I am able.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Movie Monday: ME BEFORE YOU

Hi there. Yes, it's me, back after a wonderful week in Nashville with Paul, where we had all sorts of adventures while our son participated in Grammy Camp.

What an amazing experience Grammy Camp was for him! Great folks, great music... more on this soon. Meanwhile, here's an article about Eric and his music and Grammy Camp!

One of the things Paul and I did in the hours between checking our of our place and the end-of-camp Open House and performance, was see ME BEFORE YOU.

After reading less-than-stellar review, we talked briefly about seeing a different movie, but no, this is the one I wanted to see. So we went!

And... I loved it. Yes, it was melodramatic. I cried more than once. But who cares when there's a character like Louisa Clark played by oh-so-charming Emilia Clarke? That phrase "lights up a room" comes to mind.

While I have enjoyed several of Jojo Moyes' novels, I haven't read ME BEFORE YOU, so I enjoyed watching the movie unfold. I also enjoyed listening in the bathroom after the movie to what some women who HAD read the book had to say. :) Yes, I will be reading the novel now for sure!

I'm not going to write about what the movie's about because if you've seen the trailer, you already know. Suffice it to say it's an impossible love story with a Big Topic and loveable characters in which everything doesn't turn out the way we want, but it is what it is, and really, Lou's father Bernard (played by Brendan Coyle), who will always be Mr. Bates (DOWNTON ABBEY) to me, summed it up best: we have to let people be who they are.

So: put on some bumblebee tights and go see it! Bring tissues.

In case you were wondering: my favorite Jojo Moyes novel to date: THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER. What a story! Love.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lets Get Fresh Delicious with Rebekah's Blueberries!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Julie at The Drift Record for Roundup!

In case you missed it, I've been running a School Visit Spotlight series. Here are the posts so far:

5 Ways Words are Precious at Prince of Peace School

On Young Poets & the Culture of Listening at Vestavia Elementary Central

Growing Readers at Gresham Elementary

Also, exciting news: FRESH DELICIOUS has been selected to represent Alabama at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC!

Yay! I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this year's festivities. Thank you Donna Adcock and the Alabama Center for the Book! Mwah!

Earlier this month I visit Riverhill School in Florence, Alabama -- which, I should mention, had just finished up a Kindness Week, so I loved seeing signs all over the school about kindness! -- and there were surprise guests: Amy from Hope is the Word and her lovely daughters! This is a family that hosts regular Poetry Tea Times, and ever since LEAVING GEE'S BEND, they have also been wonderful supporters of mine.

So, you can imagine my delight when a few days ago I received a letter from young Rebekah, who is 10. She sent me a poem she wrote after reading FRESH DELICIOUS:

by Rebekah Uptain

Blueberries pop in your mouth
A jazz of flavors dancing in your mouth
Sweet or sour
Blue or purple
Some a waltz, some a tango
Swallow and reach for another.

I love this poem! From the first pop to the "jazz" through that waltz and tango all the way to reaching for another. Rebekah successful infused a poem about a still object with sound and motion. So, so lovely... and inspiring. Thank you, Rebekah!

And here is a picture of me with Rebekah and her sister Lydia. So happy to know these young readers... and their sweet mom Amy! THANK YOU!!
Rebekah, Lydia & me

Panning for Gold with Ben Sollee

Today for Spiritual Journey Thursday I have two things I'd like to share with you:

1. This post by artist/poet Stephanie Berry, about how we define success. (Yes, we can define our own success!) The quote that resonates with me: "My success is rooted in Spirit."

2. This gorgeous song by Ben Sollee. Pretty much all Ben's songs are gorgeous, but this one - oh, man, slays me. Lyrics below!

I saw God by the river 
Panning for gold 
I saw God by the river 
Weary and old

He said; 'Son,
I used to know where I put things,
I used to know'

I saw God in the forest
Teaching Tai Chi to the trees
In the wind
And bowing to the seas

He said; 'Son,
I used to know where I put things,
I used to know'

I saw God on the mountain
Tearing at the sky
I saw God on the mountain
With tears in his eyes

He said; 'Son,
I used to know where I put things,
I used to know
I could have shown you all the beauty in the world
but now I need you to show me
Yes, show me'

Isn't that our job as poets and storytellers and HUMANS, to show all the beauty of the world? Love!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

School Visit Spotlight: 5 Ways Words are Precious at Prince of Peace School

 One of the most inspiring school visits this year happened at Prince of Peace School in Hoover, Alabama.

Wow, does this school love books, and WORDS!

1. Starting in Kindergarten each child begins writing and collecting writing samples to create a writing portfolio. By 5th grade they have a fat stack of all sorts of writing! What a gift, what a record of a child's life!

2. Every year classes select an author whose books serve as inspiration for a tablescape at the annual Writers' Cafe.



3. Special adults are invited to sit at the inspired tables, share a snack and peruse the students' writings.

4. Also as part of the annual event, real working writers come in to share their stories with students. This year I was one of those lucky writers!

