Category Archives: Transform

Picture Book 10 for 10 (2017) – 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 fifth year of participating in this event! (you can read my 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 bullying, 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!)

This year, as with my previous 10 for 10 posts, 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).  The response has been positive each year, so I am continuing the tradition!  For those who are already using RP, these would be my recommendations for adding or replenishing your collection this year!

(Please note that I have received advanced copies of a few of these titles so some might only be available for pre-order.)

CONNECT

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Now Antoinette Portis

This is a beautiful new book from Canadian writer/illustrator Antoinette Portis. Such a sweet story about a girl whose favorite things are whatever she’s currently experiencing. I would definitely use this with for connecting to favorite things (personal preferences),  but could also be used for inferring a deeper meaning about living in the moment.  Great for mindfulness and gratitude.

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There Might Be Lobsters – Carolyn Crimi

This is a wonderful story about dealing with fears and anxiety. Sukie is a very small dog with a really big fear of almost everything, especially lobster.  Spending a day at the beach with her favorite person is a nightmare for Sukie as she thinks about all the dangers that might be there.  When her favorite toy, “Chunka Munka” (love the name!) starts to drift into the tide, Sukie must face her fears!  I love that this book is told from the dog’s perspective and also you need to read it out loud just so you can say “Chunka Munka” lots of times!  Great illustrations!

QUESTION

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Questions AskedJostein Gaarder

Well, you can’t get a better book for introducing deep-thinking questions to your class than a book filled with them!  This book introduces readers to rather complex philosophical questions in a simple format.  Gorgeous,  soft-pallet paintings that capture the emotions of this little boy wandering and pondering through an open landscape.  This would be more suited for older students and would stimulate deep-thinking conversations.

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Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of SecretsPei-Yu Chang

What could be in his suitcase? This is the question readers wonder as they read this historical picture book based on the life and persecution Walter Benjamin – a Jewish philosopher forced to flee the Nazi occupied Germany during WWII.   When asked why he couldn’t just leave the suitcase behind, he responds:  “The contents of this case can change everything.”   But in the end, we never know what was inside – the perfect starting point for discussing possibilities. Such an important story depicting a world where ideas and opposition are seen as dangerous by those in power.  This is a book I would definitely recommend for units on WWII with intermediate or middle school. Incredible paper cut and mixed media illustrations.

VISUALIZE

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A River – Marc Martin

Oooooo… this book is stunning!  Gorgeous illustrations, detailed poetic text.. this book is a magical journey of a young girl in a silver boat following a river through jungles, farmland and eventually the sea.   But I think it could also be a wonderful introduction to the geography of rivers and their tributaries and habitats.    A marvelous, gentle journey to visualize!

Things to Do – Elaine Magliaro

This is a delightful book, perfect for visualizing but could also be used for making connections and an anchor book for “How To”  writing.  Reads like a collection of “How To” poems centered around a child’s day, capturing little things in life as well as different weather and seasons. Lovely vocabulary (great triple scoops!) and gorgeous illustrations.  This book is pure joy!  LOVE this one!

INFER

Draw the Line – Kathryn Otoshi

The amazing Katheryn Otoshi (author of One, Two, and Zero) has, once again, given us a book filled with rich discussion points.  Draw the Line is so much more than a book about lines.  It is a beautiful wordless picture book about friendship, creativity, community, conflict, resolution – and a “line” connecting us all.  A must have book for inferring, connecting, transform…. Brilliant!

Town is By the Sea – Joanne Schwartz

A simple, poetic story set in the early 1900’s in Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia tells of the challenging life of a mining family.  A young boy goes about his daily activities in the sunshine by the sea while, in contrast, his father works underground in the mines.  The writing is so beautifully descriptive and would be a great anchor book for descriptive, sensory writing or Visualizing, but also Inferring.  The words are lulling and almost haunting and the illustrations are gorgeous.

TRANSFORM

Life – Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is definitely one of my top favorite children’s writers. I find her books to be so life-affirming, full of wonder and hope. Her new book “Life” is simply stunning. “What do you love about life?” is the question asked to many different animals. Through their responses, we are gifted with a wonderful message about life: how it constantly changes, the beauty of it, the darkness, and the wonders all around it. Simple, lyrical text and beautiful illustrations by Brendan Wenzel – it is a calm and reassuring book.  I would use the “one word” activity for this book with the word “Life”.  Give the word to the students before and after reading and see how their thinking changes.   Love.

Why Am I Me? – Paige Britt

This gorgeous book celebrates diversity and identity in the most respectful and thoughtful while exploring the deep question – Why am I me?  Would be great for both young children but would stimulate great discussions and writing responses from an older class.  A great “Me to We” book as readers are invited to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.

La La La: A Story of Hope – Kate DiCamillo

Just had to include this almost wordless picture book by the great Kate DiCamillo that tells the story of a lonely young girl who is longing to be heard.  The illustrations are endearing, gentle and filled with emotion.  This book invites inferences because of the sparse text, connections to being lonely and the desire to belong, and transforming because of the hopefulness that you feel.  As I always say – I know when a book is good when I don’t know where to put it!  And here is a perfect example of that!

