Monthly Archives: August 2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Back to School 2020 with New Books, Old Books and a few Covid Books

It's Monday What are you reading? | There's a Book for That

This school year will certainly be uncharted and ever-changing territory!   Students, parents, and teachers will have nonstop questions and concerns.   With just a week left, I know that many have mixed emotions about the return to school.  But one thing I do know, when everything else about this year may feel completely upside down – the one constant you can rely on is… BOOKS!    So here are my favorite new, older, and Covid releases for “back to school 2020”.  There will never be another “back to school” quite like this one!

NEW RELEASES 

Our Favorite Day of the Year – A.E. Ali

Oh, this book.  So much to love and so many lesson ideas (my brain is swirling!) with this book!  After their teacher tells them the first day of school is her favorite day of the year, a group of kindergarten students get the opportunity to share their favorite day with their classmates. As the school year progresses, many different cultures, traditions, and observations are introduced and shared between each classmate.  LOVE!

Our Class is a Family – Shannon Olsen

One of my favorite new Back to School books this year and a perfect one for building community within your classrooms, creating a home away from home, and making students feel safe, included, and loved.

I Got the School Spirit – Connie Schofield-Morrison

A young girl greets the new school year with an abundance of positive energy!  Bouncy text, lots of sound words, and boundless enthusiasm in this one!  Would make a great first day read-aloud.  I Got the Rhythm and I Got the Christmas Spirit are the two other books in this series.

Bunny Braves the Day – Suzanne Bloom

When a little bunny is nervous about starting school, his big sister hops right in to help him overcome his fears.  I really liked how it was a sibling, not an adult, who helps ease the nerves.

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten by [Laura Purdie Salas, Hiroe Nakata]

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten – Laura Purdie Salas

First day of kindergarten told from the viewpoint of a shy child.  This is particularly good for children with sensory issues and how to make plans to help with those school challenges.

We Will Rock Our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Follow-up to the very popular We Don’t Eat Our Classmates (see below), and while not quite as cute as the first one, there is still a lot of fun and heart with Penelope Rex and the kids of Mrs. Noodle Man’s kindergarten class as they prepare for the class talent show.

Old Favorites….

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids starting and returning to school.    All children need to know they are welcome in their classrooms and feel a sense of belonging.  In rhythmic phrases, this story emphasizes the inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures.  The perfect book for the first week of school to promote a positive classroom and school community.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!– Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with another pigeon book just in time for back to school! The Pigeon Has to Go to School is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story focusing on fears about going to school for the first time. Not preachy and a great ending. A perfect back to school read! LOVE this!

You’re Finally Here! – Melanie Watt

In a Mo Willams “Pigeon” style, this bunny speaks directly to the reader, telling them how LONG he has been waiting for them.   Melanie Watts’ style is fun, playful, and very easy to read aloud because the humour keeps readers engaged in the story.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there are many “back to school” books to choose from… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

Steve, Raised By Wolves –  Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be yourself”

The Day You Being – Jacqueline Woodson

Wow. Powerful and perfect. A beautifully illustrated and told story of encouragement and empowerment for kids who feel different from others, one that urges them to tell their stories and lift their voices.  A great back to school book for creating a positive class community.

A Few COVID Tales….

Germs vs. Soap – Didi Dragon

The perfect how-to children’s book for Covid Times, when proper hand washing is more important than ever.  Love the clever, memorable language, and playful illustrations and humour.

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If You Can’t Bear Hug, Air Hug – Katie Sodmak

Super cute book that provides alternative ways to greet each other and show that we love them during this new world of social distancing.  Perfect book for the first week back to school!

A Unique Start – 6 Ft. Apart – Emily Oquendo

A perfect classroom read aloud for the first day or week back at school during the COVID-19 crisis. This book addresses some of the changes that students will see around school during the 2020-2021 school year and a great one for  parents and/or teachers who have to talk about this difficult time with their children.  Written in a very relatable way without being too preachy

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping you found a title or two that caught your eye!

Sending positive thoughts to each and every one of you as you prepare for back to school this year.

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Back to School, Community, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books, Picture Book

Top Ten Tuesday – Outdoor Learning Anchor Books – part 2

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Last week, I posted my Ten for Ten book list featuring my top ten books for inspiring and supporting Outdoor Learning.  You can read that post HERE.  The response was overwhelming, as many teachers are looking for different ways to support their students this fall during Covid times.  I discovered so many amazing books connected to this, I decided to continue “the love” in a second post.

Here are ten more (I can’t count very well!) recommended books for inspiring and supporting your Outdoor Learning lessons, including indigenous stories and professional resources.

