Tag Archives: Connect

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

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

Summer Reading – Day 30! Nonfiction Picture Books!

Well… due to my busy week starting back to school and unpacking boxes of books into our new library, I have missed  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday by several days.  But I have read a lot of nonfiction in the past few weeks that I would like to share anyways!

images-2_thumb[1][1]

My friend, Carrie Gelson  (There’s A Book for That) posted a wonderful collection in her 10 for 10 post a few weeks ago that focused around the theme of connections across the generations.  I came across this book Grand by  Marla Stewart Konrad in one of my book tubs the other day and thought about how it would be a great book to add to Carrie’s list!  It’s one of several books published by World Vision and celebrates grandparents around the world.  The amazing photographs and simple text  remind me of Barbara Kerley’s books and introduce younger children to themes that show how much we share in common, no matter where we live in the world.  Great for making connections!  The other books in this collection includes Play, Mom and Me and Getting There. 

51FNrUh-Y6L._SX260_[1]       imagesCAZ8HG3I     Marla_Konrad_Getting_There[1]

Another focus this week, linked to my exploration of different text structures, has led me to a new interest in “Guidebooks” or “Handbooks”.  I think this is a wonderful way of incorporating Social Studies content while teaching different forms of writing.  These “How to” guide books, published by Crabtree, are written in second person and definitely read as “instructions”  but with an almost humorous undertone.  In the Treasure Hunter’s Handbook, readers will learn everything they need to become a pirate – from a pirate wardrobe  to winning a pirate battle,  rules to follow on a pirate ship and how to avoid walking the plank!  The books are filled with great text features and simple text for beginning readers. Similar books include A Roman Soldier’s Handbook,  Knight Survival Guide, Go Greek and Coastal Treasure Hunter.  Intermediate or middle school teachers could use these books as inspiration for having their students create handbooks for any study on ancient civilizations.

61S86esBsrL._AA160_[1]  61jEBA0nUwL._AA160_[1]6143A+8ZlcL._SX260_[1]

2111887[1]

Meghan McCarthy’s Astronaut Handbook is another great example of writing that follows a procedural structure.  Written in second person, this simple book takes the reader through a rigorous training program in astronaut school.  Everything from deciding what kind of astronaut you want to taking a ride on the “Vomit Comit”  where you will learn how to float are included. The illustrations are great and I appreciated the “Fascinating Space Facts” that are included in the back. This book would be a great compliment to a Science unit on Space.  I’m already thinking of ideas for my students to create a “Pioneer Handbook” to end our study of early settlers.  Pages might include: how to dress like a pioneer, tips on building a log house, pioneer food and wagon-ride tips.

11001793[1]

When I was in elementary school, I remember doing a research project on houses around the world.  I remember making a poster for my presentation and researching and drawing examples of different houses.  Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the subject.  So when I came across If You Lived Here: Houses Around the World by Giles LaRoche in the library, I was immediately drawn to it.  I only wish I had had this book when I was  doing my project!   It is not only interesting, but the layered paper illustrations, reminiscent of Barbara Reid and Steve Jenkins are amazing.  From a village in South Africa to the mountains of Spain, this book will show children not only the different structures of homes, but the reasons behind why they were constructed that way.  I learned a lot of fascinating information about homes around the world and can’t wait to share this book with my students!

And finally, here is a book dedicated to those of us who leave our pumpkins out on their porches a few too many days after Halloween!   Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David H. Schwartz is part story-part fact exploration in the stages of decomposition of a pumpkin left outside to rot.  Watch as a jack-o-lantern transforms from a happy holiday porch decoration into a slimy, moldy flattened puddle in 32 pages!  (Makes me wonder why we don’t carve our pumpkins on October 1st and then let them rot for a month.  They’d certainly be a lot more creepy by Halloween!)  A warning that this book is pretty disgusting – and the close-up photographs of the moldy decomposing pumpkin flesh do not leave anything to the imagination!  High on the scale for “gross factor”, I can hear the “Ewwwwww!!!!!!!’s” already!  A great link to science.

So what nonfiction books have you been reading lately?

Leave a comment

Filed under Connect, New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Science, Social Studies

Summer Reading – Day 28! Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday with Linda Glaser

It is Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I’m happy to be participating in this weekly celebration of information books.  Today I am highlighting books by Nonfiction author – Linda Glaser.  Her books are  interesting and visually appealing.  I noticed that she has many different illustrators accompanying her different books.  She uses simple text and concepts suitable for a younger audience but also includes a question and answer guide at the end of each book with additional information about her subjects.

