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."
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.


Contact: Peachtree Publishers
Emily Dowdell
School & Library Liaison
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave
Atlanta, GA 30318
(p) 404.876.8761 ext. 106

Contact: Scholastic Inc.
Megan Hoyt


Contact: Heinemann Publishers
Michelle Flynn
800-541-2086 ext. 1117

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2 sticks of Blue Bonnet Margarine
2 cups of Dixie Crystal Sugar
3 eggs {any brand—chickens are independent creatures anyway—but we use large eggs}
3-1/​2 cups of Martha White self-rising flour
3 teaspoons of vanilla flavoring

Cream margarine and sugar {you can do this with a potato masher}

Add well-beaten eggs, vanilla and flour {you can do this with that same potato masher, then you stir it up with a long wooden spoon}.

Next my Ma’am Maw would roll it out with a rolling pin and cut the dough with a tea cup.

Well I have not been able to make that work. So you know what? I put two cereal bowls on the counter next to the big mixing bowl. I put sugar in one of those little bowls. I put flour in the other little bowl.

Then I take that long wooden spoon and scoop up some tea cake dough {about the size of a golf ball} and drop it in that little bowl of flour. I roll it around in there and lift it out. I roll that around in the palms of my hands to make it round.

Then I roll it in the sugar {Mmmmm, more sugar!} and put it on a baking sheet {I use non-stick baking sheets}.

This makes about 40 teacakes. So you are supposed to share them with special people.

Then comes the hard part. You have to wait----YIKES!

Put them in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes {oh yeah, don’t forget to preheat the oven}.

Now here’s the tricky part. When you take them out of the oven you are supposed to wait until they cool before you lift them off the baking sheet and eat them.

They are hot and they will burn your mouth {trust me I know this is true because I didn’t listen to my Ma’am maw}.

I hope you make some Teacakes with someone you love very much. That is when they taste the very best.

A sunny afternoon at home in Asheville, NC

Here's Lester in 1960. How old was he then? Do you wonder what he is thinking?

Hey! That's Lester's 3rd grade photo. What year was that?

Here's Lester in 1971. He was 15 then. How old is he now?

I'm watching. I'm listening. I'm taking note. Good stories are out there just waiting for someone to notice.

Lester (on the left) with siblings, Amanda and Scott. December 1966 when the family was living in Key West, Florida.

Hello from Paris. One of my favorite cities.

Charleston is a great place to visit. Mmmm, such delicious food.

...and on rare occassions you might find Lester dressed up just a bit

I love my job!

Lester L. Laminack

I have a story to tell...

Visiting with friends in Ohio

I have always loved to write. I kept notebooks of stories and riddles in the fourth grade. I began writing for children in the 1990s after years of teaching. I hope that children see themselves and their families in these books. I want them to realize that everyone has a story to tell and that every life is worthy. I keep a writer's notebook with me at all times. I am always tuned in to the world around me and make notes about those things that strike me. I find ideas for stories in everyday events. Saturdays and Teacakes began with the smell of cookies baking in the local grocery store. I routinely read through my notebooks and on occasion I find a little nugget that can serve as the beginning of a new story. When a story begins I move to my computer and save every version until the final draft is ready for my editor. I write any time of day. I don't have a special time when writing seems to work. I prefer to write in my office at home, however, I do work on books when I'm on airplanes, in hotel rooms, dining alone or sitting in an airport waiting for a plane. I write most any place. I wrote The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins as a bridge to understanding what happens as our bodies and minds begin to fail us. I wanted children to understand that their love, and the love that binds families, has tremendous power. I wrote Trevor's Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth because I taught first grade and I remember what a big—huge—event it is to loose a tooth. I also remember those children who were last. The book should make us all chuckle and remember. "I wrote Saturdays and Teacakes to honor my maternal grandmother and my mom. I had a very special bond with my grandmother; she made me feel so very special, so very real and worthy. I wanted children to know that everyone deserves to be loved and cherished. I wanted adults to remember those feelings and to recognize A boy's weekly bicycle trip to his grandmother's house are captured in Lester L. Laminack's nostalgic picture book Saturdays and Teacakes. (Illustration by Chris Soentpiet.) the importance of making childhood that special time in life. I wanted to remind us all that children are to be cherished and nurtured if we expect them to cherish and love others as they grow up. For those who want to write: Stop wishing, start writing. Don't say 'one day when…' Just pick up a pen and open a notebook and start taking note of what you notice. Let your brain get in the habit of noticing the world. Read, read, read, read, read, read.…If you want to write read everything that is anything near what you hope to achieve. Fill your head with the sounds of it."

