I Wish People Knew… thoughts from adopted kids and their families

I am not an expert on adoption.

I am the author of the picture book, BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS, a kid’s-eye-view of adoption, out this month with Kane Miller. I wrote it for my dear friends and their families, kids my own child grew up with, who began their lives in other countries and met their families for the first time at the airport.

I love this pic of Hannah and her mom.

Our book is one story–a fictional one–a child’s view. To me it’s about love and the fact that not all families look alike –or are formed the same way. I am beyond thrilled and amazed by the incredible passion, respect, research, and details that illustrator Luciana Navarro Powell and editor Kira Lynn have put into our project.

The fabulously talented Luciana Navarro Powell.

Thank you to my own mom for always teaching me, “There are two sides to every story.” In the process of making this book, we have been reminded time and time again that every adoption experience is different. Each is VERY important to those involved.

So I put the word out–to adoptive parents and more importantly adopted children. They too, put the word out and the responses have begun to come in–from teens; college students; grown adults with children of their own. I gave each the same three questions, modeled on the classroom activity where students finish the sentence: “I wish my teacher knew…”

Some have chosen to be anonymous. Some names have been changed or left off completely. The focus of their answers was also up to them– experiences in elementary school, or as teens or adults–with the following questions about adoption:

1. I wish people knew….

2. I wish people would… (or would have)

3. I wish people wouldn’t….

I’m so very grateful to the guest contributors in this series for opening this conversation, and helping to lead the way. The opinions are theirs. They are the experts.

Click here for the first entry–from Hannah.

Truth Detectives…five activities to teach Ss about media bias

Dear Teacher pals,

No doubt you’ve found many teaching moments in the past week.

Here are five activities I’ve used in my own classroom to teach BIAS and SLANT in the media and turn your students into TRUTH DETECTIVES. 


  1. What just happened? — The truth about “eye-witness” views.  Ahead of time, arrange with two upper grades students or a student + a teacher or administrator to come into your classroom –one chasing the other — in the middle of a supposed altercation. (Make it real but not too frightening.) After they exit, have your Ss write down every detail of what happened. Describe the people. Was there a problem? Is someone in trouble? Why? Important: Have the two “runners” return to your classroom —so Ss see that this was only an experiment— and join the discussion of different perspectives, eye witnesses. What influences them?  How reliable are they?headline
  2. The Power of Words — Read several news headlines or a short news article. 

    a. Have Ss point out and/or circle nounsverbs and adjectives that strike them as biased.

    b. Replace the biased nouns, verbs and adjectives with synonyms of those words. Compare. How has the tone or slant of the article changed?

  3.  2 Lies and a Truth — A reversal of the game, Two Truths and a Lie

    Overview: 2-3 volunteers think of 2 lies & 1 truth about themselves to share with the class. The class votes for the statement they think is the truth.

    a. Once votes are tallied, reveal results and compare with the correct answer.

    b. Have Ss discuss why they voted the way they did. What swayed them? Physical appearance?  Culture? Speech? Age?

    *Suggested variations (Avoids possible hurtful comments about fellow students.)–Instead of Ss volunteers:

    *Teacher collects 3 photos of kids in the news (Not celebrities). T writes 2 lies & a truth about each. Share with the class. Proceed with steps a & b above.

    *Does your school have a Theater class? Use Theater kids as your volunteers.

  4. What Are They Selling? Watch ads on TV or examine print media for kids. What product are they selling? What message is the photo, background, music or sound effects selling? What do they want the consumer to believe? Who is the spokesperson? Why do you think he/she was selected? Do you believe him/her? Why or why not? chewing gum Example: Chewing gum commercial– Message is cool kids chew this gum. You will be cool too if you buy it. The kids in the commercial are cute, hip, and friendly. etc…(Oh and PS–They are ACTORS.)
  5. Two Sides to Every Story:  See my blog post about how to format a debate here. Instead of two debate teams arguing opposite sides of the topic, the same team must first argue one side, and then the other. Audience discusses how the team’s tone, vocabulary, facts and approach had to change to argue the two different sides.