Sometimes a search for one book leads to a surprising discovery of another.  Yesterday, while searching for something completely different, I found myself drawn to the cover of a book.  There was something very appealing about the title and the calm, soft greeny-blue hues of the illustration on the cover.  Not a Buzz to Be Found by Linda Glaser begins with a question: Where do insects go in winter?  Now any book that starts with a question has my attention – and this one kept my attention.  The text is simple, the illustrations are beautiful – and I learned how 12 different insects survive the winter. I loved how she included some unusual bugs like Mourning Cloak Butterflies or Common Pondhawk Dragonfly.  My favorite pages showed what was happening under the layers of frozen snow or pond (T-T connection with Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Snow)

Not%20a%20Buzz%20to%20Be%20Found%20157x157[1]

This led me on a search for other books by Linda Glaser.  I discovered that she has written MANY nonfiction books for children, some of which I was already familiar with.  Here are some highlights from her collections.

SEASONS   I have a slight obsession with the changing of the seasons and I’m drawn to any book that highlights this remarkable, natural cycle.
These four books by Linda Glaser describe the characteristics of each season – from the weather, to daily activities, to the changes in nature.  The cut out paper illustrations by Susan Swan are bright and colorful and reminded me a lot of Barbara Reid’s work.

Fall_LittleCover-140x158[1]ResizedItsWinter_Cover2[1]

ItsSpring_Cover3[1]TBItsSummer2[1]

BACKYARD CRITTERS:

Here are some books from Linda Glaser’s collection on creatures that can be found in and around your back yard.  These books would be wonderful to use in a science lesson and wonderful resources for the “Knew-New Connection”  strategy.

Dazzling-Drgflies-Cover-homepage[1]  SpectacularSpiders[1]   FabulousFrogs[1]

 Worms_littleCover[1]Monarchs_Cover[1]BrilliantBees_littleCover[1]

THE ENVIRONMENT:
Before composting was “hip”, Linda Glaser wrote Compost! Growing Gardens From Your Garbage.  She weaves the reasons for composting through a charming narrative about a girl and her family who use their resources wisely.  In her more recent book, Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow, Linda Glaser asks: What can you do to help the environment? Make less garbage. How can you do that? Compost!  She explains the why’s and how’s of composting as we, once again, follow a family as they create a compost in their back yard.

    612KHTAJVHL._SL500_AA300_[1]Garbage%20Helps%20Our%20Garden%20158x133[1]

Our Big Home is Linda Glaser’s beautifully illustrated poem about the concept of the co-existence of humans with other living things. The sky, sun, moon, rain and air are shared by all the people, plants, and animals on the planet Earth.  This book is a wonderfully simple introduction to ecology and the importance of taking care of the earth.  The illustrations are incredibly detailed – you could spend hours just looking at them!

OurBigHome-Cover-sticker-small[1]

I hope you found a few new titles to add to your nonfiction collection and perhaps got to know a new nonfiction author.   For more great Nonfiction lists, check out Kid Lit Frenzy.

NFPB2013leaves

2 Comments

Filed under New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book

Summer Reading – Day 23 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – What do you want to be when you grow up?

Barbara Kerley, a photographer for the National Geographic, is one of my favorite nonfiction authors and I’m excited to be highlighting her most recent book today, along with a few of my other favorites, in my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!

15797765[1]

What do you want to be when you grow up?  This is the question that many children are asked but most aren’t able to answer with any definitive response.  In her latest book The World Is Waiting for You, Barbara Kerley poses this question, but then invites children to explore and celebrate the possibilities by considering their talents and interests and linking them up to professions.  For example – jumping in puddles can inspire scuba diving; dirty hands can lead to digging for dinosaur bones; star-gazing can inspire astronauts.  This book includes inspirational quotes centered around the three core principals of National Geographic’s mission:  adventure, exploration and discovery.

What I love about Barbara Kerley’s books is that they are so simple, yet so profound.  I was overcome with inspiration when I read this book – it made me want to weep with gratitude and all I wanted to do was hug Barbara Kerley and thank her for writing it.  I can’t wait to read it to my students and have them explore their own possibilities.

