Monday, March 28, 2011

25% off ebook coupon

25% Off Your Next Purchase
Use promo code SAVE25 at checkout

Take advantage of this week's deal at LibraryBIN! Save 25% off your next purchase of these, or any other great titles, by using promo code SAVE25.

Promo code offer expires April 4, 2011. One use per customer. Maximum discount on all purchases will not exceed promo code offer.

- Be of Good Cheer!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Download Plays and Poems about Purim for Kids from Google Books

Download Plays and Poems about Purim for Kids from Google Books: "The Book of Esther is traditionally read during Purim celebrations, but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries some books were written to make reading about the history of Purim more interesting for children."

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure From the U.S. Library of Congress

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure From the U.S. Library of Congress: "Part of the thrill of reading the 39 Clues books is that the series is written by different authors. Readers have an idea of what to expect, but a new author has a different approach to the story. This is also the philosophy of 'The Exquisite Corpse Adventure' podcast series from the Library of Congress"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Teach Creativity - Fluency

In creative problem solving, a fluent student is one who can list many potential solutions to a problem. Some potential solutions may just be idea fragments, or they may be too "out there" to be practical. In fluency, quantity is more important than quality, because students will later reflect on their responses and decide which ideas are worth keeping.

In creative problem solving, impractical ideas are valued just as much as practical ideas. Solutions come from unexpected sources, and students should be encouraged to look at all possible sources in the initial stages of solving problems.

Students are ready to understand fluency and use it in basic problem solving in elementary school, but they need to be able to write or type for 10-15 minute stretches. For this reason, fluency may be a good activity for 4th and 5th graders rather than earlier elementary, but like so many things in gifted education, it depends on the student. It is important that students understand why they are being asked to write in such great quantities... teaching fluency might be as simple as giving students a topic and asking them to list possibilities.

For example, ask students to list things that are green. One word answers are fine. The students should give as many answers as possible in the given amount of time, perhaps 10-15 minutes. It is important that teachers tell students spelling is not an issue. They are simply recording their ideas and writing them to avoid repetition.

Middle school students love the game Scattergories, and it is an excellent introduction to the concept of fluency. To understand how fluency relates to problem solving (as opposed to idea-generation for brainstorming), students should be given a simple problem and asked to fluently list all the possible answers.

Spelling, grammar, and mechanics are not priorities at this stage, because the goal is idea generation, and pausing will hinder progress toward the goal. Middle school students tend to be competitive and this is a good activity for competition if the question provides a level playing field.

A question such as "Why do cats have claws" will generate a lot of ideas and it is a topic on which everyone can contribute answers. Sometimes students are tempted to hide behind repetition, because those words will fill lines on the paper. For example, using the cat-claw question, a student taking refuge in repetition might write:

1. The cat can climb an oak tree.
2. The cat can climb an elm tree.
3. The cat can climb a tree in the backyard.

These lists are really just one answer - the cat can climb a tree. These answers are common in gifted classrooms because gifted students like to be playful. Unless it seems like the listing of repetitive answers is keeping students from making real progress, it is all right to allow students to make such lists at first.
Grading Fluency

Being able to provide a coherent answer to the question is one strategy for evaluating answers, but it is not the goal in the first stage of learning fluent thinking. Students should be able to say, "Cats have claws in case they need to climb trees." It is a coherent answer to a simple question based on idea generation.

It is tempting to have a partner just check off answers as they are said instead of writing them down. Unfortunately, that makes it tricky to avoid repeating ideas and the work is then unable to be re-used to teach flexibility and frequency. However, if students have ideas listed, the lists can be used later in other creative problem solving activities.

When teachers move on to the next step in teaching creative problem solving, flexibility, the students will see that their fluent answers did were inflexible and could not fit into many groups. In fact, the student was being fluent in generating types of trees, not generating reasons why cats have claws.

How to Have a Mock Election for Students in Your Classroom

From yard signs and headlines to dinner conversation and news, students are aware of elements of the elections, and every four years, teachers are given a chance to instill a sense of patriotic duty in students by holding mock presidential elections.

