Category Archives: Poetry

It’s Monday – What are You Reading? Valentine Favorites

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 the week leading up to Valentine’s Day and I will be sharing some of my favorite Valentines books with my students.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

  Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – Eileen Spinelli

Far and away my favorite Valentine book if all time!  This heart warming, tender story by Eileen Spinelli  brings tears to my eyes every year!  Mr. Hatch is a very lonely man.  One Valentine’s, the postman delivers a heart-shaped box of chocolates with a note that reads “Somebody Loves You”.  Mr. Hatch’s heart is filled with joy and he begins to pass the love he now feels to others by doing kind deeds.  But the postman returns to explain that he had accidently delivered the Valentine’s to the wrong house.  Mr. Hatch, realizing that it was a mistake, goes back to his solitary ways.  But those who had been touched by Mr. Hatch’s recent kindness, rally around their new friend and show him how much his new friendship means to them all.  This is SUCH a heartwarming book and captures the true spirit of love and kindness.  A must read for Valentine’s!

Penguin in Love

Penguin in Love – Salina Yoon

Sweet little Penguin is back – this time he is looking for love but ends up with a mitten!  The mitten leads him to the owner, another little penguin and so begins the love story between the two.  I adore this little Penguin and fell in love with him in Salina Yoon’s first book Penguin and Pinecone.  And while this book doesn’t quite live up to the first one, this book makes a wonderful book to share around Valentine’s.  I also love the connection to knitting that is woven through the story.

Lilly's Chocolate Heart

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart – Kevin Henkes

Lilly and the Purple Plastic Purse remains one of my all time favorite picture book.  There have been many Lily books since, and I admit I have not read them all.  But this recently published addition to the series has Lilly trying to decide where to hide her last chocolate Valentine’s heart.  It’s a delightful story and one that many chocolate savers will connect to!

Valentine’s Day – Gail Gibbons

This nonfiction book explains the history and traditions of Valentine’s Day for younger students, accompanied by classic Gail Gibbons illustrations.  A good one to share to younger students because it explains the origins of the day.

Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine

Mouse and Mole Secret Valentine – Wong Herbert Yee

Mouse and Mole have secret crushes on each other.  While they prepare and deliver Valentine’s cards for their friends, they are prepare secret Valentines for each other.  This is a very sweet (Ok – mushy!) book about friendship and secret crushes.  Adorable illustrations and bonus instructions on making Valentine’s cards at the back.  Would be a perfect read-aloud for Gr. 2 and 3.

Snowy Valentine – David Petersen

This is an ADORABLE book!  Jasper the bunny is searching for the perfect Valentine’s present for his wife.  He goes through the woods, asking others what he should get.  In the end, the best gift is one that comes from the heart.  Sweet illustrations and a heartwarming story.

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Sink – Diane de Groat

This is a book I love to read to my class several days prior to Valentine’s day as it serves as an important reminder of treating others with kindness.  Gilbert signs cards for everyone in the class – except for the two people he doesn’t like because they have been mean to him in the past.  So he writes a few nasty comments on their cards which results in a lot of hurt feelings and name-blaming.  I have had some excellent class discussions stemming from this book.   (Gr. 2-4)

                                                                                       I Haiku You

I Haiku You – Betsy Snyder

Here is a delightful, charming collection of Haiku poems about many loves in a child’s life – love for a pet, a friend, stuffed toy and family.  Adorable illustrations accompany each poem.   Valentine cuteness!

So what Valentine’s books will you be sharing with your students this week?

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Filed under Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Picture Book, Poetry

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – New Books for the New Year – 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

Last week, I started to share some recently released picture books – and this week I will continue the list of new discoveries…

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My Father’s Arms Are A Boat – Stein Erik Lunde

Stein Erik Lunde is an award winning author in Norway.  This is his first book to be translated and published in the US. Hmmm… what to tell you about this book.  I was immediately drawn to this book by the title and cover but I was certainly not expecting a book about loss and grief.    The book starts out with a boy crawling onto his dad’s lap, looking for comfort.  He begins asking his dad questions (love this part) about and worrying that the birds outside will not have enough bread. From the questions asked and the answers the dad provides, we infer there has been a loss of someone special in their lives.   This book lingered with me after I read it – it was beautiful, sad, comforting and moving.  The cut out, layered illustrations are amazing.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one…

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Jemmy Button – Jennifer Uman

This book is based on the true story of a boy who was taken away from his native home in South America, traded for a Mother-of-Pearl Button, and taken to be “civilized” in England.  He lives there, is taught the European way of life and then is returned to his native home.  This book is definitely one I would share with older students.  It left me feeling rather sad – I can’t imagine how traumatic this experience must have been for him or for his family.  My connection was to Aboriginal children who were taken away from their  families to Canadian Residential Schools.   The illustrations in this book  are rich and colorful.  An excellent anchor book to use for intermediate students for practicing questioning.

