3 Jun 2010

The Ladies of the Lava

They're called the Ladies of the Lava, that group of women who write for digital magazine, Literacy Lava.

They're clever and erudite and talented and witty and incredibly smart.

Every time I receive an email to this amazing group and find my name included amongst the luminaries written there, I feel a frisson of excitement and I almost need to pinch myself to believe it's real. Oh boy. Me.

The fifth edition of Literacy Lava was published on Tuesday. You can get your free copy at the Book Chook's website here. I'm late telling you about it, but I couldn't let its publication entirely pass by without a mention, and so for those of you who haven't yet read through this incredible resource for children's literacy, allow me to introduce you to the Ladies of the Lava. We're a diverse group, but we're all passionate about children's literacy and educating kids. We all value your feedback too, so do drop us a line and tell us what you think and to suggest topics for future editions. Thankee so muchly.

Brightest light in the stellar lineup is Literacy Lava's editor herself, the Book Chook, Susan Stephenson. Susan will not be new to most of you - I link to her blog with almost embarrassing regularity, but for those of you who want to know more you can read up on her at her website. Susan contributes the article in Issue 5 on spelling. You know I worry about Jemimah's progress in this area, and so this was the first page that I turned to when I received my advance copy. As editor, Susan is also to blame for the great online resources and the kids activity page at the end of the magazine. The morals were a great hit around our dinner table one evening. I must say, a Liberal Education helps here!

Amy Mascott advocates the return of the lost art of letter writing to encourage our kids to write. We had plenty of opportunities to practice her tips during our recent trip to Japan. Amy blogs at teachmama, where she seeks to provide parents with the materials to teach their own kids effectively. I always find good ideas at Amy's blog.

Catherine Oehlman is SquiggleMum - one of Australia's Top 100 Women Bloggers. In issue 5, Catherine teaches us how to unwrap picture books with our kids. Try it - it's fun! Pop over to her blog too, to discover what makes an award winning Aussie blogger. wow. See what company I keep!

The most controversial topic in this edition of the Lava is arguably Melissa Taylor's article on the value of Graphic Novels as reading material for our kids. Despite the raging controversy over comics and the like in our culture, one can hardly ignore the amazing Manga phenomenon in Japan, where whole floors of major bookstores are dedicated to the genre. We love (many of) them in our Peaceful Home. Melissa makes some great recommendations for readers of all abilities in her article, and don't forget the old classic Tintin and Asterix as well. Melissa's blog, Imagination Soup, is a veritable minestrone of playful learning activities to implement and enjoy with your kids. Yummy.

Dawn Little looks at pairing fiction and nonfiction texts as read alouds. Her comment that preschool children like learning true information about topics that interest them as well as hearing great stories certainly proved true in our home. "Fiction isn't the only way to create an engaged reader," Dawn writes, and I must say I agree.

Dawn is founder of Links to Literacy, and also finds time to maintain not one but two blogs, Literacy Toolbox and Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. I was particularly impressed by her posts on reluctant readers during a recent visit to the Toolbox.

Have you heard of V-books? I hadn't until I read the sidebar to Joyce Grant's article. Getting your video-game loving kid reading is Joyce's topic in Literacy Lava 5. If this is a problem in your home you'll get some great advice here, and learn about v-books at the same time. I'm off to follow the links here myself. Joyce blogs at Getting Kids Reading. Her blog is a new one to me, but I'm enjoying getting to know her!

Do you know the difference between haiku, haiga, solage and cinquains? Kathryn Apel does, and you will too, when you read her contribution, Playing with Poetry. Be sure to let Kat know if you try these with your children. I think that some work on Japanese poetry could be just to thing to ease us back into work after our three week holiday. I'll let you know how we go!

Visit Kat's blog for a cinquain planning and draft sheet as well as to learn more about Kat and her writing.

That leaves me. For this edition of Literacy Lava I've written about the benefits of Story Time. You'll find a cute pic of Jemimah and me snuggling together too. Kawaii 可愛い.

And so that's them- the Ladies of the Lava. Can you see why I feel overwhelmed to be included in their company?

You can download your FREE copy of Literacy Lava 5 at the Book Chook’s site. Check out previous editions while you’re there! And don't forget to spread the word.
Literacy is the Magical Key to a child's future success!

- Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook.


  1. I'll be sure to download my free copy - I'm hoping that sweet photo of you with Jemimah prints out well here!

  2. I always count on you to know when the latest edition is available... I'm lazy. I do subscribe to the book chook too, but this time you're post popped up before hers in my blog read catch up :)

    LOVE that picture of you and Jemimah!

    amy in peru

  3. Jeanne,

    What a great round up of all of us! Thank you! I count myself lucky to be among such a great group of women myself! Every issue of Literacy Lava is chock full of amazing ideas and activities from fantastic writers, mothers, and educators!

  4. What a lovely write-up! Thank you Jeanne for all you bring to Literacy Lava, and for helping spread the word!

  5. wow, where to start . . . how about how much I LOVE your writing! Thank you for your excellent description of all the Lit Lava articles, and your kind words about mine.

    I adored Tintin as a child. I skipped him on purpose for this article b/c rereading him I noticed so many stereotypes of other cultures.

    My newest graphic novel favorite? Rapunzel's Revenge! She's no wimpy princess. Set in the Wild West, Rapunzel is a heroine who uses her braids as lassos and much more.

    Take care and thanks again for this great write up.

    Melissa (imaginationsoup.net)

  6. Oh what a lovely writeup! Thank you so much for including me in it. Loved reading your article!

  7. oh my gosh! Thank you so very much for your kind words about teach mama and about the whole of Literacy Lava. I, too, am grateful to be a part of such an awesome, talented group of writers, and I'm thankful for all that the wonderful Susan does to put it together.

    Many thanks, friend!


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