For anyone who may be interested in more Barbara Kerley books – here are some of the others I have in my collection:  A Cool Drink of Water; A Little Peace; You and Me Together – Moms, Dads and Kids Around the World; A Day in the Life. 

640650[1] 640653[1] 1293644[1] 6289049[2]

All of her books are filled with gorgeous images – highlighting the diversity of culture, families and daily life from around the world.  She includes a map and location and background of each photograph at the back of each book.  I have used her books so often for many Reading Power lessons (Connect and Transform).  The books are excellent for read-alouds because the photographs are large, colorful and captivating.  There is little text included but the photographs tell far more than words ever could.  Opening one of her books is like taking a trip around the world without having to leave your chair.

I hope you are inspired to include at least one Barbara Kerley book in your Nonfiction Collection!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Connect, New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Transform

Summer Reading – Day 21! Bully Books

The issues associated with bullying have been the topic of many class discussions over recent years.  As with anything I teach, I try to find an anchor book as a starting point for these discussions.  Here are two of my more recent top picks for stimulating important connections, questions and conversations about bullying.

13586750[1]

Bully, by the prolific Patricia Polacco, is an excellent choice for middle school students.  This book, which came out last year,  is the first one I have come across that addresses the issue of cyber bullying with references to Facebook and texting.  Because it is so current,  it felt more credible when I read this to the older students.  It is a longer read, but the characters and story are so believable and the connections kids made, whether it was to the bully or the bullied, were thoughtful and heartfelt.  The story ends with the question:  What would you do? – the perfect segue into  a class discussion.  I would highly recommend this book if you are a parent or teacher of tweens and teens.

15062342[2]

Bully – by Laura Vacarro Seeger (Green, First the Egg, Lemons are Not Red ) is both tender and heartfelt but with a good deal of humor.  The”Bully Bull” character doesn’t have a kind word to say to any of  his friends, calling them “Chicken!” and “Slowpoke!” and telling them “You Stink!”.  This,  I’m sure, would stimulate several giggles from younger primary students.  Goat eventually stands up to Bully and tells him to stop being mean and Bully Bull eventually stops.   The story is relatively simple with minimal text but what I appreciated in this book is the subtle way Seeger uses the position and size of the Bull on the page to help tell the story.  This would be a great anchor book for  practicing inferring with younger students.  As Bully Bull moves across the pages, expanding and deflating as the story unfolds, inferences can be made as to how Bully Bull’s feelings change as he looses his bully power.

Leave a comment

Filed under Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book, Social Responsibility

Summer Reading – Day 19! Royal Baby Books!

With all the royal baby buzz, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite baby books – not books FOR babies but books ABOUT babies!   And they just might provide some insightful tips for Duchess Kate and Prince William!

931906[1]Babies, Babies Everywhere – by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee is a celebration of all the babies who are born everyday, everywhere and the joy they bring to everyone, everywhere.  (I have borrowed that repetitive phrase from the book!)  This rhyming story follows a baby through many stages – from birth to first birthday – sleeping, sitting, eating, walking, talking.   I am a huge fan of Marla Frazee’s work, her illustrations as well as her stories, and she captures, with incredible details, the sensation of babies. (the only thing missing is the delicious smell of a baby’s head!)  I longed to hold a baby after I read this!

7171946[1]Boss Baby – written and illustrated by Marla Frazee is hysterical. “From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss.”  This story follows two parents trying to keep up with the daily (hourly!) demands of their new baby “boss” – from beverages, to meetings, to baths and meals.  The parallels Frazee makes between the life of an adult “boss” and a baby are so clever (this baby even wears a one-ze suit!) It’s surprising to see how similar they actually are!  New parents will make many connections to this book, but students I’ve read this book to (particularly the ones who have recently become “big brothers” or “sisters”) laugh out loud at Boss Baby and always want to hear the story over again!

705429[1]Walk On:  A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee (for those of you who are keeping track – this is the THIRD book about babies written and/or illustrated by Marla Frazee!) is written in the form of an entertaining guide book for babies who are about to take their first step.  The illustrations, in the usual Frazee fashion, are delightful.  The book itself could also be interpreted as metaphor for the many “first step” experiences we encounter in our adult lives – from graduating, marriage, new job, and of course – welcoming a new baby.  This book would make a great gift for anyone about to take that “first step”.  This one’s for you, Will and Kate!

4 Comments

Filed under Connect, New Books, Picture Book