Category Archives: Family

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Much Needed Book Joy

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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

Well, it’s been quite a week.  Lots of emotion, lots of fear, lots of unknowns…  I found myself being drawn into the negative events on the news and became swept up by it all.

And so, this weekend I turned off the news and turned to books… A distraction? Perhaps. But reading these brand new picture books brought me pieces of joy, as they always do. And joy was what I needed this week.

(A big thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a box of joy!)

How to Be A Hero – Florence Parry Heide

What does it mean to be a hero?  Fame?  Cover of a magazine?   What does it take?  Bravery? Brains? Kissing a princess?   Gideon learns a good hero keeps their eyes open to the world.  Empowering, delightful and love the boy-centered fairy tale.

The Storybook Knight – Helen Docherty

“Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”

A charming story with the perfect message – violence is not the answer – books are!  With a gentle rhyme, we meet a Leo, the mouse, whose parents would rather him be swinging his sword rather than turning a page.  So Leo heads off to tame the  dangerous dragon… with a stack of books!   Love!

  The Wish Tree – Kyo Maclear

Sweet seasonal book with a tender message about believing in something when no one else seems to.  Poetic text and lovely illustrations.

Good Morning, City – Pat Kiernan

This book is written by Pat Kiernan, well-known morning anchor on NY1, New York City’s 24-hour news channel.  (Being from the west coast of Canada, I was not familiar with him, but apparently he was born in Calgary!)  It describes a city waking up and all the activities from early to mid-morning.  I really enjoyed the short, poetic descriptions combined with sound words. A great choice for visualizing and is now on my list of anchor books for when I teach onomatopoeia!  Beautiful illustrations with amazing use of light gradually brightening on each page. This is definitely one to check out!

Sleep Tight Farm – A Farm Prepares for Winter – Eugenie Doyle

Gentle, lyrical story about a farm getting ready for winter. Helps children understand this season of the year, and how the work of one season prepares for another. Stunning illustrations.  Lovely author’s note at the back.

Real Cowboys – Kate Hoefler

I love this gentle telling of the wonders of the west.  Soft poetic text and lovely illustrations.  I really liked the focus on positive personality traits: real cowboys cry; they are good listeners, willing to ask for help, patient and hard workers.  This book is quiet and moving with a subtle, but important lesson on empathy. 

Before Morning – Joyce Sidman

I adore everything Joyce Sidman writes… so was excited to see her new book about a family’s anticipation of a “snow day” following a snow storm.   This book is one you will need to pour over – with much of the story being told through the details in the illustrations – perfect for inferring!  I appreciated that Joyce Sidman includes an explanation of what an “invocation” poem is (poem that invites something to happen) inspiriting students to write their own!  Gorgeous “scratch-board” illustrations by Beth Krommes.

First Snow – Bomi Park

This book, translated from Korean, is quiet and charming, and captures the magic of snow and childhood wonder.  Simple, soft, and beautiful. 

Samson in the Snow – Philip C. Stead

Another gentle story of friendship from Philip Stead, this one about a woolly mammoth, a bird, a mouse and some dandelions.  Oh, how I love the quiet, gentle, kind and hopeful way he tells a story.  Gorgeous illustrations.

It Is Not Time for Sleeping ( A Bedtime Story) – Lisa Graff

Rhythmic, cumulative text describes a young child going through his nightly bedtime routines.  A perfect bedtime story – but also great for making connections in an early primary class.  Charming illustrations by Lauren Castillo. 

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

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Filed under 2016 releases, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books, Winter Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Last day of summer reading

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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

Well, summer is officially over.  School begins tomorrow and, to be honest, I’m actually excited.  As much as I enjoyed every moment of the summer break, I am looking forward to the new school year ahead.  I read so many wonderful new books this summer that I’m looking forward to sharing… So here is the last of my summer book bliss…

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A Family is a Family is a Family – Sara O’Leary

The way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about the children’s families. – Joyce L. Epstein

Wow.  This book.  This book.  When a teacher asks her students to think about what makes their family special, the variety of answers have one thing in common.  This book celebrates all that family is – every shape, size and every kind of relation.  Diversity at its finest, this is a special book that needs to be shared.

