Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - new releases! 2.28.18

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've been spoiled with a few new and upcoming books lately.  Make sure these are on your radar!

All That Trash by Meghan Mccarthy
All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem With Stuff
by Meghan McCarthy
published by a Paula Wiseman Book
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

First of all, I think this book has one of the best subtitles I've ever seen....
A story I had not heard before - in 1987, to alleviate a filled-landfill in New York, garbage was loaded onto a barge because one man thought he could put in in North Carolina.  The state of NC didn't want it - and neither did Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Mexico, Central America or the Bahamas!
This book has a great message about the environment and can definitely tie-in to environmental concerns we are facing today.
The backmatter is full of additional information and sources.
And the 80s references, in the text and illustrations, are great :)

A Place for Fish by Melissa Stewart
A Place for Fish (revised edition)
written by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Higgins Bond 
published by Peachtree Publishers
publishes April 1st

I really enjoy Stewart's "A Place For..." series.  I've used them in our #classroombookaday rotation and the students easily pick up on the structure and organization.
In this book, we learn about some of the dangerous things we are doing to fish and their habitat and ways we can avoid or change what we're doing so the fish can thrive.  Each page has additional information about the fish that is featured.  I love the end pages of the book that show a map and where that particular fish can be found.

Anybody's Game by Heather Lang
Anybody's Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball
written by Heather Lang
illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi
published by Albert Whitman and Company
publishes March 7th

I am such a sucker for stories about the underdog and how passion can outweigh talent.  Of course it doesn't help to have some of both - that's a book I'll have to own!  
Kathryn Johnston stopped at nothing in order to play her favorite sport - baseball - even if that meant cutting her hair short and passing as a boy!  I really enjoyed reading about Kathryn's drive, how she was supported by her family and her successes.
This will be a really fun read aloud!

Curiosity by Markus Motum
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover
by Markus Motum
published by Candlewick Press
publishes March 13th

Told in the voice of the Mars rover, Curiosity, readers learn more about how this rover came to be, how it traveled to Mars, and some of the important work it has done.  Captions are found on many pages to give additional information.  This information adds on to the main text found on each layout.  Great backmatter, including a timeline, more information about Mars rovers and a glossary.

Looking for some other March releases?  Check these out!

Meet My Family!: Animal Babies and Their Families
Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families
written by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
published by Millbrook Press
March 1st

The Flying Girl: How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar
The Flying Girl: How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar
written by Margarita Engle
illustrated by Sara Palacios
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
March 6th

She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History
She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History
written by Chelsea Clinton
illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor
written by Patricia Valdez
illustrated by Felicita Sala
published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
March 13th

Itch!: Everything You Didn't Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch
Itch!: Everything You Didn't Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch
written by Anita Sanchez
illustrated by Gilbert Ford
published by HMH 
March 13th

When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel
When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel
written by G. Neri
illustrated by David Litchfield
published by Candlewick
March 20th

Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends
Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends (Animals)
by Sarah Albee
published by National Geographic Children's Books
March 27th

Happy nonfiction reading!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wizardmatch - a review 2.27.18

by Lauren Magaziner
published by Dial
March 6th

Goodreads Summary
Eleven year old Lennie Mercado loves magic. She practices her invisibility powers all the time (she can now stay invisible for fifteen seconds!), and she dreams of the day that she can visit her grandfather, the Prime Wizard de Pomporromp, at his magical estate.

Now, Lennie has her chance. Poppop has decided to retire, and his grandchildren are coming from all over to compete in Wizardmatch. The winner inherits his title, his castle, and every single one of his unlimited magical powers. The losers get nothing. Lennie is desperate to win, but when Poppop creates a new rule to quelch any sibling rivalry, her thoughts turn from winning Wizardmatch to sabotaging it...even if it means betraying her family.

Comedic, touching, and page-turny, Wizardmatch is perfect for fans of Mr. Lemencello's Library, The Gollywopper Games, and The Candymakers.

