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Looking for a Wonderful Picture Book? Our Favorites!

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Eddie's GardenOne of the most packed area of our shop is the Picture Book section. Over the years we've heard from parents, teachers, and others that teaching important lessons is often easier when you have a good picture book that covers what you are hoping children (of all ages) will learn. We'd like to introduce you to a few of our very favorite picture books and share why we love them so much. Each week we'll pick three books to share in this area of our web site, so come back often to learn about more wonderful books. And... if you have a book that you love that we should know about, contact us!

Eddie's Garden and How to Make Things Grow

Watching a child's eyes light up when the first speck of green pokes through the earth..... realizing that he or she made it happen by planting something and caring for it, is a wonderful experience. In today's world, where too much of a child's food comes from the drive-through and too many of a child's experiences come through the TV, it is wonderful to have this book that sparks an interest in gardening. The book is fun to read, with great illustrations, two very different kids (one very curious, earnest and adventuresome and the other in that everything-is-about-me toddler phase), a wonderful mom leading the way, and a grandpa who can't get over what the children have created.... are all characters we'd love to have in our lives!

This is a terrific companion to our Wonder Soil Sprout House! Yeah - shameless self-promotion.... but really, it is a great combination.

We're very excited to see the locavore movement spreading across the world. Food sovereignty is not just about other countries - we need food sovereignty in every community and as many homes as possible. Instead of using the land around us just for ornamental purposes, we can grow some idependence by growing our own food. Intimately connecting with the earth is a critical step to learning how important it is to protect the earth. Yet you can't do that simply by whining about all the bad things that are happening. Instead, introduce joy and wonder and good things will follow. This is a joyous book that also includes specific instructions on how to grow specific things in the yard and indoors in pots. Great stuff. 

The Lunch TheifThe Lunch Theif

Our very first Reach And Teach project was dealing with the issue of homelessness and one of our most important areas of focus is anger management / bulltying. This book touches on both issues in a tender, thoughtful, and impactful way. The illustrations are beautiful, as is always the case with our friends at Tilbury House! We highly recommend this book.

About the Book:

Rafael is hungry-because someone stole his lunch. His mom had packed his lunch bag with two burritos, a bag of corn chips, some carrots, and an apple. Once a week she tucks in a slice of her special lemon pound cake. Rafael saw Kevin, a new kid in his class, sneak his lunch bag from underneath his desk and tuck it in his backpack. But how can he do something about the theft without picking a fight? Inspired by his mother's advice to "Use your mouth before your fists," Rafael bides his time, but other kids' lunches are disappearing, too. On an errand with his mom, Rafael sees Kevin carrying a bundle of laundry into a motel room, and his mom tells him Kevin's family might be one of the families who lost their homes in the recent wildfires. Rafael rethinks his anger. The next day, instead of accusing Kevin, Rafael invites him to share his lunch, letting him know he's been caught, but offering friendship as well as a good meal.

Anh's AngerAnh's Anger

Getting angry is normal. The question is how do you deal with your anger. In this incredibly powerful story, Anh gets really angry and gets sent to his room to "sit with" his anger. Anh not only sits with his anger, he chats, dances, and plays with his anger. This story is simply amazing, healthy, beautiful..... a gem.

About the Book:

Children experience anger on a regular basis, but lack the coping skills to guide them through these difficult moments. In Anh's Anger, five-year-old Anh becomes enraged when his grandfather interrupts playtime with a summons to the dinner table. When Anh’s grandfather takes the time to help Anh fully experience his anger by suggesting he go to his room and "sit with his anger," Anh discovers a positive method by which to work through his feelings. This remarkable book teaches children to both acknowledge and resolve their difficult emotions, making it an invaluable tool for parents and teachers alike.


These are the books we're recommending this week (April 26th - May 1st). Check back next week for three more favorites!


Beyond Vampires and Werewolves... Award-Winning Products Available from Reach And Teach

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And the Winners Are...

This is our April e-Newsletter. If you like this content, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up to receive our newsletter every month. It will include something extra... coupon codes for discounts!

March/April Newsletter

We've been gobsmacked by the number of products in the Reach And Teach portfolio that have won prestigious awards and wanted to feature childrens/young-adult fiction this month, in addition to other award-winners we think are worth knowing about.
And now, onto the winners!