Hello from my office in Beaufort, SC


Lester loves bow ties :-)

A day of editing in the office

Lester in his office. This is where he likes to write.

Lester L. Laminack, a full-time writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States, is Professor Emeritus with department of Birth-Kindergarten, Elementary and Middle Grades Education, at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina where he received two prestigious awards for excellence in teaching (the Botner Superior Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award).


[Photo--July 2010]

Wait a minute, this guy looks like the little boy on the left! Mmmm, what's up with that? It's Lester in january 2010.

Lester has lots of books! If you want to write, you need to read, read, read...

I have a dream for schools in our country. Take a moment to read it. If you share that vision please send a copy to those who sit in policy making positions, those are elected to represent you.

[Delivered first in May 2008]

I dream of schools where children’s art hangs in gallery spaces filling the hallways
and children gather in clusters in the mornings before class to hear books and poems flowing on the voices of teachers.

I dream of schools that host conversations about books in the corridors and in alcoves throughout the building
Of schools that post poems and quotes in public spaces where children wait for lunch, queue up in line for water and restrooms, to enter the library or wait for buses.

I dream of schools that feature teachers’ favorite books face out throughout the hallways and in the office
Where children don’t know what AYP means, and don’t know where their class ranked on any test, and are greeted at the front door each morning like family returning from a long trip.

Where children are treated with the same respect afforded the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Where mistakes are seen as evidences of valiant attempts.
Where kindness is spoken with sincerity
Where collaboration and cooperation trump competition
Where all people are deemed worthy simply because they inhale and exhale
Where everyone is assured of both physical and emotional safety
Where your last name, country of origin, skin tone, sexual orientation, gender identity, language facility, economic status, politic views, religious traditions have no bearing on the attention you receive from teachers and others in the school

I dream of schools where days are not scripted by those who could not find the Post Office in your town
Where time spent engaged in inquiry, reading, making art, writing, interviewing, dancing, problem solving, dramatizing is more highly prized than time spent filling in bubbles, choosing the right answer to someone else’s questions or logging on to prove you read.
Where libraries will be as important as stadiums and auditoriums rival gymnasiums
Where children are eager to arrive and reluctant to leave
Where devotion to time for reading and writing can rival attention to the lunch schedule
Where teachers read aloud with the zeal of a street performer and the frequency of a birdsong
Where principals lead by example, know children by their successes, place books over bus schedules, teachers over test scores, students over stanines, communication over control

I dream of schools where teaching is judged by the character of the students leaving, their treatment of others, their concern for humanity, and their ability to think and reason with clarity and compassion
Where a teacher’s knowledge is the map used to chart the course of learning and his/​her heart is the navigator directing the journey
Where learning “how” is more important than learning “what” and knowing “when” and “why” are as important as getting the right answer
Where trying is more important than triumph and successive approximations are valued as much as success itself
Where children sit in small clusters for lunch gathered around a book discussion, a quote of the day, an issue to resolve in the classroom community while dining in a civil setting
Where children learn to engage in open dialog, respecting the ideas of others, entering and exiting a conversation in civil ways without raising a hand to be given permission to share their thinking in a free, civil, democratic society

I dream of schools where teachers do not feel forced to turn the pages and do what comes next in a program they do not believe in
Where teachers are treated with respect and professional courtesy, where their voices are listened to and trusted
Where hallways are read, viewed, puzzled over, seen as bearers of clues to riddles and brain teasers found throughout the building
Where walking in straight lines, and raising hands are less important than caring for classmates
Where writing is evaluated more on what is said, how it moves a reader, stirs an emotion, evokes a response, causes one to pause to think or change than on how many sentences were in a paragraph or how many paragraphs are in an essay

I dream of schools where readers are asked what they make of a text rather than asked to log on to give the correct answer to someone else’s questions
Where children are found discussing the actions and motives of a character instead of recording the details of that character’s home or clothing
Where children are more familiar with poets than NFL players, more familiar with authors than actors, more familiar with illustrators and artists than with athletes, more familiar with inventors and social activists than the names of video games, more familiar with mathematicians and scientists than sit-coms and March Madness

I dream of schools where children know they are cherished and trusted, where they feel safe to risk being wrong in order to learn lessons more important than arriving at the right answer

Will you join me?
Will you stand up for the children of this nation?
Will you take a stand on the issues that matter most to the preservation of their one, precious childhood.

Lester L. Laminack
Asheville, NC

"I want to make my time on this globe meaningful, to give back and pay forward. I believe that when one lives by this rule: IN ALL THINGS BE KIND AND TRUTHFUL, your existence is generally positive, your joys outweigh your sorrows, your pleasures overshadow your pain. I strive to live this way."