Spooky Reading All Year Long!

While attending Toy Fair this year, I had a realization…KIDS LIKE SPOOKY! I’m not talking about Halloween Spooky. I am also not talking about gory. I mean year-round, monsters sitting in the next desk over, nice but still a little bit scary – spooky.

Let me rewind…at Toy Fair, we get to see the newest and best products out there so my trip to the Mattel showroom promised glimpses of Hot Wheels and Barbie. They certainly didn’t disappoint as I passed an enormous pink display with Barbies of every sort. But then I turned the corner and met Barbie’s freaky and fab counterpart, Monster High. The pink was replaced with black and purples. The flowing blonde hair was interlaced with neon pink AND a pair of horns. There wasn’t a dreamhouse to be found. There were, however, lots of people checking it out!

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Happy Leap Day!

Today is February 29, and you don’t get the chance to say that too often!

Because it’s a day that only comes around once every four years, I feel like it gives us permission to do something a little whimsical…a little…I don’t know…numeric. Yep, I’m talking about math. Check out these math and science activities for Leap Day that are perfect for kids.

Of course, Leap Day is also a great time to read about frogs and toads. (You know, because they leap? Ha!) Start with this “All About Frogs” lesson plan, then check out this example of a see-through frog, which is kind of gross but also really amazing in a cool, sciency way. And if the kids think that’s neat, they’ll definitely be interested in this story about the bones of a bowling-ball-sized frog found in Madagascar. Whoa!

And since we think kids — and everyone — should read every day (in fact, it’s our global literacy campaign), why not settle in with a great book on this special day? Here are some of our recommendations:

And finally, if you want some history into the origins of Leap Day, check out Wikipedia’s page. It includes a list of writers born on a Leap Day!

How are you celebrating this once-every-four-years day?

Girls, high school, secrets: An exciting interview with author Erin Saldin

Courtesy of Lindsey Jane Gardner

Today we have a very special OOM interview with debut author Erin Saldin. 

Author of the YA novel The Girls of No Return, Erin Saldin went on her first backpacking trip in central Idaho at age fourteen. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Best New American Voices series, as well as multiple literary magazines. She teaches creative writing and honors courses at the University of Montana-Missoula.

The Girls of No Return, published this month by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, is her first novel and has already received two starred reviews: Kirkus Reviews called The Girls of No Return, “[R]ichly rewarding” and “[A] smashing debut.” And Booklist raved, “So much more than a typical problem novel, this psychological mind-bender is raw, gripping, and deftly rolled out by a writer-to-watch.”

Erin joins OOM today with an exclusive interview!

The Girls of No Return takes place at a school for troubled girls—are any of the characters based on you? Where did you draw inspiration from?

None of the characters are based on me, though I wish I could say I’m as tough as Boone! But, I’ve always been fascinated with the friendships that girls in particular form—especially in high school—and the way that, at a time when we’re still trying to figure out who we are and how we want to define ourselves, the line between ourselves and our friends can blur, and it can be hard to distinguish between our own and our friends’ motivations and desires.

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Is your family the Family of the Year?

Do you know a family who loves spending time together while giving back to their community? Maybe they volunteer together, spend their weekends cleaning up the local park, or have organized a huge clothing drive. Or maybe that family is yours!

Scholastic Parent & Child magazine is accepting entries until March 15th for the 2012 Family of the Year. You can either nominate your own family, or a family in your community who you think fits the criteria. The winning family will receive a $20,000 savings bond and a trip to New York City, as well as a feature article and cover of Scholastic Parent & Child.

To find out more about the contest and to nominate a family, visit www.scholastic.com/familyoftheyear!

When Oscar met Hugo…

You’ll officially meet her soon, but until then please welcome Megan Kaesshaefer, our new Digital Communications Producer! She wanted to tell you a bit about what happened at last night’s Academy Awards. Thanks, Megan!

The Academy Awards historically features the brightest stars of the film industry vying for the highly sought after Oscar, but last night at the 84th annul fete, it was all about Hugo.

“Hugo,” directed by Martin Scorsese and based off our own critically-acclaimed The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Caldecott winner Brian Selznick, took home five of the coveted golden statues. The 2011 film scored Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. Author Brian Selznick was in attendance, and even made a red carpet appearance.

Here’s the break down of award recipients for Hugo:

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Reading rights belong to all children

Today, we welcome a special post from Pam Allyn, a Scholastic author and literacy expert and advocate, and the founder of LitWorld. Her beautiful words below are a reminder to us all of the importance of reading — and, in particular, of reading aloud to young people. World Read Aloud Day is March 7, 2012 — and you can join in. Find out how below. 

I have had the great pleasure of reading to children all over the world, and everywhere and always children’s responses to the power of a great book read aloud are profound. Children who have suffered immense hardship burst into peals of joyous laughter listening to Clifford the Big Red Dog, grip my hand tight when we come to the intense moments with Snape in Harry Potter, beam with delight when Mrs. Frizzle pops on the scene. In their open faces I see so much potential; the potential for happiness, for hope, for the sunshine in a world with lots of laughter. It is nothing short of a miracle to see how the magic of a great book can open the door for a child to envision her future in a new way. By sharing our love of reading with a child, we are able to pass on a most sacred and valuable asset for leading a full and happy life.

There has never been a more urgent time than now for Scholastic’s “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.” campaign. In The Reading Bill of Rights, Richard Robinson, the CEO of Scholastic and a great literacy advocate and leader and personal hero of mine, affirms that “reading has never been more important, for we know that for young people the ability to read is the door opener to the 21st century: to hold a job, to understand their world, and to know themselves.” Reading rights are rights that belong to all children, to all people. And research has shown that the power of reading aloud to a child is immense, significant and life changing. When an adult reads aloud to a child, both can experience the joy of literacy together. The child can clearly see and model his life upon the impact of a reading role model. The child can listen to and absorb language at much higher levels than he can when navigating print on his own. He is “accompanied” in his learning literacy journey by a caring adult.

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The Essentials: Animal Characters

There are books; and then there are the Essentials.  Those are the books that typify their genre.  Librarians, and book lovers alike, all have their opinions.  Invariably someone will ask: “If I was going to read one [insert a genre of book here] book, which should it be?”  Here at OOM, we decided to attempt to answer that question. 

When I finished reading War Horse, I started to think about other books where animals are a central character. There are so many classics and newer books  where animals play an important role, including Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole and Wolves of Beyond series, Babar, Charlotte’s Web, Winnie the Pooh, and The Chronicles of Narnia. And of course, we have our favorite big red dog – Clifford!

Here are our answers to the question “If I was going to read one book with an animals as a central character, which one should it be?”

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