Thursday, May 28, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - new early readers - 5.28.2020

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

Books for readers who are starting to read independently!

Frog Meets Dog by Janee Trasler     Goat in a Boat by Janee Trasler
Frog Meets Dog
Goat in a Boat
by Janee Trasler
The first two books in Scholastic Acorn's A Frog and Dog Book series, this book is full of decodable text, sight words, and rhyming text that help readers predict words.  Broken up into mini chapters that tell an entire story, each story has a problem and solution that is relatively predictable for readers to figure out what is coming.
In the first book Dog just wants to play with the frogs, but as much as he tries to fit in, he can't move like a frog.  Poor Dog, the frogs tell him to "Go!".... maybe not the kindest of frogs!
Kids will laugh in the second book when Goat's hat and clothing bring about precipitation.  First, it begins to rain and all of the animals, except for Dog, fit into Goat's boat.  But what happens when lightning strikes the boat?  The ending will definitely make readers chuckle.

Jack at the Zoo by Mac Barnett
Jack at the Zoo
written by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
This is my favorite Jack book.  Jack, the Lady and Rex go to the zoo.  Jack sneaks in with a koala and steals the koala's snacks.  When the Lady finds Jack to bring him home, the koala puts on Jack's hat and the Lady takes him home instead!  When the koala's behavior is much different than Jack's, the Lady figures it out, but takes her time getting Jack back!  Meanwhile, Jack might be getting a taste of his own medicine at the zoo. 
My favorite quote from the book, "Some bad is good.  That's life.  Some good and some bad."

Rollo's Many Coats by Reed Duncan
Rollo's Many Coats
written by Reed Duncan
illustrated by Keith Frawley
Rollo is a dog who apparently has many coats!  But the one Rollo and his boy are searching for is his party coat.  The reader sees all of Rollo's coats and the illustrations help support what that particular coat is meant for.  Once they find the coat they are looking for there is a little clue that gives the reader a clue why they are looking for that coat.

Who Ate My Book? by Tina Kugler
Who Ate My Book?
by Tina Kügler
This very early chapter book features a new character and animal in each chapter.  But they are all tied together by a pesky, hungry goat.  In each chapter, the goat is there eating things and causing trouble.  
Full of sight words, decodable text, and supporting pictures, this book is perfect for young, independent readers!
Check this one out on June 9th! Penny and Clover, Up and Over! (The Lucky Dogs ...
The Lucky Dogs: Penny and Clover, Up and Over
written by Erica S. Perl
illustrated by Leire Martín
And one more for your TBR, this one publishes June 16th.  Penny and Clover appear to be rescue dogs, and they are off on a walk in the woods with their young owner.  He's trying to teach them to jump, but Clover isn't quite ready to make that leap.
Full of sight words and decodable text, this book is perfect for young readers.

Don't miss these books for your newly independent readers!

And starting next week... get ready for the return of Chapter Book Summer!  Whether you're looking for chapter books for young readers who are ready for something longer, or chapter books for older readers who need supports when they are reading, or chapter books to increase stamina of readers before they get to longer middle grade novels... this series is for you!  I did this series last year and found these are titles that we really need to share and celebrate.  Look for the series every Thursday in the summer!

Image result for summer reading

This summer I'll be sharing chapter books that are perfect for a range of readers.  
Stop by every Thursday and find a round up of books you'll want to use with your readers!

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.25.2020

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

Last Week's Adventures

Books that celebrate equal opportunities for all... and one book that should be avoided.

Picture Books

Outside In
Outside In
written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Cindy Derby
I am loving this book more and more with every read.  It's going to be perfect to read whenever talking about the outside and environment.  Talking about noticing the small details?  This one is perfect!  And I can see even using it for a mentor text for opinion writing.  The writing quietly convinces you to notice the details of the outside and how it can be found everywhere, including inside.  Beautiful illustrations make it even more memorable.
Don't overlook this one!

Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures
Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures
written by Tricia Springstubb
illustrated by Elaheh Taherian
A beautiful story about intergenerational friendships.  While this story touches upon an elderly character having dementia/Alzheimer's characteristics, it celebrates the little things we can do for the people we care about.

