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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Best Books for Building Class Community

Well… for many of us – tomorrow we head back to school to begin a new year.  These first few days and weeks are filled with many emotions, new routines, and, let’s face it – a fair share of chaos!  But nothing is more important in these first weeks than establishing your class community.  Creating a positive, welcoming, accepting place will help students feel more connected, empowered, and invested in learning.  Reading stories to your class and engaging in discussions is one of the best ways I know to begin this process.  While there are dozens to choose from, here are a few of my favorite picture books for building a positive learning environment in your class:

(Note:  This is not intended to be a list of “Back to School” books – which are really only shared during the first few DAYS of school.   This list is meant for sharing and discussing over the first few WEEKS of school, while you focus on building your classroom community.   For favorite “Back to School” books, see my post here.)

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!  If you are familiar with my “One Word” transform lesson – the one word I would use with this book is, of course, “Welcome”.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Another one of my favorite books by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson is about bullying – the subtle kind of bullying –  the ignoring and whispering and refusal to acknowledge someone. I think this kind of bullying can be the worst. This book is heart-breaking and poignant.   I love the metaphor of the stone making rippling waves in the water representing the effects of kindness upon others and the not so happy but very realistic ending.   Such an important story to share and talk about.

The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig

This powerful, heart-breaking story is one of my very favorites.  Brian is so quiet, he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.  LOVE!

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! Trudy Ludwig

From the amazing team who brought us “The Invisible Boy”, Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton’s new book “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!” is a must have for a first week read-aloud to help build your classroom community. Owen McPhee loves to talk… and talk and talk and talk! (connections, anyone?) But when he develops laryngitis one day, he discovers the the value of being a good listener. Wonderful depiction of the social dynamics of a busy classroom with a gentle message about the importance of listening. LOVE!

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

                                                 How to Be a Lion  Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  SUCH a great book for building classroom community!

I’m the Best! Lucy Cousins

Some children like to brag.  And while the line between being confident and being a “swagger-bragger” is often thin, it is an important distinction to discuss with your students.   This cheerful, humorous book is a wonderful way to spark that discussion.  Dog is “the best” at everything and likes to tell his friends all about his “amazingness”!  Eventually, his friends are tired of his bragging so they start a little bragging of their own, helping Dog realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of a “swagger-bragger”.   I love how this book gently shows how bragging impacts others.

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 yourself”

Do Unto Otters:  A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

Based on The Golden Rule, this book reminds young readers to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Simple message that being kind and using your manners will go a long way when interacting with other people.   Love the word play and puns and quirky, fun illustrations.

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices – Sally Derby

I love this unique look at the first day of school told through the voices of six diverse children, ranging in age from kindergarten to grade 5.  Each child tells the story of their first day of school, beginning with the night before where readers will see that even children who are older worry about school and who their teacher will be.  Excellent book for inferring, voice and point of view.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

This humorous tale of a bad sunflower seed who eventually turns good makes a great read-aloud for primary students.  Sunflower is a BAAAAAAAAAD seed!  How BAAAAAAAAD?  He cuts in line, lies, doesn’t listen, has no manners…the list goes on!   I like how this book explores how he got to be so bad as well as focusing on his transformation to the “good side”.   Expressive illustrations – lots of laughs but great message.

What if Everybody Did That? – Colleen M. Madde

A wonderful book for teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community – perfect for the beginning of the year.   What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick has simple, up-beat text,  colorful illustrations and gives a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

 This School Year will Be The BEST! – Kay Winters

Fantastic beginning of school read-a-loud. Great for starting the conversation about what students are nervous about, thinking about, and hoping to get from school.  Also a great anchor for writing about school goals and wishes for the new school year ahead.

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Be Where Your Feet Are! – Julia Cook

A simple, child-friendly book about mindfulness and creating a positive classroom environment.  Too often, our students are overbooked with school, homework, projects, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time and so much more.  The main character in this book is so focused on his band tryouts that he can not focus on anything else.  Mindfulness tips are included in the back of the book and would be great to kick off a class created list of ways students can work together to be present as individuals, supporting each other throughout the year.

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book for building class community?

