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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A tribute to Matthew Shepard on the Anniversary of his brutal death at the hands of hatred

October 10, 2011

Tags: Bullying, Acceptance, Working for Kindness

In memory of Matthew Shepard who died at the hands of hatred.

From my notebook: Lester Laminack
January 22, 2010
"This morning at 6:11am I flew into a breathtaking sunrise leaving Casper, WY and snow covered mountains and working ranches with cowboys who still ride horses. Yet, I thought only of one small boy.

Yesterday I was visiting author in Crest Hill Elementary. I saw over 350 children in assemblies throughout the day. But at one of the breaks I was told Crest Hill is the school Matthew Shepard attended as a child.

From that point on I couldn't stop myself from thinking of him walking through those hallways, exploring the world through the books in that library, laughing with friends and growing into the beautiful young man whose name and face have become symbols to remind us that hatred is fear's first cousin and that bigotry has a permanent residence in every part of this nation.

I thought of Matthew sitting "crisscross applesauce," hands in his lap, listening to his kindergarten teacher read a story before stretching his small body across a mat for nap time.

I thought of him learning to read in first grade, a delicious grin spreading across his face as he began to realize the power to unlock those stories was within him.

I thought of him running on the playground in the third grade. I imagined him looking into the clouds, scanning the mountain tops and dashing about with outstretched arms soaring among eagles without leaving the ground.

I thought of him searching the shelves for material on a famous Wyoming pioneer to write a report for fourth grade social studies class.

I thought of him...
before he'd been to Laramie
before he'd met the hatred hurled at LGBT youth
before, perhaps even he was aware of himself

I thought of the small boy who played with legos and video games,
who rode his bike and let his imagination fly as his spirit soared on the wheels of that pedaled stallion.

I though of him
before he was "Matthew Shepard"
that boy from Wyoming

What if no one knew him that way?
What if this country had evolved to respect humanity and human dignity for all who breathe?

What if he had never met hatred and fear?
What if he had never climbed into that truck with two men who offered to drive him home?
What if he had never been pistol whipped and beaten and tortured and tied to fence like a scarecrow?
What if?

How would we know him then?
What gifts might he have given the universe?

What now? What now?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Now is always the right time to do the right thing."

It is NOW.

It will ALWAYS be NOW.


Take a moment and think of someone you know who may need your expression of kindness. Think of someone who may need nothing more than your validation of recognizing his or his membership in the human family.

It is NOW.


  1. December 11, 2012 5:26 PM EST
    When you were lecturing at Rutgers today, and talking about those "Montana" teachers, I mis-remembered that state as being where Matthew Shepherd died, so I'm grateful for your post. My son came out to his his freshman year at Rutgers, not long after asking his Republican Dad to help him proof his writing assignment about Matthew Shepherd. I always think it was his Dad's outrage over the incident that gave Kieran the courage to leave his particular closet. Thanks for your witness, Lester
    - Porter Ballard
  2. September 4, 2013 3:57 PM EDT
    Porter, thank you. I know the courage it takes to share news with your loved ones when you believe that news could change everything...everything.
    - Lester Laminack
  3. September 22, 2013 5:36 PM EDT
    You always touch my heart, the most important part of me, Lester. I heard you speak this summer in Springfield, and bought your and Reba's book. I am a reading specialist and decided then and there to use your approach, starting at Level 1 with my Kindergarteners as I begin their Oral language program. Thank you for motivating us to bring out the best in ourselves and the children we serve.
    - Lori Benham