Page 1

Volume 37, Issue 3

Spring/April 2014

The Reader Advocating for literacy in the Omaha Metropolitan Area

Metropolitan Reading Council—Omaha, Nebraska A local council of the Nebraska State Reading Association and the International Reading Association

Come Celebrate With Us…Educational Leadership Night Wendy Loewenstein — MRC President — When: 5:30-7pm on Thursday, May 1st Where: Soaring Wings Vineyard, Springfield, NE Why: This event is an opportunity to celebrate literacy advocates from the metropolitan area who are making an impact on our community. Local leaders, educators, and volunteers were nominated for the Celebrate Literacy Award, Friend of Literacy Award, and Linda Gehrig Educational Leadership Award. On Educational Leadership Night, we will celebrate their efforts with wonderful food, drinks, and camaraderie. Our speaker for the evening will be Ferial Pearson who will discuss how Culturally Responsive Teaching has changed her life and her teaching. Ferial has taught in Omaha Public Schools, Ralston Public Schools, and is currently an instructional coach at UNO, College of Education. Please invite your colleagues and join us for a wonderful evening with literacy professionals across the Omaha Metropolitan area. I am confident that you will leave this event feeling empowered and with newly created collaborative partnerships and networks. “Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth.” ~Sir Ken Robinson Ph.D. Registration for the event is: $10 for MRC Members and $15 for non-members To register for this event online, go to: OR Mail checks to: Audrey McNamara 11904 South 49th Street Papillion, NE 68133

The Reader Published since 1966 Metropolitan Reading Council #30400 Chartered in 1965

Spring/April 2014

Metropolitan Reading Council Executive Board 2013-2014 President

Wendy Loewenstein University of Nebraska—Omaha

Past President

Tina Gradel-Tingwald Millard Public Schools


Kate Alseth Omaha Public Schools

Vice President

Luisa Palomo Omaha Public Schools


Linda Placzek

Executive Secretary

Audrey McNamara

Database Manager

Renee McArthur Bellevue Public Schools


Volume 37, Issue 3

John Deeney Millard Public Schools

“Like” us at: metroreadingcouncil Volume 37, Issue 3

Page 2

Summer Reading By Stephanie Schnabel School Librarian, Monroe Middle School, OPS At some point this summer, every parent and care-taker will hear the phrase “I’m bored!” from a child in their life. Local libraries are a great, free way to keep the boredom at bay and help slow the summer slide so students are ready when school starts in August. The Omaha Public Library (OPL) is once again running its annual summer reading program from May 31st to July 31st. All branches except the W. Dale Clark Main Library will be hosting free kick-off parties on Saturday May 31st from 1 – 3 PM. This year has a science theme in “Fizz Boom Read.” All ages are encouraged to participate by reading or listening to 10 hours and collect 10 virtual badges. Prizes are awarded in three categories: kids, teens, and adults. Throughout the summer different branches will host a variety of activities for all ages. Checkout the OPL website for information regarding specific branches at Don’t live close to a library? Don’t worry! Thanks to a grant provided by the Sherwood Foundation 30 Omaha Public elementary schools will have library hours during the month of June. From Monday, June 2nd until Friday June 27th the libraries will be open for check out. To see what school libraries are open and their various hours, check out the Omaha Public Schools libraries pages at Library.aspx. Not sure what to read? Summer is a great time to explore all types of genres, the ones you love and even the ones you have never tried before. The following reading list may give you some great book ideas:

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime 100 Great Children’s Books by the New York Public Library Young Adult Summer Reading List New Book Releases by Week

Page 3

The Reader

Volume 37, Issue 3

Page 4

Young Authors Meet the Real Deal By Lynn Thurber MRC Membership Chairperson Can you imagine impulsively blurting out that you are going to write a book, taking five minutes to jot down all the plot ideas, and then writing the first draft of your book in one month? John Kalkowski, author of the Golden Sower-nominated young adult novel Red Cell, shared this implausible narrative with his spellbound audience.

His personal story was especially captivating to these viewers because they themselves were the winning young authors in Metropolitan Reading Council’s Meet the Author Contest. These K-12 students had written descriptions and stories about superheroes. They sat intrigued as John Kalkowski discussed his more realistic fiction hero Will Conlan, a middle school student caught up in the dangers of international terrorism.

Kalkowski went on to relate how he had happened to read a newspaper article revealing an actual Analytic Red Cell organization affiliated with the CIA that serves as a think-tank for the government. This single article, coupled with his experience with middle school students led to the creation of a protagonist who uses his creativity to defeat the terrorist plot.

Excited by the backstory and the plot outline, students and their parents snapped up the supply of Red Cell novels and placed orders for more after the award ceremony.

These young authors caught glimpses of an author finding and developing ideas from his everyday life, which they took home with their awards.