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A Walk in the Forest – Maria Dek

I love being in the forest.  It fills my soul.  This book really makes me want to go into the forest, feel the forest dirt under my feet and the forest air in my lungs.  So simple, yet so evocative. A beautiful book.

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Step Gently Out – Helen Frost

Step outside, take some time to be still and just watch the world. Get down low to the ground or close to some plants, and you’re sure to see tiny animals going about their business. This book beautifully captures the wonder we experience when we notice the beauty of nature.  A perfect read-aloud before taking a nature walk with your class.

The Golden Glow Benjamin Flow

This quiet, beautiful story, originally published in French, is about a botany-loving fox on a mission to find a rare golden glow flower. Along his trek, he passes through many trees, mountains, flowers and friends.  When he finally reaches the rare golden glow flower, he realizes that it needs to stay where it is.  Instead of picking it, he carefully draws it in his journal instead, so he can remember it.  Lots of great messages and topics to “infer” and discuss in this one!

A Bug Girl: A True Story – Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamura

At a very young age, Sophia Spencer develops a deep passion for bugs.  Despite the bullying she receives, with the help of her mother, she finds “her people” –   hundreds of women scientists rallied around her through encouraging letters.  This is an inspiring true story celebrating women in science, bugs of all kinds, and the importance of staying true to yourself.

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Picture a Sky Barbara Reid

In Barbara Reid signature clay illustrations, this book is a perfect anchor for transforming our understanding and thinking about the ever-changing sky.  Great for cloud watching, imagining, and art.

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Tiny, Perfect Things -M. H. Clark

Such a beautiful book intended to help young readers become aware of the wonders around them every day.   A child and grandfather’s walk around the neighborhood leads to a day of shared wonder as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together.   Rhythmic storytelling and detailed illustrations.

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Just in Case You Want to Fly – Julie Fogliano

Let’s take a trip!  Delightful rhyming text and collage pictures depicting the important things to take with you on a trip.  Ends with a map with an “x” so readers can find their way home.  Lovely rhyming text.  I would use this for inspiring students to make their own map and list for things to take on their trip.

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Please Take Me For A Walk – Susan Gal

A simple and endearing story of a 4 legged friend who just wants to go for a walk!  Read this like YOU are the dog begging and telling why you want to go on the walk.  Your students will love it!  Great for persuasive writing and story mapping.  

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Windows Julia Denos

Lovely picture book of a child exploring his little world and many other worlds, all beautifully framed in a window.  Gentle celebration of neighborhoods, diversity, stories, imagination, and home.

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The Things That I Love About Trees – Chris Butterworth

I love trees.  I love changing seasons.  This book has both.  I love this book. It’s a  simple look at trees throughout the seasons of one year.   Connection to The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

A Walk on the Shoreline – Rebecca Hainnu

A follow up toA Walk on the Tundra, this book is full of interesting facts about the  Canadian Arctic, and in particular, the rich plants and animals the Inuit gather and hunt during the short Arctic summer months.  Both books would be excellent companion books for your study of Inuit culture, land, and traditions.  Recommended for older readers due to the longer text.

Lessons From Mother Earth – Elaine McCleod

Tess visits her grandmother and learns about the earth, how it has sustained her and her family, as well as how to pick just the right amount of berries and plants.  Lovely story celebrating nature and learning about how the indigenous people respect and care for the earth.

I Help – Caitlin Dale Nickolson

A young boy follows his grandmother, walking, listening, picking, praying, eating, just as she does.  Simple text full of rich cultural traditions and values of his Cree heritage.  Written in both English and Cree.  Beautiful large book with gorgeous illustrations.

PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES 

Messy Maths: A Playful Outdoor Approach – Juliet Robertson

I have seem lots of mentions on this book on social media sites so it’s definitely one teachers are using.   The author’s first book, Dirty Teaching” (below) was first published in in 2014 and was extremely popular in the UK, where she is from.

Dirty Teaching – A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Outdoors – Juliet Robertson

This is a very helpful and practical resource for teachers just new to outdoor learning – full of tips and tricks “to help any primary school teacher kick-start or further develop their outdoor practice.”

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The Big Book of Nature Activities:  A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning – Drew Monkman

An excellent holistic nature adventure and education book. Whether you are new to nature exploration, a teacher, a parent, a young person, or a seasoned explorer, this book has something for you. It hits on the basics and further with introductions and tips and tricks to general exploration and then the seasonal activities — which include information and considerations, so more than just go outside and play activities.

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The Outdoor Classroom In Practice – Karen Constable

Inspiring, practical resource to help teachers make the most of the outdoors all year round.  Gorgeous colored photos and a month-to-month guide that explores theme-related play experiences.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you have found one or two books that caught your eye!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the last weeks of summer!