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Jane, the Fox and Me – Fanny Brit

Another translated book that surprised me, this is a graphic novel, exquisitely illustrated, about an overweight girl who is being teased and bullied at school.  During her torment, she makes three connections that eventually bring her solace and comfort:  the fictional character Jane Eyre,  a girl she befriends and, surprisingly, a beautiful fox.  This book is intense, emotional, disturbing, (the girls are so cruel to her)  haunting, visually stunning, powerful and moving ( hmmm….there seems to be a theme emerging from my first three books!)  This is definitely a book geared for middle school students.  Another book that lingered long after I finished it.

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The King of Little Things – Bil Wepp

Never underestimate the power of little things – for they are what make the big things possible!    The King of Little Things rules happily over all things small – from buttons to beetles, from marbles to macaroni. Enter King Normous – who thinks he rules over all the land until one day he discovers that a little king in a little land rules over little things.  The King of Little Things is clever, funny, well written and has amazing illustrations, not to mention an important message and a happy ending.  I loved the idea of this book – and have a new appreciation for paper clips, dice and all things small!

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Sidney, Stella and the Moon – Emma Yarlett

Sidney and Stella are twin sisters who, like many siblings, do not share very well.  While fighting over a ball one night, it accidently knocks the moon out of the sky.  This leads to the need for the two to problem solve together.   A cute, imaginative story for the younger primary students – connections to sibling rivalry and discussion about working together to solve problems.  The illustrations are AMAZING!

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Swimming to the Moon – Jeff McMahon

This is a poetry collection – reminiscent of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss – filled with silly characters, wacky words, funny rhymes.   Great for reading aloud for early primary children – great rhythm, lots of fun, great pictures!  Very imaginative and many poems would be great for visualizing!

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100 Snowmen – Jennifer Arena

What do you get when you mix a little Math with a whole lot of Snowmen?  You get this GREAT book!  I so enjoyed it – could look at the pictures again and again!  A great counting book for Primary students (the Math does get more complicated as the book goes on), fun rhymes and each snowman has its own unique characteristics.  Delightful, fun and a great link to Math!

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Silver Buttons – Bob Graham

I wrote about this book a few weeks ago in my Top Books of 2013 post, but it’s worth sharing again!  Silver Buttons begins simply enough – a little boy taking his first steps and a girl drawing pictures on the floor.   But the book is an extraordinary look at all things that are happening within the neighborhood and city at the same exact moment.  A celebration of life’s moments and how we are all connected – Simple. Beautiful.

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Inside My Imagination – Marta Arteaga

Beautifully illustrated book about a girl celebrating her  imagination – where it comes from and where it can take her.  A great anchor book for motivating imagination in writing.  Also great examples of similes – “my imagination is like a meadow full of shooting stars… like an enormous music box where I keep everything I see and hear.”    Lovely words, lovely pictures, lovely book! 

Well there is my rather diverse list!   What have you been reading recently?

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Filed under Connect, graphic novel, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Poetry, Question, Writing Anchors

Christmas Metaphors

Christmas Metaphors

Have you ever taught metaphors to 10 and 11 year olds?  How did it go?  Honestly.  Did they get it or did they just fake it well enough to make you think they got it?  Did you just give up halfway through because even though you had explained that a metaphor is not the same thing as a simile – they kept writing “like” or “as” anyway?

To teach or not to teach metaphors?  That is the question I have been asking myself.  With only two weeks to go before the Christmas break, I was hesitant to introduce this rather challenging poetic devise to the wonderful grade five class I have been teaching poetry to this term.  This clever group had successfully demonstrated their understanding of the other techniques I had introduced them to over the last 3 months (similes personification, onomatopoeia  and alliteration) and had been using them frequently in their weekly poems.  But I admit that in the past, teaching metaphors had proved to be challenging, frustrating and overall disappointing.  Yesterday, however,  I collected their poems in which they were to use metaphors.  WOW!  I was amazed at how well they did!  Needless to say, these talented young writers have answered my question:  YES – you should teach metaphors!

