Friday, May 25, 2018

Spotlight Friday: new picture books, part three (the preorder edition) 5.25.18

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

This post is going to be kept pretty short.  This post is really to tell you about two books you must have. 
I think it's got to be hard to write books, much less picture books when every word counts.  When I read these two books, I'm so impressed with the importance of every single word.  They are perfect and I think could be game changers.  How are they game changers?  

When the right kid picks it up when it's needed.

When a classroom teacher or librarian reads it and kids talk.

When those discussions are more than just what the words say but are about the words and feelings that are in their hearts.

When kids start to think about what they could do after listening to the words and conversations.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
written by Marcy Campbell
illustrated by Corinna Luyken
published by Dial Books for Young Readers
August 14th

Why I think Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is important:
I hope kids see that other kids are making fun of Adrian Simcox.  I hope they see how Adrian might be seen as being different.  More poor.  More weird.
Sounds harsh, right?
But that is what happens.  We see differences and instead of celebrating them, we say they are wrong.  When I think about what is happening in our world today, it's a lot of blame, a lot of pointing fingers.  What if we can see past differences and think about acceptance?  What if?

The Day You Begin
written by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael López
published by Nancy Paulsen Books
August 28th

Why I think The Day You Begin is important:
The idea of stories and that everyone has them is an idea that is a bit foreign to young readers.  We need to help them understand that sharing their stories can help them open up their world to others and invite conversation and looking for that moment we may say "same!"  Young readers will relate to the feelings of being alone, of being made fun of, of not feeling strong enough, of having self-doubt.  It's Woodson's words that will resonate in their heads and hearts, "the world opens itself ups little wider to make some space for you."  I'm looking forward to hearing kids talk about this one.

Take the time to preorder these books.  Make sure they are some of the first books you share next school year.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.21.18

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

Check out the incredible work these 4th grade teachers and students are doing with nonfiction books and media!

If you are a primary grade teacher, don't miss these books published by Penguin!

Some absolute must have picture books!

Picture Books

Niblet and Ralph
by Zachariah Ohora
I love Ohora's illustration style and his use of bold colors in this one are no different.  
Two cats who look very similar are aware of how close they live to one another.  While they talk on the phone everyday, they want some more in-cat time.  Unbeknownst to the other, thy sneak away from their owner and go visit the other.  Of course that's a recipe for disaster, but sets everything up for the perfect ending!

Big Tree Down!
written by Laurie Lawlor
illustrated by David Gordon
I think I found this title through another #IMWAYR blogger.  I really loved it - story about what happens after a large, local tree falls after a bad storm.  It goes through the process of removing it, securing and replacing power lines, and how parts of the tree can be recycled for other purposes.
Living in the midwest, kids see their share of bad storms.  This would be great to have in a library.

If I Didn't Have You
written by Alan Katz
illustrated by Chris Robertson
Sweet back and forth story between a father and his son - each trying to outdo the other with all of the things they could have/be doing if they didn't have the other.  All is in jest because really they don't want those things, they just want each other.  Until the mom comes home.  And in a realistic mom answer, she would rather have the 2-seater hot rod car than her husband or child :)  Funny.

New Shoes
by Chris Raschka
Perfect for the primary reader - a young child sets off to get some new shoes because his old ones have a hole.  Each page usually has one sentence on it so great to read to the younger crowd and for a young reader to give it a go on their own!

Informational Texts

The Truth About Dolphins
by Maxwell Eaton III
I really enjoy this series.  Even though there is some fictional information, the humor within the true facts make it so fun to read.  There are several text structures used throughout the book so this will be a fun read aloud to use when identifying structures and thinking about why the author chose them for that part of the book.
Plus it's about dolphins.  Who doesn't like dolphins these days?

The Flying Girl: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar
written by Margarita Engle
illustrations by Sara Palacios
A loosely written biography (there is an author's note but no sources, quotes credits) about Aída de Acosta's desire to fly in an airship (a very early form of a blimp or hot air balloon).  Readers see her determination and will to succeed.  Readers also see how people perceived a girl trying to do something that was unheard of at that time and how views changed over time.  I will definitely use this book to introduce perspective and how they can change (sometimes over a very long period of time)!

Middle Grade

You Go First
by Erin Entrada Kelly
Middle grade friendship is a tricky thing.  It makes it that much harder if who you are doesn't conform with those around you.  Writing about middle school bullying, middle school friendships, and just existing in middle school can easily become cliche', but Kelly deftly crafts stories that exposes the rawness of that time.

Young Adult

Tyler Johnson Was Here
by Jay Coles
Another powerful book centering around the Black Lives Matter movement, racial profiling, police brutality.  However, I appreciate the way this book is written - it's different from the other books in the way the plot is written out.  This make the book stand out from the others.  It's another powerful book to read and share.

