Happy Halloween!

As you’ve probably noticed by now, Halloween is tomorrow, but Scholastic has been in the spooktacular spirit for quite some time.

Last week, our own Sara Sinek appeared on CBS’s The Early Show to show off some budget-friendly, DIY kid costumes from Scholastic Parent & Child. Our favorite costume? The iPhone and iPod duo, of course!

Speaking of iPhones, Scholastic Media has some seriously spooky apps to keep the scares coming all year long. Check out the Goosebumps PhotoShock and ISPY Spooky Mansion – creepy!

And just in time for Halloween, we have the winners of our spine-tingling Goosebumps giveaway! We asked you to tell us what you (or your kids) are dressing up as for Halloween this year, and these two lucky winners (as picked by Random.org) have each won a copy of Goosebumps, signed by master of fear R.L. Stine:

goalmom (#4) My son has decided to be a Ninja this year. We bought his costume about 3 weeks ago and he’s anxiously counting down the days until he can wear it. As for me, I bought a really cool Victorian widow’s bonnet that I can’t wait to wear. I’m almost as excited as my son.

Bill
(#18) My kids are big teens — but Halloween happily coincides with their Sugoicon anime convention, so they have a double excuse to play dress-up. We’ve got a pirate and a ninja — two anime staples.

Congrats to our winners, and thanks to everyone who entered. Happy trick-or-treating!

Previously On Our Minds:

* Got Goosebumps?
* Get Goosebumps all month long!
* YA gives me goosebumps (the good kind)

Arts ‘n the Department of Education

Though the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers has just launched the 2010 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, there’s another annual tradition that is just so cool.

Every fall, Award-winning art is hung in the lobby of the Department of Education in Washington. And I like to think that every day, policy makers who see the art will think for a moment about the importance of arts in education. (Too Pollyanna-ish? Nah!)

The 2009 Awards exhibition ribbon-cutting ceremony took place earlier this week. Joining some of the young artists were — from right to left in the pic — Rachel Goslins (executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities), Kalpen Modi (actor turned associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement), and Tony Award winner Stew!

If you have the next Andy Warhol or Joyce Carol Oates in your midst, tell him or her to enter!

Home from School? Keep Learning!

As flu season arrives with a vengeance, parents and schools across the country are thinking about how to keep kids learning while they’re home…due to either sickness or school closings.

Being sick is no fun…but learning while home from school can be! Francie Alexander, our Chief Academic Officer, offers these tips for keeping kids learning even while they’re under the covers.

1. Curl up with a good book: Both for comfort and to keep learning. Your child will be getting smarter while getting better.

2. Listen to an audiobook: Too sick to read alone? With an audiobook, kids are still gaining vocabulary and comprehension skills

3. Look for learning-themed children’s TV programs: Great shows on PBS like WordGirl or The Electric Company – or Clifford for the little ones!

4. Play games: Word games and crossword puzzles are fun ways to get reading practice. Visual puzzles help younger kids with problem solving and spatial relationships.

Back in August, Scholastic and several other companies began working with the US DOE to help schools keep kids learning during flu outbreaks and closings that might occur from H1N1/Swine Flu outbreaks. As part of that work, we developed Stay Smart! a free online website includes twenty days of reading, writing and math activities (from the archives of Scholastic.com, Scholastic News and Scholastic Teaching Resources) to keep kids in grades K-8 reading and learning in case of flu-related school closings.

As part of the program, we’re also offering schools, parents and kids free access to high end digital programs that are normally only available through schools and libraries, including BookFlix for kids in K-3, which pairs classic video storybooks from Weston Woods with related nonfiction eBooks from Scholastic, and ExpertSpace, a new digital curriculum for kids in grades 4 and up that combines reference materials and multimedia resources for an incredible research experience.

But during school closings, it’s the students who struggle most who are most at risk of falling behind. To that end, the Scholastic Education team has prepared 20 days of special READ 180 and System 44 activities for Stay Smart! to help kids in the program keep up with their work. It’s all free and accessible on the web from anywhere in the world at Stay Smart!.

