• What I've Been Reading Lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 9/12/2022


    Super fun novel that transports you from Brooklyn to traveling across Italy, exploring the fact and fiction around a family curse.  The text is full of Italian and German language references that will have you running to Duolingo to immerse yourself more in the beauty of multiple languages to create depth to a storytelling act.

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  • What I've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 1/20/2022

    I first read about this book in The New York Times.  Then, our teachers started tweeting about it, and reaching out about the support it has the potential to give to our families at home.  The book travels from babies to teenagers, with book lists by themes and reading levels.  It's written in a text box, short article format, promoting its readers to take what they need, at the time they need it.  It captures what's most important about growing readers across the school and home partnership.

    how to raise a reader

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  • What I've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 12/1/2021

    This was a book recommendation to me from one of our social studies teachers.  It spans the world over several hundred years, and a character, Addie LaRue, who made a deal with the darkness.  The intersection of art, history, and books are a joy in this involved story.  


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  • What I've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 11/3/2021

    One of our Lit Leaders, Dr. Karen Maher, introduced me to Heidi Anne Mesmer's Letter Lessons and First Words.  The ACSD K-3 teachers and I will book club on this in the next month and talk more about phonemes versus graphemes, how pictures are natural for young children as they become literate, evidence-based characteristics of good phonics instruction, guidelines for an effective phonics lesson, initial sound recognition games, what to say when kids struggle on a word, how we can tell if children have the alphabetic principle, letter reversals do not usually mean dyslexia, how to choose a good alphabet strip, activities for all-alphabet review that get more difficult, what is a book walk?, essential principles for teaching high-frequency words, what to avoid in homework and practice, and books to use for word finding/children's literature with long vowels.  These are just the points I think we may want to talk more about, but I'm really excited to hear about what resonates with our teachers about this book next to all the work they have been doing with Meghan Hargrave and The Rose Institute.


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  • What I've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 10/13/2021


    I discovered this book the other day to help me reboot my daily journal writing.  Some quotes I loved from Moorea Seal on writing lists:  "So many of our inner desires and thoughts are revealed through the lists we create."; "Lists can be a tool for self-discovery, exploration, and plenty of fun..."; "....looking deeply inside of yourself to reveal your inner wisdom and confidence...start with a curious spirit and get ready to discover the beauty, joy, creativity, and power that is already inside of you." #52ListsProject  The book is full of quick list-writing prompts for each season.  

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  • What I've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 9/13/2021


    I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's blog, Revisionist History, and many of his other books.  This one continues his thought-provoking and inquisitive style of looking at people and situations with a learning stance.

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  • What We've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 8/18/2021


    This was one of my summer reads.  This follows the story of a family in Colombia during the 1990's.  It's a fictional account of the author's similar experiences with kidnapping, and the violence that was gripping her home country, before she immigrated to the United States.  It's a vivid story, with imagery that stays with you - like the description of the flowering tree from the yard of her childhood home.

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  • What We've Been Reading Lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 3/30/2021


    Teaching Writing in Small Groups by Jennifer Serravallo

    This book was suggested to me by one of our Lit Leaders at Vail Farm Elementary, and I can't wait to put it in more teachers' hands.  Once again, Jennifer breaks down instructional formats into clear systems for meeting individual kids' needs.  She outlines the various forms of small groups (i.e. guided writing, shared writing, inquiry), and names when to use each during instruction.  Jennifer has worked fast to support teachers during the pandemic with online teaching strategies, and now she puts in our hands, ways to help us all pick up again in the classroom.  The format of the book is concise, and is easy to refer back to in small pieces, as different needs are presented by the young writers in front of us.  You can access free resources from this book here.

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  • What We've Been Reading Lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 9/8/2020

    Welcome to Quick Lits, where we share short reviews of what we've been reading lately.