Currently Reading

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge
by Erin Soderberg
I am loving this new series by Erin!  Of course, I've loved everything she's written, but this one is so fun - I can't wait to get it into the hands of readers!

Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertelli
Just starting this one but I already can tell it's going to be good!

Looking forward to a 3 day reading weekend!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Spotlight Friday - new picture books, part two 5.18.18

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

I think picture books can be one of the best tools we have for teaching.  Last week I shared some new favorites.  Here are some more new must have picture books:

written by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen
When these two get together you never know what will happen... except for: big questions, unexpected endings, big ideas and of course, side eyes.  Lots of side eyes.
I love the bigger ideas in this book - how something beautiful can come out of something unexpected and... well, can't tell you the other one.  You'll have to read and get to the ending to find out that one!

I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness
by Kerascoet
This is such an important book and I love that it is wordless. I love that kids can interpret their own thoughts and meaning to some of the events throughout the story.
A young girl is new to a school and immediately faces the unkind words of a bully.  After standing by and watching what happened, another young girl takes action to show the other girl what true kindness looks and feels like.

Bowwow Powwow
written by Brenda J. Child
Translated by Gordon Jourdain
illustrated by Jonathan Thunder
I've been trying to build my collection of books by Native authors and this one has been mentioned a few times by some fellow Nerds.  
I love seeing the traditions of the powwow and how it is imagined by a young girl.

Julián is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
Well this book just moved to the top of my Caldecott list.
And to the top of my most important books to share with everyone.
Because what if this book, becomes the norm.  A book that is celebrated for its message of acceptance and beauty.  A book that is celebrated for its gorgeous artwork.  A book that celebrates what it feels to belong.
I love this review by Betsy Bird.  She is able to capture so much of this book that I can't eloquently express.

The Breaking News
by Sarah Lynne Reul
I wish we didn't have a need for a book like this, but we do so I'm glad it's there.
Reul does a fantastic job of capturing the helplessness kids can feel when something bad has happened that they don't have control over.  I think it's the right amount of reassuring and the right amount of here's how to help.

What If...
written by Samantha Berger
illustrated by Mike Curato
Oh, how much do I love this book!  I've been hearing such wonderful things but to experience it is another level.  As someone who loves the arts and found many ways to be creative growing up, I just fell in love with this story.  I can see teachers using this to get some creative juices flowing, especially for writing time.

Ocean Meets Sky
by The Fan Brothers
The Fan Brothers are at it again - creating a beautiful piece of art that pulls on the heartstrings!  This is going to be such an important book for readers as it deals with the topic of loss.  A young boy sets off to find they mysterious place where the ocean meets the sky that his grandfather has told him about.  We've already pieced together that his grandfather is no longer alive, but his memory lives on within the boy.  Beautiful.

I'll be back soon with more picture books!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#road2reading - #penguinpicks 5.17.18

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 reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

I am so impressed with the books coming from Penguin Workshop.  These books are intended for those readers who are starting to read independently - whether it's reading picture books or chapters.  The topics appeal to this age reader and there is a variety of realistic fiction and fantasy.  I also love the number of books that feature humor!

Some of my favorites:

Please, No More Nuts
by Jonathan Fenske
Squirrels eating too much to the point where their cheeks can't hold any more nuts?  Yeah, there will be giggles.

A Pig, A Fox, and Stinky Socks
by Jonathan Fenske
This series is my favorite of his.  Rhymes and practical jokes - that means words that help with predicting words and laughter!  

Pass the Ball, Mo!
by David A. Adler
I love this chapter book series.  The sports topic is a huge draw.  It's going to attract young readers who are ready for some longer reading, and it's going to attract my readers who are struggling with independence but want a topic that looks "cool".

Maud the Koala series
by J.E. Morris
This series will appeal to both young readers and their parents.  Maud has many characteristics that are relatable to young kids - in these first two books Maud is afraid of getting shot at her wellness checkup and she's overly excited for her birthday but gets overwhelmed when the number of guests that show up.  Kids will also love how many of the pages feature graphic novel type frames.
Parents will like the tips in the back of the book.  In Not Afraid of Doctors, Morris talks about helping your child with visualization techniques when they visit the doctor and shots are involved.  In Much Too Much Birthday, Morris talks about kids who have some sensitivity issues and how to plan for them when in an overwhelming situation. 

Do you work with readers who are starting their journey on the road to reading?  Join Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy and me every Thursday as we explore books and ideas to help readers have a successful start to independent picture book and chapter book reading. If you blog or have a Goodreads page, please link up with us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - End of the year 4th grade work 5.16.18

Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen ©2017
Every Wednesday 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.

