Category Archives: New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Award Winners and Recent Favorites

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 that time of year when many book awards are being announced.  I am excited to share some of these books with you, along with a few of my recent favorites!  Happy reading week, everyone!

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      SWEEP – The Story of a Girl and Her Monster Jonathon Auxier.

WINNER:   Governor General Award for Best Young People’s Literature for 2018.

Wow. I can’t say enough good things about this stunning story of courage, sacrifice, child exploitation, unconditional love, and civil disobedience mixed with just the right amount of historical elements and sprinkled with magic. Set in the late 1800’s in Victorian England, it is the story of Nan Sparrow, a young chimney sweep who is struggling to survive after her father disappears. She befriends and forms a remarkable bond with Charlie, a golem made from ash, and in the process, they save each other. I cried. Yes, I did. And you will, too. It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, funny and poignant and just beautiful in every way.  This is my new favorite middle grade read-aloud for 2018!  

“We are saved by saving others.”   (One of the MANY quotes from this book)

 

Town is the Sea – Joanne Schwartz Illustrated by Sydney Smith

WINNER:  2018 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.  

Beautiful, simple story of a young boy who spends his day in the bright village by the sea, contrasted with his own father’s day spent in the darkness of a coal mine.   A wonderful anchor book for exploring stories across Canada – this one capturing a mall mining town in 1950s’ Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

When the Moon Comes Paul Harbridge   Illustrated by Matt James

WINNER:  2018 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

The author shares his own childhood memories of playing pond hockey on frozen backyard rinks.  Whether you are a hockey fan or not, this book celebrates a sense of adventure and the magic of time spent outdoors.  Gorgeous figurative language makes this a wonderful anchor book for descriptive writing and capturing small moments.  The illustrations are stunning.

They Say Blue Jillian Tamaki

WINNER:  2018 Governor General’s Literary award for illustrated literature for young people. 

Gorgeous, gentle, poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view.  This book would make an amazing anchor to stimulate writing about color.  Stunning illustrations.

Le Chemain de La Montagne – Marianne Dubuc

WINNER:  2018 Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature  (French).

While I don’t read or speak French, I did read the English translation of this book (see cover below) and can understand why it was selected for this award.  When Mrs. Badger becomes too tired to continue her daily friendship visits up the mountain, she passes the torch to Leo, an adorably cute cat, to the walk.  A gentle, tender little story that captures so many wonderful themes: the circle of life, friendship, learning from elders, sharing wisdom, and exploring and celebrating nature. Love this one.  Originally in French, translated into English.

Up the Mountain Path – Marianne Dubuc

A Big Mooncake for Little Star – Grace Lin

Such a gorgeous book!  A young child bakes a Mooncake with her mom. She’s told not allowed to eat it, but, she does nibble on it a little bit everyday.   A unique and intriguing way to explain the phases of the moon.  Simple black and yellow illustrations evokes a soothing feeling of nighttime.  Love Little Star’s and her mother’s black pajamas with big yellow stars on!  Don’t forget to check out the end papers!

Blue Picture book

Blue – Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I loved Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s celebration of the color green in her picture book “GREEN” using gorgeous illustrations and clever cut-outs. (The book earned her a Caldecott award) In her companion book, “BLUE” she layers her celebration of color with a poignant story of a boy and his dog. I was astonished of the emotion this book – the sadness, love and hope I felt as I read it. Watch the video below (may require Kleenex) A beautiful story to share. Great anchor for inferring and also would be a wonderful anchor for color writing. Brilliant.    Watch the book video here. 

Zola’s Elephant – Randall de Seve

A girl imagines the new neighbors have an elephant — surely that is what must be in the large moving box – so there is no need to go over and introduce herself.  This is a charming, whimsical story about a new friendships and a wild imagination.  Rich, detailed illustrations by Caldecott Honor illustrator Pamela Zagerenski weave uniquely into the story.

Thank you, Omu! – Oge Mora

One of my favorite new reads this week, this is a beautiful picture book about community and the spirit of sharing told with a lovely folk tale rhythm.  A generous grandmother makes a delicious stew and shares it generously with various members of her diverse community.  When she ends up having nothing left for her own supper, the community comes together to return the favour and bring delicious food to her.  This has the feel of a classic tale and will make a perfect read aloud.  Beautiful, colorful, cut paper collage illustrations.

Imagine – Juan Felipe Herrera 

I was drawn in by the cover of this book and the illustrations by one of my favorite illustrator, Lauren Castillo.  This is a picture book biography of US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera…written as a poem.  It is filled with beautiful language and a beautiful message about following your dreams.  The poet’s journey begins as a child of a migrant family, then a boy feeding chickens, a youngster recording new words, a teenager turning those words into songs.  Lauren Castillo is a favorite illustrator of mine and her pictures bring this book to life.