It is tempting to wait until the actual election day and hold a mere paper-pencil ballot with two names, but a true mock election takes more time. Students need to be aware of issues, backgrounds of candidates, and have a chance to discuss and ask questions. Even younger students will benefit from mock elections, if a teacher takes time to prepare and communicate.

The first step in any election is deciding who is allowed to vote. In a classroom, it is easy; students who are in the class are allowed to vote. However, teachers and classes can consider national issues with voters. What if someone is home sick? How will that person get to vote. In official elections, there are mail-in ballots. What if someone is suspended? In official elections, felons are not allowed to vote until they have served their sentence. What if someone from another class wants to vote? Mock elections generate a lot of interest, and people might want to stop in during lunch or recess and vote.

Next, decide who will count and certify the vote. With younger grades it might be the teacher, but in older grades, it might be another class that counts and certifies the vote.

Go over the ballot and process in advance with students. They should be able to see a sample ballot. They should know the candidates and the issues. They should understand where the ballot box will be and the procedures for voting.
Understanding Political Issues

It is important that teachers do not accidentally put their own biases into issues. It is best to go to a neutral sources, such as Google Election Tools for teachers, USA Today Election Issues, or Government Guide for Elections to get kid-friendly, balanced ballot information. It is important and ethical to make sure that every party and candidate who will be on the state ballot gets equal attention in classroom issue discussions.

Ballots can be simple tick boxes on a form, and students can place them in a box. They should cross their names off of lists when they pick up a ballot, and receive a hand stamp or a sticker when they are done to indicate that they voted.

"I voted" stickers are often available through the various election offices, organizations such as The League of Women Voters, or they are for sale. Students can also make stickers in advance on small file label tabs.More advanced ballots are available. The National Student/Parent Mock Election site has printable ballots and web-based ballots, and they have steps in place for making sure votes are secure.

After the votes are tallied, teachers have another teachable moment because, just as in the national arena, there will be students who are thrilled, students who are angry, students who are disappointed, and students who are simply glad it is all over. Mock elections mirror society in more than just the voting process. Teachers should not end the activity with a mere announcement of a winner; rather, teachers should have a discussion about who won, why, and how the other candidates can participate in government and contribute to society.

All About American Education Week

Just as the Emmys give Hollywood a chance to honor their own, public school employees have AEW as a chance to recognize all hard-working public school employees.

NEA, the National Education Association, encourages schools and communities to set aside one week in November to honor the people who make schools run smoothly. One way to increase a sense of appreciation within the public schools is to have students recognize the importance of the cogs in the wheel.
A Week of Celebration

By breaking up the celebrations into moments across the week, students will have the benefits of thanking those who serve them without a loss of instructional time. Schools can divide up the week so that each day highlights a special contribution or a special group.

Some of the groups to be honored include: school board members, administrators, teachers, librarians, counselors, parents, substitutes, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and staff members. There are more groups to recognize than days of the week, so some clever scheduling is required.

Honoring School Board Members and Administrators

Most districts have more schools than school board members, so including school board members in daily activities seamlessly integrates them into American Education Week. For example, a school board member could lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a different school every day, and eat school lunch in the cafeteria of different schools each day.
Read on

* Grants for Gifted and Talented Teachers from the NEA Foundation
* What Is the National Endowment for the Arts?
* Resume Tips for Teachers

At the board building level and the school building level, administrators deserve recognition and appreciation. Rather than ask the PTA to spend money on mugs or other token gifts, thank you notes from parents, teachers, and students are meaningful gifts that will be truly appreciated. Asking students to write one idea or fact that was learned in school and one activity or event that was enjoyed in school will help administrators see that they are, in fact, succeeding with every child.

Faculty and Staff Appreciation

Having students write letters to teachers from previous years is a fun way to help teachers feel appreciated. A happy voice from the past is always welcome. Supply donations are a useful way to recognize the importance of teachers and their classroom needs. It is important to remember special service teachers, such as speech path teachers, because they greatly impact education.