 

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Filed under environment, Indigenous Stories, New Books, Outdoor Learning, Picture Book, Professional Books, Read-Aloud, Top 10 Tuesday, Writing Anchor book

Picture Books 10 for 10 (2020) Top Ten Picture Books to Support Outdoor Learning

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I’m excited to be, once again, participating in this summer’s 10 for 10 Picture Book celebration! #pb10for10   This annual celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  Hard to believe this is my eighth year of participating in this event! (you can read my 2019 here 2018 here,  2017 post here,  2016 post here2015 post here2014 post here and 2013 here. )  Each year on August 10th, the blogging community chooses 10 picture books on a range of themes – from diversity, to community building, to writing, to conservation.  It is an amazing opportunity to explore new picture books related to a wide range of themes.  (It can also be a little hard on your bank account, if you are anything like me!)

 2020…. A year for the record books.  As we prepare and venture into the unknown of classrooms during Covid,  many are pressing the reset button and looking for new ways to support their students learning while trying to keep everyone safe.  While there is no doubt school start up will be challenging and look very different from any other year, it may also open up some exciting opportunities for exploring new ways to teach.  Outdoor learning is one of these new opportunities.  Outdoor learning is more than just taking students outside to play at the end of the day.  It is an outdoor learning space that provides an opportunity to integrate nature into your teaching and promotes play, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Traditionally, I have always organized my #pb10for10 around Reading Power two books for each strategy (connect, question, visualize, infer, transform).  But this year, I am breaking with tradition and focusing on a theme more fitting for the times – 10 books that celebrate nature and may inspire outdoor learning and exploring.

(Note – I found so many wonderful books for this theme, I will continue with a second post later this week!)

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1.Run Wild David Covell

This book makes me want to take off my shoes and run around outside and explore!  A wonderful reminder that there are so many adventures to be found when you put down your screen.  Lovely rhythmic text and detailed illustrations!

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2.The Not So Great Outdoors – Madeline Kloepper

The little girl in this story hates nature.  She wants her WiFi and her electricity, and she doesn’t see what the big point of this “outdoor stuff” is.  Camping with her family is not exactly her idea of fun.  But she soon discovers that the (not-so) great outdoors can be just as exciting as screens and skyscrapers.  Love this playful picture book celebrating the pleasures of unplugging and embracing nature.

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 3. Daniel Finds a Poem – Micha Archer

What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew?  Crisp leaves crunching?  A cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass?  Maybe poetry is all of these things – you just have to take the time to really look and listen.  I use this book when launching my poetry unit but it’s the PERFECT book to inspire exploring and writing.

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4. The Listening Walk – Paul Showers

What can you hear when you’re out for a walk? The tap of your shoes, the whirr of the sprinklers, the chug of the bus? This classic picture book encourages you to slow down and listen to the noises all around you.  I have always loved using this book for visualizing and teaching onomatopoeia but would be an great inspiration for taking a “listening walk” with your students.

5. Autumn Math Walk Deanna Pecaski McLennan

Outdoor learning means finding ways to integrate nature into all areas of your curriculum.  This is a wonderful series that can spark mathematical conversations with children, and be used as a guide for discovering the rich math that exists in nature.   See also Winter Math Walk, Beach Math Walk and Playground Math.

6. Everybody Needs a Rock – Byrd Baylor

This is one of my all-time favorite books to share with students.  Byrd Baylor invites readers to find their “perfect rock” and gives 10 “rock rules” to follow while searching.  So many lessons and activities stem from this book –  a perfect introduction to rocks and minerals unit in science; students can find their own rock to learn about; learning a First Nations ways of knowing perspective; students to find a special rock and write a description and about their journey to find it.  LOVE!   (Check out my OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea on this book HERE)

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7. You’re Missing It!  – Brady Smith

Sometimes, it’s parents who need reminding to turn off their phones and enjoy the sights and sounds around them.  Perfect reminder to practice mindfulness, being present and enjoying the moment.  A great to companion (text-to-text) to Sidewalk Flowers.  

8. Backyard Fairies – Phoebe Wahl

Where are those fairies?  I am certain they are here – there are clues everywhere – but I just can’t see them!   Follow a little girl as she sets out into the woods in her backyard searching for the backyard fairies.  Although readers can see them, as hard as she looks, the fairies are always just out of view for the narrator.  Delightful illustrations.  I would use this book to promote Imagination Pocket writing.  Children could also go on a fairy walk outside or draw their own fairy forest.

