In addition to my work as an author I am Winthrop’s Play Outside Coordinator tps://www.facebook.com/WinthropPlaysOutside/ and The Winthrop Schools Service Learning Coordinator.http://www.winthropschools.org.
As the Service Learning Coordinator I have dreamed and often talked about how the Winthrop Schools might co- host a community read with our fabulous public library.http://www.baileylibrary.org. All I needed was a book and an author. Last December I read Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars http://www.cynthialord.com/ and knew I found the book! I lent my copy to a 6th grade teacher who read the book to her class and she told me the students wanted to make blueberry enchiladas and paint bee houses.I knew I had a book and activities, now all I needed was the author!
2016 is the 100 birthday of the Bailey Library so I pitched the idea in mid- winter to the library director, Richard Fortin, as a community read to celebrate 100 years of reading. As soon as Cynthia Lord confirmed her June 21st visit to Winthrop I started handing out the book and by June, thanks to many teachers and librarians , grades 2-8 had listened to some or all of the story . I delivered seven copies to Adult Education and twelve to the high school for their book club. Many , many adults checked the book out too!
Before Cynthia’s visit we had four intergenerational events at the library. Deb Barnett from the Eat Well Program showed us how to make yummy blueberry enchiladas https://extension.umaine.edu/food-health/eat-well/. Marilyn Meyerhans, the owner of Lakeside Orchard ,http://www.lakesideorchards.com talked about the role of migrant workers in Maine and at her orchards.
Middle School students and the public decorated bee houses and we had a lively community discussion about the book. Cynthia’s wonderful , informative talk about how and why she wrote her story was a perfect way to end our community read. I was thrilled to be involved in this celebration of reading.http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/05/26/winthrop-library-plans-community-read/
WMS teacher Chris McEwan and Cynthia Lord
Karen Toothaker and Cynthia Lord
I spent many hours with teachers and students this year as they walked around their classroom and libraries asking and answering questions as they looked for more details in the original Talking Walls illustrations . Tara Bryant, the librarian at Geiger School, participated in twelve of my workshops and sent me this message about my work.
” Interactive magic, that is what I would call it! You combine all the different aspects of books: reading, writing, story telling, art, perspective and history all in a 40 minute period. The students walk away with a lot of information all with comprehension and without getting “antsy.”
The children are blown away and proud of what they have learned. Some were saying that they were going to go home that night and ask their parents if they new Nelson Mandela, or that you can see the Great Wall of China from outer space!
It is a sense of understanding art in books in a whole new way. I will never read a story the same. As a librarian I will take what I have learned from you and engage students and set a focus not only on the story but how the pictures are telling the story as well. I will ask the questions… “What do you see? What is happening?” Students will be able to tell the story before it is even read! “I think ________, because _______” will be a wonderful tool to help students back up what they are learning.
As an educator this program is extremely beneficial and essential for all ages. I recommend Margy to help teachers learn “Interactive Magic” and the reason I describe it that way is because it captivates all who are in her presence. It isn’t just sitting and listening, its about hands on, eyes on, voice on, and mind on! It is not easy to grab the attention of youngsters these days but I witnessed first hand a new and innovative way to teach our youth the importance of non-fiction, story telling, reading, and the importance of art.”
Thank you Tara!
My final school visit for this academic year was with curious, attentive 4th-6th graders in Lewiston. After listening to Talking Walls stories students and teachers not only looked for details in the original Talking Walls illustrations, but also asked and answered questions about:Diego Rivera, Nelson Mandela, Pablo Neruda, The Western Wall, The Great Wall of China and decorated walls in Egypt, Japan, France and the USA