Top Ten Tuesday – Celebrating World Ocean Day!

June 8th is World Ocean Day – a day all UN member nations raise awareness of the value of oceans, the impact of human activities on the oceans, and to motivate people to use the ocean’s resources sustainably. And what better way to help children understand these concepts than to share some great books about the ocean books?

Here is a list of some of my favorite picture books to celebrate and protect our oceans.

The Sea Book – Charlotte Milner

A fascinating nonfiction book for introducing children to our oceans. Includes beautiful illustrations that show our oceans are home to an amazing variety of living things. The end of the book discusses the problems our oceans are facing and wraps up with a call to action on how to help save them.

Over and Under the WavesKate Messner

I LOVE Kate Messner’s “Over and Under” series and this new addition about oceans is her latest in the collection. A young child kayaking with his family experience the wonder of the ocean together. It is lovely how each page is an interplay between humans and ocean wildlife. Beautiful figurative language makes it also an excellent anchor book for writing! Gorgeous illustrations!

I Hear You, Ocean – Kallie George

I LOVED Kallie George’s “I Hear You, Forest” so was thrilled to know that she had expanded it into a series! The book is a celebration of all the joys of sound that come from the ocean as experienced by two children spending time at the beach with their family. The story is simple and playful with engaging sound words paired with the narrative. Great for early primary and perfect for practicing visualizing!

The Big Book of the Blue – Yuval Zommer 

A beautiful big book about everything under the sea and the third book in a series by the same author (includes The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts). It’s definitely not one for a single sitting (over 50 pages – with LOTS of illustrations) but perfect to keep young readers busy for hours. Fantastic illustrations & lots of great facts!

Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children – Kristen Wixted 

Well, I can’t have a collection of ocean books without including a poetry book! This one is a collection of ocean poems by many distinguished poets and artists from The Writers’ Loft (New England authors and illustrators). I love that there are not only poems about a variety of sea creatures including balloon fish, giant squids, manatees, and sea turtles but also poems about the importance of keeping our oceans safe and clean.  Great variety of poetic structures, too!

Ocean! Waves for All –  Stacy McAnulty 

Companion to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion YearsSun! One in a Billion; and Moon! Earth’s Best Friend, this book is, like, totally tubular, dude! Told in the narrative voice of Ocean (I make connections to the voice of Crush from Finding Nemo!) the conversational tone is engaging and entertaining while still providing lots of interesting facts. A perfect book to inspire an interest in the ocean.

We Are the Ocean – Captain Paul Watson 

Beautiful book, written as a poem, that helps children discover a personal connection to water. The author beautifully describes the importance of the ocean in sustaining life of all living plants and animals. I would definitely use this book for a “one word activity” and see how the story can expand our understanding of oceans.

My Ocean is Blue – Darren Lebeuf

A wonderful companion to My Forest Is Green , this lovely story that focuses on a magical day at the seaside. A little girl and her mother (aunt? friend?) explore everything the ocean and beach has to offer. I love that the book highlights that an ocean can be many different things at different times. Gorgeous cut-paper illustrations.

Ocean Soup: A Recipe for You, Me, and a Cleaner Sea – Meeg Pincus 

“Dig in a bit deeper and test a small scoop, and you’ll see that, up close, the sea looks more like soup!” Four children walking along the beach soon discover that while the ocean appears to be pure and clean, it’s actually SOUP! And not a very healthy one! I love how this book that shares a powerful message of plastics in our oceans, in simple and accessible verse.

One Turtle’s Last Straw: The Real-Life Rescue That Sparked a Sea Change – Elisa Boxer

If you ever want to have kids stop using plastic straws, this is the book to read! It tells the inspiring, true story of how one small turtle and children all over the country sparked an environmental movement. Based on the viral video that created awareness of the harm caused by plastic straws, this powerful story is a perfect tool for teaching children about protecting our oceans. Includes real life photographs of life saving marine biologists. Another great book to use for the “one word activity” using the word “straw”!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found one or two books you can use to celebrate World Ocean Day with your class!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite “End of the Year” Picture Books!

Can you actually believe that it’s almost JUNE??? I am having a very hard time with the calendar turn that will take place later this week. June marks the end of another school year and a time when you are preparing to say your good-byes to your class. Endings are hard, so it’s nice to have some books on hand to share over the coming weeks to help your students transition into summer and reflect on their year with you.

Here are some of my favorite books for sharing as the school year draws to a close and to inspire students to head into summer filled with inspiration and adventure. These read-alouds are sure with the farewells and help to send your students off on the right path into summer!

A Letter from Your Teacher on the Last Day Of SchoolSharma Olsen

Every time I read this book, I cry! Although I’m not teaching in my own classroom right now, it brings back so many memories and emotions of year end. The story is written as a letter from the teacher’s point of view and invites the class to reflect back on the memories, connections, challenges, and successes they had in school. The teacher expresses how proud she is of them and how she will miss them but also cheers them on for all the exciting things they have ahead of them. There is even a blank space in the back for you to sign your own name so the letter comes from you! This is SUCH a perfect book to read to your class and a great anchor for having students write about their favorite memories of the school year.

A Letter to My Teacher – Deborah Hopkinson

This book is a heartfelt thank-you note from a student to the second grade teacher who had a special knack for spinning her challenges in a positive way. This book would be a great writing anchor to have your students brainstorm people who’ve supported students during the school year — support teachers, the teacher librarian, the custodian, the secretary, peers, parents or grandparents —and then invite them to draw and/or write thank-you notes to them.

Last Day of School Blues – Julie Danneberg

Fans of First Day Jitters will love spending the last day of school in Mrs. Hartwell classroom. Everyone is excited for summer break, but there is just one problem. The kids don’t want their teacher to miss them while they’re gone. Great illustrations, especially the final picture!

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Last Day of School – Julie Gassner

This fun end the school year read-aloud takes a humorous look at the possible disasters that can happen if your dragon comes along on the last day of school. A surprise ending when we see who wanted to bring the dragon along. The illustrations are outstanding and hilarious and I know primary students will really enjoy this one!

