Monthly Archives: March 2008

Welcome Back!

Dear Friends of Readia,

We have not gone away! We have simply been in a chrysalis stage. Over the next several months, Readia will transform from my sole efforts to alert teachers and librarians to books for struggling and reluctant readers to encompass many members of our community through my new position as Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Aquinas College. I will be recruiting a band of retired educators to help me review books. But what is most exciting is that we have four independent bookstores that have agreed to highlight readia books for the public to purchase and donate to local schools. Here is an innovative way to get the best books where they are most needed.

What’s even more exciting is that you will be able to do this in your communities as well. All you need is a bookstore who wants to participate along with you. We’re heading to our local senior residential facility and asking the men and women who do woodworking to build displays to be placed in each store. Stores will know in advance what the next month’s books are so they can order copies. While the book is on display, members of the public can purchase it for donation to a local school in need. We’ll also be identifying these beforehand.

This is a way to highlight the importance of children’s literacy to our larger community as well as allow people to participate on a smaller scale in these efforts. We’ll be keeping you informed of our grand experiment! And of course, be bringing lots of book ideas and suggestions to you.

It’s an exciting time. Stay tuned!

brass.jpgHere’s a great resource for interviews with children’s book authors. Patricia Newman, an author herself (Jingle the Brass, among others), reads the body of an author’s work and then does an in-depth interview of him/her for California Kids Magazine. Post-publication, she posts them on her web site, Just click on “Meet Other Children’s Authors” on the left-hand side. I was struck by the time and energy Patricia put into the endeavor, which resulted in a much more interesting interview. So introduce your students to the authors, from Julia Alvarez to Jane Yolen.


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Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum

tatum.jpgPiano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum (Schwartz and Wade, $16.99) by Robert Andrew Parker is a peek into the young life of an amazing improvisational jazz pianist.  Parker, a lifelong fan of Tatum’s, felt that most of the scholarship surrounding the musician focused on his adult years.  What was Tatum’s childhood like?  Born with severely limited vision, Art Tatum’s eyesight only grew worse as he got older.  Fortunately, there was a piano in the family home, and, as soon as he could reach the keyboard, Tatum began wearing out the keys.  Tatum’s hearing and his sense of feel had to fill in for missing visual cues.  By ten, he was playing in church and at parties.  While the neighborhood children ran outside on summer nights catching fireflies, Tatum played “Shine on Harvest Moon” and “Moonlight Bay” to serenade them.  His distinctive playing style evolved from a pastiche of sources: radio, listening to live performances, and some formal training.  But it was his ability to get inside a song, to feel it as he played, that distinguished Tatum from other musicians.  What a wonderful message for kids, to turn a dis-ability into a different ability. Parker’s moody illustrations and his succinct poetic text complement the story’s subject matter.

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