WINNER of the Wimpy Kid Announced!

greg-heffleyRecently, we asked you to tell us what you’d do with a life-size Greg Heffley cutout. Congratulations to Karon Bybee of Lakeside Elementary in Texas, grand prize winner of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid contest!

Karon’s idea:

I am the literacy coach at Lakeside Elementary and would love to involve the school in a Wimpy Kid week. I would like to move the cut out around the school to pop up unexpectedly, so all the classes could participate in activities. We might read from Wimpy kid at lunch to peak interest. I would like for my struggling readers to watch the interview with Jeff Kinney and then create their own interview with Greg. We would broadcast the interview on the morning announcements to kick off the festivities. I would like to have my younger students draw themselves as a character to add into a wimpy kid adventure, which we would write either as a shared book or an individual story depending on the level. I would like to turn their adventures in to a podcast for parents to view. Finally to end the week with a celebration on “your favorite wimpy story” and I’ve been known to create some wimpy cookies.

We really love Karon’s plan to share Greg with the whole school through morning announcements, and involve everyone by writing their own wimpy adventure. Sharing these stories with parents and others through podcasts and videos is a great way to get parents involved and hopefully get students reading at home, too. (And we’d like to go on record to say that while the promise of cookies did not sway our vote, we’d still love it if Karon would send a few our way!) Karon will win a host of goodies for Lakeside Elementary, including the coveted cardboard wimpy kid.

We wish we had more than one wimpy kid to give away! Alas, there is only one Greg Heffley. So we also picked three runners up, who will each win one CD audiobook and one print book for one of the books in the Wimpy Kid series. Those winners are:
Kathy Scott (Hallsville), who suggested that Greg Heffley write a column for the school newspaper
Becky Norgard (Elim Christian Services), who planned to involve both younger and older students in a skit where the kids could see cutouts of themselves palling around with Greg (how cute!)
Shellie Swanson (Bayfield School District Library), who suggested using Greg as a basis for a character education discussion for middle schoolers

Because there were just too many great entries, we also picked two second runners up, who will each recieve one copy on CD of one of the Wimpy Kid books.
Cheryl Ford (Rock Hill, SC), who hoped Greg would inspire her kids to reach a 75 books a year goal (wow!)
Jerry Jarrell (Frank Stone Middle School), who suggested Greg hang out at the book fair and answer kids’ most burning questions

We hope you all still move forward with your great wimpy kid plans. If you do, please share with us! To read all of the wonderful submissions, click here.


Just a note…

Just a note…we’re received so many great entries for the Wimpy Kid contest that it’s going to take us longer than expencted to go through them all! Expect an announcement of the winner by Wednesday.

In the mean-time, we encourage you to read through the comments for some great ideas that you can incorporate into your classroom, whether you have a cardboard Greg Heffley or not!

Eva Ibbotson 1925-2010

We are very sad to have to share the news that one of the stars of children’s literature, Eva Ibbotson, died at her home in England on October 20. She was 85.

Ibbotson was the author of more than 20 beloved novels for children and adults, including The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, The Star of Kazan, The Dragonfly Pool, A Company of Swans, A Countess Below Stairs, and Journey to the River Sea published by Recorded Books. Her most recent title, The Ogre of Oglefort, has just been published in England and will come out in the US in summer 2011.

Free Pass to NMSA Exhibit Hall

visit us at NMSA

Thinking about visiting this year’s National Middle School Association Conference in Baltimore, but don’t have a show pass? Check out the exhibit fall for free and see what’s new with a free exhibit hall pass from Recorded Books! We’ll be featuring one of our curriculum products, Dr. Janet Allen’s Plugged-in to Reading. lf you use our pass, be sure to come to booth 521 and let us know!


Guest Post: Audiobooks and Comprehension

Recently, we featured audiobook reviews from guest blogger Jana Warnell, an elementary school librarian in Montana. You can read her reviews of Clementine, The Thief, and The Ranger’s Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan. She also shared with us how to hook reluctant readers with audio and on audiobooks and fluency. Check out more reviews and librarian insights from Jana at her blog,

Today, Jana shares with us how audiobooks can assist students with reading comprehension.


I have covered hooking reluctant readers and increasing fluency using audio books. Now I am going to cover how audio books improve comprehension.

When I was in high school I was assigned a lot of “classics” to read. I really dislike classics. I disliked them back then and I dislike them today. We had to read a Shakespeare play. Ugh. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. So I started reading it aloud to my mom, and she took turns reading it to me. It was like a light bulb clicked on for me. When I heard the story I understood the story. I am an auditory learner.

The school I am a librarian at uses the Accelerated Reader program. It is a very hard program for some kids because reading is not a strong point for them. So, even when they read some of the lower level books they have a hard time with comprehension. Luckily, I had some Playaways available. I asked the teachers to allow some of the lower students to use those. Wow. The scores for the students that used the Playaways increased dramatically. When they heard the story it made more sense to them.

I also used this method for my older son. He was assigned a book in class (Number the Stars) that was giving him problems. Our read aloud time was limited due to activities so I checked out the audio book. He was able to listen and read along, pass his tests and turn in a great final project. He wouldn’t have been as excited about any of the assignments that went along with the book if he didn’t understand what he was reading.

Audio books can also be a great way to bridge a gap between reading levels for kids. Sometimes they want to read a book leveled higher than they are ready for. Rather than tell them they cannot read it, provide the audio book for them. They will be able to follow along and understand what they are reading. This will also help them firmly move up into that reading level.

You need to remember that the first way you get kids interested in books is by reading aloud to them. Over and over and over. When they are older that doesn’t change. Their interest is peaked when they hear a book out loud. And their interest can be heightened even more with the use of professionally done audio books. Don’t stop because they are older!

What do you do to help your students’ comprehension? Have you seen gains since using audiobooks? Share your story here or at

Have You Listened to a Banned Book Lately?

have you listened to a banned book lately?

Celebrate banned books week by reading or listening to a banned book this week. See a list of some banned books available on audio from Recorded Books HERE and check out some links on censorship HERE.

If you’re listening to a banned book (one that’s on the list or not!), copy the image above to link to this blog post and share how you’re celebrating Banned Books Week. Your trackback will be shown in the comments section, or you can leave a comment linking to your blog post below. We’ll pick some of our favorites to win a copy of a banned (audio)book!

Here are some additional resources you might find useful:
Top 10 Things to Do with a Banned Text
-Several books have recently been challenged, and Twitter users and bloggers are rallying against it. Here’s a great list of resources about the current challenge and about banned/challenged books in general (plus several more giveaways).

ELL and ESL Resources

Looking for free and inexpensive resources for your ELL/ESL students, or grants and funding options for your ELL/ESL classroom? Check out the Big Deal eBook for Educators of English Language Learners!

Here’s just a sampling of the great links you’ll find inside:
• View the free demo DVD of the Parent/Teacher Kon-ver-SAY-shun Kit: Conversation Starters in English and Spanish, a color-coded flip chart with bilingual scripts on school issues.
• Provide opportunities for your English learners to interact with environmental print, such as street signs. In this free lesson from ReadWriteThink, students read words found on everyday objects and use them to identify individual letters. They then create captions for an electronic book with preselected logos and illustrations. Finally, they create an original little book choosing their own logos, captions and images.
• Make phonics fun for your ESL students with free phonics games, phonics worksheets, and reading and spelling games from Fun Fonix. The resources are organized into an introduction (hard consonants and short vowels) and three printable books: short vowels, digraphs and long vowels with silent e. The ebooks are supplemented with a worksheet maker.


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