Love to Read? Share It With Kids on March 2: Read Across America

I’m on a big screen.

Full Circle Circle Time

Opportunity: Read to students as part of  LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day.

Problem: How to engage kids over Skype?

Solution: Check in with middle-grade author Darlene Beck-Johnson who shared tips from her own Skype visits.

Full Circle: Being interviewed by Marilyn Ostermiller for an article in honor of Read Across America to be posted on Darlene’s blog, GOLD FROM THE DUST: Bringing Stories to Life!

Thanks, Marilyn and Darlene!

“When people make the time to read with children, children get the message that reading is important.” NEA

Students, parents, teachers and people from many walks of life, will read to children March 2,  in recognition of “National Read Across America Day,” a program the National Education Association established 20 some years ago. 

Athletes and actors will issue reading challenges to young readers. Governors and other elected officials will recognize the role of reading with proclamations.

Naomi Gruer, a children’s writer and preschool teacher, participated in a remote event,   “World Read Aloud Day,” a few years ago.

“Reading to kids made me so happy because, in that moment, we explored the world inside the story together.”

To prepare the children for the online experience, Naomi asked them to listen for certain things as she read — a funny incident or a silly outcome or a character acting in a peculiar way. “The minute I was on Skype with the kids, everything else melted away. It was as if I was in the classroom with them,” she said.

Later, as a Microsoft Guest Educator, she was asked by several educators to read to their students. One request came from a teacher in Spain, who wanted English to be read to her classroom.

Naomi applied the same format to all her remote classroom sessions: an introduction, followed by reading (either chapters or picture books depending on the age of the students.)

“They listened actively and were ready to point out and discuss the humor. Introducing students to my dog was the ultimate ice breaker.” Naomi blogs at

What You Can Do:

There are many free and low cost ways to provide children with books in print, online, audio and video formats. For example, the “We Need Diverse Books” program provides free diverse books to schools serving low-income students around the country.

To learn more:


How to help kids develop the reading habit:

Keep books everywhere you spend time. Put them in the car, in every room of the house and tuck them in backpacks and purses.

Visit the library often. Knowing how to use the library and learning the benefits of a library fosters a love of reading as well as a genuine respect for the services libraries provide.

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist and voracious reader of  children’s books.

Ceramics: Two-Year Tea Set

Teaset glazed in nutmeg and slate.
I had no idea that a tea set project would take two years!

Wheel throwing a tea set was a challenging project for many reasons. Who knew that centering and opening a ball of clay that could fit in the palm of your hands would be so hard?! In my attempt to create tea cups, it looks weeks to get six, relatively similar sizes. Some were too thin and some were too lopsided–so many throw-aways!

Then there was the teapot itself. This proved so challenging that almost all of us students needed hands-on help from our instructor (Shout out to Beatrice!) She patiently taught us how to form a vessel and spout, a lid and, much harder than it looks, a handle.

After the tea cups and tea pot were made, what about a tray? My first attempt cracked in the kiln, and that’s where the project stalled. I didn’t want to glaze the pieces until I’d made them all so, discouraged, I put the them away. I waited and waited until I was ready to hand-build another tray. Two years later, this summer, I did.

The tea pot set saga is a metaphor for my writing, though working through the disappointments and successes of pottery feels completely different. In Ceramics, I’m more interested in the process than the product. When working on a manuscript, I enjoy the process, but have a specific goal in mind–to bring my characters and stories to life.

Whereas, the clay ignites my imagination…my imagination ignites the stories.

Hon, happy creating and imagining and working and persevering.

Easy DIY Kids Activities: Paper Plate Crafts

Source: I Heart Craft Things

When I was an assistant pre-school teacher for the Transitional Two’s at HGEEC, the kids made lots of paper plate creations. I Heart Craft Things’ “Paper Plate Fluttering Butterfly Craft,” pictured above, would have gone great with the two, three and four year-old’s butterfly units.  Butterfly habitats were ordered, and the children watched caterpillars eat, form chrysalises, and transform into butterflies. Then they set them free.

Best kid quote: Upon seeing a butterfly open and close its wings, a two-year old girl said, “The butterfly is clapping!” How cute is that?!

Want 8 more imaginative paper plate crafts for kids?’s  Tiffany Jersey said,

If you’ve only used paper plates to simplify the clean-up process after a barbecue, prepare to discover a whole new world. Because they’re plentiful and inexpensive, paper plates make for a fantastic children’s craft supply. When it comes to paper plate crafts, the themes available are nearly endless, from animals and masks to flowers and holiday décor. We’ve rounded up eight creative paper plate craft ideas for kids (although you might find that the whole family wants to get in on the fun).

Note: In addition to scissors and paint or markers, many of the crafts require a few additional supplies. Always supervise little ones as needed.

Click here to find out how to create a paper plate Jellyfish, Fox, Puppy, Hedgehog, Pumpkin, Christmas Trees, Wings and Shaker. 

Happy creating, hon!

Skype-a-Thon with Second and Fourth Graders

California Connection

Sometimes a week is just a week, and sometimes you do something awesome like Skype with second and fourth graders at Stagg Street Elementary School in the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District)!

