Tag Archives: Nancy Carlson

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? “How To” Books for “How To” Writing


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

Sometimes the discovery of a new book leads me to making many connections to other books and that sparks me to want to make a new blog post!  Such is the case for this week’s post – focusing on books written as “How To’s”, inspired by the new book The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog by Paul B. Janeczko.

One of the tendencies for students writing instructions is including too many words:  “First, you have to ….”  When teaching “How To” Writing – I tell students to follow the S.A.D. FormulaSequence word, Action word, Detail.  For example, First, (sequence word) squeeze (action word) a little toothpaste on the bristles (detail).  If you don’t follow the S.A.D. formula, your reader will be SAD because they won’t know what to do!

While it is important to learn how to write realistic “how to’s”, I also love to invite students to add a little creativity and imagination to their instructional writing.  The following are books to inspire creative “How To” writing.

Image result for the proper way to meet a hedgehog

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog Paul B. Janeczko

This delightful collection of “How To” poems, from practical (how to mix a pancake or how to bird-watch) or fanciful (how to scare monsters or how to be a snowflake) are written by a collection of amazing writers including Kwame Alexander, Ralph Fletcher, Karla Kushkin, and Douglas Florian.   There is creativity, gratitude, and joy in these poems and the soft, watercolor illustrations make it delightful to look at.  Love this brand new book!


How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps Nicola Winstanley

Laugh out loud, hilarious new “how to” book features a little girl, a know-it-all narrator, and a cat who refuses to take a bath.  This book will have your students cracking up and would inspire a lot of funny “how to’s” in your class!

How To Be – Lisa Brown

I LOVE this charming book and have used it as an anchor book for many writing lessons.  Simple instructions on how to be various animals, written in a clear “how to” format.  Added clever bonus is that it doubles as instructions on how to be a person – brave, clever, friendly, curious, and charming.  Delightful illustrations.

Writing Idea – students write about an animal they researched in a “how to” instructions format.  Include diet, habitat, behavior, special skills, enemies and a human character trait.

Live___________,  Eat____________,  Catch _________________,  Fly______________, Swim_______________, Beware___________, Be _________________  and _______________________

How to lose your friends

How To Lose All Your Friends – Nancy Carlson

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek “how to” guide to loosing your friends.  Lots of connections to the child-like behaviors Carlson describes:”Be a bad sport – When someone touches you playing tag, lie and say they missed” (LOL!)  This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year.  I like to have the class ‘re-write” the instructions, focusing on positive behaviors –  “How to Keep Your Friends”.

how to read a story

How to Read a Story – Kate Messner

Step One: Find a story. (A good one.)
Step Two: Find a reading buddy. (Someone nice.)
Step Three: Find a reading spot. (Couches are cozy.)
Now: Begin.

Delightful book to encourage reading and sharing, with the steps on how to read a book to a friend.  Simple but effective reminders to use expression, make predictions and read with feeling.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle Chris Raschka

A young girl provides step by step instructions to learn to ride a bicycle…complete with some falls and lots of practice and determination…but ultimately with success!
Could be used to discuss determination or to discuss growth mindset.  Signature Chris Raschka watercolor illustrations.

The Astronaut Handbook – Meghan McCarthy

Delightful guide to becoming an astronaut.  Interesting and entertaining, full of fascinating facts and adorable illustrations. (Kids are particularly fascinated by bathroom instructions!)  Back notes provide more detailed information about space life.  Fun read-aloud and great anchor for writing “How To Become” with different occupations.

things to do

Things to Do – Elaine Magliaro

 Things to Do If You Are A Honeybee

    Flit among flowers

    Sip nectar for hours

    Be yellow and fuzzy.

    Stay busy.  Be buzzy. 

I remember being surprised by how much I loved this book when I first read it.  Whimsical  illustrations and gorgeous, rhyming text.  This book is really a collection of poems focusing on the small moments and secret joys of a child’s day, including animals and insects they encounter.  This book is delightful invitation to write!

eddie ready

Eddie Gets Ready for School David Milgrim

Morning routines are different for everyone, including Eddie!  While Eddie’s check-list says one thing, the illustrations tell a different story!  Fun read aloud and perfect anchor book for younger writers to write their own “How to Get Ready for School” (or hockey practice, swimming lessons, soccer game) instructions.

