Tag Archives: education

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article: The White House Celebrates Advances in STEM

5 Oct


I recently went to Washington, D.C. to cover a White House conference showcasing efforts to make STEM education more engaging in high schools. Read my interview with Secretary of Education John King, and Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Click HERE to read the whole story on the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog!


Secretary of Education John King and me

March 2015 UBFP Column – My Day as a Traveling Librarian

4 Mar

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the March 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE or on the column picture (see page 8) or you can read the whole story – plus some extra things I’ve thrown in – below! 😀


I hope you like the article!


My Day as a Traveling Librarian

By Erik Weibel

Recently, I was able to take part in a great learning experience. I was an apprentice traveling librarian with the Columbia County Traveling Library (CCTL). The American Library Association reports that there are less than 1000 bookmobiles in America today. It is estimated that only 37 bookmobiles exist in Pennsylvania. What is unique about the CCTL is that it is the ONLY library in Pennsylvania whose primary function is that of a bookmobile.


The CCTL is committed to bringing library services to the citizens of rural Columbia County PA. The bookmobile makes stops at specific locations every 2 weeks. It serves people who would otherwise not have access to a free public library, or the means to get to one. The Director and Head Librarian of the CCTL, Dr. Lydia Kegler, agreed to let me hang out for a day’s route aboard the bookmobile and learn what a CCTL librarian does.

The CCTL has a small brick and mortar location in Scott Township, PA where they house a large part of their collection. That’s where my day began. “Most of the work in libraries is done before the book hits the shelf,” Dr. Kegler states, as she hands me a book to shelve. Librarians must find the books of interest to their patrons, buy the books, protect the books with an outer wrap, code the book, catalog the book, and shelve it. On top of all that, because this library is a bookmobile, they’ve got to gas up and make sure the brakes work! Dr. Kegler explains to me that, because the CCTL is a small organization, everyone does a bit of everything. Some bigger libraries have more specialized librarians who focus on a certain job, but at smaller libraries like the CCTL, Librarians find themselves doing all sorts of jobs. Dr. Kegler is the manager, head librarian and occasional bookmobile operator.

From here, we loaded up the bookmobile with the books it needed for today’s journey. Dr. Kegler gave me a crate of books that will go to a retirement home. She explained that the bookmobile leaves a collection of books at the home for the residents and every so often they go and refresh the collection and change some books out. Next, we found some books that patrons had requested through the online reservation system. “This person wanted this book on China,” Dr. Kegler says pointing out a book. “I know this family is a homeschooling family. They may be doing a lesson. Look, here are two more useful books on China. We’ll bring those along too just in case they may want them.”

I add the books on China to another crate that is over-flowing with books. “This here is a handtruck.” Mrs. Kegler smiles at me. “We use this as a means to carry the crates of books that are needed for this trip to the bookmobile.” She helps me load two plastic crates onto the handtruck, and I push it through the hallway, out to the bookmobile. I hand up the crates to her and she sets them down inside.

We make one last trip into the building to grab a quick lunch and make a run to the restroom. One of the hazards of working on a bookmobile in a rural area; no bathroom breaks. Once on the bookmobile, Dr. Kegler checks it out to make sure it is safe to drive. As we buckle into our seats, Dr. Kegler smiles and dons a pair of sunglasses. “Cool shades are a necessary part of being a bookmobile librarian too, you know.” I quickly put on a pair of aviator glasses. Cool indeed.



               Our first stop is a preschool. The young kids climbed onto the bookmobile with books in their hands, and excited looks on their faces. I was put in charge of using the stamper, for the due dates, and the scanner, for checking in/out. The scanner wasn’t working 100% of the time (that may have been a function of my inexperience). Let me tell you, a line of frustrated, impatient preschoolers in front of you isn’t a pretty sight. Luckily, I got the job done in time, thanks to Dr. Kegler’s expertise in running the scanner (and soothing angry preschoolers). The bookmobile is surprisingly large inside. At that one stop, there were 10-12 kids and 3 adult helpers comfortably fitting inside. That’s also with Dr. Kegler and me behind the circulation desk at the front of the bookmobile.


