children’s book clubs

There is no frigate like a book…to take us to Sturbridge Village

Written by Emma and Brooks Morgan

A few weeks ago, Brooks Morgan and I traveled to Massachusetts to visit Sturbridge Village.

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Left to right: Brooks Morgan, Junior Wonderland BookSaver Wills, Emma, and Junior Wonderland BookSaver Ella

Sturbridge Village is a reenactment town that contains houses, stores, and villagers that do the jobs that would have been done in the 1830s. There are potters, shoe makers, farmers, tin makers, women gardening, and just people walking through the streets. All of these people are in character and doing their jobs and answering questions so that visitors can see what it would have been like in that time period.

There are also classes for students and we took Wood lore. We walked around the town learning about trees and special properties of these trees. One of our favorites was a tree that had a sap which closes and heals wounds, and we both put the sap on our minor scrapes on our fingers, and to our surprise, it actually did help heal. Our instructor used his knife to cut bark off a section of a tree, and showed us how to make a container to boil water in so that in the rare occasion that we were stuck in the woods alone, we would be able to collect water and prepare food. He used clips made out of sticks that he cut a slot in to hold the whole container together. We were both fascinated by this technique since he literally took a cylinder piece of bark and cut it and folded it into this container.

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After our class we walked around the town doing activities. At the school house, we practiced walking on stilts and successfully managed doing about 10 steps.

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We had a picnic lunch in the center of the town at the big green grass area, and afterwards went from house to house and shop to shop and going in to see rooms, furniture, and sometimes people inside who would tell us stories and answer questions. We learned a lot on this trip from the very informative people, and definitely enjoyed our trip to Sturbridge Village and look forward to going back.

Written by Emma and Brooks Morgan

Wonderland BookSavers Attend Meet the Author with Ida Siegal

By Madeline

Last Friday, Team Wonderland BookSavers attended a “Meet the Author” event with Ida Siegal, an author of a series of four books, at our local library. Many of us have seen Ida broadcasting news stories as an NBC New York reporter, but we were unaware that Ida also wrote children’s books.

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An array of Ida’s series of books, Emma Is on the Air

Ida recently published Emma Is on the Air, a series of four books in which the protagonist, Emma, pieces together puzzles and mysteries at her school and reports on the subsequent happenings. Ida explained that she wanted to create a series of books to illustrate what reporters do. As she spoke to us, she explained that children are always interested in news reporters–she recounted how whenever children see the iconic NBC peacock logo and all the news equipment, they immediately sprint over to ask a deluge of questions. Ida said she wanted to create something to show children what being a news reporter is like, and with the incite and perspective of being an actual news reporter, Ida created this series of books to help readers see how reporters operate.listeningtoida.JPGIda read a few chapters from her first book from her series, Big News!, and after reading two chapters, Ida held a question-and-answer session where we and other children were able to ask about her writing process, her inspiration for the books, and how her career as a reporter helped in creating the story.idareading.JPGLastly, Ida held a book-signing, and we got signed copies of Ida’s book Big News! This event was both informational and inspiring, and we gleaned firsthand knowledge about news reporting and book publishing.

Title 1 School Donates Books to Zimbabwe

written by Brooks Morganpic 1.JPGToday, 5/9/16, we visited Emily G. Wetherbee school in Massachusetts. We are thrilled with their generosity. Francine, writing coach and head of community service said, “We’re trying to teach our students, here, to give to others. I work in a community where the kids get 100% free lunch and they get a lot of free services; it is a community of poverty and yet, we try to teach them that it doesn’t matter; you can still give to others. This is one way for students to share with other people.” Francine’s words reflect our mission, the greatest gift is giving.pic 2.JPGA 4th grade class helped us load the car with all the boxes that were donated. They were all very nice. Joshua was very good at carrying and organizing the boxes, Denise was so nice for holding the door open for those carrying boxes, otherwise we would have been locked out. Cameron, Adrian, Brady, Ninio, and Jose were very strong and able to carry the boxes to and into the car. Cameron, Joshua, Denise, Adrian, and Brady were also very good at answering some of our questions.pic 3

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Sombreros and sticky letters for the kids in Zimbabwe

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A letter one of the fourth graders wrote to the kids in Zimbabwe

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Some of the books donated to us by the Wetherbee School

