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I Helped Get a Book Published!

Earlier this year, I saw a Tweet about a Kickstarter campaign created by Lisa Seacat DeLuca that sounded pretty interesting. At the time, I had no idea what Kickstarter was, but I decided to check it out.


Basically, Kickstarter is a way to help a project come to life by having people support the project financially – but the creator of the project maintains 100% ownership of the idea (and the people who support the project do not profit financially).


The project Lisa Seacat DeLuca was trying to get funded was titled, “A Robot Story.” After going to the website and reading all about it, I learned that she basically wanted publish a book that teaches children to count to ten in binary. How cool is that?! She was looking for just $2,500 to make the book a reality, and she had a number of different rewards for backing the project (like a board book, t-shirt, or e-book) depending on the amount of money you pledged.


Needless to say, I (along with many others) made a pledge to her project, and her great idea eventually became a reality! About 4 or 5 months later I received a signed copy of Lisa’s new book in the mail, and it was so cool knowing that I (in some small way) helped make the book happen!

A Robot Story Book

I recently went on her Kickstarter website again to see what the final numbers were, and I was shocked to see that she ended up with 698 backers and raised more than $13,000 for her project. It’s truly amazing to see what can be accomplished when a bunch of people come together to support a great idea.


If you’re interested in supporting a Kickstarter campaign like this, check out their website… As I’m writing this post, there are exactly 132 children’s book projects that are “live” and waiting to be funded!

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Inspiration Strikes at the Strangest Times

There are days I wish I would’ve carved out some exceptions to the “rules” that Bubba and I are playing by when “reading the library.” I told myself we would read every picture book, but there are some books I would much rather skip.


First on the “skip-able” list would have been all the princess (and other “girly”) books. I almost always struggle to get through these types of books (with one of the few exceptions being Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious).


For example Bitty Baby: Loves the Snow. It’s an American Girl book, and it’s about a girl playing with her doll in the snow – all things that REALLY don’t interest me! I push through, though… and in this case, I’m actually glad I did!

Bitty Baby

That’s right! As strange as it sounds, I’m actually glad I read an American Girl book! It’s not because it was a great book, though. I’m glad I read it because (while reading it), I came up with a cool idea for a winter activity with Bubba!


In the story, the little girl wants to build a snowman but doesn’t get any help from her brother, so she ends up building a “snow caterpillar” with her American Girl doll. This got me thinking… Bubba loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so why not make a Very Hungry Caterpillar snow sculpture! We could find a way to color the snow, and we could use some math/science to build the arch portion of the caterpillar. Who knows, our snow sculpture might even inspire others to build snow sculptures based on their favorite books!


I guess that’s why Bubba and I read EVERY book (even though it would be much easer to skip the “girly” books)… you just never know when inspiration will hit you! It could be on a hot summer day while reading and American Girl book that you come up with a great idea for a winter activity!


If you could build a snow sculpture based on your favorite book/character, what would it be? Leave a comment below, and give us some more inspiration!


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Children’s Picture Books Use More Sophisticated Words Than You

Clutching. Whimpered. Famished. Escargot. Lavish. Indulged. These are just a few of the words Bubba and I came across today while reading picture books from our library. Obviously, these are words that Bubba would only be exposed to through picture books (my wife and I definitely don’t use words like these around the house), but that’s one of the main reasons I think it’s so important to read aloud to him.


I’ve known for years that reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to build their vocabulary, but I’ve been reading a book for teachers, The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinski, that has me really focused on the subject lately.


In his book, Rasinski dedicates an entire chapter to the benefits of reading aloud to children. He argues that one of the ways children benefit from a read aloud is they get to “explore sophisticated words and text structures.” Needless to say, since reading that section of his book, I’ve been noticing all the rich vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structures in the picture books that I’m reading to Bubba.


I’m seeing words like precisely, residence, uncomplimentary, amends, and meddle in just one short book… so it makes sense when Rasinski mentions an article that argues, “Most printed material, even a children’s book, has more sophisticated words than nearly every form of oral language.” (Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998)


It’s kind of crazy to think that picture books (written for children) use more sophisticated vocabulary than I use, but it’s true… and it’s one of the best reasons for reading aloud to kids!