  Because of an Acorn – Lola M. Schaefer

A poetic look at the inter-connectedness of an ecosystem and the circle of life.  A simple introduction for primary students.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn – Kenard Pak

Gorgeous illustrations in this book about the transition from one season to another.  As a  young girl takes a walk, she notices changes in weather, animals, and landscape.  Lovely book for visualizing!

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What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? Virginie Morgand

A great book for exploring different occupations of grown-ups in the community.   Explore fifteen detailed, busy scenes set in diverse work places, then turn the page to find out what each person’s job entails. This is a book you can pour over and find something new every time.

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The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo

Lines on a grandma’s face hold her memories – each wrinkle a precious moment in her life.  This book made me miss my mum.

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The Branch – Mireille Messier

When an ice storm breaks a young girl’s favorite branch, she refuses to throw it away until a kind neighbour helps her transform it into something special.  Vibrant illustrations.  I would pair this book with Solomon’s Tree by Andrea Spalding.

The Not So Quiet Library – Zachariah Ohora

You gotta love books about libraries – and here is the perfect new book for your school library this fall!  An entertaining, quirky read-aloud following Oskar and Theodore as they are dropped off at the library while dad goes to the ‘nap section’ (LOL!)  Lots of things to love about this book, including a very enthusiastic librarian, an unlimited check-out rule and an awesome car!

They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

“And the cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws”.  And so this repeating phrase grounds us through a wonderfully effective lesson on perspective as it delivers a whimsical little story about a wandering cat.    Clever, unique, enchanting, poetic.  LOVE!

Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around by [Colleen, Marcie]

Party Bears: Gnawing Around – Marcie Colleen

The first book in a funny new beginner chapter book series filled with full color illustrations and adorable animals!  To the Super Happy Party Bears, everything is a good thing. They love doughnuts, dancing – basically their entire attitude can be summed up in one word: YAY!

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by [Baskin, Nora Raleigh]

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story – Nora Raleigh Baskin

This moving middle grade novel addresses themes of racism, prejudice, terrorism, fear, love, and healing.  In it, we follow four middle graders in the days and hours leading up tot the 9/11 and how the day impacts their lives.  Beautiful, heartfelt, important.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know what book has caught your eye!

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Filed under Beginning Chapter Book, Diverse Children's Books, Fall, Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Seasons

IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What are You Reading? – Hot Off the Press: More Amazing New Releases

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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

It’s hard to keep up with all the amazing books that are being released this summer!  Here are some of the new picture books I read this week.

1. The Summer Nick Taught Cats to Read – Curtis Manley & Kate Berube

An adorable story about a determined boy who teaches his two cats to read.  A perfect way to illustrate that not all readers learn the same way and that finding the ‘just right book’ for every reader is an important part of the process.  A delightful book to celebrate reading!

2. Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

– Deborah Hopkinson & Philippe Cousteau

WOW!  Take note of this book!  It is ah-mazing!  So much to love about this book, written by the grandson of Jacques Cousteu.  I especially love that it combines so many amazing ‘teachable’ themes including: creative problem solving, animal activism, young people making a difference, community as well as fascinating sea turtle facts woven into the story. This one’s a winner!

3. On The Farm, At The Market – G. Brian Karas

A delightful, informative look at how produce gets from the farm to the farmers market to a restaurant.  This book would make a great introduction to farmer’s markets, gardening, community and farming.  Charming illustrations.

