Monday, February 17, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.17.2020

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

It was #nf10for10.  This year I featured 10 books that show kids who are showing us the way!

Some poetry books here.

Picture Books

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
by Michael Rex
This book is even more than just a book about facts and opinions.  It goes into, without preaching, the importance of respecting other's opinions and not getting upset and losing your cool when your opinion is different.

The Bear Must Go On
The Bear Must Go On
written by Dev Petty
illustrated by Brandon Todd
A funny book - what happens when three overzealous friends plan a show without planning the actual show?  Shy, quiet Bear must take over and overcome his stage fright to help his friends.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (Questioneers Picture Book, #4)
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
written by Andrea Beaty
illustrated by David Roberts
Another book to add to her collection of kids who show they can do it all, with a lot of help and some creative disbelief - this time Sofia gets the city involved in cleaning up a landfill and making a public park.  There were some oddly placed monkeys in the story that didn't add to the story and I could have done without.

The Paper Kingdom
The Paper Kingdom
written by Helena Ku Rhee
illustrated by Pascal Campion
A book that cannot be read without the accompanying author's note.  This book is written in dedication to all of the hardworking families, who are doing their best to help their families get by.  The author's parents were night janitors and she would have to accompany them from time to time.  Memories of this time are brought to life in this story where a young boy must go with his parents to their night time work.  When the boy is sleepy and tired and just wants to sleep, its his parents who bring light-hearted stories to pass the time.  Much like the author's parents did when she was little.  But it plants the idea into the young boy's head that one day, he'll work hard enough so maybe his parents won't have to work as hard.  It's the stories from his parents that give the young boy inspiration, and the power of believing what can be, to fuel new dreams.
This is an important book to have in libraries today.  Whether a child sees a familiar story or it brings to light a new experience, it will provide a good discussion.

The Perfectly Perfect Wish
The Perfectly Perfect Wish
written by Lisa Mantchev
illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
A book about empathy and selflessness.  I would use this during writing and showing ways you can write about a topic.  It seems like writing about wishes is common, but how can you turn that story?
My one complaint is in one illustration.  I thought the illustrations were beautiful, but there is one where a girl in a wheelchair is getting off the bus.  You can see the ramp attached to the front door of the bus.... but then there are stairs once you get on the bus.  Sooooo, how did that work with the wheelchair?  Minor detail but one that made me roll my eyes.

written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by T.L. McBeth
Don't read through this book too quickly, you might miss something (not like I know from personal experiences....).  The story actually begins on the title page where we see the smallest duck chasing after a butterfly and then eventually losing sight of the three older ducks.  The rest of the story, told in limited words, has the small duck seeing clues of where the elder ducks may be but it's always something else.  The reader can see the visible frustration of the small duck as each lead turns out to be something else.  While the ending is a happy one, it's also a surprise because the small duck discovers while being so busy looking for the elder ducks, they were also looking after their lost small duck!
Perhaps a 2021 Geisel contender?

It's Okay to Be a Unicorn!
It's Okay to be a Unicorn!
by Jason Tharp
Good message about the importance of being yourself, although quite didactic.  The horses went from not accepting to accepting in a page turn....

Nonfiction Books

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work
This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work
written by Tiffany Jewell
illustrated by Aurélia Durand
This is a powerful book that we need NOW.  I highly recommend this one in all intermediate, middle school, and high school libraries and classroom libraries.  This book would be an excellent one to read with students and unpack all the learning.

Middle Grade

My middle grade reading has taken a hit.  Not because I haven't been reading any.  On the contrary, I've read a lot.  Just not the middle grade that is piling up in my stacks.
I've read a lot of books in preparation for the 2021 IL Bluestem Award list.  Our committee met last weekend and developed our list of 20 books.  I'll be excited to share it soon!
I've also read a lot of books from the Jennifer Serravallo's Complete Comprehension Fiction Assessment list.  We just ordered a kit and there were quite a few books I needed to read.  Some have been on my reading list for decades!  I've now read all of the books that our 3rd and 4th grade students may read at this point in the school year.  I have a couple of more books to read, but they are at a much higher level that I have some time to get to those!  It's interesting to see what books are selected for the different levels.  Some of the higher level books have some interesting word choices (I heard, "Mrs. Knott, there is a swear word on every page!"..... that might have been a slight exaggeration but there were a lot!) and situations for a level that is at the end of 4th grade.  I understand there are readers who will be reading those books that are much older than 4th grade and it will be important for those readers to be engaged in these books too.  But at least I've read all of them and can answer questions as they come up!

