Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 11.30.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Steve Jenkins is a master of nonfiction.  He has an amazing way of capturing facts and making them cool.  Whether it's his writing that pulls readers into learning new and interesting information, or his paper collage artwork that is found in his books and other authors' (he often collaborates with his wife, Robin Page), Steve Jenkins is a nonfiction author and illustrator, whose work I never miss.

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics
Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics
by Steve Jenkins
published by HMH Books for Young Readers

This may be my favorite Jenkins book yet.  How he found a way to incorporate both science and math and make it the coolest book, makes it a must-have for any primary, elementary and middle grade classroom.  As I read through the book, I found myself constantly in awe of the information that was given.

Here's the Goodreads summary of the book:
How many species are there across the globe?    How much do all of the insects in the world collectively weigh?   How far can animals travel?           Steve Jenkins answers these questions and many more with numbers, images, innovation, and authoritative science in his latest work of illustrated nonfictionJenkins layers his signature cut-paper illustrations alongside computer graphics and a text that is teeming with fresh, unexpected, and accurate zoological information ready for readers to easily devour. The level of scientific research paired with Jenkins’ creativity and accessible infographics is unmatched and sure to wow fans old and new.

Why do you need this book in your collection?
  • This book is such an important mentor text to have for your class: engaging writing, use of text features, text organization, cross-curricular uses
  • Teach students how to read graphics within a text and use that information along with the text to see how the information goes together.
  • Compare and contrast the information that is presented - easy to do on a layout spread, but can also be done across the text.
  • Note the cross curricular ties Jenkins uses throughout the book.  How does he use science and math to present the information?  How can that be done in other curricula?
  • Note the way Jenkins uses bold font to make certain parts of the text stand out.  How does this help the reader?
  • Note the headings - how does this help organize the information for the reader?
  • How does the use of infographics help the reader understand the information that is presented?  How did you use them to further understand the information?  Note all of the different kinds of infographics:  comparisons, flow charts, maps, charts, graphs (many different kinds) and more.
  • If you didn't want to read the book from cover to cover, how could you use the table of contents to help you?
Be sure to find this book and take time to go through the layers and layers of information.  It's one you'll return to time and time again.

* It's Mock Sibert Time *
Ever since I started paying attention to the different awards given at the ALA Midwinter meeting, I started paying attention to the Sibert Award.  Here is the criteria for this prestigious award:

  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
  • Appropriate organization and documentation.
  • Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
  • Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
  • Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
  • Respectful and of interest to children.

Like many of you, with the adoption of the Common Core, I started paying attention to how much nonfiction I was reading.  What I noticed was how wonderful the quality of nonfiction writing that was being published.  Gone are the dry texts, that were so disengaging.  Here is literature that makes students WANT to read nonfiction!

We often hear about classrooms and libraries who are running Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott programs, but have you ever thought about a Mock Sibert?  Alyson Beecher of kidlitfrenzy and I would love to help you along.  Over the months of December and January we'll be talking about this award and sharing books we think may end up on the award list.  In January, I'll be sharing ideas of how you could add a Mock Sibert to your class time.  Visit our blogs on Wednesdays over the next two months and we'll make sure there is plenty of nonfiction in your reading stacks!  Be sure to visit Alyson's post here to learn more about this award and how you can be thinking about including it with your students this year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Swimming With Sharks 11.23.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Picture this.... you're in an aquarium.... you're next to the glass tank, when all of a sudden, a shark's face swims right up to the glass... and looks you.... right into the eye.

What are you thinking?  How are you feeling?

I'm guessing most of us have feelings of fear.  Thoughts are about blood, sharp teeth, attack.

But not everyone sees a shark and has those thoughts.  Other people see a graceful animal, an animal that is mysterious and makes you think of questions.

Eugenie Clark asked questions.  And studied.  And wanted to know more.

Even though she was told no.  She found her way.

Swimming with Sharks by Heather  Lang
Swimming With Sharks:
The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark
written by Heather Lang
illustrated by Jordi Solano
published by Albert Whitman & Company
December 1st, 2016

Heather Lang has written another fantastic and informative biography about a strong American woman.  Someone who followed her passion and beliefs and worked towards understanding.  Eugenie Clark is sure to inspire young readers and young scientists!

How you may want to use this spectacular text in your classroom:

Teaching points:
  • note how Genie used observation to learn so much about her subject.  How do you use this in class?
  • What other ways did she learn about her subject?  By listening, sketching, taking notes.  How does this fit in with the scientific method?
  • Debate - use the page that talks about humans killing sharks.  What are the pros/cons of people killing sharks?  Is it right?  Make your argument using evidence from the book.
  • Lang states that Eugenie Clark had become one of the most respected fish scientists in the world.  What did Eugenie do to be given this distinction?
  • Be sure to read the Author's Note because there is additional information in there that will give further evidence to some of the above statements/arguments.
Be sure to check out Heather Lang's other biographies:
Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine
Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion
The Original Cowgirl: The Wild Aventures of Lucille Mulhall

Click here to go to Mr. Schu's site where he has the book trailer!

