Thursday, February 24, 2011

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

I always take time each year to reflect on the true meaning of Black History Month. Martin Luther King Junior paid a monumental price and that is why we can celebrate Black History Month. I am very thankful for that. I often ponder many other things as well, like how far we have come and where we are going. One thing that always leaves me feeling blue is the number of African American youths who have fallen through the cracks. Most of these youths drop out of school because they do not have the right parental support. How unfortunate is that? There must be a way to make a difference in the lives of these youths.

The sobering truth, as harsh as it may appear, is that unless someone steps in to make a difference most of these youths will end up in jail.
This year of 2011 I am feeling extremely hopeful, because at the school where I currently teach, my principal, Mr. Allen Smith, has taken his leadership to a level I have never seen before. I applaud him very loudly. To start off the school year, Mr. Smith had the faculty return to school two days early. During the two days the staff sat through a very powerful training program called: Education Done the Right Way…Through Relationships.
What do relationships mean to the student? Perhaps school is the only place where he or she feels safe and where an adult actually does care about his or her wellbeing. In order to teach the students at our school, the faculty needs to reach out and build relationships with them. A great leader sees the need and finds ways to help meet those needs. This is why I so appreciate Mr. Allen Smith: he saw a need and made sure to set up his faculty with the necessary training so they can provide the best for all students.
A word of caution: Building relationships does not mean putting into full use the prejudice of low expectations. The last thing we need to do is to feel sorry for these students and let them get away with murder. One can build relationships and still hold the students accountable for their actions. It is the loving thing to do, because anything else will set up these students for failure later on when they become adults. I love Denzel Washington’s statement in the movie Remember the Titans, where he said: “Do not patronize these kids; you will set them up for failure.”
It is never easy to reach every single student. There are a few who are definitely set in their ways and they make it very difficult for the teacher to teach. At the onset of second semester, I had a difficult time with a few students. I had resigned myself to thinking that perhaps there was no way I could help these students. Well, much to my delight, Mr. Allen Smith flew in a guest speaker, Jason L. Perry from Oak Tree Leadership, to speak to the faculty. What Mr. Perry shared infused me with a renewed vigor to reach out to these difficult students. Once again through this training I learned that rules without relationship lead to rebellion. Education is about relationship and friendship. I applied what I learned and thus was able to reach these difficult students.
Mr. Smith has taken his unrelenting desire to help the students at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College to an even higher level by hiring a new assistant principal who in my opinion has the students’ best interest at heart. Mr. Nick Dawkins, a Belfer scholar who also attended a summer programme in literature at Oxford University, is doing an outstanding job helping the teachers with behavioral issues. Just last week, he held a special meeting with a group of boys who were making it extremely difficult to teach.


The meeting proved to be very productive because the boys returned to class with a new attitude. They sat down and completed their work. Today, after a four-day holiday weekend, the same students returned to class, sat down, and did their work.

I am feeling very hopeful that at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in Denver, Colorado Martin Luther King’s dream is being realized. As a school we strive to make each day a success. Yes! We do encounter challenges, but we never give up.
So in celebration of Black History Month I want to say thank you to Mr. Allen Smith and Mr. Nick Dawkins for their great leadership.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  - Martin Luther King Jr-


Sunday, February 6, 2011

GREAT TIPS FROM AWARD WINNING AUTHOR, MAYRA CALVANI

Article first published at:

http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/

  A blog  about a group of talented authors from Utah who aim to enrich the lives of children everywhere .
 

I asked award-winning author Mayra Calvani, who is currently doing a virtual author tour, to share some tips with us today as part of her World of Ink Tour. Mayra not only writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine and a...Mother. I couldn’t think of a better person to motivate and inspire us today.

Guest post with Award-winning Author Mayra Calvani: How to Set Writing Goals with a Family

“Nothing has a stronger influence
psychologically on their environment
and especially on their children
than the unlived life of the parent.”
--C. G. Jung


You want to start your career as a writer, and you have young kids at home. How do you find the time to write and actually produce something while your children ask you for sandwiches, demand you play with them, or refuse to take a nap? Writing with kids at home isn’t easy, but it can be done.

The following are 7 tips to setting writing goals with a family:

Be realistic

If you set your goals too high, you’ll crash and you’ll be left with feelings of failure, frustration and bitterness. This will have a strong impact on the way you feel about yourself as a mom and wife, and will affect the time you spend with your loved ones. Face it, unless you have a nanny, you won’t have a lot of free time until your kids are old enough to go to pre-school. If you’re not able to set your writing goal to one hour a day, or even half an hour, what about 15 minutes? Start small. Take baby steps. Persistence is vital: If you stick to it, a lot can be accomplished in just 15 minutes a day over a long period of time. In 15 minutes, you can plot a scene, profile or interview a character, write dialogue, do research on a specific topic for your book, etc. Everybody can set aside 15 minutes of writing time.