Currently Reading

by Michelle Obama
Yup.  Still going.  Hoping to make some headway this week since my other commitment reading is completed!

The Disaster Days
The Disaster Days
by Rebecca Behrens
I've had this one checked out from the library for a long time with multiple renewals.  So glad to finally get to it!  I can tell this is the book you'll want to hand off to your I Survived readers.

I know some of you are on your February Break.  Hoping you get some reading in during your time off.  Many of us at least are enjoying a 3-day weekend and then it's back to work.  Whatever your situation may be, hoping you find some time for yourself!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Spotlight Friday: new poetry books 2.14.2020

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Spotlight:  Poetry!

Just a few new poetry books you may want to add to your collections!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers
Lyrics by Fred Rogers
Illustrated by Luke Flowers
This collection has 137 pages of the songs Mister Rogers brought to his show.  Presented here in poetry format, these beautiful lyrics remind young readers it’s ok to have feelings and express themselves.  
I really appreciate there being an index at the end of the book.  Educators can refer to it and find different social emotional learning topics and the corresponding poems.
With illustrations from Luke Flowers (see if you can find some cameos, like Mobi Shinobi, within the illustrations), readers will enjoy picking out different poems to read.

I Remember by Lee Bennett Hopkins
I Remember: Poema and Pictures of Heritage
complied by Lee Bennett Hopkins
This collection of poetry - each poem written by a different poet and accompanied by an illustration from a different artist - is reflective of heritage, family, and moments of time.  Different cultures are represented, each one celebrating a different way of remembering.  
Each poem and illustration has the creator's name by it as well as a quote from the creator giving us a glimpse into their feelings about their art or words.
Backmatter includes a quick biography of each poet and artist.

Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre
Being Frog
by April Pulley Sayre
The title of this book is so important because Sayre is celebrating the frog as a "being", not a character.  So many of us are familiar with different frog characters, but Sayre wants you to get to know the actual frog, not the almost humanized characters of frogs.
In this book that is one lyrical poem, Sayre celebrates all that a frog does throughout their days - hunting, hiding, growing, communicating, and leaping!  With amazing photographs by Sayre, this book should be leaping into your collections :)

Happy poetic reading!

Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.10.2020

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

Take a look at these nonfiction picture book biographies.

Some books for readers who are starting to read independently.

Picture Books

Where Lily Isn't
Where Lily Isn't
written by Julie Paschkis
illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
A sweet book that will touch hearts, especially readers who have lost a beloved pet.
We see a young girl loving and playing with her dog, Lily, until Lily is no longer with her.  She remembers all the things they did together, but at the end finds peace that Lily still lives in her heart.

Black Is a Rainbow Color
Black is a Rainbow Color
written by Angela Joy
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
This is a book that will stick with me for a long time and one that takes multiple readings to unpack.  It reminds me a lot of Fry Bread in that way.  You can't just get everything about this book in one reading.
First of all, there is so much in the backmatter to pay attention to - you'll want to play the music that is listed in the background, you'll flip back and forth from the backmatter to the corresponding pages to learn more and get greater depth of understanding.
I'm really looking forward to hearing how educators and librarians use this book with readers and the conversations that occur.

Are Your Stars Like My Stars?
Are Your Stars Like My Stars?
written by Leslie Helakoski
illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
The book uses colors to compare how children from different parts of the world see their surroundings.  I wish there had been more information included in backmatter about the different locations, cultures, and traditions.

Hosea Plays On
Hosea Plays On
written by Kathleen M. Blasi
illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Written about Hosea Taylor Jr., this story imagines a day in the life of Hosea doing what he was known for - bringing music into the lives of youngsters that lived near him.  
In this story, we see Hosea set out to play his saxophone on the city streets and collect money that he is saving to buy something.  We find out it is a trumpet for a teenaged neighbor.  
Information about the real Hosea Taylor Jr. is found on the endpage of the book.  I wish the publisher had made this information available in backmatter instead of the endpage because I had a library copy and had a difficult time reading around the taped on book jacket.

