About carriegelson

Elementary teacher passionate about all things literacy.

Monday September 18th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

Here are a few from this past week. Little readers. Lots of books.

Monday September 18th, 2017

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.

It has been weeks since I published a #IMWAYR post. I have been busy falling in love with my new Grade 3 class and settling back into fall routines. So I am sharing weeks of reading and just highlighting my absolute favourites.

Of course, in this past week I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and we completed some incredible dot art displayed as a community art piece.

Monday September 18th, 2017

This display still needs the themes we are taking on from The Dot – these are the take aways the students came up with. Take aways that launch our year together.

Our #classroombookaday titles were all about friendships and relationships.

Monday September 18th, 2017

Be a Friend inspired a discussion about qualities we would like in a friend.

Monday September 18th, 2017

On the blog:

I completed the fifth and final post in this blog series: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing 

I also shared a #MustReadin2017 update post.

Books I enjoyed:

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs written by Carol Murray and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

I will be sharing this title in the next few weeks to inspire some of our own poetry, fact finding and art. The perfect mentor text!

The Bad Seed written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

I know I shouldn’t have smiled through reading this. This is really one (cute) Bad Seed. Unless, he isn’t . . .

Why Am I Me? written by Paige Britt and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

I loved this lyrical, beautiful book full of questions and musings about self, identity and the wider world. I bought a copy for our classroom collection.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel 

This title is pretty special. Sparse words, gorgeous illustrations and a message of strength.

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Another Way to Climb a Tree written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Oh this book. Sweet. Inspiring. Creative. A perfect mix of text and illustrations.

Sam Sorts by Marthe Jocelyn

Teaching early primary? Want a book for your math collection about sorting and categorizing? This is your book.

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay

I absolutely adored this title and ordered a number of titles from this series for my class!

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. How it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Another title from O’Connor that I can’t wait to read aloud. Thinking this might be a read aloud in my class later this year. So much here – this books explores the amazing and the challenging about family and friendships and allows us to question what matters when it comes to home and security. What is important enough to wish for?

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

Truly an ode to sharing the love of books and reading. A young middle grade novel about persistence and learning how to fight for what you believe is right.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 49/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 211/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 48 books behind schedule. Oh my!

#MustReadin2017: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 28/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up Next? I am starting A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Must Read in 2017: Fall update

It’s time for the fall #MustReadin2017 update!

How are you doing with your list? Which titles have been favourites? What other books might have distracted you? It’s time to share!

I have 30 titles on my list this year and my goal is to read most of them. When I made the list, I hoped to read at least 20. I can almost guarantee that I might not get to at least 5 titles just because that’s how things often happen. Other books became priorities. I wasn’t in the mood to read a specific book when my library hold was due. I ran out of time. Reading things. Life things. At the Spring update in April, I had read 10 titles.

I am thrilled to report that I have now read  21 titles. Since April, I have completed these titles and am again sharing my thoughts and impressions:

Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key

An incredible adventure story that will have you on the edge of your seat. A Gulf Coast Hurricane creates conditions absolutely terrifying for 13 year old Cort and his two neighbours he is trying to keep safe. This story was very much in my thoughts watching the footage of all of the flooding and devastation in Texas.

Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly M. McGhee

This little book is all kinds of tender indeed. It holds you up through the heartbreaking and consoles you through all the hard. A beautiful middle grade read about friendship and grief and all the many ways to hope.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

This YA novel is hard to put down. Fabiola Toussaint joins her aunt and female cousins in Detroit. Newly arrived from Haiti without her mother who has been detained by immigration, Fabiola has much to navigate in this new world full of dangers and threats and uncertain security.

Piecing me Together by Renée Watson 

Jade is a black student on scholarship at a mostly white private school. She questions the supports and opportunities offered to her as she struggles to figure out what she wants in her future. This title explores so many relationships: family, friendships, mentor/mentee, student/teacher. Jade’s voice is one that will weave questions into your head that will remain there for some time. Loved all of the things this book made me think about.

Hello, Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly

This might be my favourite title so far by Kelly. Four main characters and some delightful supporting roles (love Virgil’s Lola). Unique characters here. Individual. Lonely. Determined. A highly, highly recommended middle grade read.

Lucky Broken Girl  by Ruth Behar

Based on the author’s childhood. One of the best MG titles I have read this year! Ruthie Mizrahi and her family have come to New York from Cuba and slowly Ruthie is adjusting. Then a car accident lands her in a body cast and isolates her from her new world. Full of poetry, art and beautiful relationships. I can see some kids getting lost in this story and connecting to the deeply personal reflections.

