Category Archives: Cultural Celebrations

Back to School 2021 – Books for Building Class Community

Well, it’s that time of year again… August is quickly passing by and we are starting to make that mental shift to our classrooms. It might be a good time to start gathering some books to share during those first few weeks back. I love sharing picture books to help to build class community so thought I’d share my latest favorites (and some old favorites as well!)

A Letter From Your Teacher on the First Day of School – Shannon Olsen

Every year, new books are released at this time to coincide with the start of school. And every year, one stands out to me as the “must have” back to school book. A “Letter from Your Teacher: on the First Day of School” by Shannon Olsen (author of Our Class is a Family) is on the top of my list this year! Told in the voice of a teacher, the rhyming text captures the feelings, hopes and expectations of a new school year. What a perfect book for your first week back and a great way to build a positive learning environment in your classroom.

How to Get Your Teacher Ready – Jean Reagan

The latest in the “How to” series (How to Babysit Grandpa, etc.) is out just in time for back to school! This book puts the roles in reverse by showing children getting their teacher ready for their school year instead of the other way around. Great for showing kids that teachers get nervous, too!

How to Be Kind in Kindergarten – D.J. Steinberg

Attention Kindergarten teachers and Kindergarten parents! Here is a wonderful new picture book perfect for back to school! “How to Be Kind in Kindergarten” by D.J. Steinburg is a collection of short poems that spans the entire year of kindergarten, offering simple, practical tips on how to show kindness: sharing your umbrella with a friend; taking turns on the swings, inviting someone to join in a game. Small book – perfect for a backpack! LOVE!

Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) – Carrie Finison

Doug does not like hugs! They are “too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, and too smooshy!” But just because Doug doesn’t like hugs doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you! Fun, light-hearted and upbeat but introduces important topics to younger children about consent and respecting boundaries in an accessible way. Great for discussions and making connections.

Be Strong Pat Zieltow Miller

SOOOO excited about this BRAND NEW book “Be Strong” by Pat Zeitlow Miller, author of Be Kind. A young girl, discouraged she can’t climb the climbing wall in gym, learns there is more to being strong than just physical strength. Such a great book for discussion and includes themes of perseverance, leadership, and caring. SO many things to love about this one! I would recommend it as an anchor for the “One Word Activity” using the word “strong”.

IMPORTANT: if you are have or are planning to order the Primary GearPicks Pack – DO NOT ORDER this book! (You can infer the rest!!!)

Listen – Gabi Snyder

Beautiful, mindful story about slowing down and paying closer attention to nature. I love the soft, quiet tone of the story and the grey-blue pallet. Would make a great anchor book to read before heading outside for a quiet, mindful moment!

Little Fox Has Feelings – Didi Dragon

While there are many books about feelings, I love how, rather than managing emotions, this author focuses on naming and acknowledging them. Delightful, likeable main character and adorable illustrations.

My Unique Name – Chynika Wright

I do love books about names and this new book is definitely being added to my collection! In this story, you’ll meet a little girl who gets frustrated when others cannot pronounce her name properly.  This story sends a strong message of empowerment, confidence, and celebrating uniqueness! Would make a great read-aloud before your students make nametags for their desks!

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

This book is a few years old but a “go to” for the beginning of the year to introduce manners and the “golden rule”. When a family of otters moves in next door, Rabbit is not sure how to treat them. But Wise Owl gives him some advice to “do unto otters”! This one is quirky and laugh-out-loud funny!

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. to read with your new class.

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

So much to love and so many lesson ideas with this book – one of my favorites from 2020. 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.  A wonderful anchor book for celebrating favorite cultures and traditions.

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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 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”.

Germs vs. Soap – Didi Dragon

This book was released last summer but it might be another good reminder to reinforce the importance of handwashing. Love the clever, memorable language, playful illustrations and humour.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found one or two titles that you are excited about sharing with your new class this fall. Happy reading, everyone and remember – if you want your students to love to read, then read amazing books aloud to them every single day!

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Filed under Back to School, Connect, Cultural Celebrations, Diverse Children's Books, Emotions, Feelings, Friendship, Mindfulness, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Early Readers and Beginning Chapter Books of 2017

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

This week, I am highlighting my favorite early readers and beginning chapter books from 2017.  So many great books to read and share with your emerging and transitional readers!  Many themes were featured this year, including strong, culturally diverse characters who face adversity, solve conflict and think outside the box to resolve problems.  Each of these books would work well either as a read-aloud in a primary classroom or as an independent reader.  (For each selection, I have included number of pages.)

 

Fergus and Zeke – Kate Messner  (56 pages)

Meet two charming, mischievous mice:  Fergus – a lovable classroom mouse who sneaks into a backpack to join a class trip and Zeke – his streetwise counterpart whom he meets and brings back to school with him.  Short sentences, repetition, great sight words, four easy chapters, straightforward plot and colorful illustrations – this brand-new series is perfect for emerging readers! 

Ballet Cat – What’s Your Favorite Favorite?  – Bob Shae (56 pages)

A delightful celebration of family relationships is the theme in this humorous third book in the Ballet Cat series.  Grandma ends up in quite a predicament when her two grandchildren – Cat and Goat – try to outdo each other when they put on a show for her.  Cat thinks ballet is Grandma’s favorite; Goat is convinced she likes magic tricks best.  A perfect early reader, the text is done entirely in large word bubbles, highlighted by Shea’s signature style illustrations and bright bold colors.

Super Narwhal and the Jelly Jolt – Ben Clanton  (64 pages)

In this follow-up to the first A Narwhale and Jelly Book, Narwhal decides to become a superhero.  He already has a name, an outfit, a secret identity, even a sidekick. But he still needs to find out which his superpower is… Cute, funny and very heartwarming. Comic style illustrations.