 

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Filed under Class Community Building, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Summer Picture Book Picks 2018 (Part 2) Family, Friendship, and Inclusion

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

Well my intention of blogging more this summer has certainly not unfolded as planned!  But I have discovered I have only two speeds – Fast Forward and STOP!  And when I stop – I literally get nothing done!  But I’m enjoying the lazy (hot) days of summer immensely!  Here is my “Part 2” of some my favorite summer picture books.  This week I’m featuring books that focus on Family, Friendship and Inclusion – all themes and lessons you will find in my new book Powerful Understanding.  Enjoy and happy reading!

Drawn Together (Hyperion Picture Book (eBook)) by [Lê, Minh]

Drawn Together – Minh Le

Beautifully touching story celebrating the power of unspoken language and bridging the gap between ages, languages, and cultures.  A young boy and his aging grandfather can’t communicate due to a language barrier but eventually find a new way to communicate through drawing together.   Lots of connections here.  Stunning story… stunning illustrations.  I see award nominations coming for this one.

Islandborn – Junot Diaz

“Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”  A perfect book for exploring immigration, community, family, traditions and culture.  WOW!  Great book for sharing and making connections to family origins.  Bright, bursting illustrations.  LOVE!

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Who named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family?  These are questions I love to ask my students as we explore identity  (and the first lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) Alma has six names – each one connected to people in her family.   A perfect anchor for a lesson on exploring our names!

Funeral – Matt James

I love books that invite questions from the cover… “What’s a funeral?” …“Who died?”…  “Why do the kids look so happy when the book is called The Funeral?”  “Why are the letters in the title in different colors?”   A refreshing look at a “FUN-eral” of a beloved uncle – celebrating life rather than mourning death.  It’s simple, honest and affirming.   This one grew on me.

FRIENDSHIP

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Little Robot Alone – Patricia Maclachlan

Can’t ever miss reading a book by the great Patrica Maclachlan…  Little Robot Alone is a lovely story about a Robot who decides to use his creativity to make himself a friend – a robot dog!  Repetitive segments and sing-song elements make this a charming read-a-loud for Pre-K-Gr. 1.  Would be a great anchor for inviting students to create their own “friend”.   (Would also be a great anchor for my MMT school project – based on The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  See my blog post here.)

Hoot and Olive:  Brave Enough for Two – Jonathan D. Voss

Mix a little Goodnight Moon, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Night Gardner…. and you have this delightful story of two inseparable friends – a little girl and her stuffed Owl. Gorgeous, whimsical watercolor illustrations.  A tale of bravery, adventure and hope.  Love this one.  (I know I say that a lot but I really did love this one!)

Rescue and Jessica – A Life-Changing Friendship – Jessica Kensky

Written by two of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, this picture book is the true story of one of them and their service dog, Rescue.  But it is really the story about overcoming life’s challenges and the hope we find during times of overwhelming adversity.  I love the parallel stories of both Rescue, a dog that thought he would grow up to be a seeing eye dog, but life had a different responsibility for him and Jessica, a young girl whose life also turned out differently than she imagined. Together they rescue each other.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”

                                                       How to Be a Lion – Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  This is a great book for building classroom community.

                                               Niblet & Ralph –  Zachariah OHora

Two look-alike pet cats switch places in this humorous, sweet story of mistaken identity.  A little like “The Parent Trap” for cats!  Love the retro illustrations.  I like how, while the cats look alike, their owners slowly discover their differences.  Very sweet story.

Friendship is Like a Seesaw – Shona Innes

Great rhyming read-aloud for your younger students.  Sweet illustrations and gentle text explores friends at their best–sharing, laughing, and playing together–as well as friends who sometimes say hurtful things, leave others out, or get a bit bossy.  I love how the story introduces specific “friendship fix” strategies (another lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) like talking about our feelings, looking at our own friendship skills, or taking a break.  A great anchor book for talking about the ups and downs of friendships!  

INCLUSION 

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!

The Outlaw Nancy Vo

Wow.  This book is powerful, so powerful.  Set in the old west, it tells the story of an Outlaw who, after many years of terrorizing a town, disappears.  When he returns, years later, he must begin the long process of making amends.   While not really about inclusion, it is a story about forgiveness, acceptance and second chances.  Simple text but this is definitely going to be added to my list of Inferring books for intermediate students. Would make a great book to spark conversations about forgiveness.   Love the “old west” feel to the mixed-media illustrations.