Goodreads summary:
Before Eugenie Clark's groundbreaking research, most people thought sharks were vicious, blood-thirsty killers. From the first time she saw a shark in an aquarium, Japanese-American Eugenie was enthralled. Instead of frightening and ferocious eating machines, she saw sleek, graceful fish gliding through the water. After she became a scientist an unexpected career path for a woman in the 1940s she began taking research dives and training sharks, earning her the nickname "The Shark Lady."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Spotlight Friday - the Construction series 11.18.16

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 bet you have already seen the "Construction" series and the books it has inspired:

Product Details   Product Details     
Product Details     Product Details

In February, another book will join the series - Mighty, Mighty Construction Site

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site
written by Sherri Duskey Rinker
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
published by Chronicle
February 14, 2017

Written and illustrated with what you've come to love - well paced rhymes, topic rich vocabulary, and soft, earthy palette in oil pastels, this book is a welcome addition to the series.

It's time for the construction vehicles to wake up and do their jobs.  Using rich vocabulary that pertains to their job, Rinker introduces young readers to words and verbs that center around the construction topic.  The trucks also can't do their jobs without the cooperation and help from other construction trucks.  Showing teamwork helps make their work go smoothly, great early example of central lesson and theme for young readers.

Pair this book with other stories that are full of rich vocabulary centered around a topic:

Some Bugs       Some Pets
Some Bugs and Some Pets
by Angela DiTerlizzi

Baseball Is . . .
Baseball Is...
by Louise Borden

Giant Squid
Giant Squid
by Candace Fleming

Plants Can't Sit Still
Plants Can't Sit Still 
by Rebecca S. Hirsch
Here is my post for this book!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Plants 11.16.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

My colleague and I were recently given the task of collecting books for the 2nd grade NGSS concerning plants.  I was very pleased to find this book to add to the collection:

Plants Can't Sit Still
Plants Can't Sit Still
written by Rebecca E. Hirsch
illustrations by Mia Posada
published by Millbrook Press

What I loved about the book:
  • the verbs that are used
  • the variety of plants
  • the variety of traveling methods
  • the movement it encourages readers to do!
  • the additional information included in the back - if there is a plant that is indigenous to your area that you want to learn more about, check out this info!
  • the list of videos that are included - visual pieces are wonderful options to enhance a book reading
Check out this post for more plant books.

Check out these books for more resources:
Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Planting the Wild Garden by Kathlyn O. Gaebraith
Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen
Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Zack Delacruz - Just My Luck, a review 11.17.16

Just My Luck (Zack Delacruz, #2)
Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck
by Jeff Anderson
published by Sterling

Goodreads summary:
Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.

This dynamite sequel captures the middle-school experience—and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end.

The thing about middle schoolers is you can't trick them anymore.  They can figure out the truth quickly.  No longer can you pull a fast one over them, now you have to make sure they aren't trying to pull one on you!  

But sometimes we forget what they know and what they don't know.  We forget that they are growing up and even wiser, maybe when we're not ready for that.  Sometimes an author writes for this age, but they've forgotten that middle schoolers know better.  And that middle schoolers know when an author is writing for them.  And that they see the truth and they know when an author is trying to write down.

Jeff Anderson's "Zack Delacruz" series doesn't do that.  It speaks the truth.  It sounds like middle schoolers, even though sometimes I wish they didn't know what they know.  This series will sit well with middle schoolers because it sounds like them, it feels like them, and they are going to relate to the characters.

The themes of the newest installment in the series, Just My Luck, will sound familiar.  There are tones of friendship, believing in yourself, acting like yourself, and figuring out where you fit in in the ever changing setting of middle school.

I'm enjoying the setting of these books - San Antonio, Texas.  I did my student teaching in San Antonio many years ago.  It was in the spring time and I got to experience the city-wide Fiesta.  We have many celebrations in Chicago, but nothing that compares to this.  Celebrating San Antonio heritage and culture, it is a days long party, that everyone prepares  for and participates in.  It was the first time I heard of cascarones - eggs that have been hollowed and filled with confetti.  They are a staple of Fiesta.  I was excited to see that something similar to this would be added into the storyline of this book.  

Middle school classroom teachers and librarians - you will want a copy of this for your collection.  A book that speaks to kids is one that will be checked out quite a bit!

Want to win a copy for your shelf?  Fill out the rafflecopter by Nov. 20th for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11.14.16

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
Just because something is labeled nonfiction, doesn't mean it is full of true facts.  Use these books to help students be critical thinkers.

Getting ready for the holidays yet?  Here are some new Christmas books you may want to add to your list!

Picture Books

We Came to America
We Came to America by Faith Ringgold
5/5 stars
After Tuesday, many of us were at a loss.  If that sounds familiar, this book may be a good place to start and talk.  Ringgold shares how a diverse group of people make up who lives in America.  That these people brought, and sometimes lost, their culture, their names, their dress.  And all of these people make up America.