After loading the car, I went inside and continued interviewing Francine. Francine spoke about the importance of giving to others, Alison, our team manager, said, “I think that’s so important, for kids who don’t have much to be able to give to other children. That’s one of the reasons that we started this letter writing campaign. We know it’s a way that kids can share with others, you can give a letter or a picture as a way to communicate. Francine added, “And I’ve read some of the letters and one or two of them almost made me cry because they’re saying something like ‘your new friend from America.’ At 4th grade, the kids are just so open, you know, they don’t know these people at all but they saw the video and saw what the situation was and thought oh, wow, we get to give them books!”pic 7Before we left, Francine wanted to give us more things to share with the children in Zimbabwe. She found a huge box of sticky foam letters and pictures and a huge stack of sombreros! We had a great time talking to the children and collecting the books. We hope to go back again if they want to collect some more books for us!pic 8

Written by Brooks Morgan

Team Wonderland BookSavers Heads to Destination Imagination States

By Madeline

Months of hard work is about to come to fruition. Every year, Team WBS competes in the competition Destination Imagination. The Destination Global Finals are held every year in Knoxville, Tennessee, and teams ranging from elementary age students to college students participate in five different categories of challenges and four different age groups. Students 45 states and 17 countries will be participating at the Global Finals.

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At the globals competition in 2015

However, in order to qualify for Globals, we must win first place in our division at the Connecticut State competition. The challenge this year is dubbed “The Meme Event” and in this challenge our team was required to make a meme to promote our project, create a timeline with specific dates and locations regarding our project, and hold a community event to integrate our community in our service work. Destination Imagination has helped our team with requirements in past projects. The first year Wonderland BookSavers competed in DI, we had to make a video about our project. The second year we had to incorporate an elevator pitch. In our third year, we were required to expand our team’s brand, and create a jingle. All these past requirements have proved to be useful in expanding our project.

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We chose to use our Haitian-Creole book and Sneetch-Event project as our featured project in our DI challenge, and we have created a play incorporating our steps, successes, and failed aspects of this project.

The team has worked tirelessly on this project since September, and we are eager to compete at the states level of Destination Imagination tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Our First Meeting as a 501(c)(3)

By Madeline

After much paperwork and stress, Wonderland BookSavers (Wonderland BookSavers Incorporated, to be exact) is a 501(c)(3)!

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Beginning our first meeting as a 501(c)(3)

We held our first meeting as a 501(c)(3) on Thursday, March 10, and we discussed a range of topics. Before our meeting officially began, we all convened at the long dinner table and had pizza and lemonade. Once we ate and cleaned up our pizza, we pulled out a folder with our papers.

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Our Annual Board Meeting agenda

First, we read the bylaws, and next we discussed our official titles and positions. During the meeting, we reviewed the all of our committees, and which members served on each committee. Our blog followers will be happy to know that six new people have joined the blog committee, and blog posts will be published every week on Mondays.

We have eleven committees, and some of them include the Blog Writing Committee, School Supplies and Shoe Donations Committee, the Book Club Readings and Projects Committee, The First Book 40,000 Committee, and others. Now we will follow a tighter agenda, which will enable us to maximize our efforts and impact.

At the end of our meeting, we also chose the next book we are reading as a club: The Adventures of Pinocchio. We are excited to delve into another book, and into another chapter in our charity.

Converting our charity into a 501(c)(3) is a monumental step in Wonderland BookSavers’ progress. Our project has transformed from a summer book club to an internationally recognized global charity. We look forward to watching Wonderland BookSavers grow even further one hill, one valley, and one day at a time.

The Sneetch Event: From Our Local Library to Bridgeport to Haiti

By Madeline

Back in June 2015, Wonderland BookSavers donated 850 books to the Barnum School in Bridgeport, CT.

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Donating books to the Barnum School in June

We spoke with the librarian, Maureen D’Ascanio, and she told us about the kids’ interests. She explained the hardships children at Barnum School face in their daily lives. Many of the children live in dire conditions and do not receive much support from their parents. Reading, she explained, is critical for a child’s success in all subjects at school. A love and understanding of literature and reading must be instilled at a young age to broaden a child’s academic capabilities and success.

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A poster hanging from the ceiling at Barnum School’s Library

Dr. Seuss books are the favorite books of the younger kids at Barnum School. Dr. Seuss books are iconic and widely appreciated, making them less likely to be donated and given away. The books possess alluring creativity and an appealing rhyme scheme, making them very popular to younger readers. On the library shelves, we could see the prized pittance of Dr. Seuss books. Due to the demand and popularity of the Dr. Seuss books, children were not permitted to check those books out of the school library. So, we decided to raise money to purchase Dr. Seuss books for the kids at Barnum School.