We are All Dots:  A Big Plan for a Better World –  Giancarlo Macrì

If you attended any of my workshops this past spring, you will have heard me going on and on about this amazing, powerful picture book that introduces, in simple format, many important social issues.  Intended for an older audience, this book would stimulate great discussions about equality and diversity with older students.   SO many inferences can be made from the many different dot images.  This is one of my favorite books of 2018.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Diversity, Family, Friendship, Grief, Identity, immigration, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2018 Top Summer Picks for 9-12 yr olds (part 2)

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

Last week, my IMWAYR post featured some new middle grade novels that would make excellent choices for summer reading or end of the year read-alouds!  Turns out there were TOO MANY books to mention in one blog… so here is Part 2!

Heartseeker by Melinda Beatty

I actually haven’t read this first book in a debut series as it is not released until June 5th – but it’s certainly on my TBR summer list.  It’s getting a lot of great ARC reviews and I so like the concept behind this fantasy adventure about a girl named Only who can see lies.  When news of Only’s abilities reaches the king, he commands her to work for him to seek out traitors and corruption.  WOW!  Sounds like a winner!

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

So this book may sound a little weird and morbid – parents who work in a cadaver lab, a tiger kidnapping, talking severed heads… but with such an original plot line, and laugh-out-loud humour – I think it will appeal to many middle grade readers.  Fovea (whose name means eyeballs, by the way), is a 7th grader – embarrassed by her parents, mocked by her peers and without a single friend. She spends the summer working in her parent’s cadaver lab with a whole lot of body parts and in the process, discovers herself, some new friends and a new “embrace the moment” approach to life.  Perhaps not for everyone – but would certainly appeal to middle grade readers (Gr. 6-7 range) who enjoy this type of “screw-ball comedy” and the “ickier” side of things!

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Another book I have on my MUST READ this summer (not released until mid July but I have my pre-order in!) is this scary (but apparently not too scary!) re-telling of The Arabian Knights that sounds like a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s books and Grimm’s fairy tales.  It is the story of Alex, a monster-loving boy, who finds himself trapped in a magical apartment building.  In order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night.  Sounds Ah-Mazing!

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea – Lynne Rae Perkins

A charming, breezy read – perfect for summer!  A family with two young girls goes on vacation, spending a week on the ocean.  No huge dramas, life-threatening crises, or earth shattering issues – but a heart-warming celebration of small moments.  Walking on the beach, feeling the ocean waves for the first time, sand castles with different kinds of bucket mixtures, imaginative play, a new friend, horseshoe crabs and learning to be brave.  Sweet but not fluffy.  Love the addition of some wonderful illustrations!  This is the kind of book I would have LOVED when I was in grade 6 or 7 – and I love it now!

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe –  Jo Watson Hackl

A charming coming-of-age story – this one with an endearing protagonist, lots of adventure and an added suspense, mystery and a treasure hunt.  I was hooked right away with the authentic voice of Cricket – a young girl dealing with the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother.  Cricket’s adventures are driven by a longing to heal her family and are filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.   Lots of life lessons in this one that will leave you filled with sadness, hope and love.

Where the Watermelons Grow – Cindy Baldwin 

WOW – a beautifully written, moving, sensitive story about families living with mental illness.  Gorgeous writing with wonderful descriptions of the charming characters in a small southern town and the sticky summer heat.   My heart ached for Della and her concern about her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia.  The author does not shy away from difficult, important issues that we often have no control over.  A wonderful, heart-wrenching story filled with hardships and harsh realities, yet also filled with love and hope.  Likely this would be more suited for older middle grades and even teen readers.  I recommend a box of Kleenex and a fresh watermelon close by – I started craving one while I was reading!

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

I was excited to read this second book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newberry for her book Hello, Universe.  She focuses on similar themes in this book – family stress, bullying and friendships.  Charlotte and Ben are two middle school students who connect through an online Scrabble game.  Their new friendship becomes invaluable as the chaos in each of their lives begin to spin out of control.   I enjoyed the alternating chapters that focus on the scenarios in each child’s life.   A great story about the importance of connecting with others for helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs.

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Breakout – Kate Messner

A group of young students everyday lives are turned upside down when two inmates escape from the local prison.  This compelling story about prejudice and racism in a small town was inspired by the escape and subsequent search of two prisoners from the Clinton NY correctional facility in 2015.  Written in a very unique format depicting multiple points of view told through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, newspaper articles and poetry.  Even though it is 400 pages, the format makes it a surprisingly fast read.  I really like how Kate Messner weaves important and current themes into her books and believe this one will spark many thoughtful and reflective conversations.