 

There you have it!  My 2017 Picture Book 10 for 10!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found one or two books to add to your Reading Power collection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book 10 for 10, Reading Power, Transform, Visualize

Picture Book Month – Celebrating my favorite PB’s for Intermediate/Middle Grades

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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

“A children’s story that can be enjoyed only by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” —C.S. Lewis

Are picture books are not just for Primary students?  No, no, no!  In fact, there are MANY picture books far too sophisticated and complex for younger students.  Over the years, I have been astounded and moved by the rich conversations and deep thinking that emerges from sharing these books with older students.  They also include many powerful themes with topics that link to content areas.   I love using picture books to model different comprehension strategies and the fact that they are shorter in length means that I can read them for single lessons.

Soooo… today I am happy to celebrate my favorite picture books for your older readers…

Voices in the Park

Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a brilliant author/illustrator and this is one of my favorites of his.  I love the way he combines sparse text and detailed illustrations to tell his story, while always leaving spaces for our thinking.  I often use his books to practice inferringVoices in the Park follows four different narrative voices  (depicted by Browne’s signature gorilla characters) as they visit the same park one day.  What makes this book special is that, although at first glance it appears a simple story, it explores many adult themes including poverty, class and diversity.  Anthony uses different “voices”, font, language, body language, color and backgrounds to represent the different characters.  This is a book with many layers – and a perfect invitation for close and careful reading. 

Flotsam

Flotsam – David Wiesner

David Wiesner’s known for his highly inventive, creative wordless picture books.  This book earned him the Caldecott in 2007.   In in this story, a young boy, while searching for  flotsams (any floating object washed up on shore) on the beach, discovers an old-fashioned underwater camera.  The roll of film inside reveals some remarkable and magical surprises!  Breath-taking illustrations that can be poured over again and again.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with older students.  Delightful!

Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl – Sara Pennypacker

This book is based on a true event that happened in China in 1953 during the rule of dictator Mao Tse-Tung when he “declared war” on the sparrows.  Over a 3 day period, he ordered every person in china (women, children, the elderly) to take to the streets and make as much noise as possible to scare away the sparrows.  The result was horrific, as the sparrows were so frightened by the noise that they had heart attacks and fell down dead from the sky.   This event led to a famine that killed between 20-30 million Chinese over the next 5 years.  This is the story of a young girl who saves 7 sparrows and hides them in her barn.  This book would be a wonderful anchor to introduce students to different forms of government.

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody’s Apples – Madonna

Madonna’s re-telling of an ancient proverb is one I often use to practice how sometimes a book can “transform” or change our thinking in some way.  The story centers around Mr. Peabody, a popular teacher and baseball coach in the small town of Happville.  When one of the children on his team witnesses what he believes is Mr. Peabody stealing an apple from a local deli, he begins to spread the rumours that his coach is a thief.  This book has stimulated a great many thoughtful classroom conversations about the consequences of spreading false rumours.   Lauren Long’s illustrations are amazing – especially the last page… “What can you infer from those few leftover floating feathers?”

Bully

Bully – Patricia Polacco

The amazing Patricia Polacco targets middle school students in this excellent book.  While there are many books about school bullying, this is the first I’ve read that focuses specifically on cyber and facebook bullying.  This is an important book to share and discuss with your middle school students – and a great book for practicing making connections. 

The Stamp Collector

The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier

Wow – this thoughtful book is truly beautiful – to read and to look at. A book that celebrates the power of stories and how they bind us together and set us free.  This is the story of a two friends – one grows up to be a prison guard, the other a writer imprisoned for something he writes.  Great to explore issues of government oppression and freedom of speech with older children. This book is haunting – it will stay with you long after the book is finished. 

Fox

Fox – Margaret Wild

This book is dark, disturbing and haunting –  definitely NOT for younger students.  A magpie with a burnt wing, a one-eyed dog and a jealous fox.  Even after the book is finished, it will stay with you for a long time.  I have had amazing journal responses from students after reading this book – so many unanswered questions.  The word choices, the art, the story – by far one of the BEST picture books in my intermediate collection!

The Arrival

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a stunning wordless graphic picture book.   Shaun Tan captures the experience of an immigrant brilliantly.  The story follows the journey of a man leaving his family and his home country to his arrival in confusing new world.  The reader experiences the fears and challenges of this man as he tries to make his way in a new land, unfamiliar with the language and customs.  It is a surprisingly moving story of hope – perfect for questioning and inferring. 

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom – Shane Evans

The story of the underground railway, told through the eyes of voices of the slaves.  While there are few words on each page, the reader is left to infer much of the story.  As the slaves begin to “find the light”, so too, do the illustrations become brighter.  I love using sharing the words of the poem with students first without telling them the title or showing them the pictures and invite them to infer the possible meaning of “Freedom”

The Promise

The Promise – Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies is one of my favorite Nonfiction picture book writers so I was excited to see this book when it came out last year.  It is a “pay it forward” type of story  of hope, of renewal, of promise.  In a colorless city where the people have become as ugly as their surroundings, a young girl steals a bag from an old woman and makes a promise to plant what is inside the bag… acorns.   As trees begin to grow, green joy is spread throughout the desolate city and others are inspired to also do some planting of their own. The mixed media artwork  takes the reader from darkness to light as the change in the girl also begins to change the world around her.  I love Nicola Davies simple, direct language and message. 