All staff members, from the friendly face in the office to the bus driver who waves goodbye at the end of the day, deserve recognition and appreciation. Thank you notes are appreciated by everyone, and specifically mentioning how that person's job contributes makes the message personal and touching. School office staff and cafeteria staff are often responsible for decorating their areas for the holidays, so some holiday decorations might be useful.
Students Need Appreciation, Too

It is important to include students as a group needing appreciation, and they are an easy group to thank because students are generally very willing to share ideas of how to add some magic to the school days. Having a school game hour or a movie during lunch adds fun without taking too much time away from instruction.

Because American Education Week was originally organized by the teacher's union, it makes sense that it is a resource for all participants, whether they are union members or not. The NEA has a long list of suggestions, from "cutesy" ideas of giving ice cream bars to people with the message "you're cool" to more involved community ideas in a week of grateful living.

Constitution Day: How to Meet Federal Requirements for September 17

Constitution Day is an opportunity for schools to help students increase awareness of and appreciation for the United States Constitution. While the goals of Constitution Day are admirable, it is an unusual holiday because schools are required to have activities on a specific date, which can be tricky to do in smaller districts that share resources such as guest speakers and assembly centers.

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd helped change Citizenship Day to Constitution Day in 2004. In 2005, the Department of Education required that all educational institutions receiving federal funding commemorate September 17, 1787, which is the date of the signing of the United States Constitution. If September 17 falls on a weekend or holiday, schools must hold Constitution Day programs the preceding or following week.
Constitution Day Programming

While Congress legislated Constitution Day, there is not funding for Constitution Day activities. According to its notice, the Department of Education, "is aware that there may be other public and private resources available that may be helpful to educational institutions in implementing Constitution Day." Whatever activities schools decide on, they need to be done on September 17th.

The federal government has provided a Constitution Day activities that provides Constitution Day activities, and even if districts do not use these activities, they may help answer the potentially overwhelming question of, "What do we do if we can't get a guest speaker?".

Based on the government website, schools may want to provide activities that allow students to:

* learn about the original signers of the Constitution
* examine the motivations of the writing and signers of the Constitution
* understand the evolution of the Bill of Rights and Constitution
* discover how the Constitution provides unity for the states
* explore the boundaries and flexibilities of the Constitution.

To make the Constitution more accessible, schools might want to offer simplified versions of the Constitution, word-searches, crossword puzzles, games, and create classroom constitutions to help students understand significant concepts relating to the Constitution.
Read on

* The Controversial Fourteenth Amendment
* Homeschooling and the UN Rights of the Child
* The US Senate and the Vision of the Constitution

Additional Resources

Communities have a number of guest speakers that may be available to discuss how the Constitution impacts them professionally. Professionals involved in the legal system may be of particular interest to middle school, junior high, and high school students.

For schools that are not able to host guest speakers, Constitution Center has excellent resources that schools can purchase for their students, including pocket Constitutions, but be advised that they do not accept purchase orders, so it may be more difficult to order materials. As Constitution Day becomes more popular, more resources will sprout up online and be available to schools.

Despite the difficulties presented by having to hold Constitution Day on a specific date, honoring the Constitution is a valuable experience for students. They recognize Independence Day, President's Day, and Memorial Day, so it makes sense that they should learn about and appreciate the document that started it all.

Is My Child Gifted? How Schools Decide if a Student is Officially "Gifted"

Every child works a bit of magic, and every parent has had those breath-taking moments when a child says, does, or creates something brilliant. When a parent says, "My child is gifted," that parent is absolutely accurate. Children are gifted and talented, and the parents and teachers who witness these glorious moments know one definition of "gifted". However, there is another definition of "gifted", and that is the definition used by state departments of education when they are determining standards for placement in public school gifted programs.
Steps For Placement in Gifted Education Programs

Although all states have different specifics, most districts follow similar procedures. Contacting the school district is the best way to determine specific requirements and placement procedures. Most districts follow a version of these steps:

1. A student is referred to services by a teacher, a parent, or an administrator.
2. The student is evaluated with an assessment of intelligence (an I.Q. test).
3. The student is evaluated with additional assessments, such as a portfolio of work, classroom observation, and standardized test information.
4. The gifted teacher and the regular classroom teacher discuss placement, and parents input is usually considered during this discussion.
5. Parents are then given the results of the evaluation and the recommendations of the school's placement team.
6. Parents give permission for the child to participate in the gifted ed. program, because it involves leaving the regular classroom.

