Category Archives: Powerful Understanding

IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First new picture books of 2020!

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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

Three cheers for Mondays and long weekends and new picture books!  I’m excited to share my first blog post of 2020 (thanks Susan from Kidsbooks for some of these titles!) featuring a few 2019 titles I missed and many 2020 #warm book alert releases!

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Maybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us

Kobi Yamada

From the author of What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do with An Idea? comes another inspiring book.  “Have you ever wondered why you are here?” I SO love books that begin with a deep thinking question.  And so begins this story about making your own way in the world,  marching to the beat of your own drum, and making a difference in the world.  Could there be a more perfect anchor book for Powerful Understanding?  I don’t think so!  LOVE!

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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots Michael Rex

Don’t trust everything you read! Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. A humorous, informative book to show students that for some things you need more information to make a choice.   A great introduction to the difference between facts and opinions – a MUST for every library!

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The Old Truck – Jarrett Pumphrey

Loved the simple, retro feel and the lino cut illustrations of this “The Giving Tree” like story.   A simple poetic narrative about family, farming, perseverance, dreaming, and the passage of time.  An old truck works hard on a farm for years for the family, until it finally stops and is abandoned. Years later, the daughter of the farmer who owned the truck (now grown up) returns to live on the farm, repairs the truck and puts it back to work on the farm. Great circular story with themes of hard work, industrious women, and taking care of “old stuff”.  Great writing anchor for point of view, imagery and personification.

Snail Crossing – Corey R. Tabor

Give a little kindness – and kindness will come back to you.  Snail spots a cabbage patch across the road, and is determined to taste of that delicious cabbage. Snail has a few set backs during his journey, but in his steadfastness to have that cabbage, he shows a little kindness to others, and receives in-turn something more than just a plump cabbage. Adorable story of friendship.

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Old Rock (is not boring) – Deb Pilutti

This book surprised me!  Spotted Beetle, Tall Pine, and Hummingbird think Old Rock’s life must be boring because he just sits there in the same place, but as Old Rock tells the story of his life, the three are amazed with all he’s done and seen.  So many things you could use this book for – a great read aloud, introducing geology, timelines, not to mention a great anchor book for teaching point of view, predicting, descriptive narrative or autobiographical writing.  Lovely, gentle illustrations.

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Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall – Derek Hughes

Incredible, political and edgy, dark but strangely uplifting.  This fractured fairy tale picture book is definitely one I’d use with older children.  A great anchor book for questioning and inferring and would spark great conversations about author’s intent.  I was mesmerized by the incredible pen and ink detailed illustrations.  Leaves readers with lots of questions at the end – another reason why I would recommend it!

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In a Jar – Deborah Marcero

If you could capture something in a jar – a memory, a place, a feeling – what would it be?  Is there anyone who has not thought of bottling a favorite moment, a favorite day, a beautiful sight?  This gorgeous, heartwarming picture book begins with one little bunny who loves collecting things in jars and unfolds into a beautiful story of friendship.  Charming, joyful story.  I can’t wait to read this aloud to children and talk about what they would “bottle up” to share!

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Lawrence – The Bunny Who Wanted to Be Naked – Vern Kousky

If the title doesn’t trigger giggles, this story will!   Lawrence’s mother likes dressing him up in fashionable, unusual outfit!    Lawrence just wants to be naked and hop in the grass like the other bunnies.  Lawrence doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, so comes up with a plan to help her see things from his point of view.   I laughed a lot and know that many children will be able to make connections!

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The Heart of a Whale Anna Pignotaro

Sigh.  Wipe the tears.  This is such a beautiful story of kindness and empathy, loneliness and love.  Poetic (think similes and metaphors), imaginative, exquisite watercolour illustrations.  When whale sings his song, some feel calm,  others cheer up, some drift off to sleep.  But Whale is lonely and longs for the company of another whale.  The ocean listens to his lonely sighs and carries his wish into the ears and hearts of some other whales – who soon find him and fill his empty heart.  Such a beautiful story of the need to be loved.  Stunning.