I am excited because we're moving into a nonfiction cycle at school.  At this point in the year, our students are starting to do some big thinking.  Our 3rd graders are starting to talk about noticing author's opinions in a book and compare it to their own.  4th grade students are integrating information from multiple sources but they are doing it with the lens of looking at the danger of a single story.  This work is so important but thankfully I have the help of extremely smart and talented educators and teachers to help guide me through.  I've been leaning heavily on Melissa Stewart - looking through her blog, asking her questions, tweeting her about books.  Jess Lifshitz's brilliance has been making me think and wonder and I'm so grateful that she's allowing me to piggyback on the work she shares.  If you haven't already, be sure you visit/subscribe to their sites:
Melissa Stewart's blog
Jess' blog - Crawling Out of the Classroom

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the end of the year work we're doing in 3rd grade.  You can read it here.

This week I'm here to talk about our 4th grade work.  The main standards they are working on are:

RI.4.9-1 Integrate info from 2 texts on the same topic to write or speak about topic

RI.4.7-1 Interpret info presented visually, orally, and quantitatively

RI. 4.1-2 Refer to details when drawing inferences from text

I also know it's the end of the year and it is important to keep them engaged in their work.  This made me think of Jess' inquiry work and the danger of a single story.  Make sure you see what she has her 5th graders doing.  Since it's the end of the 4th grade year, I thought these students were ready to so some big thinking while integrating information from multiple sources.  

We started the same way Jess did, by watching the TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie.  Our students watched the first several minutes and then talked about what this meant to them.  The majority of our students come from a white, middle class home.  This kind of thinking was unfamiliar to them.  We do have an ESL population, many who celebrate their heritage at home but leave that behind when they get to school.  I think the students were even surprised with the conversation they had.

Next we took time to dig into what a single story looked like.  The first week we concentrated on disabilities.  Now this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because my daughter has a physical disability.  She has found huge success in the swimming pool, participating on a local swim team and swimming at US Paralympic events.  I think it was great for students to explore how people with disabilities can be successful in life, the same way able bodied people do.  We watched the videos that Jess had shared and then read some books and articles.  I was so glad to have the Sibert Honor winning Shane Burcaw book, Not So Different: What you Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability, to share with students.  We also had articles about a Paralympic swimmer (from and one about the local Lucky Fin Project (featured in NewsELA).

The second week we concentrated on our perceptions of Native Americans.  After discussing the image that comes to mind when we say Native people, teachers shared a screenshot of a google image search (we had to use a screenshot since an early image included someone giving Donald Trump a rude gesture.....).  To move past the single story, we're sharing the TED Talk by Matika Wilbur who is the person behind the website  On both the website and the TED Talk, she shares images of Natives and what defines them - educators, lawyers, family members, names.  I think they are powerful and help give new images for students to remember.  There are numerous books teachers are reading.  Titles came from Debbie Reese's blog and from friends Jillian Heise, Aliza Werner and Kristen Picone.

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child
When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson
Fall in Line, Holden by Daniel W. Vandever
Mission to Space by John Herrington
Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief and Rosemary Wells 
Kamik series by various authors

As you can tell by some of the titles, discussing the requirement by Canadian and American governments for children who lived on reservations to attend schools that wanted to wipe out their heritage and culture in order to Americanize them, will be lightly discussed.  Teachers read I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis for their own background.

Students will also watch some videos with Native teens talking about misconceptions.  This video from Teen Vogue is structured with a statement (the misconception) and then female teenagers respond to them.  Another video to watch is from PBS where Native teens talk about who they are.  Both spark great conversations.

I also picked some passages from #notyourprincess and Dreaming in Indian by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale to share with students.  While these books are written for an older audience, they also have some passages that work well for this purpose.

During this second week, students will also start doing more writing.  They will be asking questions, probing why this single story exists and looking at the resources they needed to use to break the one sided view.  Finally, students will look at how they can be the generation that can change this view and what they can do.

Phew.  No rest for these students!  I love the level of participation this work requires.  We have invested students who are doing the heavy lifting and learning.  Who says this is the end of the year?

Monday, May 14, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.14.18

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 a pretty quiet week - I've got too many reading projects up in the air right now so not a whole lot of blogging happened.  But you don't want to miss this post about favorite NEW read alouds that should not be missed.
Stop by this Friday for favorite NEW read alouds post 2!

Picture Books

Ten Cents a Pound
written by Nhung N. Tran-Davies
illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
A story about a mother's love - wanting more and better for her child.  A mother always wishes more for her child and shares her dreams and desires for her daughter, even when the girl just wants to stay with her mom.  The mom get everything the young daughter needs to succeed by earning ten cents a pound from her work, and everything goes to her daughter.

