Global Explorations in Verse: Call Me María

by Andrea García, Brooke Bendernagel, and Lindsey Brooks, Hofstra University.

  Confessions of a Non-Native Speaker
A poem
by María Alegre

I confess,
I had to steal English
because what I had
was never enough.
The sly taking
started as a word here,
a word there.
It was easy.
I slipped words
into my pockets,
my crime unnoticed
as the precious
spilled out
of unguarded mouths, Continue reading

Global Explorations in Verse: Serafina’s Promise

by Andrea García, Amanda Lev and Oddette Williams, Hofstra University.

IMG_0003Planning for teaching children’s literature in my graduate Literacy Studies program at Hofstra University provides me with the perfect opportunity to select books that invite readers to take on a global perspective. For the current fall 2014 semester, I was particularly drawn to selecting children’s literature featuring stories from different times in history; books that would allow us to engage in critical conversations about the everyday lives of strong characters, whose experiences could help shape our understandings of our ourselves and others. I also wanted to share novels written in free verse because Continue reading

Reader to Reader: Cultivating Reading Relationships with Children’s Authors and Illustrators

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

During the weekend of March 8 and 9, 2013, Tucson will host one of the biggest gatherings of children’s authors and illustrators during the Tucson Festival of Books. In thinking about writing the last blog entry for the month of February, and in keeping with the idea of cultivating relationships with readers and books, we cannot forget the importance of meeting authors and illustrators as part of our lives as readers. Continue reading

Reader to Reader: Cultivating Reading Relationships with Spanish-English Bilingual Books

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

Every November, I look forward to attending the Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, and browsing books at the exhibits in order to build my professional and personal Spanish-English bilingual children’s library. I know that I am always able to find interesting new books after visiting Cinco Puntos Press , or Arte Público Press. This past November, I also visited West End Discovery Press and found a couple of wonderful books I couldn’t wait to share with my students and my family. Continue reading

Reader to Reader: Cultivating Reading Relationships through Paired Books

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

One of the graduate courses I teach in Literacy Studies is an introductory course in bilingualism and biliteracy for teachers who are seeking certification as Literacy Specialist. While this course provides a broad overview of many aspects of language and literacy development in multilingual contexts, it also offers opportunities for in-service teachers to consider issues of cultural and linguistic identity, race, and power, as experienced by immigrant and transnational families. Continue reading

Reader to Reader: Cultivating Reading Relationships One Book at a Time

By Andrea García, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

As we begin the month of February, it is difficult to escape the constant push for celebrating friends and loved ones with chocolates and diamond hearts. And in thinking about the idea of appreciating the important relationships in our lives, I decided that celebrating our relationships as readers can offer an alternative for framing the conversation. For this reason, I have selected to focus this month’s blog on inviting you to celebrate the relationships we forge as readers through our sharing of books and stories. As Giorgis, Bedford, and Fabbi (2008) describe, “Literature can… provide an impetus for strengthening relationships-such as that between a parent and child, or a teacher and student, or within a community of learners. Additionally, many readers form instant and lifelong connections to books, returning to these texts and re-reading them throughout their lives” (p. 5). Continue reading

Responding To Literature as A Community: Transactions with When You Reach Me

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

Book cover for When You Reach Me

Happy summer to the kids of New York City.
Read for joy.
Write for yourselves.

Rebecca Stead ( )

It is officially summer! As the school year comes to an end, and teachers pack up their classrooms, I have selected to focus my last blog entry for the month of June on sharing examples of a multimodal response project created by teachers to the 2010 Newberry award-winning book When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This book was one of the choices I made available to teachers in my Children’s Literature course this past spring, and since it is a book that invites us to consider the possibility of time travel, why not use Stead’s work as inspiration as we imagine what we will do, what we will read, and what we will write this summer.
Continue reading

Responding To Literature as A Community: Transactions with Pictures of Hollis Wood

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

I want to see children curled up with books, finding an awareness of themselves as they discover other people’s thoughts. I want them to make the connection that books are people’s stories, that writing is talking on paper, and I want them to write their own stories. I’d like my books to provide that connection for them. — Patricia Reilly Giff

Book Cover for Pictures of Hollis WoodsFinding stories that help readers become aware of themselves as they get to “discover other people’s thoughts,” like award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff describes, ensures that readers have the opportunity to entertain multiple perspectives on life and consider multiple possibilities for what it means to be human in today’s world. Patricia Reilly Giff’s achieves these goals through her remarkable storytelling and her impeccable character development. As the author of over 80 books, including Newbery Honor Books Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods, Giff’s stories remind us to stop and consider the power of our daily experiences, as we go about our lives meeting people who help shape our identities. Continue reading

Responding To Literature as A Community: Transactions with Feathers

By Andrea García, Hofstra University



Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

Book cover for FeathersThere are authors whose words stay with us long after we have turned the last page and placed the book back in our shelves. For me, Jacqueline Woodson is one of those authors, whose writing stays in my mind, as I revisit the emotions evoked by the experiences of the characters in her stories. In her book Feathers we meet Frannie, a six-grade girl who is growing up in a segregated town during the 1970’s. Frannie’s teacher introduced her to Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope, and Frannie is captivated by the words in the poem. She copies them down in her notebook, and is determined to find out their true meaning. Is hope supposed to feel as light as a feather? Continue reading

Responding To Literature as A Community: Transactions with Tofu Quilt

By Andrea García, Hofstra University

Our business seems usually to be considered the bringing of books to people. But books do not simply happen to people. People also happen to books. A story or poem or play is merely inkspots on paper until a reader transforms them into a set of meaningful symbols. When these symbols lead us to live through some moment of feeling, to enter into some human personality, or to participate imaginatively in some situation or event, we have evoked a work of literary art. (Rosenblatt, 1956/2005, p. 62-63)

Book cover for Tofu QuiltReading books together and discussing them within a community of readers is at the heart of the process of constructing meaning and negotiating the multiple dimensions that literature has to offer. This month, the focus of my blog is in sharing the literary transactions of a community of elementary teachers, who were invited to document their interpretations to different books through engaging with multiple response strategies while exploring the use of children’s literature in the elementary classroom. Since one of my goals as a literacy educator is to bring books to people Continue reading