 After the preschool, we go to three more stops in the area. As we are rolling along the windy, snow covered roads, Dr. Kegler points out one of the marvels that you don’t normally find at a regular library – the weather change! While we were driving, the weather conditions went from snow squalls to a brilliantly sunny day.

When asked the oddest request that she’s received as the librarian, Dr. Kegler responded that once a man came on asking for the instruction manual for a certain model of a blowtorch. Regrettably, they did not have what he was asking for.


At each of the next stops, I would make the rounds and pick up any books that may have slid off the shelves while driving (surprisingly, there are very few). I’d also reshelve books that were checked in from the previous stop.

Dr. Kegler explained to me that the CCTL is currently trying to raise money to replace their aging bookmobile. Their current bookmobile is 17 years old and has over 100,000 miles on it. Dr. Kegler hopes to get some technological devices inside of the new bookmobile to make it easy for residents to find what they are looking for and a computer station so that patrons who don’t have access to a computer or the internet can use it on the bookmobile.

Sadly, Dr. Kegler wouldn’t let me drive the bookmobile (something about lawsuits and her losing her job) but, even with that disappointment, I had a great day and learned a lot.

If you are interested in learning more about the CCTL, please visit their website – http://www.cctlibrary.org

For more on books and reading, visit my website – http://www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com



Book Review – Kat McGee Saves America! by Kristin Riddick

25 Jul

katmcgeeKat McGee Saves America!

By Kristin Riddick

104 pages – ages 7+

Published by In This Together Media on June 2, 2014 (ebook)

After her adventures at the North Pole and Treatsville, Kat McGee was ready to just sit back and relax for the 4th of July. But that doesn’t go as planned. When her Gram asks the McGee kids what they know about the 4th of July, the kids don’t really answer, Gram takes them to Philadelphia to learn about what happened there to help make the 4th of July so important. When Kat goes through a door and pops up in a place called Libertyland, she is shocked. Kat meets a giant lady in a greenish dress called Liberty. She is the governor of Libertyland, and she needs Kat’s help. The Declaration of Independence has gone missing, along with Thomas Jefferson, two days before he was supposed to present it to the Continental Congress! Kat must go back in time and find Jefferson and the Declaration before the fate of the United States is changed forever!

YAY – Historical fiction for younger kids! This was a great book. Ms. Riddick writes stories that are easy and fun to read. I like how she incorporated the time travel, and historical facts into this book. I really enjoyed Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit (see my review HERE).  I didn’t know that there was a second in the series (this is book 3) and I saw on the publisher’s website a book 4 is planned (click HERE). Good news for parents looking for a great Magic School Bus type series for their kids! I like the character of Kat McGee a lot. She is a great girl who perseveres. I also like that she meets John Quincy Adams in the book (just because I am a super American history buff).  The story is packed with American history facts and kids will learn without knowing it! The cover art is pretty cool too. I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

I give Kat McGee Saves America five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings by Peggy Kruger Tietz, Ph.D.

30 Sep

yellshoutYell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings

By Peggy Kruger Tietz, Ph.D.

Illustrated by Rebecca Layton

40 pages – ages 5+

Published by CreateSpace on March 25, 2013

This book is just what the title says – a (great) guide to emotions for children of all ages! As Dr. Tietz states in her Author’s Note at the back of the book, she “wrote this book as a guide…to help children learn about their emotions.” She goes over 8 main feelings – fear, anger, disgust, surprise, shame, sad, happy, and love. With stories and examples to go with each emotion, I can see how this book can be very helpful!