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9.  Finding Wild – Megan Wagner Llyod

Breathtaking illustrations and enchanting language, this book takes readers on a sensory journey though nature.  Would be a great anchor book for visualizing and sensory details.  Would also be inspiring for kids to find their wild!

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 10. The Hike – Alison Farrell

Share the joy and excitement of three friends as they head out to enjoy the great outdoors together.  I love the beautiful, lyrical storytelling and the details of nature that fill every corner of this book.  Besides the overall message of encouragement to get out and enjoy the world outside, I would definitely use this for launching scientific notebooks and labelled diagrams.

While  not  a picture  book,  this  looks  like  an  excellent  resource  (but  I have  not  read it,  myself).  12082784

Moving the Classroom Outdoors:  Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning in Action – Herbert W. Broda

A great resource of new ideas and advanced ways to meaningfully use the space on  school grounds to support student learning.  Includes research and practical examples from schools across North America. Great photos!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book to caught your eye!

(Note – I found so many books for this theme, I will continue with a second post later this week!)

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 10 for 10, 2020 Releases, environment, New Books, Outdoor Learning

Favorite Middle Grade Novels of 2020 (so far!) for summer reading!

It’s August!  Eeeek!  Only one more month to catch up on our READING, so thought I’d post a list of favorite middle grade novels.   (You can read last summer’s post HERE)

Whether you know a child,  tween, or teen who might be looking for some great summer reading, or you are on the look-out for a new book for next year’s read-aloud, there is something here for everyone.

What trends have I noticed in MG novels this year?:  stories written from alternating points of view, relatable characters who stand up for injustices, and a good dose of spook!  Some very powerful books – well worth checking out!  Happy summer reading, everyone!

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A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Joy McCullough

So much to love about this book about Sutton, a girl with a passion for science and  Louis, a boy obsessed with robots who dreams of writing fantasy novels.  While the two have nothing in common, they must figure out how to get along when their parents start dating.  Told in alternating perspectives of Sutton and Luis, this book is so engaging and has such authentic characters and voice – readers will make SO many connections!  Loved it so much!

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Efren Divided – Enesto Cisneros

Raw, gripping and powerful.  Seventh-grader Efrén Nava’s world turns upside down when his mother, his Ama, his Superwoman, is suddenly deported.   Efren is left to dig deep to find courage as he struggles to look after his young brother and sister and find a way to get his Ama home.  An important book that will spark discussion about immigration policies and inequality.  Heart-breaking and heart-warming, I needed Kleenex for this one.

 

Rick – Alex Gino

Eleven year old Rick struggles with a toxic friendship and his sexual identity is as he navigates middle school feeling “different”.  Sequel to the popular book GEORGE by the same author.  This is an excellent introduction for younger tweens to the LGBTQIAP+ community, nonbinary pronouns and sexual identity.

The Blackbird Girls – Anne Blankman

Gripping historical fiction, told in two voices, tells the story of two young girls fleeing the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.  Related story told through flashbacks of one of the girls fleeing the German invasion of Kiev during WWII.   Despite the horrible events both girls are experiencing, hope and the power of kindness shine through this book.  The details of daily life in Ukraine are fascinating.  If you enjoyed the HBO series “Chernobyl”, you will enjoy this book!

A Place at the Table – Saadia Faruqi

Told in alternating points of view, sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl are each in need of a friend.  Both girls are struggling with complicated home lives and a meet in a cooking class.  Mix in a cooking contest, middle school friendships, and a much-needed lesson on empathy, this book really surprised me.  Beautifully written and rich with important themes to discuss including race, religion and immigration, friendship, family, and how to make choices to be the type of person you want to be.

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks

“Just Mercy” for kids!  Zoe Washington just turned twelve and has big plans to enter a kids baking show.  Things take a turn when she receives a letter from her biological father, whom she has never met and discovers he is in prison for a crime he says he did not commit.  She writes him back and so begins a summer filled with baking, friendship, and some important lessons about the criminal justice system that is accessible and easy for a tween to understand.   Another great surprise book for me.

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We Dream of Space – Erin Entrada Kelly

I can still remember vividly watching the Challenger tragedy unfold on TV.   Set in Jan, 1986 in the days leading up to the Challenger tragedy, this book is written from the perspective of Bird, Cash, and Finch – three different siblings living in a dysfunctional family.  Erin Entrada Kelly has captured the confusion and chaos of adolescence in a heartbreaking,  beautiful way.

Dress Coded – Carrie Firestone

A modern “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?”, this powerful debut novel is told through narration, podcast episodes, and various letters.  So many themes to explore here, including girl-power, friendship, and standing up for what you believe in.  Molly, an eighth grader, starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school.  So relevant without being forced or fake.  EXCELLENT!