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats

Fantastic historical fiction set in the Pacific Northwest. The Mercer expedition brings war widows and young women west and Jane comes along with her father’s young widow and her younger brother. Washington is vastly different than what was expected. Adventure, a strong female character and lots of interesting history!

the-many-reflections-of-miss-jane-deming

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt 

This novel has so many elements I love – a connection between the generations, interesting family dynamics, introspective musings. Well written, emotional realistic fiction for MG readers.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

I absolutely adored Charlie. His journey is a must read experience.It has been weeks since I have completed this story and I keep thinking about Charlie and his family. There is some beautiful hope in this book.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

This is a book that you can’t really write about except in vague ways if you don’t want to give away plot points. Writing any specific details won’t work. I can say this. This book is a celebration of childhood. It is real and honest while being magical and mysterious. Full of wonder. Full of questions. Amazing.

 

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. That it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.

 

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2017 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2017 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2017 bloggers/readers and get inspired!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2017? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Our final update will be on December 28th 2017.

HAPPY READING EVERYONE!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

On the last day of summer before school begins tomorrow, this post is a reminder that those “done” libraries might not be completely done.

In my room, books now reside on shelves like this:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

Instead of all over the room like this:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

But still, things aren’t done. Now, I am sourcing. Ideas. Book lists. Wisdom. Experience. Preferences. So that as the year rolls out, I can add titles to our classroom library that my students will love.

How do I do this? A few ways . . .

Any kids who come into my vicinity get asked What are some of your favourite books? (if they are Grade 3 age-ish) Do you remember the books you loved a few years ago? (when they are a little older) If I am lucky enough to have children visit my library (usually the children of other teachers in the school) I drag them into my classroom and prompt: Look carefully at this library, it’s for a Grade 3 class. What do you think is missing? Are there books you think shouldn’t be here? What books would you be excited to read?  I spy on children at the bookstore and the library that look about Grade 3 age. What do they gravitate towards. What makes it into a pile? What is pulled off the shelf? Child opinion? It’s golden!

I also ask colleagues – teachers, literacy coaches, teacher librarians – those I know in person and those I know on line – about books their students love. I give lists of series and ask if these were read in Grade 3 classrooms. This helped me move some titles out of my library that my Grade 4s and 5s read. Some things I moved out and then moved back. Asking questions helps me learn from the experiences of others. What’s popular? What is constantly read? What books do kids ask for again and again?

I wander through bookstores and get the opinion of my favourite booksellers. What’s selling? What are kids this age often looking for? I love visiting bookstores with a friend who is a teacher librarian – we trade recommendations and I snap pictures as we talk. Later I look up titles and series we talked about and read reviews.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: SourcingSummer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

I also zoom in when other teachers tweet photos of their classroom libraries or share photos on their blogs. Are they teaching a Grade 2-4 age range? What books are in the bins, on the shelves and best yet, in students’ hands?

Another great source? The lovely organized book shelves of my friend’s Goodreads accounts. Many of us organize our books on book shelves so I check out those shelves titled Great for Grade 3, Transitional chapter books, Classroom Favourites, etc. I have scrolled through all of the posts about transitional chapter books that Alyson Beecher and Michele Knot post. These #Road2Reading challenge posts are a fantastic source for those teachers teaching primary classrooms! My reading community is my primary source for new titles. I read lots of blogs and pay attention on twitter to relevant books being discussed. Certain hashtags are really worth following: #IMWAYR, #nfpb2017, #titletalk, #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Sometimes, I am looking for very specific books. Right now, I am paying attention to what is getting Caldecott buzz so I can begin to put together my Mock Caldecott list. Often, I come across books I love while at the bookstore but I also pay attention to what is tagged on Caldecott lists on Goodreads and love checking out the list that Margie Culver keeps adding to: Mock Caldecott 2018. Margie’s blog Librarian’s Quest  is an incredible source for book titles.

The most important source? My students. The students I haven’t yet met and so these recommendations have yet to happen. I am leaving physical and mental room for what our library will need. Once these children begin to read in my room, I will start to pay attention.

What will this particular group of students need? Love? Grow into?

More early series to build fluency? Chapter books with more complex themes? Nonfiction titles about . . . ? Titles with children who . . . ? Stories about places like . . . .?

This is what I will learn in the next months.

For our library to grow, all of these sources will be considered carefully and considered often.

Wishing everyone a happy reading journey!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

Note: This is the fifth and final 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

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The details

 

Monday August 28th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

In a few weeks I will have students again to snap some pictures of but for now – here is a photo of our first planned read aloud – getting some moral support from a friend.

Monday August 28th, 2017

 

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 haven’t posted an #IMWAYR post for a few weeks as we have been travelling so this post highlights some favourites from a few weeks of reading.