In general, students are given an assessment of intelligence (I.Q. test) by a qualified person, such as a trained gifted teacher or guidance counselor, a district psychometric tester, a psychologist, or a contracted tester from a university. School districts offer these services, but many accept recent private test results if the district uses the test. It is important to check with specific districts to see what tests are accepted before contracting private testing, because most children need to wait a specific amount of time before re-testing.
Common Intelligence Tests Used for Gifted Education

While I.Q. testing is not the only method of placement, it is usually an important factor in the evaluation of the assessment team. While different schools accept different tests, these are the most commonly used tests. They are given to a child individually (as opposed to a group of students testing) by a qualified tester.

* CTONI (Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence) tests children aged 6 and up. It tests non-verbal cognitive ability.
* KBIT-2 (Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, 2nd Edition) tests children aged 4 and up. It tests verbal and non-verbal cognitive ability.
* NNAT-I (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test - Individual) tests children aged 5 and up. It tests non-verbal reasoning ability.
* SBIS-V or SB-5 (Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 5th Edition) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of cognitive ability.
* SPM (Raven Standard Progressive Matrices) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of reasoning and perception. It is sometimes given if confidence intervals on a previously given test are low, of if a child has limited English skills.
* WISC-IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of general and specific cognitive abilities. There is also an integrated WISC-IV that is more specific.
* WJ-III (Woodcock-Johnson III NU Tests of Cognitive Abilities) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of general intelligence and cognitive ability.
* UNIT (Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test) tests children aged 5 and up. It is used for general intelligence and sometimes given if other tests had questionable confidence intervals.

Parents should not let a test or a school district be the sole definition of "giftedness", because all children have some special gifts to offer. However, for academic placement and optimal services, school districts should not let parent and teacher compliments be the sole definition of "giftedness". Using testing and team evaluations, schools can offer students placement in programs that allow them to work with teachers who are trained in working with students who are, for lack of a better word, "gifted".

How to Write Questions for Quiz Bowl, Academic Team, and Scholastic Bowl Competitions

In scholastic quiz bowl competitions, the questions are as important than the answers, because a player can't answer a muddled question. Good questions equal good games.

Nothing frustrates quiz bowl players as much as a confusing question. Players look at their coaches, wondering if they should risk an answer on a poorly worded question. Coaches frown at each other, wondering if the poor word choice is worth tossing the question. Soon someone buzzes in and gives a possible answer, only to find that the question was misleading. The question is tossed, time is wasted, and everyone wonders, "Who wrote these questions?".

Even though any question that has limited answers is technically a closed question, in the world of quiz bowl, a closed question has two answers, such as yes/no or true/false. These questions should be avoided because if one team answers incorrectly, the other team will automatically get it correct. This is frustrating because it amounts to gaining an unearned point.

In a classroom quiz bowl competition, teachers have more flexibility with questions. It is good practice for students to follow standardized rules so they are not confused during official play on an scholastic quiz bowl team.

Questions need to be short and pointed. Long questions or questions that include unnecessary detail are harder to understand. An example of differences in phrasing can be found in these two questions: "George Washington is famous for having wooden teeth. However, his false teeth were not actually made of wood. What were his teeth actually made from?" and "What were George Washington's false teeth made of?".

Players might buzz in with the incorrect answer of "wood", but they also might buzz in with the correct answer of "bone". Quiz bowls are competitions of knowledge, not competitions of focus.
Questions Should Require One Answer

Embedding questions is akin to asking trick questions. Consider the above question regarding George Washington. If the question was, "What were America's First President's false teeth made of?", it is short, but actually requires players to answer two questions: "Who was America's first president", and "What were the false teeth made of?".

In the case of America's first president, the answer is obvious and looks like it is enlivening the game, but it is hard to draw the line on what is obvious in embedded questions. It is best to stick with one question per question.

Competitions can go more quickly if the players are able to predict the line of questioning. Having questions on specific themes, like "American Presidents" and "Rivers", helps players focus and feel more confident about their question-attack strategies.

Themes can be playful, such as "Words Starting With M" or "Places on The Globe That Are Not America". If there must be a general knowledge category, warn players with a theme name such as "Anything Goes" or "Potpourri". With enough well-written questions, it is possible to avoid catch-all categories.