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
by Henry Cole
I was able to get a preview of this book a year ago and I knew it was special the first time I saw it.  I was excited to be able to share it for Earth Day, but that did not get to happen.  It's a wordless picture book and a little harder to share over a computer.  
Much like Lift by Minh Lê, I think this is a book that should be discovered by each reader.  I don't want to say much about it.  The pencil illustrations are so detailed, I took so much time looking at each layout.  The story and the message of the book are timeless and this book will be read and used in lessons for a long time.

Happy Right Now
Happy Right Now
written by Julie Berry
illustrated by Holly Hatam
The book everyone needs.  Right now.  
So often we find ourselves in situations that are probably out of our control and we focus on the negative parts of them.  This book reminds us to look for the positives in situations and to turn attitudes around.  However, it also acknowledges that it's ok to feel upset and angry and to allow those feelings as well.  
This is the book you need right now.
And Holly Hatam's illustrations are perfect!

When the Storm Comes
When the Storm Comes
written by Linda Ashman
illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Have you had spring storms by your house?  We just had one here last night!  We have our rituals when we know a particular nasty one is coming by.  We stack up patio furniture.  Make sure any pots that are light and are sure to blow over are down on the ground.  Did you know animals do the same thing?  In rhyming text, Ashman shares some of the things that animals and people do before a storm comes through.  I love the vocabulary that is sprinkled through the text, great to talk about - "below the eaves", "we hunker down", "we haul debris".  Great words to talk about to build vocabulary!

Graphic Novel

by Chad Sells
Kids will love it because it's a graphic novel.  What starts out as a fun, adventurous story - an art club visits The Art Institute (in Chicago!) and young Drew's doodles in her notebook escape and have fun with the paintings - however, it turns into a story about the anxieties we have and ways they can manifest and control our feelings.  While Drew loves her doodles, she feels like she always messes up and causes problems that she never means to happen.  Her friends get mad at her but she sees this as her own personal failure instead of people expressing their feelings and emotions.  What comes out of this is a new doodle named Leviathan, Levi for short.  While Levi at first seems playful, Drew slowly figures out that Levi feeds... mostly on her own emotions.  And when that happens, he becomes more dangerous.
Based on the cliffhanger ending, this book is the first in a series.  This book features characters and doodles identifying as LGBTQ and non-bianary.  I love that it celebrates how art history can inspire comics.  
There was just one thing that felt off to me in this novel.  It did not surprise anyone that these doodles were coming to life.  I thought at first it was Drew's secret and that made sense.  But then the other kids knew about it, and then the adults did.  So I guess it's just part of this world in this story, but it seemed odd that this wasn't odd... Maybe an intro to the book that explained this phenomena more??  I'm sure young readers won't question it at all, it's my adultness coming in!!
Doodleville publishes June 9th.

Middle Grade

Genesis Begins Again
Genesis Begins Again
written by Alicia D. Williams
I love that Williams has written about another part of being Black that hasn't been written about a lot - the degree of darkness of skin color.  In Genesis' mind - and a perspective that has been shared by her grandmother and father - she will never be beautiful because of how dark her skin color is.  Her mother, is more light skinned Black, and that makes her more beautiful in Genesis' mind.  Realistic fiction that feels timeless, this book will be an important one to share with readers for decades to come.
My only complaint is how quickly the ending was wrapped up - I needed some more details!  It really leaves it open for more stories to come... if we should be so lucky!

by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This is a tricky book for me to rate.  Depending on where you are in the book, is the rating I would give it.
The first 120pgs. did not work for me.  I found them to be boring and overly wordy.  The descriptions dragged the narrative down and left my mind drifting.  Once I got to page 120ish, the plot started to pick up, the characters became more relatable, and I found myself turning the pages quickly because I couldn't wait to find out what happened.
I think this is a book that most kids will need to be encouraged to stick to.  It strikes me as a book adults love but young readers won't be able to fall into.  Your voracious readers will get through it, but many readers will need encouragement or incentive (I'm thinking kids will need to know they are reading it for something like Mock Newbery... not the prize incentive....) to finish the novel.  It's not too long, but getting to page 120 can take some time and discourage readers!

Currently Reading

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)
King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo
Last of the GrishaVerse novels (for now anyway)!

Hope you found some time to read this long weekend!

