Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

I continue working in my classroom library preparing it for the Grade 3 class I will have this fall. Books that have homes have returned to them. Books that had homes may have lost them as I have reorganized. Books yet to have homes are stacked ready to get labels and stickers and then will find a place. Books have been weeded and are in process of finding new spaces or being temporarily stored. What now? I am thinking about what my current library might need.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

Note: This is the third post in a series. Missed the previous ones?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 2: Weed

Additions are not simply about a shopping list. Or even a wish list. Additions begin from the noticing. What’s missing? What series do I need to expand? What do I need to be thinking about to best meet the needs of the readers in my classroom? The readers I haven’t even met yet.

I sit in various sections of my classroom and look at the shelves. I am looking with my eyes and I am looking with the potential eyes of future students.

I don’t have #3 of Anna, Banana. When is the next Piper Green title by Ellen Potter going to be released? Do I think this new group will enjoy the Violet Mackerel series?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsThe Heidi Hecklebeck series has a number of new titles. Should I be expanding the collection? Of course, I need the next Princess and Black titles! What am I missing?Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsDo I know when the next Bad Guys title is out? Is the 65th Story Tree House title in soft cover yet? Arnie and the Donut? Will there be another title?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsThese kind of noticings are simple. What series has recently been adored and should I expand it? Am I missing specific numbers in a series so that the gaps will frustrate readers wanting the next book?

The next questions are a little more complicated. I am thinking about questions like the following as I put myself in potential reader shoes:

  • If I am a kid who loves fantasy, are there books for me here? What if I am devouring thick chapter books? What if I am just beginning to read novels? What if I want to stick with picture books?
  • If I like a particular kind of picture book, are there chapter books that I might also like? Can I find them easily?
  • Can I find a bunch of funny books to read?
  • If I am a series reader, are there a range of series at a range of levels about a variety of things for me to get lost in?
  • If I find an author I love, are there more books that he/she wrote in the library?
  • What if I want to read about things I might be experiencing? Like friendship struggles? Or having a new sibling? Or my parents breaking up? Feeling lonely? Different? Discriminated against? Can I find books that will help me understand more about myself? Are there books that can act as mirrors for me?
  • Do I need to read about things that have not yet touched my life? Learn more about the world? Learn more about the lives of my peers? My parents? My neighbours? Are there books here that will be windows into other worlds and lives?

Putting my teacher hat back on, I need to think about questions like:

  • Are my organization systems student friendly?
  • Can children navigate the shelves independently (after some initial instruction and practice)?
  • Can students help keep the library organized so that we can all use it with ease?
  • Is there room for a range of readers in each genre?
  • Are there obvious gaps in specific genres?
  • Am I missing books that might have huge kid appeal but might not attract me? Can I make room for those books in our library?
  • Is there a way for children to tell me, “Can we get books about . . . ?”
  • Does my read aloud collection contain books that will allow us to laugh together? Learn together? Cry together? To be inspired? To be incensed? To shake up our thinking? To allow us to view things from new perspectives?
  • Are there books in the library that tell the history of our country? Of neighbouring countries? About the world? What really happened? There needs to be titles about residential schools. About immigration. About racist policies that have changed or persist. Books that allow us to talk about discrimination. Rights. Fear.
  • Do I have a wide range of picture books? Various genres? Lots of diversity? Short reads? Wordless titles? Longer reads? Great books to share together?
  • Does my nonfiction collection contain books about a wide range of topics? Does the organization system make sense? Are there a variety of formats? Expository?Narrative? Fact books? What are the topic gaps?
  • Graphic novels? How will we organize these books? Are popular series missing any titles? What is missing at the Grade 3 level? The graphic/comics shelf below is in process of being organized.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

All books on the shelf should be invitations to read. The shelves need to call: “Hey you reader, you belong here! Have I got something for you!”

This is just the beginning. The start of some lists, of noting gaps, of wondering what else I might need. Further sourcing and list making will come later.

I don’t have endless book buying dollars so lists will remain wishes and over time, hopefully I will fill the gaps as I add to the collection. There needs to be room for the interests, passions and needs of this new class. I am repeating this again – this classroom library is fluid not fixed and will reflect the readers in the room. So there is a big unknown still to come as I get to know my new students. The most important additions I make to the library will happen when I begin to know these children.

But I need to know directions. What might be next? This allows me to find treasures here and there when I visit bookstores or sift through a box of books that a neighbour is giving away. I keep lists and notes about series in this little notebook and throw it in my bag when I remember.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

My lists have begun.

