WIN a Life-Size Wimpy Kid for Your Classroom!

wimpy-kid-cutoutWe were all super excited here at the office when Greg Heffley, of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame, paid us a visit (see dorky photo for proof)! And as much as we’d like to keep him here as company, we thought it might be even more fun if he could pay a visit to YOUR classroom! We do like giving things away, after all.

So we’re running a contest! One grand prize winner will receive the following:
• Life-size cardboard cutout of Greg Heffley, the wimpy kid
• One copy, on CD audiobook and in print, of each of the books in the Wimpy Kid series
Other fun goodies, like bookmarks and buttons

Three runners up will each win one copy, on CD audiobook and print book, of one of the books from the Wimpy Kid series.

Here’s what you should do to win: Tell us what you’d do if you could get Greg Heffley in your classroom! Submit your ideas as a comment here. Would you arrange a school-wide read along? Have students make their own cartoons? We’ll pick our favorites to win. The last book in the series, The Ugly Truth, will be published on November 9, 2010. The contest will close on Friday, October 22, 2010 and a winner will be announced on Monday, October 25, 2010. We’ll mail Greg Heffley and your other goodies out and you should receive them in time to celebrate the launch of The Ugly Truth!

twitter-avatar-wimpykidWhile you’re here, check out some other Wimpy Kid resources!
Watch a video interview of author Jeff Kinney
“Wimp yourself” and make your own wimpy kid character
• Follow Greg Heffley and the Wimpy Kid movie on Twitter

Winner must be a K-12 librarian or teacher. Winners will be picked by Recorded Books. U.S. entrants only, please. We reserve the right to confirm eligibility and to alter contest rules. Good luck!


Lots of Great Ideas for Using Strega Nona with Students

A couple weeks ago, we asked you to share why you’d like to win a copy of classic beginning reader title Strega Nona for your school. We got lots of wonderful responses that you should definitely check out. In the end, I chose Patricia Young of Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District, NY:

Mamma mia! As an Italian-American, Tomie DePaola’s books have resonated with me for years, and inspired my teaching units. My ELL students easily connect with his family stories and colorful characters. The tone and purpose of his stories shine through his sensitive approach to human frailty and have fostered deeply purposeful conversations in my class. I would be honored to share this particular book in honor of my mom who came yearly to read it to my classes in her brilliant Italian accent.

AudioFile Golden Voice narrator John McDonough is no Italian grandmother (though he is a former Captain Kangaroo!), but I hope his reading does this story the justice I’m sure your mother’s reading did, Patricia. I will be contacting you and sending out your copy of Strega Nona on CD and print book.

Because of all the great ideas, I also had to pick two other winners who will receive a grab-bag goodie from my desk.

Olivia Perez of Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, Texas writes:

Wow!! I don’t have space or time enough to tell why I’d like to win. I’m an ELA/ESL instructional specialist for secondary schools in my district. I work closely with 2 middle schools and 4 high schools. Our teacher trainings focus on assisting ELL’s, reading/writing interrelatedness, and language arts as a whole. We are beginning a new turnaround in focusing on reading for next year. We encourage teachers to try audiobooks for struggling readers and to use picture books (just like Strega Nona) to teach out of. We have modeled this through the National Writing Project training. In the summer we are lucky enough to be able to work closely with groups of students in raising scores, helping them to graduate, and raising reading/writing. I’d love to be able to ‘gift’ this at a training to a lucky teacher or during a session with an even luckier student!

Lisa Jorgensen writes:

I would love to win this Tomie DePaula audio book for my school. I was able to attend a couple of Dr. Janet Allen’s workshops here in Memphis over a couple of summers. I was very excited to see where her research was taking education. Two years ago, when my elementary principal asked for what we most needed in each classroom, my answer was a “listening center”. Imagine my surprise when 6 weeks later, a cassette/cd. player with four headphones showed up in each classroom. Except, we don’t have any listening materials except for the textbook copies. We need to have this for our library so that the school will see how wonderful audio books will be!!!! We can invest!!!!

I’ll be contacting the winners soon. And again, thanks so much to all our commenters! Look for more contests throughout the summer.

Winners of the Best Children’s Audiobooks Contest Announced

It was definitely not an easy task to pick the winners of the Top 20 Children’s Audiobooks post. We had 35 commenters and all had wonderful suggestions and comments. There were many great suggestions that did not make it into the final top 20 lists, so please check out all the comments for some great reading suggestions.

In the end, by tallying up titles with repeat votes, I compiled two lists: one of the top 20 Recorded Books children’s audiobooks, and one of the top 20 audiobooks from Recorded Books and other publishers combined. The winners are in no particular order. I also included some descriptive quotes from some commenters on why they chose the book.