On the blog:

Sharing a nonfiction title: A Bear’s Life

For picture book 10 for 10: Beautifully Quirky titles

These next 2 posts are part of a 5 part series on my blog:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The details

Books I enjoyed:

Today by Julie Morstad

Of course, this is Morstad stunning. I can see individuals or small groups getting lost in these pages.

How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh? by Alison Limentani

As much as a . . . A wonderful book about comparing mass.

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

This wordless title won my heart. Graphic panels. Sweet characters. Generosity and kindness. What more could you want in a picture book?

Can an Aardvark Bark? written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Created by nonfiction royalty, this book is a winner! Animal sounds. And many other cool things you might have wondered. Of course, this will be a new addition to our nonfiction library this fall. A must have for classrooms and libraries.

The Darkest Dark written by Chris Hadfield and illustrated by the Fan Brothers 

A little boy’s relationship with the dark, the sky, the universe. Astronaut Chris Hadfield tells his story and the Fan Brothers bring it to life. Wonderful!

A Small Thing . . . but Big written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Brave acts are made of many small moments. Lovely.

Ally-saurus & the Very Bossy Monster by Richard Torrey

A fantastic title to share with young readers dealing with how to be with each other in play. Themes of friendship, relationship, being brave, standing up for yourself and others. Perfect for classroom discussions or library story time.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

I absolutely adored Charlie. His journey is a must read experience.

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

This middle grade novel is not an easy read. Mississippi in the 1950s for a young black girl was about nothing easy. Rose is a character I can’t wait to follow and so was thrilled to see that Jackson has a second title being released next year.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

I have heard the hype. I have seen the tweets about the ending leaving too much unanswered. I loved every bit. This book captured me. I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one early morning sitting. Would love to read this aloud to a class but think it is better suited to an older class (not Grade 3)

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 46/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 197/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 41 books behind schedule. I need another bookstore visit!

#MustReadin2017: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 27/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 32/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details

Why do we have books in our classrooms? So that children have books all around them that they want to read. Each and every reader. Lots and lots of books. But as important as the books? The organization and display. Those readers need to be able to find the books they want to read. While you are thinking about the amazing, diverse and relevant titles that should be in your classroom library, don’t neglect the organization piece. That’s what this post is all about.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

Note: This is the fourth 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

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

The most important thing to know here? There is not one magical organization system. What works in my classroom might not work in yours. It won’t match your class environment. Your space. Your books. Or your readers. So my systems are merely suggestions. Don’t get obsessed with tape colours or types of stickers. Instead, think about key things: display, rotation, access, organization, tours, systems.

During the summer, I have time to get to those bins of books that need to be labelled, think about book display and work on other organizational tasks.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

First let’s get some important things established.

  • I have blogged about classroom libraries before and I stand tallest behind these words:

No, I don’t level the books in my library but yes, I know how to find the right books for the right readers when difficulty level is an issue. Students are readers and they need to feel like there are lots of possibilities, not lots of limits.

This means a few things

  1. You need to know your books.
  2. You need to know your readers.
  3. You need to watch your readers because they will grow and change and develop new interests and new needs.
  4. Your classroom library needs to grow and change along with your readers and/or have places for your readers to grow into.
  • Books need to be organized. So that your students can access them. So that you can find them. Finding a book on a shelf with no systems is about luck and it takes time. Locating a book on a shelf with a system gives readers the gift of more reading time.
  • Systems must be taught (more on this below)
  • New books need to go through a process before they become part of the library (more on this too below)
  • It’s okay to have a classroom collection and a read aloud collection (that you rotate through the classroom collection so students have access)
  • Putting systems into place takes time but setting up systems so that everything has a place saves time later!

Some questions I think about that might be helpful for you to ask yourself:

  • Are there specific areas of the classroom library for all the different kinds of books (fiction, nonfiction, graphics and comics, picture books, chapter books, other formats like magazines, etc.)?
  • Do students know how the classroom library works?
  • Can students put books back properly? And if not, what system is in place for this?
  • Is there a place in your classroom for new books to be housed before they are labelled, etc.?
  • What kinds of display spaces do you have available? Outward display is key! Where is there space for this in the room?
  • Can books rotate through display shelves or specific bins?
  • Where will students keep books they are reading? What are the systems and guidelines around this?
  • Who gets to read the newest acquisitions? How does this work?
  • Can students take books home? What kind of expectations does this involve?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

Below are my answers to the questions above. I have included these not because these are the “correct” answers but simply to give you some potential ideas or to start your thinking:

  • Are there specific areas of the classroom library for all the different kinds of books (fiction, nonfiction, graphics and comics, picture books, chapter books, other formats like magazines, etc.)? I have spread shelves around the classroom so that everywhere you look, there are books! I have a graphic and comics shelf, a nonfiction picture book shelf and a set of shelves for fiction (chapter books and picture books) I also have bins of picture books in 2 other shelf areas of the library. In the photo below (taken in the fall of 2016) you can see that fiction shelves begin at the bottom with picture books and as you go up the shelves, the books typically become longer and more complex. I simply tell students that the books on higher shelves might take longer to read. 

