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 4–8. (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.

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5 Questions: An Inteview with the International Literacy Association

October 30, 2015

International Literacy Association Interview
5 Questions
Lester Laminack

Q: You’ve often discussed the importance of read-alouds in school. Do you write with that in mind?

A: I am very conscious of rhythm and phrasing as I write. All through the development of a story I pause to read and reread and read aloud. I listen for the sounds of words hanging together. I listen for those places where the balance is off, where the music in language just doesn’t resonate. I read with attention to how those words feel in my mouth, noting where I stumble or have to pause when reading aloud. Reading and listening to my own writing is one of my most frequently used revision tools.

Q: What about read-alouds get children interested in independent reading?

A: Reading aloud to children is one way of making numerous deposits into the account they will draw from across their lives. It fills their ears with the music of written language, attuning the ear to the rhythms, pacing, and flow of language used in story, essays, expository material and every other type of text. Reading aloud broadens vocabulary, develops familiarity with the arc of a story, the patterns of beginning, middle, and end, the development of a character. It creates a sense of kinship among those who share the story. Reading aloud to students exposes them to the structure of an essay, the framework for an argument, the reflection of a memoir. It is an engaging and non-threatening way to expose children to various genres, authors and purposes for reading. When a text is delivered on the voice of one who is passionate about language and writing and reading and teaching, the result is a powerful current that pulls anyone within earshot of the banks of onlooking and into the flow of language. I believe that experience is necessary to the development of independent readers.


Q: How has your work as a college professor affected your children’s books?

A: I’m taking the liberty here to alter your question just a bit. I was an elementary classroom teacher and a Title I Reading teacher before I was a college professor and I think of myself as a teacher who happens to be a writer. As a teacher I have knowledge of the growth and development patterns in children and youth. I believe that helps to keep me focused on what and how children make sense of experience. And while that clearly rests in my conscious mind, it doesn’t constrict or define parameters for me. Perhaps it comes from that academic background, but I believe the more powerful influence is that I have somehow kept alive the child within.

Q: Do you sit down with a particular lesson in mind or does the plot just lead to the lesson (envy in Three Hens and a Peacock, for instance)?

A: I believe my best writing emerges and is fed by the process of allowing a story to grow. I have attempted to begin with a “lesson” in mind and it always fails. When I have taken that stance the story builds to a point and implodes beneath the weight of that heaviness. There is one particular story I ache to tell and the primary problem with every draft I’ve made is that I am being guided by a particular “lesson” when I need to be guided by the character and let the story emerge. I have learned that story works better when I give the characters enough room to live in my head and just follow them around taking notes.

Q: I saw a photo of you in front of a bookshelf. Is that really yours, and if so, how are they organized?


A: Yes, that photo was taken in 2010 in my old loft in downtown Asheville. I’ve moved since then, but had similar shelving built in the new place so all my friends could come along. Regarding the system for organizing. Anyone who knows me well understands my need for organization (I can hear a few of my friends chuckling as they read this). These books are organized in two ways. The majority of these books are shelved alphabetically by authors last name. I also have several subsets organized by category or topic (bats, honeybees, civil rights, the holocaust, kindness, etc.) because I work with them frequently and need to pull a collection for some purpose.