When Things Aren’t Going Right, Go Left – Peter H. Reynolds

As we all know, summer vacation may not be filled with adventure and family fun for all of our students. Summer might be filled with fears, frustrations, worries, and doubts. But this book helps students know that they have a choice when it comes to all of these feelings. In the story, a young boy is having a horrible day. Nothing is going right, but instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, he chooses to change directions and leave his worries behind him. We all, kids and the adults who love them, need to be reminded that we have a choice in how we respond to life’s worries, frustrations and “not right” days.

I Wish You More Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I love the idea of “wishing” on your students with words of encouragement and as they leave your class and this book can certainly help you do that. A sweet, uplifting message to show your students all of your wishes for them – from celebrating life’s joyous milestones to paying attention to the wonder of everyday moments.

The Year We Learned to Fly – Jacqueline Woodson

A grandmother’s advice to her two grandchildren: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody, somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.”  And then their imaginations take over! I think this would be a wonderful book to share with students before the end of the year – they will likely feel bored at some points over the summer, but their best tool to develop ideas or activities…is always close by – their imagination!

Wherever You Go – Pat Zietlow Miller

Written in rhyming text, the main character rabbit is told that roads will take you wherever you want to go, just open the door! Absolutely gorgeous illustrations and a wonderful story of adventure and exploration that can be a great inspiration to your students as they set off on their summer break.

And Then Comes Summer – Tom Brenner

This is the perfect book to launch your class into a fun-filled summer break! This story illustrates all the fun seasonal activities for kids to enjoy, from fireworks to fairs! Students can brainstorm all the exciting activities they are looking forward to for the summer ahead.

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!Cori Doerrfeld

From the author of The Rabbit Listened comes a gentle story about the difficulty of change and the wonder that new beginnings can bring. School ending means some friendships are pausing or ending and that can be hard for some children. This book explores all the goodbyes in life and the positives it can leads to.

The Hike – Alison Farrell

Summer is a great time to get outside and connect with nature and what better way to inspire this message but through great books! So, I’m ending with a two of my very favorite books to inspire getting outside, connecting with nature, and exploring the world! The first shares the best and worst of any hike: from picnics to puffing and panting, deer-sighting to detours. Featuring a glossary, a sketchbook by one of the characters, abundant labels throughout, and scientific back notes. LOVE this book!

Wonder Walkers – Micha Archer

Two young children take readers outside to explore. As they walk, run, and breath in the wonder of nature, they begin to wonder themselves. A beautiful, brilliant, and inspiring picture book that invites children (and adults) to explore the world, be curious and creative. A great book to inspire your students to do be wonder walkers this summer!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a few books flagged to share with your students as the school year winds down.

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Top Ten Tuesday – New Books for Spring 2023!

It’s spring and that means LOTS of new picture books are being released! I thought I would share some of the new picture books I have been reading over the past few weeks, featuring MANY Canadian authors! Would love to know which titles catch your eye!

A Dupatta Is… – Marzieh Abbas

A Dupatta is… is such a great introduction to the much loved piece of clothing for many in South Asia.  Dupattas are beautiful and colorful of course, but they’re also fun, functional, and carry the sounds and smells of family and identity. Sweet, beautifully illustrated and wonderfully descriptive. (Feiwel & Friends – April 11, 2023)

What If I’m Not a Cat? – Kari-Lynn Winters

Such a sweet and very funny story about a donkey who thinks he’s a cat. The commentary by the cats is hilarious and expressions on the various animals’ faces is delightful.  Lots of laughs with this book which is a wonderful anchor book to introduce the concept of identity.  A great example of how you don’t have to put a label on yourself to have an identity. (Kids Can Press, Release date: June 6, 2023)

Granny Left Me a Rocket Ship – Heather Smith

This is a beautiful book for young children who may be dealing with the grief of losing a grandparent.  The story explores how remembering our loved ones is a way of keeping them alive in our hearts.  I can see how this book may be a gentle way to help start the conversation about loss with younger children.(Kids Can Press – release date: June 6, 2023)   

The Shape of You – Mugn Thi Van

Oooooo – this book surprised me in such a wonderful way! It is a beautiful and thought-provoking exploration of the shapes found in our everyday lives. The story follows a mother as she describes the shapes around them to her young daughter, starting with literal shapes like rectangles and squares, and moving on to more abstract shapes like questions and spaces waiting to be filled. I love the lyrical, soothing language and the way the story gently encourages readers to observe and think more critically about the shapes that surround them. Gorgeous illustrations. (Kids Can Press, May 3, 2023)

The Invitation – Stacey May Fowles

A whimsical, imaginative story about a little forest fairy named Fern.  When she discovers an invitation to a super surprise at the museum, she begins to worry about so many things.  But with the help of friends, she faces her fears and overcomes her worries.  Lovely! (Groundwood Books – April 4, 2023)

Dear Street – Lindsay Zier-Vogal

When Alice hears others complain about her street, she writes a letter highlighting the things she enjoys and leaves the letters around for people to find them.  When the adults find them, they are reminded to look for the positives in the world around them.  This book reminds readers of many aspects that make up their neighbourhood and would be the perfect anchor book primary students who are exploring community.  (Kids Can Press, May 3, 2023)

The Loud Librarian – Jenna Beatrice

This book is adorable!  A young girl finally gets her turn to be the student librarian. She has practiced and can do every part of the job except for one small thing – she is very LOUD!  She is empowered to solve her own problem but remains true to her spirit.  This is a great story and the illustrations are delightful!  (Atheneum Books for Young Readers – April 11, 2023)

A Day with No Words – Tiffany Hammond

This moving look invites readers into the life of an Autism Family who communicates just as the child does, without spoken language. I have never read any book that captures so beautifully the daily life of a family with non-speaking and speaking family members. An incredible story that represents neurodiversity and autism in a way that affirms and celebrates. A must have for your school library! (Wheat Penny Press – Release date: May 9, 2023)

