Tag Archives: Cynthia Rylant

Top 10 Tuesday! Top 10 Anchor Books for “Small Moment” Writing

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Sometimes, children choose writing topics that are simply too: My Trip to Disneyland,  My Weekend, or My Family.  And while writers may start off excited about their topic, often the quality of writing becomes less important as they struggle to include every moment and end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.  You might call these “biting off more than you can chew” topics!  Focusing on “small moments” can help students focus on one event so that they can apply some writing techniques such as “triple scoop words”, “similes“, and “senses” to really expand a smaller moment with lots of details.  Using anchor books to show how writers focus on small moments can really help students understand that sometimes less is more.  Here are my top ten anchor books for “small moment” writing:

  1. A Moment in Time – Jennifer Butenas

The perfect book to introduce “small moments”!  This rhyming story describes a family  of four on summer holiday savoring each joyful, delightful simple moment.

2. Roller Coaster – Marlee Frazee

Wonderful anchor for re-telling an event, complete with all the sensory descriptions of a whooshing, whirling roller coaster ride.

3. The Relatives Came – Cynthia Rylant

From one of my all-time favorite authors, this gentle book describes the sounds, smells and feelings of a summer visit from family, complete with snores, strawberries and lots of hugs.  Perfect for making connections to family gatherings and a great anchor for writing.

4. Salt Hands – Jane Aargon

A late night “special moment” describes a young girl’s encounter with a deer.  She pours salt in her hand and waits for the deer to trust her.  A perfect description of a special moment when a human and animal touch. Simple, cautious and quiet.

5. Owl Moon – Jane Yolen

A young girl and her dad spend magical moments searching for owls one clear winter night.  This is another quiet, patient book that is filled with sensory images, similes and gorgeous descriptions.

6. Shortcut – Donald Crews

Have you ever done something you knew you weren’t really supposed to – just for the thrill of it?   This book tells the story of a group of children who, despite what they have been told, get the thrill of a lifetime when they take the short cut along the railroad tracks – and a train comes!  This is a perfect book for making connections teaching onomotopeia-“Whoo! Whoo!”, “klackity, klackity, klack”.

7. Fireflies – Julie Brincoe

Catching fireflies on a warm summer night.  Discovery, magic, joy – read this book with quiet whispers.  It is a truly magical moment to inspire some magical moment writing.

8. Red Rubber Boot Day – Mary Lyn Rae

The sights and sensations of a rainy day.  Lovely language, vibrant illustrations.  This book is a perfect connect book for West-coasters and will inspire some great “rainy writing” from your students.

9. Every Friday – Dan Yaccarino

Simple description of favorite days, favorite routines, and family bonding.  Every Friday, a young boy and his dad have a regular walk together and then eat the same pancakes at the same diner. A great book for getting students to think about their own family routines.  This is a simple book, but will inspire some great “Every ____________” writing!

Bibbity Bop, Barber Shop – Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

So much to love about this book about a young boy’s first haircut: diversity, overcoming nerves, reassuring parent, cheerful, loving scenes of home and community.  Lovely illustrations and gentle rhythm.  Love this book for making connections.

10.  Blackout – John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, the power goes off.  OH NO! What can we do?  No computers!  No play station!  No cooking on the stove!  No lights!  It turns out, spending the evening on the rooftop with the neighbours and watching the night sky is better than video games!

               And there you have it!  Ten books to inspire “small moment” writing!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Top 10 Tuesday – Ten Favorite Snowy Titles

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Here in Vancouver, the winter season brings mostly rain.  So when the snow does fall, as it did this morning, there is great excitement at school.  These are the opportunities to “cash in” on the winter excitement by reading and writing about SNOW!

Here are my top 10 books (some old, some new) to inspire snow writing, snow art and lots of snow connections.

1. Snow – Sam Usher

Delightful addition to your winter collection with an added bonus of grandfather-grandson relationship, toys that come to life and an unexpected ending.