Overground Railroad
Overground Railroad
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by James Ransome
Beautifully written and illustrated story about the Great Migration.  You are probably familiar with the Underground Railroad, but do you know about the Overground Railroad?  Trains were a way of transportation for millions of Blacks as they ran away and to new lives in the North in the 1900s.

The House at the End of the Road
The House at the End of the Road
by Kari Rust
I have seen people post about this book but I had trouble finding it and then I kind of just forgot about it.  So glad I finally read it because I really loved the story.  Three cousins find an old house they are pretty sure is haunted.  But what may look old and scary can be deceiving, as they find out.  Their grandmother introduces them to the inhabitant, old Mr. Peterson, and they learn to not always judge a book by its cover!

In a Jar
In a Jar
by Deborah Marcero
A sweet story about friendship and how the things we enjoy with friends can continue even when the miles between are long.

The Heart of a Whale
The Heart of a Whale
by Anna Pignataro
I think what most people want is to have that companion, that one to talk with, share time with, and just enjoy space with.  This book captures that essence.  It also shows the power of friendship and helping a friend.  All of this in a beautiful, lyrical story with water-colored illustrations that flow across the pages.

Almost Time
Almost Time
written by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
The passing of time can be hard and difficult to measure for a young child.  Especially if the passing of time means the weather has to cooperate!  A young boy and his father are waiting for it to be time to collect sap from the trees to make syrup.  The days need to be longer and warmer and that just doesn't seem to be happening!  He also is waiting for a tooth to get looser and fall out.  After a while, green grass starts to appear and it takes just a bit longer to turn on the lights at night, and then it's time for sap!
I've read books recently about the passing of time and this one just struck me right in the heart!

Nonfiction Picture Books

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
illustrated by Oge Mora
Wow.  Just an amazing story.  Mary Walker never had a chance to learn to read.  Not only was she just working to stay alive as a slave, it was also outlawed for her to learn to read.  So she waited.  She waited until she had outlived her family - her parents, her husbands, and her sons.  She waited, but she eventually learned to read... at the age of 116!  Just an amazing story.  
Oh, and it's illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner, Oge Mora.  
I appreciated in the backmatter the author included a note that while there are certainly things known about Mary Walker's long life, there are many holes to it, too.  The author admits to filling in some of the holes with her own imaginings in this book.  And that's why you read the backmatter to young readers!  They need to know that information!

Middle Grade

The Ambrose Deception
The Ambrose Deception
by Emily Ecton
This book took me by surprise!  I really enjoyed it and wonder why I haven't heard more about it.  It's definitely for readers who enjoyed Mr. Lemoncello's Library, The Book Scavenger, or even the game/movie Clue.  
I also loved that it took place in Chicago, it was fun to read about familiar landmarks.
Melissa, Wilf, and Bondi have been selected from their middle school to compete in a scholarship competition.  How they were chosen is sketchy at best, figuring out riddles to win a scholarship is a bit unconventional, but with $10,000 on the line, the trio doesn't worry about the details.  As each individual goes all around Chicago, with a personal driver and cell phone, the reader gets a glimpse of Chicago history and goes along for one wild adventure!

Currently Reading

by Michelle Obama
I've made no progress on this book because my reading life has gone to three places:

1.  assessment reading - we just got the new Jennifer Serravallo Complete Comprehension Assessment kit and I've been avidly reading the new-to-me titles.  Since I'm assessing kids using these books, I read the books too.
2.  committee reading - just wrapped that up!
3.  picture books - I've had stacks of library books pile up and needed to make a dent in them.

I'm almost done with the assessment reading.  A few more to go.  Meanwhile I have a lot of MG and YA that are piling up!  I'm sure I'll find time soon.....

Did you know today is #nf10for10 day?  Bloggers are putting together lists of 10 books (or so) that are about nonfiction topics/ideas.  Be sure to search for the hashtag on social media for lots of nonfiction picture book ideas!

Here is my post:  10 nonfiction picture book biographies that celebrate KIDS showing us the way!

#nf10for10 - Kids Are Showing Us the Way! 2.10.2020

Thank you to 

Cathy Mere (@cathymere) at Reflect & Refine 
Mandy Robek (@mandyrobek) at Enjoy and Embrace Learning
Julie Balen (@jacbalen) at Connecting to Learn

for this wonderful day of nonfiction picture book sharing!
Be sure to follow #nf10for10 to get lots of new nonfiction picture book ideas.

