Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 Day! #nfpb10for10 2.19.15


Nonfiction Picture Book
10 for 10 Day!

Nonfiction books.  Informational texts.  Or as Donalyn has said, "dead presidents and whales".  

Can nonfiction be interesting?


As in anything, the key to wanting to read is finding the books.  Lucky for us, we know about Nerdy Book Club, blogging, Twitter and Goodreads.  Because of my PLN, I rarely read a lousy book.  Now, we just need to pass those books on to our readers.

Here are the Top 10 books I would use to engage reluctant nonfiction readers:

The Spider
The Spider by Elise Gravel
Part of her Disgusting Creatures series, this book
and the others, engage readers by the way
the, er, disgusting creature, interacts
with the reader.  With fun, illustrated pictures,
this series is sure to be a hit with readers.

Saturn Could Sail: and other fun facts (Did You Know?, #7)
Did You Know Saturn Could Sail by Laura Lyn Disiena
Another great series, Did You Know, this one also
has fun, illustrated pictures that will tickle 
the reader's funny bone yet give them
great facts at the same time!

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator
Wolfsnail:  A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell
I found this one after participating in Colby Sharp and John Schu's 
Geisel Challenge last year.  This is a perfect early reader nonfiction title.
Kids won't be able to tear their eyes away from the photos
and the text is so engaging!

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy
Have you seen this wonderful book that recently 
was awarded a Sibert Honor?  The illustrations
are beautiful and the information fascinating.
I love the easier text on some pages and more
information on others.

Baseball Is . . .
Baseball Is... by Louise Borden
I fell in love with this book last spring.
Borden does an amazing job talking about
so many aspects of baseball but in beautiful verse.
What a gorgeous mentor text for writing.

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns
It seems that there are a lot of butterfly books.
The photography and attention to detail in explaining
the journey of these butterflies is wonderful.
Another book to pour over.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson
There are some wonderful picture book biographies out there.
This one is a favorite because it spoke to me on so many levels.
Hope, hard work, dreams, believe.
I love the endnotes too - so great to have to show kids
the story continues.

Can We Save the Tiger?
Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins
This book is so beautiful.  It carries a beautiful
message, but the illustrations are awe inspiring!
Sharing with children that you can learn so much 
from text and illustrations is a positive message!

Sea Turtle Scientist
Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen Swinburne
I really enjoy the Scientists in the Field series, but this 
one has been my favorite.  The topic is fascinating and
Swinburne does an amazing job highlighting these
mysterious creatures and bringing the little information
we have about them to light.  Students who are ready
for longer informational books will enjoy this one!

The Great American Dust Bowl
The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown
This book truly stood the test of time.  My daughter, who is 
very much "is that... *gasp*... nonfiction??" actually
sat down and read this.  Present true information in a graphic novel?
Thank you Mr. Brown for using this format!

Should you have a reluctant nonfiction reader in your class, make a preview pile of these books.  You might just catch a reader trying a new genre!

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.16.15

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.

This was one of those great weeks where I read a few books that just blew me away. Which  was very fortuitous since it was conference week and I really had to find time to read. 

Picture Books

Wolfie the Bunny
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
5/5 stars
I had heard so much buzz about this book.  I had read great reviews.  But nothing I had read made me jump up and want to read this book.
I was so wrong.
Like everyone before me, I ADORE this book.  For me, it was because of the main character, Dot.  Love her.  She is my new favorite character.
I love her spunk.  I love her attitude.  I love her perspective.  I love that she says what is on her mind.  I love her ability to love deeply.
I cannot wait to own this book and share it.  Over and over and over.

Yard Sale
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting
5/5 stars
In a tweet, I joked to Lauren Castillo, illustrator of this book, that I would be happy to send this book on a book journey.  I think it started because friends had gone to NerdCamp NNE and they had received it and I was quite jealous.  I love Lauren's work and couldn't wait to see this book myself.  Luckily, Lauren thought that was a great idea and got a copy sent to me.  I shared it with readers this week, who LOVED it, and now it's time to share with others.  I'm sending it out this week.  If you would like a chance to share it with readers (and add a note in the endpapers!) please visit here.
In typical Eve Bunting fashion, she tells a story that pulls at your heartstrings, but it's one that is important for kids to hear, whether because they are going through things themselves or they hear the story and can empathize with the characters.  But for me, it's Lauren's illustrations that truly characterize the story.

I Don't Want to Be a Frog
I Don't Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
5/5 stars
I was holding off on this book until I got it from the library.
Read it.  Bought it.
Petty gets the needling little child frog right - the constant asking and asking and then quick changing its mind.  And the patient dad, just always explaining the ways of the world to his son.
This is going to be a really fun book to share with readers.