Once a teacher develops a library of good questions, it is easy to recycle them every few years. Other teachers, coaches, even teams are excellent sources for questions that are written with quiz bowl games in mind. Questions help set the tone of the game. Easy questions make for an easy games, challenging questions make for challenging games, and a well-done questions make for well-done games.

How to Create Rules and Guidelines in Gifted and Talented Classrooms

Students who leave the regular classroom for gifted classroom often discover they are in a distinctly different learning environment.

Creating and maintaining a positive learning environment in the gifted classroom is essential for student success. Gifted classrooms are often a haven for g/t kids; they are able to reveal sides of their personalities in the increased comfort that is borne of being in a homogeneous group. However, the group is only homogeneous to a degree, and soon conflicts abound. It is important to establish rules and visit them frequently, as new students are often identified and placed mid-year.

Because many gifted students stay with the same teacher for several years, it is to the students' benefit if the teacher makes broad rules that can be adjusted as time goes by. Some teachers like to involve students in creating classroom rules, but because gifted education involves frequent additions after the start of school, it seems unfair to create rules without some of the participants. It may be better to have student input on procedures related to rules, and revisit those procedures on a regular basis. For example, if one rule is that students must bring supplies to class, the class may vote on procedures to deal with students that do not bring supplies. Should the students bring extra supplies to loan out to one another? Should the empty-handed student have to return to his or her locker to get supplies?

Having rules established when students walk in, and posting rules on the wall, helps establish boundaries for students. The rules of the gifted classroom can be discussed with parents during placement into the program. To create rules, the teacher should consider the duration of the program and activities in the classroom.

If students are coming to a pull-out classroom once or twice a week, the classroom rules need to be easy to remember. A lot of rules will lead to a lot of overwhelmed students. If they are allowed to use their pencils in their other classes but only pens in the gifted classroom, the teacher should have a supply of pens. It is not easy for children to remember rules of a class they attend infrequently. Classes that meet daily are able to have more rules, but again, any rules that are atypical for the student's general experience should be highlighted on a regular basis.
Activities Impact Classroom Rules

Preserving student safety and teacher sanity should be the primary goal of rules. If students are not safe, they will not learn. If teachers are uncomfortable with the amount of movement and noise in a room, the quality of their teaching may reflect their discomfort. It is best to have a rules that everyone can understand and follow. Rules should be given with situations and procedures to help students understand the how to follow the rule. For example:

Rule: Students will respect their classroom materials.

Situation: If a student is working in a center, he or she will leave the center clean and ready to be used by the next person.

Procedure: When a student is done at a center, look at the checklist and make sure all of the supplies are returned to their original areas.

Gifted classrooms have more flexibility than regular classrooms, but students need rules to take advantage of the opportunities a flexible classroom offers. A supportive classroom has boundaries, and boundaries designed with g/t kids in mind will actually increase the sense of flexibility in the classroom.

Parents andTeachers as Partners: Parent Involvement in the Classroom

Most parents want to be supportive participants in their children's classes, but they want the classroom teacher to provide opportunities to be involved.

Teachers who involve parents in their class activities will find that they have increased parent support at home, because parents have a deeper understanding of what their children are experiencing in the classroom. Even as students get older, teachers can find meaningful ways for parents to be involved in their classes.

In early elementary, parent volunteers are eager and plentiful. As students get older, parents often become less involved. Perhaps they have younger children in other classes, perhaps their children are less enthusiastic about seeing their parents at school, and perhaps schools offer fewer opportunities to be involved in school. Teachers can create a parent community in upper-grades by reaching parents in new ways and involving them in the classroom on different levels.
Reaching Parents

Depending on a tween to bring home letters to parents is risky if the child is reluctant to have his or her parents in the classroom. Mailing newsletters, updating classroom websites, and using email lists are excellent ways to "eliminate the middleman" and reach parents directly.

Many schools have webpages available for teachers, but if that is not an option, there are free internet resources for teachers. Many of the blog-hosting sites are free, and a blog is an easy way to update parents on classroom needs and opportunities. and are free, popular, and easy to use. For a more comprehensive page, education World also offers a list of free websites that allow teachers to create homepages for their classrooms.