  1. Have Ss watch a nightly news program. (*Here’s a list of the major outlets and which direction they lean.) List words, photos, graphics, sound effects, or music that set the tone or strike you as biased.
  2. Create a fake biased video or news article covering a fictitious event or statement. The goal is to make it as convincing as possible. Show the class.
  3. Have students write about a school rule or family rule they have issues with. Now have them write about it from the parent or administrator’s point of view.
  4. Writing prompt or Think/Pair/Share: Why should news reports remain impartial? 

More sources: 

PBS Kids has a unit on MEDIA LITERACY. Here’s the link to their Don’t Buy It. Teacher’s Guide.   

Also from PBS/KVIE: A Media Literacy workshop for Teachers 


Stepping through the #FantasticFrame with author Lin Oliver

lin_oliver-cover head shot

Author Lin Oliver can make anything fun.

Seriously–from SCBWI conference announcements to the crooked finger on her right hand (see #7 below), Lin’s repartee will have you chuckling. So I jumped at the chance to ask Lin about her action-packed new chapter book series,



Think MAGIC TREE HOUSE meets your favorite works of art–masterpieces by Henri Rousseau (Samantha Kallis illustration above; book 1), Georges Seurat (bk2), Edward Hopper (bk3), Georgia O’Keefe (bk4) and more to come!

Each book takes 10-year-old Tiger Brooks and his friend Luna through a magic FRAME, straight into a famous painting and an on-going quest to find a boy who disappeared decades before.

Teachers and Librarians–what a wonderful way for young readers to discover art history via intrigue, adventure–and did I mention humor? I love the non-fiction component about the featured painting and artist at the back of each book too. Which brings us to our own FANTASTIC adventure–8 Questions with Author Lin Oliver:

  1. Which character in THE FANTASTIC FRAME series is most like you? Tiger Brooks?  Luna Lopez? Viola Dots? Chives (…the talking pig/butler)? David Dots? Maggie Brooks? Cookie Brooks?Lin Oliver: Oh, that’s easy.  Tiger Brooks is a logical thinker and a scientist.  I am neither.  Viola Dots is a shut-in and a grouch.  I am neither.  Luna is a creative person, a maker, a dreamer and a hugger.  I am ALL FOUR OF THOSE THINGS.  Making things is my favorite activity in the world—whether it’s making a book, a pot of soup, a crazy quilt, a mosaic bird feeder, or a tower of rocks and sea shells at the beach.  I think Luna and I would be very good friends.
  2.  Which of the titles from your FANTASTIC FRAME series best describes your path as an author? (or your revision process?) Book 1: DANGER! TIGER CROSSINGFantastic Frame bk1Book 2: SPLAT! ANOTHER MESSY SUNDAY  FantasticFrame2Book 3: BEWARE! SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT  **release date Oct. 2016 FantasticFrame3

    Book 4: LOOK OUT! GHOST MOUNTAIN BELOW **Coming soon!

    Lin Oliver: This is such a funny and clever question.  It would have to be SPLAT! ANOTHER MESSY SUNDAY.  Messy is a key word to describe almost everything I do.  I meander through life, looking at everything, getting distracted by what interests me, collecting odd things, being overly-curious about everything.  That makes for messy outcomes.  Some people are planners and some, like me, just mess around until they get where they’re going.  I never outline a plot, I just keep fooling around with it until it’s right.  I only tidy up my writing desk when the potato chip bags get so high I can’t see over them.  And don’t try to find anything in my closet unless you’re willing to go to battle with the dust bunnies.  