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret
Ballet Cat:  The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
5/5 stars
Finally, a book that is actually comparable to Elephant and Piggie.  For so long E&P have dominated the early reader genre.  Ballet Cat is going to give them a run for their money! 
Ballet Cat and Sparkles are friends, but one is a bit more dominating than the other and has strong opinions.  Can the other stand up to the friend to say what they really want?  Cannot wait to own this book in May!

Smick! by Doreen Cronin
4/5 stars
I think this is going to be a fun book for early readers, and one I will add to my 2016 Mock Geisel list.

Middle Grade

The Spider Ring
The Spider Ring by Andrew Harwell
5/5 stars
I really enjoyed this book.  It had just the right amount of creepy for middle grade readers.
Maria inherits a spider ring from her recently deceased grandmother.  She quickly learns that she is able to control a certain type of spider (the brown recluse) with it.  The question for her is how much power is too much?  However, with a ring this powerful, there is always someone who is after it.  This time it's the Black Widow.
Fans of suspense and action novels will enjoy this debut from Harwell.
Some favorite lines:
pg. 92 "Rereading her favorite books always made her feel happy and safe, because she already knew what would happen in the end."
pg. 177 "But then, a real friend sometimes was the one who told you what you didn't want to hear but needed to."

Young Adult

Girls Like Us
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
5/5 stars
Watching the ALA YMAwards this year was so fun because I had already read the majority of books.  Except for a select few.  This book was the one that won the Schneider Family Award in the young adult category.  After reading this book, I feel like the Schneider Family did a fantastic job selecting this book and getting it the publicity it needs.  Quincy's and Biddy's stories need to be told.
I am sure there are "Speddies" out there who have similar stories.  Stories about being taken advantage of, inhumane treatment, being misunderstood and stories about the human heart not being loved.
Giles did an amazing job with the voice and craft of this story.  The voices of Biddy and Quincy absolutely shine through.  But I thought the craft was just as amazing.  Giles takes her time letting us get to know the characters, let them into our heart.  Then *bam* the story takes off and because the reader is now invested, your heart and brain want to leap into the book and take care of everything.
So good.

Currently Reading

First Frost (Waverley Family #2)
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
It's my first adult read of the year!  I really enjoy Allen's stories.  The magic that is inside each one makes you want to believe in the possibility of magic residing in your house.  This book is a follow up to her Garden Spells.  I read that one so many years ago, I really don't remember much, other than I enjoyed it!  I'm enjoying the characters all over again, even if I don't remember much from the first time!  If you're a fan of Snicker of Magic, then you would probably enjoy Allen's books.  Not quite as heart warming as Felicity, but good, adult fiction.

On Deck

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielson
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielson

Have a wonderful reading week!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2.11.15


I am excited to join Alyson Beecher and other friends in this weekly challenge.  Finding great nonfiction picture books isn't a challenge anymore, there are so many wonderful books to be read now!  The challenge is sharing them with as many people as possible so they can find this wealth of literature to share with our young readers.  Thanks to Aly for starting this weekly link-up and thanks to all who join in!

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
Ben Franklin's Big Splash:
The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
by Barb Rosenstock

I had seen this book on a few blogs, but just finally got my hands on it.  I knew it was about Ben Franklin and an invention of his, but not much else.  I was thrilled to see it focused on his first invention, was swim fins and paddles.  Seeing as this is an invention I use 2-3 times a week, I was intrigued!  With my daughter being a swim fanatic, I knew this nonfiction book would be one she might read!  
I enjoyed reading about Ben Franklin's early tenacity and how he went about thinking about a problem.  He analyzed, contemplated and pondered before working on his experiment.  When it didn't go right, instead of being frustrated and giving up, he went back to the small details and thought about how to change things.  What a great lesson on perseverance.
Barb Rosenstock always makes her nonfiction reads interesting by adding something to the story.  This time she adds some "s" alliterations - using words like "slid, stripped, squirmed, shed, splashed, slipped, sloshed, squirting, spurting, spouting."  I think her texts can be used to learn something new, but also as a mentor text for writing.
I was thrilled to meet Barb Rosenstock at ALA Midwinter.  She personalized the book for my daughter and was a pleasure to speak with.  Barb's recent books include The Noisy Paint Box and The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became American's Hero, and Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library.  All fantastic picture book biographies!  Be sure to check these books out.

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.09.15

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.

Picture Books

Glamourpuss by Sarah Weeks
4/5 stars
Glamourpuss is a diva among cats, but what happens when the diva of dogs shows up?  After some jealous moments, Glamourpuss learns you can be a diva and a friend.  Cute story.