The Patchwork Bike – Maxine Beneba Clarke

“This is the village where we live inside our mud-for-walls home. These are my crazy brothers and this is our fed-up mum.”

And so begins this joyful, uplifting testimony to ingenuity and the ability of kids to have fun and hope even in challenging circumstances.   This is a simple story of a girl talking about her neighborhood, her family, and her most prized possession – a bike made up of bits and pieces of scraps she and her brothers found.  The illustrations by Van Thanh Rudd are so creative – scraps on cardboard.  This book exudes JOY!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope a few books caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Award Winner, Community, Diversity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, Moon stories, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Best Books for Building Class Community

Well… for many of us – tomorrow we head back to school to begin a new year.  These first few days and weeks are filled with many emotions, new routines, and, let’s face it – a fair share of chaos!  But nothing is more important in these first weeks than establishing your class community.  Creating a positive, welcoming, accepting place will help students feel more connected, empowered, and invested in learning.  Reading stories to your class and engaging in discussions is one of the best ways I know to begin this process.  While there are dozens to choose from, here are a few of my favorite picture books for building a positive learning environment in your class:

(Note:  This is not intended to be a list of “Back to School” books – which are really only shared during the first few DAYS of school.   This list is meant for sharing and discussing over the first few WEEKS of school, while you focus on building your classroom community.   For favorite “Back to School” books, see my post here.)

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!  If you are familiar with my “One Word” transform lesson – the one word I would use with this book is, of course, “Welcome”.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Another one of my favorite books by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson is about bullying – the subtle kind of bullying –  the ignoring and whispering and refusal to acknowledge someone. I think this kind of bullying can be the worst. This book is heart-breaking and poignant.   I love the metaphor of the stone making rippling waves in the water representing the effects of kindness upon others and the not so happy but very realistic ending.   Such an important story to share and talk about.

The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig

This powerful, heart-breaking story is one of my very favorites.  Brian is so quiet, he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.  LOVE!

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! Trudy Ludwig

From the amazing team who brought us “The Invisible Boy”, Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton’s new book “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!” is a must have for a first week read-aloud to help build your classroom community. Owen McPhee loves to talk… and talk and talk and talk! (connections, anyone?) But when he develops laryngitis one day, he discovers the the value of being a good listener. Wonderful depiction of the social dynamics of a busy classroom with a gentle message about the importance of listening. LOVE!

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

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… 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”.

                                                 How to Be a Lion  Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  SUCH a great book for building classroom community!

I’m the Best! Lucy Cousins

Some children like to brag.  And while the line between being confident and being a “swagger-bragger” is often thin, it is an important distinction to discuss with your students.   This cheerful, humorous book is a wonderful way to spark that discussion.  Dog is “the best” at everything and likes to tell his friends all about his “amazingness”!  Eventually, his friends are tired of his bragging so they start a little bragging of their own, helping Dog realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of a “swagger-bragger”.   I love how this book gently shows how bragging impacts others.

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by 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”

Do Unto Otters:  A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

Based on The Golden Rule, this book reminds young readers to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Simple message that being kind and using your manners will go a long way when interacting with other people.   Love the word play and puns and quirky, fun illustrations.

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices – Sally Derby

I love this unique look at the first day of school told through the voices of six diverse children, ranging in age from kindergarten to grade 5.  Each child tells the story of their first day of school, beginning with the night before where readers will see that even children who are older worry about school and who their teacher will be.  Excellent book for inferring, voice and point of view.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

This humorous tale of a bad sunflower seed who eventually turns good makes a great read-aloud for primary students.  Sunflower is a BAAAAAAAAAD seed!  How BAAAAAAAAD?  He cuts in line, lies, doesn’t listen, has no manners…the list goes on!   I like how this book explores how he got to be so bad as well as focusing on his transformation to the “good side”.   Expressive illustrations – lots of laughs but great message.

What if Everybody Did That? – Colleen M. Madde

A wonderful book for teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community – perfect for the beginning of the year.   What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick has simple, up-beat text,  colorful illustrations and gives a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

 This School Year will Be The BEST! – Kay Winters

Fantastic beginning of school read-a-loud. Great for starting the conversation about what students are nervous about, thinking about, and hoping to get from school.  Also a great anchor for writing about school goals and wishes for the new school year ahead.