Here are my posts from previous years. 
2017 #nf10for10 - a science roundup
2016 #nf10for10 - it's all about the series
2015 #nf10for10 - nf can be interesting!
2014 #nf10for10 - themes in nonfiction

It's been awhile since I've participated in #nf10for10.  It always creeps up on me and I lose track of time.  Before I know it, it's here and I don't have a post.  For some reason I was thinking about it early this year!

There has been a huge insurgence of picture book biographies.  They are well enjoyed by educators, librarians, and readers.  Maybe because of their narrative stories.  Maybe because they are inspiring.  But most of them are about people who seem out of reach to our young readers.  They have trouble thinking of them as real people.  I love finding picture book biographies about kids.  When you read a book out loud about some of the things they have done, you can almost see a lightbulb go on in the eyes of readers.  They start thinking, maybe they can do it.  Maybe it influences something in their life.  Maybe it gives them a thought of what they can do.

10 nonfiction picture book biographies that feature kids:

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
written by Margarita Engle
illustrated by Rafael López
Teresa Carreño shows us the power of music and how it can make us feel many emotions.  

Hello, Crochet Friends! by Jonah Larson
Hello, Crochet Friends! Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy
written by Jonah Larson with Jennifer Larson
Jonah reminds us that we can find what we are passionate about and use it to help ourselves and others.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by James E. Ransome
Venus and Serena reminds us of the power of family, hard work, and determination can help us reach our goals.

Our House Is on Fire by Jeanette Winter
Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet
by Jeanette Winter
Greta encourages everyone to use their voice - because it is necessary - to protect our planet.

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still
Nadia The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
written by Karlin Gray
illustrated by Christine Davenier
Nadia teaches us that it's ok to fall... just get back up again and rise!

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
written by Sophia Gholz
illustrated by Kayla Harren
Jadav shows that even young kids can care and learn about their environment and make a difference for generations to come.

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty
written by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews
illustrated by Bryan Collier
You're never too young to discover your passion is the message from Trombone Shorty.  And play music all the time!

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
written by Cynthia Levinson
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
We can stand up for our rights and our beliefs like Audrey Faye Hendricks did!

Anybody's Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball
Anybody's Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball
written by Heather Lang
illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi
Kathryn had a passion for baseball but because of gender rules, she had to fight for her right to play.  Be like Kathryn and fight for equal gender rights!

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Ada's Violin: They Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
written by Susan Hood
illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Reduce, reuse, and recycle has a whole new musical meaning after reading the story of Ada and friends.  What maker idea can you create?

Round up some of these picture book biographies and see what ideas your readers can come up with and create!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - early reader stack - 2.06.2020

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers 
at the start of their independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

This week I've got some early reading books to share with you.  Perfect for readers who are beginning their reading journey.  These books have simple plots, rely on a lot of sight words and decodable text, and are fun to read!

I'll first start with a couple of new to me books from the 2020 Geisel Award!

Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! by J.E. Morris
Flubby Is Not a Good Pet!
by J.E. Morris
I've seen the Flubby books but apparently I have never picked one up to read, I thought I had.
This one is cute.  Readers will enjoy meeting Flubby the Cat because he is not necessarily an agreeable cat.  Flubby's owner really wants him to do "pet-like" things... like the other pets, but Flubby wants nothing to do with singing, playing catch, or jumping.
Sweet ending to the story.
Decodable text, a minimal amount of words, but fun storyline, make this a good start for readers beginning to read independently.

Stop! Bot! by James Yang
Stop! Bot!
by James Yang
This year's Geisel winner is one that I had never even heard of before the awards show.  My colleague was able to locate it at her library so I got a peak at it.  It's cute and clever.  A young boy loses control of his bot (a robot head) and it floats upwards, next to a tall apartment (?) building.  The residents have a variety of ways to try and get the bot, but they keep missing.  With all of these neighbors at the ready, it seems like an occurrence like this has happened before... in fact the savvy reader will notice while the bot is travelling up, up, up, on most pages there is a banana going down, down, down.  The ending is cute and has a great one-liner that will make you laugh out loud.  Don't read through the minimal amount of text too quickly, be sure to find the details in the illustrations.
Probably not my favorite Geisel winner, but definitely a cute story.