5. The director of curriculum Kelly Smith shared with me that when students move from elementary to middle school, they have a Harry Potter inspired event where a Sorting Hat is used to sort kids into 4 different houses, which are named after saints (It's a Catholic school.). The kids of each house pile onto a magic carpet of sorts and are pulled across the way from the elementary building to the middle school building. Very ceremonial... and inspired by the words of J.K. Rowling.

... and I haven't even told you about the art at this school! Art was EVERYWHERE. Wonderful! (I totally want to learn from this art teacher JoJo Settine!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

School Visit Spotlight: On Young Poets & the Culture of Listening at Vestavia Elementary Central

Vestavia Elementary Central is located here in Birmingham, less than 30 minutes from my home.

I love local visits because it shows the kids that poets and authors live right in their neighborhoods, and in fact, THEY can be poets and authors, too!

When I arrived at the library, I was greeted by Elizabeth Hester, whom I was so pleased to finally work with! Our paths have crossed a bunch of times, and this was my first time to visit her school. Yay!

I was also greeted by a bulletin board of student poems -- poems about birthdays and birds and hermit crabs and melons and whales and crickets... lots of great writing going on at Vestavia Central!

But the thing that struck me most about these students was the way they LISTENED. Not just to me, but to one another. When, during the writing workshop, a student read aloud his or her work, and I asked, "what stands out to you about the poem?" or "what words or images do you recall?" or "any more feedback?" there were always lots of hands, and lots of very precise comments. And, I have learned, this is something that is taught. That comes with practice. At Vestavia Elementary Central, they have created a Culture of Listening. I love it!

I also love how these librarians and teachers put on a luncheon. Behold the beauty of this spread:

How lucky was I to lunch with such thoughtful, smart educators? And YUM.

Another highlight of my visit was meeting BJ, who works in the school cafeteria, and whose mother is a quilter from Gee's Bend! I was delighted to sign a copy of LEAVING GEE'S BEND for her.

Look how quietly and diligently these young poets are working...

And here are some poems!

I love the idea of "crickets spread[ing] the rumor of sadness and change."

I love the specificity in these titles: not just "Hermit Crab"... "Hermit Crab on the Stairs.
Not just "The Dog"... "The Dog in the Lake."

This one completely stole my heart because of that "big"
on the last line all by itself!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Food + Art & Picture Books = Fun for All Ages!

Reading is Delicious!
Yesterday I started my School Visit Spotlight series... Growing Readers at Gresham Elementary. You'll be inspired by this librarian's efforts! More in the series coming this week.

But first, I've just been preparing for ASLA conference, where I will present again "Reading is Delicious: Fresh, Fun Food Programming for Kids."

Last time (and the first time ever!) I presented this program was last month at Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, MS.

I shared all kinds of ideas for combining food with just about every other part of the curriculum, and then we had some hands-on time to play together!

We painted with asparagus paintbrushes and stamped with cut pieces of onion and bell pepper.

Behold, our work of art!

We used jeweler's loupes to examine strawberries, and by applying the Private Eye inquiry method, we came up with "bones" for poems.

A few of my favorite bones:

Mars with 1,000 eyes
quills on a porcupine
tiny bees in a red hive
Grandma's quilt from Gee's Bend.....

...Anyone else suddenly wanting to write a poem??? YES!

We made a watermelon paper/googly eye craft.

We did some blueberry math... and shared our "Best" & "Worst" about blueberries.

So much fun! And now I get to do it all over again with Alabama librarians.

I love this life!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

School Visit Spotlight: Growing Readers at Gresham Elementary School

Ludelphia love!
When Angela Moorer, librarian at Gresham Elementary contacted me about a school visit, I was thrilled and inspired. Gresham is a Title 1 Jefferson County Alabama school tucked in the heart of Vestavia. Most of the students are non-readers, so this year, in an effort to change that, Mrs. Moorer created literature circle groups. Each group got to choose a book to read together. One 5th grade group of six chose LEAVING GEE'S BEND. Mrs. Moorer had hoped to travel with these students to Gee's Bend, but she wasn't able to make that happen, so she decided to contact me instead!

Here are some pictures from our (surprise) visit:

Mrs. Moorer and the whole group, with Ludelphia.

Sharing pictures of Gee's Bend quilts.

Answering questions -- and getting answers
from kids who knew the book better than I do!

A class t-shirt and flowers to take home with me...

New wisdom for my "Wisdom of our mothers" quilt:
"Don't be a follower, be a leader."

As Mrs. Moorer was walking me out, I noticed these notes on the library computers:

.... proof that one great librarian can make all the difference in a reader's life! Thank you, Mrs. Moorer! You inspire me! And thank you, students -- I loved meeting you and I am excited for all the reading (and other!) adventures life has in store for you. xo

What a great group!