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Be Where Your Feet Are! – Julia Cook

A simple, child-friendly book about mindfulness and creating a positive classroom environment.  Too often, our students are overbooked with school, homework, projects, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time and so much more.  The main character in this book is so focused on his band tryouts that he can not focus on anything else.  Mindfulness tips are included in the back of the book and would be great to kick off a class created list of ways students can work together to be present as individuals, supporting each other throughout the year.

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book for building class community?

 

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Filed under Class Community Building, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View

Picture Book 10 for 10 (2018) – 10 New Picture Books for Your Reading Power Collection!

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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 sixth year of participating in this event! (you can read my  2017 post here,  2016 post here2015 post here2014 post here and 2013 here. )  Each year, 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!)

Keeping with tradition, I have organized my post to feature new releases that support Reading Power strategies.  I have included two books for each: Connecting, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, and Transform (synthesizing).   For those who are already using RP, these would be my recommendations for adding or replenishing your collection this year!

CONNECT

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! Trudy Ludwig

From the amazing team who brought us “The Invisible Boy”, Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton’s new book “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!” is a must have for a first week read-aloud to help build your classroom community. Owen McPhee loves to talk… and talk and talk and talk! (connections, anyone?) But when he develops laryngitis one day, he discovers the the value of being a good listener. Wonderful depiction of the social dynamics of a busy classroom with a gentle message about the importance of listening. LOVE!

Alma – And How She Got Her Name –  Juana Martinez-Neal.

Who named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family?  These are questions I love to ask my students as we explore identity  (and the first lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) Alma has six names – each one connected to people in her family.   A perfect connect book for a lesson on exploring our names.

QUESTION

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The Stuff of Stars – Marion Dane Bauer

Wow.  This stunning picture book (release date – Sept. 4th) presents readers with factual events about the birth of the universe, planet Earth, and life on Earth.  Expressive, lyrical free verse with magical, mesmorizing illustrations.  This would be an amazing book to explore and promote questions about how Earth began.  I love how the story parallels the birth of the Earth with the birth of a child. An amazing blend of science and art — and how we are all the stuff of stars.  Wow, again.

My Wounded Island Jacques Pasquet

This book, originally published in French, is a heartbreaking story of a northern island slowly disappearing into the sea.  But why?  A great book for questioning that introduces the new concept of “climate refugees” to young readers (and to me!) Beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated. Would make an excellent introduction to a unit on climate change or northern indigenous cultures. I also like the use of metaphor:”the beast” in the story is actually global warming.  ( I cheated just a little with this book as it was actually published in 2017 but I didn’t discover it until 2018!) 

VISUALIZE

 Tiny Perfect Things – M. H. Clark

A child and a grandfather walk around the neighborhood and share the wonder around them as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together.  A celebration of childhood curiosity, adventure, and wonder in everyday things.  Rhyming text and detailed illustrations.  Love this one.  

Hello, Lighthouse – Sophie Blackall

This beautifully illustrated children’s picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. Seasons pass, wind blows, fog rolls in, icebergs drift by…. all unfolding with beautiful language and vivid details – perfect for visualizing.

INFER

We are All Dots:  A Big Plan for a Better World –  Giancarlo Macrì

If you attended any of my workshops this past spring, you will have heard me going on and on about this amazing, powerful picture book that introduces, in simple format, many important social issues.  Intended for an older audience, this book would stimulate great discussions about equality and diversity with older students.   SO many inferences can be made from the many different dot images.  This is one of my favorite books of 2018.

Whale in a Fishbowl Troy Howell, Richard Jones

While on the surface, this is a gentle story of Wednesday – a whale who lives in a giant fishbowl in the middle of the city but yearns for a life beyond her bowl.  But metaphorically, it is a universal story of belonging, about possibilities, and finding one’s perfect place.  Stunning illustrations.   SO many inferences can be drawn from this story – from following your heart, believing in your dreams, having the courage to explore the unknown, animals in captivity… the list goes on!

TRANSFORM

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!  If you are familiar with my “One Word” transform lesson – the one word I would use with this book is, of course, “Welcome”.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.  Possibly my favorite book of 2018 so far – release date is August 28 so pre-order now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Don’t forget to check out more 10 for 10 Picture Books!  #pb10for10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book 10 for 10, Question, Reading Power, Transform, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Summer Picture Book Picks 2018 (Part 2) Family, Friendship, and Inclusion

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 my intention of blogging more this summer has certainly not unfolded as planned!  But I have discovered I have only two speeds – Fast Forward and STOP!  And when I stop – I literally get nothing done!  But I’m enjoying the lazy (hot) days of summer immensely!  Here is my “Part 2” of some my favorite summer picture books.  This week I’m featuring books that focus on Family, Friendship and Inclusion – all themes and lessons you will find in my new book Powerful Understanding.  Enjoy and happy reading!

