Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Scrabble this Thursday!


First things first. Our Scrabble Night in Canada event is this Thursday, February 16, 2006 starting at 7:00 at the Clocktower BrewPub on Bank Street. We are having a Speed Scrabble Tournament. Admission is $5.00. There will be a 50/50. Bring friends and lets raise a little money for Frontier College Programming in Ottawa.

Also on the Frontier College News Front - job posting is up on the Frontier College Site for the Labourer-Teacher Program. I met someone who volunteered for the labourer-teacher program on the train on the way to the Volunteer Leadership Forum in Toronto this summer. She worked on a tobacco farm in Ontario and then taught English classes in the evening. She had a blast. More info on the program HERE.

Saturday at the Rideau Reading Circle was a bit of an adventure. Until further notice we will be holding the Reading Circle next door to the library in the Rideau Gardens Retirement Home. This is due to the fact that the library is under construction. So with 10 kids, 6 volunteers and about 5 parents who stay - it was a bit of an adventure figuring out where to go. The room we used this week was in the basement which added to the challenges. Next week, its been confirmed that we are in the lounge, which is A) Bigger and B) Easier to get to. I'm looking forward to it.

However, two very exciting moments for me at Circle on Saturday.

1) I got a valentine from one of the children. It was awesome - heart-shaped mask. So I went home, put the mask on, and pointed out to my boyfriend that somebody had beaten him to the Valentine's Day punch - so to speak. :)

2) Kate McMullan has another book! I posted about Kate McMullan back in December HERE, and a book called I Stink! Well, there is another book called I'm Mighty! Not quite as good as the first, but still an awesome boy book! Lots of sounds, bright pictures etc... About a tug boat that has to pull all the big boats in. Will also be adding her site to the side.

Also found out that she write chapter books for older children as well. Something called the Dragon Slayer Academy - popular with the Grade Two crowd apparently.

In other news, found an interesting site HERE from the Canadian Council on Learning which talks about how parents can foster early literacy. And just in case you were curious the CCL is:

Funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in 2004, the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) is a national, independent, non-profit corporation with a mandate to promote and support research to improve all aspects of learning across the country and across all walks of life...

I'll added it to the side list of sites. Also being added will by this one - the Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood resourse page.

In other news, one of my new favorite blogs for book gossip has a few interesting new pieces: one on Investing in the Children's Section of the Library, link to a news piece in Belgium about something called lib dating (ie: dating at the library), and a posting on Poetry in Movies. Additional info HERE. I cannot believe I've gone this long without knowing that "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" shows up in both Dangerous Minds and the Rodney Dangerfield classic Back to School.

There also continues to be quite a bit of discussion about something I've previously posted on: Britain's Royal Society of Literature's list of all books children should read before finishing high school. For those intersted in more fodder on that try HERE and HERE. And if you are one of those people who just cannot get enough of lists, I'll suggest this one which is floating around a few blog sites, where people reflect on their favorite children's books in various categories. More on that HERE.

I also posted previously HERE on the Blog Carnival on Children's Literature at a site called Here in the Bonny Glen. While I wasn't organized enough to submit somethere, HERE are the results for those interested in checking it out.

If you go HERE, Chicken Spaghetti offers some insights into the minds of Grade Two-ers and what type of books they like to read.

On a more international bent - the UNESCO site had a posting HERE on the impact of free primary education on Early Childhood Development in Kenya. The reason this one caught my eye is that I am in the process of reading Stephen Lewis' new book called Race Against Time. It's a series of lectures he's given, mainly on the impact of AIDS in Africa and the Millenium Developmen Goals - how they are not going to be met. When discussing poverty he talks a lot about the fight to end school fees in Africa which prevent children from going to school - the need for free, accessible primary education.

Finally, there was an interview on CTV a few days back with Lyndsay's new hero. Transcript here:

DATE: 2006.02.07
TIME: 08:37:35 ET
END: 08:42:15 ET

Eleven-year-old pens his sixth book

THOMSON: He is an award-winning author, a motivational speaker, and a goodwill ambassador for literacy. He also teaches an online writing course, and he's just published his sixth book in honour of Black History Month. But what really sets James Valitchka apart is his age, he's only 11 years old. And last year he became the youngest Canadian ever to win the prestigious Top 20 Under 20 Award. His latest book is called "I'm Not Brown, I'm Human". James joins me in studio now.