Up next? How does everything stay organized as it moves into the library? I explain bins, labels, shelves and systems in this next post: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 4: The Details

Stay tuned!

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017

Picture book 10 for 10 is here! This is one of the best days of the year to increase your knowledge of amazing picture books. It may also be a tad expensive . . . You’ve been warned!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my sixth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. In 2014, I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness. In 2015. I highlighted favourite historical fiction titles. Last year I chose books that may inspire philosophical discussion

This year’s theme is the theme I chose for #classroombookaday with my Grade 4 and 5 class during the last week of school. I told them I was going to read books that were beautifully quirky and that I wanted to be sure I shared with them before our year together ended. Beautifully quirky is a great category. These books lead to awe and wonder. Questions and discussions. And many rereads.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

These books are wonderfully odd. My kind of odd. I hope your kind of odd. Books that leave you thinking. That awe you with the wild and the beautiful and the unexpected or unexplained.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2014)

This book will always be about the shouting audience. “No! They missed it again!” “Oh my God!” “Seriously?!” This book is all about theories. Digging in, around and but never really out is highly satisfying.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket with illustrations by Lisa Brown (2017)

This book really is about a goldfish ghost who travels around in search of a place to belong. Quietly clever and speaks to some important themes: the cycle of life, belonging and companionship.

Goldfish Ghost Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for ThatNot Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (2017)

Kelp was born in the ocean and raised by narwhals. Something has always seemed not quite right. Then one night, he discovers unicorns. Is this the answer to everything? Or just some things. Who we are, where we belong, how big all of this can be. Lovely little book.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (2017)

This book begins with an eye that was drawn too large. Where it ends up? Oh my! A creative and inspiring journey.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Snurtch written by Sean Ferrell with illustrations by Charles Santoso (2016)

Well, if we all have a Snurtch – and I suppose we do – I would hope that mine is this cute. A charming story that reminds us of all the emotions and moods inside of us. Because, oh yes, it isn’t all happy happy joy joy.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi (2016)

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis  (2016)

Invented language. Over the top stunning illustrations. This book invites the reader to climb inside and help tell the story over and over again.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Liszits written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (2016)

I use the word quirky every time I pick this book up. It is absolutely captivating. The story. The lists. The illustrations. I can’t share this with anyone without reading them the entire book and then we both just sit back in awe. Inspired.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Boris Kulikov (2013)

Creativity. Focus. Absurdity. Inventiveness. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiosity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt (2015)

Who better to introduce children to the stages of grief than a bug swallowed up in a vacuum? Right? Huh? Love this book! Students do too.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10

pb-10-for-10What titles would make your beautifully quirky list? 

Happy picture book reading!  

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Bear’s Life

It is always a priority to be able to show students places in the world that they may not have seen. Places in their world that are not that far away – in our own beautiful province’s rain forest? Even more important.

A Bear’s Life by photographer/author Ian McAllister and author Nicholas Read is not to be missed.  Ian McAllister and his wife Karen McAllister were named by Time Magazine as “Leaders of the 21st Century” for their efforts to protect British Columbia’s endangered rainforest. Ian and Karen cofounded Pacific Wild

This title includes absolutely stunning wildlife photography by McAllister as readers are introduced to what bear cubs in the Great Bear Rainforest do everyday. We meet black bears, grizzly bears and the incredible spirit bears. Come along as these cubs sleep, play, learn to fish and forage and prepare for winter.

There is lots of information here but it is also easy to become lost in a single photograph.

This will be a title I share with my Grade 3 class this fall as we learn about the animals that live with us in British Columbia and how we can protect them.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2017. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

Monday August 7th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

This week, I would like to instead share an article. I had the honour of sharing a student’s story –  first with author/illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo and then with writer Alexandra Alter about Suzanne’s incredible book My Beautiful Birds. Alexandra included this story in her New York Times article

Children’s Authors Take on the Refugee Crisis

It was an unforgettable experience to organize a Skype with Alexandra and Nour and listen as Nour told her story. It will be something that I think about forever – the resilience and hope and love in this young girl’s voice as she talked about everything that she’s lost and found.

I am sharing this here with the #IMWAYR community because I know all of you know the power of books to change lives. This book told Nour’s story and gave her truth voice and audience. So powerful.

If you haven’t yet read this book – buy it! It’s a must have for our school and classroom libraries.

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.

On the blog:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

This is the second in a series of posts about working in the classroom library over the summer break.

Books I enjoyed:

I had a bookstore visit and read a lot of picture books and nonfiction titles this week. Some even followed me home. Surprise, surprise!