The Composition

The Composition – Antonio Skarmeta

Wow – this powerful picture book for older students was originally published in Spanish.  It tells the story of Pedro, who lives in a police state and is forced to choose between his own family and the state.  One day,  a policeman comes into Pedro’s class and asks the students to write a composition about what their families do at night. The pressure on children to betray their own parents brings fear and terror to Pedro and his classmates;  many know their parents meet at night in secret and are planning some kind of a revolt.   I love to pause and ask the students – what would you do?  A  final note explains what it’s like to live under a dictatorship.

Just a Dream

Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is a master story teller.   He seems to tell a story by not telling us the story!  In other words, he crafts his stories carefully to allow spaces for our thinking.  His books are my “go to” books for teaching and practicing inferring with intermediate students.  While ANY book by Chris Van Allsburg could be on this list, I chose Just A  Dream because of it’s subtle but important message about the environment.

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful – Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan provides us with a glimpse into his childhood of bullying and ridicule through this powerful book adaption of his poem.   Raw, heartfelt and inspirational – his words bring hope for all those who have been bullied.  This is a must share with your middle school students.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite picture books to use with Intermediate and Middle school students?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, Reading Power, Transform, wordless

Picture Books – 10 for 10 (2014)

I am excited to be participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event for the second time!  This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Choosing only 10 picture books is a huge challenge for me as there are SO many amazing new ones to chose from.  Last year I focused on new books that can be used for Reading Power – 2 books for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.  (You can check out my 10 for 10 2013 post here) The response was very positive, so I have decided to continue this trend.   Below are my favorite 10 picture books from 2014 that could be added to your reading power collections.

CONNECT

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It’s OKAY to Make Mistakes – Todd Parr   

I love Todd Parr books – they are bright, colorful and positive and perfect read-alouds for  younger students.  In this new book, he reassures children that mistakes are okay – from spilling milk to coloring outside the lines – children will make connections with every page!

What If…? –  Anthony Browne                                                                                                                                                                                             

Anthony Browne is an amazing author/illustrator and I was excited to see this brand new book on display in my favorite book store.  In this story, he focuses on the anxieties of a young boy who is on his way to a party. His mum is taking him but not staying with him – What if I don’t know anyone? What if nobody talks to me?  What if I don’t like the food?  While walking to the party, his imagination begins to take over and in classic Anthony Browne surrealist style – his illustrations lead us through some of his scary thoughts.  It all turns out in the end, reminding us that our imaginations can be scarier than our world.  I loved the firm, reassuring mother who helps the boy overcome his fears.  A perfect book for any child who has found themselves feeling anxious about a new experience.

QUESTION

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Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

There is so much to love about this book – the adorable characters, the detailed illustrations, the epic adventure and the slightly surprising ending.  After breaking their mother’s favorite blue shell, rather than telling her, the three siblings set off to try to find a replacement shell!   This is a delightful book – from the first page to the very last and I know that younger students will be filled with questions about just what will become of these delightful bears and if they will ever find that perfect blue shell.

Norman, Speak!  by Caroline Adderson

This is a wonderful and thought provoking book that invites a lot of questions.  When a family adopts a dog from an animal shelter, they quickly discover he doesn’t understand even simple commands like “sit” or “come”.  The family (and the reader) conclude that their new dog (who they name Norman) is not very smart but he is friendly and lovable.  During a chance encounter at a park, the family discovers that Norman understands Chinese and that is why he has not been able to follow their commands.  The family starts taking Chinese lessons so that they can communicate with their beloved dog.  There is so much to love about this book – and many important messages about language and communicating.  The book is long but a perfect read-aloud for grades 3-5. 

VISUALIZE:

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Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

I LOVE this book!  The stunning illustrations are amazing and I loved how the fictional story weaves in many scientific facts about whales and migration.   I considered including this as a book for Questioning but after several reads, I realized that the magic of the book lies with the images created by the journey these whales take through the depths of the ocean.  Lovely images to invite visualizing:  “…through the liquid light and deep into the mysterious black”    A wonderful book to launch a unit on whales and an anchor book for an art lesson for students to capture some of the images they visualized.

Hi, Koo! – A Year of Seasons – Jon Muth

Icicles.
reach down with dripping fingers
will they touch the ground?

What is not to love about this book?   Jon Muth is one of my favorite writer/illustrators.  I adore his soft watercolor pallet of colors and his gentle words.  This book is a charming collection of haiku poems to celebrate the seasons.  From careful observations of nature to insightful moments to nudge our thinking , I love every corner of this book.   Because haiku poems are short, I find they lend themselves well to capturing single visual images.  Try giving one haiku poem from this book to a group of students and inviting them each to create a visual picture.  The results will amaze you!