Page 5

The Reader

Volume 37, Issue 3

Page 6

Imagination and Facts Win Awards What’s New in Children’s Literature? By Wilma Kuhlman University of NE at Omaha Super heroes abound! We had delightful super heroes in the writing of youth across the Omaha area in the writing contest, and now we get to read about Ulysses, the super hero squirrel in this year’s Newbery Award winner. Kate DiCamillo has won this year’s medal for Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, and the book is simply delightful. It also has expansive vocabulary that will stretch children’s minds as they enjoy the adventures of Flora and Ulysses. See, it all starts when a very powerful vacuum cleaner of the brand Ulysses gets away from Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham, and vacuums up a squirrel. Since Flora saw the struggles taking place outsider her window, and she’d been reading her favorite comic book The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto, who is a custodian turned into a super hero, Flora knows she must go out to help, even though she’s a cynic. Cynic is only one of the terms that is used often enough to become familiar to readers. It is that vacuumed up squirrel who comes out of the vacuum cleaner, lifts it off the ground and shakes out all the goodies to eat and is changed – from a squirrel who only thinks about eating – to a squirrel who writes poetry and is super strong and can fly and understand what people are saying! The fantasy is intertwined with family struggles and friendships and writing and oh, yes, those million dollar words. True to DiCamillo’s prior works, Flora & Ulysses (Flora named the squirrel Ulysses after his antics) is a book that delights readers to laugh and worry and stretch belief and be happy in its pages. I was torn between wanting to hurry through the book because it was so entertaining and not wanting it to end. Flora is ten and the comic illustrations add to the books reading accessibility. But I think it would first be a delightful read-aloud for third through sixth grade. I’d want to keep a running word list for class writing, too. Do read it. You’ll have fun. I don’t think you’d call Mr. Wuffles the cat a superhero, but maybe the tiny aliens and their rescuers, the insects, would qualify. A totally delightful wordless picture book, Mr. Wuffles!, is David Wiesner’s latest imagination stretch and a Caldecott honor book. Size perspective and a stereotypical lazy cat are combined to entertain our imaginations in this creative picture book/ graphic novel. Mr. Wuffles ignores the toys people leave around for his pleasure, but he becomes enchanted with an alien space ship on the floor. Think tiny alien space ship. Our view from inside the space ship shows us how it might feel to successfully land in alien territory, only to have your vehicle tossed around by a huge creature. The tossing makes our alien friends sick and breaks important components of the ship, making them trapped. How do the insects get involved and become unlikely heroes? Pick up the book and settle down for some fun with any age reading companion. The details in the story are yours to write, as is the case with all wordless picture books. Wiesner is a master of creativity, and Mr. Wuffles! shows it. In a very different vein, Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca, was awarded the Caldecott medal for illustrations and received an honor from the Robert F. Sibert Informational book committee. And I agree that it’s an amazing book, both for information and for outstanding illustrations. Living in Omaha, we are aware that the rails westward were started here by Union Pacific and, well, some other company started from Sacramento, CA, coming eastward, and they eventually met at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory. Oh yes, that other company was Continued on Page 8 Page 7

The Reader

Continued from Page 7 Central Pacific! Until reading this book, I didn’t realize that people changed trains at Promontory when going to Sacramento from Omaha or vice versa, but that is told in the book in both illustrations and text. The information is told in poetry, with some very large-print to illustrate sounds and ALL ABOARD! This book has information in accessible text and illustrations, and it’s inviting to reread and peruse again and again. It’s a must-have for libraries and for classrooms that study Omaha history, Nebraska history, or even U.S. history. It’s excellent, and I’m glad I purchased it to share. Children of all ages will appreciate the book and it’s straight-forward information in verse. I see it as particularly appropriate for third through sixth graders. In our current understanding of the need for more non-fiction, Locomotive fits the bill. The winner of the Robert F. Sibert Information book is a bright colorful book Parrots over Puerto Rico, written by Susan Roth and Trumbore. The vivid greens and blues and oranges are the first attractions to the book. The true story of these parrots is sobering and yet hopeful. Puerto Rican parrots have actually lived on the island for “millions of years” but as people and other animals came, their numbers dropped to, at one point, only 24 parrots. The beauty and rareness of these birds makes their story particularly poignant and helps all of us be more aware of the waves of repercussions of people’s actions, some that come with unknown and unintended consequences – such as rats aboard cargo ships that came on land and ate parrots’ eggs. With vertical 2-page illustrations and short concisely worded paragraphs, readers learn the whole history of these once large flocks of bright parrots that continued to lose space and food and nearly died off. The hope comes with the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, sponsored by U.S. government and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Details of the work of scientists also help readers understand the complexity of helping a species survive. Another award winner that is well worth the time to read, and children can gaze at pictures, listen and read the text. Used in different ways, as with Locomotive, Parrots over Puerto Rico has appeal for almost all ages. The Coretta Scott King book award was given for Rita Williams-Garcia’s book P.S. Be Eleven, a sequel to One Crazy Summer. Set in the 1967-68 school year, some background knowledge of Black Power, the Vietnam War, and status of African Americans in most of society would be important. I truly enjoyed the book, but I have a lot of schema to bring. It’s clearly not for students younger than fifth or sixth grade, and the subtleties make it a better read aloud for most students. It could be a good literature circle book for sixth-grade girls who are solid readers. Sixth-grader Delphine is the protagonist and her first-person narrative takes readers into the angst of not fitting in, having a family that doesn’t fit the supposed “norm,” and being tall and gangly with short, cute friends. When I was a sixth grader, I could sure relate to tall and gangly with a short, cute best friend. Big Ma’s strictness will seem extreme to many, and the letters from Delphine’s biological mother are interesting and a little complex. However, the consistent message from her mother is “P.S. be eleven,” and it fits many oldest daughters who take responsibility for younger siblings in single-parent homes. I encourage teachers to read the book, and then recommend it to the students they know will appreciate the ups and downs of life for Delphine. Although I didn’t get all of the books read I’d hoped to share, the variety is evident and delightful. There’s a book to suit everyone, so treat yourself to one of these at your next opportunity – actually, don’t wait for it – make that opportunity. Volume 37, Issue 3

Page 8

Page 9

The Reader

Metropolitan Reading Council’s Meet the Author Contest Winners

Volume 37, Issue 3


First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Page 10

More Winners!!!

Sixth Grade

Fifth Grade

Eighth Grade

Seventh Grade

High School

Page 11

The Reader

Metro Reading Council-Spring 14 Newsletter  
Metro Reading Council-Spring 14 Newsletter  

Read all about MRC's Educational Leadership Night on May 1st, local professional development opportunities, and must-read books for the summ...