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Almost Time Gary D. Schmidt

Ethan is waiting for the sap to run so he and his father can make a new batch of maple syrup.  He marks the time by going to school, sledding, and waiting for his loose tooth to come out.  Finally, the big day arrives; his tooth comes out and the sap is running – and he helps his father make the syrup.  A tender father-and-son story about waiting for something, the passage of time, the change of seasons, and the excitement of reaching a goal.  Great for making connections to having to wait for something, as well as learning where maple sugar comes from.

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope one or to two of these new books have caught your eye!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Kindness, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View, Powerful Understanding, Question, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchor book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Final Favorite Picture Books of 2019

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As 2019 comes to an end, I wanted to focus on some of the picture books that were released late in the year,  but that can’t be missed!    From books about friendship, family and traditions, to celebrating nature and special places – there is something here for everyone!

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The Scarecrow  – Beth Ferry

He never rests.
He never bends.
He’s never had a single friend,
for all the woodland creatures know
not to mess with old Scarecrow.

And so begins “The Scarecrow”, my favorite picture book of 2019.  So much to love about this gentle, heart-tugging picture book. With gorgeous artwork by the Tan Brothers (The Night Gardner) and gentle rhyming text by Beth Ferry, (Stick and Stone) readers are pulled into the wheat field where an old scarecrow has stood throughout the passing of many seasons. The local animals are naturally afraid of scarecrow and the excluded scarecrow has never known a friend. But being excluded from community doesn’t stop the scarecrow from showing kindness to an injured baby crow. And as the scarecrow cares for the baby bird and a relationship forms, the lonely scarecrow discovers purpose.
This book invites conversations about being kind to neighbors in need and that everyone is capable of loving and caring for each other no matter who they are. Will be adding this to my Powerful Understanding “OTHERS” book list! LOVE this book SO SO much!

The Cool Bean Jory John

“It seemed like there were two types of beans in the world. There were the cool beans and the beans like me.”  It’s hard when the beans you used to hang out with are now the Cool Beans and you’re just you.  It happens.  But it’s never easy.  (I made many connections to this one!)  This “too-cool-for-school” theme is the third picture book from the bestselling author of The Bad Seed and The Good Egg. 

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My Ocean is Blue – Darren LeBeuf

“My ocean splashes and crashes / and echoes and squawks. // My ocean laughs and hums.”  Love this joyful seaside romp in the follow up to My Forest is Green.  This book is filled with gorgeous paper cut illustrations and overflowing with literary techniques – similes, personification,  and amazing sensory details.  Great anchor for exploring nature, visualizing and descriptive writing.  Not a focus, but certainly noticed and appreciated the girl exploring the ocean has a physical disability.   Many reasons to add this book to your collection!

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Fly! – Mark Teague 

Delightful wordless picture book about a mama bird trying to convince her little one to learn to fly while the baby prefers having food brought to him.  Young readers will enjoy the humorous ideas the little bird has about alternatives to flying and parents will relate to the frustration of the mama bird!  Mark Teague’s illustrations perfectly capture the actions and expressions of a defiant toddler and frustrated parent.

The Love Letter – Anika Aldamuy Denise

This book is SO adorable, I can hardly stand it!  Hedgehog, Bunny and Squirrel find a love letter, and each one thinks it’s meant for them.  But where did it come from, and who is it for?  So sweet seeing how feeling special made a difference in the lives of all the animals.  Such a great read-aloud and a perfect new book for Valentine’s Day!

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Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao – Kat Zhang

Perseverance and family traditions are the themes in this delightful, colorful story.  This little girl is trying so hard to make the perfect bao as others in her family can do but she just can’t get it right.  Charming characters and great illustrations!  This would be a great book for talking about family and cultural traditions.

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Sulwe – Vashti Harrison

Sulwe is a little girl whose skin color is darker than anyone else in her family.  She tries to do anything she can to change the color of her skin, but nothing works.  Breathtaking illustrations with a positive message in self esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.   This will be added to my Powerful Understanding “Self” book list and also a great anchor book for teaching similes!

The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murgula

This book was so much more than I expected.  While its central theme is “having favorites”, it focuses more on HOW we go about choosing them and what influences our choices.  LOTS to discuss here and would make a great read-aloud when teaching personal preferences.

