Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Oh, how I love my class! I love the talk, the writing, the words, the questions . . . All of it.

I celebrate this long and winding conversation with my students:

Me: “I’m so excited I’m going to see an author/illustrator this weekend!”

A student: “Do we know who it is?”

Me: Gives various clues

Eventually . . . .

Various students: “Marie-Louise Gay!”

Me: “Yes. I hope to get her new book signed at the author breakfast I am going to.”

A student: “Signed to us right?”

Me: “Of course.”

A student: “Do you know Elise Gravel or are we just writing to her?

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Me: “We are getting to know her. She’ll know you better after we send our letters and fan art.”

A student: “Did you send them already?”

Me: “Well, we are still working on everything. I will send it this weekend when we finish.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Why don’t you just tweet it all?”

Me: “I have sent her some photos. But, I think she will like getting the package in the mail.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Do you know Katherine Applegate?

Me: “We know her work but no, I haven’t met her.”

A student: “Go meet her. You should. And tell her about how we love her books.”

Me: “I shared some of our letters in a blog post and tweeted it to her. So she knows we love them.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “But you are going to meet Kate DiCamillo right?

Another student: “Can we come?”

Me: “I am going to a conference in the spring and she will be speaking. I will get our copy of Flora & Ulysses signed.”

A student: “You forgot The Illuminated Adventures part”

A student: “And you just met Raina Telgemeier right?”

Me: “Yes, and she signed books to our class. People are reading them right now.”

Many students: “I am.” “And then me.” “I’m next!” “Me!”

A student: “So, who are you going to meet next? Someone we like right?”

:-)

I also celebrate this – – > The lovely Miriam who works with me created these sheets and plastered the room and the school. In our room, we were gifting these words to each other with messages. I received “wisdom” with a comment from one child, “You are always really smart to us.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

One of our little learners was inspired and made her own. We found it outside our room at the end of the day – taped up in the hallway.

Pass it on. 

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Conversations about authors and illustrators. Book love. Words with weight. These things I celebrate.

Thank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.

celebrate-link-up

Dear Ivan

Last year I read my class Katherine Applegate‘s The One and Only Ivan. We fell in love. Ivan’s words (via Katherine) and his story had such an impact. When I heard that there was a picture book to be published in the fall written by Katherine and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, I showed my students the book trailer. Well, . . .

“You have to buy that book!”

“Will you read it to us?”

“Even if we aren’t in your class?”

“Promise?!”

This year I have been able to keep 80% of the students I had last year – looping a Grade 2/3/4 into a 3/4. When Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas was released, I made a special trip to the bookstore. I read this gorgeous picture book to my students multiple times. We have certain lines memorized.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

We then watched the video of Ivan in the shopping mall that I found on Mr. Schu’s blog.

Some of us cried. We read the story again. We started writing letters to Ivan. I showed the children a video of Ivan at Zoo Atlanta. We watched it more than once. We added to our letters.

Yes, we know that Ivan passed away in 2012. But Ivan has sat with us in our room. He has made us laugh and made us pause. We have sat in silences thinking. He has been our hero and we have wanted to protect him. His story has prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

Writing to him felt like the right thing to do. Reading the letters later? Well, wow. It was certainly the right thing to do.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

Portions of my students’ letters:

Ava writes:

Dear Ivan: I wish I could actually see you in real life and your silver back. I’m sorry that you spent 27 years in a shopping mall all alone.

Noella writes:

Dear Ivan: Were you sad in the shopping mall? Was your cage rusty? Were you sad for your sister? Were you happy in the zoo?

From Andrew:

Ivan, what did the zoo feel like? How much did you eat? What did you feel like when you first went to the zoo? How did it feel to be trapped in a cage? How dark was your cage? How did it feel to have no one to protect? How did it feel to be lonely?

From Rebecca:

Dear Ivan: I really liked your painting Ivan. I am so sorry for your sister. You were so smart Ivan. I am impressed of the things that you do. I am happy that you are in a zoo. I am happy for your freedom.

Jorja writes:

Dear Ivan: Your cage was grey and the jungle was green. There were other gorillas and you looked happy. You looked happy in the zoo too. You looked calm and relaxed. I was sad when you died.

From Kevin:

Dear Ivan: I know you’re gone but we still have your books. I felt sad when you were in the shopping mall because it was dark and there were no friends and no love. There should have been grass and gorillas to play.