A Most Unusual Day
written by Sydra Mallery
illustrated by E. B. Goodale
We can start collecting clues on the title page.  We know it is an unusual day and a young girl is outside and we see a random plane flying overheard.  Hmmmm.  As we read the story, poor Caroline is having an unusual day.  We gather that things are usually neat and orderly, but not today.  We get little clues about a new arrival coming and we can slowly figure out the arrival will be a baby.  Great story about adoption and being able to celebrate the new normal, the new usual.

The Little Red Fort
written by Brenda Maier
illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
I loved this take on The Little Red Hen more than I thought I would.  Young Ruby has an engineer's mind and even though her brothers are not willing to help, she's going to build that fort!  Loved the author's note at the end, too.

Informational Texts

Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers
written by Tanya Lee Stone
illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

This may be my favorite biography about Ada Lovelace.  I learned more about her than I had known before - she was certain a multi-dimensional character!

Graphic Novels

All Summer Long
by Hope Larson
Fantastic middle school graphic novel.  Coming of age into the throes of actual teen years - when everything you know you questions.  I loved meeting Bina and seeing her find her passion even though she is shaky in other social departments.  I enjoyed reading it through the weekly structure of Bina's summer.  Middle school readers are going to love this graphic novel.  Perfect for readers who are ready to age up from some of Raina's books.

Middle Grade

Nate Expectations
by Tim Federle
The conclusion to the Nate series and it really was a perfect ending as we see the story come full circle.  I fell in love with Nate all over again and was happy to see his transition into high school.  Look for this book in September!
*e-copy obtained through Edelweiss

Young Adult

A Court of Frost and Starlight
by Sarah J. Maas
If you have not read this series you need to immediately go out and get it from the library or bookstore!  It is definitely one of my favorite series.  I have loved seeing the character development of the main and supporting characters and I was so glad to return to them, even if it was a much, much shorter novel!  This book (novella??) was intended to set up a future series where Feyre and Rhys are supporting/cameo characters.  While I'm not happy that they won't be the starring roles, I am interested in hearing about other stories from this world too.
Seriously.  Go read these books!

Currently Reading

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang
I'll be finishing this one today and I cannot say enough great things about it!  If you are a middle school teacher, be sure this one is in your libraries!

I have so many books to read before this month ends.  I may need to take a little blogging break so I can get books read!  That means lots of great titles to share soon!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Spotlight Friday - new picture books, part one 5.11.18

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

I've had an abundance of newly released picture books pile up at my house.  Going through them and sharing the ones you'll want to find!

People Don't Bite People
written by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Molly Idle
This one will for sure be a hit with the younger crowd, but will also hold laughs for the older kids.  Wheeler and Idle take a closer look at all the things teeth should be doing and point out some no-nos!

Abbie Newton
written by Josh Funk
illustrated by Ester Garay
Albie is quite the genius, fixing his stroller when he's just a baby.  But when it's time for school, the kids don't think his skills are that cool, especially since he tends to take and not ask for supplies.  But when the big reveal is shown, the kids see his talent as something great.
I really liked that there was a difference between Albie and his peers, because this is what it looks like in real life.  There are kids that stick apart from their peers for a number of reasons.  Albie didn't change who he was, but he was able to create a change in his peers' perspective of what he was able to create.

Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime!
written by Cate Berry
illustrations by Charles Santoso
Oh my, this is so fun to read out loud!  Reminiscent of Elephant and Piggie, this is for sure a book you want to include in your read aloud pile.
Penguin and Tiny Shrimp will tell you this is not a bedtime book and they have plenty of other things they are not doing instead of going to bed, and that's where the laughter begins.  I was laughing out loud, especially at Tiny Shrimp, he kind of steals the show, in my opinion.
I was laughing out loud so much while reading it, I drew the audience of an eight year old my way.  I tested it out on him, and this book is definitely kid approved!

A Stone for Sascha
by Aaron Becker
A big idea picture book - what starts off as a story about a young girl and her grief over the loss of her dog, turns into a bigger story about the rise and fall of empires and how things can change over time.
I'll be interested in seeing young reader's reactions to this book.

written by Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Dan Santat
Brought to you by the two dudes who gave us Carnivores, this book, even with its limited vocabulary, will spark conversation and expression.
Seriously, dude.

Misunderstood Shark
written by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Scott Magoon
And after you finish reading Dude, go right on over to this one to keep the laughs going!  Poor Shark, he's so misunderstood by everyone, they really are misreading his blatant attempts at eating food....  Love this one.