Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ants in Space

The talents of educator and author. G. J. Griffiths meet once again in the fantasy si-fi children’s book Ants in Space. When playing in the garden Laura and her sister Eva discover the world of alien ants who take them through an exciting space adventure in their miniaturized world. 

The enriched content is filled with an introduction to both scientific concepts and unique ways of meeting the challenges of cultural differences.

The story and reading level is a best fit for ages eight and above. However, the illustrations are geared toward younger children. This inongruence may lessen the enthusiasm of older children.

As a bonus, Mr. Griffiths provides oral reading suggestions to parents and teachers to heighten interest of younger readers.

Five stars for the quality of writing and excellent illustrations.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tribute to Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman

Tribute To Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman

Anna Gillingham, and her good friend Bessie Stillman,  touched lives. They simply did not give up on children. 

Following is an excerpt from introduction to  the publication Remedial Training for Children with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship by Anna Gillingham and Bessie W. Stillman.(1960)

In every school there are children who do not learn to read and spell satisfactorily… is too often assumed that any poor reader has a relatively low mentality. When it is discovered that a child of average or high intelligence is not reading, the first reaction is usually reproach—reproach of the child for lack of effort, reproach of the preceding teacher for inefficiency. Thus the college blames the high school for its poor readers, the high school the grammar school, and the last reproach falls back on the unfortunate primary teacher.

Increasingly, however, a conscientious and discerning teachers and anxious parents are realizing that there are intelligent non-readers who try very hard, and that such children present a challenge which customary teachers training does not enable the teacher to meet.

  • Gillingham and Stillman, with the support and active influence of Dr. Samuel Orton, published the first edition of Remedial Training in 1946. The philosophy of reading instruction was altered forever and sections, if not all, of the philosophy they developed is seen today in a variety of programs and basal readers. Gillingham and Stillman are credited with the first integrated program for multisensory visual/auditory, kinesthetic instruction. The key components are:
  • Language-based and simultaneously multisensory
  • Structured
  • Sequential
  • Cumulative (building block thatensure mastery before teaching new material)
  • Cognitive
  • Assessment is based only on material that has been taught
  • Progress constantly observed and recorded
  • All pathways of the brain are activated during instruction

After the death of Bessie Stillman, Anna Gillingham worked closely with Dr. Samuel T. Orton,  for a short period of time, to create the Orton-Gillingham approach. After Dr. Orton's death, continued the work they had begun. 
  For further information on research please refer to the Florida Center for Reading Research.  
To view one contemporary approach to Orton-Gillingham in action, please visit Sara Zelenak's  site Think, Ready, Read

Resource: The Riverside School 

Anna Gillingham
Anna Gillingham (1878-1963) was a well-known  Quaker educator.   Her inventory of papers 1849-1962 can be found at    Friends Historical Library at Swathmore College. She was a teacher, psychologist, and Director of Remedial Teaching in the Ethical Cultural School, New York City, and Punahou School, Honolulu. She was also a Research Fellow in Language Disabilities, Neurological Institute, New York and a consultant to teacher training.

Bessie W. Stillman (1871-1947) was a Remedidal Teacher in the Ethical Culture School, New York City and in Punahou school, Honolulu. She was a prolific author. A list of her works can be found at

 I searched for a verified picture of Bessie Stillman. If any readers know of such a picture, please note a source in the comment section.

Dr. Samuel T. Orton (1879-1948) was a physician who pioneered the study of learning disabilities. It was his hypothesis that children who had not suffered brain injury had not established hemispheric dominance. 

A listing of books available on the Orton-Gillingham method can be found at Amazon

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

And the Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso

And the Whippoorwill Sang 
by Micki Peluso

Note from Jacquie: This is a powerful  five star book! Thank you  author Deirdre Tolhurst for allowing me to share this excellent review.

...And the Whippoorwill Sang captured my attention from the very first page and tugged at my heartstrings throughout. Whether it was to laugh or to cry, I found myself so involved with the story that I was anticipating the next chapter with unexpected zeal.

