Category Archives: Read-Aloud

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2018 Top Summer Picks for 9-12 yr olds (part 1)

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

While I tend to promote a lot of picture books on my blog, I try to share novels for your middle grade readers when I can. (They just take longer to read!)  I have been reading A LOT of newly released titles recently and am excited to share them with you!  And with summer right around the corner, it is time to start choosing titles for your own TBR pile!  For your middle grade readers, regular “Catch the Summer Book Bug” book talks will hopefully get them excited about summer reading.  From fantasy, to graphic novels, adventures, and realistic stories – there is sure to be a book for every reader in your class!   Maybe create a bulletin board with some of the these book covers to get the kids excited about summer reading!

The Lifters – Dave Eggers

A whimsical fantasy filled with an imaginative underground world (was making connections to the Secret World of Og!)  Granite Flowerpetal (what a great name for a character), Gran for short, has moved to the town of Carousel with his family while his dad searches for work.  It is there he discovers this extraordinary underground world and learns that the town is actually sinking from sorrow – the tunnels are actually holding the town up.  Subtle but powerful message of hope and happiness in this quirky, intriguing story.  Short, fast-paced chapters and great humour.

The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker – Matilda Woods

Part folktale, part magical realism.  This is a gentle inter-generational tale of a lonely, grieving older man who finds hope in an unexpected friendship with a magical bird and a kind-hearted boy named Tito.  Charming characters, uplifting story and wonderful language (lots of similes!)  I loved that this novel included gorgeous illustrations.  This story has a fairy tale feel, similar to The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Humor, heart, fantasy, and adventure – this book has them all!   Bicycle is a 12-year-old orphan who is determined to ride across the country to meet her hero – Polish bicycle champion, Zbigniew Sienkiewicz.   Along the way she meets ghosts, pie-makers, crazy inventors; gets run over in a pig stampede; and accidentally launches a missile!  And just who is that mysterious woman in black chasing her?  Delightful story!  (Lots of reference to USA geography – hoping there will be a “Part 2” across Canada!)

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Coming-of-age middle grade graphic novel about summer friendships and that awkward time between childhood and teenager years. When thirteen year old Bina is left to her own devices for the summer while her best friend Austin is off at soccer camp, she has to learn how to have fun all by herself.  Heartfelt and easy to read, with many themes and lots of connections!  (I didn’t love the orange toned illustrations – it was hard on my eyes – or maybe I’m just getting old!!)

                                                                Bob – Wendy Mass

I was quite moved by this incredibly endearing and thought provoking book about childhood friendships, change, growing older while still remembering what it was like to be young.  Ten year old Livy is going back to visit her grandmother in Australia and reconnects with Bob – an endearing green creature she left 5 years earlier whom most people cannot see and she had forgotten.  Great characters and I enjoyed the alternating points of view between Livy and Bob.  Charming, weird and lovely all at the same time.  A MUST read!

Amal Unbound – Aisha Saeed

An important, empowering story about Amal – a young Pakistani girl who loves school and dreams of becoming a teacher one day.  But when she offends a member of an influential family in the village, she is sold as a servant to pay her father’s “debt” and her dreams are suddenly shattered.  Thought provoking themes accessible to even a grade four reader and would make an excellent read aloud and Lit. Circle choice  (great companion to The Breadwinner).   An eye-opening,  riveting and inspiring story with cliff hanger chapter endings and an excellent author’s note at the end.  SO good!

The Boy From Tomorrow – Camille DeAngelis

An almost time-travel story of friendship between two children, Josie and Alec. They are the same age (12) and they live in the same house on 444 Sparrow Street in the same room… but a hundred years apart.  Such a unique story that sounds complicated but flows very smoothly. I loved all the ways Josie and Alec manage to communicate across time, like the letters or the writing on the windowsill.  Heartbreaking, and perhaps a little spooky at times – but a great read.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

LOTS to love about this graphic novel featuring a diverse neighborhood of children who use their imagination to create an elaborate, imaginative kingdom out of cardboard boxes in their backyard.  Each chapter stands alone featuring one child in the neighborhood and how they came to choose their imaginative character based on some of the issues they are experiencing in their own life.  I love how this book gently introduces a variety of issues that middle grade students will all connect to:  including siblings, bullies, inclusion, friendship struggles, gender identity, and budding crushes.  The stories are heartfelt, entertaining and perfect for this age group.  LOVE!