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Me and Banksy – Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Entertaining and thought provoking story that tackles the important issues of cyber bullying and cyber security in schools and includes themes of art and civic debates.  Dominica and her friends are targeted by a cyber bully, who is posting embarrassing images of them online.  They stage a protest to show how damaging the security cameras are to the students and teachers.  I loved the funny and engaging banter between the characters. This would be a great book to prompt a discussion with tweens about privacy issues in our digital world.  

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The One and Only Bob – Katherine Applegate

The much anticipated sequel to The One and Only Ivan did not disappoint.  In the story, we follow Bob after a tornado separates him from Julia while visiting his friends Ruby and Ivan. The story is action-packed, involves a diverse array of animals, and touches on the important topic of forgiveness.  You will be laughing in one moment and reaching for your Kleenex the next.  Bob’s voice is delightful and I love Katherine Applegate’s brilliant use of language, rich with metaphors and similes:  “When he opens the fridge, the light spills out like maple syrup on a hot pancake.” So many quotes worth savoring.  LOVE!

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Music for Tigers – Michelle Kadarusman

Beautifully written coming of age story set in Tasmania.  Louisa would rather spend the summer at home in Toronto playing her violin but instead is shipped off to spend the summer with her Uncle.  This book transports the reader to the lush Tasmanian rainforest of Australia as Louisa discovers a diary of her great grandmother.  In it, she learns a rich-family history to conserve the Tasmanian tigers.

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Stand Up, Yumi Chung! – Jessica Kim

This was such a fun, heart-warming story!  Shy Yumi Chung dreams of being a stand-up comedian one day, but that is not what her Korean immigrant parents have in mind for her.  When she stumbles across a comedy camp meeting in her neighborhood, Yumi finds herself pretending to be “Kay”, an absent student, and taking her spot in the camp.  I enjoyed this book so much.  It’s heartfelt and funny with many themes including family, comedy, and being your true self.  Lots of hype about this one, and now I know why!

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My Life as a Potato – Arianne Costner

I SO SO SO loved this book! (I know I say that a lot!)  It is laugh out loud funny and a perfect read-aloud for the beginning of the year.  Hilarious, accurate story of seventh grader Ben, convinced he is cursed by potatoes,  as he navigates his way through middle school with a main quest to avoid embarrassment.  Fans of the Wimpy Kid series will LOVE this book!  The character development is amazing, perfectly capturing the voice and mindset of a typical middle school student, complete with self-doubt and girl crushes.

Ghost Squad – Claribel A. Ortega

Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters  mixed together in this action-packed fantasy about two best friends, a ghost family and a quest for a spell book.  Twelve-year old Lucely Luna likes hanging out with her best friend, Syd, and spending time with her family.   Only most of her family are ghosts and she’s the only one who can see them.  If any book will be made into a movie this year – I predict this one!

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Bloom – Kenneth Oppel

High scores on the creep scale for this one!  Bloom is the first book in a trilogy (book #2 should be released in September) by wonderful Canadian author Kenneth Oppel, set in Salts Spring Island, B.C.   Killer vines begin a global invasion, growing fast and furiously after a rainfall.  Three teens: Anaya, Petra, and Seth, each with their own unusual trait, are the only ones who seem to be immune.  What’s their secret?  Eeeek!  This one actually creeped me out!  It’s a perfect suspenseful mix of dystopia, mystery, and horror. Sci-fi fans will fighting over this one!  Can’t wait for book #2!

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Cinders and Sparrows – Stefan Bachman

Spooky, charming adventure story filled with magic, witches, and a castle filled with ghosts.  Twelve-year old Zita is an orphan who discovers she has inherited an old castle and that she comes from a long line of powerful witches.  Zita, unfortunately, doesn’t know the first thing about being a witch.  The focus on family, friendship, and belonging in this story is fresh, magical, and enchanting.  Note – this book will be released in early October – just in time for Halloween!

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A Wolf for a Spell – Karah Sutton

I so enjoyed this magical retelling of of the classic Baba Yaga story told from the perspective of a wolf who must work together with the dreaded witch to save her pack and beloved forest.  The writing has a classic fairy tale feel and the author’s fresh twists and perspectives on this classic Russian witch tale really worked.

And there you have it!  My favorite Middle Grade novels so far this year!  Stay tuned for some exciting news about ordering these books for your school!

Thank for stopping by!  Hope one or two books have caught your eye!

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Diversity, environment, Family, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Identity, immigration, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Novels, Point of View, Racism, Read-Aloud, Sci-Fi