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.

Thanks for checking in. I'd love to hear from you....

Favorite Picture Books

February 28, 2011

Thanks for checking my blog. I'm currently working on a project with my best friend, Reba Wadsworth. We'd like to hear from you. Please share the title and author of your favorite picture book(s) for use in your teaching.


  1. March 16, 2011 6:57 PM EDT
    To Far from the Sea by Eve Bunting is a book that I used last week with my students. It really helped students who had no idea about the Japanese Relocation Centers learn about them. I read the book twice-once to most of my 4th graders and the next day to a student who wanted to hear it because he had been absent. Each time I got to the grandfather's grave--I began crying and barely was able to finish the book. It happened at the same place the second day, and I had another student finish the book. In an extention activity, each student wrote a poem--some included that fact in the poems.
    - Elaine
  2. March 22, 2011 12:05 PM EDT
    I use Julious Lesters From Slave ship to freedom road (slightly altered) to teach about slavery. I do a dramatic reading of it - and inevitably, every time, kids say - I thought I knew what slavery was - but that puts it in a whole new perspective - or "I studied slavery for two months in 5th grade - but I got more out of this one book." Of course they also say they are amazed it is a "kids book" so it creates discussion about genre choices as well. Great Book!! I teach a lot with kids books - for different reasons - looking at plot line - looking at themes - as models for projects - for inspiration etc.
    - Kathy Millar
  3. April 21, 2011 11:14 PM EDT
    - jamie-beth helosson
  4. June 16, 2011 7:07 PM EDT
    Hi Lester, I was just in your Lakota workshop and as you finished the your talk about being your best self it reminded me of a new book. It is called, Why Am I Here? A story about being the best version of yourself. It is by Matthew Kelly, a local author/ speaker. I doesn't follow the rules of a picture book, but is really does a great job of teaching being your best.
    - Kristen Hundemer
  5. June 16, 2011 9:37 PM EDT
    Saturdays and Teacakes for teaching author's craft, of course!
    We also use My Rotten Red Haired Older Brother by Patricia Polacco because it meets a lot of our content standards, too.
    - Julie Veneman
  6. June 18, 2011 4:47 PM EDT
    Thanks you guys. I love your input.
    - Lester Laminack
  7. June 22, 2011 9:53 AM EDT
    It is so hard to name only a few favorites....there are hundreds. :) I love Thank You, Mr. Falker. It is not only beautifully written but it helps to show children how bullying hurts others, and ultimately shows that anything is possible no matter what struggles you face. (I can't ever get through it without tearing up.) I also love Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray. It is a wonderful story that personally reminds me of what makes a great teacher and shows children that it is okay to be different and how children can help someone, even though they are small. I also love In November and Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant. The language is incredible and it helps to teach children about personification and taking the perspective of "someone" else. And, I also love the Diary of a Worm, Spider and Fly books by Doreen Cronin. My students and I adore the humor in these books. They can't get enough of them and even extended this idea in their writing. I had students writing their own...Diary of a Dog, Diary of a Caterpillar (which included real facts bc we had just studied the lifecycle of a butterfly) and Diary of a Teacher. Some of my best memories of this past school year! Thanks for letting me share....I could go on and on and on. :)
    And thank you for the great work you do! You are amazing and the world is a better place because you work so hard to spread what you know about kids and what really matters!
    - Melanie Henderson, K teacher-Helena, AL
  8. September 20, 2011 9:42 AM EDT
    i like saturday teacakes was that your experinces with your grandma
    - lovieya
  9. October 10, 2011 11:50 AM EDT
    Lovieya, Yes. The story of Saturdays and Teacakes is a true account of time spent with my maternal grandmother in Heflin, AL.
    - Lester Laminack
  10. November 2, 2011 12:04 AM EDT
    I'm not sure if they "count" as picture books, but Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck are both visually stunning and intellectually stimulating. I have read Hugo aloud to both fourth and first grade students - amazing what the first graders came up with that fourth graders didn't! - and used it to teach every comprehension skill and writing skill I can think of! I just finished reading Wonderstruck and can't wait to mine its treasures as well.
    - Amanda P, Indianapolis
  11. December 17, 2011 11:48 AM EST
    Hi lester, I just heard you in Ashburn on Monday Dec. 12th and you were oh so inspiring. On Tuesday, I told my kids to stop raising their hands and I started my own personal writer's notebook. Favorite Picture books to use during writer's workshop: The Art Lesson by Tomie DePaola and Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. Thank you so much for doing what you do. I am telling everyone I know about you!!
    - Rachel
  12. March 6, 2012 7:14 PM EST
    gotta do a class project 4 this AWESOME book satudays and Teacakes already LOVIN it GREAT job MR.Lester
    - lr
  13. September 5, 2012 5:28 PM EDT
    Hi Lester,
    I loved listening to you when you visited Finley Road Elem. years ago. I am trying to break into writing. Do I need an agent? I need all the advice you have to give.
    - Noble Fillet
  14. February 22, 2013 4:16 PM EST
    I just discovered a wordless book, Unspoken, by Henry Cole, who did such a nice job on your Three Hens and a Peacoock. It's about the Underground Railroad, and a great book to "read the art", and also to discuss how small children can take a stand and make a difference. It is absolutely beautiful, and a great jumping off place for writing and/or illustrating by young children. I teach First Grade.
    - Vicki Tolbert
  15. March 15, 2013 5:08 PM EDT
    I noticed that you were writing a book that had to do with bullying. I can't wait for it to come out. Thank you for allowing us to share one of our favorite books. I use Madonna's book Mr. Peabody's Apples at the beginning of the year. It helps to set the tone in my classroom when I'm talking about respect and rules. "Mr. Peabody's Apples" is about the power of words, and how we must choose them carefully to avoid harming others. My mother (who was raised in the south) always taught me to treat others the way I want to be treated and talk to others the way I wanted to be talked to. So this book brings back those memories I hold fondly from my mother, but also teaches a valuable lesson to children. I also love the art work by Loren Long.
    - Brenda Sterk
  16. May 15, 2013 11:03 PM EDT
    I use The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau to start every year. I start the first day by explaining to my kids that I am not just here to teach them how to be important when they grow up. If we are alive, then it is our job to do our part to make this world a better place, and they are certainly old enough to make a difference in the world NOW! They learn immediately that every single day I will expect 2 things from them; they will be expected to learn and to help others. Learning alone will never be enough! I use The Quiltmaker's Gift to help them see that selfishness doesn't create happiness, but bringing other people happiness will always bring you happiness too. I also use the old folktale The Big Turnip as well as Horton Hears a Who for examples of little helpers who make a big difference (the mouse and Jo-Jo). The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater is also a great book for the beginning of the school year when we are focusing on how wonderful diversity is and how BORING life would be if we were all alike. Then we all create our own dream houses on paper or on the computer. Yes, I do too!
    - Susan White