Recording for Reading is Fundamental

Hi everyone,

This morning I’m going to Pittman Elementary School to make a video reading CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS for Reading Is Fundamental. If you’re unfamiliar with RIF, it’s a national organization more than half a century old. This is from it website:

“RIF creates needs-based content and targeted programs that align key literacy issues with proactive and measurable solutions. Our efforts begin with books and continue with resources, activities, and professional development for educators, parents, and literacy volunteers to ensure that reading turns into a journey of opportunity for all children.

“For over 50 years, RIF has built a legacy grounded on the basis that all children have the right to learn to read. In partnership with volunteers, companies, and community organizations, RIF has distributed more than 420 million books and resources and has impacted the lives of 72 million children nationwide.”

I’m thrilled to be doing SOMETHING for kids again after this long year of one cancellation after another. I’ve worked a few times in the past with our local RIF so it will be good to be with them again. I’m also happy the chosen site for this recording is Pittman because I have a history there too. Our lifelong friend, Maryann Wakefield, served as principal there. I wrote an activity story about their school mascot, Oliver the Rat, and in 2005 I wrote a book for a new series of Random House books called MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB, A WRITE-IN READER, inspired by the teachers at Pittman. I named the school in the book Pittman. The series was subtitled Reading and Writing on Your Own, and I was asked to write the letter to parents explaining the purpose of series that appeared on the inside cover of every book in the series.

School visit day

Hi everyone,

Today I’m going to see the kids at Holland Elementary School in Springfield. Principal there is Gary Tew whom I’ve known for years. When I was researching for a Step Into Reading book, MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB! that came out in 2005, Gary was at Pittman Elementary School where my friend Maryann Wakefield had been principal before that.
When Random House asked me to do the book, it was for a new series called “Write-in-Readers,” meaning that authors would need to leave spots throughout the telling for young readers to add to the story with their own words and pictures. Also by request I wrote the inside page of introduction, called “Dear Parent,” that went in all the books in the series.

I went to Pittman Elementary to interview several people about their jobs so that my Super Subb would have the right information. Among those who let me interview them were the custodian, the librarian (Mrs. Lairimore), the nurse (Mrs. Teeling), the head cook (Mrs. Farmer), and, of course, Mr. Tew. I enjoyed the day at Pittman and loved writing the book.

So here we are eleven years later and Gary has invited me to Holland. I’ll take along a copy of Miss Grubb to show the kids that their principal is a famous man with his name in a book!

More from Super Sub!


Hi everyone,

I told you on Wednesday that I’d heard from my friend Susan Hutchens, who has been subbing in a third grade class this week at Kruse Elementary in Ft. Collins, Colorado. When Susan read one of my books to the students – MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB! the kids were interested in some of Miss Grubb’s activities, such as going outside with “Magic Bags” to gather the wondrous things to be found there. Susan decided to try that activity with her young charges and I asked the class to share with me some of what they gathered. Who knew that I would also harvest a bumper crop of jokes!

With full permission from Susan and her students, here are some selected results. My thanks to Miss Grubb for thinking of the whole thing! The rest of the report comes in Susan’s words.

“The 3rd grade students have had fun “collecting” things to put into their Magic Bags today! (I gave them little bags with some pieces of bright “magic” paper to write their thoughts on!)

My “magic bags” were actually some paper sandwich bags I’d picked up somewhere – very flat and about 6×8 inches in size. I wrote each child’s name with a permanent marker at the bottom of a bag, and also stuck on a red smiley-face sticker. (Extra points for me because they happened to be smelly stickers too! Ha!)

I cut 8 1/2 by 11 colored paper into four pieces per sheet, and put three different colors of paper into each magic bag.

When the kids came in this morning, I handed each of them their bag, and explained (again) that they weren’t going to put anything “real” into the bags, but thoughts and feelings, memories or smells, etc. They kept the bags out on their desks all day, and had permission to write quickly on their colored paper if they needed to write down something for their “collection.”

It was pretty neat to hear what they’d written, and I teared up when one little girl told me that she put ME into her magic bag! How humbling (and wonderful!) to know that I earned a special place in her magic bag!

The kids are anxious to look for more things to add to their “collections” tomorrow!

Okay – I do have to admit this, though… young man made a puppet out of his magic bag! I guess he wasn’t as thrilled with the activity as the others! ha!

Here is a partial list of what the kids collected today:

-the book, The Big Friendly Giant (the class has been reading this book)
-my family
-my cruise ship boat replica
-the book, The Sea of Monsters
-the library
-the taste of a lollipop
-The Big Friendly Giant
-Mrs. Hutchens
-The Big Friendly Giant
-the wetness in the air
-basketball at recess
-I helped a classmate with a bully
-my friends
-played “get the ball” at recess
-Manar’s hot dog stand
-mixing sand and grass
-playing games with my friends at recess
-working on Manar’s hot dog stand with my friends
-making a hot dog stand with my friends
-playing with my friends
-seeing a cute puppy dog
-last minute goal in soccer
-found out Mrs. Hutchens is 51, and she looks like she’s 30! (I did NOT pay the kid to say this! LOL!)

Joke from Josh:
My little pony stepped on a bunny fell on her face and broke her tummy.

Joke from Kaitlyn:
Knock knock.
who’s there?
Big Friendly Giant
Big Friendly Giant who?
Bit Friendly Giant I’m gonna eat you!

Joke from Emma:
How do you spell it?

Joke from Bethany:
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Charlotte of mosquitoes out tonight!

Joke from Samantha:
Roses are red, violets are blue
You’re a good author, she’s your friend too.

Joke from Henry:
Knock knock
Who’s there?
Boo who?
Why are you crying? I did nothing!

Feel free to share!! I’d love to know that these kiddos inspired other teachers/people/kids to use Magic Bags! These kids really liked the idea of having some bright slips of paper inside the bags to write down the things they “collected.” I think it helped them to remember! (I only let them tell me one thing each when I sent the email to you. Otherwise, it would have been really long!)”

To Super Sub, Susan Hutchens, and to all of your great kids, I thank you for sharing with us on my blog. Go Cougars!

If other teachers decide to try the same exercise, I hope you’ll share your results too!