October 20: NCTE Celebrates #WhyIWrite

The National Day on Writing, October 20, was founded by the National Council of Teachers of English on the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration. For the past 9 years, NCTE has seen hundreds of thousands of people share their responses and engage in activities around the theme of #WhyIWrite.

ZING! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators & Students encourages teachers to help students develop as writers.

"Written as a series of seven letters to teachers, this useful, insightful and inviting book encourages teachers to rediscover their creative and artistic energy in order to become more impassioned educators."—REFORMA newsletter
ZING! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators & Students

Tomás in Tempe

Tomas and the Library LadyChildsplay Theatre Company will bring their production of Tomas and the Library Lady, based on Pat’s book, to the Tempe (AZ) Center for the Arts Oct. 21 through Nov. 12, 2017.

Tickets are on sale now at www.childsplayaz.org or at the Tempe Center for the Arts Box Office at 480.350.2822, ext. 2. The play is recommended for ages 5 and up. Tempe Center for the Arts is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281.

The 1 p.m. performance on Saturday, October 21 is a special $12 Storybook Preview performance, sponsored by The Steele Foundation. Each family that attends this General Admission preview performance will receive a free book!

Since Childsplay premiered the play in 2006, the show has embarked on four statewide tours and two national tours. The play will hit the road for a third national tour in the 2018-2019 season.

Dr. Tomás Rivera is a role model, a man who loved books, invested in his education, and inspired others including Pat to motivate our young people to be readers.

Congratulations to the 2017 Mora Award winners!

Mattawa Elementary School, in the Wahluke School District in Mattawa, Washington, has received the 2017 Estela and Raúl Mora Award, an honor given by Pat and her sister in partnership with First Book. The award recognizes literacy activities during the month of April in celebration of Children’s Day, Book Day; also known as El día de los niños, El día de los libros; or Día. Mattawa Elementary School will receive a $1,000 credit for brand new books from the First Book Marketplace, as well as a Mora Award plaque to be displayed in their school.

Mattawa’s Día event was open to the whole community and focused on drawing parents to the school library to see the collection of Spanish and bilingual books available to their children. “Circulation for these titles is low–we wanted children and parents to understand the importance of reading books together in both English and their heritage language,” Día; volunteer Tiffany Coulson said.
Mora Award winner Mattawa ElementaryThe after-school event was three hours long and included an authentic taco dinner, an outside bounce house, a soccer obstacle course where kids could earn prizes, dancing, a coloring station, Lotería (a game of chance similar to bingo), carnival games, and a raffle. The school library also held a book giveaway–if a student brought a parent or caregiver to the library and they read a book together, each child in the family could take home a free book! Read more about the event on the First Book blog.

There were also two Mora Award honor winners that will receive $500 in credit to the First Book Marketplace. Safford K-8 School in Tucson, Arizona, and John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, California were also recognized for their Día celebrations.

First Book received over 100 applications this year for the Mora Award–the highest number of submissions in the award’s 17-year history!

Young Pat and family

Pat’s parents, Estela and Raúl Mora, her sister Cissy and Pat

Pat Smith: A Blessing & a Texas Legend

Pat SmithAs far back as I can remember, Pat Smith has been warm and generous to me and a wonderful Children’s Day, Book Day (Día) supporter. She is the former Executive Director of the Texas Library Association (TLA), the largest state library association in the country, and is active in the American Library Association (ALA).

C reative and warm as a leader
R esponsive to change and issues
E xpansive in her thinking
A ffirming, helping all to succeed
Talented intellectually and strategically
 I nventive, leads with generosity and commitment
Versatile, curious & open
E xuberant, laughs easily and listens well



October 4: Feast of St Francis of Assisi

The Song of St. Francis and the AnimalsThe Song of St. Francis and the Animals celebrates the tender relationship between the beloved saint and the animals whom he cherished. Woodcut artist David Frampton captures the exuberant songs of Francis and the animals in charming, colorful woodcuts that underscore the harmony between humans and the natural world.

Curriculum activities:

  • A good opportunity to explore the complex process of making woodcuts. Perhaps a local woodcut artist or an art teacher could explain the process and devise a safe method for students to create their own art.
  • Invite students to discuss the relationship Francis had to each creature. Have students share stories of their own habits of treating animals.
  • If possible, invite a veterinarian or veterinary student or a staff member of a humane society, animal shelter, or animal rescue program to do a presentation on how to be a good pet owner.
  • This book is an extended poem. Invite students to write their own poem/song about their favorite animal.
Illustration by David Frampton.

Illustration by David Frampton.

Our Unseen Mentors

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

I am in the final phase of my seventh poetry collection for adults (the first six are: Agua Santa: Holy Water, Adobe Odes, Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints, Communion, Borders and Chants). As I read, re-read, and tweak, the poems, I’ve returned to A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets. Although I’ve never met her, I did have the pleasure of hearing her some years back here in Santa Fe. Talk about an enthusiastic audience! Many of them were women. Mary Oliver and her work are much loved.

Her writing advice is clear and wise.


Enacting Adolescent Literacies Across Communities

ENACTING ADOLESCENT LITERACIES ACROSS COMMUNITIES: Congratulations to my dear friend, Dr. R. Joseph Rodríquez, for his challenging ENACTING ADOLESCENT LITERACIES ACROSS COMMUNITIES: LATINO/A SCRIBES AND THEIR RITES. Joseph is both a complex thinker and a welcoming partner when he writes, “While working with the next generation of educators, thinkers, and researchers, we must remain hopeful and work toward the common good that can fuel socially responsible literacies and scribes.”


Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15

Every month of the year is a good month to celebrate all our children and to connect them and their families to bookjoy. I feel very fortunate to be bilingual and to be of Mexican descent. I enjoy having some of my children’s books published in Spanish and some in bilingual formats. Publishers make that decision.
I encourage all children to learn another language. Adults too ;) Our languages are part of our cultural wealth in this country.


Hispanic Heritage Month 2017