Brian writes:

Dear Ivan: I feel really sad for you and I really want to see you face to face. When I miss you, I get really emotional and I hope you were happy when you were in the zoo. When you were in your cage you felt empty inside and you need compassion and love. I’m really sorry for your sister Tag. You looked all majestic with your big black coat at the zoo. You were looking at the world instead of people looking at you. I love you Ivan

From Gracie:

Dear Ivan: I didn’t realize how empty and alone it was in your cage until I watched the real video. I love art and I wanna be an artist. You’re the most interesting and fantastic artist I’ve ever seen. I hope you had a good life Ivan. When I watched you at the zoo, I was filled with joy. Here’s what I saw: You looking around like you were impressed with the world. I know that it is hard to read a gorilla’s emotions but I bet you were very happy. Did you think you wasted your life or did you know you were gonna live happy every after?

Even though this post doesn’t talk in detail about this gorgeous nonfiction picture book by Katherine Applegate and G. Brian Karas, I hope it calls to you (if you have yet to read it) to experience Ivan’s story. Then, of course, find someone to read it to. This story is meant to be shared.

NFPB 2014

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!

Fall Update: #MustReadin2014

I have been sitting at 20/30 titles read on my #MustReadin2014 list for so long that I thought I had read nothing since the summer update in July. This morning I finished a book on the list which brings me to 21/30 titles read so I thought, hurrah! I can list one book. But then I realized I have actually read four novels from this list. Wow!

must read in 2014 challenge

What have I read since the beginning of July?

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer  (Read July 5th, 2014) YA novel 4 stars

I am fully captivated by these Lunar Chronicles stories even though I never thought I was going to be. I read Cinder on a whim and was hooked. I particularly love how all of the characters from previous books still play starring roles in the ongoing storylines. Dramatic, suspenseful, interesting characters. Great YA fantasy!

 Cress Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner  (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Should have been just so sad but somehow this title was light and full of hope. Truly beautifully done -this is the YA fiction I want my daughter to read as a teen. Easily one of my favourite YA titles of 2014. I loved the vulnerability in the characters, the exploration of grief, the superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

We were Liars by E. Lockhart (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Eerie. Haunting. Painful. Beautiful. Captures family dynamics – holding these messy aspects up in all of their raw and real glory. If you have read this book, you know, it isn’t possible to write details that aren’t spoilers.

 We Were Liars Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

After Iris by Natasha Farrant (Read October 13th, 2014) MG novel 5 stars

I so loved this book – I am a fan of the chaos, eccentricities and love in this Gadsby family. But whoa, these parents . . . I gave my children extra attentive hugs today in response!

 After Iris Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

How is your To Be Read list treating you? I am excited still to tackle the rest of my list while I still do other reading. However, I can already predict that I might not get to two titles on my list. One, because I just can’t lay hands on it. And the other? Every time I do pick it up from the library, I end up returning it unread. Hmm . . . But I won’t call it yet.

I think it is interesting that certain books call to us at certain times. Some of my #MustReadin2014 titles sit on my bookshelf staring at me and I keep passing them by and reach for other books. It’s not that I don’t want to read them. I just don’t want to read them now. And then the mood hits . . . :-)

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, link up below and share on twitter using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag! Please note that you need to click on the link below and it will take you to another page.

Want to know more about #MustReadin2014? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Monday October 13th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next :-)

I read some beautiful picture books this week, including many nonfiction titles:

Silence by Lemniscates (an illustration studio of artists and designers)

The perfect title to encourage us to embrace quiet and be mindful of what we hear and sense. I think this is an ideal book to inspire a walk outside to find a quiet spot to just be still and notice. A gorgeous title gifted to my classroom by the magical Kim Balke who does Expressive Art Therapy with many of my students.

Silence #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Quest by Aaron Becker

I was so excited to open this book and just experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.

Quest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Jenkins and Page always introduce us to the most unique creatures and impart the most interesting of facts. The perfect book to read a page or two at a time. The format is engaging – each animal is introduced with a mini letter/question and answer.

“Dear Pufferfish: You’ve got me worried – are you going to explode?”

“No, I won’t burst. I’ve inflated my body . . . “

Creature Features #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

The Rat by Elise Gravel

I think I might have heard this title shared between children about twenty times this week. There are many giggles about the yucky eating habits and its tail which serves a multitude of purposes.

The Rat #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

The Slug by Elise Gravel

More silly and more gross but lots to learn and ponder. My students adore this series. We are in the middle of some “fan art” to send to Elise Gravel :-)

the slug #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

I have continued reading a number of early/young chapter books as I am interested in introducing a number of new series to some of my readers just getting comfortable with chapter books.

Humphrey’s Tiny Tales: Really Wheely Racing Day by Betty G. Birney

I have some students reading the Humphrey series but for those not quite ready for a longer chapter book, this “Tiny Tales” series is perfect! Cute illustrations and larger text make it non-intimidating and attractive for readers growing their confidence.

