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Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Nov 20

Picture Book Month & The Common Core

by Stacey

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I love that November is Picture Book Month and that there is an entire web site devoted to it. I have received daily e-mail updates this month alerting me to new posts written by favorite children’s book authors all titled, “Why Picture Books Are Important To Me.”

In all honestly, I have been crazy busy this month (see my post from Monday titled The Disease of Being Busy) and have been keeping most of these posts to side to read when I ‘have more time.’ I have skimmed many of them but today was the first time I read a post completely all the way to the bottom.

The post was written by one of my absolute favorite authors, Marla Frazee. After telling a beautiful story about reading a picture book aloud in the book store to her college age son (at his request!), she ends with this, “It was magical. The book. The shared moment. The seared memory. That’s why picture books are important.”

And then I scrolled down and saw a section titled, Curriculum Connections. There was a great lesson presented. At first, I was a bit taken off guard, thinking that this site celebrated the love of picture books not the use of them in our curriculum. That said, though, I am an educator so I do love that there is a great way to introduce Frazee’s latest, The Farmer and the Clown, to a classroom of kids.

At this point though, I had a feeling about what was coming next and it wasn’t a great feeling. I scrolled down slowly waiting to see if my suspicion was correct. It was. At the very bottom of the post I read this, “Correlates to the Common Core Reading Literature standards:RL.K.1,3,7,10; RL.1.1,3,7; RL.2.1,3,7″

Sigh.

I suppose it is the way we are all going. Like it or not. And truthfully, there are parts of the Common Core that I like. But I don’t like there are standards listed at the bottom of a post about the love of the picture book.

I love and respect the woman behind the Picture Book Month site. Elizabeth Dulemba writes gorgeous books and is an amazing mentor to other writers. Katie Davis is the genius behind multiple picture books and the incredible podcast Brain Burps About Books. In fact, I attended an amazing retreat with Katie a few years back and was incredibly inspired by her energy, creativity and intelligence. She is a gift to the children’ literature world. Wendy Martin is talented illustrator who I admittedly don’t know too much about but if she’s friends with Elizabeth and Katie than I’m sure she’s awesome.

So why?

I would love to understand the reasoning behind putting these standards in their posts. If I was sitting with the founders of Picture Book Month over coffee I would ask. I would ask if they felt that a love for the book wasn’t enough? Rhetorical question, I am sure. And I would inquire if they were asked by teachers to include the standards? Maybe?

So I’d love to know what you all think? Do we truly live in an age when loving picture books is no longer enough? I often threaten to buy a house boat and sail around the world, homeschooling our girls. I don’t think this is really the thing that will push me to buy the boat but it might be on my list…

Thoughts?

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Nov 19

Twitterature: November 2014 Edition

by Stacey

This month, I missed one of my favorite link ups, Twitterature, at Modern Mrs. Darcy. I suppose though it is never too late to list my monthly reads. Here goes… 18293427

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. For anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a bookstore, this is a must read. I wasn’t completely in love with the plot but the bookstore and the all the literacy references made it worth a read.

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Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. I loved this book and considered adding it to my Favorites of 2014 list until I got to the end. That said, it reminded me of another favorite, I’ll Give You the Sun, and I’m glad I read it.

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100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl. While I didn’t read all the 100 essays that Ruhl didn’t have time to write, I particularly loved On Reading Aloud.  No surprise there I guess!

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. My friend Nicky has been telling me to read this one since the summer. Now I know why. I’m not going to say anymore though because I will be writing about The Miniaturist at Great New Books in a few weeks.

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Nov 18

“The Disease of Being Busy”

by Stacey

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Last week, my mother sent me an e-mail directing me to an article she had posted on Facebook.

Ironically, the whole day went by before I had a chance to read it. Once I did, I knew I wanted to write about it and then, ironically a bunch of days went by before I even had a chance to write a blog post.

The article was aptly titled, “The Disease of Being Busy.” If you didn’t have a chance to read it when it was circulating, click through here and read it. It is well worth the time.

What I struggle with, of course, is finding the balance. There are weeks that go by when I have lots of time. I am an avid reader and, of late, an avid television watcher. Can we talk about Homeland for a minute, please? Truly incredible story telling and acting but I digress. There are weeks when I have time to do these things and I understand why I have volunteered for so much and then there are weeks when I can’t catch a moment to sit still.