    Today's posts are written by Dana Brown, Director of ELA, Social Studies & Libraries.

    the ghost clause

    This book was put in my hands by Kira Wizner, at the Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook.  I'm not usually interested in "ghost" stories, but this was more literary fiction.  Norman's novel is set in Vermont, in a very charming, and haunted, home.  This book is short, language-rich, and had me running to my notebook after each chapter - the writing is inspiring and makes you want to capture your own descriptions on paper.  The New York Times Book Review captured more on this gem.

    dolly parton

    The Little People, Big Dreams series is a fun, concise biographical set on various celebrities, artists, scientists for elementary school readers.  Each book gives you the essence of what the subject really meant to achieve, and how it was done.  The focus is on dreams and how they led to incredible things.  Through the beautiful illustrations and artwork, you are treated to a quick story that leaves you smiling, hopeful, and informed.  Dolly Parton's conclusion reminds of the work she has done for literacy with her foundation, Imagination Station.

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  • What We've been reading lately

    Posted by Dana Brown on 7/2/2020

    Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short reviews of what we've been reading lately.  

    We can't wait to hear about your recent reads in comments.

    What It's Like To Be A Bird

     What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating To Singing - What Birds Are Doing, And Why

    Author: David Allen Sibley

    Dana has shared this new nonfiction on her Facebook Live Virtual Office Hours for Families featuring dozens of beautiful local birds, and wanted to share it here as well, as one of her recent reads.  Sibley, in addition to his other published guides, creates illustrated informational pieces.  Each entry shows the bird in action, and while his text is focused on adults, it is nontechnical and accessible to all ages.  It is a large, easy-to-use, guide that is wonderful to keep by your favorite bird-watching window.  Dana continuously goes back to this book, as she spots new birds around her, now that she is tuned in to the different species in her backyard.  More info can be found on sibleyguides.com


    Birding: The Hudson Valley

    Author:  Kathryn J. Schneider

    Schneider designed this book for birders of all levels of skill and interest, which also contains explicit directions to more than eighty locations in the Hudson Valley.  Consider this book your guide to our beautiful local hiking trails and historic sites.  Schneider is a Hudson Valley native, as well as an award-winning author, teacher, conservationist, and past president of the New York State Orinthological Association.  Through her site descriptions, you can explore the farms, grasslands, wetlands, orchards, city parks, forests, rivers, lakes and salt marshes in every county in the region.  Dana has been keeping this book in her car, and letting it guide where she spends her free time during the pleasant weather.  It is a book to keep handy.  More information can be found at oblongbooks.com.

    incredible docs

    The Incredible Docs Vs. Billy The Bad Virus

    Author: Fatima Faisal

    It is a pleasure to share this brand-new children's book from New York State residents, written to help children understand the COVID-19 crisis.  In this developmentally appropriate work, the author shares gratitude for our everyday heroes in the medical field.  The illustrations are simple and inviting to share healthy procedures.  This is a book to share with children who are wondering why we have to stay home.  More information can be found spectrumlocalnews.com

    the mothers

    The Mothers: A Novel

    Author: Brit Bennett

    This coming of age story is centered on contemporary black America.  The lives of three different characters are followed from high school into adulthood against the backdrop of a secret.  Nadia Turner lost her mother to suicide, finds brief solace in the local pastor's son, but the secret that results from their romance, has an impact that goes far beyond their youth.  The possiblities of the road not taken haunts Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey, Nadia's best friend, as their lives evolve and overlap.  Dana loved reading this author's first novel, and has followed her gift of painting pictures of betrayals and losses into her second novel, The Vanishing Half.  More information can be found on britbennett.com

    the giver of stars

    The Giver of Stars

    Author: Jojo Moyes

    Dana read this fictional book after learning about pack mule librarians in Appalachia during the 2019 Big Read.  The story takes place in small-town Kentucky during the time of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library initiative.  Alice Van Cleve, an immigrant from England, joins Margery, a local independent woman, to become a Packhorse Librarian of Kentucky.  They face all kinds of dangers in a beautiful, but brutal, leandscape, and bring storytelling elements to what are true accounts.  It is a lovely novel about friendship, true love, and the power of books.


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