* Looking to find one of the books in this post?  Click on the book title and you will be taken to an online link for Brain Lair Books.  The books will stay on the link for approx. three weeks before making room for new reads.  Please support independent bookstores.*

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - equal opportunities for all - 5.20.2020

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

As many of you know I have a very vested interest in the rights of disabled people and in the Paralympics.  My daughter was born with a severe limb length difference in her right leg.  She also does not have a hip and now has a fused ankle which leaves her with no flexion.  She has had multiple limb lengthening surgeries and really needs this next surgery that will give her some more length and stability, but we're having a hard time figuring out when that will be because she is also training for the next Paralympics - although a few unknowns with that one right now!  She is on the United States Paralympic National Swim Team and this pandemic has made her be very creative in how she exercises since water is no longer a part of the equation.  
I am always excited to find books about equality, disabilities, and Paralympics.  Here are some new releases and one book that is NOT recommended:

All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything

written by Annette Bay Pimentel
illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
Educators may be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but young readers probably aren't.  Decades ago, it wasn't always possible for a young, disabled student to attend school.  It's because of activists like Jennifer Keelan who helped make this a reality for people today.  Readers will respond to her tough drive and how she fought for other young kids to have these rights.

A Sporting Chance by Lori Alexander
A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games
written by Lori Alexander
illustrated by Allan Drummond
This book focuses on the person who started what became the Paralympic Games.  There is a very interesting history behind the person, as he also had to fight inequalities, but not as a disabled person, but as a Jew living in Nazi Germany.  Ludwig was a well-respected neurologist in Germany who was focusing on spinal cord injuries.  However after Kristallnacht ("the Night of Broken Glass") Ludwig and his family escaped to England.  Eventually he worked at a war hospital treating spinal cord patients who were injured in the war.  These patients were deemed "incurable" and often left to eventually die.  Ludwig knew they had a quality of life in them, although it would have to be a new quality of life.  He solved numerous problems and then got physical therapists involved so these people were up, in wheelchairs, and moving.  Eventually, sports started happening naturally.  Once Ludwig saw how this invigorated the patients, he set up more organized sports and eventually started holding competitive games at the hospital.  These "games" grew and grew until other hospitals, and then countries, started participating.  The leader of the International Olympic Committee saw what was happening and recognized the spirit of the Olympic Games in what they were doing.  Eventually, this set up the first Paralympic Games.
With illustrations by Allan Drummond (Green City, Energy Island, Pedal Power) and photographs, readers will be fascinated by this story.  It reads quickly and is entertaining.
I liked that this explained so much about the background of the beginnings of the Paralympic Games.  However, I know there is still so much unknown about the Games and there is some confusion and misunderstanding about these athletes.  I would love to see a book just like this that sheds light on the present athletes and Games so more people would understand them.

What Are the Paralympic Games?
What Are the Paralympic Games?
by Gail Herman
I was interested in reading this one because of my connection to the Paralympic Games - namely watching my daughter try to get there!  Interestingly enough, the associate director of USA Para Swimming, Erin Popovich, oversees my daughter on the National Team, and she's featured in this book!
This book shines the spotlight on some highlights and achievements of athletes over the years.  It shares accomplishments in swimming, basketball, track and field, archery, tennis and table tennis, to name a few.  It also gives a brief background of how the Paralympics came to be.  If someone was looking for additional information, I would point them to the above book.
However, this book is not without some big criticism.
First of all, I'm disappointed that what they (author? publisher?) decided to share for the opening preview is a story about how during the 2016 Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games, the torch bearer fell when approaching the Olympic flame and that she got back up and finished what she was there for.  What that is telling the reader is that Paralympians are known for facing their challenges and getting back up again.  So, it's not for their athletic greatness.  It's because they get back up again?  It's a feel good story for able bodied readers.  Disappointed in that choice.
One of the biggest parts of being on the Para teams is going through rigorous classifications.  There is quick mention of classification but it left a lot to be interpreted... and usually incorrectly.  For example, it briefly mentions that now athletes of different disabilities are grouped together, but unless you are familiar with disabled athletes, you probably have no idea what that means.  And it's further complicated by the picture that is included.  There is a chart that lists a sport and then has a grid labeling different classes based on different categories such as amputee, visually impaired, intellectually impaired, spinal cord injury, and trauma brain injury.  I'm not familiar with all sports and their classes, but I can say for swimming that is not how the athletes are classed.  If you would like further information, I'm happy to provide it, but it would make this post longer than it already is!
When the book explains how the International Paralympic Committee took notice of the original Stoke Mandeville Games, there is a picture of the Olympic rings.  However, no where in the book is the Paralympic logo.  Interesting....
The book focuses on many athletes and their accomplishments.  The athlete they spend the most pages on.... Oscar Pistorius.  Yup, the person who is currently serving time for murdering his girlfriend.  I get that he had some amazing accomplishments, but there are so many other athletes that did too, who didn't take a life...
And the biggest mistake in our minds... there are some photographs at the end of the book, one being of my daughter's mentor, Erin Popovich.  The caption under the photo says she is swimming the 100m freestyle.  But she is clearly swimming the breaststroke.  Even most people who are not swimmers will know you don't have your head all the way out of the water and looking forward for freestyle.
If you're looking for a book to give you more information about the Paralympics, this is not the one you're looking for!
Oh, and here's the Paralympic logo!