Sunny – Jason Reynolds

Sunny is the 3rd book in Jason Reynold’s popular Track series.  This book follows 12-year-old Sunny Lancaster, the #1 middle distance runner of the Defenders whose mother died the day he was born.  Sunny’s story is very different than  Ghost or Patina.  It is told in a series diary entries Sunny keeps to help control all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in his head.  It becomes clear through the stream of consciousness entries that Sunny’s brain doesn’t process things like other kids – he jumps from thought to thought, from subject to subject, rhyming and playing with words.  Sunny’s story is so authentic, so sad, so full of hope – I think it is my favorite in the series.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Charming story about overcoming obstacles and finding your place in the world.  Twelve year old Lucy was unharmed after she was struck by lightning strike four years ago.  But it left her with some compulsive behaviors and somewhat of a mathematical savant, making navigating, fitting in, and being accepted in middle school very challenging.  So much to love about this book… the short chapters make easy reading, great character conversations, very “connectable”,  lots of math and STEM connections, and love the dog!!!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found one or two titles that caught your eye!

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Celebrate Earth Day With Great Books!

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

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth.   While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet – April Pulley Sayre

WOW!  This amazing new  book is filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text – perfect for reading aloud.  A “Thank you” letter to the earth, celebrating all of the wonderful creatures of natural wonders.  The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment.  I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking.  Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry.

Giving Thanks Jonathon London

I love this book and have previously shared it at Thanksgiving.  On a walk through the forest, a young boy learns from his father how to show gratitude for all the beauty he sees.   His father thanks the earth, sky, frogs, crickets, hawk and deer, the trees and the mushrooms.  The boy feels embarrassed by his father’s ritual of thanking everything he sees, but after trying it himself, realizes the power of gratitude.  Gorgeous fall painting illustrations by Gregory Manchess.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem Linda Glaser

Beautiful and inspiring.  Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care.  This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.

 

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh

I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school.  This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help.  From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment.   I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing.  It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.

My Green Day Melanie Walsh

A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.   Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment.  Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference.  Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!

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What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!)  I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.

What Matters – Alison Hughes

Great new book for Earth Day!  This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track.  Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city.  By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places.  I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it.  If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not!”

Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment.  Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment.  A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

This book was published in 1986 but it’s message will never be outdated.  A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story!  This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students.  (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)

 

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever –  H. Joseph Hopkins

This is a beautiful picture book biography of Kate Sessions, the woman who transformed dry San Diego into a beautiful, tree-covered city.  Lots of text-to-text connections to Miss Rumphius!  A passionate, inspiring celebration of nature.  Gorgeous illustrations.

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – Miranda Paul

This is the true story of a Gambian woman who was troubled by the plastic garbage bags littering her community. Not only did the bags make an ugly mess, but they also caused illness and death among people and livestock. Isatou and other women cleaned the plastic bags and recycled them into plastic purses. Such a great book!

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The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green.  Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.  Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes.   Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Earth Day, environment, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books

It’s Monday- What Are You Reading? Spring into Third Term with New Books (part 2)

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

Last week, I posted Part 1 of my “Spring into Third Term” book collection and this week, I’m excited to continue with Part 2!  Lots of great books in this list – from global warming, to Earth day, to celebrating imagination and creativity… there is sure to be a book for you and your class here!


Sometimes You Fly – Katherine Applegate

“Remember then with every try, sometimes you fail. Sometimes you fly. What matters most is what you take from all you learn.”   And there lies the premise of this stunning new picture book by the amazing Katherine Applegate (One and Only Ivan, Crenshaw, Wishtree).  Whimsical illustrations and perfect examples of how learning from mistakes will lead to great accomplishments.  Would make a perfect gift for graduations, baby shower, first birthday.  LOVE this one!

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I Love My Purse – Belle DeMont

A great book to start conversations with younger students about celebrating individual choices and moving beyond “boys” and “girls” stereotypes.  Charlie loves his purse and brings it to school one day.  Despite the objection of others, he remains steadfast in his “purse love” and eventually influences others to tap into what they love as well, be it make-up, shirts or sparkly shoes. Wonderfully illustrated by Sonja Wimmer.