Get organized

This is the key to succeed! Buy a planner or calendar and schedule your week in advance every Sunday. This way, come Monday morning, you’ll know what to do. What’s the best time to set aside those 15 minutes? Does your child take a morning or afternoon nap? Do you have the type of child who would be happy playing in a playpen by himself while you write? Could you hire a teenager to look after your child twice a week for an hour, while you write in the next room? Perhaps you know other moms who are in a similar situation and who would be interested in taking turns taking care of the kids? Brainstorm various possibilities. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

Stay flexible

You might not always be able to follow your daily writing goals. You know what? That’s perfectly fine. Life often gets in the way. In fact, it feels as if life always gets in the way when you have a family, doesn’t it? The planner is there to keep you motivated, focused, and steered in the right direction. However, those words aren’t set in stone. If you can’t meet your writing goal for that day, just try to get back in track the next. Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself, “I tried my best.” It’s like with a diet. You don’t have to quit the whole diet just because you broke it one day by eating pizza.

Be consistent

Books are made of words, sentences, paragraphs. Depending on how fast a writer or how inspired you are, you can write words, sentences and even a whole paragraph or paragraphs in 15 minutes. The key here is to keep doing it regularly over a long period of time. You have heard it many times: write a page a day, and one year later you have a 365-page book.

Stop procrastinating

If only I had more time!
I’ll write when my kids start school.
I’m always so busy!
When I’ll retire, that’s when I’ll write that book.

Blah, blah, blah. Listen: there’s never a perfect or right time to write. You just have to stop whining and you have to do it. Why leave for later what you can start doing now? Life is short and unpredictable. You have no control over the future. However, you have control over the now.

Love yourself

You work hard. You’re always there for your children, husband, parents, relatives and friends. Why is it that you so often forget about yourself? Treat yourself like a precious jewel. And I’m not talking about being selfish—though being a little selfish is often the best thing you can do to be able to give yourself to others. Reward your accomplishments, however small. When you love yourself, you’ll find the time to set aside those writing times because you know your goals and dreams are important. When you do what’s important to you, you feel accomplished and fulfilled emotionally and intellectually. When this happens, you’re able to give yourself to your family without reservations. Mostly importantly, the quality of those family moments will increase because you won’t resent them.

Set Your Priorities

How badly to do want to become an established author? Can you live with your home not being spotless or dust-free at all times? Or with letting the laundry accumulate once in a while? Because this is, exactly what will happen once you’ve made your decision of becoming an author. You’ll face times when you’ll have to choose between writing or doing the laundry. I’m not saying you should neglect your family and put your writing first. What I’m saying is you don’t have to be a ‘super’ mom at all times.

You have the potential to make your dreams come true. Nevertheless, you have to believe in them and you have to follow a plan. You also have to make them a priority in your life. Keeping these tips in mind will help you achieve your dreams and become a happier writer. As I always say, a happy writer is a happy mama.



 
 You can learn more about Award-winning Author Mayra Calvani, her books, follow future guest post, interviews and her World of Ink Virtual Author Tour at

About Mayra Calvani:
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. She's had over 300 reviews, interviews, stories, and articles published in print and online. Mayra is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Children's Writer's Coaching Club. Visit her website at www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com. She also keeps a blog at www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com.

February 7th Mayra will be a guest on the Book Marketing Network where she will be sharing about how to pitch our book.
http://thebookmarketingnetwork.com/profiles/blog/list?user=VSGrenier&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_url

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A MUST READ REVIEW

Review first posted at:

 http://nathaliemvondo.wordpress.com/

A blog on multiculturalism in children's literature

 

Trilingual Picture Book Review: MARIE & HER FRIEND THE SEA TURTLE, by Nicole Weaver