Paralympic symbols - Wikipedia

If you want to know more about the logo and some recent changes to it, check out this post!

Monday, May 18, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.18.2020

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

You'll notice a new look to the blog!  While trying to make some font changes, my entire background theme was erased and I have zero ideas how to get that back!  Ahhhh!  So, we started from something new.  Hope you like it!
This is also two weeks of reading.  It was nice to catch up just a bit!

Last Week's Adventures

I posted "2020 Favorites".  This was the first update, I'll have two more updates throughout the year.

This picture book is perfect for readers who are starting to read independently.  Giveaway is still open!

Picture Books

Southwest Sunrise
Southwest Sunrise
written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Wendell Minor
A wonderful mentor text for descriptive writing.
Many grades also teach the regions of the United States.  Would be good to use to talk about the beauty in different parts of our country.
As someone who loves the southwest, I loved seeing things that are known for that region!

Ellie Makes a Friend
Ellie Makes a Friend
by Mike Wu
Ellie, the artistic zoo elephant, is back in a new creative story.  Ping is a panda from China that has just moved to Ellie's zoo.  Ping is also artistic, although her art differs from Ellie's.  At first Ellie is wary of Ping, but as Ellie's friends help her curb her initial jealous feelings and learn more about Ping, Ellie slowly makes a new friend.  Add to your SEL libraries to talk about jealousy and making new friends.

Bo the Brave
Bo the Brave
by Bethan Woollvin
Not quite a fractured fairy tale, although it reads and feels like a fairy tale!  Our fearless main character is out to prove to her older siblings that she has what it takes to capture a monster.  However, once she meets the different monsters, she gains true perspective about really understanding what a monster is.

Brick by Brick
Brick by Brick
by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
Love this book!  I first came across it in Betsy Bird's spring Caldecott guesses and I can see why she put in there.  Gorgeous artwork created through photographs, digital painting, and collage convey the spirit of lovingly putting pieces together to create something.  Mixed in with spanish phrases, the reader sees young Luis' and his love for his Papi, who is creating buildings, brick by brick.  Luis is busy at school learning book by book, but the real magic happens at the end of the book when Luis gets a big surprise!

Swashby and the Sea
Swashby and the Sea
written by Beth Ferry
illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Love this gorgeous book!  
Sometimes you find kindness and family when you're least expecting it.  Sometimes you need a little nudge from a friend to spot it.
That's what happens to old Captain Swashby when he's uses to living in his set waves but a new family moves in next door.

written by Minh Lê
illustrated by Dan Santat
When these two get together for a book it's nothing but magic.
I didn't really know much about this book before starting it and I'm glad I didn't.  I'm going to do the same for you.  Just tell you to get it and read it.  You'll be glad you did.
Oh, and I can't wait to have conversations with young readers about this book and what their idea of "lift" is.

Graphic Novels

Nat Enough (Nat Enough #1)
Nat Enough
by Maria Scrivan
This book is going to be well loved by middle grade readers.  With themes of friendship and fitting in, kids will relate.  
We've seen the story before - an awkward character loses her best friend to someone else, someone more "cool" and popular and the character just wants the friend back.  It bothered me how much the main character held on to this friend and being so mistreated.  The resolution came quickly and a little too clean.