                                            Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate

Anything that is written by this amazing author is sure to be on my “top pick” list!  (Wishtree and The One and Only Ivan are among my favorite middle grade novels EVER!)   The Last Endling is the first book in an animal fantasy series which features a truly imaginative world called Nederra and imaginative characters including the protagonist Bynx, a “dairne” – a creature somewhere between a dog and a flying squirrel who can detect lies.  When Bynx returns from a forbidden venture, she discovers her pack has been killed, making her possibly “the Endling” – or the last of her species.  Determined to find another pack of dairnes, Bynx sets off on a “hero’s quest”,  with the help of her new loyal companion Tobble.    As with her previous books, Katherine Applegate weaves important themes throughout including: family, loyalty, loss, identity and hope. This adventure is fast-paced and so believable –  I was completely transported into this fantasy world and can’t wait for the next book!

Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is a heart-breaking, deeply moving book that deals with harsh reality of racial issues in America throughout history.  Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real one.  As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.  While observing the aftermath of his own death, Jerome meets Emmett,  another ghost, whose similar death happened decades earlier.  WOW.  This story is so powerful and told in such a unique way.  Due to the more mature themes in this book, I would suggest it for upper middle grades (Gr. 7-9) This book is getting a lot of “buzz” and is already on the New York Times best-seller list.   It is quite a short read so would make an excellent read-aloud, no doubt prompting many important discussions.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

WOW!!  I LOVED this book about a hard-working Chinese immigrant family’s experience trying to make it in their new home.  It’s funny, heart-wrenching and so straightforward in presenting the clear struggle that immigrant families experience.  Ten-year old Mia, the main character, captured my heart with her sweet, spunky, courageous personality, her thoughtfulness and her sense of justice.  Such a great book to start conversations about prejudices and how new immigrants are treated.   This debut novel from Kelly Yang is loosely based on her own experiences and includes and interesting author’s note.  A PHENOMENAL book that would make such a great read-aloud in a grade 4-5 class.  SO many opportunities for discussion!  LOVE THIS BOOK!  (I know I say that a lot – but this is my favorite on this list!)

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

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Top Picks for Summer Reading for 9-12 yr. olds next week!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Early Readers and Beginning Chapter Books of 2017

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

This week, I am highlighting my favorite early readers and beginning chapter books from 2017.  So many great books to read and share with your emerging and transitional readers!  Many themes were featured this year, including strong, culturally diverse characters who face adversity, solve conflict and think outside the box to resolve problems.  Each of these books would work well either as a read-aloud in a primary classroom or as an independent reader.  (For each selection, I have included number of pages.)

 

Fergus and Zeke – Kate Messner  (56 pages)

Meet two charming, mischievous mice:  Fergus – a lovable classroom mouse who sneaks into a backpack to join a class trip and Zeke – his streetwise counterpart whom he meets and brings back to school with him.  Short sentences, repetition, great sight words, four easy chapters, straightforward plot and colorful illustrations – this brand-new series is perfect for emerging readers! 

Ballet Cat – What’s Your Favorite Favorite?  – Bob Shae (56 pages)

A delightful celebration of family relationships is the theme in this humorous third book in the Ballet Cat series.  Grandma ends up in quite a predicament when her two grandchildren – Cat and Goat – try to outdo each other when they put on a show for her.  Cat thinks ballet is Grandma’s favorite; Goat is convinced she likes magic tricks best.  A perfect early reader, the text is done entirely in large word bubbles, highlighted by Shea’s signature style illustrations and bright bold colors.