The Good For Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper (64 pages)

Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing!  It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy.  Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something! A great read-aloud and high on the giggle scale!

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz (80 pages)

When an over-scheduled princess, tired of no time to play and discover, asks her fairy godmother for a dog she is surprised when a crocodile is sent by mistake.   But the hilarious plan that follows involves the croc swapping places with Cora – giving her some much needed freedom.  With a mop wig and frilly dress, the “princess” croc insults the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Charming and so much fun to read.  (and I “inferred” a little lesson for helicopter parents!)

Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So FarCatharina Valckx (96 pages)    Six linked quirky stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life memorable and unpredictable.   Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar and often extremely silly goings-on of his life.  I loved that Bruno takes such delight in embracing any experience that come his way.

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Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and MarshmallowsAsia Citro (96 pages)

What should you feed a baby dragon?  Zoey and her cat Sassafras use the scientific method and science journals to find out!  I LOVE this first book in a series that celebrates science and features a smart, strong, tenacious female character.  Also love the message that you need to work through mistakes and re-think your plan before you can succeed!  Cute illustrations, short chapters and a sprinkle of magic thrown in!  I can’t wait for more books in this series!
yours sincerely giraffe

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe – Megumi Iwasa (104 pages)

Sweet, quirky little book about a lonely giraffe and a lonely penguin who become pen pals.  A great early chapter book, first published in Japan, that touches on loneliness, friendship, letter-writing and understanding differences.  Love the playful line drawings which break the text into manageable chunks.

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Heroes in Training – Hermes and the Horse with Wings – Tracey West (112 pages)

Not sure how I missed this series – but this is book #13!  Each book in the series features one of the Greek Gods as a child.  Ten chapters, simple text and single page black and white illustrations.  A perfect series for any young readers interested in Greek Gods and the exciting world of Greek mythology.

Ivy – Katherine Coville  (144 pages)

This short, delightful fantasy includes pixies, a sick dragon, a three legged griffin, and some nasty trolls! Ivy and her Grandmother, whom villagers call “Meg the Healer”, can relate to all the animals that live in and around the village of Broomsweep.  Her grandmother can heal all the animals, including the magical ones.  Enchanting and heartwarming!

Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen Debbi Michiko Florence  (160 pages)

So much to love about a headstrong eight-year-old named Jasmine Toguchi and her Japanese-American family.  In this first book, Jasmine longs to be part of a cultural family tradition of making Japanese mochi – a small, round dessert ball made with soft, pounded sticky rice.  But she is told she is too young to help.  I loved Jasmine’s determination, the details about mochi, and the family’s traditions.  Great for making connections!  A mochi recipe is included at the end of the book.  Looking forward to more from this series.

Beatrice Zinker – Upside Down Thinker – Shelley Johannes (164 pages)

I so enjoyed getting to know Beatrice Zinker.  She’s got the right combination of quirky and spunk, as well as her share of bad luck (think Ramona Quimby). She thinks outside the box and upside-down!  Fast paced and delightful with lots of quirky illustrations (reminded me a little of Dory Fantasmagory).  Themes of individuality, optimism, and the shifting shapes of friendships. Can’t wait for more Beatrice!

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers – John Dougherty (192 pages)

With an undertone of Monty Python, mixed with Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, an abundance of hilarious slapstick silliness, and plenty of tremendous wordplay – I LOVED this goofy LOL British adventure!  I especially loved that the cast of  characters are aware that they are in a story, and occasionally comment on it: when the king realizes they are in a story he immediately goes and puts on his clothes.  HILARIOUS!

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold (208 pages)

Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world.  A charming story perfect for students transitioning from early readers to chapter books. I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that.  Also touches on divorce and single parents. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. Tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness! 

      Thanks for stopping by!

              What are some of your favorite beginning chapter books from the past year?

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Beginning Chapter Book, Cultural Celebrations, Early Readers, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Science

Diverse Children’s Books – Celebrating Cultural Traditions

Diverse books

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme hosted by Katie @ The Logonauts;  Myra @ Gathering Books, Mia @ Pragmatic Mom, Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color and Carrie @ There’s a Book for That.  Designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters, this community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.  Every Saturday, I hope to be joining other book bloggers sharing diverse picture books!  If you have your own diverse children’s books you’d like to share, head over to Katie’s blog to link up.

Diversity is certainly evident if you were to walk into any classroom in my school in Vancouver, where over 30 different cultures are represented.  Each culture is unique and rich in traditions, customs and celebrations.  Writing about cultural celebrations is a wonderful way for children to celebrate diversity.  Here are some of the anchor books to inspire my students to write about their own cultural celebrations.

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Sona and the Wedding Game – Kashmira Sheth

A richly illustrated book that teach children about Indian and Hindu cultural traditions.

Divali Rose – Vashanti Rahaman

The meaning of the Hindu “festival of lights” becomes clear to a young boy.

Bringing in the New Year – Grace Lin

Follow a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year.

Hanukkah Lights – David Martin

From showing the menorah with a new candle, to spinning the dreidel, singing, dancing, and giving thanks, this book introduces readers to this important Jewish holiday.

Lighting Our World – A Year of Celebrations – Catherine Rondina

This beautifully illustrated book explores light – in different forms – as  vital parts of many celebrations around the world.

Filipino Celebrations – A Treasury of Feasts and Festivals – Liana Romulo

Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns, and Stars! – Betty Reynolds

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under Cultural Celebrations, Diverse Children's Books