Archive for the ‘literacy’ Category

A Taste for Adventure and Mystery: Meet Reader-of-the-Month Claire Charvet!

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
Claire Charvet loves mysteries and historical fiction.

5th-Grader Claire Charvet loves mysteries and historical fiction.

If, like me, you’re feeling just a teensy bit weary of February’s glowering gray skies and biting winds, you might need something to look forward to at this time of year. Good news! Ms. Claire Charvet, our wonderful new “reader-of-the-month,” is a brilliant fifth grader with an infectiously sunny outlook and some fantastic reading suggestions to share with you. So curl up on the couch and let’s pretend we’re all gathered around a crackling fireplace wearing our coziest slippers and bathrobes. We have no thoughts of unfinished book reports, looming math quizzes, or Valentine’s Day angst: we have only our stack of lovely books recommended by an adventure-seeker, world traveler, and book-lover after my own heart – Claire Charvet!

GILDA: Can you describe yourself as a reader? What makes you really love a book?

CLAIRE: I read everything that I can get my hands on and I read at all times possible. Lately, I’ve liked spooky novels and historical fiction.  I like a book that has a lot of depth to it and a good plot, and I like it when there are kids around my age as characters. I have read all of the Gilda Joyce books – multiple times – and also listened to them on tape!

GILDA: Do you have a favorite book in the Gilda Joyce series?

CLAIRE:  I love them all but I think my favorite one is The Ghost Sonata. I love that it takes place in England, because I love to travel…. Last summer, my family and I traveled through France and Iceland together. I also think that Wendy Choy is my favorite character in the series; she’s so musical. I also like that the plot of The Ghost Sonata is unique; I like that it’s different all the other books I’ve read.

GILDA: What have you read lately that you’d like to recommend to fellow Gilda Joyce fans?

CLAIRE: Definitely! My current recommendations are: Wonder by R. J. Palacio, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle, The Fourth Stall by Christopher Rylander, and Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. I’m also a big fan of graphic novels like The Golden Twine: Cat’s Cradle by Jo Rioux, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, and The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. And of course I’m waiting for the next Gilda Joyce!!!

GILDA: You and me both, Claire! Some outstanding reading suggestions, indeed! And what else do you do for fun besides reading?

CLAIRE: When I’m not reading, I play piano and clarinet, swim, play basketball, and dance (Irish, ballet and modern).  My favorite subjects are language and literature, social studies, and art.

GILDA: Thank you, Claire, for inspiring us with your love of travel, adventure, and great books!

Gilda Joyce: Children’s Union Rep.!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Gilda Joyce is a self-appointed "Children's Union" representative.

If you follow the news, you’re probably aware that the public school teachers in one of my favorite cities recently went on strike. And since the children of the fine city of Chicago (and let’s face it, the entire nation) are sorely lacking their own union representative, I am happy to volunteer my services as Gilda Joyce: Children’s Union Representative.

I put forward an important item of the Children’s Union of America position as follows:

First, let up with so many standardized tests already. I guess we agree with the teachers on that one.

Thank you. Now that you don’t have to funnel so much cash into the educational testing company pipeline, you might be able to rehire the school librarian who got laid off (assuming she was the sort of librarian who teaches actual research skills and connects readers with books, and not the type who just notices kids when they’re talking too loud or chewing gum while keeping the really good books locked up in her own private stash). Look, I’m not naming names, but you ladies know who you are. We at the Children’s Union do not believe that seniority necessarily implies expertise, although they certainly can go hand-in-hand.

People who argue for slashing public school district budgets might not be aware that principals across the nation have to choose between keeping the new kindergarten teacher, stuffing more than thirty little kids into a classroom, or letting the school librarian go. Guess who often gets the axe? That’s right, the librarian.

Now, while you’re rehiring that librarian, how about getting some actual books back into the school? Yes, we know there will be iPads for every kid in our school “very soon,” and that a room filled with books about science and history and art and yes, even picture books is just so passé. But just try giving the average kindergartener an iPad and see how long it takes before it gets broken. Just watch the average teenager give up on researching a topic for her paper when the evidence she needs can’t be found in the first ten hits of a Google search. That’s where that “old-fashioned,” school librarian comes in – to teach kids how to explore their personal interests in books and how to actually tell the difference between a blog written by an eleven year old and an article in the New York Times.

In the humble opinion of this Children’s Union Representative, the average American has no clue that the school librarian is becoming an endangered species these days – at exactly the time he or she is most needed to prepare kids to navigate the so-called “information age.”

And in case you think that a weekly opportunity to check out a book from the school library is a frivolous, “extracurricular” activity, consider conclusions of recent research linking access to books and reading for enjoyment with educational success regardless of socio-economic status.

Look, I’ve had a few great teachers and more than my share of so-so teachers. Luckily, I’ve always had my stack of favorite books to keep me reading and thinking even during the most pointless school days.

Lots of kids aren’t so lucky. We at the Children’s Union support our teachers, but we know that we’ll never guarantee that they will all be great. Let’s at least keep those books and librarians around, so that kids like me have a chance to find their own way to the books that are sometimes our best teachers.

–Gilda Joyce: Children’s Union Rep.