4. More-Igami – Dori Kleber

This book totally surprised me when I read it!  It is the story about a little boy named Joey who loves folding things.  When he tries to make an origami crane, his determined effort unfortunately results in a lot of frustration and crumpled paper.  (Think ‘Most Magnificent Thing‘) A lovely book about perseverance and passion and would also inspire some origami art! Lovely illustrations by G. Brian Karas – who has been busy as the previous book was written and illustrated by him as well!  Instructions in the back to make an origami ladybug (a little odd because the book was about a crane! )

5. Come Home, Angus – Patrick Downes

Great book dealing with how to manage when sometimes our small frustrations can lead to big emotions.  Clever clues in the illustrations to help capture the growing emotion in Angus.  I like that even when Angus runs away, Mom is never far behind him.

6. The Class – Boni Ashburn

Well, I know that there are hundreds of ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’ books to choose from but I couldn’t help myself – this one is must have this year!  What makes this one special is we follow 20 different students from 19 different homes as they get ready kindergarten.  This book is a true celebration of diversity with children from many different backgrounds, morning rituals, routines, families, and ways of getting ready to go to school. Adorable illustrations and a perfect ‘CONNECT’ book!

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This is My Dollhouse – Giselle Potter

A celebration of imagination and creativity!  A young girl creates a detailed dollhouse out of a cardboard box but worries her friend will not like it as much as a ‘real’ dollhouse.  When I was younger, my sister and I spent hours designing houses for our dolls and stuffies – I would have loved this book then, and I love it now!  Would be a great book to inspire creative thinking and play!

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Yaks Yak – Animal Word Pairings – Linda Sue Park

A funny, playful look at homophones through animal pairings and word play.  On each page, animals act out the version of their names as verbs – Fish fish with lines and hooks; Bats swing bats at baseballs; Slugs try to slug one another with boxing gloves.  I loved the chart at the end of the book which gives the etymology for each of the words.   Great fun and if you love words, like I do, you will love this book!

7. Madeline Finn and the Library Dog – Lisa Papp

This is a delightful little story which highlights the use of therapy dogs in libraries to help reluctant readers. Madeline Finn doesn’t like to read because she doesn’t read well.  But Bonnie, the beautiful dog who comes to the library, listens patiently and doesn’t laugh when she stumbles on some of the words.  Unconditional love and suppport goes a long way when you are struggling reader.

8. Ada’s Violin – The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay – Susan Hood

For those of you who do not know this story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay- it is a must read and a must share with your class.  This non-fiction picture books tells the remarkable true story about a visionary teacher who finds a way to help children escape their lives of extreme poverty through music. A beautifully told, hopeful, inspiring story with gorgeous colorful collage art.  My personal connection to this book is that my next-door neighbour is involved in a recycled instrument campaign here in Vancouver and hosted this group when they came to play here in May.  When they left, they presented him with one of their recylcled instruments – one of only 4 that they have ever given away.  The documentary film Landfill Harmonic about this extraordinary journey will be released this fall.  You can watch (and share) an inspiring 4 minute video, with the ‘real’ Ada  here or a longer report 60 Minutes did on this story here.

9. Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story – Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus

This book has not yet been released but I was fortunate enough to read the a copy of the ARC that Kidsbooks had. It is a powerful and poignant story of the damage of wastefulness.  It is an important one to share with your students and would be a great companion book to Ada’s Violin.   With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This is definitely a Transform book and I would use the ‘one word’ activity with it – using the word WASTE.  

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Back to School, Diverse Children's Books, Emotions, Family, Farmer's Market, homographs, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book

Celebration Saturday – Spring Celebrations

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 I am happy to be joining Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes and others to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of the past week(s).

It’s been a while since I posted my celebrations so I am excited to share some celebratory events….

1) Celebrating Spring – It’s springtime in Vancouver and the blossoms are blooming.  While we didn’t suffer the cold and snow like some parts of the country, the sign of spring is always a welcome one to me.  The shorter nights, longer days, color and fresh air gives me energy and lifts my spirits.

