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."
--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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Read Aloud Experiences Are Essential in the Development of Readers and Writers

January 29, 2016

Tags: Read Aloud, Common sense in our schools, Reading, Writing, Storytelling

[First Printed as the closing comments in Lester Laminack (2009)"Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud Experience Intentional and Instructional" NY: Scholastic, (pp.93-95)
Reading aloud to the children in our lives seems like such a commonsense practice. Yet in recent years I have heard teachers remark that they simply donít have time to read aloud. These same teachers comment on how much they enjoy reading to their students and share fond memories from their own school years when teachers read to them. It is as if we feel the need to justify the use of precious time to read aloud. We seem afraid to exercise our own good judgment to do what our professional knowledge tells us is right and good for children. Let me remind you that we are professionals. Somehow in the midst of all the demands for higher scores, the very real threats of school takeovers, and the infiltration of scripted programs, we have lost sense of this fact. We are professionals.

Remember that we have a specific knowledge base that sets us apart from the rest of the population. We have deep understandings and insights into human growth and development, language and literacy development, pedagogy, curriculum design, and instructional technique. We know things the general public simply doesnít understand. Yet we continue to allow influences beyond our profession diminish our sense of self and steal our very professional identity from us, and in doing so we lose our professional integrity.

I urge you to renew that knowledge base. Revisit those books and articles that once sparked your professional knowledge and piqued your curiosity. Revisit those books and articles, conference proceedings, and videos that once excited you, invigorated you, and nudged you into new practices in your classroom. Revisit the last time you felt charged and in charge. Remember those days when you entered the profession, and remember the feelings and beliefs that brought you in.

I canít know your reasons for becoming a teacher, but I am virtually certain that there is not one teacher breathing who chose this profession because he or she wanted to raise a test score or make adequate yearly progress goals for the school. Whatever the reason you had for becoming a teacher, Iím confident it had something to do with children and their welfare and their sense of self. I am fairly confident it had something to do with helping children reach their potential and realize their dreams. Letís refocus our energies on the children. Letís make each decision based on what we believe would be good for the specific children in our charge. Letís make daily decisions with that in mind. Letís trust our professional judgment to guide our decisions. Letís teach with integrity and know that our students will do well if our attention is directed toward the childóthe mathematician and scientist and artist and writer and musician and athlete and reader and social scientist and dreamer and inventor and visionary in each of them. Letís teach children again. Letís be reminded we are here to raise humans, not scores.

Let me remind you that literature in all its many forms has such potential to expand the horizons of every childóregardless of background or baggage, privilege or poverty. When we read aloud to them, we offer them new vistas and new visions. We offer them new ways of coping with lifeís issues and pleasures. We offer them new opportunities to grow their language and their understandings. We help them realize how much there is to learn. When we read aloud, we show them how we gain a little knowledge to ask better questions, and that asking better questions drives us to read even more. When we read aloud, we introduce them to people just like them and like no one they have ever imagined. We help them realize their homes are only a small sample of the dwellings of all humanity. We help them realize their families are one of many ways families can be formed. We help them realize that the sound of their language is one note in the music of the many languages on the globe. When we read aloud, we help them realize what they value and cherish as worthy and worthwhile and holy is only one way of assigning importance in this great big world. When we read aloud, we help them realize that no matter who we are, no matter where we live, no matter what we value, no matter how we sound, we are more alike as human beings from the inside out than we are different from the outside in. But perhaps the most important message that comes from our reading aloud to them is one that says you are worth the time this will take. You are the focus of what I do as a teacher. When I read to you, I give you that same undivided attention you once had snuggling in the lap of a caregiver who read to you. When a teacher reads aloud, it is a bonding between the teacher, the children, the books, and the act of reading. That in itself is worthy.

Friends, I urge you to reconnect to those stirrings that brought you into this profession. I urge you to refocus your attention to the children in your care. There is no more precious treasure on this globe than the children of its people. Nothing holds greater potential for good, for truth, for justice than the children on this Earth. We cannot afford to contaminate that precious resource with notions of worth connected to the number on a test. We cannot afford to lead our children to the belief that our schoolís success, our success, their success, and, by association, their worth, is invested in adequate yearly progress. For a child to believe that he or she has responsibility for the success of a school, a community, a state, and the nation is ludicrous at best and immoral at worst.

Take some time now to search through your books, to carefully and critically examine your schedule, to revisit your vision about why this matters. Pull a favorite book, stop what you are doing, and read to them.

In all things, be kind and truthful. Let nothing you do take from a child his or her dignity as a human being, his or her integrity as a learner, his or her identity as one who is capable. Cause no intentional harm.
Peace be with you,
Lester