Here’s the lesson and some amazing poems written by grade 5’s:

I explained the concept of metaphor and showed them a few examples.   Ralph Fletcher has written some great poems that use metaphors:  “Pinball” – a pinball machine as a metaphor for high school; Poetry – as a metaphor for a sugar-crazed teenager; “Earthhead” – a globe as a metaphor for a baby’s head.   I read these poems from his book A Writing Kind of Day and we discussed the metaphors.

After a quick Google search the night before the lesson, I had found some other examples of metaphors.  These were written by students who had used metaphors in their poems about their families. One had used the metaphor of a medicine chest, the other of the 4th of July.   https://www.teachervision.com/poetry/literary-techniques/5453.html  This gave me the idea of having the students writing poems about their families, using metaphors about Christmas.

Here’s how the lesson went:

  • We read samples of poems and I asked the students what they noticed.  We discussed how the writer connected each family member with an object with whom they shared common qualities.
  • We then brainstormed symbols of Christmas:  tree, decorations, candy cane, star, presents, wrapping paper, tape, candle, stocking, angel, etc.
  • We talked about the “characteristics” of each object:  ie:  Tree – strong, steady, straight; candy cane – sweet, sticky, minty; star – bright, shiny.
  • Each student then listed the members of their family down one side of a paper, including themselves.   (I modeled using my family)  Then I asked them to try match up each person with a Christmas object that best fits their personality or character.  Beside each family member, they listed the object.
  • Finally, they had to explain WHY or what the person and object had in common.

Some example we did together (these came from the kids – not me!)

                   Sister – ornament  – beautiful, delicate but breaks easily

                   Dad – tree – strong and steady and smells good

                  baby brother – gingerbread man – sweet but runs away a lot  (this one made me laugh!)

The students thought of some amazing “metaphor matches”!  I was SO impressed with their final poems – and I would definitely use this lesson again as a way to introduce metaphors.    If any of your students do not celebrate Christmas, you could use the same lesson, but use symbols of New Year’s or any other cultural celebration.

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                                 My favorite line from Rudra’s poem:  My sister is the star which finishes the job. 

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                   My favorite line from Reuben’s poem:  And my grandma is the tape never letting go of the family.

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My Family is Christmas by Rhea

My Dad is Santa

He is strong and does all he can to make me smile.

My mom is a present

Sometimes not what you want but you have to be thankful for a while.

My sister is a reindeer

Annoying but guides the way for others.

And I am the Christmas Star – I know I am small

But I keep our family together.  

What are your experiences and ideas for teaching metaphor to younger students?

 

 

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More great books!

 

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.

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The book blogging community has been going “wild” about Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown so I was anxious to get my hands on a copy!  This book is really all about letting loose and letting your inner “wild side” come out.  Mr. Tiger lives in a very proper society and conforms to what is expected of him.  One day, he decides to loosen up a little and walks on two legs instead of four.  Despite the frowns of disapproval from those around him, he continues to let loose a little more each day, jumping from rooftops and even taking off his clothes!  Eventually he is banished to the woods to be wild on his own.  When he returns, he discovers the others have followed his lead and “loosened up” a little!  Great illustrations and lots of humor makes this a wonderful read.  Great discussions about “getting wild” at the appropriate time and place.

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Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long is a hilarious introduction to the concepts of “up”, “tall” and “up” told in three separate short stories.   The cast of bird characters in this book are hilarious and the lift the flap pages make for an even more appealing read.  The bright, colorful illustrations remind me of Mo Willems.  Great for Pre-K and K.

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Diverse writer Linda Sue Park amazed many with her powerful novel last year A Long Walk to Water.  She has now released this delightful picture book  Zander’s Panda Party which describes the challenges of planning a birthday party.  The lyrical, rhyming text follows Xander as he tries to decide who to invite to the party.  He starts with inviting all the pandas, then all the bears, then is informed by the Koala that she is not really a bear but a marsupial.   Not only is this book a pleasure to read (some of the rhymes are rather unconventional!) but it’s a great introduction to different types of animals.  Top it off with the message of the importance of not wanting to leave anyone out – and you have a winner!

