selected works

professional books for classroom teachers
The 1970s' VW Beetle Owner's Manual found in the glove compartment of every Bug gave drivers security in knowing that whatever went wrong, there was always a quick fix to get them back on the road. The Writing Teacher's Troubleshooting Guide uses the same clear, concise format to offer practical ideas for helping students who may be out of gas, idling for too long,or just plain stuck in a rut. Lester and Reba first help you "notice and name" particular struggles that writers may have, identify possible causes, and then offer specific tools to nudge writers toward their next level of development. Their vast knowledge & appreciation for children's literature is showcased in the mentor texts they suggest to support your teaching. Don't let minor breakdowns stall your student's writing journey. With the Writing Teacher's Troubleshooting Guide in your back pocket, you'll always have a quick repair to keep them moving forward.
Professional books for classroom teachers
Bullying Hurts is not your same-old antibullying guide. Lester and Reba show how the read aloud, a familiar and proven instructional technique, can be used as a powerful way to neutralize bullying behaviors, create community in the classroom, and help you meet the Common Core State Standards all at the same time. Bullying Hurts does more than help children gain insights and language needed to confront and neutralize the behaviors of bullies. It convinces us that by working together, we really can prevent bullying.
Children's Literature
Review from Publishers Weekly: Three Hens and a Peacock Lester L. Laminack, illus. by Henry Cole, Peachtree, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-564-5 What might have been an ordinary be-yourself story is enhanced by Laminack's (Snow Day!) surprisingly thoughtful storytelling. Three hens on the Tuckers' farm are sick with envy when a peacock shows up and attracts the attention of passersby, drawing customers and electrifying the farm's roadside stand business. Laminack characterizes the hens with a fine ear for their Golden Girls outrage; they sound quite human. "We do all the work around here," fumes one. "I'd like to see that peacock lay one single egg." "Exactly," agrees another. "He just struts around screaming." The hens trade places with the peacock, dressing up in beads and ribbons and trying to attract customers--with predictable results. The warmth of the story is a bit overshadowed by the goggle eyes of Cole's (One Pup's Up) barnyard characters; the illustrations go for big guffaws and slapstick instead, and largely succeed. The final spreads--which suggest further complications with the arrival of an ostrich--add a final touch of humor, effectively keeping the book from feeling message-heavy. Ages 4Ė8. (Mar.)
Just the possibility of a snow, the mere mention of snow in the forecast can send the imagination spinning. Children (of all ages) will delight in the anticipation of a day with lots and lots of snow and----NO SCHOOL!
The 100th Day of School is a BIG event for young children everywhere. And Jake, like most children has been working on his very special collection for a long time. But in the excitement of the big day Jake rushes out to catch the bus and leaves something very important behind. Find out how a very caring principal helps save the day.
A heartwarming tribute to the love of a grandmother and the importance of making memories.
"...tender depiction of a life well-lived, which speaks to the value of maintaining loving relationships, even when they are altered by Alzheimer's disease."
--Booklist
Although he is happy about having a loose tooth, Trevor worries when his classmates tell him some of the ways others might try to pull out the tooth.
Professional Books for Classroom Teachers
A close look at spelling instruction and assessment in the writing workshop
A thorough overview of establishing and maintaining the writing workshop in the K-6 classroom
Bringing picture books and read-aloud into the curriculum to build vocabulary and both broaden and deepen conceptual frameworks for units of study in the content areas.
You'll find 14 ready-to-use mini-lessons to introduce your students to techniques and literary elements. Carefully selected anchor texts provide inspiration for exploring each technique and element. In addition, a professional workshop to use on your own or with colleagues will deepen your own knowledge base. This "workshop-in-a-book," also perfect for literacy coaches and teacher leaders, demonstrates how to read like a writer, identify "craft moves," and form theories about why the moves were made. The DVD features Lester explaining how writers practice audible and visual craft, using "Satudays and Teacakes" to illustrated both. The DVD also includes downloadable forms that you can share with your students to explore author's craft and to monitor their evolving understanding. Use the DVD to have Lester talk directly to the class, or use the book to present the lessons yourself. Either method will help you teach your students to develop their own "craft moves," which will enliven and refine their writing.
A year long focus on poetry for the K-2 classroom. Includes a big book of original poetry and two guide books to create a poetry environment, a focus on reading poetry and a formal unit of study on writing poetry.
The premise is simple yet potent: you can make every read aloud intentional, so the book becomes the richest opportunity imaginable for not only inspiring your students with the magic of story but also stretching them instructionally. With Lester as your guide, you'll learn how to help your students observe and explore what the author did, how he or she did it and why.

Newsletter

How can educators teach character?

It is my view that character is something we demonstrate and develop over time. There are lessons we can teach, books we can share, conversations we can host, but none of it will matter if we are not living exemplars of what we say and ask our students to live out. Children, even the youngest of our students, recognize the disconnect between our words and our actions. In short, integrity is not something we can fake. Our actions and behaviors are the more effective teacher in matters of character. Children learn from our behaviors what a promise means. They learn from our actions and our reactions what it means to be kind and truthful and honorable. They learn from our consistent ways of being what it means to be trustworthy, considerate, empathetic and caring. Our ways of being are, in my view the most powerful instruction we can devise when it comes to developing character.

Developing character is an incremental process, one that takes time, consistency, modeling and conversation. I believe our task begins with living what we expect. We model civil conversations in which all participants listen and respond, initiate and scaffold. We behave with our colleagues in ways we would expect our students to behave for I do not believe we can lead the development of anything in others that is not a basic component of our own belief and behavior.

In my work I am encouraging teachers across the country to drop the traditional list of rules; the "you can't..." statements and the "if you do..." threats we find posted on the first day of school. I'm suggesting that in place of those lists we focus on a guiding principle such as this: "In all things be kind and truthful; cause no intentional harm." This statement focuses on what we expect, what we hold as common behavior in a civil society. It doesn't suggest the behaviors we want to avoid. It doesn't imply a punitive system to coerce the behaviors desired by authority. Character is not compliance out of fear, it is a manifestation of core beliefs. Character is how we live every day in every circumstance. The task, then, is to help students develop deeply held beliefs about the value of human dignity, respect for oneself and for others.