I like what Dr. Tietz says her book teaches (from her website)

1 . Identify the eight basic emotions,

2. Know the purpose of each emotion

3. Identify common situations that trigger them, so that you will be comfortable explaining emotions to children.

I think this book could really help kids learn about emotions and it was certainly written by an expert. Dr. Teitz has a Ph. D. in developmental psychology and has helped kids and families in all kids of situations. I like the way the book is formatted. There is a story about the emotion being talked about. The stories show an instance when you feel the emotion, let’s say, embarrassed. Then the next page, it says somethings you might do if you are embarrassed, and asks what you might do if you are embarrassed. Then, it shows some examples of things that might make you embarrassed, like, farting in public, or thinking a stranger was someone you know, and you say “Hi Sue!” and it’s really not Sue and then it asks you what might make you embarrassed. I like how the book asks questions to the reader. It is a good way to start talking about the subject. I like the simple illustrations. They are mostly black and white with a splash of color here and there and the colors match the emotion being talked about (for example, for sad, the guy’s sweater is blue, and so are the curtains of the window). As a kid, I know  there are other kids who sometimes have a problem figuring out what they are feeling or being able to say what they are feeling. I think books like this will help a lot.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!


You can learn more about Dr. Kruger Tietz and her book by visiting her blog (click HERE). Like Dr. Tietz on Facebook (click HERE)!

Check out an adult’s opinion of this book! Sue Morris of Kid Lit Reviews reviewed this book (click HERE to see it)!

Pa Dug & Rosie In The Garden Series By Dr. Niamh Clune

22 Jul


Pa Dug & Rosie in the Garden Series

By Dr. Niamh Clune

Illustrated by Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Published by Plum Tree Books 2013

Ages 3 and Up

I love the idea of this series! Not just because it is written by Dr. Niamh Clune, poet, author, and blogging friend of mine (visit her at Plum Tree Books HERE), but because the Pa Dug & Rosie In The Garden series talks about how everything serves a purpose in the garden. It teaches kids about how a garden works and that everything in nature is important. It is a great way to help young kids learn about the outdoors.

In book 1, (Rosie Wears Her Wellingtons) Rosie goes outside while wearing her red Wellington rubber boots. She first thinks she can’t go outside because it is raining, but her mom lets her as long as she wears her wellies. She learns that sherosiewearswellies can do anything outside in them. From jumping in puddles to digging in the garden with Pa Dug, planting seeds, Rosie does everything in her Wellingtons!

wollee the wormIn book 2, (Wollee the Worm) Rosie is helping Pa Dug dig in the flower garden and she shovels out an earthworm (which she names Wollee). Rosie is taught how worms help bring food to the table by helping the soil and plants “breath.” In this story, Rosie learns the (very important) purpose of worms in the garden.

I love these books! I love how it teaches young kids in a fun way. The rhyme in the stories is also great! Another reason I love these books is the illustrations. They are striking!  I like how there is only one or two things colored (in one color – ex: Rosie and her surroundings are black & white, while her Wellingtons are a nice shade of red) on each page.

This is a great series because it teaches kids about being outside. I think a lot of young kids, they just play videogames and know practically nothing about the outdoors. Some kids think that food just comes from a grocery store. They don’t know about gardens and farms. I am lucky because I am outside a lot, and I like being outside in the rain a lot. Because of that I also wear my dark green Wellington rubber boots. You CAN do anything in them (except for flying – trust me, it doesn’t work.  I tried it. Superspeed and superstrength don’t work either. 😉 ). Josie, my little sister, loves bugs, worms, and spiders, so she read this book. Wollee the Worm is why she wants to have a Worm Garden. Our grandfather is helping her build it. Josie wants to have the worms for her garden and to go fishing with. She really enjoyed the Wollee the Worm book. 🙂  I think this series is for kids, their parents and grandparents! 😀

I give both books 5 out of 5 book worms!


You can get the Pa Dug & Rosie in the Garden series at the Plum Tree Books website.

The next book in the series is, Biddle the Bee!


Creative Kid Thursday! Meet Kid Poet – Landon!

14 Mar
Have I got a cool creative kid to tell you about today! Meet Landon Staples, kid poet and book lover! Check out that illustration he did on his poem too (he’s standing next to it)!
photo(1)Landon’s mom emailed me the poem Landon just wrote for school and I LOVED it!! Huge amounts of talent must run in Landon’s family because his great-aunt is the wondercellent (wonderful and excellent) Penny Klostermann (click HERE to go to her blog, “A Penny and Her Jots”)!