Drawn Together (Hyperion Picture Book (eBook)) by [Lê, Minh]

Drawn Together – Minh Le

Beautifully touching story celebrating the power of unspoken language and bridging the gap between ages, languages, and cultures.  A young boy and his aging grandfather can’t communicate due to a language barrier but eventually find a new way to communicate through drawing together.   Lots of connections here.  Stunning story… stunning illustrations.  I see award nominations coming for this one.

Islandborn – Junot Diaz

“Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”  A perfect book for exploring immigration, community, family, traditions and culture.  WOW!  Great book for sharing and making connections to family origins.  Bright, bursting illustrations.  LOVE!

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Who named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family?  These are questions I love to ask my students as we explore identity  (and the first lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) Alma has six names – each one connected to people in her family.   A perfect anchor for a lesson on exploring our names!

Funeral – Matt James

I love books that invite questions from the cover… “What’s a funeral?” …“Who died?”…  “Why do the kids look so happy when the book is called The Funeral?”  “Why are the letters in the title in different colors?”   A refreshing look at a “FUN-eral” of a beloved uncle – celebrating life rather than mourning death.  It’s simple, honest and affirming.   This one grew on me.

FRIENDSHIP

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Little Robot Alone – Patricia Maclachlan

Can’t ever miss reading a book by the great Patrica Maclachlan…  Little Robot Alone is a lovely story about a Robot who decides to use his creativity to make himself a friend – a robot dog!  Repetitive segments and sing-song elements make this a charming read-a-loud for Pre-K-Gr. 1.  Would be a great anchor for inviting students to create their own “friend”.   (Would also be a great anchor for my MMT school project – based on The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  See my blog post here.)

Hoot and Olive:  Brave Enough for Two – Jonathan D. Voss

Mix a little Goodnight Moon, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Night Gardner…. and you have this delightful story of two inseparable friends – a little girl and her stuffed Owl. Gorgeous, whimsical watercolor illustrations.  A tale of bravery, adventure and hope.  Love this one.  (I know I say that a lot but I really did love this one!)

Rescue and Jessica – A Life-Changing Friendship – Jessica Kensky

Written by two of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, this picture book is the true story of one of them and their service dog, Rescue.  But it is really the story about overcoming life’s challenges and the hope we find during times of overwhelming adversity.  I love the parallel stories of both Rescue, a dog that thought he would grow up to be a seeing eye dog, but life had a different responsibility for him and Jessica, a young girl whose life also turned out differently than she imagined. Together they rescue each other.

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

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… 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”

                                                       How to Be a Lion – Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  This is a great book for building classroom community.

                                               Niblet & Ralph –  Zachariah OHora

Two look-alike pet cats switch places in this humorous, sweet story of mistaken identity.  A little like “The Parent Trap” for cats!  Love the retro illustrations.  I like how, while the cats look alike, their owners slowly discover their differences.  Very sweet story.

Friendship is Like a Seesaw – Shona Innes

Great rhyming read-aloud for your younger students.  Sweet illustrations and gentle text explores friends at their best–sharing, laughing, and playing together–as well as friends who sometimes say hurtful things, leave others out, or get a bit bossy.  I love how the story introduces specific “friendship fix” strategies (another lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) like talking about our feelings, looking at our own friendship skills, or taking a break.  A great anchor book for talking about the ups and downs of friendships!  

INCLUSION 

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!

The Outlaw Nancy Vo

Wow.  This book is powerful, so powerful.  Set in the old west, it tells the story of an Outlaw who, after many years of terrorizing a town, disappears.  When he returns, years later, he must begin the long process of making amends.   While not really about inclusion, it is a story about forgiveness, acceptance and second chances.  Simple text but this is definitely going to be added to my list of Inferring books for intermediate students. Would make a great book to spark conversations about forgiveness.   Love the “old west” feel to the mixed-media illustrations.

We are All Dots:  A Big Plan for a Better World –  Giancarlo Macrì

If you attended any of my workshops this past spring, you will have heard me going on and on about this amazing, powerful picture book that introduces, in simple format, many important social issues.  Intended for an older audience, this book would stimulate great discussions about equality and diversity with older students.   SO many inferences can be made from the many different dot images.  This is one of my favorite books of 2018.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Diversity, Family, Friendship, Grief, Identity, immigration, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

Guest Post #5: Morgane Michael’s Journey Exploring and Sharing Kindness

I am very pleased to welcome Morgane Michael as my blog guest this week.  Morgane is an amazing educator from Vancouver Island and the creator of the SMALL ACT BIG IMPACT 21-DAY-CHALLENGE,and the producer of  KindSight 101 Podcast, in which I was honoured to have participated.  In this post she shares her kindness journey with us.