INFER

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Quest – AaronBecker

I use wordless picture books to help scaffold the strategy of inferring with my students.  Last summer, Aaron Becker’s breath-taking book Journey had just been released and was included on my top 10 picture books of last year.  (It went on to receive a Caldecott honor last year!)  My students spent HOURS pouring over the illustrations in that book and inferring endlessly!   So I just couldn’t resist including his new book Quest on my list this year. It’s hard to believe that Aaron Becker could match the magic he created in his first book, but I thought this one was even more magical!  It follows the same characters from Journey as they begin a quest to rescue a king and his kingdom from darkness. The illustrations are, once again, stunning.  Readers will be captivated and have endless opportunities to infer and practice creative problem solving.  This book is MAGIC!

Flashlight – Lizi Boyd

Another unique, magical book takes readers through a dark forest with a flashlight.  What magic hides in the darkness?  What hidden treasures can be discovered by the beam of a flashlight? I loved Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside so was thrilled to discover her latest creative wordless masterpiece.  A boy takes a walk through the dark woods, shining his flashlight into the wonders of the woods.  The effective illustrations shows the beam of the flashlight and the hidden discoveries found in the forest – small creatures, flowers, moss.  I love this book makes the dark inviting and friendly and would be a perfect book to read before heading out on a nature walk.  A celebration of exploration and wonder! 

TRANSFORM

Sometimes a book can change the way we think about something. When searching for books to use to teach this strategy, I look for books that deal with an issue that students have some experience.  We “take stock” of our thinking about the issue or topic before and after reading, so that the students can visibly notice how their thinking has changed.  These books have the ability to “change your thinking”

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada  

This lovely book explores the notion of paying attention to your ideas and just what can happen when you befriend and attend to your ideas.  I see so many possibilities of how this book can change our thinking and can remind us that ideas are possibilities waiting to happen.

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

There are so many things I love about this book, not to mention it is a Canadian author!   This book invites us to revist our thinking about so many things – perseverance, creativity, collaboration, communication, dealing with frustration and being able to adapt to change.  It is so well written and is a perfect book for inviting students to revisit their thinking of what it means to be creative.  A must have for your classroom!

Extraordinary Jane – Hannah E. Harrison

OK – I know I have gone over my limit but I could not resist adding this heartwarming book to my top 10 list.  I have seen many reviews about Extraordinary Jane but I am not a huge circus fan so I suppose I was not particularly drawn to it.   But now I can’t stop hugging it!  This book is such an important one to read to children.  Many children feel the pressure to be the best, fastest, smartest, prettiest.  This book reminds us that you can be extraordinary just by being ordinary.  It is not the skills or talents on the outside that makes us special – but the tenderness inside.  You will fall in love with Jane – I promise!

Well there you have it – my top 10 picture books (plus 1!) for 2014.  I hope you found some new titles that you can use in your classroom!  What are your top picks of the year so far?

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Filed under Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Transform, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Early Summer Sensations!

IMWAYR

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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

It’s amazing to me how many wonderful new books keep appearing!   I can’t seem to keep up with all the amazing picture books being released and my collection keeps growing!  Here are some of the new treasures I have fallen for in the last few weeks:

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What Do You Do With an Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Every once in a while I discover a book that floods my heart with emotion and my mind with deep thoughts.  Here is such a book.  This is a book that celebrates ideas – no matter how small and how insignificant they may seem.  A little boy has an idea.  At first he doubts it, worries about it, almost rejects it – but the idea follows him around and slowly begins to grow and take shape.   I love how the idea is an actual “thing” that you can see.   The illustrations are wonderful; I loved how when the story begins, only the idea is in color – everything else in black and white.  As the idea grows, so does the color on the page.  So much to love about this book.  A great book to discuss the power of never giving up on an idea.  I would definitely use it for helping students understand how a book can change our thinking.  (TRANSFORM)

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Norman, Speak! – Caroline Adderson

This is a delightful story of a family who adopts a dog from an animal shelter.  They love this dog so much but discover that he is “not very smart”.  He does not respond very well to his new home and has a hard time learning to do what other dogs do.  While at a park one day, they discover why – this dog speaks Chinese!  They watch in amazement as he responds to the Chinese commands from another dog owner at the park.   Now it is the family who doesn’t feel very smart and decide to take Chinese lessons so they can communicate with their beloved dog.  A wonderful story to  promote questioning about animal adoption and animal communication.   My only issue was the length of the story – almost too long for a single sitting – but certainly worth reading over a few days.

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Whimsy’s Heavy Things – Julie Kraulis

This beautiful and thought-provoking books deals with depression as a simple metaphor:  “heavy things” that can weigh you down.   Whimsy carries around her “heavy things” until she discovers that by breaking them into smaller pieces, they become easier to manage.  I love the soft illustrations and the gentle tone of the story.  I can see this being an excellent book for discussion and using to infer (What do you think “heavy things” are?)  and connect (What are some heavy things that weigh you down?)

