Category Archives: Reading Power

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Nonfiction Connect Books for Primary

top 10

It’s Top Ten Tuesday!  This week, I’m featuring my favorite Nonfiction “Connect” books!

When practicing “making connections” with your primary students, try alternating between fiction and nonfiction books so your students learn that we can connect to both stories and information.  When reading stories – we can make connections  to characters, feelings and events;  when reading information, we can make connections to background knowledge and experiences.  

Try using the “KNEW-NEW” connection after reading a nonfiction book to your class – “What was one fact from this book you already KNEW and one fact that was NEW information?”  Kids love the “KNEW-NEW”!

Here are my top 10 Nonfiction “CONNECT” books for Primary students…

  1.  The Handiest Things In the World – Andrew Clement

Connections to all the things our hands can do.

2.   With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

Connections to the value of friendships all around the world.

Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

Connections to families and cultures.

3.   You and Me Together:  Mom, Dads, Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley 

Connections to the strong bond between parent and child.  Stunning photographs!

4.  I, Fly:  the Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are – Bridget Haos

Connections to fly facts.

5. A Chicken Followed Me Home: Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl – Robin Page

Chicken connections!

6. Senses at the Seashore – Shelley Rotner

Connections to the sounds, smells and sights of the beach.

 7.  What in the World?  Numbers in Nature –  Nancy Raines Day

Connections to sets of numbers in the nature.

8.  Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? – Harriet Ziefert

Connections to rain facts.

9.  Water Is Water Miranda Paul

Connections to the journey of water.

10.  Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Connections to the hidden wonders in the garden.

What are your favorite Non-fiction books to teach and practice making connections?

1 Comment

Filed under Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Top 10 Tuesday

10 For 10 – 2015 Favorite New Picture Books for Reading Power

I am excited to be participating in my 3rd  Picture Book 10 for 10 event!  This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Choosing only 10 picture books is a huge challenge for me as there are SO many amazing new ones to chose from.  Keeping with my tradition,  I will focus on new picture books that can be used for Reading Power 2 books for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.  (You can check out my 10 for 10 2013 post here and my 2014 post here.)

Below are my favorite 10 picture books from 2015 that could be added to your reading power collections.

CONNECT

23563078

  My Family Tree and Me -Dusan Petricic

A celebration of both sides of a family through 4 generations, this book is a beautiful and simple introduction to the concept of ancestry and family trees.  A boy tells the family story of his father’s side starting from the front of the book, and his mother’s side starting from the back of the book. The illustrations are wonderful and I love the diversity shown in this inter-racial family (European father and Asian mother).  This would be an excellent book for children to make connections to their own family history.

22750448

See You Next Year – Andrew Larsen

This beautifully written book is an invites readers to connect to the comfort and familiarity of summer holidays and traditions.  I felt very nostalgic reading this and thinking of returning to familiar places each summer.  Timeless, dreamy, lovely.  Gorgeous illustrations.                                      

QUESTION

24960945

Sonia’s Chickens by Pheoebe Wahl

Sonya takes her job looking after 3 baby chicks on a farm very seriously.  But when a fox kills one of them to feed her own babies, Sonya is devastated.  This book invites many questions – from life on a farm and raising chickens to interconnectedness of nature, the food chain and the circle of life. Gorgeous, rich Van-Gogh like illustrations add to this beautiful story.

23130340

In a Village By the Sea  by Muon Van

This engaging circular story is set in a small Vietnamese fishing village includes themes of family, community, diversity, rural life and nature.   The illustrations are spectacular and I love the way the story is full of surprises, leaving the reader wondering and guessing what is happening.

VISUALIZE

21926803

Beach House – Deanna Caswell

Visualize the joys of the beach and the essence of summer: building sand castles, jumping the waves, and watching the stars come out. Gorgeous illustrations – but don’t show them until AFTER your students listen to the words and visualize!

 23281715

The Moon is Going to Addy’s House – Ida Pearle

What a beautiful book! Incredible imagery, with so much attention to detail. Magical story of a young girl driving home as the moon appears to follow her home.  The collage illustrations are exquisite and the words dance across the page.  LOVE this book!

INFER

22521929

Look! – Jeff Mack

I love using books with very little text to help younger students learn to infer.  It was a toss up this year between this book and Uh-Oh! by Shutta Crum but the adorable gorilla in this book won me over!  This is the story of a  little boy glued to the TV and a determined gorilla who is trying to get his attention.  Using only two words, (Look! and Out!) Jeff Mack tells an adorable tale of friendship.  Perfect for inferring with younger students.

20675100

The Queen’s Shadow – A Story About How Animals See – Cybele Young

This book weaves a crime story with information in a unique, clever way.  The Queen invites her animal friends for a banquet.  During dinner, a crime occurs – the queen’s shadow is stolen.  The royal detective interviews each character and then a small insert explains the real, scientific fact about the animal’s eyesight that inspired its character’s role in the story.  Readers need to use the clues to infer who may have committed the crime.  Brilliant!

TRANSFORM

Some Things I’ve Lost – Cybele Young

The brilliant Cybele Young has managed to make my list twice this year.  In this amazing book, she literally transforms everyday household objects that have been misplaced into magical, mysterious underwater creatures.  Clever, imaginative and slightly haunting.  And the next time you lose your reading glasses or your keys….

22521973

Last Stop on Market Street –  Matt De La Pena

This book will transform your thinking about compassion, diversity, poverty, gratitude, small moments, paying attention, gratitude, inter-generational relationships, family…. it is a true treasure of a book that will uplift your spirits and warm your heart.

 RUNNERS UP

22747809

Yard Sale – Eve Bunting

This beautiful, tender story about a family downsizing and having a yard sale before they move is one of my favorites of the year.  Many will make connections to having or attending a yard sale, but the heart of this story will transform your thinking about “home”:  it’s not the stuff you have inside but the people you love there that make a home.

22875417

Pool – JiHyeon Lee

This beautiful wordless picture book perfect for inferring,  takes us on an imaginative journey of two shy children meeting for the first time under the water of an over-crowded swimming pool.  Imaginative, surprising, delightful.

Well there you have it – my top 10 picture books for Reading Power (plus 2!) for 2015.  I hope you found some new titles that you can use in your classroom!  What are your top picks of the year so far?

2 Comments

Filed under 2015 releases, New Books, Picture Book, Picture Book 10 for 10, Reading Power

Celebration Saturday – Swedish Celebrations!

15c4c-celebrate-image

I am happy to be joining Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes and others to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of the past week(s

I have just returned from a trip to Stockholm, Sweden so I’m thrilled to share some of the highlights from this amazing trip on my celebration post this week.

Almost 3 years ago, I was contacted by a highly respected Swedish educational researcher named Barbro Westlund. (I actually didn’t know she was such a well-known person when she first contacted me but later learned is like the David Pearson of Sweden!) She was in Vancouver doing some research for her PhD in which she was comparing Canadian reading instruction to Swedish. She had been visiting several schools in Vancouver and had heard about Reading Power through these visits.

We met, I invited her to a workshop and later she interviewed me for her thesis. My work was cited in her published PhD, eventually leading to my book, Nonfiction Reading Power, being translated into Swedish. I was honored to have Barbro Westlund write the forward. I was then invited by the Swedish publishing company Natur & Kultur to travel Stockholm for a short of a “book tour”, ending with a presentation at the Stockholm teacher’s conference.

Faktatexter

Amazing to think how all this unfolded but there it is! The trip was amazing – short and VERY busy but I met some amazing people.  (and best of all, my book sold out at the conference!)

Here are some of the highlights from my adventure:

On my first morning in Stockholm I took an early morning walk before my first event.  It is a stunning city and I loved the earth colors of the buildings – reds, rusts, browns, terra-cottas, sparkling water and blue skies!

IMG_1607

IMG_1594

IMG_1609

IMG_1596

My first “lecture” was at the Pedagog Stockholm.  The teachers were all so receptive and warm, taking furious notes and lots of photos of my power point slides.

10731171_701718596620933_3798841636327541492_n

That night I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Barbro’s beautiful house, where I met some of her closest friends and colleagues.   We had a delicious dinner, beginning with a special Swedish appetizer! Dinner conversation about education and teacher training was rich and lively and we laughed a lot! I will remember this dinner for the rest of my life.

IMG_1614 IMG_1617 IMG_1618

My host for during my visit was Nina Danielsson, former teacher who now works for Natur & Kultur Publishing company. She met me every morning and brought me to where I needed to be.  I enjoyed every minute I spent with her and feel I left Sweden with a new friend.

IMG_1621     huset

On Thursday morning I had a tour of the publishing company and met many people, including Lena Forssen, the executive editor.

I was interviewed for a Swedish educational magazine called Skolporten.  I had been told that someone would “take a photograph” for the article after the interview. What they did not tell me was that it was an hour and the photographer must have taken 200 photos! This article will be published in November.

My second “lecture” was at Stockholm University, where Barbro Westlund works. The audience was mostly her colleagues, professors from the education department. The group was small but very interactive and I was able to answer questions about Canadian schools and curriculum. Afterwards, I got to visit their offices, where I met my kindred spirit Eva Söderberg.  She teaches children’s literature and her office was filled with picture books! How wonderful to meet someone who loves pictures books as much as I do! She gave me a special English Pippi Longstocking picture book!

IMG_1622         IMG_1631

IMG_1627 IMG_1629

Friday was the Läskonferensen (Teacher’s conference) sponsored by Natur & Kultur  with a sell-out crowd of over 350 teachers! The building was stunning – a former dance studio in the 1950’s.   The conference began with Amanda Hartman, Associate Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York, who shared her ideas on best practice in reading and writing instruction.  I was very nervous before speaking – so many teachers and I only had one hour (a VERY challenging task for me!) I did my best to share the key concepts of Reading Power by showing very practical and concrete examples, model lessons, share books and a few student samples – all in an hour! Phew! I did the best I could in the time I had and everyone seemed very pleased.

IMG_2348     IMG_2357

After the conference,  I took a late afternoon walk and visited the Old Town – the oldest part of Sweden. It was so beautiful – lovely narrow, cobblestone streets and little shops. I found a Christmas store with little hand crafted decorations and I was in heaven!

IMG_1650

IMG_1651 IMG_1652

IMG_1644

I’m now home (wrote this blog on the plane!) The trip went by so quickly – 3 days of travelling for 3 days in Stockholm.  The only negative was that I wasn’t able to share the trip with my three “men” but maybe one day I can go back and take them with me!

I am so grateful for this wonderful experience.  Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible and for all the kindness you showed me while I was there.  I hope to return to your beautiful country in the future!

2 Comments

Filed under Celebration Saturday, Reading Power, Workshops

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Book Month Favorites

IMWAYR       b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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

It’s hard to believe that November is almost over and in a few hours, the countdown to Christmas will begin!  It has been wonderful celebrating picture books this month with you and I hope that you have been inspired to use some of these wonderful books to enhance your lessons and bring some picture book joy to your students!  Here are some of the books I’ve featured on my Facebook page this month plus a few extras!

18635641[1]

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Class – Justin Roberts

I know a book is going to be great when the word “transform” is written in the last line: “And now the world could transform and a change could be made by the smallest girl in the smallest grade.” This is a wonderful story about Sally, who, despite her small size, notices things going on around her – hurtful things. An inspiring story about making a difference and standing up for change – no matter what size you are! Vibrant pencil-crayon illustrations and rhyming text. A perfect primary read-aloud! Love!

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone – Ann Droyd

Getting sucked into screen time is certainly a topic we can all connect to! This is a hilarious spin on the classic series by Laura Numeroff. A boy gives Applesauce, the mouse, an iPhone to keep him quiet for 10 minutes. Of course, Applesauce wants the phone for much longer and ends up missing out on the fun activities surrounding him. If you are a parent trying to explain to their children why they should NOT get an IPhone – this might help your cause! Great illustrations, great fun! A great companion to Anne Droyd’s “Goodnight Ipad” (similar spin on Goodnight Moon)

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3nVxt6_lAc

17164725[1]

The Storm Whale – Benji Davies

This beautifully illustrated book invites readers to infer both from the carefully selected words and stunning artwork. The story is about a Noi, a young boy who discovers a whale on the beach after a storm. His father is a busy fisherman (and is a great hugger) and, despite their 6 cats, Noi is often alone. He decides to take the whale home and hide it in his bathtub. There is a tenderness to this quiet tale of loneliness, family and friendship.  Will make a wonderful book to practice questioning and inferring. 

20706649[1]

Blizzard – John Rocco

This book is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience duing the now infamous blizzard of 1978, which brought 53 inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Brief text and dynamic illustrations: the wonder of a winter storm told through the eyes of young boy. I LOVED John’s Rocco’s book Blackout (2012 Caldecott Honoree) about a family’s experience one summer during a power outage. I think I may love this one just a little bit more.

20306799[1]

Louise Loves Art – Kelly Light

This is a book that celebrates creativity, imagination and the challenges and joys of having a younger sibling!  Louise loves art – when she is not drawing, she is thinking about what she is going to draw next.  One day, she is preparing her latest masterpiece for the “Gallery du Fridge”, when her younger brother wants to join in but has a slightly different plan for her painting!  I liked the way the text told Louise’s story and the illustrations told her brother’s.  The illustrations are bright and lively and I liked how Louise modeled self control when her brother clearly ruined her special art.  This would be a perfect “connect” book!

elephant and piggy

Waiting is Not Easy – Mo Willems

Love this latest in the Elephant and Piggy series by the great Mo Willems.  This one deals with the challenges of having to wait for something!  Poor Elephant  is not having an easy time waiting for a special surprise that Piggy has in store for him.  This would be a perfect book to practice making connections with your primary class – especially with the Christmas season coming up… Who doesn’t have a hard time waiting for Christmas to arrive?

hockey sweater

The Hockey Sweater – 30 Anniversary Edition by Roch Carrier

With the passing of Pat Quinn, one of the most beloved faces of Canadian hockey this month, it seemed fitting to post a book celebrating this great sport. The Hockey Sweater is a true classic Canadian book and this year they have re-issued it as an “anniversary edition” (30 years!) Same classic story but filled with extra materials, still photos from the animated movie and best of all, quotes from celebrities who have read and loved the book. The story centers around a boy living in a small town in Quebec, his hockey hero #9 Maurice Richard, and the famous rivalry between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a story of hockey, family, community, heroes, passion and dreaming big.  This book would make a perfect Christmas present for the special hockey players in your life. (All three of mine have their own copy!) LOVE this book.

20758127[1]

What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund

Visualizing, or “making metal pictures” when you read is a strategy I have spent years teaching students about. In this fascinating book, graphic and book jacket designer Peter Mendelsund explores how we are better able to understand the act of reading through visualizing. In a “scrapbook” approach, a collage of short text, pictures, sketches and concepts he creates a visually interesting and thought-provoking look at the process of reading. Lively, quirky and thought provoking. This is a quick read (I read it cover to cover on the Victoria ferry) and reinforced the very foundation of what I know to be true: “The reader writes the story” (Annie Proulx)

18788445

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie – Chris Van Allsburg

It is actually painful for me to admit this – but I did not really like this book.  I love everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that Chris Van Allsburg has EVER written.  I was SO excited seeing this new release on display in my favorite book store, but after reading it, I was left feeling so very disappointed.  Sweetie Pie is a pet hamster who longs to be free and run wild with other wild creatures. We follow Sweetie from the pet store to the owner’s house and finally to the classroom when he becomes the class pet.   Over Christmas, one of the students takes Sweetie Pie home – and forgets about him! I felt as if this whole book was about the abuse of this poor animal and about selfish children who didn’t care about him or anything!  I could not see myself reading it to my class as I don’t think there would be anything positive to discuss.   I am often teased by friends and colleagues that I “love every book” I read.  This book,  sadly, I did not even like!

 Hooray – this is my 100th Post!    Thanks for stopping by today!   Please leave me a message and let me know which book caught your eye!

10 Comments

Filed under Friendship, Infer, It's Monday, making connections, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Visualize, What Are You Reading?

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

IMWAYR                      b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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

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

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

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

Voices in the Park

Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

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

Flotsam

Flotsam – David Wiesner

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

Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl – Sara Pennypacker

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

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody’s Apples – Madonna

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

Bully

Bully – Patricia Polacco

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

The Stamp Collector

The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier

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

Fox

Fox – Margaret Wild

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

The Arrival

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

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

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom – Shane Evans

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

The Promise

The Promise – Nicola Davies

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

The Composition

The Composition – Antonio Skarmeta

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

Just a Dream

Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg

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

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture books, Graphic Memoir and a Novel!

 

IMWAYR

I’m happy to be joining in the weekly IMWAYR posts, hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers. 

Dolphin SOS

Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

This powerful story is based on a true event that occurred off the coast of Newfoundland.  It is the story of some children who, after following the sound of cries, discover 3 dolphins trapped under the ice.   When the government does not supply the proper support, (hmm… connections anyone?) the children take it upon themselves to rescue the distressed dolphins themselves. This is a powerful story of perseverance and I know my students will be captivated as the story unfolds.  The illustrations are stunning and reminded me of Steven Jenkins’s collage style.  I LOVED this story and I have added it to my collection of QUESTIONING books!

Hug Machine

Hug Machine – Scott Campbell

This simple heart warming book will inspire hugs from everyone!  This adorable little boy has mad hugging skills and finds a way to hug everyone and anyone!  (even whales and ice cream trucks!)   The illustrations are soft and simple and the expressions on this hugger’s face are delightful – I was smiling on every page!  I HUG this book!

The Flat RabbitThe Flat Rabbit – Barour Oskarsson

Well, I was a little unsure of this book when I first started reading it as the “flat” rabbit is referring to a dead rabbit.  But after a second and third read, I came to the realization that this book is really about death but deals with the concept with a quirky, gently and compassionate way with just a touch of humour.  This book is about caring and thoughtfulness and how a dog and rat pay respect to their “flat” friend.  I loved the illustrations and the fact that the story is told in simply and with little text.  Another great choice for inferring as there is lots of space for readers to add their thinking.

21413862

 Fox’s Garden – Princesse Camcan

This is a beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) wordless picture book (think INFERRING!)  that tells the story of a lost fox who, when turned away from by the adults of the village, is treated with kindness and care by a small boy.  It is a gentle story of compassion, kindness and gratitude.  The soft illustrations made me sigh… ahhhh… this is a gem.

Telephone

Telephone – Mac Barnett

Remember the game of “telephone” you played as a child?  Whispering a message down a line and then laughing at how it changes? In this book, Mama bird wants her son Peter to come home for dinner, so she sends the message down the telephone line, literally! The message moves down the line from bird to bird but gets garbled as it goes. What makes the book fun is seeing how each bird adds their own interest to the message – which makes it a perfect book for practicing INFERING!  The illustrations give hints too!  Lots of fun!

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive, #1)

 Leory Ninker Saddles Up – Kate deCamillo

Yippie-Kai-Eh!  What is not to love about this book?  It has action, great characters, humour, and fabulous illustrations by Chris Van Dusen.  Leroy dreams of becoming a cowboy – he has hats, boots and a lasso and he is ready to stand up for justice!   All he needs is a horse!  Enter Maybelline – the horse who puts an add in the paper to find a new owner.  And there you have the makings of a delightful first book in a new beginning chapter series by the brilliant Kate deCamillo!  Would make a great read-aloud for Gr. 2-3!

El Deafo

El Deafo  by Cece Bell

When author/illustrator Cece Bell was 4, she contracted meningitis and lost the hearing in both ears.  Nicknamed “El Deafo”, when she began school in the early 70’s, she was “hooked up” to a awkward and very unattractive, bulky boxed hearing aide.  But with it, Cece discovers she has super sonic ear powers!  This inspiring graphic memoir recounts the story of Cece’s real life experiences trying to come to term with her disability and trying to develop both confidence in herself and in her ability to make friends.  The characters, depicted as rabbits, are delightful, the writing is poetic and Cece is brave and beautiful.  I could not put this book down – it is tender and insightful and I loved every frame.

Dark Lord. Teenage Years

Dark Lord –  The Teenage Years – Jamie Thomson

This book is hilarious!  When Dark Lord hurls down to earth unexpectantly, he lands in a parking lot trapped in the body of a 13 year old.  When Medics arrive, he mumbles,  “I am the Dark Lord” – but what comes out sounds like “I am Derk Llyod”!  I was laughing out loud when I read this!  So the poor “Dirk Lloyd” gets placed into a foster home – where he proceeds to try to prove who he is, while dealing with a cast of characters from the foster home!  Clever, funny, great writing!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What book or books have caught your eye?

 

3 Comments

Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Question, Reading Power

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! – Great New titles!

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

Lots of great new picture books are coming out in time for starting school.  (Sadly my school district is still on strike so I’m not sure if we WILL be starting school!)   If you already checked out my recent  10 for 10 post – you may recognize a few titles that I featured there.

18197253

Okay to Make Mistakes – Todd Parr

What can I say?  I love Todd Parr.  I love his simple, poignant messages; his bright, bold, colorful signature illustrations.  In his latest feel-good book – Todd encourages kids to embrace those everyday mistakes – spilling, coloring outside the lines, dropping.  Once again, Todd Parr makes us feel good about ourselves, despite the mistakes we sometimes make.  A perfect book for making connections with a primary class.

Here’s Todd talking about his new book:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhebgnc512Y[/embed]  

17612709

What If? – Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a master story teller – and I am always excited to see a new release by this author.  What If…? is a story of a young boy, Joe, who experiences some anxiety about going to a party and being left there without his mother.  “What if I don’t know anybody?”  “What if nobody talks to me?”  What if I don’t like the food?   On the way to the party, Joe’s imagination gets the better of him as he begins to imagine many frightening possibilities.  I really like the way Anthony Browne’s surrealist illustrations and often sparse text weave together and allow room for thinking.  A perfect book for inferring but also one I know  many children who have felt apprehensive about a new experience will make connections to.

The Boy on the Page

The Boy on the Page – Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas is an Australian songwriter, author and illustrator.  His new book, The Boy on the Page, is a simple, yet profound book (my favorite kind!) that asks the eternal question: What am I here?”  It begins with a small boy landing on a blank page.  Slowly, as you turn the pages, he begins to discover new and surprising things.  We can infer that this is similar to a new life – at first there is nothing, but then life begins to appear as we grow and discover the world around us.  A perfect book for younger students to think about their own life “story” and the question “why are we here?”  This book leaves lots of room for interpretation and would certainly be a great one to inspire “deep thinking” for younger students.  I can’t wait to read this to my class!

You can watch Peter Carnavas sing about the book at his book launch here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yMvszuU8T0

Or read about the book on his website here:  http://petercarnavas.com/books-3/the-boy-on-the-page/

18405522          18381477       1822824518228244

The Thingy Thing series – By Chris Raschka

I was DELIGHTED to discover this new series by one of my all time favorite author/illustrators – Chris Raschka!  The “Thingy Thing” series is theme based:  Cowy Cow’s theme is “feeling smart”; Crabby Crab explores “feeling grumpy”; Whaley Whale is about “hide and seek”; Lamby Lamb is “getting dressed”.  Chris Raschka uses humor through is sparse text and trademark brush-strokes to tell his story.  Delightful, interactive read-alouds for your younger students.  My favorite is Lamby Lamb – where a little reverse psychology is used to get lamb dressed!

The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library – Kazumo Kohara

The Midnight Library is only open at night.  It is run by a little girl and her three owl assistants who spend their time helping the animal patrons each find “the perfect book”.  Despite the challenging requests, they manage to find a book for everyone!  I always love books that focus on libraries and this is a sweet imaginary story that will be a perfect library read-aloud for younger students.  I was particularly fond of the woodblock illustrations, reminiscent of Nikki McClure’s work.

Chicken Clicking

Chicken Clicking – Jeanne Willis

While this book looks like it is one for the primary classroom, its content and subject is definitely one I am going to use with slightly older students when we practice inferring.  In this extraordinary play on “chicken little” – readers are introduced to the dangers of exploring on the internet and connecting to a new “friend”.  This book has an ending that leaves readers saying “What?  That’s it???”   This book is clever with an important message that I know will stimulate some worthwhile classroom discussions about online safety.   A great one to recommend to parents as well!

If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

If…A Mind Bending New View of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers   – David Smith

This book is Fantastic!  AMAZING!  It is a book that helps children (and adults!) understand the concept of scale.  In a similar he used in his book If the World Were a Village, David Smith’s takes large concepts that are sometimes hard to wrap your brain around and scales them down by using comparisons that young readers will connect with.  “If the solar system was laid out on a football field and the sun was a grapefruit” – a great book for visualizing!  Other concepts Smith looks at are the size of the universe, ocean, and continents, history of the world, economics and food.  My only criticism is the jump from inches to cm – which could be confusing.  But I can see SO many uses for linking this book to many subject areas – including science and math.  The illustrations are wonderful!

the girl cover

The Girl Who Writes – Richard Cole and K. Jane Watt

Last summer, I focused one of my posts on a new book sent to me by a local author/illustrator team Richard Cole and K. Jane Watt called The Boy Who Paints.  (You can read that post here) The same collaborative team has just published their second book entitled The Girl Who Writes.  While the first book focused on the journey of discovery of a young artist, this book focuses on the journey of a young girl who dreams of becoming a writer.  For any of you out there who are writers or aspiring writers or dreaming about writing – you MUST read this book!  It is truly a gift and I felt as though it was written about me.  This book is about perseverance, passion, imagination, stories that surround us, the reading-writing connection, word choice, self confidence, beauty, life, wonder – this book has it ALL!  This is a book makes me want to shout, dance, cry, laugh – but most of all this book makes me want to WRITE!  I LOVE THIS BOOK!

OK – I’ve calmed down now.

There are my picks for the week!  Thanks for stopping by!   Please leave me a note to let me know which book caught your eye!

10 Comments

Filed under Connect, It's Monday, New Books, Picture Book, Reading Power, What Are You Reading?

Picture Books – 10 for 10 (2014)

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

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

CONNECT

             18197253      17612709

It’s OKAY to Make Mistakes – Todd Parr   

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

What If…? –  Anthony Browne                                                                                                                                                                                             

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

QUESTION

18378810        18406701

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

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

Norman, Speak!  by Caroline Adderson

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

VISUALIZE:

18079812        17243953

Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

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

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

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

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

INFER

20708773      18851166

Quest – AaronBecker

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

Flashlight – Lizi Boyd

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

TRANSFORM

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

18570357   18383325    15937111

What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada  

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

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

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

Extraordinary Jane – Hannah E. Harrison

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

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

4 Comments

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

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

IMWAYR

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

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

18570357

What Do You Do With an Idea? – Kobi Yamada

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

18406701

Norman, Speak! – Caroline Adderson

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

17262790

Whimsy’s Heavy Things – Julie Kraulis

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

10955187

Same, Same but Different – Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

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

17272258

Whale Shines – An Artistic Tale – Fiona Robinson

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

18668476

The Numberlys – William Joyce

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

17941626                  Billie B Brown: The Birthday Mix-up

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New Titles from Favorite Authors

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 been a while since I did a IMWAYR post.  April was a VERY busy month for me – the last full push of Pro. D. for the school year and I presented a lot of workshops.  Fortunately, May is not nearly as hectic so I hope to be able to post more regularly.

Here are a few titles I am excited to share – with several new releases from some of my favorite authors!

The Day I Lost My Superpowers – Michaël Escoffier

This book is DELIGHTFUL and would be a perfect book to add to your Mother’s Day collection!  The story is about a little girl who discovers she has “super powers” (her imagination at work!).   But when the super powers begin to disappear after a mishap,  she looks around for someone who might be able to help her get them back.  Lo and behold – who possess an amazing array of her own “super powers”?  Her superhero mom!  I love how the touching, yet subtle message of the special bond between parent and child.  The illustrations are charming and I really like the way the book doesn’t force a message but does so gently and with humour.

Have You Seen My Dragon?

Have You Seen My Dragon? – Steve Light

This book is a combination of a counting book, search and find book and story that is well worth a close read.  A boy searches through the city for his dragon and finds many interesting treasures along the way (20 to be exact!)  The detailed black and white ink drawings are well worth  exploring and I think students will enjoy joining in on the dragon search!  I liked reading the author’s note at the back where he explains how he got the idea for the story:  When he was a boy growing up in New York, he used the imagine that the steam coming up from the street grates was dragon smoke!

Nurse Clementine

Nurse Clementine – Simon James

I enjoy Simon James books – simple text and lovely colored ink illustrations.   His latest book is definitely one to use for practicing making connections with younger students.  I think many would be able to connect to the main character, Clementine, who is thrilled when she receives a nurse’s outfit and nurses kit for her birthday.  (I certainly remember when my son desperately wanted a doctor kit!)  With cap on and kit in hand, she proceeds to “fix” all the injuries in her family.  Her younger brother refuses her services until he gets stuck in a tree.  Sweet, simple, predictable – and a great read-aloud for early primary.

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home

Beginner’s Guide To Running Away From Home – Jennifer Larue Wuget

In my new book Nonfiction Writing Power, one of the structures I explore is Instructional writing.  So I’m always on the look out for anchor books that teachers can use which model the language and form of instructional writing.  Guidebooks and handbooks are a great examples so I was excited to find this new title to add to my book list!   This humourous book has everything you will need to successfully run away – from what to pack to where to leave your note.  The character reminded me a little of Judith Voirst’s Alexander – a kid who is just at the end of his rope.  The illustrations have a Pixar feel that I think would appeal to kids.  This book is definitely for a slightly older crowd – I think gr 3-5’s will really appreciate the humour.

Poem Depot – Aisles of Smiles – Douglas Florian

I have a bad habit of using the word “favorite” too often when it comes to books!  But I would say that Douglas Florian is definitely my favorite children’s poet.  I am drawn to his humour, his creativity, his art.  I love that his poetry books are collections around a specific theme  – seasons, mammals, dinosaurs, baseball, pirates, trees, bees, space… you name it and he has written a poetry book about it!   I love that he explores different poetic devices and forms so that I can use them to help me teach poetry to my students.   In his latest book, Florain captures the everyday humor of kids’ lives with a collection of great read-aloud nonsense poems that are sure to keep you and your students laughing.

If – Rudyard Kipling   Illustrated by Giovannia Mamna

“IF” is a poem that Rudyard Kipling wrote for his 12 year old son in 1909.  (Sadly, his son would die a few years later in WWI)  It is an inspiring poem of life lessons – encouraging and thoughtful advice.  It’s a poem I could read over and over and think about it differently each time.  I remember reading the poem in high school but of course now, my experiences as an adult and a parent invite a completely different interpretation.  The watercolor illustrations are stunning.  While the tone and language may be challenging for independent reading – I can see how this poem would stimulate rich discussion, connections and inferences if guided as a shared read-aloud.

17591765

Gravity – Jason Chin

Jason Chin is a remarkable.  Somehow, he manages to explore thought provoking concepts in a very accessible way.  In this book, he explores the concept of gravity – What makes things “stay put” on earth and not float away?  Why do things fall from above when we drop them?   As in his previous books, Redwood, Coral Reef and Island, his illustrations are captivating and mesmerizing.  I loved the simple text and larger print.  This would be an excellent book to introduce a unit on space or to invite questioning.

17930108

Rules of Summer – Shaun Tan

Wow! Wow! Wow!  How can you not open up a book by Shaun Tan and not be completely blown away by the creativity, the depth, the layers of thinking that it invites?   In this new release he once again manages to challenge the mind and the imagination with his new book.  If any of you reading this are looking for a new book to teach INFERING – this is it!  AMAZING!  The book portrays two boys – and the lessons they each learned during the summer.  Each double page spread is one lesson – an image and a simple sentence – open to many interpretations.   There is a dark quality to the lessons as you go deeper into the book and this is certainly a book intended for an older audience.  Captivating illustrations with so much detail – a remarkable book!

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Our book club pick this past month was The Rosie Project.  For those of you who may not have read this clever, quirky charming love story – you should.  I don’t think I have laughed so hard reading a book – EVER!  At one point I was reading it on the plane and was literally shaking with laughter,  tears pouring down my cheeks.  Laugh out loud funny one minute and touchingly beautiful the next.  I fell in love with the hero Don Tillman –  the socially awkward genetics professor who narrates the story.  Don believes he is not wired for romance and not capable of the social rituals necessary for true love.  He is, we infer, on the spectrum of Asperger’s but doesn’t realize it.  At 39 he decides it is time to settle down so he  designs “The Wife Project” – a comprehensive and lengthy questionnaire to try to find the “perfect match”.  Enter Rosie – on a search of her own – who fails just about every question on his test but somehow manages to turn Don’s world upside down.   5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and gets a coveted place on the top shelf of my book case – where only my very favorites get to live!

And that’s what I’ve been reading lately!  I’d love for you to leave your thoughts about these books or any that you have been reading!

10 Comments

Filed under Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mother's Day, New Books, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading Power