2. Perfect Snow – Barbara Reid

This is the BEST connection book about a snowfall in a school yard and two boys’ plan to build a snow fort at recess.  Amazing signature Plasticine artwork by Barbara Reid.

3. Snow – Cynthia Rylant

I use this book to inspire writing and as an anchor to teach similes and personification.   It is filled with gorgeous language, gorgeous illustrations and I love Cynthia Rylant.

4. Over and Under the Snow – Kate Messner

Amazing link to science and winter habitats, this book looks at life under and over the frozen ground.  Great inspiration for an art lesson too!

5. Stella, Queen of the Snow – Marie Louise Gay

Oh, how I love Stella books!  Sam asks questions about the snow; Stella gives delightful answers.

6. The Snow Angel – Angela Mcallister

A snow angel comes to life.  Lovely story with a little excitement and mystery.

7. The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats

No list of snow books would be complete without this classic tale.

8. A Perfect Day – Carin Berger

A charming, delicate, happy book. The illustrations are detailed and precious. Lots of connections and a great inspiration for art.

9. Once Upon a Northern Night – Jean E. Pendziwol

Gentle, lyrical poem about the wonder and beauty of a northern winter night.  Soft snow, twinkling stars, frost etched on a window pane.  Gorgeous.

10. Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

One of my favorite winter read-alouds.  Calm. Peaceful.  Perfect for visualizing.

10. The Snow Speaks – Nancy White Carlstrom

Gorgeous poetic language describes the magic of a first snowfall.  This is one of my favorite anchors for descriptive writing.

So there you have it!  (Yes, I cheated again!  There are actually 11 books listed! )

What’s your favorite snow or winter book to share?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Fall Favorites

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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

Happy Thanksgiving for all of you reading this who celebrated today.  Fall is by far my favorite season – the colors, the changes in nature, the celebrations. I love to stock up on Fall books for the classroom and have collected many favorites over the years. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Fall Leaves – Loretta Holland

Wow – this new book is beautiful and innovative!  The artwork is stunning – bright, vibrant yet almost hypnotic.  The book is part poem, part play on words and part scientific facts.  The text can be read on two levels: each page has two large words, like “Flowers leave” “Birds Leave,” “Leaves Twist,” and “Fall Leaves.” , so the book can be shared with younger children like a poem. Then a few sentences that give more scientific explanations for older students.  This book would be great for inviting questions – questions about words, happenings, meanings.  A must have for your fall collection!

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Winter is Coming – Tony Johnston

Another newly released title, this book is among my favorite new fall books.  The illustrations are stunning and I love the quietness of this book.  The girl in this book is an observer and I love how she sits quietly and observes the changes around her one fall day, recording what she sees in her notebook.  Lots of references to the changes in the season and to animals preparing for winter.   A perfect book to inspire your students to go outside, sit quietly, and record what they see around them.

Awesome Autumn

Awesome Autumn – Bruce Goldstone

This amazing book came out last year and I’m excited to be able to share it again. It is a colorful celebration of the season, focusing on all aspects of the season – clothing, food, different types of leaves, celebration and a great section on the senses – sights, sounds, smells and feelings of fall. The photographs are bright and colorful and includes fun facts and activities.  Lots of great classroom connections with this book!

In November

In November – Cynthia Rylant

This has long been one of my favorite books to share with students in fall by one of my all time favorite authors.  A perfect anchor book for visualizing and for modeling creating images through the senses.   Cynthia Rylant describes the changes in nature and the connection to family and beautifully captures the beauty and the blessings of fall.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves – Julia Rawlinson

While many of the books on my list focus more on the observations and descriptions of fall,  this book actually tells an adorable story!  Fletcher is worried when all the leaves begin to fall off the tree and does everything he can to help, promising the tree he will somehow get them back on.  But when every last leaf falls off, Fletcher is discouraged.  Love the surprise wintery ending and the joy it brings Fletcher!