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This John Newberry Award winner is an amazing mystery, science fiction, friendship and family story with twists and turns that will keep kids (and adults) reading until the very last page. No wonder it was chosen as "The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children." 6th graders Miranda and Sal, know how to navigate their NY neighborhood. They know what's safe, and who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then mysterious notes arrive and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know, bringing her closer to believing only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

This plethora of awards-winning book is a roller-coaster ride, scary at times, funny at others, and all too close to what might happen if the United States suffered another attack like September 11th. 17 YO Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by DHS and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days. Finally released, with his city a police state, he knows no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.


The Shepherd's Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter

Amani always wanted to be a shepherd, just like her beloved grandfather, Sido. For generations her family grazed sheep above their olive groves near Hebron. But now Amani's family home is threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. As she struggles to feed her sheep, her uncle and brother are tempted to take a more militant stance. Then she meets Jonathan, an American visiting his father, one of the settlers. Away from their families, and despite their differences, the two discover Sido's secret meadow, the domain of a lone wolf. Amani learns that she must share the meadow, and even her sheep, with the wolf, if she is going to continue to use it.

Winner of many awards, this book has also had its share of criticism. Reach And Teach stood with the author against that criticism and the call for removing the book from Canadian schools was thwarted. It is an incredibly well written book from the perspective of a Palestinian child. Another book we recommend that provides both Israeli and Palestinian children's perspectives is Three Wishes - Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis.


The Contest by Caroline Stellings

We LOVE this book! It is a great tale of overcoming the differences in race, class, culture, without being sugary sweet or overly dramatic. Quirky, fun, and keeps you reading!

Rosy is half-Mohawk and all Anne of Green Gables… Young readers from all backgrounds will delight in the story of a humorous, spirited, dark-haired, girl who is the first and only Native to enter an Anne of Green Gables contest. Preparing for the contest is an adventure in itself. As Rosy overcomes setbacks with her health as well as financial hardships, readers will experience along with Rosy her discovery of the true value of friendship, family, and community.

 My Baby Rides the Short Bus - The Unabashedly Human Experiences of Raising Kids with Disabilities - Winner of's "Best Memoir" award 2011.

In lives where there is a new diagnosis or drama every day, the stories in this collection provide parents of “special needs” kids with a welcome chuckle, a rock to stand on, and a moment of reality held far enough from the heart to see clearly. Featuring works by “alternative” parents who have attempted to move away from mainstream thought--or remove its influence altogether--this anthology, taken as a whole, carefully considers the implications of parenting while raising children with disabilities. From professional writers to novice storytellers including Robert Rummel-Hudson, Ayun Halliday, and Kerry Cohen, this assortment of authentic, shared experiences from parents at the fringe of the fringes is a partial antidote to the stories that misrepresent, ridicule, and objectify disabled kids and their parents.
Tomorrow's Children 

Tomorrow's Children: Pete Seeger with the Rivertown Kids

Justin Bieber may not have won a Grammy this year, but Pete Seeger did! When that happened we decided to add one music CD to our newsletter about award-winners.

Can you imagine a school, where the children have gotten so excited about making the world a better place, that they can't stop singing about it? Between a 4th grade teacher, a local naturalist, and Pete Seeger, one group of kids began to believe they could change the world. And then, the principal issued a commandment: "No singing in the hallways!" How did the kids respond to that order? They wrote a new song called "We Sing Out" and kept on singing. That's the second song in this incredible album which will inspire young and old alike to keep working on building a better world for ourselves and our neighbors. Pete and the kids recorded this album together and we LOVE playing it in our shop. You'll love it too. At 91 years of age, Pete Seeger continues to carry and share the torches of freedom and justice along with a bit of humor.

These are just five of the titles in our Award Winning category. You can view all of the award-winning fiction, non-fiction, DVDs, and music titles by clicking here.


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The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

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As states, cities and local municipalities struggle to balance their budgets, teachers and their unions are under fire. As the United States falls behind so many other countries in educational perormance, teachers also come under fire. Reach And Teach is honored to work with and be in touch with thousands of teachers all over this country, and quite a few around the world. We believe that the problem is not in the teachers, but in our nation's priorities and the flawed way we measure performance. That's why we were thrilled to catch Diane Ravitch on the Daily Show, a program that has become one of the best sources for understanding complex issues facing our country. Yes, it is a comedy show, but the best comedy is based on the truth. Check out this interview with Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diane Ravitch
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Seeking Lesson Plans and Resources on Homelessness

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IvyReach And Teach will soon publish Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco. To go along with the book, we're creating a set of web resources and lesson plans. We would love your help in gathering some of that content. If you know of a great web site about homelessness (educational, inspirational, or practical), please click here to let us know. If you have lesson plans you'd like to share, or if you'd like to write a lesson plan, please click here. If you'd like to be an advance-reviewer and are willing to provide quotes about the book we can use in publicity, click here and let us know.

