Fox Valley Reading Council

September 2019 Newsletter

A note from our Presidents:

Welcome to an exciting new year at Fox Valley Reading Council! Your Council has been busy at work preparing for the 2019-20 school year and already has three events to put on your calendar!

First, we are looking forward to our annual Anderson's Book Shop and Heinneman/Crossland book talk event on Saturday Sept. 21 at Williamsburg Elementary in Geneva. We're excited to let you know that we will also have some Guatemalan Projects for sale to support the Guatemalan Literacy Project, so bring your checkbooks/credit cards for books and beautiful handiwork. (See picture.)

Also, our Illinois Reads date is November 14th at The Aurora Public Library's main branch on S. River St. We have a therapy dog there for students to read to, some activities for kiddos to do, and we give away free books to celebrate Illinois authors.

Next, this winter on Feb. 28 or 29th, we will be trying a Literacy and Paint event. We are checking now on that venue space, which will decide the date of Friday night or Saturday morning. More information forthcoming.

Finally, our last event will be to host Maria Walther on April 25 at Williamsburg. Her latest book is The Ramped-Up Read Aloud, but she has loyal followings for many other publications, as well as her book talks at IRC. You won't want to miss her!

Please let us know if there are any people you would like to see for professional development. We are always interested in our members' input and are already planning for next year.

Don't forget to also take advantage of IRC's Wired Wednesday Webinars! All webinars begin at 7 PM. You can register online for free at Sept. 4 is Timothy Rasinski-Why Reading Fluency Matters and Oct. 9 is Enrique Feldman-Learning Reimagined: Embracing the unknown to Unveil Our Potential.

Our push this year is to increase our membership, so try to bring one new friend to our events. That personal invitation might be all that person needed. Remind colleagues that membership is valuable for their evaluation in Domain 4. Emily Bach says, "Teachers who demonstrate excellence and skill in components of Domain 4 are held in high regard by colleagues, community members, and parents. Not only do these teachers serve students' interests, but they also are active in the school, in professional organizations, and in the district and larger community."

We know a lot of PD is offered through the schools, but nothing beats hearing an author share their craft or mingling with other educators and having that time together. Collaboration is the key to learning together and being the best you can be! Please join us for these events coming up soon! We are excited for our year and hope you have a great school year, too!

Dawn & Camille Lutz-your co-presidents

Our Fall Event is Quickly Approaching! Register Today!

On September 21, 2019, Bert Crossland from Heinemann's Publishing will share the latest professional development books for teachers. Teachers will receive 30% off books. Kathleen March from Anderson's Bookshop will share the newest children's books for your classroom. Teachers will receive 20% off books. Bring your tax exempt card to save even more! This is a free event, so bring a friend!

8:30 Sign-in & Continental Breakfast

9:00 Anderson's Bookshop

10:30 Break

10:45 Heinemann Publishing

11:45 Browse and Shop

Fall Event: Book Talk with Anderson's and Heinemann

Saturday, Sep. 21st, 8:30am-12pm

1812 Williamsburg Avenue

Geneva, IL

Register at

Bring a friend!

Big picture

Family Reading Night 2019

Thursday, Nov. 14th, 6-7pm

101 South River Street

Aurora, IL

Meet the FVRC at the Aurora Public Library at the Downtown branch for Family Reading Night! Families can choose books to read together from this year's Illinois Reads books, donated by the Fox Valley Reading Council. Enjoy making crafts and take home prizes!

No Registration Required.

Membership By Julie Siemianowski

The more, the merrier! C’mon! Let’s celebrate the new school year by joining the Illinois Reading Council and as a side benefit, jump into the Fox Valley Reading Council! We’ve got lots of Professional Development opportunities to share with you. We’ve got those professional development books you’re interested in at a DISCOUNT! We can help you make sense of curricular mandates. We’ve got networking opportunities for you. We’ve got friendships to share. We’ve got empathy galore!

Pencil Project By Karen Masus

The Global Pencil Project was started by a woman named Maria Vick. She saw a boy in Africa holding a worn, broken pencil. It made her stop and think what an important tool a pencil can be for a child.

At the beginning of each school year, in my 3rd grade classroom, I talk about the importance of a pencil. I tell my students that in some places in the world a student is given one pencil at the beginning of the year and they need to take care of it. It was a crazy concept for them because we have what seems to be an endless supply of pencils that are sharp and ready to use every day. Each year, my students take the lesson to heart and will go around and gather the writing utensils off the floor at the end of each day.