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Same, Same but Different – Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Comparison writing is one of six nonfiction text structures I focused on in my new book Nonfiction Writing Power.  Since using anchor books (mentor texts) is an important part of writing instruction, I am always on the look-out for new books that model the different writing structures.  While this book would be classed as fiction, not only does it work well as a model for comparative writing, it is an excellent book for teaching diversity and multiculturalism.    The book features two boys:  Elliott who lives in America and Kailash who lives in India.  They begin their friendship as pen pals and through their letters, learn about the many similarities and differences between their two lives.  A great book for making connections to culture, family and lifestyle.  Colorful, cheerful illustrations.

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Whale Shines – An Artistic Tale – Fiona Robinson

Beautifully illustrated story of Whale trying to find something he can contribute to the upcoming undersea art show.  All his sea creature friends have artistic talents, but whale feels like he has nothing to offer.  I loved the illustrations and the great message of perseverance and creativity. Also a great link to science – learning about different sea creatures as well as whale’s discovery of bioluminescent phytoplankton that he uses to create his art.  I also love how each sea creature uses their own natural characteristic to develop their artistic talent.    

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The Numberlys – William Joyce

Once upon a time there were no numbers – only the alphabet. And so begins the latest visually stunning book by master creator William Joyce.  The text is simple but the illustrations add a layer of sophistication to this story of the world before numbers were created. The book starts out with only numbers in the world and the world is gray, lifeless and dull. Then The Numberlys decide that change is necessary and they create Letters !   And then the world comes to life and the pages have color!  The value of both numbers and letters is reminiscent of 1, 2, 3 Versus A, B, C by Michael Boldt, but Joyce manages to add a sophisticated flair to the concept.  This would be a great book to illustrate the value of numbers and letters in learning.

17941626                  Billie B Brown: The Birthday Mix-up

 The Winning Goal – Sally Rippin        The Birthday Mix-Up – Sally Rippin

It’s often hard to find books for emergent readers that are both age and language appropriate.  Sally Rippin‘s series are excellent for children who are transitioning into very easy chapter books.  There is a series of books featuring Jack and another featuring Billy Brown (who is a girl). But the fun part is that Jack is a character in the Billy books and Billy is a character in the Jack books.  Very simple vocabulary and stories children will find many connections to.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Art, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Multicultural, New Books, Picture Book, Reading Power, Science, Transform, Writing Anchors

February 10 for 10! Ten Nonfiction Books I Can’t Live Without!

I’m excited to participate in the first Nonfiction 10 for 10 event celebrating fantastic nonfiction picture books. Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this.

So what are the 10 nonfiction picture books I cannot live without?   As I did with my 10 for 10 picture book list in the summer, I have decided to organize this list around Nonfiction Reading Power strategies I use for helping students read and understand informational texts.   There are 5 strategies – so I have selected two anchor books for each!   The books I chose are not only my “tried and true” books in my classroom but often books I share with teachers at workshops.   It’s tough to narrow it down – but here we go….

Zooming In – to Nonfiction Text Features

My Map Book

1. My Map Book – Sara Fanelli

This is a wonderful anchor book for teaching students about using nonfiction text features – in particular – mapping and labeling.  I LOVE this book and have used it SO often as an anchor book for many lessons that my cover is nearly falling off!  This book is a collection of child-like drawings of different types of maps:  map of a neighbourhood, map of my bedroom, map of my family, map of my heart (My students make a “Map of my Heart” for Valentines day every year – using this book!)  There are unique maps that can stimulate all sorts of lesson extensions.  A MUST for your nonfiction collection!

Imagine You're a Knight!: Lady Megavere, Lucy D'Ancealot

2.  Imagine You’re A Knight – Lucy and Meg Clibbon

Lucy and Meg Clibbon are sisters from the UK.  They have created a series of books about different people including Knights, Pirates, Astronauts, Princess, Wizards, Mermaids and Ballerinas.  They are incredibly funny and visually appealing andI love how Lucy and Meg use LOTS of nonfiction text features (labels, maps, charts, captions, etc) to represent the information.   While some may consider this style of book to be to be more fiction,  they are excellent examples to show students the use of text features.

Determining Importance

Sorting out main idea from supporting details can be a challenge for students.  When practicing this strategy – I look for books with short, interesting sections I can use for a read-aloud during a guided lesson.  Here are two of my favorites:

How Big Is It?

3. How Big is It?  – Ben Hillman

This appeal of this book are the amazing photographs.  Ben Hillman uses amazing photographic juxtaposition (that was a mouthful!)  to show comparisons of size.  The book is large enough to hold up for students to see the pictures easily.  I love the short informational passage explaining each photograph.  Be prepared for a lot of “Whoa’s!”  and “Wow’s!”

Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth

4. Extreme Animals – The Toughest Creatures on Earth – Nicola Davies

This is another great book for using to practice determining importance.  Nicola Davies has included many interesting facts about animals who need to adapt to survive extreme heat and extreme cold. The unique thing about the book is that from one side, the book is about animals adaptation to extreme cold – flip it over and start from the other side to learn about animals adapting to extreme heat.  As always, I love Nicola Davies use of voice and humor in her writing.  Hilarious illustrations and comic-like animation.  (My favorite page is about “Frogcycles”!)