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The Barnum School’s Dr. Seuss books before our donation

Wonderland BookSavers does not need money to operate. The only exceptions would be our annual bake sale at Pequot Library, Lemonade for Literacy, where we make lemonade and bake treats and use our earnings to purchase books for five dollars a box during the last day of the sale. The other exception is for our very recent project of purchasing $1,000 worth of Haitian-Creole books for the children we donate to in Haiti. The money was donated to us by our partner and sponsor, Zoe Barry, founder and CEO of ZappRx. In order to raise money, we decided to have a Dr. Seuss-themed fundraiser. We organized a community event at our local library, Pequot Library. We prepared materials and ideas, and sent out flyers to publicize the event. The library helped us to prepare. We took newspapers, and laid them across the floor. We then placed large refrigerator cardboard boxes on the newspaper. On a table, we set up paper bowls, an assortment of paintbrushes, and tempera paint.

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We set a fifteen-dollar admission rate for this event to raise money for Dr. Seuss books. When the children arrived, we ushered them to a blanket we had laid on the floor, and everyone sat down. The children’s librarian, Miss Susan, began story time. Before she began to read, Miss Susan handed out green stars to some people. During the story, when the Sneetches took their stars on and off, everyone would switch stars and take turns having stars and being starless. Everyone listened as she read The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss.

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Miss Susan with her star-bellied Sneetch stuffed animal

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Miss Susan begins to read The Sneetches and Other Stories

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Everyone listens to Miss Susan read The Sneetches and Other Stories

When she had finished reading, we asked the children what they thought the moral of the story was. Their consensus was that it didn’t matter if the Sneetches had stars or not, they were all the same. We discussed how this was actually a larger theme: you should not discriminate against others because of their looks.

 

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After reading and discussing the story, we explained the next portion of the event- building the Sneetch machine. Everyone began to paint the machine.paintingsneetchmachine

We took a smaller box, designated it as our tower, and painted it yellow. We painted the tunnel and main chamber of the machine red. With duct tape, we made streamers to cover the entrance of the tunnel. We made green stars, and while you were going through the machine, you could either put a star on, or take a star off. Once the paint had dried, we cut a large hole at one end of largest box. We placed a slide at the exit, and everyone took turns sliding out of the machine.

willsslidingoutofsneetchmachinekidcomingoutofsneetchmachineWe left our machine at the library for a few weeks, and eventually dismantled the machine before we brought it to the Barnum School, which is where the machine now resides.

About a month after our event at Pequot Library, we purchased Dr. Seuss books with the money we had made from our fundraiser, and headed to the Barnum school with decorating supplies, a large banner,some Haitian-Creole books to show the children, and the new Dr. Seuss books.

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Haitian-Creole Books

We showed the children their new Dr. Seuss books, and we then proceeded to hold our Sneetch-related activities.

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Emma and Brooks Morgan pose with the Dr. Seuss books we donated to the Barnum School

We spent the afternoon with three classes of first-graders as they had their library time. We did the same activities with all three groups. First, we would read The Sneetches and Other Stories, and discuss the morals.

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Next, we would read and show the children the Haitian-Creole books. After everyone had a chance to look at the Creole books, the kids got to decorate the Sneetch machine in shifts and write a few words and make drawings on the banner we sending to Haiti. But what they were most excited about by far was getting to go through the Sneetch machine.

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Everyone lines up to ride the Sneetch machine

The kids lined up, eagerly anticipating their turn to go through the machine. We handed everyone out toy money, like the money the Sneetches paid to go through the machines in the book, and they slipped the money into the admissions box and crawled through the tunnel, walked to the exit, and rode down the slide.

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Brooks and I (Madeline) making a tunnel as the children take turns sliding out of the machine

After repeating the activities with each class, we packed up our Creole books and rolled the enormous poster with the names, notes, and drawings of each first-grader scrawled inside. The Sneetch machine and has traveled from our local library to the Barnum School’s library. Our poster brimming with the drawings and messages from Connecticut children will be received by children in Haiti.

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Kids working on the poster

The Sneetches and Other Stories has made an impact in our community, at the Barnum school, and will soon make an impact in Haiti. Where will reading take you?