Why you want to know about this book
Lauren Magaziner knows how to appeal to kids.  Especially when there are magical powers coming into play!  The best part about this book is how real it is.  Lennie wants something so badly and when she doesn't get it, she's real - she mopes, she's jealous, she shows her true colors instead of being the better person!  While those are all faults, they are real.  Readers are going to relate to Lennie and want to be in the book and help her.

Give this to kids who
  • enjoy fantasy
  • like books about real things like sibling rivalry, gender/racial equality
  • like books that pull on heartstrings - everyone will root for Lennie because she so badly wants something and when she doesn't get it, even through her faults, you'll still root for her
Be sure to find a copy of Wizardmatch next week!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Leaf Litter Critters blog tour 2.26.18

You don't have to look too far to find lots of Earth Science standards in the Next Generation Science Standards:

1st grade: Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

3rd grade: Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plans and animals that live there may change.

Middle School: Analyze and interpret dats to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

I'm excited to find a book that covers so many standards, and it has a fascinating topic!

Leaf Litter Critters
written by Leslie Bulion
illustrated by Robert Meganck
published by Peachtree Publishers

Leslie Bulion covers all kinds of creepy, crawly things - from the bugs, to the bacteria, to the cells - readers will find all kinds of information within the lines of the poems.  

Goodreads summary:
Have fun on this poetic tour through the leaf litter layer and dig into the fascinating facts about the tiny critters who live there. Nineteen poems in a variety of verse forms with accompanying science notes take readers on a decomposer safari through the "brown food web," from bacteria through tardigrades and on to rove beetle predators with other busy recyclers in-between. Glossary, hands-on investigations, and resources are included in the back matter.

Need to study earth's decomposers and analyze stanzas of a poem?  Bulion has you covered!  Want to know more about each poem, check out the "Poetry Notes" in the back matter!  Need help breaking down the scientific information within the poem?  You'll want to read the science notes found on each two page layout.  Whether closely reading for literacy or science, readers will have a lot to learn within these pages!

I'm really enjoying Robert Meganck's illustrations.  They add the right amount of humor for an otherwise serious topic.  They will appeal to a wide age range of readers and often connect an unknown concept with a visual.

You won't want to miss the back matter in this book.  Just when you think you have enough information on this topic, there is more to be had!  As mentioned, Bulion has listed out the poetic form used.  If you're studying style choices this will be a great section to reference.  Also included is a glossary, activities, resources and other visuals.

No matter what grade you teach, this is a book you'll want in your library.  It appeals to readers of poetry, to those looking for science information and it has wide mentor texts uses.  Happy buggy reading!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#road2reading Challenge - thinking about read alouds 2.22.18

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 lucky to cohost this day with the brilliant Alyson Beecher.  I pay attention to everything she writes and says because she makes me a more informed and reflective educator.  A few weeks ago she wrote a much needed post about the essentials our young readers need when beginning their reading journey.  You can catch that post here.  

I work in a K-4 building.  There is a lot of learning to read that happens all day, in all of those grade levels.  Sometimes the work looks very different, sometimes it looks very similar.  But the essentials that Alyson discusses, should be found in all of those classrooms, no matter the grade.

Alyson continued the discussion, focusing on read alouds - also a post you don't want to miss!

As always, I spent some time reflecting on my beliefs on read alouds.

I believe read alouds should occur everyday in a K-4 classroom.

  • #classroombookaday is a perfect way to make sure this happens!

Check out these #bookaday displays from 3rd and 4th grade!

I believe read alouds should be for fun, but can also be used for specific purposes (i.e. mentor texts).

  • try and tie your picture book title selections to the literacy, writing, science, social studies and even math standards you are teaching
  • write the texts down that make a difference in your lessons - these are your mentor texts!
  • share books that make your students laugh, feel emotions, and think.  Share your favorites, think about what your students' favorites might be and find those!

I believe students should have time to go back into the texts - whether for rereading for enjoyment or close reading.