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Do students know how the classroom library works? I spend a lot of time in the fall helping orient students to the library. We explore particular bins of books to learn about genre. I book talk a large variety of books and explicitly show students where those titles or others like them “live” on the shelves. We learn that book spines have tape or stickers which correspond to genre and that books are grouped by genre on the shelves. This Browse by Genre idea came from this post by the thoughtful Tricia Ebarvia.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Can students put books back properly? And if not, what system is in place for this? For those students who struggle with remembering where to return books back on the shelves or for students in a hurry, I have a large bin labelled Book Return and students place books in this bin to be later shelved by keen library helpers or myself. Most students do know where to return books though because of spine or back cover labels. Chapter books have genre labels and stickers on the spine and so books can be placed back with other titles with the same label. Picture books and nonfiction picture books all have back cover stickers that correspond to bin label. With some series, books are housed in a bin with that series labelled on the front. Once this is taught, it is easy for students to navigate.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Is there a place in your classroom for new books to be housed before they are labelled, etc.? This is important! I have a few clear plastic bins that I place new books in when I acquire them. I try to tackle these new titles every few weeks – even if I have just 10 minutes and get through just a few books. When the bins fill up, that’s a clear message to me to devote an hour or so to getting those new books out into the collection. Each book is labelled before it becomes part of the classroom library system. My name goes on each book – either in the first few pages with a book label or on the back cover with a simple white sticker.
  • What kinds of display spaces do you have available? Outward display is key! Where is there space for this in the room? The photo below shows a few options. This was taken during our Mock Caldecott unit and all of the picture books we were considering were displayed on magnetic ledges on the whiteboard. I also have three low display shelves (purchased through Scholastic) which hold our #classroombookaday titles and other picture books I read aloud. Two shelves hold fiction titles and one holds nonfiction titles. I have another wire display shelf on the nonfiction shelf which displays nonfiction titles. 

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Can books rotate through display shelves or specific bins? The display shelves above hold books that I read aloud to my students. When they fill up, I return the books to specific bins in the classroom or to my read aloud collection to make room for more. I also have recently book talked books displayed outwardly on the book shelves or in a basket for students to find.
  • Where will students keep books they are reading? What are the systems and guidelines around this? My students keep books they are currently reading in their book boxes. We have general guidelines that we shouldn’t have more than 3 novels/graphic novels in the box at a time but our book enthusiasm often means the boxes are stuffed. When this happens, we have a book box clean out and add titles to our “Books I Want to Read” lists and find them later on the shelves. With younger students, I had a guideline that we tried to keep no more than 5 books in the box at a time. I teach students to keep books spine out so that we can find books and not to jam picture books that don’t fit into the boxes.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Who gets to read the newest acquisitions? How does this work? When I book talk new books, I display them on the ledge of the white board and students who are interested in reading the book add their name to the list. I then make a list adding student names randomly onto a sticky note that is kept on the inside page of the book. Students pass it to the next person on the list when they finish reading the book. Some people do book draws to create even more excitement.  

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The Details There's a Book for That

  • Can students take books home? What kind of expectations does this involve? I don’t allow students to take books home at the beginning of the year while we are learning to care for books and keep them organized. At this point, I encourage students to take books home from our school library and to visit the public library on a regular basis. Mid way through the fall, I do allow books to go home and simply keep track on a notepad. I do have a few guidelines though. Graphic novels don’t go home because there is too much wear and tear. I ask students to only have one book at a time at home. If students can not be responsible about returning books, we have a conversation. I have a few books that didn’t come back in the last week of school but hopefully I will see those titles in September. Our “loose” system worked just fine. If a few books go missing but students are reading avidly, I am perfectly fine with that.

Key things I have learned

  • Scotch tape is your friend. I cover every sticker, label or spine tape with scotch tape to ensure everything stays put!
  • Devote teaching time to learning the systems. It will pay off when you witness your students using the library with ease and keeping things organized.
  • Always be thinking about new creative ways to display books and to work book talks into your daily schedule. Advertise, bless and love these books!
  • Every time you are sure you have it all figured out, you will get a new idea or new inspiration and start thinking about changes . . .

Up next? It’s all ready. Or is it? Reaching out . . . Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 5: Sourcing

Stay tuned!

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!