You are a Story – Bob Raczka

This beautiful book explores the big question “What makes you you?”  You are a child, an animal, a body of water, a friend, a mystery, one-of-a-kind, a miracle. You can be so many things, but whatever you choose to do, it’s your life to write, you are a story.  Such a great anchor book for an All About Me unit.  Love the message that we are all more than one thing. (Neal Porter Books – Feb. 21, 2023)

Nothing’s Wrong!: A Hare, a Bear, and Some Pie to Share – Jory John

A new Jory John! Yay! This great laugh-out-loud story helps teach readers how to handle situations when a friend is grumpy or they themselves are grumpy. A gentle reminder that communication and being a trusted friend are important. Wonderful, fun illustrations! (Farrar, Straus and Giroux -May 2, 2023)

Very Good Hats – Emma Straub

A wonderful, joyful, inventive read-aloud story will inspire kids to look at ordinary things through new eyes!  Some people think hats are fancy things you buy in a shop, but this book quickly changes our thinking!  EVERYTHING can be a hat – if you believe it is!  Acorns, pajama pants, bubbles… Hats are everywhere you look!  (Note –Author Emma Straub was abruptly UNINVITED to read this book at a school in Texas because she apparently used an F-Bomb in one of her social media posts during covid.  Seriously?)  (Rocky Pond Books: Jan. 10, 2023)

This is Not My Story – Ryan Uytdewilligen

A CLEVER and fun way to introduce children to a variety of different genres.  The graphic novel format is inviting and the story is so funny, kids won’t even realize they are learning!  There is an information page at the end that gives more details about the genres.  A perfect anchor book to inspire both reading and writing different text structures!  (Kids Can Press, Released: June 6, 2023)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you found a few new books to add to your collection!

Next week, I will focus on some new NONFICTION books!


Filed under 2023 Releases, 2023 releases, Community, Picture Book, Positive Self Identity, Read-Aloud, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Books about Words & Word Play

The other day, I was in a book store in the children’s section (I hang out there a lot!) and noticed a great display of books celebrating words and word play. Now, I am a lover of words so immediately started looking through the collection. Many I KNEW, but some were NEW!

Below is a list of great anchor books celebrating WORDS! Enjoy! (For the record, I completely lost my ability to count to 10 in this post!)

I Scream Ice Cream – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Some words sound the same, but have very different meanings! In this silly and smart book, one of my favorite authors, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, (sadly, no longer with us) gathers together an intriguing and giggle-inducing collection of these homophones. (love princess cape; prince escape) Kids who enjoy wordplay and puns will have fun predicting the wacky wordles. Lively, creative and original with fun, wacky illustrations!

You Love Ewe! – Cece Bell

Great first book on homonyms! In this follow up to “I Yam A Donkey”, silly donkey and cranky yam are back to introduce younger students to this sometimes confusing aspect of proper grammar. Great read-aloud will have your kids laughing out loud!

C D B ! – William Steig

Decades before text messaging was even invented, William Steig gave us this clever book! Reading it, I made MAJOR connections to vivid childhood memories of trying to decipher personalized license plates! This book is old but the creativity doesn’t “get old”! The delight in figuring out what the letters are saying still puts a smile on my face. Talk about invented spelling! Some of the puzzles are fairly simple but others require a bit more time. Would make a engaging read-aloud and thankfully, there’s a key to the letter-sentences in the back of the book!

Look – Fiona Woodcock

A brother and sister have an exciting outing to the zoo, and see ooh, so many words that contain double OOs. The illustrations tell the story as there are only one or two words per page. Early readers will enjoy finding the double o’s on each page; some are hidden in the pictures. Colorful, unique artwork.

Hello – Fiona Woodcock

Another fun book by Fiona Woodcock, this one is composed almost entirely of words with double L’s (hello, spill, marshmallow). A whimsical book featuring a brother and sister spending a day at the beach. It’s a fun story that will appeal to readers who like to play with language and a great anchor book for teaching double consonants. (Older students could try to write their own “Double Consonant” book?) Colorful, lively illustrations.

Stegathesaurus – Bridget Heos

Stegothesaurus is such a fun book for many reasons but mostly because learning new words is fun! This is a perfect anchor book to introduce synonyms to students and the use of a thesaurus to enrich our vocabularies as readers and writers. Clever, simple text and an adorable character!

The Word Collector – Peter H. Reynolds

Some people collect stamps.
Some people collect coins.
Some people collect art.
And Jerome?
Jerome collected words

And when he has collected and organized thousands of words, magical things start to happen because Jerome begins to string his words together. And words he had not imagined side by side become poems and songs and fill hearts and put smiles on people’s faces. I LOVE this book and have used it to introduce students to triple scoop words since it was released in 2018.

Alpha Better – Linda Ragsdale

This delightful book is about making new and fun combinations of mish-mash words that spread kindness, love and encouragement! What a great book to share and then invite students to see what great new words they can come up with! A great book about the power of words and their impact on others. Brilliant and beautiful!

Orange Pear Apple Bear Emily Gravett

Ingenious word juggling and brilliant illustrations! Only five words are used throughout this book, and what’s fun to see is how the meanings change depending on how the words are arranged. Younger children will enjoy seeing the silly way the meanings change, and it’s a good way to introduce them to words and word order. Such a cute book!

Word Play – Ivan Brunetti

A wonderful anchor book to use to introduce compound words. (Pre-covid release but I only just discovered it) Hilarious, clever and so much fun! Love the silly cartoon illustrations. Your primary students will be eager to “play with words” after you share this one!

Take Away The A – Michael Escoffier

A fun, imaginative romp through the alphabet! The idea behind the book is that with a simple subtraction of a single letter, a word changes into a completely different word: without the A – the “beast is best”; without the H, the “chair has hair”. This may be suited for slightly older readers, and would be fun to have them try to make up some of their own “missing letter” pairs.