Some of my favourites:

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This title is an incredible celebration of looking at “mistakes” as opportunities instead of something purely negative and wrong. A creative and inspiring journey. Such an important title to share in our classrooms.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist written by Jess Keating and illustrated my Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Eugenie Clark is some kind of incredible! A scientist. A risk taker. A creative thinker that allowed the world to look at sharks through a different lens. Jess Keating shares Eugenie’s story to honour and celebrate curiosity and perseverance. Lots of additional information in the back pages including a detailed time line of Clark’s life and accomplishments. Gorgeous end pages too!

Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley

This is a somewhat haunting and extremely beautiful story about a boy who must leave his homeland in a boat clutching a teacup full of soil The ocean journey brings peace, drama and unexpected surprises as he sails in search of a new home.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead 

Gentle and sweet. A book about compassion and care.

Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

A lovely little wordless title with lots of room for talk and questions. What is community? Who should we care about? What matters?

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

A completely endearing title about one little boy’s route to being brave. Loved.

A Squiggly Story written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowery

Perfect for writer’s workshop. Clearly sends the message that all writing is story telling – marks on the page, drawings, words (regardless of spelling). I I were a K or Grade 1 teacher, I would be snapping this one up. As a Grade 3 teacher, I am also pretty tempted.

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Power plays on the playground have lots of dynamics. Creatively explored in this little gem.

This Beautiful Day written by Richard Jackson with illustrations by Suzy Lee

This beautiful book. Wow is Suzy Lee talented! A celebration of rainy days and optimistic attitudes. Lovely all around.

If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel by Elise Gravel

So I am calling this a favourite, fought over classroom book for 2017/2018. And I KNOW I am going to be right. This book will be inspiring some funky sketchbooks in my students’ futures. Again, guaranteed.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd. And Williams-Garcia, whoa, can this woman write! A must read middle grade title.

Alvin Ho (Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things) by Lenore Look with illustrations by LeUyen Pham

I was pretty thrilled to find this title as I think it will be my first classroom read aloud in the fall. A lot of things in the world frighten and overwhelm Alvin including speaking out loud at school. So wonderfully portrayed in a humorous, relatable way by Look. I am buying the series!

Patina by Jason Reynolds

I share all of my book love for this title (released later this month) here.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 43/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 185/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule (ten better than last week!)

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 31/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Patina

I must admit that I am now somewhat fearful when I pick up a new Jason Reynolds novel. Mostly, the anticipatory joy takes over. But there is a little piece of worry. Everything he writes is just beyond beyond. What if this book isn’t?

Hah! It doesn’t ever happen. A few chapters in and the inkling of worry disappears and I begin to sail through his beautiful story. Gathering up characters to love. Rereading particular passages. Settling down into a time and place that he creates.

Patina, follows Ghost as the second title in ReynoldsTrack series.

From Goodreads:

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this?

Patina By Jason Reynolds There's a Book for That

My thoughts:

You can lose a lot of things: luck, people, races, the social game of school. But these losses are temporary unless you let them take you down. At the same time, when you keep going – one powerful step in front of the other – you are collecting wins. Some days, you can look around and notice them all. Different things than what you lost. Maybe, somehow, more.

Patina is a story of survival. Of keeping on. Family. Connections. Amassing it all around you. Red beads in a multitude of braids. Finger nails painted in a hero’s style. The security in same old, same old turkey wings. Daily car rides filled with chitter chatter. Sunday visits.

Patina is a sister. A daughter. A niece. A teammate. A runner. A fast one. Sometimes, it seems that the races speed her away from everything. But each painful and powerful step counts. Each one gets her there.

When you are running for two people, it’s not about stamping out the rage. It’s about racing for the love.

Resilience. Community. Family. Strength. Power.

This book delivers.

Thank you to Jacquelynne from Simon and Schuster Canada for the review copy.

Releases August 29th, 2017

 

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

My classroom library is “in process” right now. It is mid-transformation – from a Grade 4 and 5 classroom library to a Grade 3 classroom library. This is a definite process. The shelves go from full to empty, to temporary stacks and piles to full again before I pull it all apart.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for ThatNote: This is the second post in a series. Missed the first one? Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