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If you are teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community  – here is a book for you;  What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick   Simple, up-beat text and colorful illustrations is entertaining as well as putting 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?”

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Caldecott winner Philip Stead is inching higher and higher up on my “favorite author” scale.  Everything he writes is heartfelt and his soft, whimsical illustrations add to tenderness to the text.  Bear has a Story to Tell is one of my all time favorites and Home for Bird  was a book I reviewed this summer.  In his latest book, Hello, My Name is Ruby, Stead once again touches the heart with his words and pictures.  Ruby is delightful  – she is tiny, brave, curious and compassionate.  She attempts to find her place in the world by making friends, introducing herself to different animals and birds and asking them thoughtful questions in order to learn more about them.   Could there be a better role model for children?   I felt a true sadness when one of the birds did not want to be her friend.  There is nothing not to love about this book.

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For all you Scaredy Squirrel fans out there – here’s the latest – just in time for Halloween!  In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween,  Scaredy helps us plan for the spooky night – with everything from costume choices, making treats, pumpkin carving and safety tips!  In his familiar overly anxious approach to everything, Scaredy uses lists, maps, diagrams, charts and webs (love those nonfiction text features!) to get ready for the spookiest night of the year!

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Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian is a follow up to Memoirs of a Goldfish (published in 2010).  In a similar style as Diary of a Worm, this book is written in the voice of Seymour the Hamster.  Seymour is at first content with his life and describes the coziness of his cage.  But after a chat with a cat, he begins to feel he may be missing out on something beyond the confounds of his cage.  Great anchor book for writing “in person” as an animal and for developing voice.

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I Want a Dog! by Helga Bansch was published a few years ago but I came across it while searching for anchor books for persuasive writing lessons.  There are several books with a theme of a child trying to convince their parents to buy them a pet.  I was immediately drawn to this book by the cover – and the delightful images of different breeds of dogs.  Lisa desperately wants a dog but her parents don’t feel it realistic as they live in an apartment.  Lisa tries many different persuasive tactics to change her parents mind, but with no luck.   In the end, she doesn’t give up and comes up with a creative plan to solve her dog desire!  Great for predicting, problem solving and to introduce persuasion.

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I have a huge author crush on Chris Raschka.  Ever since his Yo! Yes! book topped my Infer book list – I have been using his books to teach inferring and questioning.   Chris Raschka won the Caldecott award in 2010 for  A Ball for Daisy.  As with many of his books, it was a perfect wordless picture book for practicing inferring with younger students.  I had many Daisy fans in my class so I know there will be much excitement when they see Daisy in a new adventure in the book Daisy Gets Lost.  I’m not sure how he does it, but Chris Raschka always manages to capture emotion with his swirly impressionistic illustrations and this book is no exception.  Daisy chases a squirrel at the park and suddenly finds herself in unfamiliar territory – and we can see the fear on her cute little face.  A great book for making connections to feeling lost and afraid.

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I adore anything Georgia Heard writes. I have likely used  For the Good of the Earth and Sun for teaching poetry more than any other professional resource.  I am starting a poetry unit with a grade 6 class this term so have been  gathering poetry books from my collection.  Amongst many amazing poetry anthologies and collections, I rediscovered Falling Down the Page, Georgia Heard’s amazing collection of list poems by contemporary poets (including Eileen Spinelli and Avis Harley – who was my teacher for one of my poetry classes at UBC many years ago!)   I sat and read through the every poem and marveled at how a simple list can tell so much.   A great anchor book for writing list poems!

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I am in the middle of reading two amazing novels.  First – is The Real Boy by Anne Ursu – a magical adventure.   (You can read a great review of this book by Linda Urban posted in  Nerdy Book Club )  So far, I am LOVING this book.  I adore Oscar, the main character, and the writing is wonderful.  Oscar is an orphan who works for a magician, gathering herbs and helping to prepare his potions.  He is quite content in his life until things start to suddenly change in the town when everyone starts to get sick and Caleb, the magician, is no longer around.   I have just met Callie, a girl who is going to help Oscar.  I can’t wait to find out what happens.  I think this will be a GREAT read-aloud to grades 4-6!