Posted by Nathalie Mvondo on February 3, 2011
*grin* No, I’m not writing this post in three different languages. Pour la version française express, lire la fin du poste. Trans: scoop to the end of the post for an express French version of the review. :)
I want to live on an island, with a bright blue sky and coconut trees dancing as waves whisper in rhythm tales of lost travelers washing ashore: Sea Turtles. There is something about reading Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle, especially in winter. The story takes a hold of your heart and doesn’t let go until you turn the last page. The illustrations pull you in before you’ve had a chance to gasp: They appear simple enough so that a young child can fully appreciate them yet they are, in my humble opinion, beautifully done; the blend and joy conveyed by the colors add to the warmth and sometimes tension of the story; And Marie, I love the fact that virtually any brown little girl can recognize herself in her. I looked closely the first time she appeared on the page and wondered:
“What is she? African-American? Hispanic? Bi-racial?…”
Answer: It doesn’t really matter.
Marie, as you might have guessed, lives on an island and one of her favorite activities is to collect seashells. She one day comes across a huuuuuuge turtle in distress. How did the turtle end up there? Will her new friend make it? Or end up in a… stew? I feared for the turtle’s life as I read along.
Though its structure is somewhat unconventional for a picture book, there are a variety of elements I like about Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. Primo, come on. The book is written in three languages: English, French and Spanish! That in itself is a treat for a picture book. You get to entertain children with a meaningful story, but you also broaden their world by exposing them to new languages. My Spanish is terrible, but I caught myself drawn to and reading in Spanish regardless. Deuxio: You (kid or adult reader) get a glimpse at a harsh reality for the non-native, through learning a fact or two about islanders’ taste in food as well as the reason(s) behind the turtle’s predicament. Last but not least, the story is… I want to say cute but, really has a deeper meaning than one might think at first.
And to be honest, I was also moved by the narrative’s and illustrations’ cheerfulness in light of the earthquake that shook Haiti last year and claimed so many lives. The context matters.
Mary and her friend the Sea Turtle is polyglot author and teacher Nicole Weaver‘s first book. It is illustrated by Ruben Chavez, a personal friend of the author, and was published in March 2009 under the umbrella of Outskirts Press, a company based in Denver, Colorado. The book is available on Amazon, including in a Kindle format for $4.99. In addition, Nicole maintains a wonderful website, where you can print games or fun exercises that help you learn French, seasoned with food related topics (her Christmas) served with mouthwatering pictures. Nicole’s next book will be released this year, by Guardian Angel Publishing.
I highly recommend Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. Pick it up and you will not regret it. Did I mention that a large portion of the book’s proceeds go to the Lambi Fund of Haiti for relief efforts? :)
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of the book from the author. Happy reading!
Pour nos lecteurs francophones:
Okay, les amis! P’tit résumé rapide: Marie et son Amie la Tortue de Mer est un livre délicieux et chaleureux écrit par Nicole Weaver, une maîtresse et autoresse haïtienne qui parle couramment le créole, le français (ben bien sûr!), l’anglais et l’espagnol. Nicole enseigne des classes bilingues, en français et espagnol, et elle vit aux états-unis avec sa famille.
Marie et son Amie la Tortue de Mer est l’histoire d’une petite fille qui se retrouve nez à nez avec… un quadrupède marin en détresse. Son amie va-t-elle s’en sortir, ou finir dans un pot de soupe? Mystère. Ouvrez le livre pour en decouvrir le dénouement. :)
L’ouvrage est illustré par Ruben Chavez, un ami proche de Nicole, et est disponible sur Amazon en version papier et Kindle, pour $4.99. Une grande partie des profits est donnée à Lambi Fund, pour aider les victimes du tremblement de terre qui a secoué l’île l’année dernière. Je recommande chaleureusement ce livre qui, bien qu’unique par sa structure, a beaucoup de coeur.
Voili voilou. Passez une très bonne journée. *smile*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PICTURE BOOK MARATHON 2011

I am participating in the Picture Book Marathon 2011.  So far so good.  I have written one story and about to finish my second one.  My goal is to write 26 new picture book manuscripts.  Wish me luck!

MY INTERVIEW WITH KRISTI BERNARD

Nicole Weaver Gets Kids Reading In Multiple Languages


Nicole Weaver
Author Nicole Weaver
This weeks featured author at Get Kids To Read is Nicole Weaver. Nicole get kids reading in multiple languages.
Nicole weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children’s trilingual picture book titled ” Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.” The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children’s picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, ” My sister is my Best Friend ” will be published 2011.




How do you promote kids and reading?
I think the best thing we can do for kids is to help them develop a love for reading. As a parent and teacher, I encourage kids to read books on topics that are of interest to them. I read and review a lot of children’s books. I post the reviews on my blog, Blogcritics and Amazon so parents can learn about these books.
Tell us about your website?
On my website http://nicole-weaver.com, I like posting activities about learning French and Spanish.
Will you be doing any school book tours for 2011?
It is impossible for me to do school visits because I teach fulltime. I have done library visits. I am scheduled to do readings at several after school centers.
What are your thoughts on the new technology for reading a book?
I think books will never go out of style completely, but I think many people are fascinated with the Kindle E- reader. Due to high interest, most publishers will be forced to publish book s in kindle. My first trilingual book is currently being published in kindle.
What advice do you have for parents on getting their kids reading?
Parents can do a lot to get kids reading. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Allow kids to read books that are of interest to them
  2. Take kids to the library to attend reading programs
  3. Take kids to local book fairs so they can purchase books that are of interest to them
  4. Create a special space where you and your kids can spend time reading together (when my three children were younger we sat in a special area in the family room to read. Kids emulate their parents, if they see their parents reading ; they too will want to do the same.
Marie and her friend the sea turtle
Marie And Her Friend The Sea Turtle

Thanks so much for stopping by Nicole and sharing your tips with us today.
If you would like to know more about Nicole please visit her website at
http://nicole-weaver.com
You can also visit her at The Neophyte Writer and Kristi’s Book Nook.