Below is a press release we're working on for the book, including a link to the pre-purchase page on our web site. We would be thrilled if you pre-ordered a copy (or ten). The more pre-orders we get, the higher the number of books we can print which will help reduce the per-book price. And... we'll donate $1 to the National Center on Family Homelessness for every pre-sold book! 

Click here to pre-order the book.

Press Release:

San Mateo, CA. February 16, 2011


One in Fifty Children in USA Are Homeless
Bay Area Publisher To Release Novel about a Homeless Girl in San Francisco

SAN MATEO, CA - Is a child sitting next to your child in school homeless? According to a study by the National Center on Family Homelessness, one in 50 children in U.S. schools is. Reach And Teach, a Bay Area peace and social justice learning company, wanted to bring national attention to this and in June is releasing Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, a novel for children and young adults written by Berkeley author, Summer Brenner, and illustrated by San Francisco artist, Brian Bowes. Blending a spoonful of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with a dash of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and a few pinches of the Adventures of Lassie, Reach And Teach believes that Ivy's tale will appeal to young and old alike, in the Bay Area and beyond.

In this empathetic tale of hope, understanding, and the importance of family, readers face the difficult issue of poverty and the many hardships of being homeless through an inspiring young heroine named Ivy, a young girl who finds herself living on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father, Poppy, are evicted from their artist loft. Struggling to survive day-to-day, Ivy and Poppy befriend a dog who takes them to the ramshackle home of quirky siblings, Eugenia and Oscar Orr, marking the start of their amazing adventures.

John Broughton, Associate Professor at Columbia University wrote, "Ivy is an engaging, educational experience, with emotional range, density of characters, a cinematic visual imagination, and a heroine wild at heart. We have a lot to learn about homelessness, and Summer Brenner's saga of fractured family and redeeming friendship takes us deep inside the experience, while agitating our broader concern with social justice. All this in a lucid, poetic prose. She not only will get young people to read but make them want to write as well."

Nine-year-old Arianna of Berkeley said "Ivy is a great book. I especially like the way the storyline curves up and down with exciting and quiet moments. When I was reading it, I kept on saying to myself, 'No, just one more chapter, just one more chapter!' In other words, I could not put it down."

For More Information and To Obtain Review Copies:

The book will be available in bookstores on June 20th, 2011. A special web site will be available with lesson plans and other resources for learning and engaging in activities that address homelessness. Advanced-review copies will be available for press and award committees in April 2011.

Customers may pre-order the book now, and for each pre-ordered book, Reach And Teach will make a donation to the The National Center on Family Homelessness and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

Click here to pre-order the book.

Reach And Teach is an imprint of PM Press, distributed internationally by Independent Publishers Group (IPG). More information can be found at, and

Tunisia/Egypt Lesson Plans and Resources

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Photos by Timothy Kaldas and Ramy Raoo  From the Choices Program Web Site

Educators are beginning to compile resources that can be used in K-12 (and University) classrooms and as we learn of those resources we'll add them to this list. If you have a resource to recommend, please click here to let us know about it.

URGENT: A webinar for educators will be held by Harvard University on Monday February 7th. Click here for information.

Spring & Summer Job Opportunities Facilitating Service-Learning Programs for Middle and High School Students

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NEWS From The Civic Education Project:
Spring & Summer Job Opportunities Facilitating Service-Learning Programs for Middle and High School Students
The Civic Education Project (CEP) at Northwestern University is NOW HIRING exceptional staff for our Spring & Summer 2011 service-learning programs. CEP offers weekend, weeklong and three-week service-learning courses for outstanding middle and high school students during the spring and summer. CEP programs engage motivated students in exploring complex social issues, provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore their role in creating change, and inspire students to take action. This year, CEP will offer programs in Chicago, Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, covering topics such as law & criminal justice, politics & urban development, education policy & school reform, public health and civic engagement.