The Crossover
The Crossover (graphic novel adaptation)
written by Kwame Alexander
illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
I loved this novel in verse that won the Newbery Award.
Not as big of a fan of the graphic novel.  
For some readers, the graphic novel will be more accessible than the novel in verse.  This graphic novel is different from the traditional one in that there aren't the typical frames you see in a graphic novel.  This allows the words to flow similar to how they do in the novel in verse, but for some readers, it is going to be confusing to know who is doing the talking when there are multiple characters on a page and no speech bubbles.  It doesn't differ too much from the novel, but when you have a reader who relies heavily on the visual components, I can see this being tricky.

Middle Grade

We Dream of Space
We Dream of Space
by Erin Entrada Kelly
I feel like this is Kelly's best... so far!  It's not a happy novel, but the way she digs into the characters' emotions is so fantastically written.
We meet three siblings and while each chapter is written from a different perspective, we come to know them as individuals and understand how their dysfunctional family life is woven together.  It all takes place around the time of the Challenger disaster, which comes as everything in their family has slowly unraveled.
I recognized so many 80s references, or as the kids say, the 1900s...  I'm sure many of them will go over kids' heads, but it does add to the setting.
If you're thinking about Mock Newbery, this is one to pay attention to.

What Stars Are Made of
What Stars Are Made Of
by Sarah Allen
I'm really glad to see more disability in kidlit titles being published.  Our MC, Libby, has Turner's Syndrome, which means she was born without a second X/Y chromosome.  She has other challenges that come along with it, like a chin that causes the mean kid to call her FrankinChin, and she has to give herself shots of growth hormones to keep her growing and not being too short.  She also will not be able to have kids when she matures.  She also is diagnosed with a learning disability that explains why she has trouble understanding social skills.  And while these are all things that she lives with, there is so much to her.  Like her knowledge and desire to know all the scientific facts around her.  And how much she loves her family.  And how she might actually get her first real friend. 
Libby has a big plan that she needs to put into action.  She wants to win a contest that is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute that shines the spotlight on famous women in STEM.  The grand prize will be enough for Libby to be able to help her older sister and brother-in-law who are pregnant with Libby's first niece.  If she works hard and listens to the help of a friend, maybe she'll be able to win.
A heartfelt story.

Young Adult

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3)
Ruin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo
The conclusion to the GrishaVerse trilogy did not disappoint.  I loved the fusion of fantasy and this made-up world that has flavors of Russian in it.  Just like the second book of the series, the action starts in chapter one and doesn't stop until the conclusion.
I can't wait to see how the stories come to life in the Netflix series. No word on when it drops, but you know I'll be there watching! 

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse, #0.5, 2.5, 2.6)
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
written by Leigh Bardugo
illustrated by Sara Kipin
As you know, I loved the GrishaVerse trilogy and there were two short stories included at the end of two of the books.  Both stories gave background on two characters.  I love learning a little bit more about them.  I was excited to start this one but it didn't do it for me.  They weren't about the characters, instead reimagined short stories, some with familiar storybook characters.  However, Bardugo gives her own twist, reimagining them to fit the GrishaVerse world.

I'll Be the One (I'll Be the One, #1)
I'll Be the One
by Lyla Lee
This one publishes in June.  I can see a lot of teens enjoying this one.  It has a great infusion of K-pop and positive boy image.
Skye is auditioning for a dance/singing competition show that is similar to an American Idol except this one comes with a trip to Korea since it has a K-pop vibe.  Skye tries out for both the singing and dancing portion, even though it disappoints her mom who feels like since Skye is a plus-sized teen, she should not be seen on television.  Skye fights for her right to be there with a judge and other contestants.  She makes friends with other contestants, including a popular model who may just be a love interest.
Fun, positive, and looks like it will be a series, I will enjoy watching what happens to Skye!
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss.

Currently Reading

Genesis Begins Again
Genesis Begins Again
by Alicia D. Williams
The voice in this one is outstanding.

I got 15 pots planted on Saturday and then spent Sunday inside while it poured all day.  Looking forward to reading on the patio this summer!