My Pet Feet – Josh Funk

A hilarious look at what happens when the letter R goes missing from the alphabet. This picture book is funny and creative and will have every reader in stitches! There are a slew of mishaps that a missing letter R might cause… such as a galloping hose instead of a horse, a flock of cows instead of crows, and a babbling book instead of brook. SO fun!

E-mergency! – Tom Lichtenheld

I laughed when I read this book! It s an E-mergency! The letter E has fallen down the stairs and ended up in the hospital. Now, the only way to get her back on her feet is for everyone to stop using her. After searching for a substitute, “O” steps in to replace E and things go quickly sideways – ie “a spolling tost today”! This book is chocker-block full of silly puns, word play, and lots of side-jokes! Wonderful read-aloud for upper primary students.

Betty Burgled Bakery An Alliteration Adventure – Travis Nichols

This is a perfect anchor book to introduce younger students to alliteration. Written in graphic novel form, it tells a story about a team of detectives trying to solve the case of the burglary of Betty’s bakery: “A bread bandit burgled my bakery before breakfast”. Excellent vocabulary incuded! Back matter includes information about alliteration and a bonus “Hungry Animals” section on the eating habits of five animals.

Lexie The Word Wrangler – Rebecca Van Slyke

For anyone teaching early readers, this book is for you! Lexie, the word wrangler, shows readers how she “ropes” two words to create something new, like a stick of butter and a fly to make “butterfly”. She also watches over baby letters like “a” and watch the grow into bigger words like “at”, then “cat” and then “cattle”. This book explores so many types of words and use of words, not to mention it’s just plain fun. Don’t forget to read it with your best cowgirl accent!

P Is For Pterodactyl *The Worst Alphabet Book Ever – Rajhalder & Chris Carpenter

This is a clever book about how the English language can sometimes be confusing, especially when it comes to those “silent” letters! This book is structured like a regular alphabet book, except each word includes silent letters. I appreciated that the authors tried to fit as many outlaw words into each letter’s description. I also appreciated the glossary at the back, which provides pronunciation guides and defines these sometimes obscure words.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you were able to find one or two new “word play” books to add to your collection.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22nd but it’s never too early to start sharing some inspiring Earth Day read-alouds in your class! My Top Ten post this week features some BRAND NEW titles (many just released last month) and a few of my older favorites for encouraging all students to be “Earth Mindful” and the to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment. We can ALL make a difference!

This Is The Planet Where I Live – K.L. Going

This gorgeous new release celebrates the inter-connectedness of our planet. Written in a cumulative style that begs to be read aloud! As the text repeats, I can see younger students joining in the reading. The illustrations are bright and colorful and offers SO many possibilities for art, poetry, and science extensions. Also a great anchor book for visualizing! (Beach Lane Books, March 2023)

The Day The River Caught Fire – Barry Wittenstein

What I love about picture books is how much I learn from them! This new book will help you and your students discover how a 1969 fire in one of the most polluted rivers in America sparked the national Earth Day movement. I had never heard of the fire on the Cuyahoga River, so I thought this book did a nice job of explaining the lead up to the fire, what caused so much pollution in the river, and how people were inspired to make change. (Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books – March 28, 2023)

Black Beach: A Community, an Oil Spill, and the Origin of Earth Day- Shaunna & John Stith

A second option for a new book that depicts the origin of Earth Day. I like that the book showed how everyone tried to help with the cleanup and that the children then took to environmental activism. Excellent two page timeline laying out over a period of four years how Earth Day started included. (Little Bee Books, Feb. 2023)

One Earth – Eileen Spinelli

I love Eileen Spinelli and I love this Earth Day counting book – perfect for early primary students AND available in French! Readers count wonderful things in nature they see 1-10, and then count back down looking at ways they can reduce, reuse, recycle and take care of the one Earth. I appreciated the cleverness and the fact that the book goes beyond the normal “turn off a light or recycle’ to look at a wider variety of ways to reduce waste. Would make a great read for Earth Day for younger students! (WorthyKids – 2020)

If You Come to Earth – Sophie Blackall

If you could write a letter about Earth to someone who lives on another planet, what would you tell them? That is the premise of Sophie Blackall’s book, which is one of my favorites to share in preparation for Earth Day. A young child named Quinn writes a letter to a perspective alien, telling all about Earth, its place in the universe, the parts of it that make it Earth, living and non-living things – but most importantly interconnectedness. (Check out my OLLI lesson I developed and shared during Covid using this book!) Moving, gorgeous and tender! Available in French. (Scholastic, 2020)

Be A Good Ancestor – Leona Prince & Gabrielle Prince

SO much to love about this book! It is a beautiful poetic call, through the lens of Indigenous beliefs, about generations and nature. The book is a reminder to us all of the interconnectedness & circle of life we all live, as well as the the impact of the ancestors that came before us. Gorgeous illustrations! (Orca Book Publishers, May 2022)

The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess

Rhyming text takes readers through the seasons in a neighborhood, focusing on what nature is doing during different seasons and what people can be doing to take care of the Earth. It’s a simple celebration of all the Earth gives us and a gentle plea to do “help the Earth thrive and grow.” (Albert Whitman Company, 2019)

Sea Change – Joel Harper

A beautiful wordless picture book about a little girl who discovers litter during a visit to the beach. So she collects some of the trash to take home, turns it into an art project, and shares the story with her class. As a result, her class goes to the beach for a clean up, turns what they find into an art project, and shares it with a larger audience. The movement continues to build with more people participating in beach clean ups. I love how this book shows kids how it is possible for them to promote climate change and inspire others. (Freedom Three Publishing, 2015)

The Planet We Call Home – Aimee Isaac

This new book was included in the #GearPicks Pack book subscription this spring! It’s a lyrical ode to Planet Earth – told in the cumulative style of “This Is the House that Jack Built.” An inspirational environmental message told in gently, rhythmic language and STUNNING illustrations. A perfect addition to your Earth Day collection! (Philomel Books, March 2023)