Super Narwhal and the Jelly Jolt – Ben Clanton  (64 pages)

In this follow-up to the first A Narwhale and Jelly Book, Narwhal decides to become a superhero.  He already has a name, an outfit, a secret identity, even a sidekick. But he still needs to find out which his superpower is… Cute, funny and very heartwarming. Comic style illustrations.

The Good For Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper (64 pages)

Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing!  It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy.  Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something! A great read-aloud and high on the giggle scale!

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz (80 pages)

When an over-scheduled princess, tired of no time to play and discover, asks her fairy godmother for a dog she is surprised when a crocodile is sent by mistake.   But the hilarious plan that follows involves the croc swapping places with Cora – giving her some much needed freedom.  With a mop wig and frilly dress, the “princess” croc insults the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Charming and so much fun to read.  (and I “inferred” a little lesson for helicopter parents!)

Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So FarCatharina Valckx (96 pages)    Six linked quirky stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life memorable and unpredictable.   Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar and often extremely silly goings-on of his life.  I loved that Bruno takes such delight in embracing any experience that come his way.

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Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and MarshmallowsAsia Citro (96 pages)

What should you feed a baby dragon?  Zoey and her cat Sassafras use the scientific method and science journals to find out!  I LOVE this first book in a series that celebrates science and features a smart, strong, tenacious female character.  Also love the message that you need to work through mistakes and re-think your plan before you can succeed!  Cute illustrations, short chapters and a sprinkle of magic thrown in!  I can’t wait for more books in this series!
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Yours Sincerely, Giraffe – Megumi Iwasa (104 pages)

Sweet, quirky little book about a lonely giraffe and a lonely penguin who become pen pals.  A great early chapter book, first published in Japan, that touches on loneliness, friendship, letter-writing and understanding differences.  Love the playful line drawings which break the text into manageable chunks.

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Heroes in Training – Hermes and the Horse with Wings – Tracey West (112 pages)

Not sure how I missed this series – but this is book #13!  Each book in the series features one of the Greek Gods as a child.  Ten chapters, simple text and single page black and white illustrations.  A perfect series for any young readers interested in Greek Gods and the exciting world of Greek mythology.

Ivy – Katherine Coville  (144 pages)

This short, delightful fantasy includes pixies, a sick dragon, a three legged griffin, and some nasty trolls! Ivy and her Grandmother, whom villagers call “Meg the Healer”, can relate to all the animals that live in and around the village of Broomsweep.  Her grandmother can heal all the animals, including the magical ones.  Enchanting and heartwarming!

Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen Debbi Michiko Florence  (160 pages)

So much to love about a headstrong eight-year-old named Jasmine Toguchi and her Japanese-American family.  In this first book, Jasmine longs to be part of a cultural family tradition of making Japanese mochi – a small, round dessert ball made with soft, pounded sticky rice.  But she is told she is too young to help.  I loved Jasmine’s determination, the details about mochi, and the family’s traditions.  Great for making connections!  A mochi recipe is included at the end of the book.  Looking forward to more from this series.

Beatrice Zinker – Upside Down Thinker – Shelley Johannes (164 pages)

I so enjoyed getting to know Beatrice Zinker.  She’s got the right combination of quirky and spunk, as well as her share of bad luck (think Ramona Quimby). She thinks outside the box and upside-down!  Fast paced and delightful with lots of quirky illustrations (reminded me a little of Dory Fantasmagory).  Themes of individuality, optimism, and the shifting shapes of friendships. Can’t wait for more Beatrice!

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers – John Dougherty (192 pages)

With an undertone of Monty Python, mixed with Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, an abundance of hilarious slapstick silliness, and plenty of tremendous wordplay – I LOVED this goofy LOL British adventure!  I especially loved that the cast of  characters are aware that they are in a story, and occasionally comment on it: when the king realizes they are in a story he immediately goes and puts on his clothes.  HILARIOUS!

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold (208 pages)

Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world.  A charming story perfect for students transitioning from early readers to chapter books. I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that.  Also touches on divorce and single parents. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. Tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness! 

      Thanks for stopping by!

              What are some of your favorite beginning chapter books from the past year?

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Beginning Chapter Book, Cultural Celebrations, Early Readers, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Books for Back to School 2017

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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

Back to school means lots of new books for new lessons!  Here are a few of the great new titles I’ve been reading!

Imagine – John Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon, Amnesty International illustrated by Jean Jullien

John Lennon’s iconic song has been transformed into a beautiful picture book and has been published in partnership with Amnesty International for the International Day of Peace on September 21st.   Like the song that inspired it, Imagine invites people to imagine a world at peace, a world of kindness.   As Yoko Ono says in her foreword, “Every small, good thing that we do can help change the world for the better.”   An Imagine website has been launched in nine countries and five languages. Visitors, including young children, can submit their own messages of peace, read those from around the world, and share messages of peace and hope on their social media programs.  Please consider inviting your students to participate.

Carson Crosses Canada

Carson Crosses Canada – Linda Bailey

Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey is a delightful book celebrating Canada! Annie and her dog Carson are on a road trip across Canada from BC to Newfoundland to visit Annie’s sister. Along the way, they stop and visit many amazing sites and see the unique landscape of each province. This book is lively and fun with simple text and bright, whimsical illustrations. I loved the map of her journey and the end papers! This would make a great anchor book to introduce a unit on Canada in your primary class or celebrate Canada 150!

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Picture the Sky – Barbara Reid

So excited to see this companion book to Picture a Tree.  In her classic colorful Plasticine style, Barbara Reid explores the stories of the sky – from the weather, to the stars,to the seasons, and to our imagination – in all its moods and colors.  The sky is all around us, but it is always changing.   This book is perfect for visualizing!

Kevin Henkes new

In the Middle of Fall – Kevin Henkes

This wonderful new book by Kevin Henkes will have your senses tingling!  The colors are vibrant and simplistic, it features adorable woodland creatures, and is everything you could want in a book about the changing seasons.  I also liked the fact that it focuses on mid-late fall, when all the changes have already happened.   Great anchor for writing as well – lots of triple scoop words and similes – “the apples are like ornaments”.   I love fall and I love this book!

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Nerdy Birdy Tweets – Aaron Reynolds

Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds Is an important book to read to students. Nerdy Birdy learns a valuable lesson about the impact of social media on friendship and the dangers of and posting things about someone else without their permission, Great anchor book to start the conversation about digital citizenship and being responsible and respectful when using social media.

Lovely

Lovely Jess Hong

A celebration of diversity – in all its shapes and sizes!  Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly – we are all LOVELY!  Colorful, bold illustrations and simple text.  This is a great book to build classroom community!

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Hello, Harvest Moon – Ralph Fletcher

If you are looking for an anchor book for descriptive, sensory language – look no further!  Ralph Fletcher’s new book (companion to Twilight Comes Twice) follows the moon as it rises and describes all the things it shines on.  Gorgeous illustrations and filled with rich, descriptive language and literary devices.  I would definitely use select pages from this book to do a “Found Poetry” lesson.  (Children highlight favorite words from the text, then use the words to write their own poem.  Additional words can be added.)

“With silent slippers
it climbs the night stairs,
lifting free of the treetops
to start working its magic,
staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow.”

There's nothing to do

There’s Nothing To Do!  – Dav Petty

Loved this third book in the Frog series!  (I Don’t Want to Be a Frog! and I Don’t Want to Be Big! are the first two).  This Frog cracks me up, and all three books will have kids laughing out loud.  This book features Frog dealing with boredom and, while his friends make lots of suggestions, turns out that sometimes nothing is the best thing to do! Sweet message and great voice.

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Why Am I Me? – Paige Britt

Wow!  LOVE this book.  The story follows two young children who are curious about why they look the way they do wand why other people look how they do.  It is a celebration of diversity and humanity, about love and compassion for one another, despite color of skin or our appearance.  I’m using it tomorrow with my grade 2’s and 3’s as we explore self identity.  Love the deep-thinking questions and the powerful message.

THinking Cap

Sarabella’s Thinking Cap – Judy Schachner

Loved this book for so many reasons.  One – the illustrations are GORGEOUS (I predict a Caldecott nomination!) Second – the story about a girl who has trouble focusing because she spends so much time in her “Imagination Pocket” – is one that many children will be able to connect to.  Third – the supportive teacher who helps her design her own “thinking cap” which helps transform her creative imagination into something visible.  A wonderful story celebrating daydreaming, imagination, and one great teacher!

Thanks for stopping by!

Lots of great books out there for you to share!  Hope you found one that you can share in your classroom!  Happy reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Canada, Connect, Diversity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Writing Strategies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2017 Fall Releases from Kidscan Press (part 1)

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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

book pile

It’s like Christmas in August when I find a box of brand new picture books from the outstanding Canadian Publishing Company Kids Can Press on my doorstep!  I’m excited to share the first post featuring some of their new books for fall 2017!  This week I will be focusing on fiction picture books – next week nonfiction!

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No Room for Baby! – Emile Jadoul

A perfect fit for new big brothers and sisters.  Full of reassurance that there will always be room in our home and our hearts for a new addition.  Simple text and adorable penguin characters.  A great connect book for K’s and 1’s who may be “expecting” a new sibling.

goodnight hockey fans

Goodnight Hockey, Fans! – Andrew Larsen

Bedtime comes at the worst times – especially in the middle of a hockey game!  Of course, when this young hockey fan is told to go to bed, he can’t sleep!  After his parents tuck him in, he shines his flashlight on his hockey equipment and trophies and listens to the hockey announcer on the radio.  As he drifts off to sleep, he dreams his is playing hockey on his favorite team.  This is a must have book for young hockey fans and would make a perfect connect book for having kids share what they do when they can’t fall asleep!

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Middle Bear – Susanna Isern

Being “middle-sized” is not very fun – too young to hang with your older brother and too old to play baby games with your younger one.  This middle child is longing to feel special and be noticed.  I love the message that no matter what size or age, we all have our own unique gifts.  Heartwarming story and unique illustrations.

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Captain Monty Takes the Plunge – Jennifer Mook-Sang

A delightful tale of adventure and courage on the high seas!  Captain Monty is a scary pirate – and he also STINKS because he never takes a bath.  And he never takes a bath because he can’t swim!   A frolicking story with a great message about overcoming your fears.  Vibrant illustrations, lots of action and a sweet love story with a Mermaid named Meg!

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Me, Me, Me – Annika Dunklee

I was excited to see this follow up to Annika Dunklee’s book Me, Too!  This book continues the relationship of a delightful trio of multicultural friends – Annie, Lillemor and Lilianne.  In this story, problems arise when the girls enter a school talent show as a singing group and Annie starts making all the decisions about song choice, dance moves and costumes.  This is a wonderful connect book for talking about friendship issues, cooperation and teamwork.  I love the authentic dialogue and the snippets of other languages in the text.  Great read-aloud!

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The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia Margriet Ruurs

This is a beautiful book based on a true story about a young boy named Aaron who rescues a baby elephant.  Gorgeous illustrations and with facts included about elephants and the dangers from poaching and destroying their habitat and information at the back about how we can help endangered animals.  Engaging story of compassion and hope for intermediate students.  The book is longer than most picture books and could be read over several days.  Great for inspiring passion projects or a study of endangered animals.

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Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament – Anne Renaud

In case you have ever wondered where the potato chip came from – this book has the answer!  Based on the true story of a chef who accidentally invents potato chips when a customer keeps returning his potatoes and asking for them to be thinner and crispier.   Clever, funny, entertaining!  Love the tongue-in-cheek humour.  (Be warned – you will crave potato chips after reading!)

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The Tiny Tale of Little Pea – Davide Cali

“Even the littlest among us can make a big mark.”  I loved this book and the adorable character of Little Pea!  Little Pea is very small, but very happy.  He doesn’t realize that his small stature makes him different from others until he gets to school (Think Will Farrell in Elf!) and discovers the world is not very inclusive of small people.  In the end, Little Pea remains true to himself and learns there is always something we can find that we are good at.  Great for discussion as there are many themes you could infer from this book.

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Shelter – Celine Claire

If I could pick a favorite from the pile, this would be it!  Such a beautiful illustrated book (reminded me of my childhood illustrated copy of Winnie the Pooh) with a meaningful message of kindness, compassion and community.  As animals prepare for a coming storm, two lone bears are searching for shelter, but no one offers to help, including the fox family.  When the storm arrives, the fox family must leave their den to find a safer shelter – and the turn to the two bears for help.  A perfect book for the start of the year with the message of “treat others how you would like to be treated”.  Gentle and heartwarming.  With older students you could compare this story to Stone Soup and discuss the different ways the community acts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Would love to know which book(s) caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Animals, Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Social Responsibility

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

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Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

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7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

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

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada, Content links, Links to content, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Read-Aloud, Science, Top 10 Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Because of an Acorn – Lola M. Schaefer

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

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn – Kenard Pak

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

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What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? Virginie Morgand

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

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The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo

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

Branch, The by [Messier, Mireille]

The Branch – Mireille Messier

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

The Not So Quiet Library – Zachariah Ohora

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

They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

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

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

Party Bears: Gnawing Around – Marcie Colleen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Favorite Middle Grade Novels (Gr. 5-8) of 2016 (So Far!)

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It’s Tuesday, so I’m posting my own version of the Top 10 list!  I’ve been getting several requests from teacher friends for recommendations for middle grade read-alouds so I have put together a list of my top ten favorites from 2016.  There are so many extraordinary books to chose from and always difficult to narrow it down to just 10 (I ended up with 12!) Please note that even though I have included it on a list of my favorites, before reading aloud to your class, please read it through yourself to ensure it is a good fit for you and your class.

OK… grab a Kleenex box and here we go….

1. Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo

From one of my favorite writers comes a simple, strong and whimsical story of three friends during the summer of 1975.  A tale of friendship, perseverance, poverty, loss and growing up. I loved the characters, all of them – Love Raymie. Love Beverly. Love Louisiana. LOVE Louisiana’s Grannie.   While this is not my favorite KD book, it is high on my list of favorites of 2016.

2. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain – John B0yne

From the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas comes another story depicting the horrors of WWII.  After his father, a drunken German soldier, is killed by a train and his French mother dies of consumption, seven-yr. old orphan Pierrot is eventually taken in by his aunt, a housekeeper in large mountain retreat in Austria. While younger readers may not realize without some prompting, adult readers quickly infer that the home is that of Adolph Hitler.  I read this book in one sitting – could not put it down.  I would suggest pre-reading it to ensure appropriate content for your class, as there are some violent and tense scenes.  For older students, it would stimulate discussions around innocence corrupted, the attractions of power, and the resilience of youth.

3. Pax – Sara Pennypacker

Oh, this book.  This book.  A boy, a fox, a war – tender, so beautiful, so emotional.  So many ideas and themes are wrapped around the words: friendship, love, trust, betrayal, loyalty, war, peace.  Please read and share this book.

4. The Seventh Wish – Kate Messner

I highly recommend this book as a read-aloud in a grade upper elementary class.  A modern day fairy tale about a young Irish dancer who, trying to make some money to buy herself a new dance dress, catches a magic fish that grants wishes if she’ll let it go.   Sounds a little simple – but this book is so much more.  At times you will laugh, at times your heart will be breaking.   This book looks at family dynamics, addiction, middle school, and Irish dancing with insight and tenderness.   I follow Kate Messner on social media and know that she received some backlash from some schools about her including the subject of heroin addiction.  While I understand some may not be comfortable with this subject matter, I admire the way she presents this real-life problem gently and honestly.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

What would happen if a robot happened to arrive on an island that is humming with wildlife?  How would it survive?  And so begins this unique, unexpected and delightful survival story that somehow manages to hit many ‘hot topics’ including: disability, climate change, civilization, violence in nature, gun violence, balance in nature. While this sounds heavy handed – it’s not!  Peter Brown has created a very readable, authentic story with a unique voice given to all the creatures on the island.  This book is powerful and gentle and would make a great read-aloud in a grade 4-5 class.

6. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day – John David Anderson

The story of a brilliant teacher who sees the good in every single student, especially the little things that others don’t see. When her career gets cut short because of a cancer diagnosis, three boys decide to give her a good-bye party to remember.  I love the different voices in this book, as we discover through each boy, just why Ms. Bixby is so special to them.  Yes, you will cry – but you will also laugh along with your students.   I love this book.

7. Maybe a Fox – Kathi Appelt

Wow.  This story of grief and loss is haunting and magical; sad and heart-wrenching.  It is the story of two sisters, Jules and Sylvie, who are being raised by their father after their mother dies.  I loved the exquisite writing; I loved characters; I loved the fox; I loved the way the human world and the animal/nature world intersect; I loved the way death and grief (one of the sisters dies early in the book) are treated with dignity, grace and love. I cried and so will you.

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8. Hour of Bees – Lindsay Eager

I feel like a broken record but this book is extraordinary and lingers with you long after you finish it.  It has a wonderful setting (N ew Mexico desert), a fantastic group of characters, and completely enchanting magical elements. Oh, and did I mention beautiful writing? Instead of spending the summer before junior high with her friends in Albuquerque, Carolina is stuck in the New Mexico desert, with her mom, dad, little brother, half-sister Alta, and Grandpa Serge who she’s meeting for the very first time. Serge is suffering from dementia, and the family has come to help sell his house and move him to a seniors facility.  Caroline is drawn into Grandpa through his magical stories of the desert and soon the line between reality and magic becomes blurred.  Original, thought-provoking and beautifully written.

9. When Friendship Followed Me Home – Paul Griffin

Here is another book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster – one minute I was laughing, the next I was tearing up.  WOW.  Ben is a twelve year old, former foster child who has finally found a loving home and mother. Ben rescues a scruffy dog he names Flip and befriends a librarian’s daughter named Halley. When everything in Ben’s life suddenly changes, he discovers the true meaning of family and friendship.   I loved the characters in this book and the writing and dialogue is beautiful and authentic.  It’s a tear jerker and tackles some difficult issues, including foster care, physical abuse, cancer, and grief.  Recommended for mature grade 6 and up.

10. Save Me A Seat – Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan

This book is a realistic story set in a school and told in two different voices, making it a great choice for a read-aloud.  Joe and Ravi are struggling at school for completely different reasons: Ravi is a recent immigrant trying to fit in and Joe has some learning difficulties and is often bullied.  Over the course of a week, Ravi and Joe find common ground and a bond in their differences. Great book for making connections.  I loved the authentic voice and diversity of each character.  The added bonus was learning a bit more about their cultures from the descriptions of food – from school lunches to meals at home.   There are even recipes included at the end!

                                              AND BECAUSE I HAD TROUBLE COUNTING TO TEN…

11. The Land of Forgotten Girls – Erin Entrada Kelly

The school where I teach is attended by many Filipino families, so I was excited to read this book about two Filipino sisters. It is another heart-breaker but also a celebration of stories and sisters. Sol and her younger sister Ming live in poverty in Louisiana with their abusive stepmother after their father returns to the Philippines. Sol tells fairy tales which interweave with the plot and help give the sisters strength. A moving book for middle grade readers that highlights themes of sisterhood, friendship, survival and imagination.  As a mother, I found it difficult to read in parts, but the book is ultimately hopeful with strong female characters.

12. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary – Laura Shovan

Wow – this book, written in verse, is extraordinary, creative and unique.   You really need to read it to appreciate how amazing it is.  From start to finish, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary is completely delightful in every way. Through the voices of 18 very real and very lovable fifth graders, we experience their individual stories as well as the collective story of their class during a very momentous year in the history of their school – their school is being torn down.  So many authentic, diverse voices of family, culture, friendship and personality.  A perfect book for making connections and a must read-aloud book!

 There are SO MANY amazing new novels to read and share with your class this year!

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

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Filed under 2016 releases, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Read-Aloud