  • put the picture books you read aloud in a separate bin or location so students can revisit it and read them again
  • go back to specific parts of the text to highlight something you want students to zero in on.  For example, what grammar move or phonics example can you show students?  It is way more meaningful to see it used in actual print than on a worksheet.  Teaching dialogue?  Show it in your read aloud, not on a worksheet!  Take the time you would use looking online for a worksheet and read some picture books and mark the pages you want to show students.  If we don't help student see the connections, they won't know how to try and apply the concept.
After we read our bookaday, it is placed in this bin 
so students can read and reread it some more!

I believe read alouds are the catalyst for additional reading.

  • read alouds are a way to introduce students to titles, concepts, authors they might not have tried on their own.  After a nonfiction unit where all of our read alouds were nonfiction books, these 3rd graders and these 4th graders had a big opinion change about nonfiction reading!
  • use read alouds to introduce new ideas and concepts.  Then students have some background when reading about them in longer texts.
  • want to use a read aloud to get students to read longer texts?  Try #firstchapterFriday! Read aloud the first chapter of a chapter book to students to generate excitement for the book.  By reading aloud one chapter, it often gives kids an understanding of the characters, setting and possibly a glimpse of the problem.  

These are just a few idea of ways to use read alouds.  I bet you have more!  Share your ideas using the hashtag #road2reading so we can get new ideas.  Or leave an idea in the comments!

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, February 21, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Looking at Differences 2.21.18

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've rescheduled this post about 5 times because of other books and topics that came up.  Timely, since now I can say one of the books is a Sibert Honor Award winning book!

This topic is near and dear to my heart.  Being the parent of a child who has a physical disability opens your awareness to the topic in ways you never thought of before.  What I find so interesting is when I talk to my daughter about how she wants to be seen, how she wants to be treated, how she identifies, it's not always the answer I expect to receive. 

Not So Different by Shane Burcaw
Not So Different:
What You REALLY Want to Ask About Having a Disability
written by Shane Burcaw
photographs by Matt Carr
published by Roaring Brook Press

Shane was born with spinal muscular atrophy.  As a result, he looks different.  As he states in his book, his head is larger than the rest of his body.  His body is small because his muscles are slowly deteriorating as a result of SMA.  He uses a mechanical wheelchair to move and must rely on chest straps to keep him from leaning over and falling.  No doubt, this leads to a lot of stares and a lot of questions.  This book gives answers to many common questions people have.

Books like this are so important because as I've witnessed first hand with my daughter, once you answer questions, kids move past the differences they see and see the person inside.  For kids, that usually means they just move on to the playing part of life!

An important book to share with readers today.  This is a book that should not only be in libraries, it should be read aloud to every young reader.

Congratulations for being awarded the 2018 Sibert Honor Award!

What's the Difference? by Doyin Richards
What's the Difference?
Being Different is Amazing
by Doyin Richards
published by Feiwel and Friends

This is an interesting book.  At the beginning of the book there is a message from the author.  One statement stood out to me, "In order to make the world a better place, we need to educate our children about how beautiful diversity truly is."  I've been reading about the word "diversity" and I've been thinking about what it means.  I've been having conversations with others about this topic and I keep changing my own ideas and understanding as a result.

On the one hand, this book celebrates our differences and has a message about embracing them.  It talks about how our differences make us wonderful and looking at what is on the inside is just as important.

On the other hand, I don't know if the message of "what's the difference if your classmate has light skin and yours is a little darker?" is the right way to look at things.  I'd like to have some more conversations about this book and see how I would use it.

One of my favorite lines in the book is, "It's the same with your friends.  Listen to their stories."

Bottom line, I think when sharing this book with young readers, it carries a message that makes sense in their little world. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.19.18

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.

I am so jealous of everyone who is on a February/Winter Break right now!  I'm happy to have an extra day this weekend with President's Day, but it's not a full week off.  I guess I'll just have to be happy being out of school in early June!  Hoping to get some extra reading done this weekend!

Last Week's Adventures

Have you seen this new biography about Lewis Carroll?  It's going to be a hit with readers!