For more information about the GearPicks Pack book subscription service or get your name on the information email list, please contact Elizabeth Graves at

One World – Nicola Davies

I’m a huge fan of Nicola Davies so always excited to see a new book by her! This nonfiction book is written as a dream-like journey across the world as seen through the eyes of two young girls. They observe life as it happens in just one minute of time – a glimpse of biodiversity combined with an urgent message about climate change. The message is clear: while the world may feel like it’s ours, we share it with many other living things and our actions have impact.  Fascinating, beautiful, imaginative, and inspires lots of curiosity. (Candlewick Press, March 2023)

Dear Earth – Isabel Otter

Young Tessa decides to write a love letter to the Earth. She first describes the wonders of the oceans, savannahs, mountains, deserts and forests, then promises to take care of all its beauties and wonders. I love that this small act of writing a letter shows that this young child is starting to think of her role as a caregiver and activist. A great book to inspire your students to write their own letters to the Earth! (Caterpillar Books, March 2020)

Count On Us Climate – Activists From One To A Billon – Gabi Snyder

A wonderful beginning book for climate activists shows how one small person can make a big change! This book gives a sense of agency and urgency to the fight for our climate and includes numbers, the alphabet, and a lot of information about the environment. Includes extensive back matter and a day by day guide of how to help like “meat-free Monday” and “tidy-up Tuesday”. (Barefoot Books, Sept. 2022)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have found a few new titles to share with your students leading up to Earth Day!

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Filed under 2023 Releases, Earth Day, environment, Indigenous Stories, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday, wordless

Top 10 Tuesday – Top New Treasures from a Sunday Indy Book Store Browse!

This past Sunday, I was in Mosaic Books – my favorite independent book store in Kelowna. I was picking up a book for book club (I’m now in 3!) and, of course, found myself peering onto the shelves in the children’s section, looking for new treasures! And I found LOTS – including some new poetry books just in time for April Poetry Month! So, I stacked them in a pile and sat down on one of the tiny chairs and spent the next hour reading!

Here are my favorite finds from my Sunday browse (and yes, I still have trouble counting to ten!)

This Is Not My Home – Eugenia Yah

While I have read many stories about immigration, this is the first one I have read that deals with reverse immigration. When Lily’s family has to move back to Taiwan to take care of Lily’s aging Ah Ma, Lily is devastated! Everything is different in Taiwan, from the streets to the food to the sights and the smells and even the toilets! Readers follow Lily’s journey as she overcomes challenges and learns to navigate her new home, with the help of her family. Fun pictures, sweet story! (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers -Jan. 24, 2023)

The Knowing – Ani Di Franco

Singer and poet Ani Di Franco’s new book for young readers is gorgeous! It is a lovely lesson for kids learn that not everything people see on the outside defines them; it’s what is inside is important. Trust what’s inside of them and what they know to be true about themselves. The text is lyrical and flow beautifully – so a great choice for a read-aloud. (Rise x Penguin Workshop – March 7, 2023)

Wants Vs Needs Vs Robots – Michael Rex

I love this witty companion to the popular Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots! Using simple, funny robot examples, this book charmingly explains the difference between wants and needs and why this knowledge is important. Such a great book! (Nancy Paulsen Books – March 14, 2023)

Gold – David Shannon

I am a huge fan of David Shannon so excited to see this book about Maximilian Midas, a boy obsessed with gold who does everything to get more of it. Readers familiar with King Midas will have an idea where this one is headed. But there’s lots of room for laughs and discussion and a great fable to teach kids about valuing people, relationships, and memories over riches. (There’s also lemonade, pie, and bunny slippers. I love Max’s bunny slippers!)

Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone – Amy Hest

Enjoyed this book about the quiet pleasures of being alone and the beauty of friendships – real and imaginary. Love the illustrations by the great Philip Stead! (Neal Porter Books – Feb. 14, 2023)

If You Laugh, I Am Starting This Book Over – Chris Harris

Not a new release, but new to me – this book had me LOLing in the book store! A super silly interactive picture book sure to make kids laugh. And sometimes, you just need to have a book to make them laugh! The book insists that listeners must not laugh until the end of the book, all the while presenting them things that are sure to make them laugh. Great ending, too!

Patterns Everywhere – Lisa Varchol Perron

A gorgeous introduction to patterns in nature. Stunning photographs showing the patterns, along with easy to understand rhyming text. A perfect book for younger readers and a great anchor book to inspire outdoor play and pattern searches! Delightful! (Millbrook Press – April 4, 2023)

The Planet We Call Home – Aimee Isaac

A lyrical ode to Planet Earth – told in the cumulative style of “This Is the House that Jack Built.” Wonderful curriculum connections to the interconnectedness of nature, Earth Day, and the environment. LOVE this one! (Philomel Books – March 21, 2023)

NOTE: If you are a GEARPICKS book subscriber, DO NOT buy this book! You will be receiving it in your PRIMARY Spring collection! (for information about the book subscription – please contact Elizabeth Graves at

How To Write A Poem – Kwame Alexander

Oh this book now in my poetry collection! So inspiring!  The great Kwame Alexander will make you want to write and illustrate your own by poem the time you finish! The illustrations are magical, colorful, and add another layer of meaning to the poem. (Harper Collins – April 4, 2023 – except I bought a copy on Sunday!)

Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers And Other Poem By Extraordinary Animals – Linda Ashman

Wonderful “guessing game” style poetry book filled with persona poems written in the voice of different animals. Each persona poem offers hints about which animal is talking, then you turn the page to reveal informational facts about the animal. Engaging and interesting and a great anchor book for “Fact Pocket poetry!” (Kids Can Press – June 6, 2023)

Animals in Pants Suzy Levinson

I had no idea that this was a poetry book until I opened it! Clever and imaginative, these poems had me giggling from beginning to end! Animals in pants? Why not! Playful rhyming text, rhythm, and delightful wordplay fill these poems about animals with covered bottoms (think dogs in yoga pants, goats in overalls, and yaks in slacks)! A perfect book for sharing during Poetry Month in April and sure to inspire your students to write their own “Animals in Pants” poem! (Cameron Kids – April 11, 2023)

Not bad for an afternoon browse in my favorite book store!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found a book or two that caught your fancy!

