Saturday, April 07, 2007

Publisher Spotlight - Kane/Miller

For several years a taught a course in Content Area Literacy for all our students preparing to teach in grades 6-12. I love teaching this class, because it is all about integrating reading, writing, and discussion into content classes. It provided me with the perfect opportunity to share my love of books and encourage students to move beyond textbook use in the classroom. For years I worked easily with future teachers of English, social studies, biology, physics and math in preparing for this integration. In class I modeled all the strategies I was encouraging students to try. We read excerpts from the very books they would be using to teach their classes. Then, last year, I hit a major snag. In the spring of 2006, I had a class in which 5 of the students were preparing to teach Spanish. It is with great reluctance that I admit I speak no language other than English. Five years of Latin prepared me well for many things in my academic life, but not for this.

My challenge then, was to find material my students and I could use for instruction, and that in turn my students could take out and use in their middle school field placements. I decided that even though the subject was different, my philosophy and approach would not change. I tried to convince these students that they too could use children's books to develop literacy skills, even in a second language. All I needed to do was get my hands on some outstanding books.

This is where I learned about Kane/Miller, and came to love both their English and Spanish language books. One of the reasons I am so thrilled with the Kane/Miller catalog is because they specialize in foreign translated children's books. These books open a whole new world to readers. Their motto is "Open-minded books opening young minds to the world." Here is their mission as found on the Kane/Miller web site.
We are a very small, very specialized, very independent publishing company. We choose the books we publish with extraordinary care and attention. We think about them, we discuss them, we argue about them. We read them aloud, and then we read them to ourselves, to our families, and to each other. We live with them. In the end, we publish those books that speak to us - and those that we believe will speak to children.

We believe that children's books should comfort and challenge, that they should awaken the imagination and the conscience. We publish books we think are important to bring to American children. We truly believe in bringing the world closer to a child and the children of the world closer to each other. We want books that capture life's and lives experiences and present them in a way that will make children say both "wow, that's just like me" and also "wow, that's different."

We search the world for books that through great stories and arresting illustrations enrich the lives and the imaginations of the children who read them. American children need to learn not just about the United States, but about the world. They need to know that they can share adventures, and fantasies and dreams. Because the children of the coming millennium will not simply be citizens of their own countries, they truly will be citizens of the world.
Some of my favorite books include:
One title that really stands out for me is Yellow Umbrella by Jae-Soo Liu. The book is wordless, but it comes with a CD of music that is meant to accompany the reading of the book. This is a lovely book that will capture the imagination of all who listen and read it.

In addition to a fabulous selection of books that truly meet the mission stated above, teachers can find a wealth of resources on a page of Teacher to Teacher Tip Sheets.

I can't say enough about how important it is for children to read about others who do not look or act like them. Kane/Miller does a fine job bringing to our shores a wonderful selection of books that expose children to the human experience in all it's varied forms. Do yourself a favor and visit Kane/Miller for some of the loveliest translated books on the market.

2 comments:

  1. Love Kane/Miller too!!

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  2. Mark Steidler7/09/2007 5:01 PM

    Thanks for your post. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Maya & Miguel, a show on PBS in the afternoons -- http://pbskidsgo.org/mayaandmiguel -- that emphasizes cultural diversity and language learning but I’m reaching out to talk to parents and teachers about the program as part of a marketing project I’m working on with Scholastic.

    I found your post and thought I’d reach out to say hello and ask if you’d like to receive a free Maya & Miguel DVD. If you’d like to receive the DVD just email me at mark@boldmouth.com with your address and I’ll have it shipped it out to you.

    If you do choose to blog about Maya & Miguel show or episodes on the DVD, please make it clear how you received the information. Our goal is to be open and honest with everyone we reach.

    If you’d like to add Maya & Miguel images from the show on your blog you can pick them up here - http://www.boldmouth.com/maya_and_miguel/

    Mark Steidler, BoldMouth

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