  3. What is the most surprising fact or discovery you’ve made thus far while writing this series?Lin Oliver: I learned so many facts about artists and their lives.  Georgia O’Keeffe never painted a person—only flowers and skulls and landscapes.  And when she was painting in Santa Fe and it got hot, she would lie under her car in the shade and paint. Edward Hopper, although he was wildly successful, lived in the same tiny New York apartment his whole adult life and had to walk down the hall to use the bathroom.  Henri Rousseau painted jungles but never saw one.  He was a customs agent and worked in an office in Paris.  I love to learn about people who lived odd and unique lives because they were pursuing their artistic dreams. 
  4. How are your experiences of writing a series like FANTASTIC  FRAME and writing for television similar?Lin Oliver: Writing a book series is a great deal like writing for television.  You have to come up with a premise that suggests many different story lines. THE FANTASTIC FRAME presents as many stories as there are paintings in the world.  Next, you have to come up with a cast of characters that your readers or viewers love and want to hang out with.  Every successful TV comedy you can think of has that—think of Friends or The Big Bang Theory or Seinfeld.  You want to be right there with those adorable folks.  I hope that the readers of FANTASTIC FRAME love the characters, especially Tiger and Luna and Chives, and are happy to be with them on all their adventures. 
  5.  If you had an “Hour of Power” like Tiger and Luna, and could walk through the frame of any of the world’s greatest paintings, which one would you choose? Why?Lin Oliver: Oh, I love so many paintings that it’s hard to choose just one, but I think it would be thrilling to enter Salvador Dali’s painting, The Persistence of Memory—-you know, the crazy surreal one with the fluid looking clocks draped over weird tree branches in the desert.  I assume I’d turn into a liquid creature too, and slither all over that strange world. 
  6. What is your favorite question asked at school visits or in fan mail? Lin Oliver: Well, the most common questions from kids are: How much money do you make? (I never answer that) and What kind of car do you drive?  (When I tell the kids I drive an unexciting but eco-friendly Prius, there are usually wails of disappointment.)  My favorite question, which I’ve been lucky enough to hear on many occasions is, “How did you know me so well?”  It is thrilling for me as an author, to have kids recognize themselves in my books.  My answer to them is,

    “I know you because way down deep, we are all the same.”

  7. Why is the little finger on your right hand crooked? (I found this fact on Lin’s web site. I asked because my husband’s finger was jammed by a basketball…WHO KNEW her answer would be about MY favorite sport? GAME ON, Lin Oliver!)

    Lin Oliver: I was a tether-ball fanatic as a child.  I played non-stop, and was crushed when I learned there was no Gold Medal given at the Olympics for tether ball.  I broke my little finger many times, either jamming it into the tether ball or getting it all bent up in the rope, or worst of all, slugging at the ball but hitting the metal joint that attached it to the rope instead.  Ouch, I can still feel that.

  8.  What question do you wish I’d asked?Lin Oliver: Why do I write for children?Answer:  Because I think all kids want and need love, and by writing for them, I can reach across time and space and love them up through my books.


    Bonus WRITING PROMPT for Teachers: Try question #5 with your class! Tweet snippets or even sketches of their answers to @LinOliver  with the hashtags #FantasticFrame #edchat 

Three #amwriting #writingprocess reminders from the Olympics. (Obrigada, Brasil!)



Confession: While I’m incredibly inspired by each Olympic athlete, my current personal best is an occasional sprint to the fridge between competitions. Thus, I hereby justify my Olympic-binge-watching by offering three #writingprocess take-aways. #amwriting reminders too. Dive in.

IMG_6823 sm natural light

  1. When I teach the WRITING PROCESS, I neglect one of the hardest parts: The WAITING PROCESS. Like an athlete’s Olympic journey, our writing steps from brainstorming to revision are key, but the WAITING. Yeesh. You’ve submitted your work. You’ve put yourself out there. And now you have to believe. As young writers work through the PROCESS, let them know that authors wait. A lot. Part of an author’s WRITING PROCESS is waiting for response from critique partners, Beta readers, agents, and editors–way before the final PUBLISHING step. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes you don’t receive a response at all. This is GOOD NEWS, teacher pals! The perfect answer to those students who ask, “Have you corrected our papers yet?” After all, our job as teachers is to prepare students for the real world, yes? Obrigada (Thank you) USA gymnastic All-Around medalists, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman for the reminder that waiting is a huge part of the process. (And CONGRATS!)