Journey to Small Act Big Impact

As an educator for over ten years, I’ve always cared deeply about making those around me feel valued and seen. Many people, including many of our colleagues, parents, and students, suffer from anxiety, depression, and the effects can be devastating. In my heart, I believe that the small ways in which we connect to others, whether through a smile or an off-handed casual conversation, can make all the difference. I enjoy finding creative ways to explore the concept of deep kindness, especially within the context of our school communities.

It wasn’t until a moment of personal reckoning, that I truly learned about the trans-formative power of kindness. It would be a turning point for me and for my career. With two children under the age of five, I suddenly began experiencing severe dizziness, began bumping into walls, and was so nauseous I couldn’t hold down food.  After a diagnosis of severe vertigo, I was hospitalized and spent over a week in bed, completely unable to care for my children or do virtually anything. During this difficult time, we received an enormous outpouring of help from family and friends.  It was then when I realized just how difficult it was for me to accept these acts of kindness.

Not only does our culture discourage receiving help and kindness (think of how difficult it is to receive and accept a compliment about our character, achievements or clothing without deflecting, when someone offers to pay for the bill at a restaurant, when someone offers you help in a time of need), but it values and rewards over-functioning independence. As Dr. Brené Brown, famed author of Daring Greatly asserts, “we fall prey to the myth that successful people are those who help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help.”

The Birth of the 21-Day Kindness Challenge

My experience sparked an inquiry project, of sorts. I began reading about kindness in leadership, schools, and communities. I learned that we are wired for kindness, that our brain rewards altruism by infusing us with a cocktail of happiness hormones that have been nicknamed the “Helper’s High,” and most incredibly, that kindness is contagious. I started thinking of ways that these concepts could be incorporated into my practice as an elementary school teacher. That’s when I came up with the 21-Day Kindness Challenge. Kindness literally has the power to change workplace, school, and community culture because of its positive ripple effects. What if we could positively influence a school or workplace culture as a result of making kindness a habit?

The 21-Day Small Act Big Impact Kindness Challenge starts with a conscious commitment from individuals to come up with meaningful ways to add value to their school, workplace, and community cultures throughout a dedicated 21-day period. Several exciting ‘spin-off’ projects have resulted as a result of this inquiry into kindness including my blog, podcast, and an upcoming book.

Throughout the course of 2017-2018, I spent time piloting the 21-Day Kindness Challenge across a number of Elementary and Middle Schools within the Victoria, Sooke, and Saanich Districts on Vancouver Island. Students from K-8 loved and resonated with the concept of kindness. The idea gained traction and soon I even heard from teachers who had embraced the challenge within their high-school classrooms through twitter and social media. I spent many Fridays going into schools for launch assemblies and teaching mini-lessons to dozens of classrooms. I have a number of resources including a short animated video, kindness trackers, and lessons that provide teachers with a additional resources to kickstart their own kindness challenge. A lot of the success of the challenge stems from the students taking agency over their impactful action.

This year, as I return back to school after an extended leave with my young kids, I will continue piloting the challenge in my own classroom and incorporating some important kindness metrics (developed by Dr. Binfet from UBC) to measure the effects of kindness on our overall happiness and kindness within the school. I’ll be sharing the roadmap and some of the “How-to’s” in upcoming Pro-D workshops and conferences in Victoria and at the CrossCurrents 2019 Conference.

Here are some of the ways our students have served their schools, communities, and world through the 21-Day Kindness Challenge:

  • Sock drives for the homeless
  • Creating art for senior’s homes
  • Musical performances in group homes for individuals with special needs
  • Baking cookies for local hospital family support centres
  • Engaging in recycling and other environmental projects
  • Raising money for peace-promotion and disaster relief through organizations like Red Cross and Peace Direct
  • Delivering care packages to children receiving chemotherapy cancer treatment
  • Sending letters and encouraging notes to on-duty members of the military
  • Dedicating themselves to small, intentional kindnesses on a daily basis that benefit their classmates, family, and school environment

KindSight 101 Podcast:Image result for morgane michael kindness

The Small Act Big Impact Kindness project led me to further explore the idea of kindness in our community.  I have had honour of interviewing over 40 individuals (including Adrienne Gear) for KindSight 101, the podcast designed for educators and leaders to accompany the Small Act Big Impact kindness mission. I’ve spoken to educators, principals, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, YouTube stars, authors, counselors, TED talk speakers, and parenting gurus. These amazing folks have taught me that everyone has a story and one single thread connects all of us…we all wish to be seen, heard and understood. They’ve also shared tangible actionable strategies and ways to infuse our classrooms and homes with authentic generosity. When we can lead with compassion, empathy, and follow-through with deep, intentional kindness toward one another, we are able to create deep meaningful lives with beautiful relationships.