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I am a huge Kate Messner  fan and follower and first learned about her latest book Wake Up Missing  when she wrote about it on her website just before its release date on September 10th.  I have not finished this book yet but not because I don’t have time – but because I don’t want it to end!  All  I can say is WOW!  Four teens – a hockey star, a football star, a horse lover and a bird watcher – all meet when they arrive at an elite Brain Science center in Florida.  The four have nothing in common – except they have all experienced head injuries and have gone to the center for some concussion testing.  (Being a mom of two boys who play hockey, I make a lot of connections to the concussion discussion!)  But after a while at the center, the four begin to suspect that there is more to these “tests” – and they begin to suspect they are part of some strange experiment that may steal their identities.  How exciting does this sound?  SO EXCITING!  My son wants to read this but I’m not letting him until I finish it and find out how they escape!      12991201[1]

I have been inspired by reading other IMWAYR posts and particularly  Holly Mueller of Reading, Teaching and Learning, who always includes non-teaching books she and her family are reading.  I’m blessed to part of a wonderful book club that meets once a month.  (And yes, we DO read and discuss the books!)  So I’ve decided to share my book club books each month.  This month, we are reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.  This historical novel is set in Paris in 1856 and is the story of two sisters whose lives are upended when their father is murdered.  This is the story of one of the girls who becomes a model for artist Edward Degas, while her family struggles to survive.  I have not read too far into it yet, but certainly getting a different perspective on the artist Degas!

Well, there you have my latest reads of the week.  What have you been reading lately?

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Poetry, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 27! It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! – Back to School Books

It’s Monday (actually it’s almost Tuesday!) and happy to be participating in IMWAYR once again!

After returning from a week at the lake, I’m feeling fall creeping into my horizon. And that means back to school for many of us. (I know some are already back!) So I thought I’d share some of my favorite “back to school” books to share with students during those first few days and weeks as we begin a new year together.  This list has some old favorites and some new titles that I’m excited to share for the first time.  In no particular order, here they are:

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I am starting with a brand new book I am very excited about called Rufus Goes to School by Kim T. Griswell. Rufus is excited about going to school so he can learn how to read his favorite book (do you love this already?) But Rufus is a pig and “Pigs aren’t allowed in school!” says the principal.  This book combines the excitement of the first day of school with the desire of learning to read – a pretty great combination, don’t you think? This book is very interactive with lots of repeating phrases where kids can join in with the read-aloud.  If you are only going to buy one new back to school book this year – it should be this one!

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First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg is a story about Sara who is nervous about starting her first day at a new school.  Her father is trying to help her get ready by making her breakfast, packing her lunch and driving her to school.  This book has delightful surprise ending that stimulates an important discussion around just who gets nervous on the first day of school.

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I am a huge Mark Teague fan.  I can read and re-read his books and I laugh each and every time. How I Spent My Summer Vacation is no exception.  It is a hilarious account of a Wallace’s imaginative and elaborate account of his summer vacation.  A great writing anchor for the first week back – as kids enjoy writing their own imaginative and perhaps embellished tales of their recent summer!

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One can never go wrong with a Todd Parr book.  Otto Goes to School is a simple story first published as a picture book and now available as an Level 1 reader, includes Todd’s trademark colorful block illustrations and a familiar character – “Otto”.   It is story of starting school and making friends that many will make connections to.

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This School Year Will Be the Best! by Kay Winters is a wonderful interactive read-aloud.  At the beginning of the year, a class is asked what their hopes are for looking the coming school year.  The month-by-month answers are diverse, ranging from “meeting a new friend” to “having a chocolate fountain in the hallway”.  A great book to invite students to share their own hopes for the year.

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Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten by Hyewon Yum is one of my latest finds.  At first glance, you may think it is a familiar story of a boy’s first day in Kindergarten.  But after a closer look at the illustrations, you realize that it is also a story of how parents experience the same fears and anxieties about this milestone of their child starting school.   This would make a perfect anchor book for inferring, and would also make a great gift for anyone whose child is starting school.

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No back to school list of books would be complete without David Goes To School by David Shannon.  Most of you will know the David books but I never grow tired of the hilarious illustrations and the all the connections I make.   There is a “David” in every classroom and this book reminds me of just how much they need our understanding.