So…drumroll please!…

Top 20 Recorded Books Children’s Audiobooks
(Titles included in the Grand Prize Giveaway are italicized)
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain – Narrated by John McDonough
Blackbringer – Narrated by Davina Porter
Bridge to Terabithia – Narrated by Tom Stechschulte
City of Bones – Narrated by Ari Graynor
Clementine – Narrated by Jessica Almasy
Dragon Rider – Narrated by Brendan Fraser
Flight #116 Is Down – Narrated by George Guidall – “This put me on the edge of my seat! I was literally breathless through some parts.”—Maggi (Mama Librarian)
Island of the Blue Dolphins – Narrated by Christina Moore
No Talking – Narrated by Keith Nobbs
Poppy – Narrated by John McDonough
Rules – Narrated by Jessica Almasy
A Series of Unfortunate Events (series) – Narrated by Lemony Snicket and Tim Curry
Stuck in Neutral – Narrated by Johnny Heller – “The audiobook gives voice to the voiceless Shawn.”—Lee Catalano
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Narrated by Sherman Alexie – “The “Rez” accent is not essential to appreciate this adolescent chronicle of straddling two worlds, but is sure doesn’t hurt.”—DaNae
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Narrated by Jeff Woodman
Good Masters, Sweet Ladies – Narrated by a full cast – “Sure I’d read the book before it won the big award, and sure I was mighty impressed with Schlitz’s skill with words. But hearing it how it was meant to be heard, moved it from a grand award-winner to pure genius.”—DaNae
The Graveyard Book – Narrated by Neil Gaiman – “I’m not sure if a children’s book should sound this sexy, but I will happily take my ghost stories with this kind of verbal velvet.”—DaNae
The Last Apprentice (series) – Narrated by Christopher Evan Welch – “Even though Christopher Evan Welch isn’t British, he skillfully creates some scary times out in the English countryside.”—Lee Catalano
The Ranger’s Apprentice – Narrated by John Keating
The Whipping Boy – Narrated by Spike McClure

Top 20 Children’s Audiobooks
(Starred titles are Recorded Books-produced titles)
Bridge to Terabithia* – Narrated by Tom Stechschulte
Charlotte’s Web – Narrated by E.B. White – “I can just imagine Mr. White telling the story to a group of kids. His voice takes the listener right into that intimate circle.”—Katrina Johnson
Good Masters, Sweet Ladies* – Narrated by a full cast
The Harry Potter Series – Narrated by Jim Dale
Hatchet – Narrated by Peter Coyote
Beverly Cleary’s books narrated by Neil Patrick Harris
Holes – Narrated by Kerry Beyer
The Inkheart Trilogy (series) – Narrated by Brendan Fraser – “I understand why Brendan Fraser was cast as Mo in the movie, he has got a great reading voice.”—Jana Warnell
Maniac Magee – Narrated by S. Epatha Merkeson
Rules – Narrated by Jessica Almasy
Saffy’s Angel – Narrated by Julia Sawatha
A Series of Unfortunate Events* (series) – Narrated by Lemony Snicket and Tim Curry
Stargirl – Narrated by Mandy Siegfried
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian* – Narrated by Sherman Alexie
The Giver – Narrated by Ron Rifkin
The Golden Compass – Narrated by the Author and a Full Cast
The Last Apprentice* (series) – Narrated by Christopher Evan Welch
The Lightning Thief – Narrated by Jesse Bernstein
Where the Red Fern Grows – Narrated by Anthony Heald – “I listened to this with my sons and they loved the story. Anthony Heald did a great job, but I am still more fond of my fourth grade teacher’s narration (good memories).”—Jana Warnell
Year Down Yonder – Narrated by Lois Smith – “I don’t know who this Lois Smith is, but in my world she will have closet full of Lane Bryant dresses and a passel of shenanigans up her sleeve that would do Grandma Dowdle proud.”—DaNae

So, who is the winner of the grand prize? Jana Warnell of Montana! Congratulations! I will be contacting you by email so you can claim your prize.

Summer Reading Contest Winners

Congratulations to the following winners of our Summer Reading contests! Remember, there’s still time to enter in the Top Children’s Audiobooks contest as well, so get those lists in!

Joan Cansdale motivates her students by letting them pick great titles for the incoming class. This is a great way to involve kids in the process:

This year, I plan to have my eighth graders draw up the list of recommended books for summer reading for the seventh graders, and the seventh graders will create the list for the sixth graders. Having some choice encourages students to find something they like, and knowing that the titles were recommended by other students makes it more interesting and acceptable. Also, the required titles I’ll assign relate to our first unit of study, so I give them a little background about that to pique their interest.

Lisa Erickson keeps in touch with her students over the summer, getting updates on their summer reading list. She also lets former students reach out to new students by showing off their work:

At the end of the school year I give students a blank postcard, addressed to me and stamped. I ask them to tell me about any great books they read over the summer. They should tell me about the book and then draw an illustration for the book on the front of the card. In the Fall when students return I create a bulletin board that my ex students come back and visit and my new students are motivated by.