On a personal note, after having had one of the most incredibly rewarding, gold-mine podcast interviews with Adrienne, my computer glitched, the software we were using to stage and record the interview crashed unexpectedly, and I lost the full hour-and-a-half interview!  Cue panicked hyperventilation! With Adrienne’s generous nature (and some re configuring of technical equipment), we were able to reschedule and rerecord the interview. I’d like to say that it was even better than the first!  You can check out Adrienne’s podcasts here:

Episode #9 Hmmm…Huh? Aha! Tangible Proven Ways to Develop Powerful Understanding P1   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/9-hmmm-huh-aha-tangible-proven-ways-to-develop-powerful/id1412489005?i=1000416027246&mt=2

Episode #10 Hmmm…Huh? Aha! Tangible Proven Ways to Develop Powerful Understanding P2   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/10-hmmm-huh-aha-tangible-proven-ways-to-develop-powerful/id1412489005?i=1000416027298&mt=2

Episode #35 But, I’m not Indigenous: How to Explore Indigenous Ways of Learning  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/35-but-im-not-indigenous-how-to-explore-indigenous/id1412489005?i=1000416027254&mt=2

My New Book Kindness and Homelessness – Inquiry for the Middle-School Classroom   I am very excited to be in the process of writing a book about homelessness and kindness for middle school classrooms.  Through first-hand stories, my goal is to invite young readers to discover the realities, profiles, and causes of homelessness.  Readers will be encouraged to step outside of your own experience and gain a deep understanding of what it means to live without a home. Most importantly, I hope to educate youth to learn about actionable ways to use kindness to help those affected by homelessness. The book is set to be released in early 2020 through Orca Publishers.

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves daily whether we are proud of our interactions. It comes down to choosing integrity over what feels easy. Taking care of the members in our communities reinforces that they matter. When we can lead with compassion, empathy, and follow-through with deep, intentional kindness toward one another, we are able to create deep meaningful lives with beautiful relationships.

Image result for morgane michael kindness

Morgane Michael has been a teacher for over 10 years and is the founder of the not-for-profit Small Act Big Impact 21-Day Kindness Challenge (started in August of 2017). Through professional development workshops and within her Grade 2/3 classroom in the Greater Victoria School District, she teaches kids, parents, and educators how to harness the mobilizing power of kindness to make a big impact on the world, one small act at a time. When she isn’t teaching, reading, writing, or interviewing fascinating new guests for her podcast, KindSight 101, you can find her at boot camp, camping, catching up with friends, playing with her two kids, or enjoying some down time with her husband.  She lives with her family in Victoria, BC and feels tremendous gratitude for the beautiful nature that surrounds them.

Connect with Morgane and explore more of her Kindness Journey :

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mq3lAU1TQ4 

Website: smallactbigkindness.com

Blog: smallactbigimpact/blog.com

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/smallactbigimpact/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/smallactbigimpact21days/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sabi21days?lang=en

Linked-In: Small Act Big Impact (Teacher)

YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/3Mq3lAU1TQ4

Suggested hashtags: #vulnerability #kindness #smallactbigimpact #smallactbigimpact21days #21daykindnesschallenge #momsofinstagram #momblogger

 

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Filed under Guest Post, Kindness, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?Summer 2018 Picture Books – Part 1: Understanding Identity and Feelings

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

Yes, I know…it’s actually Tuesday!  But it’s summer and it feels like Monday!  Ahhh…. summer!  A time to rest, rejuvenate, re-connect, and reflect!  And while some may be binge-watching a few Netflicks series, I will have my head buried in a pile of new picture books!   There are so many I want to share so I have tried to “group” them into themes.  This week, I am featuring picture books that would work very well with lessons from my new book Powerful Understanding – understanding identity and emotions.  These would also be excellent anchor books for making connections.

