Committee for Children Blog

Are Schools Safer Ten Years After the Columbine Shootings?

April 20, 2009

SEATTLE—This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. Have all the reports, studies, and extra security measures made our schools safer? Have we learned anything?

“Yes and no,” answers Joan Cole Duffell, executive director of Committee for Children, a Seattle-based nonprofit that experienced a “huge surge” of interest after the shootings and…Read More

Book Review: Viva La Paris

by Esmé Raji Codell
Reading level: Grades 4–6

When you’re a fifth-grade girl, it’s tricky enough to try to solve the problem of your eighth-grade brother being bullied by another fifth-grade girl. But when Paris McCray begins learning about the big-time bullying that went on during World War II, her brain and heart switch to overload, and all she can do is bury herself deeper and…Read More

Book Review: The Freedom Writers Diary

by Erin Gruwell
Reading level: Adult

This book is a compilation of diary entries from 150 high school students in Long Beach, California, who call themselves the Freedom Writers. Their English teacher, Erin Gruwell, discovers that her at-risk students have never heard of the Holocaust. She decides to teach a curriculum of tolerance using books such as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and…Read More

Book Review: Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family

by Lensey Namioka
Reading Level: Grades 3–4

The Story

Yingmei (Yang the Third) and her family recently moved to Seattle,
Washington, from China. As she tries to fit in, Yingmei changes he
name to Mary, keeps a journal of the American words she wants to
learn, eats sandwiches made with peanut butter and jelly instead of
bean sprouts, and frets that the rest of her family isn't…Read More

Book Review: Martha Walks the Dog

by Susan Meddaugh
Reading level: Kindergarten–Grade 3

Ever since she ate her first bowl of alphabet soup, Martha the dog has developed the gift of gab…sometimes to a fault. Her ingenious monologues and impressive vocabulary make her the life of the party, but they also can get her into trouble.

Out for her walk one day, Martha encounters new neighbors: an aggressive dog and his…Read More

Book Review: The Brand New Kid

by Katie Couric
Reading level: Preschool–Grade 2

Second-grader Lazlo S. Gasky seems different from the other kids at Brookhaven School. His white-blond hair sticks up all over, his vivid blue eyes and super-pink lips stand out against his pale complexion, his accent sounds “strange” to the other students, and he is brand new to his class (perhaps one of the most “different” traits possible in…Read More

Book Review: Betty Lou Blue

by Nancy Crocker; Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Reading level: Preschool–Grade 2

Little Betty Lou Blue longs to be included by the other kids. But in the playground pecking order, a girl with giant feet usually does not come out on top. And Betty Lou's feet are rather big. If her shoes were boats, according to her would-be friends, she “could float for a year!” Poor Betty Lou Blue tries to ignore the…Read More

Book Review: Death by Eggplant

by Susan Heyboer O'Keef
Reading level: Grades 5–8

As if it's not enough for Bert to keep mind, body, and culinary aspirations intact throughout his eighth-grade year, he now has baby Cleopatra to protect as well. Resentment turns to grudging big-brotherly concern for little Cleo as Bert gradually loses sight of the fact that “she” is in fact a five-pound sack of flour given to him as a school…Read More

Book Review: Shrinking Violet

by Cari Best; Illustrated by Giselle Potter
Reading level: Kindergarten–Grade 2

Violet is allergic to attention. This fact has come to the attention of her classmate, Irwin, who takes every opportunity to torment her: “You have hairy arms,” he hisses from the bushes. And, “I will be watching your fat knees.” But there's something Irwin and the others don't know about Violet. Beneath…Read More

Book Review: Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One

by Judy Blume; Illustrated by James Stevenson
Reading level: Grades 1–4

Ahh, sibling rivalry. Who among us has not stooped to such fine exchanges as this one, between first grader Jake and his older sister, Abigail:

“You're a big bowl of spider soup!”

“Mmm…sounds yummy!”
“Spider poop soup! That's what you are.”Read More