2. USA superstars, gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmer Missy Franklin (Remember London?) deserve medals for cheering their teammates while battling that evil green monster, ENVY and the relentless media. NO PRESSURE.

So often students see A grades and 100% as gold medals. Highlighting the gold in the work of emerging writers, sharing an excerpt from their work with the class, builds much needed confidence. I also add it to our Moments of Magic butcher paper on the wall. Pure gold.

I’d love to say I always view the well-deserved publishing success of author/illustrator friends as another medal for TEAM #Literacy. Admittedly, that green monster stalks us all, but Dearest authors and students (teachers too!):

The SUCCESS of others is NOT your FAILURE.

We all have MOMENTS OF MAGIC. Celebrate those. Obrigada Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin. You rock. 
IMG_31093. I almost wrote off “veteran” swimmers Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian —and what about Oksana Chusovitina, the 41-year-old vaulter from Uzbekistan who competed in her SEVENTH Olympics? Well guess what world, I was WRONG. And oh-so-happily so! Kudos to all.

This Phelps-Adrian-Chusovitina lesson applies to the #kidlit world, for the fabulously talented young authors and illustrators, as well as “veterans” like me. As Penguin senior editor Stacey Barney reminded us at the #LA16SCBWI Summer Conference: “Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.” (Teaching too, my friends.)


A special shout out to the amazing International Schools in Brazil where these photos were taken.

Happy Beck-to-School to all.

Obrigada Brasil! Tchau. My DVR calls…


You’re my Liebster! 11 questions about lobsters, books, and blogs.

Lobster giff

Any FRIENDS fans out there, my #kidlit pals?

When I was nominated by JEN Garrett over at LexicalCreations for the LIEBSTER AWARD, 


As it turns out, LOBSTERS and LIEBSTERS share a few key points.

Liebster Award

On FRIENDS, Ross tells Rachel she’s his lobster because–according to Phoebe–lobsters mate for life.

Lobster giff 2

The LIEBSTER is an award fellow bloggers bestow on blogs that they believe deserve more visitors.

We want you to hang with us for life.

So, uh, welcome to my #kidlit tank, FRIENDS.

If I’ve nominated you, be sure to check out my questions for you below.

As for me, —hear-ye, hear-ye–…I graciously accept this awesome LIEBSTER honor by answering the following

11 Burning Questions that Jen sent:

1. Do you follow many blogs? Why or why not?

Erin: I love bloggers: Class Blogs, Authors, Librarians, Book Reviewers. I follow a bunch on Twitter. Thus I read the blogs they post in their Twitter feed. I’ve tried to follow and/or reply to numerous blogs but usually that requires several hoops such as:

  • signing into my own blog
  • remembering my lengthy, convoluted (aka secure) password, and
  • completing a math problem to prove I’m not a robot.

Honestly, I think the robot would be quicker at the math problems…so how can they really tell?

 2. What ways do you have on your blog for people to follow you?

Erin: Check out the handy widgets WAY UP in the right hand corner there —–>  Which reminds me I need to add a link for Instagram. 


3. Where (on your blog) do you have ways to follow you? Near the top, to the right, or somewhere else?  Besides the widgets, the same options are at the bottom of every post.


4. How do you interact with your followers?

Erin: I reply to any and all comments on my blog. (Except for the ones who want me to wire my long lost best friend gobs of money to an undisclosed offshore account because LLBF has left the country on a spur of the minute global adventure… Yeah, right, buddy. ) Sometimes we move the conversation to email or Twitter. Sometimes these are requests for Skypes and/or school visits which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. 