Shout out to Vickie Waite, ITF, Instructional Technology Initiative who reached out to me through Microsoft Educator. I read chapters from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and we discussed what makes the book fantasy. I read chapters from two The Terrible Two books by Jory John and Mac Barnett, and we discussed what makes the books humorous. The kids prepared questions, asking where I get story ideas, do I have a favorite manuscript, who is my favorite author, and what’s it like to be a writer? Then the kids met Lucy! Fun! 

According to Waite, our session was “timed for the Skype-a-Thon, which provided much-needed funding for impoverished countries calculated on the cumulative miles Skyped.”

The Microsoft Education site reported that 23,629,665 virtual miles were traveled!

“Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and guest speakers in 102 countries gathered over Skype and in 48 hours helped raise the funds needed to educate up to 35,000 children in need in WE Villages – supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal Quality Education.

It was amazing!”

Skype Hype

Acting out the action with kindergarteners.
Acting out the action with kindergarteners.

I’m interrupting the DIY graduation party posts to present…

Skype Hype

In February, I participated in LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day by visiting several local kindergartens. Check out Kindergarteners are Super to learn more about those school visits. Through Microsoft Educator, I connected with teachers in Pennsylvania and Canada and Skyped with their students. Not only did the kids actively listen to books or chapters, they met my adorable dog, Lucy. (Curious how adorable she is? Click here to see for yourself.)

I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but…


…if I don’t, who will?

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.27.54 AM

Guess what came in the mail?

A thank you note from 4th and 5th graders. Shout out to French teacher Madame Diaz who invited me to meet her students. She said, “Thanks for the card and the Skype session Naomi! I think you were by far their favourite Skype guest this year!”

That makes me so happy.

Another big shout out to librarian Ms. Killian. She took these pics and sent me an unexpected review, “On a scale of 1-10 your lesson received a resounding 10!!”


She also said, “We had a fantastic time hearing you read the story to us, listening to your experience as a writer, and we love your dog!”

Connect with Ms. Killian on Twitter @CoLIBRAtoRY.

Shout out, also, to middle grade author Darlene Beck-Jacobson who shared Skype tips and featured me on her blog.

Hon, thanks for indulging me. I hope there are many more school visits in my future.

I'm on a big screen.
I’m on a big screen.

Skyping with students.
Skyping with students.

Love this! Ms. Killian asked the students how much they liked the lesson and they gave me 10's. Wow!
Ms. Killian asked the students how much they liked the lesson and they gave me 10’s. Wow!

World Read Aloud Day


Call me a WRADvocate.

I love children’s books. I write children’s books. And you know how much I like a theme. (see recent post, Story Time in Sweet Sixteen)

What could be more me than weekly themes leading up to World Read Aloud Day, a worldwide celebration of reading? Just the thought of being involved makes me want to throw a party for my favorite children’s book characters and, for some reason, it makes me want to bake!

Reading to Kids

World Read Aloud Day calls attention to the pure joy and power of reading aloud, and connects the world as a community of readers. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 100 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters take action in their communities and on social media.

Weekly Themes

To mobilize for the big day, LitWorld introduces the 7 Strengths countdown to World Read Aloud Day. The 7 Strengths celebrate all of the ways that reading makes us resilient and ready to thrive in school, work and life. They are: Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope. Starting January 3rd, we will celebrate one strength per week until World Read Aloud Day is here!

Awesome Message

Read Aloud. Change the World.

9/11: Horror and Homework

Liberty State Park, NJ
Liberty State Park, NJ

Liberation Monument by Natan Rappaport
Liberation Monument by Natan Rappaport, Liberty State Park, NJ

My daughter came home with an assignment to interview a parent about 9/11.

Anyone not comfortable with the assignment could pass.  Lucky for me that, although the subject gives me a lump in my throat and makes my heart race, I didn’t have to pass.

I give my daughter’s middle school teacher credit for opening up a discussion on a touchy subject and allowing her to turn over in her mind what happened right here

in the city where her father worked,

where her aunt witnessed the horror as it happened,

where her sisters’ friend’s father was killed,

where her yoga teacher’s brother-in-law was killed,

where a neighbor’s husband was killed,

where longtime customers of the store her mother worked at shopped for funeral clothes,

and what the catalyst was that created a desire in her 7 year-old brother to join the Army,

when she was only 3 months old, new to the world, and her mother wondered how she would raise a baby with so much hatred in the world, and her mother worried that life as she knew it might never be the same.

Some of the teacher’s thought-provoking questions are:

1.  Why do you think the terrorists chose the World Trade Center?

2.  If it were up to you, would you have the towers rebuilt?

3.  Have the events that took place on 9/11 changed your life?  How so?

4.  During the months immediately following the attacks, a lot of people sported American flags on their cars, t-shirts and houses.  Why do you think that it takes an act of terrorism to bring a country together?  Why aren’t we united and patriotic like this all of the time?

I’d love to hear your answers to any or all of the questions.

Flag of Honor
Flag of Honor


My son and me at an ROTC dinner.
My son and me at an ROTC dinner.

Proud Dad and sister flank our Army cadet.
Proud Dad and sister flank our Army cadet.