Tag Archives: Anthony Browne

Top 10 Books for Teaching Point of View

top 10

This term, I’m working with one of the grade six classes on writing from different points of view, skills which they will later apply to a unit on immigration they are working on in social studies.  Each week, I have been reading one of these books and the students have been practicing short writing pieces. I have been searching for different anchor books which can be used for introducing Point of View to the class so thought it would be a great topic for this week’s Top Ten List!  Many of these you will likely have or know… but there may be a few new titles for you!

1.Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Possibly the best book for teaching point of view – four “voices” tell their version of a walk in the park.  Anthony Browne is a master of telling a story without telling too much but leaving the reader a lot of spaces to think.  He also leaves clues in his illustrations that help tell the story.  I also love using this book for teaching inferring.

2.The Teddy Bear – David McPhail

This heart-felt story of a boy who loses his favorite teddy and the homeless man who finds and loves it is a perfect one for having students write in first person from the different characters’ perspective.  I even had them write from the teddy bear’s point of view!

3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

When you first see the crayons, you may think the story is too young for your middle grade students – WRONG!  This story  is filled with sophisticated humour that could be a little over the heads of some younger students.  I used this book to explain how different points of view can often reveal personality.  A great anchor book for writing, too!

4. Seven Blind Mice – Ed Young

Different points of view often depends on the perspective, connections and vantage point of the character.  In this clever book based on a classic South Asian tale, seven blind mice investigate the “strange something” in the Pond.  Each one views one portion and comes back with their theory.  It is only when the seventh mouse views the “whole something” that the truth is revealed.

5. Hey, Little Ant – Phillip and Hannah Hoose

To squish or not to squish? – that is the question.  Love this story, told in two voices; a conversation between the “squisher” and the potential “squish-ee”.  Perfect for discussing perspectives.

School's First Day of School

School’s First Day of School – Adam Rex

This was one of my favorite new “back to school” books this fall!  A unique look at the nervousness and excitement about the start of the school year, told from the point of view of the school!

6. They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant and simple!  With each turn of the page, the reader is given the opportunity to also see how the cat is viewed from perspectives – from a bee, to a fox, to a child.  Bright, colorful illustrations.  After I finished reading it to the grade class, they wanted me to read it again!  I predict this book may be on a few award lists this year!

7. I am the Dog, I am the Cat – Donald Hall

Another perfect anchor book for point of view, as the contrasting voices of hilarious, affectionate companions converse together.  Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful words and I love the recognizable qualities of both animals that come through.  Kids love this book!

9. The Pain and the Great One – Judy Blume

An eight year old girl and her six year old brother take turns describing each other.  Hilarious and  another great example of different points of view, as well as a perfect connect book!

10. Two Bad Ants – Chris Van Alsburg

If you have not read this clever book by the amazing Chris Van Alsburg, you should!  I never get tired of reading this book aloud to students.  Two Bad Ants allows the reader to experience the world through two mischievous ants’ point of view as they explore a kitchen.  Ah-mazing, spell-binding, genius!

8. The Wolf Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood Toby Forward

A funny, fractured fairy tale that replays the story of Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf’s point of view.  This would be a great anchor book for re-writing a fairy tale from different points of view.

11. The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be – Mini Grey

Another clever version of a fairy tale, this one told from the point of view of the pea!  Very witty!

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book to teach Point of View?

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Filed under New Books, Point of View, Top 10 Tuesday

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

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

“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?

 

 

 

 

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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! – 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.

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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]  

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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/

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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!

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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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”

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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?

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