I am in my 40s. One would hope that I would have figured this out by now but I feel like I am not even close. Although I suppose this is not entirely true. I know now what I want to be doing so this is a step in the right direction. I just haven’t figured out how to fit it all in. I haven’t figured out how to say no to the small stuff that seems like it won’t take any time but does. I haven’t figured out how to get off of Facebook quickly so that there is time for more meaningful pursuits. I haven’t figured out how to make use of the small snippets of time. I haven’t figured out how to acknowledge that there are not big chunks of time and I should embrace the small moments.

I guess I just need a little bit more time to understand it all…

 

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Nov 14

This Moment: November 14

by Stacey

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“This is the very important practice. Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

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Nov 12

In This Moment

by Stacey

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I recently discovered  Raluca at What Would Gweneth Do when she was featured at one of my favorite spots, A Design So Vast.

Recently Raluca wrote a post titled, In This Moment. I hope she believes in the adage ‘flattery is the best compliment’ because I am going to borrow her post because I liked it that much.

In this moment…

I am overwhelmed with helping the girls navigate the school worlds they occupy right now. Each time I figure out how to handle something for one, a new issue arises for the other.

I am jealous of my dog who lays beside me, sound asleep with out a care in the world. Her little paws are running and I swear she is smiling.

I am excited to be hosting a dinner party as part of a school event this weekend. I always get a little nervous about hosting but ultimately, I love being able to invite friends into our home.

I am bummed that winter air is headed our way. We had glorious fall days this year and I wish they would stick around for a little bit longer.

I am frustrated that every time I think I have taken control of my sugar addiction, I stumble upon yet another bag of Halloween candy that ‘requires’ my attention.

I am curious to know who was murdered on The Affair. I am a few episodes behind so don’t tell me.

And I am glad that I stuck with Homeland. I was pretty disappointed in the first few episodes this fall but this week’s made it all worth it.

I am intrigued by the book The Minaturist. There is an air of mystery and I like the confusion that I feel right now. It keeps the pages turning.

 

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Nov 10

On “Being Perfect”

by Stacey

110507The same pile of books has sat on my bed side table since we moved a year and a half ago. My current reads come and go but this pile of books has remained. Today, I picked up one, brought it downstairs and read.

I have read Anna Quindlen’s Being Perfect a few times but not in a long time. I read it today with thoughts of Caroline who is completely consumed with perfection in all areas of her life right now. I was hoping to find a word or two of wisdom to share.

I found many including…

“Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and its good opinion. But at one level it’s too hard and at another, it’s too cheap and easy. Because all it really requirers of you, mainly is to read the zeitgeist of wherever and whenever you happen to be and to assume the masks necessary to be the best at whatever the zeitgeist dictates or requires.”

and

“I was mesmerized by that phrase: effortless perfection. Obviously it is an oxymoron. Even the illusion of perfection requires an enormous amount of work.”

I had Caroline in my mind the whole time I was reading until I arrived at this line…

“There’s some muscle group around your shoulders that seizes up during the perfection dance and doesn’t let go until you are asleep, or alone. Or maybe it never really lets go at all.”

Hmmm. Over the last few months, I have done many things to try to get my body back in to shape to run. I have always exercised but had to give up running a few years ago because my shoulders became painfully tight during and after a run. I have tried many types of exercises, classes and programs. In fact, Rob jokes that I have been to every gym in Bergen County.

While, ironically, I think I may have found the perfect combination at the moment, I had to read the sentence above over and over again. I know that running is part of why my shoulders are tight. But that said, I know my shoulders have always been tight and I know they have been tight because of the ‘perfection dance.’

I have vivid memories of walking down my high school hallway, Mr. Sphoer’s history room on the left and Mrs. Barrows geometry room on the right and feeling my shoulders creeping up to my ears. I did then and do now remind myself constantly to lower my shoulders. To take deep, slow breaths. I have never been good at stopping the ‘perfection dance’ myself, of giving my shoulders a rest. Perhaps, as I think about the role model I must be for Caroline, I can find a way to relax those muscles once and for all…

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Nov 06

The Where Quiz

by Stacey

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Here is my last quiz from Big Picture’s Quizapalooza..

Where are my ancestors from? England. In 1620. Total Mayflower story. I think this is pretty cool now but I used to find it so boring when I was little. Any time we had to do a project that involved our ancestors, people would be so bored during my telling. It was the same story we had heard during history class. I always wished for a more eccentric tale.