Some newly published picture books:

Bug Dipping, Bug Sipping by Marilyn Singer
Bug Dipping, Bug Sipping
written by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Lucy Semple
This rhyming poem will be fun for young readers to read and practice reading their -ing chunks!  Some words will be tricky because the picture clues might not be enough to help readers figure out the word - ceiling, meadow, disguising - but also is full of decodable words.
I love seeing more nonfiction texts for independent readers.

Jack at Bat by Mac Barnett
Jack at Bat
written by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of this series.  Sometimes having a flawed character makes the story really fun to read.  And while Jack is plenty flawed, I really don't care for him.  I could see kids enjoying his naughtiness, and while I haven't really promoted the series with kids yet, I haven't seen anyone flock to this series.  I need to book talk it soon, I would be interested in seeing what kids think.
Out of the four published books, I guess this one is "my favorite".  Please know I use that term very loosely.  There were parts that made me chuckle - Rex taking off with the ball, Jack being sidetracked by what looks like Cracker Jacks (who wouldn't be sidetracked by that???).  But the rest is questionable.

Jack Goes West by Mac Barnett
Jack Goes West
Just.  No.
Too much I don't like and I don't get why it is in a children's book.
White guy being the savior except you know, he's the bad guy.  And he's trying to woo a much older lady.  Because that goes in a children's book.  
And why the old west setting?

The following books are just a bit longer and feature chapters.  Perfect for readers who still need support with picture clues, sight words, decodable text, but are looking to increase stamina with longer reads.
I'm grateful to have these books for readers who still need these supports but want something fun, engaging, and COOL!!!  Love that these books keep readers reading!

Don't Worry, Bee Happy by Ross Burach
Don't Worry, Bee Happy
by Ross Burach
I enjoy Burach's humor and I know readers are going to laugh out loud at some of the funny stories in this early graphic novel.  This is a series I'll be watching and adding to my collection.

Surf's Up! by Luke Flowers
Moby Shinobi and Toby Too! Surf's Up!
by Luke Flowers
I have readers who really enjoy the Moby Shinobi pictures books, excited to see this as an early chapter book.  Full of colorful and busy pictures, these rhyming chapters are fun to read and this particular one has a fun setting - the beach!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - biographies - 2.05.2020

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

These influential men made their impact on the world in different ways.  Have they made a difference in your life?

Soldier for Equality by Duncan Tonatiuh
Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War
by Duncan Tonatiuh
So grateful for Mr. Tonatiuh and his books.  They always educate me about people, customs, and traditions that I may not know a lot about.
This book introduces us to Luz, a Mexican American born in Texas (Tejano), who felt the injustices and racism because of his descent.  He enlisted to fight in World War I as a way to honor his country and show that Mexican Americans are an important people in this nation.  Luz continued his fight throughout the War but continued to educate through peace and his teachings.  He continued this education once he returned to the States, even helping to form the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Fred's Big Feelings by Laura Renauld
Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers
written by Laura Renauld
illustrated by Brigette Barrager
I am excited to see the picture book biographies that are being published about Mister Rogers.  I grew up with Mister Rogers and his neighborhood.  In fact my mom still says I learned to much of my early education through PBS - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street - while my poor younger sister was raised on cartoons - Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones - because I had moved on by the time she was young.  Ha!
I do have wonderful memories and after reading the biographies, I remember even more about his show.  As an adult I can see the positives in what he was accomplishing with his young audience.
After reading some picture book biographies I pulled up some of the old shown on youtube.  Dated, yes, but the values he embodied are still so important today.
This book really focuses on the way Mister Rogers so effortlessly talked about feelings and the importance of naming them.  I'm looking forward to sharing this book with young readers and maybe even inspiring a new generation of Mister Rogers fans!

Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryan
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
by Ashley Bryan
I have long admired Ashley Bryan's work and who he is as a human being.  To get this glimpse into his history is a gift.  To be able and witness this history, how art saved who he was as a person, is not something I take lightly.  A story about art, but also about the social injustices of our country that extend far beyond our borders.  I sincerely hope that middle school social studies and literature teachers, as well as librarians, use this book with students.