Available Job Opportunities
We are looking for outstanding teachers from public and private schools and universities, service-learning practitioners, othereducation, youth development and nonprofit professionals, and graduate and undergraduate students. Instructional, residential, and administrative positions are available, ranging from two-day to seven-week sessions. Staff generally receive a cash stipend, room & board and training in service-learning and experiential education. However, the biggest payoff comes from the opportunity to work with bright, motivated students, build community with passionate, dynamic colleagues, and gain valuable experience educating young people about civic engagement and social responsibility.

How to Apply
To learn more about CEP programs and staff positions or to apply online, visit our website at:


Spring staff consideration begins NOW, and summer staff consideration begins February 1, 2011. Applications are accepted at any time but are reviewed on a rolling basis as they are received, so candidates are encouraged to apply early to ensure full consideration. Apply now to join a "group of people working together for a common cause," -- inspiring young people to make a difference!

Ivy - Homeless in San Francisco

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One of the earliest projects the team at Reach And Teach worked on was with a national homelessness organization, trying to save a curriculum from gathering dust in a closet. Ever since then we've continued to hunt for great resources to teach about homelessness and advocate for programs and policies that would reduce homelessness in our community, state and country.

In June 2011, Reach And Teach will take the next leap in working to educate people about homelessness through the release of our childrens/Young Adult novel, Ivy - Homeless in San Francisco. 

The awesome writer, Summer Brenner, wrote the first version of this book over a decade ago and it has long since gone out of print. We asked Summer to write a new version and she has done a fantastic job on an already great read. This new and updated version will also include brand new illustrations by artist Brian Bowes. 

About the Book:

Here's how the catalogs will be describing the book.

In this empathetic tale of hope, understanding, and the importance of family, readers face the difficult issue of poverty and the many hardships of being homeless through an inspiring young heroine named Ivy. Ivy is the story of a young girl who finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father, Poppy, are evicted from his artist loft.

Struggling to survive day to day, Ivy and Poppy befriend a dog who takes them to the ramshackle home of quirky siblings Eugenia and Oscar Orr, marking the start of some amazing adventures. Blending a spoonful of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with a dash of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and a few pinches of the Adventures of Lassie, Ivy's tale will appeal to young readers as well as give adults material to discuss with children.

We Need Your Help

There are three ways you can help us in the months leading up to this book's release.

  • The manuscript has been completed and the illustrations are coming fast and furious out of Brian's talented hands. So, we're now ready to start asking for your help! We'd love to have some teachers, parents, literary critics, librarians, book-lovers, and others who would be willing to read the book either electronically (we can give you PDF or Kindle versions) or we can send an early pre-release print in April. Are you interested? If so, click here to let us know.
  • We plan to have a web page with lots of resources for people to learn about, teach about, and then do something about homelessness. Do you have a favorite lesson plan, fact sheet, activity, book, web site, or other resource you'd like to recommend? If so, click here to let us know about it.
  • Pre-Order a copy of this book from Reach And Teach (click here). OR, help get the book onto the NY Times Best Seller list by pre-ordering it from Amazon by clicking here (yes, we know, but if you buy books from them anyway, why not help a book like Ivy make the news?)

2011 Calendars at Bargain Prices

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We're hoping to clear out the remaining few calendars in our inventory so we've reduced the prices on them. Click here to visit our calendar page to get your 2011 calendars before they are all (we hope soon) gone!

Abe in Arms Chosen As One of Ten Best

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Abe in ArmsReach And Teach YA novel Abe in Arms was recently listed as one of the Ten for '10: Best Books for Youth on Social Justice and Intercultural Understanding by Lyn Miller-Lachman, author of the incredibly powerful novel, Gringolandia.

In the Times Union Newspaper, Lachman says: Many "top ten" book lists have appeared in the past month, and there will be more after the first of the year. Some of my favorite reads of the year have turned up on these lists, but many excellent books for young readers seem to have been passed over, particularly those published by small presses. In genres dominated by paranormal romance, and with economically beleaguered publishers going with what's established and safe, stories about young people from diverse backgrounds or stories that raise uncomfortable issues don't usually get the attention they deserve. So for all the librarians, teachers, parents, and young readers themselves, here are some great books that you might have missed.

Click here to read the entire article online.

Click here to read more about and purchase Abe in Arms.


Abe in Arms Nominated for CYBILS Award

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Reach And Teach is honored to announce that Abe in Arms, a YA novel by Pegi Deitz Shea, has been nominated for the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Award. It was nominated in the young adult fiction category and between now and January 1st judges will be reviewing all nominated titles and come up with a short list for finalists. Information about the awards can be found at

Click here to buy the book.