I have been going through novels genre by genre and removing books that might not fit this group of readers. Graphic novels teeter in various piles with imagined labels: perfect for primary, too mature, maybe/not sure/appropriatish.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what this group of readers will need. I can only make an educated guess. I could be mostly right. I could be very wrong. My library is always fluid not fixed. Books line the shelves or get removed from the shelves according to the needs and interests of my readers. I learned this lesson in a big way two years ago. I was going from teaching a Grade 3 and 4 class to a Grade 2 and 3 class. I switched out some books and let many remain, thinking that the books in the collection would meet the needs of the readers. I was so off! So very, very off. Within about three weeks, I binned up a chunk of the library. I wrote about it in this post. My developing readers weren’t ready for many of the titles I thought they might be ready for and it was taking away from their ability to find books they could read and wanted to read. Some of my thinking at the time:

This wasn’t about taking books away. It was about removing titles that are currently not relevant and are actually, distracting. I left about 7/8 of the books still out. There are a lot of books. But now, we can focus on surrounding ourselves with books that we can read or might grow into in the near future. Some people thought this made me sad. Only very briefly. Until I thought about it: I love books because I love that they are read by readers. I adore the readers (and the readers to be) and these readers are my priority. These books will be back. When we’re ready.

I hadn’t messed up in terms of choosing relevant, age appropriate titles for Grade 2s and 3s. I messed up because I put together a library for imagined readers and I hadn’t yet met the readers I would be working with that year. I didn’t know the needs and interests of this particular group of children. And they were the most important readers I would know that year because they were my students. Our classroom library needed to be all about them.

And so, this work I am doing now is tentative. I am making best guesses. I am placing some books away in easy to pull back out bins. I have a stack of bins ready to be filled up if need be once the readers enter the room. This is the weeding for now stage. I hardly feel like I am finishing anything.

I am sifting through books. Pulling out. Putting aside.

Out means books will go to a new space, a new home, or retire. I give these books to other classrooms, to students, to other teachers I might know. Some titles are not up to being passed on. They have been loved enough and are worn out and need to be discarded. I have very few books that I am pulling out of my collection this summer. When I moved schools a year ago, I did this very thoroughly. I was not about to pack any book I wasn’t fully committed to keeping in the collection.

Putting aside – this is all about temporary storage. I am looking at books that might not be right for these readers coming in September. These titles are placed in baskets and bins for now. Maybe I will go reaching for them for one particular reader. Maybe, I will pull titles to lend to my students from last year. These books are kept close but out of the way.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for ThatSome sections of my library now seem like they might be right. I think . . .

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for That

In answering the question: Will I keep it in the collection? I am thinking about

  • Are the themes too mature for my learners?
  • Are the story lines possibly too complex?
  • Is the book better suited to a younger classroom?
  • Is the title or series outdated?
  • Do I think this is a book or series students still want to read? I have a few stacks of series I am not so sure about. (like this stack here)

  • Are the books a format I want to introduce before I make it available? (i.e. novels in verse)
  • Are the characters vastly different from the age of my students? I struggle with this one – are my seven and eight year olds going to be wanting to read about middle school themes like crushes and dating? This is tricky.
  • Does a book or series just not feel like a fit for reasons I can’t quite explain?

I am working at this stage here and there over days as it involves a lot of thinking and decision making. Sometimes, it is much easier to go shopping at Ikea 🙂

As I look through my books, I am also thinking about what my library might be missing. This is what’s next: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 3: Additions

Stay tuned!

 

Monday July 31st, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week. Here is my classroom in its middle of the summer state – mid-organizing, mid-library redo, mid-sort-of-everything.

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.

On the blog:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library: Step 1: Relocate 

This is the first post in a series. Next post will be later this week.

Books I read:

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

I will be honest – I am going to have to go back and reread this one. I was so enamoured with the illustrations of the Pacific Northwest shore line that I can’t remember the text. This book is a stunner.

Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the Cafeteria by John Grandits and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin

This has got to be one of the longest titles out there for a picture book! A fun look at being anxious beginning somewhere new. Such engaging and colourful illustrations.

Owl Diaries #1 Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliot

In preparation for moving back to primary, I am reading a lot of transitional chapter book titles. This is a cute series in the Branches series from Scholastic. Very accessible for readers building their stamina for longer stories.

Anna,  Banana, and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Meg Park

I really liked this title and purchased two more in the series for my classroom. A very realistic portrayal of friendship struggles and dynamics at this age.

The Amazing Crafty Cat by Charise Mericle Harper

Visually really fun. But must admit, for me, this book was just odd. Would like to kid test it.

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

A must read middle grade novel in verse about a young girl with Tourette syndrome.I learned so much. This is also a wonderful read about friendship, moving and complicated family dynamics. If I was still teaching Grade 4 and 5, I would be purchasing this one.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 40/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 168/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 42 books behind schedule (one better than last week)

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 23/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 28/50 books read

Up next? I continue to have a few novels on the go.