Congratulations! I’ll be contacting each you soon so you can claim your prizes.

Poetry Month Contest Winners Announced

As you may have noticed if you follow @recordebooks on Twitter, we had so many wonderful entries to the National Poetry Month contest that we decided to pick three winners instead of just one! Thank you all so much for participating and leaving such insightful comments and great ideas. I encourage everyone to go back through and read the contributions that you may have missed. There are some wonderful suggestions there that you might want to incorporate next year!

We invited in two celebrity judges (plus me, Jennah Watters, AKA “the Recorded Books Twitterer“) to pick the winners!

Alan SitomerAlan Sitomer
Alan Sitomer is the author of the Alan Sitomer BookJam. California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year, he is also the critically acclaimed author of numerous engaging books for young adult readers. Also the 2003 California Literacy Teacher of the Year and 2004 winner of the Award for Classroom Excellence from the Southern California Teachers of English, Alan is currently a classroom teacher in Los Angeles, California.

Michael Cirelli Michael Cirelli
Michael Cirelli, co-author of the Poetry Jam with Alan Sitomer, is the executive director of Urban Word NYC, an award-winning literary arts organization that serves over 15,000 teens annually. Urban Word now hosts the largest local teen poetry slam in the country. Michael holds an MFA in poetry from The New School.

And now, on to the winners!

Mag, who said

mag, on April 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm Said:

Poetry is great to read silently on one’s own, but the real power of poetry emerges when a poem is read aloud. Poetry is best shared.
Eating Poetry
Mark Strand


Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry

Alan liked the poem Mag shared by Mark Strand, saying, “I like its vibrancy — particularly in the first line. (ink is a great word for this piece). And the third line is bold and proud.”


Susan Alicea, on April 21, 2010 at 9:25 am Said:

We sponsor a “Poetry Idol” during the month of April in our schoool library. Our students can recite their poetry in front of other students. Then, our panel of judges give points to the first, second, and third place winners. Everyone who participates gets a “Poetry Idol” certificate.

Michael said, “I like the idea of pairing pop culture with poetry… breathes life into it.”


Christine Leo, on April 28, 2010 at 10:33 am Said:

During the year, the children are encouraged to add their original poems to our classroom “POE – TREE” (a small artificial tree in our poetry corner with many leaves to which the poems are attached); Then in April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the poets vote on the best poem on the tree (you only get to vote if you’ve contributed to the tree!) and the winner gets a small, real tree to take home and plant in his or her yard! This reward ties in with Earth Day which is also in April.

This is a great way to get students involved (you can’t vote if you can’t contribute!), and I like incorporating Earth Day with National Poetry Month. It probably makes for some great poetry, and I have fond memories of bringing home saplings from school on Earth Day.

Congratulations to all the winners! We’ll be contacting you shortly so you can claim your prize. And again, I do encourage you to go back and check out all the entries for some other inspiring ideas.

Don’t forget: Until June 14, 2010, we’ve still got a contest running where you can win 10 of the top 20 children’s audiobooks! Submit your list of the best children’s audiobooks and you’ll be entered to win.

What Are the Top 20 Children’s Audiobooks?

audiobook girlThe Fuse #8 blog at School Library Journal has been tallying up the results of the Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll. That got us wondering, “What are the Top Children’s Audiobooks?” While many of the books would be the same, adding audio into the mix may change the list a little. So we want to hear from you!

We’ll be compiling a list of the top 20—beginning readers, children’s books, children’s classics, or YA novels are all acceptable submissions. Please see below for rules. Everyone who sends in a list of nominations will be entered to win a the grand prize: a set of 10 audiobooks from the top 20!

    1. Leave a comment below listing your top 20 children’s audiobooks, from number 20 all the way up to number 1, in order. Feel free to leave a sentence or two describing your favorites. If you don’t have 20 favorites, list as many as you’d like.
    2. Submissions will close on May 30, 2010. We’ll tally up the results, assigning points to titles based on their ranking in your list.
    3. We’ll pick one random grand prize winner on June 14, 2010. That winner will receive 10 CD audiobooks from the compiled top 20 audiobooks list. Grand prize audiobooks will be chosen by Recorded Books.
    4. Contest is open to all K-12 educators in the United States. Recorded Books reserves the right to confirm eligibility and alter rules to this contest at any time.

January Blog Contest Winner

Congratulations to the January blog contest winner, Kurt Johnson! If you haven’t yet, be sure to go back and read his comment, about a weekend where he and his son enjoyed Washington D.C. institution Ben’s Chili Bowl and got a civil rights lesson along with their half-smokes.

We didn’t have our usual number of entries last month—we hope it’s because you’re still recovering from the holidays! We’re taking some time off from the blog contest this month because we’re working on the 2010 annual catalog. Stay tuned to the blog and the twitter feed for sneak peeks and updates on when to expect yours in the mail.

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