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What Matters – Alison Hughes

If you are looking for a new book for Earth Day... look no further!  (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!)   A wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better.  I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of  the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

Harry and Walter – Kathy Stinson

Endearing inter-generational tale of a wonderful, unusual friendship between Harry, who is 4 3/4, and Walter, who is 92 1/2. They live next-door and do all kinds of things together –  ride their tractors, grow and eat tomatoes, and play croquet.  Then, Harry has to move. This is a heartwarming story of friendship and the importance of elders in our lives. Whimsical illustrations by Qin Leng.  This book actually came out last summer.  I love Kathy Stinson and can’t believe I missed this book!

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My Wounded Island – Jacques Pasquet

This book, originally published in French, is a heartbreaking story of a northern island slowly disappearing into the sea and introduces the concept of “climate refugees” to young readers (and to me!)  Beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated.  Would make an excellent introduction to a unit on climate change or northern indigenous cultures.  I also like the use of metaphor:”the beast” in the story is actually global warming.

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On Our Street – Our First Talk About Poverty Dr. Jillian Roberts

A gentle, honest book answering a series of questions about homelessness and different types of poverty.  I really liked the mix of real pictures and illustrations,  helping to make the information understandable and easy to relate to.  I also enjoyed the addition of quotes.  Not a book a child would necessarily pick up and read on their own, but definitely an excellent book to share and spark a class discussion.

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When Sophie Thinks She Can’t... – Molly Bang

While I have used When Sophie Gets Angry- Really, Really Angry many times for making connections to managing feelings and emotions, this new “Sophie” book is the perfect anchor for introducing the concepts of “Fixed” and “Growth” mindsets to your students, as well as problem solving and perseverance.  Would also be a great Math read-aloud as  Sophie is frustrated with tangram puzzles.

Picture the Sky – Barbara Reid

The sky tells many stories: in the weather, in the clouds, in the stars, in the imagination. This book inspires us all to look up…. way up… and see and think about the sky in a different way.   A perfect anchor book for spring, for art and for sharing and writing stories of the sky.   I am a huge fan of Barbara Reid’s work and her brilliant Plasticine illustrations.   A perfect companion to her book Picture a Tree.

What If – Samantha Berger

WOW!  This is a stunning book about creativity, imagination, and believing in yourself.  Gorgeous mixed media illustrations.  Inspires, empowers and encourages the creative spirit in all of us.   Great end papers and notes from the author about how she was inspired to write this book.  LOVE this one!  (Release date is April 10th)

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The Big Bed – Bunmi Laditan

Humorous picture book about a girl who doesn’t want to sleep in her little bed, so she comes up with a plan to get her dad out of her parent’s bed in order to move in herself.  This would make a great anchor book for problem solving and persuasive writing as the little girl identifies the issue, researches it, and creates a very persuasive presentation of possible solutions.  Any parent who has struggled with their kids’ sleeping arrangements will make LOTS of connections but wondered, at times, if parents would connect more than kids!

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The Pomegranate Witch – Denise Doyen

I really enjoyed this eerie tale told with lovely, lyrical text with wonderful word play, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.  Five children plan to storm the wall and steal some pomegranates from a tree guarded by a witch.  A great fall read-aloud and not-so-scary choice for leading up to Halloween.  Gorgeous illustrations by Eliza Wheeler.

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Grains of Sand – Sibylle Delacroix

If grains of sand were seeds, what kinds of things would they grow into if you threw them in your garden? Ice cream? Pinwheels?    This is a short, sweet story of a boy and girl who bring sand home from the beach in their shoes, and then wonder what would happen if they planted it.  A perfect anchor book for inspiring “imagination pocket” writing!  Love the simple black and white images with splashes of blue and yellow.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope one or two titles caught your eye!

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Creating, Earth Day, environment, Friendship, Growth Mindset, Immagination, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Poverty

It’s Monday- What Are You Reading? Spring into Third Term with New Books (part 1)

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

With Spring Break quickly coming to an end and third term quickly approaching, I thought I would focus my IMWAYR post on some new releases for sharing in your class this spring.   There are too many to include in one post so look for Part 2 next week!

Florette – Anna Walker

Loved this whimsical and wonderfully illustrated book of a young girl who searches for a way to bring the green life of her country garden to the new city she just moved to. Simple, elegant text.  Great for making connections to change, adjusting to change and urban gardens.

Harry’s Hiccups – Jean Little

Lots of connections and plenty of giggles will emerge from this laugh-out-loud story by the amazing Jean Little.  Vibrant, colourful illustrations and a surprise ending make this a must share read-aloud.