 Making Connections 

You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World

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

I could not have a list of favorite nonfiction books without including a book by Barbara Kerley.  Barbara Kerley is a photographer for National Geographic – so her photography in all of her books is amazing.  In this book, she captures images of the relationship between parent and children from different places in the world.  With very little text, she is able to capture this bond beautifully.  I love to read this book to students and invite them to make connections.  Information about each photograph and where it was taken is included in the back of the book.

The Great Big Book of Families

6. The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

Many primary curriculums include a focus on families and communities.   I always tell teachers at my workshops that this book encompasses an entire unit on family, community, school, cultural celebrations – you name it and you will find it in this book!  The book is well laid out and has colorful, interesting illustrations.  I like how Mary Hoffman recognizes different family make ups and adopted children.

Asking Questions

I Wonder

7. I Wonder – Tana Hoban

This simple beginning reader has become one of my favorite anchor books for questioning.  Tana Hoban takes readers on a “wonder walk” outdoors and questions simple things she sees along the way.  “Have you ever wondered how hard it is to spin a web?”  “Look at that tree – there’s moss growing on one side but not the other.  I wonder why?”  Beautiful photographs and clear close ups make this a perfect nonfiction read-aloud.   I like to read this book to my students and then take the on a class on our own “Wonder Walk”.

Why?: The Best Ever Question and Answer Book about Nature, Science and the World around You

8. Why?  The Best Question and Answer book about Science, Nature and the World around You – Catherine Ripley

This book really is the best question and answer book about the world around you!   There are questions and answers about just about everything you can think of:  Kitchen Questions, Bathroom Questions, Farm Questions, Night time Questions.  I like to read one question just before I send my students home as “thinking homework”. Have you ever wondered why some eggs are white and some are brown?    They think about the question and come back to school the next day and share their thinking.  After sharing our “maybe’s” – I read them the answer from the book.  They LOVE it!

Infer

It's Our Nature

9. It’s Our Nature – Rebeca Orozo

This delightful book explores the character traits that the animal kingdom shares with humanity — altruism, community, generosity, responsibility, trust, commitment, solidarity, brotherhood and tolerance.  The illustrations are delightful.  I start by listing the character traits from the book and discussing them with the students.  I  then read a description of one of the animal’s behavior and invite the students to infer which trait this animal is demonstrating .

A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home

   10. A Strange Place to Call Home:  The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home                         – – Marilyn Singer

The art in this book by Ed Young is amazing.  The poetry, by renowned poet Marilyn Singer, is amazing.  This is a collection of 14 poems, each highlighting  a specific relatively unknown animal who have, against the odds, adapted to their extreme environments.  Students can use the clues in the poems to infer what type of environment they live in and what features they need to survive.  Great additional information included at the back.

Transform

Often when teaching students about synthesizing information, or what I refer to as “transformed thinking”, I look for books that provide students with information that can potentially change their thinking in some way.

What Do You Do When Something Wants To Eat You?

11.What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? – Steve Jenkins

My top nonfiction list would not be complete without a Steve Jenkins book.  While I have and love many, this is one I use most when teaching students about how books can sometimes change our thinking.  In his classic collage illustrations, Jenkins explores the many fascinating and unique ways animals defend themselves against predators.   Many students find new meaning to the expression “run for your life”!

What Does it Mean to Be Present?

12.  What Does it Mean to be Present? – Rana DiOrio

This recently published book has made it’s way to the top of my favorite pile!   Rana DiOrio has created a vibrant, thought-provoking picture book that simply and effectively teaches us to be present, mindful and caring citizens.  When teaching students about books that transform our thinking, I like to write the word “present” on the board and ask students to “take stock of their thinking” before we read.  Most students make connections to birthdays, Christmas, wrapping paper and boxes.  After reading the book – we talk about how our thinking about the word “present” now looks different than before we read the book.

And there you have it!  My top 10 (Ok.. I went over by two!)  Nonfiction Picture Books!  Thanks for reading my post!

Which picture books are on the top of your “can’t live without” pile?

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Filed under Blog Challenge, Connect, Infer, Lesson Ideas, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Transform

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

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:  Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

I have not been blogging lately as I have been focusing on trying to finish my book.  I am extremely pleased to have completed the first draft of my manuscript for Nonfiction Writing Power and it is now in the hands of  Kat – my extremely competent editor at Pembroke.  I know there is a lot of work still ahead but I am enjoying the temporary break from book writing and the chance to share some of the amazing new books I’ve read in the past few weeks.   51InOvbTzZL._SL500_AA300_[1]

David Wiesner fans – you will be happy to know that he has a new picture book out called Mr. Wuffles.  In his latest masterpiece, we meet a finicky feline called Mr. Wuffles who shows disinterest towards all the cat toys his owners have purchased for him.  He does, however, become interested in a tiny toy space ship.  After flicking it about, he discovers there are tiny aliens living inside – and now their space ship is damaged. The aliens eventually team up with household insects to repair their ship.    In his classic near wordless style, Wiesner illustrations are detailed and captivating, particularly capturing the movement and expressions of Mr. Wuffles.  Classic Wiesner!  51WL6EckLdL._SL500_AA300_[1]