The Little Yellow Leaf

The Little Yellow Leaf – Carin Berger

A visually beautiful with a touching story.   Although he is watching other leaves swirl down from the tree, Little Yellow Leaf is not ready to fall.  He is alone and scared until he sees another “clinger”.  This is a story of friendship, of facing your fears and taking risks.  A quiet and thoughtful fall book – and the collage art is amazing. 

Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up – Bob Raczka

This fun, interactive and highly engaging books makes for an entertaining read-aloud!  Page by page, we explore the scenes, events, colors and changes of fall.  But what makes this book different is the mistakes that are “hidden” throughout the book!  Kids laugh out loud when “squirrels fly south for winter” and “Geese hibernate”!  Clever and fun!

Autumn is Here!

Autumn is Here!  – Heidi Pross Gray

This book makes you want to curl up by the fire and cozy up with a blanket!  Beautiful full color watercolor illustrations and whimsical text – this book is perfect for exploring the changes in nature and family life as autumn approaches.  Lovely repeating text and soft rhythms – this is a great writing anchor for K-2.   I love that this is one of four season books by the same author!

Wild Child

Wild Child – Lynn Plourde

This is one of my favorite fall read-alouds.  In the rhyming text,  Mother Earth trying  is trying to put her wild child, “Autumn” to bed.  The child keeps giving excuses not to go to bed – wanting something to eat, a song, pj’s.   Younger children will make connections to “bed time excuses” but I love using it to for older students as an example of  personification and alliteration.  Stunning illustrations and beautiful prose.  The book ends just as Autumn is falling asleep and Winter appears.  Lynne Plourde has written 3 other companion season books that follow the children of the seasons.

Autumnblings
Autumnblings – by Douglas Florian

No fall collection would be complete without a poetry book by the great Douglas Florian!  His poems are playful and funny and I love his painting illustrations.  I also like to use his books as anchors to introduce students to different types of poems and techniques; from alliteration and personification to acrositic and concrete poems – I will always find an example in his poems. He has a poetry collection for every season and this particular book is one of my favorites – I love to start the morning with a poem!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a new fall book to add to your collection!  What are your fall favorites?

 

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It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? New Books for Spring!

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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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

After an extremely busy and eventful week (some amazing events and a few not!)  I am grateful I had the chance to take some time out to read some fantastic new picture books that I will be sharing with my students and staff in the coming weeks as we prepare for spring break and the last term of school.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons – Jon Muth

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 latest 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.  Delightful.

Maple

Maple – Lori Nichols

In another charming book about seasons, we meet Maple – a sweet girl who is has a special bond with her namesake tree that her parents planted when she was born.  As Maple grows, the tree becomes an important part of her life and as she grows and changes through the seasons, so does her tree.  And when a baby sister arrives and won’t stop crying, Maple takes her outside and introduces her to her tree.  This is a wonderful book to celebrate a new baby.  An impressive debut picture book!

A Book of Babies – Il Sung Na

I loved Il Sung Na’s book Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit so was excited to see this new picture book about baby animals.  I am so drawn into his soft, charming illustrations  and simple, poetic text.  A baby duck takes the reader on a tour of different baby animals.  I like how each animal is distinguished by one unique feature:  father seahorse carry babies in their pouch, a baby zebra walks right away, baby fish are born with lots of brothers and sisters.  This would be a wonderful share for kindergarten and grade one students.

Spring is Here!

Spring is Here – Heidi Pross Gray

While there are numerous books about spring, I love the way this one weaves together both nature and family time.  The watercolor illustrations (have you inferred I am drawn to watercolor?) and rhythmic text creates a book that feels wholesome and excited about the coming of spring.

Poppleton In Spring

Poppleton in Spring – Cynthia Rylant

 I have so many wonderful memories of dear Poppleton and his friends Cherry Sue, Filmore and the wonderful characters in these beginning chapter book series by the profound Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marc Teague.  Each book has three chapters – 3 short stories written featuring Poppleton the pig and his neighbours.   Some are funny, others tender and thoughtful.  In this book Poppleton does some spring cleaning, buys a new bike and stays up all night in a tent “noticing”.  I have many fond memories of reading Poppleton stories to my boys when they were younger and continue to spread Poppleton joy to the children at my school.  If you have never read a Poppleton story – I highly recommend it.