Sweet Seuss Success!!

Some of you may remember this forlorn collection of Dr. Seuss books owned by a local school library.

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The librarian requested that we assist her with Dr. Seuss books for her collection. She stated, “Dr. Seuss is a favorite.  The easy rhyme schemes are appealing to children and greatly aid early literacy efforts.”  We posted the request on our home page and Pequot Library noticed!

Pequot Library hosts an annual Book Sale for which it collects thousands of books.

IMG_2451The Director selected multiple Dr. Seuss titles. The school librarian was able to purchase these books through the Bucks for Books program.

download (1)Look for our special Dr. Seuss reading program which we will be doing with both libraries this summer and fall, featuring The Sneetches and Other Stories from our One Book: One World program.

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Who Says Standardized Tests Can’t Taste Good?

Gooseberry Fool

Now that it is July, I finally have the time to complete the Iowa tests. And what do I find in the middle of the reading comprehension section?

 A perfectly wonderful recipe for Gooseberry Fool!

 Being no fool, I promptly set aside my test (after the required 25 minutes) and begin cooking!

 I hope to continue my testing session by rolling down hills while eating Gooseberry Fool, as suggested by the directions in the reading passage!
 Ahh! Nothing tests better than a good standardized taste!

Literally Lunchtime by Maddie

On Tuesday we held a meeting to commemorate the end of an Asian themed selection of books.

IMG_8321For each book or set of books that we read, we choose a project. Wonderland BookSavers is both a book club and a global charity; this project was for our team book club.

inside out and back againLeaving Vietnam coverwater buffalo coverchinese cinderella coverWe read Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, Leaving Vietnam, by Tuan Ngo, Water Buffalo Days, by Huynh Quang Nhuong and Chinese Cinderella, by Yen Mah. Each of these stories is an autobiographical account of a childhood marked by displacement due to war. These stories are set in different countries, and are from different perspectives. Water Buffalo Days is from a young boy’s point of view. Inside Out and Back Again poetically reflects a young girl’s perspective. Chinese Cinderella narrates a young girl’s life from birth through college, and Leaving Vietnam portrays displacement through a young boy’s eyes. Through these tales we learned of the difficulties children face when the world around them falls apart. They are forced to adapt to extreme challenges and must become adults in entirely foreign circumstances.

One refrain among the four books was the desire of each child to return to “home.” We decided that a fitting activity for this set of books was to investigate what would constitute “home” cooking for these four children. Using the Usborne Children’s World Cookbook, we researched simple and typical Asian food.2632879Our meal included: Egg drop soup, cold sesame noodles, chicken satay, and fried rice.IMG_8052It took us about two hours to cook all the food, then we served our soup, rice, satay, and noodles all at once on a table. We did everything authentically, except eating with chopsticks. We cooked all of the food methodically, following the directions exactly. It was far different from just throwing everything in, and the result was that it was time consuming, but the taste was well worth the wait. It was a very delicious end to our Asian selection in literature.

Brownies for Books by Emma

We know it is finally midsummer with the arrival of the Annual Pequot Library Book Sale.

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This sale is the largest in New England. Thousands of book lovers come from the surrounding areas, some as far north as Massachusetts and New Hampshire, some as far south as New Jersey. The tents are filled with dog-eared and beloved books on every subject. Booksellers, book lovers and book browsers peruse the books, each searching (and finding) those unique volumes that will inspire and delight.

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These past three days we went to the Pequot Library and set up a lemonade stand in rain and sunshine.  We all huddled under an umbrella as it poured and were still huddled under it for shade when it was sunny.  We made $212 by selling lemonade, different kinds of cookies, brownies, and cupcakes.  I enjoyed making the brownies with my two little brothers and sister.

WBS Brownies 2 On the last day of the sale we used our money for a great deal: $5 a box! We bought 40 boxes of wonderful children’s books, over two thousand books filled with facts, fiction and fantasy. We chose classics, illustrated novels and inspiring picture books. Many of these books we have read and loved ourselves.

WBS Brownies 3The volunteer cashier was very impressed and asked to have a picture taken with us. She wrote down the quote on the back of our shirts, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” by Frederick Douglass.

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Soon we will pack up the boxes and ship them to different parts of Africa, with the help of a donating corporation.

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My favorite part of this process was giving a cookie and lemonade to our first customer, a little girl with a beautiful smile.