How to Train a Train by  is a unique and hilarious “HOW TO” manual on how to take care of your “pet” train.  Any child who loves trains, or any who may prefer the mechanical toy rather than a real pet, will enjoy this book.  I was drawn to this book because of how well it fits into teaching students the form and language of instructional writing.  It is written as a handbook and includes everything from how to choose your train, feed, clean and care for your train.  I do not have a particular interest in trains but thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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This is Our House by Hyewon Yum is GEM!  It is one of those books that you could integrate into so many units of study – from family history,  to multiculturalism, to changing seasons, to immigration.  There is something so warm about this book as you follow a Korean-American girl and her family through seasons and generations.  Through their journey, we witness the true difference between a ‘house’ and a ‘home’.516qNkYtN9L._SL500_AA300_[1]A Single Pebble:  A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen is the story of a little girl in 9th century China, who sends a small jade pebble to travel with her father along the Silk Road.  We follow the journey of the pebble along the Silk Road.  It ends up in the hands of a boy in the Republic of Venice – the end of the Silk Road.  The illustrations are lovely and the reference to the five “gifts” (reference to the five senses) which accompany the merchants along the silk road makes this a wonderful anchor book for writing as well as launching a unit in Social Studies.

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The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig.  Brian is so quite 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.

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Princess Tales:  Once Upon a Time in Rhyme with Seek and Fid Pictures by Grace Maccarone.  Ooooooo… you MUST see this book!  It is ingenious and splendid and clever!  Ten well known princess stories, from Princess and the Pea to Sleeping Beauty are retold with hidden pictures and extraordinary illustrations by Gail De Marcken.  Pour over each page and enjoy!  This book is on my Christmas list for several young girls I know!

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Speaking of Christmas… Peter H. Reynolds has released The Smallest Gift of Christmas just in time for the upcoming season ( I know it’s not even Halloween but I can’t help myself!)  I adore anything and everything Peter. H. Reynolds does so was thrilled to see his new book.  “Be careful what you wish for”  appears to be the theme of this book as Roland, after receiving a very small gift for Christmas, wishes for something bigger… and bigger… and BIGGER!  After his search takes him to outer space, he finally realizes that what is most important is waiting back on earth for him.  The true meaning of Christmas is shared as only Peter H. Reynolds can share it.  And in case he didn’t know, his books are enormous gifts to me.

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My dear friend Carrie Gels0n , who shares my passion for books, sent me this book recommendation last week and I am in love with it already.  What Does it Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio has such an important message about being mindful, aware and grateful.  Amazing illustrations and the perfect book for transforming.  To help my students experience how a book can “transform our thinking”,  I started with the word “PRESENT” and asked my students what the word made them think about.  (I call this “taking stock of our thinking”)  Most connected the word  it to gifts, birthdays and Christmas.  After reading the book, we “revisited our thinking” about the word.  Many were transformed by the idea that “present” is not an object but a way of being.

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I love maps.  Any book that begins with a map has me hooked before I even begin reading.  I don’t know if it’s the physical shapes or the sense of adventure a map represents but whatever it is – I’m drawn in by a map.  And so when I saw the cover of MAPS by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, I was fascinated.   This book is an illustrated children’s atlas – but not one that you have ever seen before.  It is utterly amazing, delightful, sensual, amusing and informative.  There are maps, illustrations and detailed drawings.   The pages are heavy and I couldn’t stop running my fingers over them.  I was completely consumed and mesmerized.   A book for children but no doubt will be loved by many adults.

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I loved A Wrinkle in Time by  Madeleine L’Engle as a kid – my first real experience with Sci Fi that I enjoyed.  50 years later,  Hope Larson’s work has created this graphic novel of the classic tale.  I’m not sure if I wanted someone else to create images of Happy Medium and Aunt Beast that have stayed in my imagination for all these years and the jury is still out.  I did enjoy revisiting the characters and the many layers and themes of this book and think that children who are not familiar with the original version will be captivated by the classic story through this format.  Be prepared – it’s very long!

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My 13 yr. old is reading this book and loving it.  Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi has everything a 13 yrs. old boy could possibly want in a book – humor mixed with horror, baseball, zombie cows, evil coaches, battles and blood.  It also has a lot of great themes for teachers – racism, immigration, corporations, food processing and, of course, friendship.  The setting of this book is a small Ohio town with a big meat packing plant that is pumping their cows full of bad things.  The effect is that the cows turn into zombies.   I loved that the main character Rabi – a boy from South Asian – because there are not many books with main characters from this culture.   This book would make a great read-aloud for an intermediate class – lots of laughs but great discussions too!