Humphrey's  Really Wheely Racing Day #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

Okay, some really really gross ghosts are featured in another Mortimer Keene title. Rhymes, fantastically odd and creepy illustrations and an English school setting.

Ghosts on the Loose #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Lulu Bell and the Moon Dragon by Belinda Murrell; illustrated by Serena Geddes

An Australian title featuring Lulu Bell and her best friend Molly who are preparing for the Moon festival that Molly’s Mom wants to share. I liked this young chapter book a lot – in a tiny story, many things of interest were happening: learning about the Moon festival, supporting a younger sibling finding a way to connect with friends and humpback whale sightings. Lots of illustrations and an interesting story line make this a series I would like to share in my room. I will be purchasing more titles in this series.

lulu bell and the moon dragon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

I also read Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Family and sibling dynamics so fresh and honest. Humorous, amusing and believable. Everyone in my family read and enjoyed this title – my son, daughter and husband. Now we have Raina’s books being passed from person to person – all of us are big fans!

 Sisters #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Up next? I am reading (and loving) After Iris by Natalie Farrant. After this? The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson 

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 65/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 461/650 books read (currently 46 books behind – slowly trying to get this down to 0 from that scary 54 number that is haunting me)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 111/65 complete

For anyone who shared a #MustReadin2014 list, the plan is to share an update (in whatever form and no matter what your progress) on Tuesday (October 14th). I will host here on this blog. Would love to hear what you have all been reading. I admit in advance, I have made little progress on my list since the last update. I have been reading, just other titles!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom

This week we hosted four student teachers from Simon Fraser University – two on Tuesday and Wednesday and two more on Thursday and Friday. These visits were a part of a week of observations in a variety of classroom settings. I celebrate that my students were so open and welcoming and that we were all able to do some learning and reflecting together.

Always our room is a busy, full speed ahead place but at the end of the week, what was “learned”? I think we managed to pass on a few snippets of wisdom. I love that my students can be teachers. Miriam and I learn from them everyday. This week, I think they gave these SFU students lots to think about.

A few highlights:

Busy, active, exciting – these things need to happen everyday. But, so does calm. Things we do: quiet time, mindful breathing, gratitude circles, an afternoon walk and quiet, reflective play. It can be simple. Buttons, cardboard, markers = 10 minutes of magic.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Have a classroom full of books and lots of time to read them. Every day. Reading is quiet and solitary and social and joyous. Make time for all of it.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Great practice time for anything might involve “equipment” beyond a pencil. The handing out and collection of “stuff” needs to be well organized and logical. Let all of that process be smooth, and practice time can look like this.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Let students collaborate and communicate while they learn. Talk, support, ask questions. And then, celebrate!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Don’t be afraid to tackle subjects and things that are emotional. We shared a sad video connected to a picture book that we read this week: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Yes, we had a few tears but we also had some great conversations. The resulting writing was powerful:

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Invite others in to share their expertise. Our Let’s Talk Science volunteers visited Friday morning for their first visit of the year. We learned about the three states of matter and that when a solid becomes a gas, it is called sublimation. How? Well, there were lots of bubbles, coloured water and . . . dry ice! Fun and fully hands on.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

The big tip here? Let the “experts” do their thing and the kids have fun and learn lots. The classroom teacher’s role? Support, management, enthusiasm. Help it all go smoothly so everyone wants to do it again!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

And of course, always be prepared. Have everything you need. Be safe. Look like you mean it.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

There were some other tidbits I passed on – things about paper (and aversions to it), creative interpretations of the IRPs and the power of clicky shoes. But it was the students doing what they do best that allowed the most powerful “teaching” to happen. And this is what I celebrate this week!

celebrate-link-up

Thank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why?

My students are very pleased to be reacquainting themselves with the classroom library after a long summer/strike break. I have been book talking, highlighting specific bins and handing particular books to particular readers for particular reasons. We haven’t done a huge focus on nonfiction titles yet but still, many are being read around the room. I always find it so interesting to see what is popular at any given time in my Grade 3/4 classroom.

Who is reading what? And why? A few highlights:

Weird but True titles by National Geographic Kids do not stay in their assigned basket. They are hugely popular with many students who love to read all of the facts and quiz each other. They would happily do this for hours.

Weird but True 5 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

Tigers by Valerie Bodden – part of The Amazing Animal series (published 2009) This book made its way into one child’s book box yesterday because, “I keep thinking about tigers and my book box is needing some books with information. I LOVE tigers. I am so excited!”