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Filed under 2023 Releases, Earth Day, environment, Family, Humour, immigration, New Books, Outdoor Learning, Picture Book, Poetry, Top 10 Tuesday, Writing Anchor book

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Books Celebrating Spring

While many of us are on Spring Break and may be venturing to different parts of the world, it is not hard to sense that spring is upon us. Longer and lighter days, warmer weather, blossoms blooming and bulbs starting to emerge. Spring is always a time to celebrate nature and get outside to dig and garden and explore. Why not start the new season with some new books celebrating spring?

Here are my top ten favorite books celebrating spring:

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring – Kenard Pak

A boy greets all the beautiful parts of winter from snow to a frozen pond to an empty nest to winter trees, and then watches as winter fades into spring. This is one of a series by author Kenard Pak.

Spring Is Here – Heidi Pross Gray

An adventure of all the things to do in the outside during spring. Colorful pictures of animals and nature and simple repetition: “Spring is here!”

When Spring Comes – Kevin Henkes

What a delightful book, full of the joys of spring! When Spring Comes, the first of four books about the seasons by award winning author Kevin Henkes and his wife, Laura Dronzek, might be my favorite! I love that this book can be used as a mentor text for teaching imagery, repetition, and alliteration. Simple, sweet story about spring!

Spencer Knows Spring – Tiffany Obeng

Young readers join Little Spencer, who is an excellent Spring tour guide! He presents fun spring facts and gives examples of what happens with weather, animals, and nature. Beautiful illustrations.

And Then It’s Spring Julie Fogliano

A boy and his dog patiently wait for their new spring garden to grow. This book has simple writing but not one word is out of place. SO many great lines: “…the brown that has a greenish hum that you can only hear if you put your ear to the ground”; Please do not stomp here– there are seeds and they are trying.” (What a great metaphor for a classroom!)

Handsprings – Douglas Florian

April is poetry month, and Douglas Florian is one of my favorite children’s poets – so this is a MUST for my spring collection! Filled with 29 poems about spring filled with every poetic structure and device you could ever want – from simple rhyming, to puns, to sophisticated wordplay. LOVE this series!

Busy Spring – Nature Wakes Up – Sean Taylor & Alex Morss

Join a father as he teaches his two daughters all about the wonders of spring, and just what makes it such a busy time.  I really like that this book includes back pages filled with information about plants, animals, migration, life cycles, climate change and protecting the natural world. Wonderful!

Spring Stinks – Ryan T. Higgins

Ruth the bunny is excited to share the smells of spring with Bruce, but Bruce thinks spring stinks! Kids love this series and this one is a fun read-aloud.

Finding Wild – Megan Wagner Lloyd

While not specifically about spring, I love this book which inspires all of us to seek out and find wild, no matter where you live. With spare poetic text, readers journey with a young girl and boy as they look for wild things that can be seen, smelled, and felt in many kinds of places and discover that wild exists not just off in some distant place, but right in their own backyard.

Up In The Garden And Down In The Dirt – Kate Messner

Another great addition to Kate Messner’s “Over and Under” series, this book helps young readers learn all about the plants that grow above a garden and all the creatures that dwell below the soil. Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful text.

Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know – Brittany Luby

A sweet, gentle story follows a child and grandmother through the wonders of each season with a focus on appreciation of nature and togetherness. Written as a lyrical story-poem in Anishinaabemowin and English, this book could be used as a mentor text to inspire students to create their own versions of imagery describing how they know a new season has begun.

Little Witch Hazel Phoebe Wahl

I only recently discovered this delightful book and wanted to include it on this list. While not specifically about spring, readers travel through all the seasons with Little Witch Hazel as she experiences adventures in the forest helping animals and friends. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book is filled with the old-fashioned charm and magic of fairies, talking animals, witches who heal, adorable little homes made in the base of tree trunks, mushrooms, and old shoes!

And there you have my list of favorite books for celebrating Spring! I hope you have found one or two new books to add to your spring collection! Thanks for stopping by!

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Top Ten Tuesday – New Books Celebrating Women Change Makers and Trail Blazers!

Happy International Women’s Day! And what better way to celebrate than by reading some brand new books? In honor of the extraordinary, smart, determined, courageous women in the world, this week’s Top Ten list features some NEW books about inspiring change makers and trail blazers! I hope you find a new book to add to your collection.

NOTE: I’ve included the release date at the end of each descriptor as some of them are not yet out.

The Van Buren Sisters Vs. The Pants Police – J.F. Fox 

Two sisters break with all society rules when they decide to ride motorbikes across the United States wearing trousers to prove women could serve as motorbike couriers in WWI. But the year is 1916, when women are supposed to wear dresses, not trousers, and the fashion police are in hot pursuit! Historical details are incorporated into the illustrations and I enjoyed the graphic style illustrations with speech bubbles. Lively and lots of fun, as well as a great history lesson in gender norms. (Kids Can Press, Available May 2)

A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Maud Lewis – Kathy Stinson

Canadian artist Maud Lewis’ iconic folk art is celebrated around the world. Despite her beautiful art, however, she spent much of her life living in poverty with rheumatoid arthritis. This inspiring story tells how she pursued her passion while navigating the mobility issues caused by her condition. Maud’s story will inspire young readers to find and focus on the beauty in their worlds. (Greystone Books, Released March 7th – yesterday!)

Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education– Reem Faruqi

A powerful new picture book biography about Maryam Faruqi, the founder of the Happy Home Schools, which provided education to thousands of girls across Pakistan at a time when girls weren’t encouraged to go to school. Excellent introduction to the importance of gender equity in education. (Harper Collins, January 2023)

NOTE: If you are a GearPicks Pack subscriber, this book is included in your upcoming spring collection.

The Girl Who Heard the Music – Marni Fogelson

The true story of award-winning pianist and environmental activist Mahani Teave and her quest to help save her beloved island, Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island). I had never heard of Mahani but was fascinated and inspired by her story – both her determination to learn to play the piano and her later environmental activism. Told with child-friendly language and includes end matter will be useful for inquiry projects. A great STEAM book with a global perspective. (Sourcebooks Explore – available April 4)

Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine: Josephine Cochrane’s Bright Invention Makes a Splash – Kate Hannigan

Where would be be without dishwashers??? Celebrate the inventor of the dishwasher in this inspiring new STEM/STEAM picture book biography about Josephine Garis Cochrane, the brains behind one of the world’s most-used kitchen appliances. Don’t miss the author’s note at the back, which includes a list of notable women inventors, a timeline of fascinating inventions, and a list of sources. (Calkins Creek – available March 14)

The Brilliant Calculator: How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America – Jan Lower

New nonfiction picture book telling the story of Edith Clarke, first women electrical engineer in America and the inventor of the Clarke Calculator, a calculator which allowed for quick calculations of complex mathematical equations. Excellent book to add to your STEAM collection. Fantastic pictures and interesting back notes. (Calkins Creek – Available March 14)

Planting for Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai – Gwendolyn Hooks

A brand new picture book biography about Wangari Maathai, women’s rights activist who began the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in the 1960s, which focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She inspired thousands across Africa to plant 30 million trees in 30 years and was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. (Crocodile Books, Feb. 7 2023)

You are a Star, Jane Goodall! – Dean Robbins

While there are many biographies about trailblazer Jane Goodall, I love her so am always excited to see new books about her. Apparently “You are a Star” is a new nonfiction series by Scholastic and I really like the unique mix of first-person narrative, hilarious comic panels, and essential facts. This one focuses on Jane’s lifelong mission to understand the chimpanzees and protect the planet. Unique format, engaging and interesting – I think kids will really enjoy this! (Scholastic, Released April 4, 2023)

Never Give Up: Dr. Kati Karikó and the Race for the Future of Vaccines – Debbie Dadey

This is the story of Katalin “Kati” Kariko, a determined Hungarian-American scientist, who worked for decades to make mRNA vaccines work — just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic. The illustrations help explain the science behind vaccines in simple terms, and the timeline at the end of the book gives just the right amount of extra information. I especially liked the quotes included throughout the book. (Millbrook Press, Released March 7 – yesterday!)

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way – Kyo Maclear

Inspiring story of Gyo Fujikawa, a pioneering Japanese American artist, muralist, and illustrator who published one of the first picture books in America to feature multicultural and multiracial children interacting with each other. Everything about this book was wonderful, including the subject herself, a fiercely strong and independent woman who was not only an accomplished artist, but also an advocate for equal pay. Back matter includes a piece of information about how Gyo refused to work for publishers who didn’t pay their artists working wage. She was also one of the first illustrators to ask for royalties on her books, saying, “Let’s not follow the old rules. Let’s make new ones.” (Tundra Books, 2019)

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement – Angela Joy

In 1959, 14 yr. old Emmett Till was brutally murdered when he visited the south. Amidst unimaginable grief, this is the story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s brave decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her son sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Her courage inspired generations of activists including Rosa Parks. Winner of numerous awards this year for both illustrations (Caldecott honour) and nonfiction writing (Sibert Medal), this is a heart-breaking, powerful story that needs to be told. (Roaring Press, Sept, 2022)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope these books inspire you and your students to blaze a new trail!

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

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Filed under 2023 Releases, Activism, celebrating women, environment, New Books, social justice, STEM, Top 10 Tuesday

Month of Love (week 3) – Love the Land

Welcome back to the Month of Love! I hope you and your students have enjoyed the lessons so far and are feeling and spreading lots of LOVE this month! This last lesson will invite students to think about all the gifts the land gives us and how they might leave a “gratitude heartprint” for the earth.

Anchor Book – Giving Thanks by Jonathon London

I love this book by Jonathon London which focuses on a young indigenous boy learning from his father how to give thanks to all the gifts the earth gives us. It is a perfect story to inspire this week’s theme of “LOVE THE LAND”, as you encourage your students to leave “gratitude heartprints” for the earth. . If you don’t have a hard copy of the book, there are several read-aloud versions on YouTube.

Begin the Lesson:

  • Remind the students that we have been focusing on a Month of Love by leaving heartprints.
  • Remind them that a heartprint is something we can leave behind for ourselves or others. You can’t SEE a heartprint, but you can FEEL it.
  • If you have done the previous lessons (Love MYSELF and Love OTHERS), invite students to share some of the ways they have been leaving “heartprints” this month.
  • Ask students how leaving heartprints has made them feel.
  • Write the words “The Land” on the board or screen. Invite students to think for a few minutes about the words. Explain that sometimes the term “the land” refers to “the earth”. Tell the students that this week, you will be focusing on LOVE THE LAND.
  • Invite students to share what their favorite outdoor activities are (riding bikes, building snowmen or forts, swimming in the ocean, hiking in the forest, etc. )
  • Talk about how all those wonderful activities we do outside is done “on the land”. Explain that the land gives us so many wonderful gifts – oceans to swim in, rivers to fish in, trees to climb, forests to walk through, mountains to climb, land to grow food on. Sometimes, we don’t stop to think about all the gifts that the land (earth) gives us.
  • Ask students if they think that it’s possible to leave a heartprint on the land If so, how could we do that? If a heartprint is something you leave behind that someone else can feel, how would that work, since the earth does not actually have “feelings”.
  • Explain that one way we can leave a heartprint on the land is by leaving a “gratitude heartprint”. Explain that a gratitude heartprint is a way of saying “thank you” to the earth – thank you to the trees, the grass, the mountains, the water, the ocean, even little pebbles on the beach.
  • Ask students if they have every said thank you to a flower, a tree, or a blade of grass. (Many people don’t) Explain that it might feel a little strange to do that, since the trees, flowers, and grass can’t hear us. But since the earth gives us so much, we can leave all try to leave our heartprints on the earth by sharing our gratitude.
  • Read the book “Giving Thanks” by Jonathon London. If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can share the YouTube version HERE:
  • After reading, discuss the fact that, at first, the boy felt a little embarrassed saying “thank you” to all the things in nature, but that after, it made it him feel good. Depending on your school location and the weather, take the class on a “gratitude walk” and practice leaving “gratitude heartprints” as you walk.
  • Pass out LOVE THE LAND Gratitude Hearprints template. Invite the students to draw and colour a picture of some of the things from the land they enjoy – trees, mountains, lakes, parks, rocks, berries, etc. (you may choose to give them a larger piece of paper) Use the small hearts on the second page to leave “gratitude heartprints” on their pictures. Students can write thank you messages on the hearts – i.e. “Thank you, trees!”
  • Alternatively, you could use a long roll of butcher paper and invite the class to create a LOVE THE LAND mural. Afterwards, they can glue their gratitude heartprints on the mural. Use the larger hearts for a larger mural.
  • Set a class goal that this week, we are all going to leave “gratitude heartprints” whenever we are outside enjoying the land by taking the time to say “thank you” to nature. If you feel embarrassed saying it out loud, you can always “think” the thank-you. The earth will probably hear you!

Additional Books to inspire “Love the Land”

Read these books throughout the week and discuss how the authors seem to be leaving us with a message to think about all the gifts the land gives us.

Berry Song – Michaela Goade

Lessons from Mother Earth – Elaine McLeod

Stand Like a Cedar – Nicola Campbell

A Walk in the Forest – Maria Dek

Finding Wild Megan Wagner Lloyd

A Stick is an Excellent Thing – Marilyn Singer

All the World – Liz Garton Scanlon

The Earth and I – Frank Esch?

My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan

Wild Berries – Julie Flett

The Hike – Alison Farrell

And there you have it! Thank you for joining me for this Month of Love! I hope you and your students enjoyed the anchor books, lessons, and activities and leaving their heartprints everywhere!

Don’t forget to post and share some of your students’ work!

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Month of Love – Week 2 – LOVE OTHERS!

Welcome to Week 2 of my Month of Love posts! This week we are focusing on Love for OTHERS. This lesson is the perfect “lead up” to Valentine’s Day, with lots of anchor great anchor books to share!

Here’s the plan:

Week 1 – Love Myself
Week 2 – Love Others (friends and family)
Week 3 – Love the Land

NOTE: February begins and ends mid-week and is a short month with LOTS going on – Professional Development Days, Black History Month, Family Day, Pink Shirt Day, not to mention Valentine’s celebrations. So, I chose three weeks of Love, rather than four, as you will likely be busy!

Each week, I will post

  • A lesson idea based on a Month of Love theme
  • A list of anchor books connected to the theme of the week
  • A reproducible template (they can be combined to create a “Month of Love” booklet)

In case you missed my first post, LOVE MYSELF, you can check it out HERE

Thank you to Kristina Anne Marie, grade 2 teacher from SD 36 Surrey, who shared her lesson and student samples with me, inspired by my blog! She followed the lesson and created this amazing template! Her students LOVED putting heartprints on their own hearts! Kristina has generously shared the template with all of us! You can download it HERE. Thanks, Kristina!

Let’s Get Started!

Month of Love – Week 2 – LOVE OTHERS

  • Remind students that you are celebrating a Month of Love this month by leaving heartprints! A heartprint is something you leave behind for someone. Last week, we left heartprints for ourselves – this week we are going to leave heartprints on OTHERS!
  • Ask students who “OTHERS” might be (friends, family members, school staff, neighbours, coaches)
  • Brainstorm possible “heartprints” you might leave. Explain that they can be as simple as smiling at someone, opening a door for someone, sharing your snack with someone, saying something kind to someone, leaving a kindness note on someone’s desk, inviting someone to play with you. A heartprint doesn’t have to be big; small actions can leave BIG heartprints!
  • Read one (or more) of the suggested anchor books below. Discuss how the person (people) in the story left their heartprints. Discuss how leaving heartprints behind for someone makes that someone feel good, but it also makes YOU feel good, too!
  • Pass out Month of Love Week Two template. Download HERE (If you are familiar with my book Powerful Understanding, you will recognize this!)
  • Explain that we are all going to try to leave our heartprints on others this week. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up – leaving heartprints could be something your class could do for others during the week of Valentine’s.
  • Invite students to talk to a partner about their heartprint ideas and who they might want to leave the hearprint for. Have the students fill in their papers and commit to leaving TWO heartprints behind for TWO different people.
  • Here are TWO different options for leaving hearprints. Or feel free to make your own! Download HERE and HERE! (The idea of these heartprints is that they are anonymous – so remind students NOT to put their name on them!)
  • Invite other classes to leave heartprints and fill the school with lots of LOVE!

LOVE OTHERS – Favorite Anchor Books

(Remember to check out YouTube for a read-aloud if you don’t have a hard-copy of the book! Just search the title. )

If you Plant a Seed – Kadir Nelson

Can Sophie Change the World? – Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

Because Amelia Smiled –  David Ezra Stein

Plant a Kiss – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – Eileen Spinelli

Lend a Hand – John Frank

The Spiffiest Giant in Town – Julia Donaldson

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – Phillip Stead

How Kind! – Mary Murphy

Be Kind – Pat Zoletow Miller

Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

What Is Given From the Heart –  Patricia C. McKissack

How to Two –  David Soman

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope you and your students enjoy this lesson!

Next week our Month of Love continues with…. LOVE the LAND!

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