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2) Celebrating an Email – I give a lot of workshops in many different school districts and work with a lot of teachers, sharing lessons and anchor books which I hope will inspire.   While I don’t know for certain that what I say is impacting anyone, it is always my hope that someone somewhere will feel inspired, try a lesson or share a great book with their class.   Last week I received a “thank you”  email from a grade 3 teacher from Chilliwack.  She said she uses Reading and Writing Power with her grade 3 class.  During one of her Transform lessons, she read one of my favorite recommended books Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Jenkins.  After reading the book, she encouraged her students to perform “random acts of kindness” in their community.  One of her students went beyond the call to help his disabled twin brother.  You can read the newspaper article here.  I celebrate Christine Blessin, her wonderful class, Lane and his brother, kindness, and the power of books that can transform us.

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3) Celebrating books – This week I discovered a box of new spring releases from Kids Can Press on my front porch!  They send me a box twice a year with their new releases to read and recommend.  It feels like Christmas when I open the box and get to touch (and sniff!) all the new books!  I will be featuring them in a later post – but here they all are on my living room floor!  (Happy book dance!)

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4) Celebrating old friends – In the busy life of being a parent of two teens, teaching and giving workshops, I don’t often get a chance to “hang out” with friends.  During the beginning of my spring break, my dearest friend Cheryl and I went on a “girlie getaway” to Victoria, B.C.  We stayed two nights at the beautiful Oak Bay Beach hotel.  We walked, rented bicycles, went for runs, had tea and scones in bakeries, swam in the pool, had nice meals together, talked and talked and laughed a lot!  The highlight, of course, was spending hours and hours in my favorite books stores – Russell Books and Munro’s Books.  It is amazing what a couple of days away with a friend can do for your soul.

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5) Celebrating New Friends – I meet many amazing educators in my job giving workshops in many different school districts.  Two of these amazing educators, Lisa Wilson and Donna Kozak,  have become very dear friends.  Time spent in the company of my “literacy soul sisters” is a gift to me.  Whenever they come to Vancouver or I go to Kelowna, we try to connect.  Earlier this month, we met at the Secret Garden Tea Room and had a lovely afternoon drinking tea, talking about literacy, life and laughing a lot.  I am grateful for any time I have the pleasure of their company.  They are brilliant, kind and I feel as if I have known them all my life.

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5) Celebrating Snowboarding – Just before Spring Break, my eldest son travelled to Revelstoke, B.C. with his high school ski and snowboard team to compete in the provincial High School Races.  He was racing against students from all over the province – and he won a bronze medal in his second snowboard race!  His whole team did very well and combined for a 2nd place in the event.  Thrilled and proud!

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6) Celebrating family – My cousin got married earlier this month.  It was a beautiful wedding filled with love and tremendous joy.  It was wonderful to be together with cousins, uncles and aunts, sisters, nieces and nephews and friends celebrating together.  Family joy. My mum would have been overjoyed to see Andrew get married.  I miss my parents very much.

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Beautiful bride

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My cousin Andrew and new wife, Melissa.

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My uncle, aunt, two cousins (groom is far left) and two sisters.

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Love my sisters!

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Three Gear girls and their families.

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Uncle Dan and his 3 nephews (my boys are on far left and right….the ones who look as if they are drinking!)

 

I am grateful for all the moments in my life I have to celebrate.  What are you celebrating this week?

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Filed under Celebration Saturday, Family, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Family Day with Books

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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

Today is Family Day – a day in February observed in Canadian provinces.  This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.  In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February.  In celebration of Family Day, I have put together a collection of some of my favorite books that celebrate families, from picture books, nonfiction books and chapter books.  I have even included a few favorite titles from my childhood! These books would be a wonderful addition to your unit on families and are perfect books for making connections.

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The Family Book – Todd Parr

In his signature bright and colorful style, Todd Parr respectfully celebrates the many different types of families.

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

This interesting book showcases all aspects of family life – from houses, holidays, schools, pets and family trees.  Each double page spread is filled with charming illustrations and fascinating facts to pour over.  A perfect book to compliment a unit of study on families at the primary level.