Tiger Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

This Disgusting Critters series (published 2014) by Elise Gravel, is adored, as I suspected it would be. We are in the middle of a little art project to make our own disgusting critter in Gravel’s style. Of course, now these titles are even more popular.

“Can I read The Slug next?”

“Is there a list? I haven’t read The Rat yet.”

“When is the next one of these coming out? Can you buy it?

 The Slug Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long (published 2012) One of my students has discovered this beautiful book and spends a lot of her free time examining its gorgeous pages. She has made lists of her favourite rocks and is now looking at rocks in our classroom rock collection to see what she might be able to identify.

 A Rock is Lively Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

Top 50 Deadliest Creatures by Camilla De La Bdoyre (published 2012)

I don’t know what it is about this book but almost every time we have a guest to our room, one child will go off in search of this title to read aloud. A visiting student teacher got to listen to some amazing facts about ferocious creatures today. I didn’t buy this book. It came in as a donation and ever since it travels from book box to book box being read by many.

Top 50 Deadliest Creatures Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

What is popular in your nonfiction library right now?

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 110/65 complete!

Monday October 6th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

Picture book highlights:

Musk Ox Counts written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers

One of my beloved #IMWAYR bloggers sent me a gift card when the strike finally ended to buy a few new treasures for my classroom. This is one of my selections – lots of silly, perfect humour delivered through illustrations, pacing and dialogue and some favourite characters – zebra and musk ox back again. I can’t wait to share this with my students and know it will quickly become a buddy reading time favourite. Thank you to Linda for the smiles and giggles all wrapped up in this title!

Musk Ox Counts #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Perfect Square by Michael Hall 

Some books go for a clever kind of creativity that manages to be bold without being loud. I finished this book and just smiled. Impressive.

 Perfect Square #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Open This Little Book written by Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by Suzy Lee

Yippee! This book makes me want to grab hands with a bunch of little ones and spin about and then settle into a story time session where I have the time to indulge in the requests to “read it again” please! A book that celebrates the magic of stories and quite literally pulls you in closer to examine every detail. What fun.

Open-This-Little-Book #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

I read this first through teary eyes. The beginning sentence is too beautiful. And oh how I love Ivan. He occupied our hearts – my students and mine when we read Applegate’s special novel The One and Only Ivan in the spring. I have to practice reading this book multiple times before tomorrow so that I can read it without my voice catching when I look up at those little faces who love Ivan too.

 Ivan #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

I also read a lot of early/young chapter books in anticipation of lots of book talks on the horizon:

Princess Posey and the Perfect Present by Stephanie Greene 

I have a number of girls in my class who have been asking me to get this series for our class library. I had read one title in the past and tried another. Definitely sweet and perfect for young readers. In my classroom, these are a comfort read for those students ready for chapter books but easing in to the whole idea of reading titles a little longer and more complex.

princess posey #2 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Mortimer Keene: Attack of the Slime by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

Amazing illustrations full of creepy and creative things, this title comes from Britain and is told in rhyming text. I think this would go over best if I read parts of it aloud and then let students read it on their own independently. There are many more complicated words and vocabulary so this is not for the beginning chapter book reader – a little more confidence and skill are needed to be able to tackle this title with success.

Mortimer Keene Attack of the Slime #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Kung Pow Chicken Let’s Get Cracking by Cyndi Marko

I continue to be impressed by Scholastic’s Branches series. This is full of action and lots of images – kind of a cross between a heavily illustrated chapter book and a graphic novel. Lots of silly escapades and much kid humour. I am predicting this series will be very popular in my class.

Kung Pow Chicken Let's Get Cracking #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

And two graphic novels:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Okay, yes, I admit, I have never read Smile until this weekend. I had read parts of it. I had heard it summarized by my daughter in huge detail numerous times, but I had never sat down and read it cover to cover. No reason for this – just a fact. Then I went to see Raina this week when she was in town promoting Sisters and of course, I was completely charmed. And now, I have read Smile and yes, I am in the fan club.

Smile #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Well, wow. All kinds of honest and vulnerable and powerful and hilarious. I could not put this book down. There are too many reasons why this book is fantastic and so beginning a list is just silly. But, wow, am I in awe of how this story is told, how friendship issues are explored and highlighted, how the power and powerlessness of a “disability” was portrayed through a child’s perspective . . . Okay, yes, I just started a list. If you haven’t yet, go read the book. Immediately.

El Deafo #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

What’s Next? Probably Sisters by Raina Telgemeier I am currently enamoured with these authors telling their stories and their truths through the graphic genre.

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 64/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 450/650 books read (currently 44 books behind – slowly trying to get this down to 0 from the scary 54 I noticed a few weeks ago)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 108/65 complete