selected works

professional books for classroom teachers
In Writers ARE Readers, the mutually supportive roles of reading and writing are made visible through the idea of "flipsides": how reader's insights can be turned around to provide insights into his own writing, and vice versa. Lester and Reba's trademark engaging style is woven throughout chapters full of sample lessons, student writing samples, and recommended texts for maximizing the flipped concept across the year.
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."
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.

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Black Lives Matter

August 9, 2015

Tags: Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter

On August 6, 2015 I delivered the Thursday keynote for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (‪#‎TCRWP‬) August Writing Institute. I focused on the importance of trust in teaching writing. At one point in the keynote I read my most recent blog post (see That post was my response to the recent events in Charleston, southern heritage, and the confederate flag. The speech was well received and I was deeply touched by the response.

Though many came up to speak with me afterwards, one young African-American teacher from CA (I wish I had his name) came up to tell me what the remarks had meant to him. I thanked him. We embraced and he removed a button from his shirt and handed it to me. "I want you to have this."

I pinned the button to the lapel of my jacket and left it there. I embrace its message and I'm proud to wear it. But as I moved through the hours I became unconscious of having it on my jacket. So yesterday afternoon (Friday) I board the flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte. I had been upgraded to first class and took my seat on the aisle in row two. The flight attendant came through asking if anyone wanted a drink while we waited for others to board. I declined, but noticed that each time she passed she seemed to be looking at me as if she expected me to say something. Finally, as everyone was boarded she stepped into the aisle and came over to me, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but I'm intrigued by your button. Shouldn't it say, ALL lives matter?"

I looked at her and sat silent for a moment. Then I asked, "May I ask you how old you are?" She was 32. "Then this may be hard for you to imagine, but I'm going to ask that you reflect a while before saying anything. Imagine you have two sons that are the same age, twins. But one is white and one is black. Can you hold that thought in you mind?" She said yes. "Now let's imagine that your two boys are age 19 or 20 and are heading out for the evening in the city...maybe in Ferguson or Baltimore or Charleston... (I pause to let that settle). Would you feel that both your boys would be equally safe for the evening? She said little. Very little. Then I said, "So, I guess you could say we have to remind our friends, families, and neighbors that Black Lives Matter. And until they embrace that notion and live with it as a truth, we can't do more than give lip service to the notion that ALL lives matter." She just stood there and I added, "you know, I think I will have a drink."


  1. August 11, 2015 11:00 AM EDT
    I was fortunate enough to attend Teachers College and heard you speak. Your words moved me and I reflected on what you said for days to come. I have always worked in inner city schools and I have seen how children grow up differently and parents have different sets of worries due to culture and background. You are a good man and I think your response to the flight attendant was perfect.
    - Mary-Frances Tintle
  2. August 13, 2015 2:28 PM EDT
    Hi Lester, I recall when you saw that man with the button at the Teacher's College. I was right behind him. You are profound and an incredible human being. Thank you for putting words into action through your writing and your teaching that trust matters with our little writers. Your keynote was the highlight of my visit to the Teachers' College. Although every other aspect of our week was fantastic as well.
    - Warmly, Michelle Drake
  3. July 30, 2018 8:08 PM EDT
    I am sharing this...I hope that's ok. Excellent, non-offensive or abrasive explanation! Thanks, Lester!
    - Misty Miller