Skype with Miss Zapp's 2nds

5. Do you worry about building your brand? Why or why not?

Erin: I don’t “worry” about my brand, really. It’s fun to connect with teachers, librarians, readers, publishers, editors, and other authors & illustrators. I am Erin Dealey on ALL social media. (The only place that’s hard to find is my Facebook page, WRITE NOW! AN OCCASIONAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF AUTHOR ERIN DEALEY, FOLLOW.FOLLOW.FOLLOW–This was my very first foray into the land of BRAND. My suggestions for newbies:

  • Find the social media that works for you, and concentrate on that.
  • Make sure whatever you choose goes by YOUR NAME–not some cutesy Instagrammy moniker no one will recognize.

6. Do you participate in blog hops? If so, what about the hop attracts you?

Erin: Blogs are a great way to get to know cool authors. And I love a tempting GIVEAWAY.

Here’s a recent blog tour celebrating author Holly Schindler’s YA launch for SPARK.

Spark Holly Schindler

7. Have you ever participated in a virtual blog tour, or had one for your books?

Erin: I’ve participated in #ArmchairBEA. Haven’t had one for any of my books, yet, but I’m open to any and all suggestions.

I spend more time blogging about author pals and their books, or sharing LESSON PLANS for teachers. (I’ve shared these on PINTEREST too.)

8. What is a blog post you’ve read recently and why?

Erin: I loved Do Your Best Writing: Kick Down the Bumpers over at #TwoWritingTeachers, an Author Spotlight by Julie Falatko, author of the delightful  SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK).   


9. What is the last book you’ve read and did you enjoy it?

Erin: My recent reads include THE 14TH GOLDFISH (Jenni Holm); CICI RENO #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker (Kristina Springer); A MONSTER CALLS (Patrick Ness); TOWERS FALLING (Jewell Parker Rhodes); and MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY (John David Anderson).

You can check out my reviews and such here on GOODREADS.


and RUBY LEE AND ME (Shannon Hitchcock)


and THE ONE THING (Marci Lynn Curtis.)

10. What is your favorite breakfast?

Erin: My husband makes THE BEST poached eggs. Of course I will never turn down PIZZA –morning, noon, or night…

11. Which question type do you prefer to answer: a “Would you rather…” or a “What if…”?

Erin: I’m a “What if…” kind of gal.It’s what authors do every day, isn’t it?

But enough about  me—(There are at least 11 random facts about me in the answers above–Or check me out on social media.)

WHAT IF I’ve nominated you for a LIEBSTER? 

(This means you: Julie FalatkoHolly SchindlerJen LongoMike Jung, Shannon Hitchcock.)



If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, please write a blog post about the Liebster Award in which you:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog in your post.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. [Some claim that this is a flexible rule, so I’m ignoring it. In fact, I was nominated by someone who doesn’t qualify. 😉 ]
  6. Create a new list of questions for the nominees to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (copy and paste from here). Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Lobster giff 3

Exactly what I thought.

TAG-Julie Falatko 

Holly Schindler 

Jen Longo 

Mike Jung

Shannon Hitchcock


Here are your QUESTIONS from ERIN DEALEY:

  1. Which comes first? Instagram? Twitter? FB? Snapchat? Tumblr? Your blog? *_________ Other
  2. Where can I find the latest blog post about your book?
  3. Are you connected with BOOK REVIEW bloggers? If so, which ones?
  4. Which character in your book(s) is the most like you? (Why?) 
  5. What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a school visit? How did they contact you? (via blog/web site? email? agent? twitter? etc.) 
  6. Do you have a favorite TEACHER or LIBRARIAN or CLASS blog? Where can we find it?
  7. If I visited your office, would I find any favorite quotes on your wall or desk? Please share one of them.
  8. Do you make playlists for your books? Before or after? Can you share a link?
  9. Any advice for authors wanting to put together a blog tour for their next books?
  10. Which author do you Fan-Geek over? What would you ask him/her if you could? 
  11. What question do you WISH I’d asked you? (Please answer it here.)

Looking forward to reading your posts.

LIEBSTERS for life!

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