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And finally…. Sutton by J.R. Moehringer is my Book Club read this month.  It is based on the true story of notorious bank robber Willie Sutton,  one of the most infamous criminals in New York during the 1960’s.  He was a hero of sorts amongst the public and dubbed a modern Robin Hood because he never carried a gun – his only victims were the banks.   His motivation for robbing – his first love.  I am half way through the book and thoroughly enjoying the writing of a tender love story disguised as a crime novel.

Well – there’s my latest list!  Hope you found one or two new titles that sparked your interest.  What have you been reading this week?

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Filed under graphic novel, immigration, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Social Responsibility, Transform, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 26! Top 10 for 10 Picture Books – New Reading Power titles!

I am excited to be participating in my first Picture Book 10 for 10 event. This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

The biggest challenge for me was trying to narrow down my favorites to just 10 and also to decide on a theme.  But since most of my work is centered around Reading Power, I decided to choose my favorite 10 books from 2013 that could be added to your reading power collections.  This was a huge challenge as there were so many amazing new books to choose from!  And since this is the top 10 – that equals 2 top picks for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform. 

CONNECT

 connect 2                  question 2

Ben Rides On by Matt Davies is one of my favorite books from 2013.  It is the story of a boy who loves his bike, experiences bullying and deals with the situation in a very positive way.  Students will make connections to many different aspects of this book – from bike riding to dealing with bullies.

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman is a beautiful book about an Italian immigrant grandfather who tells the story of his childhood to his granddaughter through mementos kept in matchboxes in an old cigar box.  “Your life is a story and every experience you have, you are adding a chapter”  This is what I tell students when I’m teaching them about connections.  This book is a perfect extension of the concept of “your life is a story” and also about  “memory pockets” as the grandfather’s objects represents the memories and “chapters” of his life story.   I LOVED how this book could be used to invite students to tell their own stories through special objects they may have collected.  Lots of text-to-text connections here to Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life!

QUESTION

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Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford is a beautiful introduction to deep thinking questions.  A young girl wonders “what is infinity?”  “what does infinity look like?”.  This promotes a wide range of different answers.  A great introduction to the concept of infinity that could lead to other big questions.  The illustrations are amazing!

Phileas’s Fortune by Agnes de Lestrade is the only book on my list not published in 2013 – but one I could not leave off as it is among my favorite books of all time.  A tale of a land where words are made in a factory and in order to speak any word, you need to buy it. Of course, some people cannot afford to buy words.   I have read this book to many different classes and many different age groups.  It promotes more deep thinking questions than any book I’ve ever read.  A must for your collection of books that promote questions.

VISUALIZE

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Beach Feet by Kiyomi Konagaya is a visually descriptive story of a young boy’s day at the beach.  What makes this story unique is how it is told through the experiences of the boy’s feet – the sensations of the sand, the foam, the pebbles and shells.  The perspective of the “feet telling the story” is one that I would definitely use for a writing anchor for creating visual images through the senses.  As well, the book is filled with wonderful triple scoop words and similes.

If I Built A House – by Chris Van Dusan is a follow up to his first book If I Built A Car, which my students loved.  Jack is a dreamer with a big imagination.  He invents his own wacky, wild and imaginative house – with everything from an indoor race track to a flying room.  While this book is not one that uses rich descriptive language (it has a rhyming text), I love the idea of reading it aloud and having kids “visualize” Jack’s house through some sketches and then try to create then their own imaginary house.  Another great anchor for writing!

INFER

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Both Bluebird by Bob Staake and Journey by Aaron Becker are wordless picture books that invite students to use the pictures to infer the story.  Bluebird is an emotional story of a young boy who’s day is brightened when a bird befriends him.  The bird later risks his life to protect the boy from a group of bullies.  It is moving and powerful and is a must for every teacher to share with their students.

Journey is a breath-taking stunningly beautiful wordless picture book.  It tells the story of a young girl who is being ignored by her family.  When she draws an imaginary door on her bedroom wall and opens it, a magical journey unfolds.  Careful study of the pictures reveals many surprises and clues which invite many inferences.  This is truly a remarkable book that has Caldecott written all over it!

TRANSFORM

Sometimes a book can change the way we think about something. When searching for books to use to teach this strategy, I look for books that deal with an issue that students have some experience.  We “take stock” of our thinking about the issue or topic before and after reading, so that the students can visibly notice how their thinking has changed.  Both these books have the ability to “change your thinking” – about the dark and about books.

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The Dark by Lemony Snicket tells the story of how Lazslo faces his fear of the dark.  The dark, in this book, is depicted as an actual character – and utterly transforms the reader’s mindset of fear.  I can see using this book as perfect introduction to the concept of Transform:  your thoughts about the dark before and after reading this gem of a book.

I have saved the best for last – the book that transformed my thinking about books!  Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier celebrates the power of books, from the physical turning of the pages to the act of storytelling.  It is visually stunning as the reader is invited to turn the pages and discover more and more little books.  This is one that has to be experienced to be appreciated.  Please open this little book and share it with everyone you know.  It will transform your thinking!

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 picture books and have found a few new titles to add to your collection!

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Filed under Connect, Infer, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Transform, Visualize