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Warning Lights and Railroad Hats

Have you ever thought about how the Aircraft Warning Light at the top of The Empire State Building gets changed? Me neither! I’ve watched TV shows, read books, and even built a LEGO model of the iconic building, but I had never once thought about how the light at the top needs to be changed from time to time.


I love it when Bubba and I come across a book that makes you think about completely random things like Aircraft Warning Lights, and the other day we had two books (back-to-back) that did just that!


The first one was called, The Top Job by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. This book begins on Career Day at a school. The students are telling their classmates all about the interesting jobs their parents do each day, so the class learns about parents who are jewelers, UFO hunters, and racecar drivers. When a little girl gets up in front of the class to talk about how her father changes light bulbs, all the kids start laughing. Those laughs quickly disappear as the girl describes the journey her father takes to change the light bulb on the top of the Empire State Building. By the end of the book, the teacher is asking if the class could go to work with the girl and her father sometime!

Top Job

The second book was called, Stormy’s Hat: Just Right for a Railroad Man. It’s written by Eric A Kimmel, and it tells the story of a railroad man (Stormy) who is searching for the perfect hat to wear on his train. He tries a cowboy’s hat, a fireman’s helmet, a pressman’s hat, and others before he finally listens to his wife (Ida). She designs and makes a hat that meets Stormy’s specifications, and once the other railroad workers see how well it works, Stormy and Ida open a factory to produce their hats for all the railroad workers who want one. It’s Ida’s design that we still see today!

Stormy's Hat

Just like the aircraft warning lights on the Empire State Building, I had seen railroad hats hundreds of times. And just like those warning lights, I had never really thought much about railroad hats. I had never thought about who came up with the design, and I definitely never thought about why it’s shaped the way it is, but the story behind it was really interesting.


I love stories like these… stories that make you think about something you see all the time in a whole new light! I’d highly recommend checking these two books out… and if you know of any other picture book like this, please leave a comment and name of the book!

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Fight Summer Boredom with a CWIST

If you have a chance today, head over to The Onmibus Publishing’s website… I wrote a guest blog about a website that will help parents fight summer boredom!  I’m not sure how long the post will be on their website, so go check it out!  Here’s the link:

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Is It Normal to Know Your Library Card Number By Heart?

Here’s an interesting fact about me: I never lose or misplace anything!  Seriously… just ask my wife!  Wait, maybe you better not!

I seem to be losing/misplacing things a lot lately… so when I couldn’t find my wallet the other day, I was more than a little concerned!

I’d had my wallet at a restaurant on Saturday evening, but on Sunday morning I couldn’t find it anywhere!

Unfortunately, the restaurant that we had dinner at was closed on Sunday, so I spent the entire day searching the house and thinking about all the things I would need to do if my wallet wasn’t at the restaurant when I called on Monday morning.

Like most people, I thought about how I would need to cancel my credit and debit cards and get a new driver’s license (and I really liked the picture on my license!)…

I love this picture, but my wife has never been a big fan of it!

I love this picture, but my wife has never been a big fan of it!

but the first thing I thought about when I thought I might have lost everything was replacing my library card!

That’s right, the first thing I thought about was replacing my library card!

library card

To be more precise, I thought about how I would need to learn a new library card number if I had to replace it.  Is that normal?  Does anybody else know their library card number by heart?  I can’t be the only person, right?!

Luckily, my wallet was still there when I called the restaurant the next day so I didn’t need to get a new library card (or driver’s license)…  Disaster averted!


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Excited About Signed Books

A few weeks ago at the Illinois Reading Conference, I had the opportunity to add a bunch of books to Bubba’s signed books collection. I always enjoy adding to his collection, but I’m going to have to come up with a new place to keep them all because his collection is growing pretty big!


Some of the books that were signed for Bubba

Some of the books that were signed for Bubba


There were a TON of amazing authors at the conference, including Mary Pope Osborne, Jon Scieszka, Eric Litwin, James Patterson, Andrea Beaty, Nic Bishop, Candace Fleming, and Dan Gutman! It’s hard not to be excited with a line-up like that… and whenever I have the opportunity to take a picture with an author, I always use my “excited face” (because my students get excited when they see how excited I am to meet an author)… so here are some of my favorites from the conference:


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Besides getting books signed for Bubba and pictures taken with some amazing authors, I also got to listen to many of those authors talk about their books, their writing process, and their personal stories.


It was an amazing couple of days!

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