The Highest Number in the World

 The Highest Number in the World – Ray MacGregor

I live in a household where hockey takes precedent over pretty much anything else!  We were all up at four am to watch Canada play for gold at the Sochi games.  The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier is one of my all time favorite picture books.  There have been many hockey stories since but I have yet to find one that compares to it – until now.  This book is a gem.   It tells the story of a little girl who obsesses over the number 22 for her hockey jersey because it’s the number of her hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser.  Unfortunately, her new hockey team gives her the number 9 instead. She hates the jersey and wants to quit.  Enter her grandmother, who explains the important history of the number nine in hockey.   This is so much more than a hockey story – and the relationship between the granddaughter and grandmother brought tears to my eyes.  The illustrations are wonderful and full of detail – down to the NHL quilt set on her bed!  Whether you love hockey or not, this is a wonderful story.

Going Places

Going Place – Peter and Paul Reynolds

Peter H. Reynolds pairs up with his brother for a their first book together, filled with the same creative free-spirit theme of Reynolds’s other books.  It’s time for the annual “Going Places”  go-cart contest.  Time to grab a kit, put together your go-cart and race to the finish line.  Each child grabs a “go-cart kit” and puts together identical carts.  Maya, however, decides to be creative and think outside the box, creating her own version and crossing the finish line in her own way.  A perfect book for encouraging children to march to their own drum on their way to the finish line!

Say Hello Like This

Say Hello Like This! – Mary Murphy

The Kindergarten teachers at my school do a farm unit in the spring so I was excited to find this new book by Mary Murphy for them to use!  It is a wonderful, interactive book that will make a perfect read-aloud to introduce the different sounds that animals make.  I love the funny adjectives Murphy uses in this book which is a follow up to her book  A Kiss Like This!  A wonderful book for younger students – prepare yourself for a noisy read-aloud!Orangutangled

Orangutangled – Sudipta Bordham-Quallen

This book is simply a fun, frolicky, read-aloud!  Two hungry orangutans climb a tree for some mangoes and end up falling together in a sticky, goey mess.  Other animals try to help but end up getting tangled up as well.  The rhyming text works perfectly and I love the word play and the bright illustrations.  Another great read-aloud choice for the younger folk!

Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli

I am a big fan of Jerry Spinelli – Maniac Magee one of my favorite books to read to my class.  This one took me a while to get into – I was very confused at first and had to go back and reread several sections. I was once again amazed at his ability to weave characters we can identify with so well into a completely imaginative setting.  Hokey Pokey is an adult-less world of childhood and play – where kids play games, ride bikes, have adventures and follow the simple laws of the land.  Jack, the main character, experiences his world turn upside down when his beloved bike is stolen by a girl.  Without his bike, Jack feels lost and things start to go very wrong for him.  This book is reminiscent of Peter Pan – a boy who is struggling in the place between childhood and adolescence.   This story is unusual, it’s confusing in parts, and I’m still a little on the fence about it.  But it is certainly a book that is lingering in my thinking – a place where many great books have taken up residence.  I’d love to know what you think about it!

The Bear: A Novel

Bear – A Novel – Claire Cameron

This book is quite extraordinary.  It is written in first person, present tense in the voice of a 5 year old girl.  She and her brother are left alone to survive the elements after their parents are killed by a bear while out camping.  I was riveted by this story – many reminders of the child’s voice in ROOM.  I was also caught up by the emotional roller coaster of the story.  The description of the bear attack in the first 40 pages was completely terrifying – I had to stop reading it a few times.  While this book is considered an adult novel – I could really see it being read to a middle school class.  It is a story of survival and courage and I loved every moment of it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  What have you been reading lately?

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Seasons