Putting all these well-intentioned parents to use is easy with a little brainstorming. Many parents enjoy helping with classroom displays, decorating desks, creating bulletin boards, and hanging up work samples and student art. This gives them a chance to be in the classroom and enjoy the atmosphere without having to be in charge of any children. Parents also like coming up and reading with students, guest speaking, and helping make class run more smoothly. If teachers are playing games to prepare for a big test, parents can come help monitor activities and be leaders. Teachers can also depend on parents to help judge classroom contests, be an audience for students presentations, and take pictures of classroom activities in action.

Everyone wins when parents increase involvement in the classroom. Students who see their parents and teachers working together and feeling supported will realize that classrooms are communities that extend beyond school boundaries.

Use Quiz Bowl and Academic/Scholastic Bowl Competitions in Class

Many secondary schools have official academic teams, and being on a scholastic bowl team is a rewarding experience. However, not every student can be involved in extra-curricular teams. Quiz bowl is an excellent gifted classroom experience, because all students can participate in all steps. Everyone gets a chance to buzz and shine individually, but there is the security of working together in an setting that encourages healthy competition.
Setting Up A Classroom Quiz Bowl

Having a real buzzer set makes all the difference, because students can answer in a split second and the buzzer will indicate who really did buzz in first. Buzzers can be found by searching for “quiz system buzzers”, “lock out buzzers”, or “player recognition systems”.

Arrange the desks to face the person asking the questions, not the opposing team. An outlet needs to be accessible for the buzzer set, and a scoreboard (such as a white board) should be visible.

You'll need students to fill these roles:

* Score-Keeper (allowing everyone can see the score)
* Questioner/Judge
* Team A Team B
* Audience/Substitutes

To prepare students for joining future bowl teams, one might create teams similar to competitive teams by sorting students into groups of four, and having two groups of four complete against each other.

Mixing quiet and outgoing students works well. A team needs some cautious players and some risk-taking players. Sometimes kids shine in brain training games but are too shy to speak out during competitive games.
Creating Questions

It is tempting to just open a box of Trivial Pursuit cards, but it is best to get quiz bowl questions from research. Students enjoy researching questions and answers, and question libraries grow quickly.

Questions need to be open, meaning they are not multiple choice or yes/no. Usually, questions are written on a theme, such as “Award-Winners”.

It is important that the required answer is clear. The question, “Which states border Utah?” is less clear than“Which six states border Utah?”.

It is important to establish if teams are allowed to discuss answers before buzzing. In Scholastic Bowl competitions, discussion is limited to written portions of games, but classrooms have flexibility.

Read the question, and allow ten seconds for a response. Only accept the first answer. If the answer is correct, the team gets a point. If it is incorrect, the opposing team has a chance to answer. Incorrect responses do not penalize a team in competition, but in a classroom competition removing points for incorrect answers can heighten the competition, if necessary.

After ten questions, students are substituted with other students, so everyone gets to play and everyone has a stake in the building scores of the two teams. This makes watching more engaging and allows for odd number populations to play. One team just has fewer substitutes.
Taking Grades

Grades for participation or sportsmanship are obvious; it would be unfair to take grades for performance, as more than one person might know the answer. The only “performance” grade that could really be measured would be the ability to press a buzzer, which is not an especially academic task.

Shy students who are not ready to risk buzzing in are usually willing volunteers to keep score or read questions, thus allowing everyone to be involved on classroom quiz bowl days.
Impact in on Gifted Children

Gifted classrooms are important resources to gifted children; these are the classrooms where they find understanding teachers, friends with similar abilities, and challenging environments. Using quiz bowl sets to create gifted classroom cooperation and competition is a worthy activity for the immediate experience. Additionally, following rules similar to established scholastic bowl rules allows students to easily move into the world of academic bowl in junior high and high school, a time when gifted education is often replaced by AP classes. By participating in established academic teams, gifted students can continue to enjoy cooperation and competition.

A quiz bowl buzzer set is an excellent investment for a gifted classroom, because students enjoy competition, benefit from new challenges, and build skills for future opportunities.