How to Teach a Slug to Read – Susan Pearson

Clever, witty, delightful, useful and engaging – full of practical advice for teaching slugs (and human kids) to read.  Adorable illustrations and hilarious “sluggish” titles and slug-related stories (think Little Miss Muffet with a slug instead of a spider!)


How to Make Friends with a Ghost – Rebecca Green

A great book to share at Halloween but with a universal story of friendship and kindness, it could be read anytime.  A whimsical story about ghost care, this story is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and written in lovely “how to” format.

How to Read a Book – Kwame Alexander

This book will not be released until June, but I’m so excited about it, I just had to include it!  Created by the dream team of extraordinary poet Kwame Alexander and collage-style illustrations of Melissa Sweet –  this ode to reading is a must have for me!  “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, put your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”   Squeeeee, can you stand it?

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


Filed under 2019 releases, How To Writing, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Book Month Celebration Begins!


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

It’s November and that means it’s time to celebrate Picture books!  November is Picture Book Month and I’m planning on sharing LOTS of picture books with you!  Today is my first of what I hope to be many posts this month as I celebrate my favorite thing!

“Some collect purses, some collect shoes,

some collect hats and trading cards too.

Some collect cars and some collect tools

I collect picture books.  To me, they are jewels!”

I just made that up!

So here are the picture books I’ve read recently…

How to Bake a Book

How to Bake a Book – Ella Burfoot

How do you write a perfect story? This book has the recipe which includes….a pinch of good, a dash of bad, some big words, and carefully cut out characters! A playful picture book with rhyming text outlines what goes into the writing process. I don’t usually love rhyming texts but this one was fun and didn’t feel forced.  Cheerful and playful illustrations with great references to story elements and word choice. A great book to share at Writer’s Workshop!


Sometimes You Barf

Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

After stuffing your with Halloween candy – I think many children might be able to make CONNECTIONS to this book!  Hard to believe that a book about barfing could actually be cute but Nancy Carlson manages to take the gross factor away from the topic of vomiting and make you giggle!  “If you are going to barf at school, make sure you do it on your Math Test!”    Nancy Carlson’s message is simple:  Everyone, including people and animals get sick and then you get over it.  The text is simple and straight to the point and the charming illustrations are not over the top or gross.  Funny and a great book to have on hand at school… just in case!

The New Kid

The New Kid – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend.  This is a wonderful book with a great message  about acceptance and friendship without being too “teacherish”.  It just so happens that I have a new student starting tomorrow in my class and this is the book I will be sharing!  Soft, gentle illustrations – this book is charming. 


Why? – Tracey Corderoy

I love books that celebrate questions !  Otto is a curious rhino who wants to know everything!  “Why does toast make crumbs?  Why is milk splashy?”   His parents decide that a trip to the museum might be just the thing.  But Otto has even MORE questions than ever!  Delightful!

Any Questions?

Any Questions? – Marie-Louise Gay

Speaking of asking questions… where do stories come from?  In this extraordinary new book by the author of the Stella books, Marie-Louise Gay takes her readers on a journey of writing process – from topic choice, to word choice, from developing characters and plot to finding the perfect ending.  This book is a celebration of the creative process, of asking questions and of sharing stories.  I loved the way she includes the actual story within her story  – while taking us through the process through her own voice.  Whimsical illustrations and detailed features – this book is one to savor.

Hunters of the Great Forest

Hunters of the Great Forest – Dennis Nolan

I love wordless picture books and often use them to help young readers understand the strategy of inferring. In Hunters of the Great Forest , a fantastic new wordless story, we follow a band of curiously tiny hunters as they embark on a journey full of adventure and danger.   This book is filled with small details and many surprises!  You have to look carefully at the illustrations or you will miss something!  This book is charming  and clever – and perfect for inferring, questioning and predicting!   LOVE it! 

Before After

Before After – Mathias Arigui

Another clever and surprising wordless picture book.  This book takes objects, landscapes, animals, situations and presents them in their “Before After” states. Appealing, simple, graphic illustrations  – the colors pop off the black page.  While you might predict that an acorn grows into an oak tree or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, you will be surprised to discover the “afters” of some of the other examples in the book.  I was hooked on page 1 – this book is beautiful!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book(s) caught your eye?


Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, wordless