TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Author Profile: Jarrett Krosoczka

Meet Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author-superhero.

The Reading Connection is lucky to be on a first-name basis with this beloved author and illustrator. He was featured at Of Wine and Words in 2012 and, as a part of his visit, participated in a Read-Aloud. 

From his offbeat, hilarious picture books to his goofy chapter books, Krosoczka books are favorites at TRC. It's not just that his books are funny; his own personal story of considerable hardship, his characters and his books are meaningful and motivating to kids. From bed- or bath-time struggles and bad hair days to surviving the perils of student government, Jarrett's books reflect kids' experiences and foster resilience and creativity.

When Jarrett was a newly published author, a chance encounter with the lunch lady from his own elementary school sparked the Lunch Lady graphic novel series, which feature a cafeteria worker who fights evil villains and serves up justice as well as nutritious meals. Tapping into a common childhood experience and spinning it with secret crime fighting, cool gadgets and a graphic-novel format resulted in a wildly popular series.

Over time, the Lunch Lady series has grown beyond the books to include School Lunch Hero Day, recognizing the crucial role nutritious food and dedicated cafeteria staff play in nourishing growing bodies and minds. This event, held on the first Friday in May, encourages kids to thank their lunch ladies (and gentlemen) in creative ways. 

Thank you, Jarrett, for your playful insight, your terrific books that really connect with kids, the fabulous and free resources you create to get kids excited about reading, and for your support of schools, libraries and organizations like The Reading Connection. 

While the Lunch Lady series may be Jarrett's most well-known, many of his other books are favorites with TRC kids, too. Here are a few of his titles. 

Punk Farm and Punk Farm on Tour
These titles, featuring five farm animals who like to rock, are crazy good fun for reading aloud. And for singing and dancing! Download free Punk Farm music to hold a sing-along or dance party to familiar tunes with a twist, such as ”Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “The Wheels on the Van.” Be ready for plenty of encores!

Max for President
With so much focus on elections these days, reading about Max’s experience running for class president is a great way for kids to learn a little about the process and gracious ways to deal with winning, losing and working together. You can also hold an election of your own and let kids vote on a favorite book or favorite book character. 

It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon
This book is a series of vignettes that will give kids lots of ideas about how to turn everyday setbacks into opportunities. Your balloon disappears into the stratosphere, but . . . Grandma will smile when she sees it flying by her airplane window. Bad things can become good things if you change the way you look at them. The frustrating situations that are presented will resonate with all kids. After reading the first few vignettes aloud, see if kids can predict the silver linings. 

Lunch Lady series
There are 10 titles in the Lunch Lady graphic novel series, beginning with Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, which introduces our hero, her sidekick Betty, and kids Hector, Terrence and Dee. When reading this or any graphic novel aloud, create different voices for the different characters, and change or lower your voice to read narration. As you read aloud, be sure to "read" the images as well as the words, commenting on the details, and give kids a chance to point out what they see. 

Give kids a chance, too, to create their own Lunch Lady gadgets. Betty’s blueprints can help get them started!

Not enough Jarrett for you? Try these resources.

Studio JJK: Jarrett’s website is packed with activities, videos, music and more!
The JJK Blog: Jarrett’s blog is full of interesting info about his work, travels and life.
Interviews: Jarrett gives great interviews and he conducts them too on The Book Report with JJK.

And something to look forward to: Star Wars: Jedi Academy: A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka will hit bookshelves on July 26th! Return to TRC's blog post about Star Wars to use it in a Read-Aloud.  

Guest blog post by Belle of the Book, Rachael Walker.

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.

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