A Small Thing . . . but Big
A Small Thing... but Big by Tony Johnston
4/5 stars
Use for growth mindset.  In order to grow, try new things, do something you're afraid of... you just need to start with a small step forward.

Du Iz Tak?
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
4/5 stars
This is a book I would really like to read with kids, because I'm not sure how they will like it.  It might go over well, and others may be bored.  I found myself getting frustrated with the made up words (hello ELL learners....) and not even concentrating on them, just using the illustrations.  
Since this book is really carried by the illustrations, it will be interesting to see if the Caldecott committee is looking at this.

Is That Wise, Pig?
Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas
4/5 stars
This book is a must for preK-1st gr libraries.  Laugh out loud funny for kids.  With the short text and repeating lines, it's a book we added to our Mock Geisel unit.

The Boss Baby
The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
4/5 stars
Oh, how I love Marla Frazee's work.  This book would pair nicely with Kate Beaton's King Baby.

Informational Texts

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer
Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson
3/5 stars
This book had a different focus than I thought it would.  Bishop was a slave that literally led tourists through Mammoth Cave.  I thought this was going to be about the Underground Railroad.  It was an interesting story, but left me with some questions.

The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards
The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards by Sandra Markle
5/5 stars
If you ever want to find beautifully written non-fiction, look to Sandra Markle.  Her writing is clear and concise.  It's a mentor text for organization, tight writing, and engaging word choice.  
Markle details these animals, their habits and where they live.  She goes into detail about the rehabilitation effort that is starting to take place and why it is needed.  Her use of text features enhances the information and gives readers another way of looking at information.  The photographs are stunning and left me wondering about these magnificent creatures.
Fascinating nonfiction - can't wait to use it with readers.


Best in Snow
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre
5/5 stars
Make sure you expose students to poetry like this - that spreads out over a book.  So often young readers think that poetry has a formal format - that it reads across a single page.
This is how I would like to view snow - through a photograph.  And far away from outside my door!  Unfortunately, the weather featured in this book is coming and students will definitely have schema for it.  What Sayre does that makes this book stand out is include fantastic back matter about snow and weather.  I love the science connection in this book.

Middle Grade

Just My Luck (Zack Delacruz, #2)
Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck by Jeff Anderson
4/5 stars
Love this middle grade series.
Return tomorrow to see a review and a giveaway!

Currently Reading

The Diabolic
The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Lucky Broken Girl
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Just starting both of these books.

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year - NCTE week!  I can't wait for Thursday to come.  It's a few days of friends, books and learning.  It always jump starts my enthusiasm for what I do! 
Happy learning and reading this week!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Spotlight Friday - Christmas fun 11.11.16

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 do love the fall and winter holiday seasons!  I love when October arrives and the pretty fall colors are seen (if only I could keep balmy temperatures at this time, it would be perfect!).  The fall colors stay for Thanksgiving, and truth be told, that's my favorite holiday.  We still have the holiday season coming!  Christmas decorations are my favorite.  And while I'm mindful that our students all have different traditions and holidays to celebrate, I'm still on the lookout for wonderful Christmas books to share with my daughter and other young nieces and nephews.  A couple that have popped up this year:

Penguin's Christmas Wish
Penguin's Christmas Wish 
by Salina Yoon
published by Bloomsbury
First this book took my breath away when I saw the dedication.  Salina dedicated this book to Debbie Alvarez.  Debbie was an avid participant in the children's literature scene.  We lost Debbie earlier this year, but I'm thrilled to see this beautiful book dedicated to her.
Like other Penguin books, the true meaning of friendship shines through.  Forget the commercial parts about the holiday, it's about giving from the heart and enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday.

Goodreads summary:
Penguin can't wait to celebrate Christmas with his family and friends. But when things don't go exactly as planned, Penguin learns to find holiday magic in the most unexpected places.

Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree
Maple and Willow's Christmas Tree
by Lori Nichols
published by Nancy Paulsen books
I love Lori Nichols' illustrations in the Maple and Willow books!  This one stands out with the fir trees that are snow covered.  It makes me, who loves warm weather, even pause at the beauty.  Much rather see it in a book, though!
Maple and Willow are excited to get their first real Christmas tree.  Unfortunately, as soon as it's brought inside, we discover Willow has a bad tree allergy.  Leave it to Maple who finds a wonderful solution to the problem!

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present
The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present 
by Harriet Muncaster
published by Putnam
Clementine is the smallest kid in the world which means she needs small things.  Her family modifies for her but Santa is needing some nudging.  Clementine tries to write messages (hint, talk to students about ways to get your message across depending on the receiver), but Santa doesn't seem to be getting them.  All she wants is a present that is right for her.  But when she finally gets the perfect present, she realizes maybe her idea of perfect needing some changing after all!  (and I would've LOVED her perfect present as a child!)

Happy Holiday reading!