Buttercup’s Lovely Day – Carolyn Beck

A day in the life of a grateful-for-the-simple-things-cow named Buttercup.  With lyrical, rhyming prose, Buttercup takes us through her day describing everything she loves about being a cow and the world around her. Gorgeous and bright illustrations. A great anchor book for inspiring writing about life’s simple pleasures.

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest – Sarah Hampson

Pigeons unite!  When the pigeons in the city feel disrespected, they decide to stage a protest and disappear until the people acknowledge their importance and decide to treat them with kindness (in exchange for less bird droppings on their heads).  Lovely watercolor illustrations by Kass Reiss.  I liked the historical background about the relationship between people and pigeons. This book is longer so I would definitely use it with middle grades to prompt discussions about protests, getting along and respecting others.

I Walk With Vanessa – A story about a simple act of kindness – Kerascoet

Looking for a new book about bullying, empathy and kindness?  Here it is!  This is a simple, powerful wordless picture book about being the new kid, bullying, stepping up and not being a bystander, and simple acts of kindness that can make a difference.  Based on true events.  I love this book and perfect for inferring and making connections.

Wordy Birdy – Tammi Sauer

Wordy Birdy loves words and she talks – A LOT!  Hilarious, fun, fast-paced read-aloud (you have to talk really fast when you read it!) with an important message about the importance of listening.  I really loved Birdy’s friends – Squirrel, Rabbit and Raccoon. Even though she annoys them and can’t be quiet, they are extremely patient and tolerant of their friend.  Large, colorful illustrations and great speech bubbles give it a graphic novel feel.

Elmore – Holly Hobbie

Holly Hobbie, author of the Toot and Puddle series, has created another adorable character in Elmore.  Elmore is a happy porcupine who longs for a friend.  So he put up a sign on a tree saying “Friends Wanted.” But then he overheard the other animals talking about how prickly he is.  Endearing story about making the most out of your circumstances, loving yourself, and different forms of friendship.  Expressive illustrations will prompt many collective “Awwwww’s” from your class!

I Am Enough Grace Byers

An affirming celebration of all sides of us – the hard and soft, the peaceful and wild, the right-side-up and the upside-down. This book is an invitation for every girl (child) to be herself and love herself, while honoring her differences from others. I love the positive message it sends all us and reminds us to be kind to each other and that we all have a special place in the world.  Lovely song-like rhythm and lively illustrations.

If I Had a Little Dream – Nina Laden

Beautiful folk-like art in this book about appreciating the world, through the eyes of a child.  A wonderful celebration of the wonder of the world – the joy, love, and beauty that is part of each and every day.  Rhyming text, this book is intended for the younger readers and would make a wonderful anchor book for K-2 to inspire writing and drawing about things in the world we are grateful for.

Be Kind – Pat Zietlow Miller

What does kindness look like?  This thoughtful, introspective look at what it means to be kind and empathetic toward others, from the viewpoint of a child.  This is definitely one of my new 2018 favorites because it’s such a fresh look on kindness.  I leave you with these three words:  SHARE THIS BOOK!

Ebb and Flow – Heather Smith

One summer,
after a long plane ride
and a rotten bad year
I went to Grandma Jo’s.
It was my mother’s idea.
Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.
I think she needed a change of scenery, too.
One without me.
Because that rotten bad year?
That was my fault.

And so begins this poignant story, in free verse, about 11 yr. old Jett who has made a terrible mistake and is spending the summer with his Grandmother in Newfoundland to get some perspective and hopefully forgive himself.  Fresh, engaging voice – this is a lovely, sad, ultimately hopeful story.   I was surprised by how captivating and emotional I felt reading this book.  Would appeal to both reluctant and avid readers, as well as make a great read-aloud for middle grades with an opportunity for classroom discussions about empathy, resilience, courage, and responsibility.  I loved Jett’s voice and fact that the reader does not know the mistake he has made until well into the story, leaving space for questioning, predicting and inferring.  Surprisingly powerful read.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book that caught your eye!

Watch for New Picture Books for Spring – Part 2 next week!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Kindness, New Books, Picture Book

IMWAYR – Lunch in a Book Store and New Picture Books

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

Earlier this week, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  Yesterday, we spent the day in Fort Langley – a lovely little town about 40 minutes drive away from our home in Vancouver.  It’s a delightful place to spend an afternoon mooching around in the bakeries, books stores and gift stores.  My favorite place to visit there is Wendel’s Book Store and Cafe.  Delicious fresh food and a wonderful collection of books, cards and stationary.  It’s always crowded, but while you wait for your food… you can do a little book browsing (and sniffing!)  What fun!  I highly recommend a visit!