Gifted Kids and Reading: How to Locate Books for Gifted Kids and High Ability Readers

Reading habits are understandable characteristics of giftedness; gifted children are cognitively more developed than is normally expected. However, gifted readers need guidance in book selection. A child reading at a college level is not necessarily ready for college material.

Students of all reading abilities tend to enjoy books about people slightly older than they are, so a ten year old will relate to and be interested in books about thirteen year olds more than books about twenty year olds. Finding books written at a high interest, high ability level requires time and work.

Doing an advanced book search at and highlighting the appropriate age range is one tool. Amazon also provides book reviews, and reading those reviews is an excellent start. The reviews are usually written by adults, but sometimes there are child reviews. If there are no child reviews, beware: this is not a book for children.

Sorting through reviews can be time consuming, and teen readers can finish books and return them to the public library before their parents see them. Reading the back of the book or the book jacket yields a lot of information, as does flipping through. However, the best approach is just to ask your child one question, “If this book was a movie, what would you rate it?”

Whatever the answer – even the safe “G” rating – should be followed up with discussion. This widens those narrowing lines of communication, gives parents insight into their children, and helps promote communication skills in general.

Just because a child is involved in a higher-level book does not mean it should be taken away, of course. Knowing that a child is reading a book with death, violence, or illicit activities means that parents need to read the book, too. If that is not possible – and it often is not – parents need to open the door for conversations. Children may leave books with inaccurate perceptions, and it is not unheard of for children to have nightmares from the frightening book they fell asleep reading.

Parents should not discount non-fiction as a reading choice. Adults have a blend of non-fiction and fiction reading; children tend to read non-fiction books as assignments and fiction as free choice reading. Parents may want to share their own reading choices, not as material to be read, but as examples of genre. If parents are reading National Geographic, then National Geographic Kids is an obvious connection for children. Teachers can use parent newsletters to help keep parents up to date on books.

Often non-fiction, especially historical readings, are often as fascinating as historical fiction without the elevated drama that requires some life experience to appreciate. Helping gifted children pick out appropriate reading materials helps keep them in common experience with their peers and helps preserve childhood a little longer, which are admirable goals in themselves.

Happy Birthday Dr. Suess - Barnes and Noble has Rachel Ray Reading Green Eggs and Ham!

Barnes & Online Storytime March Exclusive: Rachael Ray to Read The Dr. Seuss Classic Green Eggs And Ham

New York, NY - March 1, 2011 -Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world's largest bookseller, today announced that celebrity author and chef Rachael Ray will read the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham for the Barnes & March Online Storytime ( Barnes & Noble chose the Dr. Seuss favorite as the March selection to celebrate the March 2nd birthday of the beloved children's author. Ms. Ray, a fan of Green Eggs and Ham, is excited to participate. Beginning today, visitors can listen to the exclusive narration by Ms. Ray of the children's classic.

"Dr. Seuss Enterprises is thrilled to participate in Barnes & Noble's Online Storytime in March. And, it's timed perfectly with Dr. Seuss's birthday," said Susan Brandt, President, Licensing and Marketing, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. "We love seeing this classic Dr. Seuss story told to children by Rachael Ray in a new and energizing way. This interactive initiative makes reading fun for kids and their parents, which Dr. Seuss would be so pleased to see, and we wholly support."

Barnes & will feature a Green Eggs and Ham page with a selection of Dr. Seuss books and toys ( Barnes & customers will receive a 40% discount on select Dr. Seuss items and several Rachael Ray cookbooks, for a limited time. To celebrate the Online Storytime, Barnes & Noble stores will feature Green Eggs and Ham and other Dr. Seuss books on in-store displays for the month of March.

A monthly feature, Barnes &'s Online Storytime is perfect for children ages two through six and showcases favorite children's books read by well-known authors and celebrities. To enhance the Storytime experience, illustrations and artwork are brought to life through pan-and-scan technology. Previous selections have included Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly read by author Jane O'Connor; Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Ian Falconer's Olivia read by Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer; Where the Wild Things Are read by author Maurice Sendak; The Mitten read by author Jan Brett; and The Polar Express read by author Chris Van Allsburg.