Caspian Finds a Friend Jaqueline Veissid

Gentle, imaginative story about loneliness and the friendship that develops between a boy and a polar bear.  Absolutely gorgeous illustrations and heart-warming story.   I loved this one and will be adding it to my “Friendship” book list.

Seeds and Trees Brandon Walden

A beautiful fairy tale for older students with a wonderful message on the power of words!  We always have a choice—we can speak up-lifting, healing words, or we can speak words that are dark and full of despair and hate.  We also have a choice of what we do with the words that are spoken to us.  Powerful message, lots to discuss, and great for inferring theme.  Great book for “Action-Reaction” lesson!

The Map of Good Memories – Zuzanna Celej

When war forces Zoe and her family to leave their city, she draws a “map of good memories,” so that they will always be with her. A simple, effective refugee story and a great anchor for connecting and writing about “Special Places”.  I love the idea of having students create their own “Map of Good Memories”.

I Wonder K.A. Hale

What do clouds taste like? Do my toys miss me when I’m gone? How do clocks know what time it is? Do tires get tired? What are boy ladybugs called? Do trees dream?
A delightful celebration of wonderings and questions to ponder.  The illustrations are magical. A wonderful book to inspire students to think deeply and wonder about the world! LOVE this one!

The Hike – Alison Farrell

Layers of love for this book that celebrates hiking, adventures, friendship and the great outdoors.  It’s tender yet lively, poetic yet scientific, magical yet natural.  Three friends and their dog head to the woods for a hike.  As they wander the woods, they record their observations in a sketchbook.  I love how the lyrical text is woven with detailed labelled diagrams of all that the children observe on their hike.  This would be a wonderful anchor book for observing details in nature and descriptive writing.  I love hiking and I love this book!

Fairy Science – Ashley Spires

Anything by Ashley Spires is sure to be a winner.  This book introduces young readers to to the scientific method in an easy-to-understand way. There’s even a little experiment in the back for budding scientists to try.  Esther examines the fairy world with a critical eye and tries to explain natural phenomena using science.  A great anchor book for science, critical thinking and fairy fans everywhere!

The Serious Goose – Jimmy Kimmel

Late Night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has written and illustrated this hilarious book aimed for the Pre-K and K readers.  This book will have readers giggling at this very serious goose who refuses to smile and the various attempts to make him do so.  Lots of fun and interaction with this one.

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Who Wet My Pants? Bob Shea

This book, while funny, includes many important themes that can stimulate connections and discussions:  embarrassment, blame, compassion, and forgiveness. Reuben the bear, while delivering donuts in the campgrounds discover that “someone” wet his pants.  And while he accuses his companions, one after another, of being the one responsible, his patient friends assure him that accidents can happen.  Very funny read-aloud and I really like how the friends show empathy rather than make Reuben feel worse by teasing him.

The Boring Book – Shinsuke Yoshitake

An interesting exploration of what it means to be bored.  We follow a young boy as he explores the how’s and why’s of being bored and eventually develops a new understanding – being bored is a choice.  Great illustrations.  For those familiar with my “One Word” activity for transform, this would be a great anchor book for that lesson, using the word “bored”.

Stretchy McHandsome – Judy Schachner

How can you not love a book called “Stretchy McHandsome”?  How can you not love a cat with the same name?  This delightful book is about the youngest of nine cats who sets out from his cardboard box to explore the world and meets a stretchy friend.  For cat lovers everywhere – but you don’t have to love cats to fall in love with Stretchy McHandsome!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found one or two new books to add to your classroom or library collections!  This will be my last post of 2019.

Happy Reading and see you in the 2020!

 

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Filed under 2019 releases, New Books, Picture Book, Powerful Understanding, Reading Power

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

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

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

One Of A Kind by Chris Gorman

One of a Kind – Chris Gorman

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

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

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

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

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

Moon – Alison Oliver

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

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur Greg Pizzoli

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

I’m Sad – Michael Ian Black

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

I Hate Everyone! Naomi Davis

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

Small Things – Mel Tregonning

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

The Rabbit Listened – Cori Doerrfeld

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

Grumpy Monkey – Suzanne Lang

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

Whale in a Fishbowl Troy Howell, Richard Jones

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

Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

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

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

Have a great reading week, everyone!

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