Landon is almost 9 years old and he’s in the third grade. Besides being an awesome poet, Landon likes to read, play with LEGOs, do origami and ride his bike. Landon wants to be a Librarian when he grows up because he LOVES to read!

Here is Landon’s poem for all to enjoy!

Buried in a Book
By: Landon Staples
Age: 8
I’m known to own a lot of books,
but when I start to read,
I just can not get out of it,
for the book is in the lead!
And then when the book is making pictures in my head,
it just feels like my feet are made of lead.
I just simply can not get away,
Because, of course, the book is in the way!
AWESOME poem Landon! I agree with it!!!

Creative Kid Thursday! Meet Awesome Kid Artist – Jacob!

14 Feb

First off:


Ok, not exactly the gift, but something for he...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, don’t forget that today is INTERNATIONAL BOOK GIVING DAY!!! Our family donated books to a local program that gives children books when they go in for a checkup at the doctors. To learn more about Book Giving Day, click on the badge!international-book-giving-day-200px-wide-copy-2

Now it’s time for another Creative Kid! Jacob is an artist and a 5th grader that happens to be in my math class! He wins most drawing competitions in math class (they are math related drawing competitions…). He drew me this awesome drawing of Fenir from the Inheritance series (awesome books by Christopher Paolini, you should read them) with a caption – “Burn Through a Good Book!” I love it. I’m going to frame it and put it in my bedroom. I hope you like it too!


Creative Kid Thursday! Meet The Owner and Creator of Harry’s Duct Tape Designs!

7 Feb

What can be better than a day off of school? How about a day off of school and a Creative Kid?!

BUT before I get to this awesome kid, I want to tell you about a neat kind of book it’s called “Love Middle Grade Actually.” What makes the book cool is that it has samples of 14 different middle grade books by different authors (some of them I reviewed their books SW Lothian, Julie Anne Grasso and Paul Hewlett) and you can get it for FREE from Feb 7 to the 14th (click HERE). Then you can decide which book you may want to read the rest of!  PLUS if you download the free sampler you get a chance to win prizes like a Kindle Fire!


Time for another Creative Kid! Today I want to tell you about Harry Myers, creator and owner of Harry’s Duct Tape designs! He is a kid who made his own business! I first read about Harry in the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for).

mr90043940713.jpgThank you for agreeing to answer my questions. First I want to tell you how cool I think your business is! The fact that you can make all these things out of duct tape is awesome! I think it is great! Can you tell a little about yourself (like how old you are and in what grade)?

harry1I’m 8 and in second grade. Gym and art are my favorite classes. I have 2 little sisters.

mr90043940713.jpgHow did you get started in your business?

harry1I always tried to have businesses since I was like 4. I took orders and made books for friends but it was all for free. I saw a business contest at the Bucks County Library and decided to try to sell something. I picked this business because I love making duct tape stuff. I made a wallet for my dad and had a lot of fun. I learned to make more things by watching youtube shows!

mr90043940713.jpgYou make a lot of different things. What is your favorite thing you ever made?Harry2
harry1The wallets, bows, and rose pens are my favorite. I made mini change purses for all the boys in my class and bows for all of the girls for Christmas and rose whiteboard markers for my teachers. That was great!

mr90043940713.jpgThe roses you make would be a great Valentines Day present! Do you make the designs yourself and if you do, do you have any plans for new creations?

harry1I started out making things I learned from other people but started making my own things after I got the hang of it. I like to try to make up things people ask me for, like a hunting license and fishing license holder some friends wanted. I think I’m going to design a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day next!

mr90043940713.jpg I read on your Facebook page that you sometimes donate some of your profits to charity. Can you tell us about that?

harry1I wanted to donate money to kids who don’t have money because I thought it would be a nice thing. I sold special Christmas bows and set up a table at a charity event and donated half of my sales totals. I gave gift cards to the Quakertown Neighborhood Association to give to kids in my school district. I want find different people to help at different times of the year.

mr90043940713.jpg Do you have any advice to kids who want to start their own business?

harry1You should learn stuff first, like I watched lots of shows to learn to make things before I tried to sell. Make sure your mom or dad can help because they might have to help you drive and send things. Email and Facebook are very helpful for taking orders! I did all of my business on the computer before I had my first craft shows at Christmas time.harry3

mr90043940713.jpg What other things do you like to do besides making awesome duct tape creations?

harry1I like Skylanders A LOT and I play soccer. I like hanging out with my sisters and I’m in Cub Scouts too. 🙂

Thanks!!! I love your website!