A wrap up of our Mock Geisel unit!  If you've ever wondered about doing a Mock unit, take a look at this post!

A roundup of new books about kindness.

Picture Books

Noodleheads See the Future
Noodleheads See the Future
by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss
I'm trying to catch up on titles that won awards that I had not read.
This is one of the books I knew about but I had not read.
It's the kind of humor that young readers are going to laugh - silly enough to cause giggles from them, but perhaps not from the adults who are reading it.  In other words, perfect for young readers!  
I like that the chapters build upon each other to help young readers learn how to track a plot line over the course of a longer book.
I'm going to add it to my collection since I know it will be checked out frequently.  

Nobody's Duck
Nobody's Duck
by Mary Sullivan
Sullivan's 2017 book Frankie won our school's Mock Geisel, so I knew I needed to check out this book.  Predictable, yet fun, Duck finds a friend who brings Duck everywhere to see where Duck belongs.  The great turn of events happens at the end of the story!

Grace for Gus
Grace for Gus
by Harry Bliss
In this almost wordless early graphic novel, we meet young Grace, who seems to be quiet and perhaps in need of a friend.  She has bonded with the class guinea pig, Gus.  The class is trying to save up money to buy Gus a buddy.  Grace sneaks out of the house at night to do a variety of street jobs (play her violin, draw caricatures, dance on a subway) to make money to donate to the class fund.  
I enjoyed spotting the many cameos (minus one major one) and other hidden items within the graphic novel frames.  While young readers won't catch many of them, they will be lost within the story to care too much!

What Do You Do With a Chance?
What Do You Do With a Chance?
written by Kobi Yamada
illustrated by Mae Besom
I am pretty sure this is my favorite book in the "What Do You Do" series.  I think there is a lot you can talk about with young readers - older readers will understand the metaphor and have some personal schema to add to the conversation.  For young readers, it may be a new idea, one that will get them thinking about taking chances and trying new things!  
This is a must have for libraries!

A Couch for Llama
A Couch for Llama
by Leah Gilbert 
This is one of those books that will probably be more fun to read out loud to young readers than reading it to yourself.
A family is ready for a new couch, and on the way home from the store, the new couch, that is on top of their Volkswagen Beetle, comes undone from the ties and slips off into a field where a llama lives.  The llama falls in love with the coach before the family comes to get it.
I think there will be giggles when reading it out loud.  I'll have to try this with a few audiences later this week!

Middle Grade

The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, #1)
The Serpent's Secret
by Sayantani DasGupta
Oh, I love this middle grade book and I'm so excited that it will be a series.  Another book about Indian mythology (also look for Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi) that is witty, laugh out loud funny and action packed.  I didn't want to put it down and know kids are going to love meeting Kiran.  I enjoyed learning about different mythology tales and characters.  This is a series I'll be returning to again and again.  
Although this book doesn't publish until Feb. 27th, it is available on Scholastic and I was able to pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble this past weekend!
Middle grade teachers and librarians, make sure you have copies of this one for your libraries!

Black Panther: The Young Prince
Black Panther: The Young Prince
by Ronald L. Smith
I flew through this book - not only because it is so good, but also because I wanted it read before I saw the movie this weekend!  Both are definitely worth your time!  
This Marvel character is definitely new to me - I am not as well read in regards to these characters and movies.  I need to change that!  I am glad this Marvel-Disney book leans toward middle grade - I am excited to share this with readers.

Currently Reading

In Sight of Stars
In Sight of Stars
by Gae Polisner
I love Gae's writing and I've heard some great things about this one.  I'm in the early stages of the book but I'm already drawn into the writing!

Looking forward to some President's Day reading today!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Spotlight Friday - books about kindness... and umbrellas 2.16.18

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!

In a time where it is most needed, I'm glad for these books on kindness.  I also like to see umbrellas on the covers of these books!  Make sure you have a copy of these books! 

Be Kind
Be Kind
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Jen Hill
What I love about it:  I love that it talks about the small things we can do and how those small things can spread.  Kids get in their heads they have to do big things to make a difference.  

The Big Umbrella
The Big Umbrella
by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
What I love about it:  words and phrases that I love and what to repeat - it likes to help, it doesn't matter, there is always room.

written by Matt de la Peña
illustrated by Loren Long
What I love about it:  I love that it shows there are many ways to love and find love.  It's real.

Don't miss this upcoming book:

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness
I Walk With Vanessa
by Kerascoeet
publishes April 24th

And these titles are important too:

Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee
Super Manny Stands Up by Kelly DiPucchio
Most People by Michael Leannah
Skin Again by Bell Hooks
Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson
Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Thursday, February 15, 2018

#road2reading Challenge - our Mock Geisel 2.15.18

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.

This past week we held our annual celebration of books and reading!  Each November, our entire school turns into committees - kindergarteners and first graders become Mock Geisel committee members.... 2nd-4th graders become Mock Caldecott committee members.... and 4th graders volunteer to be Mock Newbery members!  For months, our committee members and their chairs (aka teachers....) read from a selected list of books.  We study criteria and have discussions.  Then we come together to vote.  In their own private voting spaces, each committee member votes for the book that they think upholds the criteria - although for Mock Geisel, we vote for our favorite favorites :)  

voting in a special booth!

students put their ballots in a special voting box and got an "I voted" sticker!

watching some Mock Geisel book trailers and videos

Finally, the big moment is when our entire school comes together for a celebration of all things books and reading!  As students walk in we have a video playing that recaps all of the books they've read for the Mocks.  Listen to this group of kinders and 1st graders clap along and point out their favorites!

Then it's time for the big reveal!  Here are our 2018 Meadowview School Mock Geisel selections!

We had 2 Honor books:

And the committee's choice for the Award:

Do you see our special award "stickers"?  They are designed by students and they are proudly displayed on our school's library copies for the years to come!  The students are also honored at our celebration.

What a great reason for our school to come together!  I wonder what books we'll be celebrating next year?

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, February 14, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Lewis Carroll biography 2.14.18

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.

Perhaps it's my fondness of "Alice in Wonderland" that makes me enjoy this book so much.  But in the hands of writer Kathleen Krull and illustrator Júlia Sardà, it's this biography of Lewis Carroll that has me enchanted.

One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll by Kathleen Krull
One Fun Day With Lewis Carroll:
A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice
written by Kathleen Krull
illustrated by Júlia Sardà
published by HMH

Whenever I read a biography that is meant for young readers, I think about what part of it is going to appeal to them.  It seems like so many biographies written today are written about historical figures that we know as adults, but don't have much meaning for kids today.  So how do we entice them to read it?  With Lewis Carroll, all you have to do is mention "Alice in Wonderland" and young readers will have a better idea about who they are going to read about.  Thanks to Johnny Depp's appearance in the newer live-action movies, our young readers are more than ever familiar with Alice and her journey to Wonderland.

When I think about Alice's adventures, I remember the fun with words that occurred.  She uses such interesting words and phrases when she arrives in Wonderland or through the looking glass.

In One Fun Day With Lewis Carroll, Krull deftly weaves these words into the narrative of Lewis Carroll, giving us an idea of who he was like as a person.  Readers will get a glimpse of the origin of these wonderful tales, who inspired them, and how some of the words were woven into the story.

By the second layout I knew I had seen Sardà's work recently in a newly favorited book.  I looked it up and my eye was correct - she is the illustrator of Natalie Lloyd's The Problim Children.  Her whimsical and colorful work go along perfectly with Krull's narrative.

A few additional parts stood out to me in this book - the endpages and backmatter.  On the endpages, there is a rolling list of words and phrases that most likely originated from Carroll - jabberwocky, un-birthday, much of a muchness.  In the backmatter, Krull gives further definition to the words and prints them in a specific color that tells us which Carroll book or poem they debut in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this picture book biography and think young readers will enjoy spending time with it as well.  What a fun addition to a library!