Just a Duck?
Just a Duck? by Carin Bramsen
3/5 stars
Young readers will enjoy this story.  The illustrations are beautiful.

I Don't Like Koala
I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell
4/5 stars
I read a copy of this book at ALA.  It is very funny... because the koala is creepy!  Kind of reminded me of a creepy Furby!
Publishes April 14

Everyone Loves Bacon
Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio
5/5 stars
Love love this book.  So many laugh out loud moments!
Publishes September 1

Orion and the Dark
Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett
5/5 stars
Gorgeous book and heartwarming story.  I think if you like Beekle, you will like this one!  So glad Jen Vincent had me read this book!
Publishes March 24

Product Details
Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
5/5 stars
Dang, I love that little elephant!
Publishes October 6

Transitional Chapter Books

Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page
Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant
4/5 stars
I have no idea how I missed this book last year.  Thrilled that Mr. Putter got some recognition by the Geisel committee!  This is a great book in the series and it carries some serious book love within the story!

Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1)
Owl Diaries: Eva's Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott
3/5 stars
I love what Scholastic Branches series is doing for young readers.  While not being the most amazing contribution to children's literature, it is giving young, transitional readers something to read!  Bright illustrations and told as a diary, young readers will enjoy meeting Eva.  

Middle Grade

Stella by Starlight
Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper
5/5 stars
Loved this story for several reasons
1.  It is wonderful historical fiction.  The setting of the story is important.  The social unjust that occurred in the 1930s, including the Ku Klux Klan, are extremely important to the story.  But what I love about good historical fiction, is that it doesn't take over the story.  This book was no exception.
2.  I love the relationship between Stella and her mom.  When I met Sharon Draper last weekend, she told me it was a great mother-daughter read aloud.  Now I know why!  The love and compassion and respect between Stella and her mom is heartwarming.
3.  I love watching Stella grow as a writer.  I understand Stella's feelings and worries and concerns.  I love seeing her work and try at something that didn't feel comfortable to her.
Favorite lines:
pg. 180 "Stella wondered how silence could be so loud."
pg. 193 "Is it possible to be scared and brave at the same time?"
pg. 201 "Sometimes bravery is just doin' what you gotta do."
the line that made me LOL pg. 240 "It's colder than a billy goat's butt today."
And my favorite part.  Stella is typing her "newspaper" (grammatical and spelling mistakes are taken from the text.  The scratched out errors from the text have been omitted here):
pg. 263-264 "Some people have the gift of writing i think I must of been sleep when that gift was given out.  I wonder how people who write real good know what to say.  Im not even sure why I keep writing.  Maybe I should just stick to reading.  I like the way books smell.  I gues that is strange.  The pages feel good as I turn them."

Currently Reading

The Truth About Twinkie Pie
The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

On Deck

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

What are you reading?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Celebrate This Week 2.07.15

It's always good to end the week on a positive note.  Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives.  We have a choice.  Choose positive.  Choose to celebrate.  I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week.  Check out all the other celebrations HERE

Small Saturday Celebrations!

1.  Looking forward
Last week I started out my post by saying it was a rough week.  This week kind of was too.  This upcoming week will be busy with parent/teacher conferences, but then the relaxing 4 day weekend will begin!  Something to look forward to :)

2.  Saying goodbye to what's done
I have been dreading this weekend.  My daughter has a swim meet and she is swimming all 3 days.  Plus I had to run 18 miles this weekend.  It's a lot to do in just a couple of days time.  But 18 miles are done.  2 out of 3 swim days are done, with 4 out of 5 best times so far!  I was pondering this today - how it would be nice to fast forward days to get to the fun ones.  But really, do you want to miss a day?  When I think about it, no, I really don't.  I celebrate getting through the hard parts of a day and enjoying the happy ones.

3.  ALA
Wasn't it wonderful to watch the ALA YMAwards this week?  I wrote about it here.  I enjoyed hearing the students excitement as the rest of the week went by.  It was a shame we had a Snow Day on the awards day, but I think most of the kids watched the webcast at school at some point over the week.  I got to celebrate the Geisel announcements with a kindergarten class.  There were so excited to see Waiting Is Not Easy win an Honor.  They were a bit puzzled that we hadn't read the winner You Are (Not) Small.  I told them it was ok, it just meant we have another book to read!  For me, ALA also meant lots of new books.  Watching the awards left me needing to read a few books, but I also got to read lots of new books while at ALA and I came home with lots of new ones.  Get a spring book preview here.