Where was I born? I was born in Providence, RI on a hot Easter days. I moved to Long Island shortly after and then back to Providence when I was three.

Where was I in my earliest memory? The first memory I have is of our pool when I was really little. We moved from the house with the pool when I was three so I’m not sure if I actually remember this pool or if I have seen so many pictures of it that I feel like I remember it.

Where was my very first school? The Rumford Morning School. I was such a shy little one that my most prevalent memory of that year is of standing next to the teachers during recess.

Where was my very last school? I earned my reading specialist degree at the University of Virginia.

Where was my first job? My first paid job was at Cape Cod Sea Camps and my first ‘grown up’ job was at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Maryland as a speech therapist.

Where was my greatest adventure? I went to Europe with my friend Elizabeth the summer after our junior year in college. We were part of a program but we did travel on our own on the weekends. I still can’t quite believe I did that.

Where did I meet the love of my life? I met Rob when we were both at The University of Richmond but we did not begin dating until our friends Elizabeth (same one as above!) and Brian’s wedding a few years out of college.

Where was my first home of my very own? On Fitzhugh Avenue in Richmond, VA.

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Nov 04

Happy Picture Book Month!

by Stacey

November is Picture Book Month!  Please be sure to visit the Picture Book Month website to hear from authors, illustrators and picture fans about why they each think picture books are important.

This  year, Caroline leaves for school long before Katherine. I hadn’t realized how much this would change the pace of the morning but it turns out it has been really different. By focusing on one child at a time, there seems to be more down time with each. Katherine and I have been spending some of our time reading picture books.

Here are some of the ones we have enjoyed lately… 20306799

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light. Louise loves art is a celebration of art, individuality and awesome siblings. This one made me smile.

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Elizabeth, Queen of the Sea written by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas tells the true story of an elephant seal that insisted on living in the river by Christchurch, New Zealand instead of the open ocean. This was a fascinating tale that led to more research about elephant seals.

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Remy and Lulu written by Kevin Hawkes with miniatures by Hannah E. Harrison. This book has accurately been compared to Officer Buckle and Gloria. I would add that it is also a tribute to individuality in art and well worth the read.


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Gaston written by Kelly DiPucchio with pictures by Christian Robinson. Gaston is yet another book that celebrates a person (or in this case a dogs) ability to be who they want to be. Individuality seems to my accidental theme this week.

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Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori. This book is filled with cute illustrations and a story that- wait for it- celebrate individuality. A penguin and a dragon who are meant to be together. Hard to beat that!

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Nov 03

Could Recess Cure Our ADHD Epidemic?

by Stacey

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This weekend there was a fascinating article in the New York Times titled, A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.

Embedded within the article were some truly startling statics about the rise of A.D.H.D in our society.

For example, “The lifetime prevalence in children has increased to 11 percent in 2011 from 7.8 percent in 2003- a whopping 41 percent increase- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 6.1 percent of young people were taking some A.D.H.D medication in 2011, a 28 percent increase since 2007.”

The article highlighted many interesting ideas. Of course, many of us have thought about the role that the pharmaceutical industry has had on the increasing diagnoses but have you ever thought about the fact that a short attention span was once very valuable when we lived in a hunter-gather society? The author also goes on to discuss the discrepancy that kids face between their highly stimulating digital worlds and the slower paced world of the classroom.

And then there’s my idea. I know it’s not really mine but I do wonder why we don’t hear more about it.

Recess. Could recess cure our A.D.H.D. epidemic?

I haven’t done the research and I don’t have the statistics but I know subjectively that our school aged children are moving far less than they ever have in the past.

I recently heard about a school that gives their children, through the middle school, two recesses a day. I was so shocked you would have thought they were getting diamonds twice a day. Two recesses per day sounded so luxurious.

Caroline, age 11,  goes outside for maybe five or ten minutes daily (independent of her P.E. time) depending on how quickly she eats her lunch and Katherine, age 8, is lucky if she gets twenty minutes of play time each day. I even hear about teachers who are taking away recess time for inappropriate behavior.

I can’t help but think that the increase in A.D.H.D. diagnoses has something to do with the change in how our schools and curriculums are structured. Younger children are learning harder skills while moving less. How can this not have an impact? And more importantly, when will more people ask these questions?

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