So, the next time kids in your life are home from school and looking for something to do…try Stay Smart!


Previously On Our Minds:

* WordGirl becomes even cooler
* Smart Girls at the Party
* Comics, Memory Lane Edition

Got Goosebumps?

“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

…sorry ’bout that — I’m still just a little spooked after today’s “Get Goosebumps” webcast taped here in the Scholastic auditorium.

R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series, never fails to tell scary stories in just the right way to capture kids’ imaginations — and adults’ too! In case you’re not among the estimated 150,000 (!!) people who caught it live, you can watch the replay of the webcast yourself online (we’ll also embed the video at the bottom of this post).

Since we OOM bloggers don’t go anywhere without our Flip camera, we managed to get 5 minutes with R.L. Stine before the webcast started and tried to trip him up by asking what books he recommends for a few laughs. You’ll see he stays on message well!

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYGq9m8C%5D

As a special treat, we managed to get two signed copies of Goosebumps Horrorland — and we’re going to give them to two of you!

Just leave a comment and tell us what you or your son or daughter will be dressing up as for Halloween and we’ll pick two lucky winners on Friday!

NEWS: Regarding Lauren Myracle’s Luv Ya Bunches

The following is an update on Luv Ya Bunches and Scholastic Book Fairs:

Scholastic does not censor books. We review thousands of titles each year for our book clubs and book fairs, and we are committed to a review process that considers all books equally regardless of their inclusion of LGBT characters and same sex parents. In an interview with School Library Journal, Scholastic stated that we are currently carrying Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle in our school book clubs. We also said we were still reviewing the book for possible inclusion in our book fairs. Having completed our review of Luv Ya Bunches, Scholastic Book Fairs will carry the title in our spring fairs for middle school.

Scholastic is proud of our long history of providing books that will appeal to the wide range of interests and reading abilities of children in the many diverse cultures and communities we serve. Luv Ya Bunches is just one example.

UPDATE on Lauren Myracle’s Luv Ya Bunches

The following is an update to our earlier statement on Luv Ya Bunches:

Scholastic is giving tremendous support to Luv Ya Bunches. In fact, our editors believe in this book so much that it is featured prominently on both the student and teacher covers of our December 2009 Arrow Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs which are already printed and are in schools right now. On October 16 we also recorded a Book Talk Editors’ Choice Video which features Luv Ya Bunches (below!).

The prominent promotion of Luv Ya Bunches in Scholastic’s Arrow December catalog, which has been distributed to 3.7 million students, affirms that the company is in complete support of this book.

Scholastic editors recognize Milla’s two moms as a positive and realistic aspect of the story. We offer other books with same sex couples and gay and lesbian characters in Book Clubs and Book Fairs including The Name of This Book is Secret, the upcoming After Tupac and D Foster, The Misfits, and others. Scholastic seeks to provide books that will appeal to a wide range of interests and reading abilities of children living in the many diverse cultures and communities we serve. Luv Ya Bunches helps us fulfill our mission to do that.

Scholastic is proud of its support for Luv Ya Bunches through its classroom Book Clubs. As we’ve said previously, Scholastic Book Fairs is working on firming up their Spring list and is considering Luv Ya Bunches.

Scholastic is very proud of its long history of helping children learn to love to read. We look forward to continuing to bring the best in children’s literature to communities across the country and around the world as Scholastic has done for nearly 90 years.

Video contest for teens (Upfront, Part 2)

There’s so much going on with The New York Times UPFRONT that it can’t be contained in just one post!

It’s UPFRONT’s 10th anniversary this year, and they’re celebrating with a video contest. They’re inviting all junior high and high school students (age 13 or older) to make a video presenting the top ten news stories of 2009.

Do you know (or are you) the next Ken Burns or Katie Couric? Give it a shot! You can get all the details on UPFRONT’s home page.

Good luck, Kens and Katies!