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All Kinds of Families – Mary Anne Hoberman

This picture book uses rhyme to talk about the different kinds of families that belong to not only people, but to animals and objects as well.   The rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud for younger students, and while it is not one of my favorite Hobberman books, I still enjoyed the celebration of different families and the retro-illustrations.

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Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

This is an excellent book to use for a unit on cultural diversity.  In it, we visit fourteen children from different countries around the world to learn about their families, homes, customs and family activities.  Each two-page spread is told in first person and begins with a greeting in the child’s native language. Bright, detailed illustrations and lesson suggestions are included in the back.

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You and Me Together – Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley

This is one of my favorite books for practicing making connections.  Short, sparse narrative and stunning photographs by National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley, this book shares the simple joys of families being together and the message that no matter where you come from around the world – we all share a special bond with our family.

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Families, Families, Families!  – Suzanne Long

This brand new book takes on the topic of the diversity of families in a charming , humorous way.  Funny cartoon animals illustrate the idea that families come in all different forms.  Delightful, charming, clever!  

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 I Love You Like Crazy Cakes – Rose Lewis

Author Rose Lewis brings to lifer her true story of adopting a baby from China.  The story documents the adoption process, beginning with her letter to Chinese officials and ending with her bringing home a baby girl.  Touching and heartwarming.

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The Snow Globe Family – Jane O’Conner

I loved snow globes as a child so was immediately drawn to this book.  It tells the parallel story of two families – the old-fashioned “big” family inside their Victorian house and the almost identical little family inside the snow globe.  Both families are longing for a snow storm.  Charming, clever and a fun ending.

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Charlie Anderson – Barbara Abercrombie

This book is one of my all-time books for reading and practicing questioning and inferring.  While you think this story is about a cat who spends the days in one house and the nights in another, the message is really about children from separated or divorced families who live part time with one parent and part time with another.  Like Charlie the cat,  having two homes and two parents who love you is a good thing.

 

All-of-A-Kind-Family – Sydney Taylor

I could not complete a list of favorite family books without including this classic from my childhood.  I LOVED this book when I was young and read and reread it over and over again.  I loved reading about the adventures of five sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie – yes, I still remember their names!) from a Jewish family living in New York’s lower east side at the turn of the century during the turn of the century.  From bags of penny candy to searching for buttons in the front parlor  – I put myself into this book and lived every adventure with this family.

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Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Janson

Another blast from my childhood past, these quirky, slightly strange collections of whimsical stories are centered around the magical Hobgoblin’s hat – which has the power to change things into something else.  I loved the characters – Moomintroll, Sniff, Snufkin, Thingummy and Bob and all their magical adventures and I still think about those floating clouds when I throw my eggshells into the garbage!

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The Borrowers – Mary Norton

The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor.   As a child, I was fascinated at the thought of this tiny world of this tiny family who lived by “borrowing” things.  It was magical and whimsical and I wanted to be tiny and live with the Clocks!

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Year of the Dog – Grace Lin

Wonderful contemporary story of family and friendship, Year of the Dog chronicles a year in the life of Grace Lin’s Taiwanese/Chinese American family in upstate New York. I love using this book for Literature circles as there are so many connections to family, school and friendship that students will make. 

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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher – Dana Alison Levy

Saving the best for last…. this is a brand new novel and I LOVED it!   So many wonderful themes are included in this fantastic story of a family with four boys including taking risks, caring for each other, making choices.  This would be such a great read-aloud to share as  the book stimulates so many connections that would lead to great discussions.  I loved how each chapter begins with a short note -a little clue of the misadventure that’s on the way.  I loved how much I cared for each of the characters.  I loved how this book made me smile.  Basically I loved everything about this book It is charming, funny, heartwarming, beautifully written and my favorite new chapter book of the year so far!

Happy reading and Happy Family Day everyone!

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Filed under Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections