Monthly Archives: July 2013

Summer Reading – Day 23 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – What do you want to be when you grow up?

Barbara Kerley, a photographer for the National Geographic, is one of my favorite nonfiction authors and I’m excited to be highlighting her most recent book today, along with a few of my other favorites, in my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!

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What do you want to be when you grow up?  This is the question that many children are asked but most aren’t able to answer with any definitive response.  In her latest book The World Is Waiting for You, Barbara Kerley poses this question, but then invites children to explore and celebrate the possibilities by considering their talents and interests and linking them up to professions.  For example – jumping in puddles can inspire scuba diving; dirty hands can lead to digging for dinosaur bones; star-gazing can inspire astronauts.  This book includes inspirational quotes centered around the three core principals of National Geographic’s mission:  adventure, exploration and discovery.

What I love about Barbara Kerley’s books is that they are so simple, yet so profound.  I was overcome with inspiration when I read this book – it made me want to weep with gratitude and all I wanted to do was hug Barbara Kerley and thank her for writing it.  I can’t wait to read it to my students and have them explore their own possibilities.

For anyone who may be interested in more Barbara Kerley books – here are some of the others I have in my collection:  A Cool Drink of Water; A Little Peace; You and Me Together – Moms, Dads and Kids Around the World; A Day in the Life. 

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All of her books are filled with gorgeous images – highlighting the diversity of culture, families and daily life from around the world.  She includes a map and location and background of each photograph at the back of each book.  I have used her books so often for many Reading Power lessons (Connect and Transform).  The books are excellent for read-alouds because the photographs are large, colorful and captivating.  There is little text included but the photographs tell far more than words ever could.  Opening one of her books is like taking a trip around the world without having to leave your chair.

I hope you are inspired to include at least one Barbara Kerley book in your Nonfiction Collection!

 

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Filed under Connect, New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Transform

Summer Reading – Day 22 – IMWAYR! The Power of Persuasion

Excited to be publishing my second post for IMWAYR!

As I continue to write the draft of my new book, Nonfiction Writing Power, I’m on a continuous search for anchor books to support the lessons. I’m astounded by how many titles I’ve discovered which lend themselves so well to the various nonfiction text structures. While some titles I was already familiar with, my list keeps growing as I discover more and more treasures (that some people refer to as books!) that model different text structures.

Today I thought I’d share some of picture books I have discovered that model the structure and language of persuasion. Here is a sneak peak at some of my favorites…

           961711[2]            8581550[2]Karen Kaufman Oroff has given us two excellent examples of persuasive letter writing.  In I Wanna Iguana, a young boy writes letters to his mom, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mom responds  to each letter, with reasons of her own why she doesn’t want him to have one.  Similar back and forth letter writing between this boy and his mother, this time in his plea for his own room, are found in her recent book I Wanna New Room.  I love the idea of using these books to inspire students to write persuasive letters to their parents asking them for something they really want.

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The power of persuasion is in full force in this witty book written and illustrated by the great Mark Teague. Many of us are familiar with Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School, but I have a new-found appreciation for this book as I am now reading it from a persuasive perspective.  This naughty dog has been sent to Obedience School by his owner, Mrs. LaRue.  The book is a series of letters from the dog persuading his owner that he should be brought home IMMEDIATELY because he DOES NOT belong there.  Hilarious voice as the dog describes (and embellishes) the conditions at the school.

Free as the Wind - by Jamie Bastedo

For a more serious look at the power of persuasion, Free as the Wind by Jamie Bastedo tells the fascinating and true story of the plight in the early 1960’s to save the wild horses of Sable Island, a remote island in the Atlantic just off the coast of Nova Scotia.  At that time, it was decided that the horses would be removed from the island and auctioned off, many would be slaughtered and used for dog food.  This book focuses on the dozens of school children who wrote persuasive letters to the Prime Minister, pleading with him to save the horses.  This is an inspiring true example of how the persuasive voice of a small group of children made a huge difference through writing and carved out a little piece of Canadian history.

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In Hey, Little Ant, by Philip M. Hoose, an ant and a boy have a back and forth conversation.  The ant is trying to persuade the boy not to step on him; the boy is giving the ant his own reasons why he should.   Thought provoking and an excellent example of how to back up your argument! I have used this book many times over the years as it is a perfect segue into a “Whose side are you on?”/ “What would you do?” discussion.

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In Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, a group of literate Cows and Chickens type letters to the farmer with a list of demands and reasons why they feel they should have better living conditions.  Hilarious and a great example of persuasive letter writing.

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I focused on this book a few blogs ago, but will highlight it again here as it is another excellent example of persuasive letter writing.  The Day the Crayons Quit is about a boy named Duncan who discovers a stack of persuasive letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their reasons for quitting and presenting their argument for better working conditions.

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My Brother Dan’s Delicious, by Steven L. Layne, is about a boy who is home alone and becomes very worried that a monster is going to eat him.  He comes up with some excellent and hilarious reasons why the monster should eat his brother, Dan, instead of him, including the fact that his brother is much more tasty than he is!  Very persuasive!

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Scaredy Squirrel author Melanie Watt, once again, provides us with a character that makes you laugh out loud.  In Have I Got A Book For You, a very cheesy salesman (mouse) is trying to sell the reader a book – this book!  Excellent example of persuasive voice and a great anchor book for teaching how to give engaging “Book Talks”

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A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea – Michael Ian Black.  Ever had the idea to host a pig parade?  Think it might be a great idea and a whole lot of fun?  Well…. think again!  This hilarious book gives all the reasons why having a pig parade is a BAD idea!

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Duck for President by Doreen Cronin would make an excellent book for teaching students about government, elections or prior to student council nominations.  Duck is tired of the chores he is made to do on the farm, so he decides to hold an election and take over the farm.  He wins, but discovers that the job is much harder than he anticipated!

So if you are thinking of teaching “persuasive writing” to your students in the months ahead, I’m hoping you discovered a few new titles that you’re excited to use for your lessons!  I’d also love to hear about any other anchor books you have used for persuasive writing.

Check out the other IMWAYR! posts at:   Teach Mentor Texts  or Unleashing Readers. 

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Summer Reading – Day 21! Bully Books

The issues associated with bullying have been the topic of many class discussions over recent years.  As with anything I teach, I try to find an anchor book as a starting point for these discussions.  Here are two of my more recent top picks for stimulating important connections, questions and conversations about bullying.

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Bully, by the prolific Patricia Polacco, is an excellent choice for middle school students.  This book, which came out last year,  is the first one I have come across that addresses the issue of cyber bullying with references to Facebook and texting.  Because it is so current,  it felt more credible when I read this to the older students.  It is a longer read, but the characters and story are so believable and the connections kids made, whether it was to the bully or the bullied, were thoughtful and heartfelt.  The story ends with the question:  What would you do? – the perfect segue into  a class discussion.  I would highly recommend this book if you are a parent or teacher of tweens and teens.

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Bully – by Laura Vacarro Seeger (Green, First the Egg, Lemons are Not Red ) is both tender and heartfelt but with a good deal of humor.  The”Bully Bull” character doesn’t have a kind word to say to any of  his friends, calling them “Chicken!” and “Slowpoke!” and telling them “You Stink!”.  This,  I’m sure, would stimulate several giggles from younger primary students.  Goat eventually stands up to Bully and tells him to stop being mean and Bully Bull eventually stops.   The story is relatively simple with minimal text but what I appreciated in this book is the subtle way Seeger uses the position and size of the Bull on the page to help tell the story.  This would be a great anchor book for  practicing inferring with younger students.  As Bully Bull moves across the pages, expanding and deflating as the story unfolds, inferences can be made as to how Bully Bull’s feelings change as he looses his bully power.

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Summer Reading – Day 20! – Nonfiction Wednesday

I have am happy to be participating my first Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!  (I hope I am not breaking any rules if I focus on Nonfiction Poetry) I was first introduced to Marilyn Singer in a Children’s Literature course I was taking at university.  I remember the Professor, Ron Jobe, sharing a new poetry book by Marilyn Singer called “Turtle in July” (published in 1989 – Yikes!  Am I that old?).  He read aloud the title poem and I was fascinated by how she was able to so effortlessly weave factual information into a simple poem. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

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Over the last 2 decades, she has written over 30 poetry books (much of which is based on nature), picture books, novels and nonfiction books.  She gained much attention and earned several awards  in 2010 for her remarkable and unique writing of Fairy Tales Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.  If you have never read this – it is an incredibly clever collections of poems that can be read both forwards and backwards.  Amazing!  Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, the follow up, was released this past February.

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Now, on to her Nonfiction books…..I am drawn to her poetry collections and nonfiction books that center around nature and animals.  I’m particularly fond of her poetry books Fireflies at Midnight and The Company Of Crows where she writes poems in the voices of different animals (and birds).   I have used both books as anchors in both reading and writing lessons.  In reading, we practice inferring information about the animals from the poems.  In writing,  I have used them as models for writing with voice.  Both books have inspired amazing animal poetry in my classroom over the years.    Students choose an animal, research its habits and behavior, then write a poem in first person, trying to capture both the “voice” and personality of the animal.

9482[2]           The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems

I recently came across her latest poetry collection called A Strange Place to Call Home (published in 2012) In it, she writes poems about the most dangerous habitats on earth and the animals who live there.  The book is illustrated by Caldecott winner and honor recipient Ed Young.  His illustrations are gorgeous and he uses a torn paper  collage style similar to Steve Jenkins.  Singer uses many different poetic forms in the book, including haiku and sonnets,  as she captures 14 relatively unknown creatures and their unusual homes.  (There is information on each creature included at the back of the book)   Through her unique poetic style, Singer is able to capture so many interesting facts, often through sparse text.  Students will be fascinated to learn about these unusual creatures and I could see how this could be used as an excellent “launch” into a research project.     The book could also be a great way to launch a Science Unit on Extreme Environments or how animals adapt to their environment.

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A Strange Place to Call Home

Where it’s dark                                                                                                              Where it’s deep                                                                                                            Where’s it’s stormy                                                                                                       Where it’s steep                                                                                                               Where the rain rarely falls                                                                                                                                      or the water always races                                                                                     They survive                                                                                                                   strive to thrive                                                                                                                  in a world of risky places

– Marilyn Singer

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Summer Reading – Day 19! Royal Baby Books!

With all the royal baby buzz, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite baby books – not books FOR babies but books ABOUT babies!   And they just might provide some insightful tips for Duchess Kate and Prince William!

931906[1]Babies, Babies Everywhere – by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee is a celebration of all the babies who are born everyday, everywhere and the joy they bring to everyone, everywhere.  (I have borrowed that repetitive phrase from the book!)  This rhyming story follows a baby through many stages – from birth to first birthday – sleeping, sitting, eating, walking, talking.   I am a huge fan of Marla Frazee’s work, her illustrations as well as her stories, and she captures, with incredible details, the sensation of babies. (the only thing missing is the delicious smell of a baby’s head!)  I longed to hold a baby after I read this!

7171946[1]Boss Baby – written and illustrated by Marla Frazee is hysterical. “From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss.”  This story follows two parents trying to keep up with the daily (hourly!) demands of their new baby “boss” – from beverages, to meetings, to baths and meals.  The parallels Frazee makes between the life of an adult “boss” and a baby are so clever (this baby even wears a one-ze suit!) It’s surprising to see how similar they actually are!  New parents will make many connections to this book, but students I’ve read this book to (particularly the ones who have recently become “big brothers” or “sisters”) laugh out loud at Boss Baby and always want to hear the story over again!

705429[1]Walk On:  A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee (for those of you who are keeping track – this is the THIRD book about babies written and/or illustrated by Marla Frazee!) is written in the form of an entertaining guide book for babies who are about to take their first step.  The illustrations, in the usual Frazee fashion, are delightful.  The book itself could also be interpreted as metaphor for the many “first step” experiences we encounter in our adult lives – from graduating, marriage, new job, and of course – welcoming a new baby.  This book would make a great gift for anyone about to take that “first step”.  This one’s for you, Will and Kate!

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Summer Reading – Day 18! IMWAYR!

It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

Since I’m already blogging every day about the books I’m reading, I’ve decided to become part of the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? book blogger group, hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers.  

Here is my first IMWAYR post, or Summer Reading – Day 18! Wordles and Wumbers!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is high up on my list of favorite children’s authors. Her ideas are simple, yet so clever and unique and often make me think “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”.   I have also used so many of her books as anchor books for lessons.  This week, I read her latest book about wordles and my head is already spinning with lesson ideas!  Here are some of my favorite Amy Krouse Rosenthal books:

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I Scream, Ice Scream! a Book of Wordles is filled with clever, witty plays on words that had me puzzled and amused all at same time!  She puts her own clever spin on selected homophones (words that sound alike but have very different meanings).  The illustrations by Serge Bloch add to the humor.  She sets up the pages for interacting and guessing, encouraging the reader to figure out the wordle before turning the page.  (some are very challenging!)   Among my favorites were “Reindeer” – “Rain, dear” and “Princess cape” – “Prince escape”.  Too funny! 13156621[2]

In a similar word play style, her book Wumbers, she combines words and numbers to create – Wumbers!  For example, when you say the word “kindergarten” – you hear the number 10 at the end – so the wumber becomes: “kindergar10”; “fortunately” becomes “fortun8ly”; “wonderful” becomes “1derful”.   Again, the book is very interactive and children (and adults) love trying to figure out what the wumber is.  The illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld give lots of clues if you get stuck!  Try making up some of your own wumbers!  It’s gr8!

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“Would you like some honey 2 swee10 your tea?”

The OK Book is the book that first turned me into an “Amy” fan!

     39876[1]     The simplicity of turning the letters “O” and “K” on their side to create a little character was ingenious ( I have introduced this book at dozens of workshops and I still hear the collective “Awwwwwww!” when teachers realize how the character is made out of the two letters)

                 thCACCW8UQ       OK climber

The message that you don’t need to be great at any one thing – as long as you try and are “OK” at lots of things is such an important one for kids to hear.   I use this book to practice making connections with primary students and follow up with each student making their own personal “OK” page, using the letters as the character depicting something they are “OK” at.  These are collated to create a class OK Book, which, in turn, are amongstthe most frequently read books in the class!

             This Plus That – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Saving the best for last – This Plus That – Life’s Little Equations is my VERY favorite Amy Krouse Rosenthal book of ALL TIME.  It is charming, delightful, poignant, whimsical and beautiful – all mixed up into one “must have in your collection” book!  I think I have used this more as an anchor book for lessons than any other picture book.  In this book, Rosenthal creates simple mathematical equations for everyday things.  For example: smile + wave = hello;  hot soup + pink cheeks = winter.  Alone, it is an engaging read-aloud.  But in a classroom, it stimulates SO much excitement when the students start to create their own equations.  I have used this book with kindergarten all the way through to grade 7.  Teachers have used it at the beginning of the school year, inviting the students to create an equation that represents themselves:  __________ + __________ + _________ = ME.   Kindergarten teachers have used equations for learning about different emotions:  _________ + _________ = happy.  I have even had middle school teachers share how they used the idea of equations for end of a unit activity in Social Studies (see samples below).

Just in case you hadn’t inferred yet – I LOVE this book!

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Grade 3 “equation” inspired by This Plus That

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Gr. 8 equations for SS unit on Medieval Times

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Summer Reading – Day 17! Crayon Revolt!

16101018[1]The Day the Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by the great Oliver Jeffers is a laugh out loud book about what happens one day when Duncan goes to colour and discovers his crayons have quit!  Instead of crayons, he discovers a stack of letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their complaints and reasons why they are quitting:  Black is fed up of being used just for outlining; Blue has been worn to a stump and is  tired of only being used to color oceans;  Green is satisfied with his workload of coloring trees, crocodiles and frogs but wants Duncan to stop the fighting between red and orange.  Beige is tired of being treated as a “second” to Brown.  Sooo funny – for adults as well as kids!  Each page features the actual letter from each crayon, expressing themselves in their own unique way and accompanied by some of Duncan’s drawings.  This book is original, clever and hilarious!  (and it makes me jealous that I didn’t think of the idea first!)

9780399255373_IL_1[1]Now many things make me happy but finding a book that fits PERFECTLY with a lesson is high up there on my happy meter! And it just so happens that I am knee deep in writing my new book (Nonfiction Writing Power) and searching for anchor books for different forms of nonfiction writing.  Hello?  Could there be a more perfect book for PERSUASION?  I got so excited when I first saw this book and realized it was written as a collection of persuasive letters (who cares if the letters are written by crayons!) I did a happy dance right there in the book store! Each letter models a form of persuasive writing that expresses an opinion with the intention of promoting action or change from the reader. I’m already visualizing students choosing the voice of a crayon and writing their own letters!  I can’t wait to share this book at my workshops!  I’m predicting it will be on the top of every teacher’s “must have” list by the end of September.  (I hope they printed lots of copies!)

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