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Back-to-School Rules by Laurie Friedman is another book that could anchor a writing activity: writing school rules.  These 10 rules, as told by Percy, head of the class, are written in the negative – what NOT to do – which makes for an amusing read-aloud.  The illustrations add to the humor.

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How Will I Get to School this Year? by Jerry Pallotta explores the wild and imaginative ways you might get to school if your parents didn’t drive you or you didn’t take the school bus.  This is a fun and slightly silly book that I think kids would enjoy.  Maybe they could even think of their own wacky ways to travel to school!

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Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre has a release date of September 1st and is definitely one to put on your radar.  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC and can tell you it is absolutely hilarious.  While it is not exactly a “back to school” story – it is a story of school supplies gone wild – namely the glue bottle!  The results are a hilarious sticky mess of  story that celebrates art and creativity. 9466024[1]

In Pete the Cat – Rocking in My School Shoes, laid-back Pete explores the different places in his school while rockin and groovin’ in his school shoes.  “It’s all good” when you have a Pete the Cat book in your collection!  Thanks, Eric Letwin, for this easy-going character that we all love!

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And rounding out my list today is a poetry book collection, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  School Supplies includes poems by such greats as Carl Sandburg, Myra Cohn Livingston and Jane Yolen.  There are poems about paper clips, lunch bags, pencils and rulers.  My favorite is “The Eraser Poem” that actually starts to erase!  Great poems for reading aloud and bright illustrations for sharing.

Hope you found a few new titles for sharing to your students as you begin your school year.  Would love to hear about some of your favorites!

Thanks to Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers for starting this Monday book sharing!

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Summer Reading – Day 20! – Nonfiction Wednesday

I have am happy to be participating my first Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!  (I hope I am not breaking any rules if I focus on Nonfiction Poetry) I was first introduced to Marilyn Singer in a Children’s Literature course I was taking at university.  I remember the Professor, Ron Jobe, sharing a new poetry book by Marilyn Singer called “Turtle in July” (published in 1989 – Yikes!  Am I that old?).  He read aloud the title poem and I was fascinated by how she was able to so effortlessly weave factual information into a simple poem. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

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Over the last 2 decades, she has written over 30 poetry books (much of which is based on nature), picture books, novels and nonfiction books.  She gained much attention and earned several awards  in 2010 for her remarkable and unique writing of Fairy Tales Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.  If you have never read this – it is an incredibly clever collections of poems that can be read both forwards and backwards.  Amazing!  Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, the follow up, was released this past February.

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Now, on to her Nonfiction books…..I am drawn to her poetry collections and nonfiction books that center around nature and animals.  I’m particularly fond of her poetry books Fireflies at Midnight and The Company Of Crows where she writes poems in the voices of different animals (and birds).   I have used both books as anchors in both reading and writing lessons.  In reading, we practice inferring information about the animals from the poems.  In writing,  I have used them as models for writing with voice.  Both books have inspired amazing animal poetry in my classroom over the years.    Students choose an animal, research its habits and behavior, then write a poem in first person, trying to capture both the “voice” and personality of the animal.

9482[2]           The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems

I recently came across her latest poetry collection called A Strange Place to Call Home (published in 2012) In it, she writes poems about the most dangerous habitats on earth and the animals who live there.  The book is illustrated by Caldecott winner and honor recipient Ed Young.  His illustrations are gorgeous and he uses a torn paper  collage style similar to Steve Jenkins.  Singer uses many different poetic forms in the book, including haiku and sonnets,  as she captures 14 relatively unknown creatures and their unusual homes.  (There is information on each creature included at the back of the book)   Through her unique poetic style, Singer is able to capture so many interesting facts, often through sparse text.  Students will be fascinated to learn about these unusual creatures and I could see how this could be used as an excellent “launch” into a research project.     The book could also be a great way to launch a Science Unit on Extreme Environments or how animals adapt to their environment.

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A Strange Place to Call Home

Where it’s dark                                                                                                              Where it’s deep                                                                                                            Where’s it’s stormy                                                                                                       Where it’s steep                                                                                                               Where the rain rarely falls                                                                                                                                      or the water always races                                                                                     They survive                                                                                                                   strive to thrive                                                                                                                  in a world of risky places

– Marilyn Singer

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Filed under Infer, New Books, Nonfiction, Poetry