About Abe in Arms

This contemporary young adult novel portrays the pressures of teens to live a normal life, let alone succeed at high levels; while facing mental illness and--in Abe's case--a past that no one could possibly understand--or survive.

A senior in high school, Abe's got a Division I track scholarship awaiting him, a hot girlfriend, and a loving and wealthy adoptive family, including a brother his age. But suddenly, horrific flashbacks and seizures rip him back five years ago to war-torn Africa, where he lost his mother, his sister, his friends, and almost his own life to torturous violence. In therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Abe uncovers even darker moments that make him question why he's still alive.

Pegi Deitz Shea has written a suspenseful, action-filled book that will open teens' eyes and hearts to the lives of young people exposed to violence around the world.

Click here to view excerpts from Abe in Arms and see lesson plans and other resources.


Preview Abe in ArmsAbe in Arms is powerful and vivid, a moving exploration of the after effects of severe childhood trauma.  Readers will come to care deeply about Abe as he struggles to overcome the emotional consequences of surviving the brutal life of a child soldier.--Sharon McClintock, Children's Librarian - City of Mountain View Public Library 

"Written in straightforward prose, Abe In Arms hooks you on and pulls you deep into the past. It tells the story of Abe as he sorts through his war torn past. Abe struggles with the juxtaposition of the past and the present, Liberia and the US, a militant rebel and a loving family.  I found myself rooting for Abe, both on and off the track - Cheering when he succeeds and disheartened as he falters."--Jeremy Mineau, PAC10 and NCAA Championship Runner - University of Washington Huskies

"Pegi Shea’s book, Abe in Arms, although fictional in nature, could have been true for any number of young boys in West Africa whose lives were devastated by conscription into the rebel army through force, threats, manipulation, bribery, and drugs. As a counselor and member of a trauma team who went to Liberia to teach counseling skills to civic and religious leaders following their civil war, I found it very heart breaking to witness the long term effects of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon the young boys, often no more than 11-14 years of age. Although there is a nation-wide effort in Liberia to rehabilitate these young boys, many require extensive mental health treatment and the prognoses are often disappointing. In her book, Pegi Shea engrosses us in the horrors of war, pulls at our heartstrings as we weep for Abe, and causes us to yearn for a time when he can confront the demons that control his life. At the same time, she explores the wrenching irony of war refugees being thrust into an American youth culture that glamorizes the very violence that has caused Abe so much anguish.  Shea’s resolution, like Abe’s epiphany, is surprising, believable, and gratifying"
--Eleanor Porter Pershing, PhD., West Africa Trauma Team


"Whether in the ruined cities of Bosnia or the refugee camps in Thailand, the images that stay with me the longest are of the children... What will their futures be like when all they've known is war and fear? This book perfectly captures the ambiguity of traumatic memories and the paradox of healing faced by a boy who survived the war but struggles to become whole."
---Susan Beam, International Rescue Committee (IRC); Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bosnia.

"Working in Zaire, I encountered many check-points to and from Kigali, Rwanda, patrolled by child soldiers.  Although they tried to look tough with their mirrored sunglasses and AK-47s, they could barely carry their weapons. They were also nervous and jumpy which made them extremely dangerous. This book doesn't romanticize child soldiers, but is nonetheless a story of their hope in regaining trust in themselves and in others."
---Ferdinand Kalkhuis, Doctors without Borders; International Rescue Committee (IRC); and United Methodist Committee for Relief (UMCOR) in Bosnia and Kosovo.

About the Author:

Pegi Deitz Shea is best known for exploring human rights issues in children's books. Pegi has brought the worlds of refugees, immigrants, child laborers, and historical figures into the minds of readers of all ages. Her books include The Whispering Cloth, Tangled Threads, Ten Mice for Tet, The Carpet Boy's Gift and Patience Wright. Her books have been made Notables by organizations including the International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council for the Social Studies, Bank Street College, Junior Library Guild and the New York Public Library. She has been teaching writing for the Institute of Children's Literature since 1996, and teaching children's literature at the University of Connecticut since 2007. Pegi has presented at more than 350 schools, libraries and conferences across the nation. Raised in New Jersey, Pegi lives in Connecticut with her family when she's not traipsing around the world.


Green America approved