Like Harry’s Duct Tape Designs on Facebook and you can place orders for his duct tape creations there too – click HERE!

PPBF! Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt

4 Jan

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I like that this story is about how one person can make a big difference.

ladybirdMiss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers – How a First Lady Changed America

By Kathi Appelt

Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein

40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on February 15, 2005

Theme/Topic – Nonfiction, First Ladies, Nature

Opening and Synopsis –

“Deep in the heart of Texas lives a woman who loves flowers. “Wildflowers,” she says, “are the stuff of my heart!”

“There was a time when our roadsides were ugly. The were cluttered with billboards, rusted old cars, and miles of trash.

They might still be this way if not for the woman we know as Lady Bird Johnson.”

Claudia Alta Taylor was born on December 22, 1912 in Texas. Her nanny called her Lady Bird because she was pretty. This book tells the life of Lady Bird Johnson from her birth to her days in school to marrying Lyndon B Johnson and becoming the First Lady of the United States. Lady Bird Johnson with the help of her husband was able to get Congress to pass the “Highway Beautification Act” which cleaned up all the roads across America and planted wildflowers in  the trash and junk’s place.

Why I liked this book – This is a great Nonfiction book! I like that it taught me about a person I didn’t know about – “Lady Bird” Johnson (I think maybe a lot of kids don’t know who she was). She was more than the wife of Lyndon B. Johnson (Heeeyy… I just realized! Both of their initials are “L.B.J.” 🙂 ). I liked learning about the National Wildflower Research Center that Lady Bird started and how they try to preserve wildflowers and birds.  The story of her life is told in a nice way that was interesting to me. The story is pretty long and is a good picture book for older kids, but I think it would make a great read aloud for parents and kids. The illustrations are marvelous! When I was reading the book I thought the pictures really made me calm. See what I mean? –


Activities and Resources –

There is a wildflower identification spot it game in the back of the book. There are pictures of different wildflowers and you have to find them in the book.

I think driving around and looking at the wildflowers with your kids would be a good activity. Maybe get a field guide to try to identify native wildflowers in your area.

You could visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin (click HERE to go to their website). That would be a cool thing to do.  If Texas isn’t close you could find a local nature center and see if they have information about wildflowers native to your area.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE!

PPBF! Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton

2 Nov

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because this is the very first book I could read all by myself and I LOVE this book!

Blue Hat, Green Hat

By Sandra Boynton

14 pages – ages 1+

Published by Little Simon on October 11, 1984

Theme/Topic – Colors / mistakes

Opening and Synopsis – 

Elephant, moose and bear can put on their clothes right, so why can’t that silly turkey?!? OOPS!

Why I liked this book – This is a hilarious book about getting dressed and making mistakes. I like in the end when the turkey gets something right, and it all goes wrong! The illustrations are adorable and really add to the simple text that teach younger kids how to read (which it did 😉 ) and know their colors! I think kids of all ages would like this book, especially 1-5-year-olds! I like how Ms. Boynton adds humor to her books to make kids want to read it!  You can’t help but giggle at the turkey.

Activities and Resources –

This is a good book for kids to learn their colors and about getting dressed. I think a good activity is to have your child dress with what you tell him/her. For example you could say “put a red hat on, now a green belt, purple socks…”

One really cool thing to do is get the book in Spanish (my parents did this for Josie and I). It was really easy for us to learn the Spanish words when we knew the English book by heart!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

%d bloggers like this: