Category Archives: Social Studies

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

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With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday! Top 10 Nonfiction Poetry Collections

 

top 10

In honour of National Poetry Month, I have decided to do a TOP 10 post that features poetry, in particular, nonfiction poetry!  Poetry can bring science to life for young children and any one of these books can be linked up to a unit you are studying.  From Space, to Bees, to the Arctic and the Savannah, here is my collection of favorite poetry books that combine fascinating facts, delightful language and gorgeous illustrations.

  1. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold Joyce Sidman

If you have never read a Joyce Sidman book, you have been missing out!   In my opinion she is the true Queen of Nonfiction Poetry so I have included two of her books on this list.  Winter Bees provides insight and information on how plants and animals cope with the cold, winter months told through lyrical poetry and gorgeous lino-cut illustrations.

2. Song of the Water Boatman and other Pond Poems Joyce Sidman

From algae to a nymph to a frog to a turtle,  Joyce Sidman examines the living things in and around a pond through poetry.  This would be a perfect book to compliment a unit of study on ponds or habitats.

3. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars Douglas Florian

This collection of whimsical, factual poetry about astronomy is by my #1 information poet – Douglas Florian.   The book includes poems about each planet, as well as the moon, the sun, black holes, constellations, and other space topics.  Includes die-cut pages and a glossary of space terms, making this a perfect anchor book for your study of space and planets.

4. Out of This World:  Poems and Facts about Space – Amy E. Sklansky

Love the variety of different poetic forms, combined with fascinating space facts and gorgeous illustrations.  A perfect addition to your Space book collection and great anchor to start your study of space!

5. Un-BEE-lievables – Douglas Florian

In fourteen funny, fact-filled poems about honeybees, Douglas Florian (major poet crush on this man!) explores the fascinating and often unexpected wonders of these insects’ lifestyles, families, communities and their importance on our ecosystems.  Delightful paintings that will inspire some bee-autiful paintings from your students!

6. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two VoicesCarole Gerber

Kids will have a blast performing these child-friendly poems.  These funny, rhyming poems offer a close-up view of the plant and insect worlds, with an amazing amount of information about them. The art is bright, colorful and fabulous!  A great book for teaching and performing!

7. A Strange Place to Call Home – the World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals that Call Them Home – Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer’s fascinating poems, accompanied by Ed Young’s collage illustrations, feature unusual creatures whose adaptations allow them to live in challenging and often unappealing habitats.  There are helpful end notes which provide more information about each animal. I love how Singer uses a variety of poetic forms from free verse to haiku and sonnets (all defined at the back of the book).

8. When the Sun Shines on Antarctica and Other Poems about the Frozen ContinentIrene Latham

Brand new collection with poems about Antarctic life in the summer, including poems about plants, animals and landscape of this frigid climate.  Each page is accompanied by a paragraph of facts and an illustration that captures the frozen landscape.

9. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North – Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli’s delightful collection of factual poems  about the Arctic can serve as an anchor for a more in-depth study of Arctic Animals (my favorite topic for nonfiction research writing!)  This collection is perfect for reading aloud to and with early primary students.  Spinelli’s playful writing style will tickle your tongue!    In the back of the book is a helpful list of Arctic facts about each animal.

10.  Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Watering Hole – Irene Latham

This collection of creative poems introduces a variety of grassland creatures who frequent this life-sustaining water source over the course of one day.  An accurate and vivid account of survival on the Savannah that  also includes a brief description of each animal on each double page spread.  Entertaining and fascinating!  I love the folk-art illustrations.

11. Silver Seeds – Paul Paolilli

While some may think acrostic poetry is easy to write, if done correctly, each new line is not necessarily a new sentence or word.  This collection of acrostic poems celebrating nature is my “go to” anchor book for teaching students how to write acrostic poems properly.  Simple, but profound poems and gorgeous illustrations.

MOON
Marvelous melon, whole,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Or sliced,
Offering sweet flavor to the
Night.

12. Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide – David L. Harrison

This amazing book features nineteen different creatures organized into five categories, each poem highlights interesting facts about the behavior and habitat of a sea creature, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insect or bird. Laroche’s fascinating cut-paper illustrations bring the habitats to life.  A perfect book for introducing animal classification and adaptation to environment.

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

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Filed under Art, New Books, Poetry, Science, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? – Fantastic Fall Favorites (Part 1)

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself!  The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love!   There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month.  Here we go with Part 1….

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be youself”.

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We Forgot Brock! – Carter Goodrich

A charming take on the imaginary friend story with delightful illustrations. Heart-warming and funny. A must read for anyone with an imaginary friend or for anyone who ever wanted one! Great story for making connections with younger students. 

I am YogaSusan Verde

Yoga is a wonderful practice to incorporate into your weekly classroom routine.  This book, written by a certified yoga instructor, would be a wonderful book to introduce your students to this calming, strengthening practice.  In this gentle introduction , children are encouraged to explore the world of yoga and to open their hearts to the world.  A child-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included in the back.  Icing on the cake are the illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.

Words –  Lora Rozler

Wow. This book. So clever. So visual. So emotional. So provocative. So powerful. So transforming. I am almost speechless it is that good. It is the story of a lonely letter who sets off on a journey to find meaning. Through his various encounters, he combines with different letters, forming different words:  some hurtful and some helpful – eventually leading him to make a choice which word he would like to join.  On one level, it is a book about how letters become words and words become meaning but on another level, it is about the power of words and how words can build up or destroy. It is also about belonging, about making choices, about discovering and an underlying theme of anti-bullying.  This book is definitely one I would use for transform.  Watch a trailer for this book here.

Job Wanted – Teresa Bateman

This heart-warming book tells the tale of an elderly dog who shows up on a farm, inquiring about getting a job.  The farmer tells him he doesn’t need a dog because they just eat and never give anything back.  So the determined dog comes up with very creative ways to persuade the farmer that he is a useful addition to the farm.  A great read aloud with a subtle message about being determined and valuing others.  I fell in love with this dog – an adorable, creative, persistent hero.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox – Danielle Daniel

Wow – I was not expecting this book to be SO full of wonderful, teachable connections! It is introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals told through young children who explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal.  Simple text written as simple poems with a gentle reminder of how there are elements of all these animals in each of us.  In an author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children.  After reading the book, students could chose the animal they identify most with.  Also a wonderful link to a Social Studies, Art, Drama and Writing lesson.

Island Morning – Brenda Jones

A gentle story of a girl and her grandfather’s early morning walk through the fields of Prince Edward Island.  Beautiful descriptions of the scenery make this a perfect book for visualizing.  I also loved the special relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter as they enjoy the beauty together.

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West Coast Wild – A Nature Alphabet – Deborah Hodge

I am extremely fortunate to live on the West Coast of British Columbia. It is a majestic, magical place. This stunning alphabet book by local author Deborah Hodge explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast, from ancient       rainforests, to rugged beaches and a vast open ocean.  The book also explores the interconnectedness of the rich marine life found in and around the shores and forests.  Breathtaking illustrations, gorgeous descriptions, fascinating facts – this book is a must have for any West Coast teacher!

That’s all the books for this week!  Check out my “Part 2” next week!  Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under 2015 releases, It's Monday, making connections, Mindfulness, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – I Can’t Keep Up!

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

Well… we are back in full swing at school but my Pro. D. workshops this week were still cancelled (or post-poned) as teachers were just getting settled into their new classes.  This meant I had a bonus day off – most of which I spent at one of my favorite places – United Library Services!  There, I get to fill a SHOPPING CART with BRAND NEW picture books to read through!  Heaven!  But there are SO many great new books – I’m having a hard time keeping up!  Here are a few of my favorites from the top of a very tall pile!

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

This book is filled with so many teaching ideas I can hardly stand it!  The story follows the life of an Oak Tree from 1775 to present day.  Each page shows what has changed in the past 25 years – both in the tree and in the surrounding landscape.   I loved the timeline at the bottom of the page, showing each new era.  The illustrations are remarkable – and the book is large which allows the reader to take in all the details on each page.  The Oak tree grows while history transforms around it – from methods of agriculture,  transportation to uses of energy.  The poster included at the back of the book shows the rings on the oak tree representing the growth of the oak tree labeled and dated with many events and inventions that occurred while the tree grew.  This book is creative, unique and interesting!  A perfect link to a unit on growth and change in nature and in our world.

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The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus  by Jen Bryant

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book.  So so much.   This amazing picture book biography is about the life of brilliant scientist and word collector Peter Mark Roget. The book explores his extraordinary journey that turned his love of words into the publication of the most important reference books of all time. The illustrations are stunning! If you love words as much as I do – this is a must have for your biography collection!  Watch the book trailer here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream – Bob Graham

I am a fan of Bob Graham books – I admire his ability to leave room for lots of deep thinking within his subtle text and detailed illustrations.  This book follows an endearing, curious sparrow on an unexpected journey as he travels across the world in a bag of rice from India to an urban setting (Australia?) The sparrow finds a family and invites a child to taste vanilla ice cream for the first time.  The soft pallet illustrations are classic Graham and I like how he uses a variety of closed panels with open drawings.  Don’t read this book too quickly – there is a lot to take in!

Uni the Unicorn

Uni the Unicorn – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

When I see Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book – I KNOW it’s going to be brilliant.  But I admit, when Maggie (from Kidsbooks) first showed me the cover  the cover of Uni the Unicorn, my heart sank a little bit.  Oh, I thought, these illustrations are not my thing.  They appeared too “Disney” like – rainbows, butterflies and unicorns.  What was she thinking?  But then I read the story and realized just how brilliant a story it was and how perfectly matched the illustrations were!  Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book is a delightful twist to a familiar story. Uni is a unicorn who believes in her heart that little girls are real, despite the fact that her friends and parents say otherwise. Love the page where Uni is drawing pictures of “imaginary” little girls! Little girls will LOVE this story and make LOTS of connections! The illustrations are reminiscent of Pixar/Disney and will most certainly appeal to the unicorn loving children!   I was also thinking that if you added a cute little stuffed unicorn you have the perfect birthday party present!

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If Kids Ruled the World – Linda Bailey

If Kids ruled the world, birthday cake would be good for you.  Your doctor would say “Don’t forget to eat your birthday cake so you’ll grow up strong and healthy!”  And so the story goes – page after page –  a “wish list” of a kid’s paradise!  This book is fun, playful, imaginative and I can just hear the “YES’s” coming from the class!   A perfect anchor book for inspiring writing and art!  Love!

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and Pumpkin – Salina Yoon

I fell in love with Penguin when I first met him in Penguin and Pinecone.  There have been a few Penguin books since, but none have quite come close to that emotional connection I had with that first book.  This story is sweet with familiar bold block colored illustrations.  Penguin and friends take a journey to explore fall outside the North Pole. He brings a few sights and sounds for his baby brother to experience.  I loved the last page when it’s “snowing leaves”  but the story fell a little flat for me.

Brothers of the Wolf

Brothers of the Wolf – Caroll Simpson

This is a beautifully illustrated West Coast First Nations legend about two wolf cub brothers found and raised  as human children in a village on the Pacific.  One cub feels at home in the forest and the other – the sea.  They are separated when supernatural forces change them into Sea Wolf and Timber Wolf.  Although separated, they howl together into the night sky, waking up the moon and bringing light to the darkness of the world.  The story is visually stunning and is a perfect book for questioning. It would also be a great inspiration for creating first nations paintings.

I Wanna Go Home

I Wanna Go Home – Karen Kaufmann Orloff

I have shared Karen Orloff’s first hilarious book, I Wanna Iguana, for many years with students and teachers as an anchor book for persuasive writing. In it, young Alex writes letters to his mother, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mother writes back, with all the reasons why an iguana would not make a good pet.   In the second book,  I Wanna New Room, Alex is trying to persuade his mom to let him have his own room.  In this third book, and possibly the funniest, Alex is sent to his grandparent’s retirement community while his parents go on vacation.  His desperate emails to his parents go from complaining about being dragged to his grandpa’s bridge games to delight in eating ice cream before dinner!  I love the connection to grandparents in this book and the fact that Alex is now sending emails!   Hilarious read-aloud!

The Orchestra Pit

Orchestra Pit – Johanna Wright

What happens when an endearing snake accidently wanders into an orchestra pit instead of a snake pit?   A whole lot of playful chaos!  The snake proceeds to investigate various instruments and causes quite a commotion among the musicians.  This book is hysterical and would be a perfect way to introduce the different instruments in an orchestra to young children.  Lively, colorful illustrations and endearing expressions on the snake!  Love this!

Lucky

Lucky – David Mackintosh

I LOVED Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School when it first came out so was excited to see this new book by British author/illustrator David Mackintosh.  This book is hilarious and one that children who have ever “jumped to conclusions” will make connections to!  When Leo’s mom tells him that there will “be a surprise” at dinnertime – Leo and his brother, desperate to find out, begin coming up with all sorts of possibilities – a bike? a new car? a new TV? a swimming pool?  By the end of the day they are convinced that the surprise is an all-expense paid two week trip to Hawaii!  And of course when they get home from school and discover the real surprise, they are left feeling let down.  All children have experienced the feeling of getting their hopes up and then being let down  – but it’s how you handle your disappointment that creates the teachable moment in this book.   David Mackingtosh handles it with humour and the subtle message of how being grateful for what you already have is enough to make you feel “lucky”.  Brilliant!

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The Boy on the Porch – Sharon Creech

I always tell my students that the greatest writers don’t tell us everything, but  “leave spaces for our thinking”.  Sharon Creech’s book is a perfect example of this – she doesn’t tell us evetyhing but provides us with spaces for asking questions and for thinking.  This book is beaurtifully written – simple, tender and powerful.  It is the story of a couple who discover a boy on their porch with only his name pinned to his shirt – “Jacob”.  (What are you wondering?… Who is he?  Where did he come from?  Why did his parents leave him?  Will they come back for him?   (So many questions!)  The boy does not speak but communicates through his extraordinary gift in music and art. Eventually, he is able to communicate with animals.  I read this book in one sitting and then I cried – not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful.  And because as I read it, I could not wait to hear my students filling in the spaces.   There is no better book to read.

Well, that’s it for now!  My pile of new books is only a little smaller now but I’d better stop!  Thanks for stopping by and please share the book that caught your eye!

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Filed under Art, celebrating words, It's Monday, making connections, Music, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Social Studies, What Are You Reading?, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Exciting Releases for Fall!

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

Despite my heartbreak at the fact that I will not be sharing these books with my students tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day after that due to the ongoing teacher’s strike in B.C., I am happy to share them with you in the hopes that you are not on strike and can share them with YOUR students! I’ve had a little more reading time this past week so was able to read a few longer books.

The Boundless

The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

WOW!  This is an action packed adventure that I could not put down!  It tells the story of a young boy, Will Everett who is a first class passenger on The Boundless, the greatest train ever built.  (Think Titanic only a train!)  I loved how Kenneth Oppel has woven Canadian history and famous Canadian personalities (including Sasquatch!)  throughout the book, making it an excellent link to Social Studies.  Add a little magic and a few creepy bits and you have a fast-paced read-aloud!

Egg and Spoon

Egg and Spoon – Gregory Maguire

Another wow for this YA book!  Egg and Spoon reads like a Russian fairy tale.  It is filled with exquisite writing, laugh out loud humour, fascinating and often twisted characters. It is the story of two young woman: a city girl born of privilege and a country girl suffering from poverty and loss.  After a case of mistaken identity, both Elena and Ekaterina, or Cat,  begin an adventure across Russia and up to the North Pole on a quest to save their country.  I really liked how Maguire wove Russian culture, legends and characters, including Baba Yaga,  through the story.  At times, I felt the plot was more suited for younger children but the writing style and complex plot makes it definitely one for the older crowd.  If I’m being completely honest, I felt that some parts were a little confusing and complicated and other parts went on too long – but overall well worth the read!   

The Swallow: A Ghost Story

The Swallow – A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Interesting that I happen to read two books featuring two female characters whose lives become entwined.   This one is AMAZING – I could not put it down!  It tells the story of the friendship of two 12 year old girls living in Toronto in 1963.  Polly – outgoing, bubbly, passionate… Rose – introverted, quiet and loves to sing and who, we discover, can see and talk to ghosts!  The story goes back and forth between the two different points of view.  This is truly a MUST READ book!  Enchanting, magical, mysterious – a great ghost story and a wonderful story of friendship.  I LOVED it!

Everybody Bonjours!

Eveybody Bonjours!  by Leslie Kimmolman

This book follows a little girl and her family on a trip to Paris. The text is simple, the illustrations are charming.  Lots of French sites, sounds, smells and tastes – a peak into French life.  I think this would be a wonderful anchor book for writing about Canada or other countries.  There is more detailed information at the back of the book.  I want to go to Paris now, please! 

And Two Boys Booed – Judith Viorst

This new Judith Viorst book was released this week! It is an adorable story of a little boy who gets an extreme case of nerves when he has to sing in the talent show. Perfect for making connections! This book rhymes, it has lift the flaps and has a song that you will all be singing after just one read! Love Judith Viorst and I LOVE this book!

Bluebird

Bluebird – Lindsey Yankey

I was totally drawn to this book by the cover.  A bird’s eye view from a bird’s eye view.  This is a charming story about a bluebird who is searching for her friend, the wind.  The repetitive text and the extraordinary details in each picture makes this a perfect read-aloud or quiet bed-time sharing.  I love how determined the little bird is.   As soon as I got to the last page, I went back and read it again!

Take Away the A

Take Away the A – Michael Escoffier

What fun this book is to read!  It’s a delightful alphabet book goes through the alphabet and offers words where you take away a letter and get a new word. So, for example, for letter A, “beast” becomes “best” when you take the A out. The concept is a simple but so clever and humouous! I have already thought about ways of using this in class – having the students try to create their own “take away” words! 

I'm Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes

I’m Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes – Marilyn Singer

Sadie is all packed for her rustic family camping trip:  patent shoes? check!  ballerina skirt? Check!  Sparkly suitcase? Check!  I loved the spunk of this girl, who despite her “girlie-girl” appearance is a great role model for girl power!  She is fearless and determined to find Bigfoot and protect her family.  Great rhyming pattern and bright, colorful illustrations!

 

Dojo Daycare

Dojo Daycare – Chris Tougas

Six rowdy children spinning out of control in their Dojo daycare, despite their master’s effort to demonstrate “honor, kindness and respect”. Fun, great illustrations, wonderful rhyme – a perfect read-aloud. Kids will LOVE this one!

The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing

The Writing Thief – Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing – Ruth Culham

“It’s been said that mediocre writers borrow, but great writers steal” Using children’s literature to teach writing – could there be a more perfect book for me? And since it would appear that I may have some more time on our hands next week, I’m excited to be spending it exploring this new book by Ruth Culham! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Please let me know which book caught your eye?

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Filed under Alphabet book, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Professional Books, Read-Aloud, Social Studies, Writing Anchors

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – New nonfiction titles for spring!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week I’m featuring some new nonfiction releases – several of which were sent to me to preview from one of my favorite Canadian-owned children’s publisher –  Kids Can Press.  

Animal ABC

Animal ABC – Marcus Pfister

Any of you who love alphabet books – this is a must for your collection!  I love the work of Marcus Pfister (Questions, Questions is one of my favorites!)  and in this book, he uses playful rhymes to highlight the distinct features of each animal.  K – “I carry my baby in a pouch.  I might look slow, but I’m no slouch.” (Kangaroo)  Of course the best part is that each rhyme is written as a riddle – so the book could be used for a guessing game for younger students as well.  The illustrations are amazing – so textured and colorful!  (Just a note – the book I have has a slightly different cover with different animals than the one shown here)

Secrets of the Seasons – Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

I’m a huge fan of any book related to seasons  so was happy to discover this new one to add to my large collection of season books!  This is a simple narrative text that includes Alice explaining to her friend Zack the reasons for the changing seasons.  I really liked how the scientific concepts were weaved through the narrative.  The illustrations are lovely and there are lots of great text features including charts and diagrams, and sidebars.  There are even two helpful and rather funny chickens who help Alice by providing more of the scientific details.  This would be a great book to read aloud to a primary class as an introduction to seasons and the earth’s yearly cycle.

 One World Together – Catherine and Laurence Anhalt

I love this husband and wife team from the UK and read many of their books to my boys when they were younger.  There is something very sweet and charming about the illustrations and the faces of the young children in their books.  In this delightful new book, we take a trip around the world to meet children from lots of different places and peek into their lives.  Every page is a new country and we see how children in different places in the world live, what they eat, where they live, etc.  It’s perfect for comparing our lives to the lives of children all over the world.  The countries featured are Brazil, China, Russia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Morocco, and the United States. A great book to share to introduce a theme of cultural diversity to the younger children.

At the Same Moment, Around the World

At the Same Moment Around the World – Clotilde Perrin

This beautifully illustrated book teaches readers about time zones in a very unique way.  (Even the tall shape of the book is unique!)  The illustrations are lovely – they seem to flow into each other as you turn the pages.  In a 24 hour period, we travel around the world, hour by hour, visiting different time zones in different countries.  I loved how the book ends as it began – a circle of time – and that there is a map at the back.  (I love books with maps!)

Zoobots

Zoobots – Helaine Becker  (Kids Can Press)

A “ZOOBOT” is type of animal inspired robot designed using mechatronics – mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science. This sci-fi type book is set up like a animal book. On each page, we are introduced to a facts and stats about a different “zoobot” – and learn what animal it evolved from, its zoobot name, its super skill, its applications and its special operation. “Dash”, for example, is the robot that evolved from the cockroach)  I’m not a particular fan of robot design but I can see how this book would be VERY appealing to many kids I know!   Even though the zoobots are not actually real – the book is informative and intriguing!

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet

Underworld – Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet – Jane Price   (Kids Can Press)

WOW!  This book is fascinating!  I still have not read through every page because there is just so much to read and look at!  Who knew there were whole worlds hidden below the grass and streets?  From caves to subways to mines to tombs, dungeons, trenches and buried treasures!  WOW again!  This is a book that you can spend hours looking through (I already have!) Every 2-page spread features a different underground world.  The text is very accessible with many text features to help you navigate through the information.  The captions and fact boxes are entertaining.  I also loved the illustrations combined with many photographs. My favorite pages were the side view cross-sections.  AMAZING!

Plesiosaur Peril

Plesiousaur Peril – Daniel Loxton  (Kids Can Press)

Well, I am a little ashamed to admit that I did not know that plesiosaurs were ocean-dwelling cousins of the dinosaurs! But now I do – thanks to this book!  The story reads like a narrative, with many scientific facts woven throughout.  A pod of plesiosaurs keep safe by swimming in a family pod until one baby plesiosaur swims too far from its mother and encounters danger and the struggle for survival is on.  This story is quite dramatic at times and I found the digitalized computer generated created life-like images.  I am not a huge dinosaur fan but I know it will be a big hit for the dinosaur lovers at my school!

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles

 Shapes in Math, Science and Nature – Katherine Sheldrick Ross  (Kids Can Press)

An awesome resource book for teaching concepts about shape – focusing on the Square, Triangle and Circle.  This book is overflowing with interesting information  – from the history of shapes to odd and interesting facts, as well as  instructions on how to make different shape-based projects.  There are even some magic tricks included!  (Super Circle on page 137 was a great trick!)  I’m not sure who will love this book more – kids or teachers!  The illustrations are charming and there is a great section at the back that lists math formulas.  Not a book to read cover to cover in one sitting but certainly one to pick and chose activities and facts to share.

Every Day Is Malala Day

Every Day is Malala Day – Rosemary McCarney

Malala Yousafzai is the 16 yr. old Pakistani student who was shot by the Taliban because she spoke out for the right to be able to attend school.  Recognized world wide for her courage and conviction, she is now a symbol of the struggle for girls’ rights all over the world.     Her story is one that every child should know and this book is a wonderful tribute to her continued fight for girls to be educated.  The book is beautiful.    It is written as a letter from girls around the world to Malala, as they express their sympathy and admiration for her.  It is powerful and emotional and a wonderful book for introducing students social justice and children’s rights.  This is a MUST book for every classroom!  A portion of proceeds of the sale of the book will go to  Because I am a Girl campaign.   You can watch an interview with Malala here

Well – it’s been a very exciting week of new nonfiction books!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alphabet book, Mapping, Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Seasons, social justice, Social Studies

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – Holy Science, Batman!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week, I thought I would feature some new Nonfiction Series that have just been released or soon to be.  Many of these I am excited about bringing into our library as they are not only appealing for students but great for teachers as they can be used to support many different content areas.

Batman Science Series  – Tammy Enz

This new series by Capstone Press explores the facts behind some of Batman’s high tech gadgets.  What could be better than combining the famous super hero with science facts?  I can just imagine how popular these books will be, particularly with boys.  I really liked the way the book compared Batman technology with real-life facts and photos.  My only slight concern is that for the younger Batman fans, the information, language and content is rather sophisticated.  Despite my slight reservation, I will be purchasing the series for our library!

 

            

 

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Seasons Series – Lizanne Flat

While these look like books about the seasons – they are, in fact, more focused on math concepts than science.  (I should have paid more attention to the titles!)  But once I understood what the books were trying to do, I LOVED the idea!   They are interactive and with very colorful pictures and introduce the concepts of patterning, sorting, estimating, probability.  A WONDERFUL link to Math!

                   

                 

Adapted to Survive Series –  Angela Royston  (Captsone Press)

Another new great series by Captstone Press focuses on different animals’ common skill – flying, climbing, digging – and how they have adapted to survive in its own particular environment.   The photographs are wonderful and I love that the reading level is low enough for children to read independently.  For teachers looking for engaging high interest-low vocabulary books, I would highly recommend these books!

        

Product Details     Product Details

 

Benjamin Blog and his Inquisitive Dog – Anita Ganeri  (Capstone Press)

WOW!  Another amazing brand new series by Capstone Press.  This one is a definite WINNER!  Not only is it filled with amazing photographs and interesting information – but it is written as a travel blog!  How great is that for all you bloggers out there?   Benjamin Blog and his inquisitive dog Barko Polo (ha!)  travel the globe blogging about the world’s most exciting habitats including  rivers, deserts, rainforests, coasts, coral reefs, and mountains.  There is also a series in the works for Benjamin and his dog to explore different countries.   I’m excited at the thought of using these books anchors for many different research and writing projects!

         

  

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 Infographics  – Chris Oxlade (Capstone)

For those of you, like me, who are unfamiliar with this term – “infographics” are creative graphic visual representation of information.  In this series, the author creates a variety of engaging infographics that teach readers all about  animals, environment, weather and population.   I love the simplicity of using creative visuals to share information and numerical facts about different topics and think that these would be wonderful books for children who may have difficulty accessing information from written texts.

           

Weather Infographics           

Well… there you have it!  And if you hadn’t noticed – most of these new series are published by Capstone Press – one of the best publishers of nonfiction books for kids!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science, Seasons, Social Studies