One Of A Kind by Chris Gorman

One of a Kind – Chris Gorman

Celebrating all that makes you unique, of being oneself and how finding “your people” – a tribe of your own kind – can lead to something special.  Upbeat, rhythmic text and gorgeous illustrations.  I liked the stark black and white line drawing illustrations with bright yellow and pink highlighting the words.  I would use this book to spark a conversation about “unique” qualities:  What are the traits that make you unique? What unique trait are you most proud of?   What are the common traits do you and your friends share?

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Exploring identity is one of the focuses in my new book.  In one of the lessons, I encourage students to discover the story of their nameWho named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family or culture?  So of course I was VERY excited to read this delightful anchor book about a little girl learning the meaning behind her six names:  Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.  My favorite book of 2018 so far!

Moon – Alison Oliver

A young girl who is overwhelmed by her daily “To Do” checklist learns how to embrace her inner wild child after meeting a wolfy friend one night.  A great message for us all to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our lives,  get out, and enjoy play time in nature.  The illustrations are beautiful, with lovely hues of “night” colors and great expressions.

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur Greg Pizzoli

Very cute, unique interactive picture book that encourages readers to coax a very shy brontosaurus out from its hiding place.  I could see this as a great read-aloud in a Pre K or K class as the story invites readers to greet and speak softly to Crunch as well as introduce themselves to him.  Also a great book for providing calmness.

I’m Sad – Michael Ian Black

A simple, honest story about feeling sad. Every child needs to know that emotions don’t last and that it’s okay to let ourselves be sad sometimes without feeling the need to constantly put on a happy face for everyone.  Michael Ian Black and Debbi Ohi do an excellent job portraying that in this book.  I loved their first book I’m Bored and, while this one may not be as humorous, I think I liked it even more.

I Hate Everyone! Naomi Davis

Another great read-aloud for primary students.  A heartwarming story of a young girl who is overwhelmed with confusing emotions on her birthday.   Great for making connections and inferring that “I hate you” often really means “I need you.”   A wonderful “connect” book with such an accurate depiction of different emotions.  Great artwork.

Small Things – Mel Tregonning

Exceptionally-powerful, heart-breaking wordless picture book/graphic novel depicting childhood anxiety and worries.  Reading this book is an emotional experience, and one that would spark a lot of discussions, connections and inferences.  Beautiful, haunting and the back story to this book will break your heart.

The Rabbit Listened – Cori Doerrfeld

Get your Kleenex ready.  With spare, poignant text and adorable illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender and deeply moving exploration of grief and empathy for very young children.  Simple message that sometimes what we need most is  a quiet, thoughtful listener. SO much to love about this book.  I especially liked that Taylor’s gender is never mentioned or indicated by the illustrations.

Grumpy Monkey – Suzanne Lang

Everyone has their grumpy days, and you know what? A grumpy day now and then is absolutely okay.  Picture books are deceiving. They hide big stories within their little bindings.  This is a story we all need to hear: it’s okay to feel your feelings, own them, lean into them as long as you don’t hurt others in the process.  Great read-aloud for a primary classroom – funny, silly and important all mixed together.

Whale in a Fishbowl Troy Howell, Richard Jones

While on the surface, this is a gentle story of Wednesday – a whale who lives in a giant fishbowl in the middle of the city but yearns for a life beyond her bowl.  But metaphorically, it is a universal story of belonging, about possibilities, and finding one’s perfect place.  Stunning illustrations.   This could be read to a primary class to discuss animals in captivity, or with older students to practice inferring.

Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

I am a huge fan of this bother author-illustrator team.  I loved The Night Gardner and this new release is equally as whimsical and stunning.  While an imaginative journey of sorts, I included it here because of the emotional, dream-like journey that young Finn embarks on as a way of remembering his grandfather, who has recently passed away.  I love stories with multiple layers – kids will most likely see it as a story about adventure, and adults will recognize it as a story about loss, grief, and remembering.  Stunning.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping a title (or more) has caught your eye!  Next week, I will be focusing on new picture book about friendship and inclusion!

Have a great reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Feelings, Grief, Identity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Powerful Understanding

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2018 Top Summer Picks for 9-12 yr olds (part 2)

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

Last week, my IMWAYR post featured some new middle grade novels that would make excellent choices for summer reading or end of the year read-alouds!  Turns out there were TOO MANY books to mention in one blog… so here is Part 2!

Heartseeker by Melinda Beatty

I actually haven’t read this first book in a debut series as it is not released until June 5th – but it’s certainly on my TBR summer list.  It’s getting a lot of great ARC reviews and I so like the concept behind this fantasy adventure about a girl named Only who can see lies.  When news of Only’s abilities reaches the king, he commands her to work for him to seek out traitors and corruption.  WOW!  Sounds like a winner!

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

So this book may sound a little weird and morbid – parents who work in a cadaver lab, a tiger kidnapping, talking severed heads… but with such an original plot line, and laugh-out-loud humour – I think it will appeal to many middle grade readers.  Fovea (whose name means eyeballs, by the way), is a 7th grader – embarrassed by her parents, mocked by her peers and without a single friend. She spends the summer working in her parent’s cadaver lab with a whole lot of body parts and in the process, discovers herself, some new friends and a new “embrace the moment” approach to life.  Perhaps not for everyone – but would certainly appeal to middle grade readers (Gr. 6-7 range) who enjoy this type of “screw-ball comedy” and the “ickier” side of things!

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Another book I have on my MUST READ this summer (not released until mid July but I have my pre-order in!) is this scary (but apparently not too scary!) re-telling of The Arabian Knights that sounds like a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s books and Grimm’s fairy tales.  It is the story of Alex, a monster-loving boy, who finds himself trapped in a magical apartment building.  In order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night.  Sounds Ah-Mazing!

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea – Lynne Rae Perkins

A charming, breezy read – perfect for summer!  A family with two young girls goes on vacation, spending a week on the ocean.  No huge dramas, life-threatening crises, or earth shattering issues – but a heart-warming celebration of small moments.  Walking on the beach, feeling the ocean waves for the first time, sand castles with different kinds of bucket mixtures, imaginative play, a new friend, horseshoe crabs and learning to be brave.  Sweet but not fluffy.  Love the addition of some wonderful illustrations!  This is the kind of book I would have LOVED when I was in grade 6 or 7 – and I love it now!

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe –  Jo Watson Hackl

A charming coming-of-age story – this one with an endearing protagonist, lots of adventure and an added suspense, mystery and a treasure hunt.  I was hooked right away with the authentic voice of Cricket – a young girl dealing with the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother.  Cricket’s adventures are driven by a longing to heal her family and are filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.   Lots of life lessons in this one that will leave you filled with sadness, hope and love.

Where the Watermelons Grow – Cindy Baldwin 

WOW – a beautifully written, moving, sensitive story about families living with mental illness.  Gorgeous writing with wonderful descriptions of the charming characters in a small southern town and the sticky summer heat.   My heart ached for Della and her concern about her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia.  The author does not shy away from difficult, important issues that we often have no control over.  A wonderful, heart-wrenching story filled with hardships and harsh realities, yet also filled with love and hope.  Likely this would be more suited for older middle grades and even teen readers.  I recommend a box of Kleenex and a fresh watermelon close by – I started craving one while I was reading!

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

I was excited to read this second book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newberry for her book Hello, Universe.  She focuses on similar themes in this book – family stress, bullying and friendships.  Charlotte and Ben are two middle school students who connect through an online Scrabble game.  Their new friendship becomes invaluable as the chaos in each of their lives begin to spin out of control.   I enjoyed the alternating chapters that focus on the scenarios in each child’s life.   A great story about the importance of connecting with others for helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs.

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Breakout – Kate Messner

A group of young students everyday lives are turned upside down when two inmates escape from the local prison.  This compelling story about prejudice and racism in a small town was inspired by the escape and subsequent search of two prisoners from the Clinton NY correctional facility in 2015.  Written in a very unique format depicting multiple points of view told through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, newspaper articles and poetry.  Even though it is 400 pages, the format makes it a surprisingly fast read.  I really like how Kate Messner weaves important and current themes into her books and believe this one will spark many thoughtful and reflective conversations.

Sunny – Jason Reynolds

Sunny is the 3rd book in Jason Reynold’s popular Track series.  This book follows 12-year-old Sunny Lancaster, the #1 middle distance runner of the Defenders whose mother died the day he was born.  Sunny’s story is very different than  Ghost or Patina.  It is told in a series diary entries Sunny keeps to help control all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in his head.  It becomes clear through the stream of consciousness entries that Sunny’s brain doesn’t process things like other kids – he jumps from thought to thought, from subject to subject, rhyming and playing with words.  Sunny’s story is so authentic, so sad, so full of hope – I think it is my favorite in the series.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Charming story about overcoming obstacles and finding your place in the world.  Twelve year old Lucy was unharmed after she was struck by lightning strike four years ago.  But it left her with some compulsive behaviors and somewhat of a mathematical savant, making navigating, fitting in, and being accepted in middle school very challenging.  So much to love about this book… the short chapters make easy reading, great character conversations, very “connectable”,  lots of math and STEM connections, and love the dog!!!

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

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books