Help us make a better bedtime for 20,000 kids in need!

I feel a little tug at the heartstring every time I’m reminded of Genevieve Piturro’s story:

It’s about the time years ago when she brought pairs of pajamas to some children in Harlem who had no father and whose mothers were in prison. The story goes that a child asked what these soft clothes were for — and after Genevieve said they were for sleeping in, she learned that many of these children slept in their clothes every night and had never had the experiece of being tucked in, read to, and kissed goodnight.

That’s why she started the Pajama Program (one of the coolest charities around, IMHO…).

And that’s why Scholastic Book Clubs is holding The Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive this holiday season.

We’re asking students (and their teachers and parents!) to mail us new pairs of pajamas and we’ll match each pair with a book and send them to the Pajama Program. Our goals is to gather 20,000 pairs of PJs in the next two weeks and send 20,000 books!

Can you help us spread the word?

Previously On Our Minds:

What we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving

At On Our Minds we’re a lucky bunch so we have a lot to be thankful for, and what better way to say thanks than to share it on OOM? Happy Thanksgiving to all our fans, followers and readers (who we are all thankful for)! We’ll see you on Monday.

Amanda: I’m thankful for corn chowder…the opportunity to visit my family and (maybe) see some snow…and that someone other than Roger Federer won the US Open

Ivy: I’m thankful for my family, friends and co-workers, and my boyfriend who reads all of my OOM posts…and for Larry Page and Sergey Brin co-founders of Google. Remember our lives before Google?

Jen: I’m thankful for my parents who indulged my love of reading from an early age, for my husband who will listen to me recap numerous book plots (especially of the Hunger Games variety), and for Glee.

Miles (who created our super cool tabs on Scholastic’s Facebook fan page!): I’m thankful for my lovely wife and best friend. I’m thankful that it hasn’t snowed… yet. I’m thankful that we finally have a coffee maker at home (take that Starbucks!)

Morgan: Just this week, my grandmother learned that her fight against cancer has been successful, so I’m extra thankful for (and will always be in awe of) those in the medical profession who dedicate their lives to saving others’.

Sara: I am thankful for my little girl, who is celebrating her first Thanksgiving!

Sarah: I’m thankful for such a great group of people to work with…for a dog who likes to cuddle…and for pecan pie.

Flickr photo by turtlemom4bacon

Previously On Our Minds:

* 5 Questions with Ede Roberts: Scholastic Executive Chef
* The Best Teen Writing of 2009 is here!
* What does it mean to be an American?

5 Questions with Ede Roberts: Scholastic Executive Chef

Before you open that fifth can of cranberry sauce, decide that the 18-lb turkey isn’t big enough, or put on your stretchy-pants for dinner…take a look at this week’s 5 Questions interview with Scholastic’s Executive Chef, Ede Roberts. She has some very good advice about cooking that Thanksgiving dinner ahead of you!

Ede has cooked many delicious dishes for Scholastic employees and she has created all types of menus for Scholastic Event Services catering. Take a look at the scrumptious menu here.

In a time when food consciousness is at an all time high, from the First Lady demonstrating healthy food and exercise habits to the Cookie Monster telling us veggies are good any time of the day – we asked Ede what she looks for when creating these menus and what she’s going to make for her family’s big feast on Thursday evening.

To Ede: We hope your daughter has a wonderful first Thanksgiving 🙂
From: the OOM team

Previously On Our Minds:

* 5 Questions with Nick Friedman: Parent and Child Magazine
* American Indian Heritage Month
* What does it mean to be an American?

The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You Giveaway Winners!

Wow, you mortals are lovelorn. Last week, our resident vampire Vlad Mezrich dropped by to give us some advice on dating – and keeping – a vampire. We offered OOM readers a chance to win a copy of Vlad’s new book, The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You, and you guys poured your hearts out in the comments.

Congratulations to our winners Samus, mommaruth, and Lazygal! And don’t worry, Vlad is here to help with your vampire troubles:

Dear Vlad,
If I shove garlic in a vampire’s face and nothing happens, is he still a vampire? Or is the garlic thing all a myth? – Samus

Dear Samus,

Excellent question! The undead try to avoid garlic as it overpowers the scent of human blood, but it’s perfectly harmless. However, the “garlic test” is the most accurate way to determine whether or not the vampire is into you.

To gauge his interest, “accidentally” wave a clove of garlic in front of your vampire and then apologize for your “mishap.” If he’s into you, he’ll respond with something along the lines of: “Never fear, my lovely mortal darling. I’m sure it was an accident. I know humans have difficulty controlling those flimsy mass of ligaments you call arms. Oh, how I worship your spastic wrist movements, my adorably fragile love.”

On the other hand, if he screams “NOOOOooo!!! It’s poison. We die instantly. Um, I mean, we die soon . . . Er . . . I can never see you again. Vampire rule. No, I swear. Google it . . . see ya!” then, chances are, the vampire is just not that into you.

Dear Vlad,
Why blood? Why not drink soda or something? Why does a vampire have to be so obsessed with the red stuff, huh? Thanks! – mommaruth

Soda?! Oh mommaruth, how I pity your kind’s feeble taste buds. Why would you adulterate your palate with a can of cherry flavored carcinogens when there’s a wealth of flavors to savor? Imagine the delight of a pint of full-bodied A– blood, with its subtle woodiness and surprising notes of cinnamon.

Or you might prefer a sip of B+ —delicate and lingering with notes of vanilla and jasmine. (High glucose levels really bring out the flavor, so be sure your “server” nibbles on some chocolate beforehand.)

Feeling adventurous? Grab a glass of glass O -, bold and acidic with undercurrents of licorice. Connoisseurs know that O- tastes best when the blood is slightly chilled, so embrace the local food movement and head to a nearby ice skating rink at dusk when the skaters begin to tire. Reaction times will be slower, and their scarves will have begun to loosen . . .

Dear Vlad,
I’m in love with a night owl: he comes alive after the sun goes down. Me? I’m more of a day person. Do we stand a chance? – Lazygal

You’re a clever young lady, Lazygal. Most vampire groupies have unrealistic fantasies of romantic walks through moonlit forests, or midnight poetry readings by candlelight. The truth is, no matter how much you pretend to like Tennyson, by the time your vampire reaches the 93rd canto of In Memoriam, you’ll be passed out, drooling all over his exquisitely tailored shirt and muttering unintelligibly about chemistry homework. Lovely. . .

You could experiment with increasing levels of caffeine. Here are some general guidelines for the number of espresso shots needed for common nighttime activities with your vampire:

Movie night = 1 shot
Poetry reading = 3 shots
Poetry reading (pre 20th century poet) = 4 shots
Talking about how handsome he is = 4 shots
Talking about how you’re not good enough for him = 5 shots
Vampire baseball = 6 shots

Of course, you have to decide if the caffeine consumption is worth the long term health risks. After all, a vampire’s affections can be fleeting. A heart murmur is forever.

Previously On Our Minds:

* The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You: Q&A and Giveaway!
* YA News Flash: Linger Cover and Excerpt Released
* Kicking Off a Month of Writing, PLUS: 5 Questions with Lisa Ann Sandell

Best Teen Writing of 2009 is here!

There’s a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition at Scholastic that dates back many years. Seventy-seven years ago, the company’s founder Maurice “Robbie” Robinson held a dinner for about 15 colleagues who were at the National Council Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention and unable to join their families for Thanksgiving (back then the convention was held during the holiday).

Since then, the NCTE convention has been moved to the week before Thanksgiving, and the intimate dinner has grown into the “M.R. Robinson Reception and Dinner,” with more than 700 guests.

The event gave Robbie — and now his son and Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson — a chance to show his appreciation and yes, thanks, to teachers for the valuable work that they do. Many teachers say it’s the highlight of the annual weekend!

As part of the tradition, every teacher at the dinner gets to take home a gift bag, which includes a copy of the year’s Best Teen Writing, a collection of work by the country’s emerging teen writers. NCTE teachers look forward to the book too.

All of the pieces in the anthology received a 2009 Scholastic Art & Writing Award, and this year the foreword was written by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

You’re of course welcome to buy the book…or you can try your luck with our Best Teen Writing giveaway! OOM is giving away copies of The Best Teen Writing of 2009 for three readers!* To enter, leave a comment below about something you’re thankful for (and don’t forget your email so we can contact you if your comment is randomly selected to win). We’ll announce the winners here on Monday, November 30th.

*Must be 18 or over to enter. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. View official rules here.

UPDATE: We have our three lucky winners (drumroll please) congrats to Rachel Stark, Renee and Jessica!

The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You: Q&A and Giveaway!

Let’s face it – sometimes, love bites. Especially when you’re dating a vampire. Between all the brooding, sparkly skin, and glances at your neck, these undead hotties can be tough to read. But fear not mortals, because dating expert and real-dead vampire Vlad Mezrich is here to provide you with a road map to navigating the twisty road to immortal love in his new book The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You. Through quizzes, testamonials, analysis, and advice, Vlad shows you how to snag your vampire and keep him forever.

And since we’re on the cusp of a New Moon, we asked Vlad to answer some questions from his inbox:

Dear Vlad,
The vampire I went out with yesterday counted things and laughed maniacally through the entire date. At the end of the night, he announced, “This date was brought to you by the letters M and Q and the number 4.” Do you think he’ll call?
Not So Sunny Days

Dear Sunny,
You’ve been terribly deceived; your date wasn’t a vampire at all. We rarely laugh—the result of centuries of sleepless nights spent reading depressing poetry, contemplating the meaning of existence, and flipping through cable channels only to come across the same rerun of Two and a Half Men over and over.

If you want to find a real vampire, put away the spray tan, turn off the Miley, and get thee to a bookstore, preferably one with dark corners. Grab a copy of Keats’s collected works, slump sorrowfully against the wall, and pretend to read as you secretly scan the store for a real undead hottie. When you spot a promising prospect, lift your chin, flash some jugular, and release a mournful sigh. He’ll be putty in your world-weary hands.

Dear Vlad,
My brooding Biology lab partner’s skin sparkles in the sunlight. Can you recommend a good dermatologist?
Ella Prawn

A dermatologist? Would you take a pair of artfully ripped designer jeans to a seamstress to fix the holes? Would you try to remove the bubbles from a bottle of Dom Perignon? Oh, you poor, silly, human. Your lab partner’s skin sparkles because he is a vampire—vastly superior to your kind in beauty, intelligence, grooming, musical preferences, and the ability to communicate exclusively through eyebrow movements.

Is this news making your heart flutter? Too bad, because your chance has long passed. I’m sure the other girls in your class identified the vampire right away by his disdainful sneer and perfectly tousled hair. (Did you really think a human could achieve that “I spent all night in the forest composing a sonata inspired by the beauty of the moonlight reflecting off a frozen lake” look with hair gel? What do they teach you in this school?)

You missed your chance, Ella. But fret not. Even if you had managed to catch his attention for a moment, he would’ve lost interest in you soon after. They always do . . .

Dear Vlad,
I thought I was falling for a Vampire, but then I noticed the bolts in his neck. Add to that, he rarely uses his words, and I’m suspicious. How do you spot a wannabe Vampire?
Mary Shelly

Oh, Mary. How my unbeating heart aches when I receive letters like these. How can I break this to you gently? When a human boy loses interest, all he needs to do is ignore your texts, or upload photos of him making out with your best friend on Facebook. You’ll get the message. But, human girls are known to be a little . . . dense when it comes to relationships with vampires. The objects of their deluded affections are often forced to take slightly more drastic measures.

The bolts on the neck? That’s a classic trick – he’s trying to convince you that he’s not a vampire so you’ll leave him alone. Sorry, but that’s the way the castle crumbles. The vampire is just not that into you.

GIVEAWAY: OOM is giving away copies of The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You for three lucky lovelorn readers!* To enter, leave a question for Vlad below. We’ll announce the winners and Vlad will answer your questions here on Tuesday, November 24.

*Must be 18 or over to enter.

MATH Magazine uses Twilight to teach fractions

And why not? If Twilight can get kids to read, why can’t it help kids to understand the phases of the moon using fractions?

As Just Jared Jr. reports, Scholastic MATH magazine asked New Moon star (and fictional werewolf) Taylor Lautner if he knew about the eight different phases of the moon.

Lautner admitted: “Not really. The first time I really started paying attention to the moon was when I found out I’d be playing a werewolf!”

There’s more New Moon madness over on Ink Splot, THE book blog for tweens.

Previously On Our Minds:

* Simpsons Math
* MATH Magazine Editor takes on the Times
* Classroom Magazines round-up