Good morning.

VALITCHKA: Good morning.

THOMSON: I can't believe it, six books. Well, I've been reading the list of accomplishments that you've already had at the age of 11, but six books. What made you get started to write a book?

VALITCHKA: Well, it was mostly about getting my feelings out, getting them on paper, letting other people know how I felt. And if there's anyone else like me they can know that I experienced it too, that it's okay.

THOMSON: Your last book, or one of your books, is "Superheroes Don't Have Dads" and it's about bullying, to some degree. And this book is called "I'm Not Brown, I'm Human". What is it really about?

VALITCHKA: Well, it's about the acceptance of differences and that your colour doesn't make you better than anyone else.

THOMSON: What's the reaction been?

VALITCHKA: Well, it's been really helping. And I've been telling speeches about Black History Month and not bullying and things like that. But --

THOMSON: Were you bullied?

VALITCHKA: Yes, I was bullied when I was around seven to eight. I was really bullied because of my skin colour and things like that, and because I wasn't good at any sports.

THOMSON: Really?


THOMSON: And did you speak to people about that at the time? Or did you just sit down pick up a pen and write about it?

VALITCHKA: Well, you know how people usually talk about it, it makes you feel better?


VALITCHKA: Well, I would run upstairs and write it on paper. And that makes me feel better. And now, you go round and speak about this book and read passages and talk about the message. Is there a portion of this book that you would like to read for us?

VALITCHKA: Okay. I'll probably read my last page of it, page 31.


VALITCHKA: "Humans are like rainbows. There are many different colours, but all are beautiful. Let your light shine. Let your colour shine. You're human and you're beautiful."

THOMSON: What's the reaction been to all of your accomplishments by your friends?

VALITCHKA: Well, they're basically just like, "You wrote a new book?" And, well, they just treat me like I'm a normal kid, which is what I want. I don't want to be treated like I'm special. I just want be treated like a normal kid.

THOMSON: You don't want to be treated differently for any reason.


THOMSON: Do you think, in your opinion, in your experience in school, does that go on a lot? Bullying because of skin colour. Bullying because kids are different.

VALITCHKA: Racism and bullying is everywhere. In stores, in schools, everywhere.

THOMSON: So what's the message? What do you tell people to try to either cope with it or eliminate it, I guess, ultimately?

VALITCHKA: Well, let someone know. Don't just try to deal with it yourself. And say no to bullying. Well, never give up.

THOMSON: And what about this, the inspiration for writing this book, which is "Superheroes Don't Have Dads"?

VALITCHKA: That was about my bullying, because I wasn't good at sports or because I looked different. So, basically, these two tie in with each other.

THOMSON: Do you have a favourite of all your books?

VALITCHKA: Well, not really. They're both really good books. So, I'm not, well, I don't have a favourite.

THOMSON: How do the kids react when you go in and speak to them about it?

VALITCHKA: Well, most of them are like, well, if he can do this maybe I can do it, too. And most of them are in awe, and then they just, like, they feel inspired, I think, because, like, during the question period they ask a question and I ask, "What's your question?" And they say, "Well, this book really inspired me. But how can you learn to write books, too?" And things like that.

THOMSON: Well, you are inspirational. Do you think that you'll always write books? Do you want to continue to be unaccomplished author?

VALITCHKA: Well, I would like to keep being an accomplished author. But I also want to become an engineer.

THOMSON: Wow. Those are big goals. I think that you'll reach it there. Are you sure you're not interested in politics?


THOMSON: [laughs] Wonderful to talk to you, James. And congratulations. You really are an inspiration.


THOMSON: Good to meet you.

VALITCHKA: Nice to meet you, too. James Valitchka, Author, I'm Not Brown, I'm Human


And that's it for today. Hope to see you all at Scrabble!



At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love James Valitchka. He is so caring and listens and just helps you by sharing his experiences with you. I felt so alone because I was being bullied, but speaking with him gave me confidence and made me feel worthwhile. I have now made some friends and think I can get over being bullies. Thanks James!


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