The book quickly drew me in, making me feel as if Micki and I were sitting at her kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. She is relaxed in her writing, which made me feel like I was a part of her large family. Her words are descriptive; so much so that I could see not just the curtains, but through the windows to the streets and neighborhood beyond. I love that about this book, I can visualize what the couch looks like when Micki is recuperating from having a baby. I can see Dante's mischievous face, Michael and Kim talking about leaving home with only the things their grandmother had given them, Kelly learning to talk, and Nicole wrapping her hair around her toes. I see a huge dog that doesn't ride very well in the car!

The book begins in 1959 at Micki's wedding at age 17 to Butch. I loved how she explained the wedding night in a way that would never offend any reader. I couldn't help but laugh and smile and feel good. She brought me back to the way things used to be in the 60s and 70s. The places they lived while their family grew, the decor, the pets, so much to see with your mind's eye to make you feel a part of the story. Things were so much different back then, parents didn't worry so much about their children going out and playing, coming home when the street lights came on. Moms didn't drive, they did the wash and made clothes and did whatever they could to be sure to have enough money for groceries, and dads worked so hard to support the family. Children slept in attics, basements, and laundry rooms; wherever there was enough space to put a bed. And the children never complained. Dinners were whatever moms could throw together from leftovers, and everyone was content.

Most families at the time were large, and each child had their own personality traits which made them unique and separated them from their siblings. There were six children in the Peluso household. Noelle was independent at a very young age, broadly intelligent, and her charm captured your heart. She went through that period of time that every girl does, where hormones cause a shift in personality, but came back to being the darling that her siblings all remember. At the young age of 14, she was killed by a drunk driver while walking to the park. Before she died, her mother promised her that she wouldn't let her life be in vain, that she would let the world know that Noelle had lived.

It is so easy to relate to the stories Micki tells about those years, some of which had me laughing in sheer nostalgic bliss, and others that had me wanting to give her a hug and share her grief. I highly recommend this book. There are so many reasons why. It takes a baby boomer back to life in the 60s, and it is a double bonus if you are from the Northeast. It is a comfortable book, yet one the reader never loses interest in. It can definitely be read in a weekend, and it is one that you will remember. Micki travels in time to the early days of her family, occasionally coming back to the moment at hand, when Noelle's life is hanging in the balance. But she doesn't stay there long, only enough to fill the reader's mind with sympathy for this mother who remains strong despite the pain she is going through. Micki is the glue that is holding the family together, when she is the one who desperately needs to be hugged and loved and reassured that the choices she is making are the right ones. She wrestles with her spirituality, but knows in her heart that God is in charge and will one day remove her grief. It brings to the open the heartache that families go through when a lawless person, not caring about whom they hurt goes out reckless into the world. The devastation that is caused by drunk drivers is brought home to you between the eyes. Noelle was real, for crying out loud, she was a little girl, only 14, and minding her own business when her life was taken in a matter of moments. Is there justice for the family? The man who hit her served time, but Noelle never grew up.

There is a sweet sorrow to Noelle's short life, but even so, her mother's promise was met. I know that Noelle lived, and you will too if you buy this book. It is a 5-star read!

Deirdre Tolhurst, Author, A Christmas I Remember, ISBN 978-1-61346-422-9 and her latest book,
Dear Child of Mine available on Amazon.


Monday, March 7, 2016

San Bernardino County Charter School

Notes from Jacquie: This new charter school has been designed to serve the under-served. If you live in the area, it is well worth investigation. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, the waiting list is filling up fast.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Kid in School Word Puzzle

Note from Jacquie: This New Kid in School word puzzle is a vocabulary practice activity found in Workbook D.

New Kid in School is a short story written by Claudine M. Jalajas, a valued contributor to the Rhoades to Reading Program.

Learn more about Workbook D on Amazon OR on the Rhoades to Reading page found on this blog.