4.  NerdCampMI registration
Did you register for NerdCamp yet?  It's an amazing experience.  What stuck with me the most last year was the excitement.  People were excited to be there and learn.  I loved meeting so many people that I had been talking to on Twitter.  The authors that came to be part of NerdCamp Jr. were so kind to hang out and talk to the teachers too.  Last year it was a new experience for me, now I have many friends that I'll be meeting up with.  I hope I'll see you too!

5. Little Readers
We started meeting with our guided reading groups this week in kindergarten.  As a reading specialist, I usually get to meet with the students who are having some trouble grasping pre-reading skills.  This week we eased into this new meeting time by reading the Caldecott winning Beekle and thinking about the order of Beekle's adventures.  The kids were so excited about the book and getting to use markers to draw the beginning, middle and end (markers... it's amazing how kids get so excited to use them vs crayons!).  I had one little reader come up to my assistant at the beginning of school on Friday asking if Mrs. Knott would be reading with her today.  My assistant asked her if she enjoyed working in my group, and with a shy, but enthusiastic, smile, she said she couldn't wait!  I love that excitement!

So, a long week ahead with Parent/Teacher Conferences but a lovely 4-day weekend ahead.  Without having to run 18 miles or a swim meet!  Oh, what to do with my time??  Wishing everyone a happy week!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coming Soon - book previews from ALA Midwinter 2015

There were so many wonderful moments I had at my one day at this years ALA Midwinter Exhibits.  Today, it's all about the books!

Picture Books coming soon, you don't want to miss!

Rodeo Red by Maripat Perkins
publishes March 1

Toad Weather by Sandra Markle
publishes March 1

The Great Big Green Book by Mary Hoffman
publishes March 15

Wolfe the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
publishes February 17

Such a Little Mouse by Alice Shertle
publishes March 31

The Skunk by Mac Barnett
publishes May 5

Middle Grade books I can't wait to read:

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant
publishes April 28

Jack by Liesl Shurtliff
publishes April 14

Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp
publishes April 21

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
publishes May 26

The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
publishes May 5

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
publishes June 2

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
publishes August 4

Add these books to your must read pile.  I was able to read them quickly and can't wait to have more time with them once they are published!

Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
publishes October 6

Read a Story by Kate Messner
publishes May 5

Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPuccio 
publishes September 1
* this one is hilarious!

Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett
publishes March 24
* gorgeous book!  Reminds me a bit of Beekle

Yard Sale by Eve Bunting
publishes April 14

Boy Meets Girl by Salina Yoon
publishes Jan 2016
big difference from Salina's typical work, but it's one you'll want to see!

A few more to check out:

I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell
publishes April 14

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood
publishes May 5

How to Pee by Todd Spector, M.D. (illustrations by Arree Chung "Ninja")
publishes April 14

Little Bird's Bad Word by Jacob Grant
publishes July 21

We're in the Wrong Book by Richard Byrne
publishes September 29

Egg: Nature's Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
publishes March 3

Flowers Are Calling by Rita Gray
publishes March 3

Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Josh Schneider
publishes April 7

Oh, we have some great reading ahead of us!  Which one(s) are you looking forward to reading???

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 2.04.15


I am excited to join Alyson Beecher and other friends in this weekly challenge.  Finding great nonfiction picture books isn't a challenge anymore, there are so many wonderful books to be read now!  The challenge is sharing them with as many people as possible so they can find this wealth of literature to share with our young readers.  Thanks to Aly for starting this weekly link-up and thanks to all who join in!

Thanks to NetGalley, I've read some new Nonfiction Picture Books.
Check these out soon!

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle
The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella
The story itself is a narrative story and mostly fiction, but it tells the story
of a bicycle, a much loved and hoped for bicycle, and how it meant
the world to three different people.
The book is meant to show how donating a used bicycle can help
many people across the world.  Great explanations and resources 
are shared at the back of the book.
Publishes March 1, 2015

Product Details
School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruurs
The third in the "Around the World" series by Kids Can Press, 
this book compares and contrasts what a day at school looks like
 in various countries around the world. 
This could be a good mentor text showing compare/contrast, 
but also for writing a good wrap up/conclusion.
Publishes April 1, 2015

Head Lice
Head Lice by Elise Gravel
You won't be able to read this one without your scalp
starting to itch!  Another one in the Disgusting Critters series,
Head Lice will intrigue you with facts, and make you
cringe as you read it!
Publishes February 10, 2015

The Spider
The Spider by Elise Gravel
This book had many facts that I think kids already 
know about spiders, and not as many unknown facts.
Kids will still enjoy reading this book from the Disgusting
Critters series, laughing at the humor but learning
a few things while they go.
Publishes February 10, 2015

Happy Nonfiction Reading!