New ads for new books

Hi everyone,

Here’s a new ad that Scholastic is running in ILA’s Literacy Today (October issue). This is for the paired titles that MARY JO FRESCH, TIM RASINSKI, and I worked on together. They came out in February and are off to an excellent start.

This second ad will be used in other spots. I’m eager to see both of these put to use.

News from the wheel

Hi everyone,

Yesterday went well. I worked on some slides for the video I’ll make soon with TIM RASINSKI. It’s for this fall’s California Reading State Conference. The event is virtual this year so our video, plus a companion video being created by our partners, MARY JO FRESCH and LAURA ROBB, will be available on command for those who register for the conference wherever they live.

ELAINA KERSEY, my editor for THERE ONCE WAS A BOY, is in the process of editing the script and I spent part of my time working on it too. Sometimes we were in real time, which was interesting and productive. I need to get back to that this morning. First item of business is to do a better job of explaining what I mean when I tell about the window air conditioning unit we had when I was six years old and we lived in Ajo, Arizona. It was a hot, desert town not far from Mexico and summer temperatures were usually 100+. To help cool our living room, we had a contraption that fit into the window with a reservoir for a cake of ice. A large fan behind it blew the ice-cooled air into the room. Ahhh. Heaven.

The third thing I worked on yesterday was my least successful effort. I’m writing poems for first grade level for a new book and have finished the first five. Number six started well but ended like I did, tired and tired of it. Maybe today I’ll find the problem and fix it. The week I was sick cost me dearly so I don’t have a lot of time for error.

A new beginning

Hi everyone,

I promised my writing partners on the book for Benchmark — LYNNE KULICH and TIM RASINSKI — that I would start working on my part (50 new poems, 10 each for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) by September 1. That’s this Thursday! Turns out I’m running ahead of schedule so I plan to get going on Tuesday.

Photo by Nate Papes

There’s always a nervous anticipation when approaching a new book. I’ve signed a contract. I’m obligated to produce the new material by a specified date. My partners, experts in their fields, will depend on me to provide what they need to do their own work. What they will write also takes thought, research, and time. They need appropriate lead time. If I don’t send them 3-5 poems every week from now until we reach the end, the project could fall seriously behind. Our completion due date is February 3.

My first consideration is, where to begin. Lynne and Tim have suggested some possible themes and I’ll add some of my own. Fifty poems is enough for four trade book collections. Do I pick a grade, 3rd for example, and stick with it until I’ve finished ten poems before moving on? Will that help Tim and Lynne more than if I skip around from grade to grade as ideas come to me? I’ll consult with them. I think I know the answer, stick with one grade at a time, but partnerships involved a lot of chatting back and forth to keep everyone involved and all points resolved as we go.

I’ll be busy for the next several months but not too busy to engage in other projects. Some weeks I’ll have a day or so to focus on other ideas. I’ll also take time out now and then for other matters — trips to Portland in September, the condo in October, Kansas City (The Writers Place), Anaheim (NCTE), a week on the California coast in November, plus things and places I don’t know about now. I do love being a writer.

Coming up in November

Hi everyone,

Mary Jo Fresch
Laura Robb
Tim Rasinski
David L. Harrison

Here’s the new flyer from the upcoming California State Reading conference. The four of us (MARY JO, LAURA, TIM, and I) have an article coming up in the CA Reader this fall but we had to split up into to make videos for the conference.

We are thrilled to announce that we have added Virtual Workshops to our
Connected with Literacy 2022 Conference. CRA is excited to bring a collection
of 20-30 minute prerecorded videos, featuring presenters ranging from
researchers, award winning children’s authors to teachers who will bring
hands-on practical strategies and ideas you can take back and use with your

Donald Bear, Darl Kiernan and Sarah Negrete … Advancing Emergent and Beginning
Readers – Activities to develop Concept of Word, Phonological Awareness and Early Reading.
Learn to establish a personal reader routine. Phonics and fluency for emergent and
beginning readers are discussed.

Carol Jago … The Role of Literature in Troubling Times
In this workshop participants will explore how imagination can be a tool of response and
resistance. We will reflect upon works that pose complex, compelling questions and learn
protocols for scaffolding such texts for classroom use. Carol will also introduce you to vibrant
new fiction and nonfiction titles sure to engage young readers.
Lori Oczkus … The Science of Reading Comprehension : Short and Sharp Mini Lessons
that Work! – When students look for C’s and Q’s (words to clarify and questions) as they read
they stay engaged and their comprehension dramatically improves. Lori Oczkus, author and
literacy consultant, will demonstrate her favorite “Go To” lessons that dramatically improve
comprehension using any text at any grade level! Join us for this lively session loaded with
ideas to use immediately!

David Harrison and Tim Raskinski … Why Poetry for Reading Instruction – Let us
Count the Ways! – Poetry for children is one of the least valued texts for teaching reading.
We will make the case that poetry offers such great potential for improving all aspects of
reading. Moreover, we argue that poetry is particularly beneficial for students who struggle
in reading.

Mary Jo Fresch and Laura Robb … Powerful Comprehension Tools: Three Reading
Strategies That Work – Fresch and Robb model and discuss how three strategies (visualizing,
comparing/contrasting, and inferring) engage and motivate K-8 students. The strategies trigger
students’ critical thinking for active and deep comprehension.
Stephanie Jeppson … A Passion for Poetry

Viewers will learn a variety of easy to use poetry formats teachers can take back and use with
their students.
Kate Bowen … Using Picture Books to Spark Historical Inquiry and Empathy
This session will discuss historical inquiry in the classroom, offer quick-inquiry suggestions to
use with students, discuss picture books you can use in the elementary and middle school
classroom to support student inquiry and empathy, and provide examples of primary sources
to pair with picture books. Possible topics include titles by California authors, FAIR Act, Voting
Rights, Civil Rights, Indigenous Voices, AAPI, Environment, Women’s History, Labor, and Social

Videos will appear in the
conference program where
attendees will have access to
workshop links that they may
watch at their leisure for a
period of time after the
conference ends.
Visit the CRA
website at:
Contact the CRA
office at:
California Reading
485 Camino De Los Mares
Suite H150/476
San Clemente, CA 92673
Phone: 949-547-6664
Fax: 949-481-8163

If you plan to attend the conference or know someone who will, mark your calendar and spread the word. This year is whizzing by and we’ll be in California (virtually) before you know it!