Last year, I started my role as the international projects chairperson with our Reading Council. I was very excited to learn more about Maria Vick’s project and to help facilitate getting pencils (and other school supplies) to children without the necessary tools.

Fox Valley Reading Council was partnered with a school in Uganda. There is a man named Samuel Ebwongu who gets the package from the post office and delivers it to the school. I was amazed to learn that when mailing the package, it needed to be very plain so that it is not stolen before it arrives. Also, I was shocked to learn how expensive it is to mail a shoebox full of pencils to Uganda. My hope is to find a way to get them there at a more economic cost, but for now I am excited to send a package for the beginning of the school year. If you would like to contribute to this international project, you can either bring supplies to one of our events, or you can make a donation to Fox Valley Reading Council to help cover the cost of shipping.

Big picture

High School Book Talk By Camille Lutz

Despite the Best Intentions By: Amanda Lewis and John Diamond

Why is it that even when all of the circumstances seem right, black and Latino students continue to lag behind their peers? In this five year qualitative case study of a high school that is well funded, highly ranked, and in a diverse and liberal community, Lewis and Diamond attempt to answer that question. Essentially, this is a school where all students should have opportunities to succeed, but why are white students over represented in the school’s honors and advanced placement classes, while black and Latino/Latina students are over represented in the school’s lower academic tracks?

Early in the book, the authors look at the idea that the racial achievement gap is due to “oppositional culture” and the “burden of acting white.” Both of which have been popularized explanations for why students of color show lower achievement scores, but are unfounded through this study. In addition, disciplinary routines, academic tracking, and the role of “opportunity hoarding” are discussed at length. In an environment where school administrators and staff feel both policies and practices are “race neutral,” there appears to be racist outcomes. How can this be? More importantly, how can this be stopped?

Big picture

ELL Book Reviews By Katina Kastrantas

Esperanza Rising By: Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Ortega’s happy life comes to an abrupt end when her father is murdered and her sneaky uncles gains his vast land holdings. Rather than accept one uncle’s proposal of marriage, Esperanza’s mother flees their home with her daughter and faithful servants. Abuelita, Esperanza’s grandmother, must stay behind because of an injury sustained when their home is burnt to the ground.

At the end of a difficult journey, Esperanza arrives in a California farm labor camp and, slowly, begins to grasp the harsh realities of her new life. When her mother falls ill, Esperanza takes over the role of breadwinner, working in the packing sheds and helping with chores for her new extended family at the camp. Esperanza undergoes a tumultuous, emotional journey from the pampered girl of her past to the hardworking and compassionate young woman she becomes.

Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the hardships faced by Mexican immigrants during the time, the novel is a testament to the power of hope and the triumph of the human spirit. Pam Munoz Ryan seamlessly depicts the life of Mexican workers in this abundant and passionate novel that gives voice to those whose stories are not often heard.

Be Kind By: Pat Zietlow

A picture book about the power of kindness.

Tanisha becomes embarrassed in class when she spills grape juice on her dress in front of her classmates. Another student tries to find ways to make her feel better. She thinks of great examples of how to be kind to Tanisha. Then she thinks about what it means to be kind. All the different ways to be kind in the classroom, at recess, at home and in the world. A small act of kindness can go a big way.

Tech Tidbits By Sarah Paulson A projectable desktop that has all the tools and more. If you enjoy using projectable timers to help your students pace themselves as they work in groups or independently, you will love! In addition to a timer, you can also project a digital clock, sound level buzzard, drawing pad, text notepad, and voice level symbols! I utilize the text notepad to display a list of “to do’s” and directions while students are working on a list of assignments but at different paces. Another fun feature called, “Random Name” allows you to enter in all of your students’ names and then generate a random name with the click of a button. This may be used to improve student engagement and participation. The projectable screen also allows you to customize the background picture with a wide selection of seasonal pictures and GIF pictures with calming motion with noise effects.

Big picture

Volunteer! It gives you all the feels!

Would you like to get involved with a caring group of teachers who are passionate about literacy, teaching and learning? Come and visit us! We are always looking for like-minded individuals to join us! Consider attending one of our board meetings to see what we are all about. Contact us at for more information.