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.

The Sunsets of Miss
Olivia Wiggins

"Miss Olivia may be remembering happy times when her daughter Angel, and great-grandson, Troy, come to visit her at the nursing home. They bring lilacs from her home, which may trigger memories of Sunday afternoons spent with the young man she would marry. When Troy sees visitors with a small baby, Miss Olivia remembers Angel's birth. Full-page watercolor paintings are sympathetic to the plight of this older woman. Golden light shines like twilight throughout this story of several generations connected together and it all happens without Miss Olivia ever speaking."
--Wendy Pollcok-Gilson, Children's Literature

"When her daughter, Angel, and her great-grandson Troy come to visit her in a nursing home, Miss Olivia Wiggins doesn't appear to notice their presence: 'She just [sits] there, staring straight ahead, at nothing and at everything.' But small things they say and do bring back memories for her. As Troy hums a little tune by her chair, she remembers holding her babies and singing to them, and the smell of the lilacs he has brought her reminds her of a special, long-ago spring day with the man she would marry. Although Troy finds it somewhat puzzling that his great-grandmother doesn't seem the same, he can tell that his visits bring her joy. Realistic watercolors flow gently between present and past in this 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."
--Susan Dove Lempke, Booklist

"When her daughter and great-grandson visit Miss Olivia Wiggins in a nursing home, their words and actions cause the woman to remember significant moments in her life. A repeated phrase, 'She didn't move, she didn't even blink, but slowly, quietly she began to think...' signals the change from the present to the past. These remembrances, which occur on every other page, are printed in italics. Through this story, readers will be reassured that older people can have a full inner life and will understand the importance of visiting them. With the growing number of elderly requiring full-time care, this book could fulfill a need... The sun-dappled watercolor illustrations work with the text to present a sanitized, loving tribute to one woman's life. They do try to create a child-oriented connection between the past and the present by including a toy horse in many of the scenes...”
--School Library Journal

Reviews from readers posted on Amazon.com:

“When young Troy and his Grandma Angel visit Momma Olivia in the nursing home we get a brief glimpse into the life of an Alzheimers patient. Any family coping with Alzheimers will immediately recognize the tender care, the love, and the hope that lies within the lyrical language of this most sensitive story. The poetic prose and exquisite art reveal a rich and robust life now trapped within. A sensitive telling of a difficult issue. Kudos to Mr. Laminack and Ms. Bergum.”

“Miss Olivia just sits with her hands folded in her lap and stares, saying nothing. Her daughter Angel and great-grandson Troy visit, and she still sits as they talk to her. She still says nothing, but she thinks of beautiful memories from her past, beautiful as the sunset the nurse had pointed out that evening. Beautifully illustrated by Constance R. Bengum... It is such a beautiful book, and a wonderful gentle and loving story that can help young and old cherish their loved ones who have Alzheimer's.”
--Brenda Parris Sibley

“Lester Laminack has done it. He has captured what many others attempt to do. He has reached into the heart of a person who is affected by someone with Alzheimers and put their thoughts into words. My grandfather passed away from Alzheimers. I never thought he knew me. However, after reading Lester's book, I realized he was still ‘all there’. If you have a child who is struggling with understanding this illness, this is the book to get. I agree that this book should be recommended to anyone who is going through the heartache of Alzheimers.”

“Lester Laminack has given all readers who have had their life touched by Alzheimer's new hope. My grandmother passed away with Alzheimer's, and I was devastated when I felt she did not know me. However, this book gives you hope that somewhere deep inside the people it affects, this horrible disease cannot fully erase those memories. It should be recommended reading to not just children whose lives have been affected by this disease, but adults as well. Thanks Mr. Laminack for giving me a new hope to hold on to!”

“Having recently had a true experience of life with a mother lost for years to the Alzheimer’s disease, I find this book a true description of what we went through. My grandchildren can relate to the story. I think it should be recommended by the elderly services, doctors and Alzheimer’s foundation.”