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Wendel’s Books and Cafe – Fort Langley, BC

We also visited a great local winery called Chaberton Estates.  After some wine tasting, we sat outside in the sunshine and toasted our anniversary with some delicious Sauvignon Blanc.  Yum!

I found my way to the children’s section (in the book store – not the winery!), parked my adult largeness in the smallness of a tiny blue wooden chair with a pile of brand new 2018 picture books. And here they are….

                           The New LiBEARian – Alison Donald

A celebration of libraries and reading – and oh, I love this book!  Adorable picture book about a library where the characters refuse to stay in their books and a librarian who has mysteriously disappeared!   The pictures perfectly capture the magic of libraries and stories and would be great for a library story time or as an anchor for fractured fairy tales.

Dear Girl, – Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal

Dear Girl,
This book is for you.
Wonderful, smart, beautiful you.
If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved.
Amy and Paris

I must admit I got a bit teary when I saw this book, co-written by the late, great Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter, Paris.  Each page of this book is filled with tenderness and goodness. Each page is a celebration of daughters of every kind and an encouragement to young girls to find their own way in discovering what makes them wonderful, smart, and beautiful.  This is a must have book and the perfect birthday or graduation present.  Amy’s gift and legacy lives on.

What Do You Do With A Chance? Kobi Yamada

Follow-up to the award winning What Do You With A Problem? and What Do You Do With an Idea?, Kobi Yamada has given readers another charming book in the series.  This one is an empowering, inspirational story about not letting fear hold you back and the possibilities that await you if you are brave enough to take a chance.  Another great gift for graduation (How can you tell I have a son who will soon be graduating???)  Lovely pencil and watercolor illustrations.

Lola Dutch Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright

Lola Dutch is a spunky, sassy gal bursting with creative ideas, imagination and joy.  I love how passionate Lola is about making everyday things fancy and extravagant.  Delightful book with rhyming text and colorful, playful illustrations.  Perfect to inspire creativity and imagination!  So be like Lola – put that Ipad down and grab some glitter and glue!   This would be a great book to inspire some Maker Space projects!

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                                         My Pillow Keeps Moving!  – Laura Gehl

I laughed out loud when I read this adorable book by Laura Gehl.  A lonely man tries to buy a pillow . . . and ends up with a new best friend.  Doggy impersonates everything the lonely man needs–a pillow, a footstool, a jacket. But in the end, just being her sweet self is what the man needs most.  This a perfect book for teaching inferring to your primary students – few words and delightful, story-telling illustrations.  Lots of belly laughs with this one!

The Boy and the Blue Moon by [O'Leary, Sara]                                       The Boy and the Blue Moon – Sara O’Leary

Shhhhhh….. there is magic between these pages.  Start with a little boy and a cat on a nighttime adventure…Sprinkle a little touch of Where the Wild Things Are, Owl Moon, and The Little Prince... weave together some facts about phases of the moon, the solar system and dreams.  Oh… and don’t forget some spectacular illustrations.  What can I say?  Sara O’Leary (A Family is a Family is a Family, This is Sadie) continues to create these whimsical, magical books that beg to be shared.  And this one just might be my favorite.

Marigold and Daisy – Andrea Zuill

Hilarious new sibling book and a great one for helping young children with the sometimes challenging transition of welcoming a new baby into the family.  Easy read-aloud with simple text and a cute twist.

Reading Beauty Kimberly Long Cockroft

WOW!  So SO LOVE this whimsical, creative twisted fairy tale with its message that even the most reluctant reader can find a book that will capture them!  Friends Ellie and Gabe are imaginative and creative but they do NOT like to read. During Library-time at their school, they hide under a potted plant and chew gum instead of reading.  “Reading is boring,” Ellie tells the librarian Ms. Molly.  But book-loving Ms. Molly is no ordinary librarian and she casts a spell on Ellie, putting her into a “deep read”.  Deeper and deeper Ellie falls under the enchanted spell of books.  How good is this book?  Can you stand it?  This is one of those books that makes me think, “Why didn’t I write this?”

anniversary winery

Cheers to great book stores, new picture books and drinking wine in the sunshine!

                                                            Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under 2018 releases, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book