About carriegelson

Elementary teacher passionate about all things literacy.

Monday February 20th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. 

This week we started classroom book clubs. Here is my basket of book selections almost full of everyone’s choices.

Monday February 20th, 2017

Happy readers!Monday February 20th, 2017

I forgot to take a photo of our #classroombookaday titles last week so I made a collage. These titles were incredibly inspiring.

Monday February 20th, 2017

This week, this is what we read:

(Had to include this lovely drawing on the white board by one of my students inspired by Bluebird)

Monday February 20th, 2017

Our theme? Some said friendship. Others said kindness. Others said heroes.Monday February 20th, 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.


On the blog:

For Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t resist: 10 picture books about love for Top Ten Tuesday


Books I enjoyed:

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

Best striped end pages! What makes you happy? Could you list a hundred things? And do some rhyming?


Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness written by Donna Janell Bowman and illustrated by Daniel Minter

I had never heard of this amazing horse and his companion. Such a story!


Welcome by Barroux

Barroux manages to say so much by saying so little. In this book, three lost polar bears search for a new home. How are these newcomers received? A timely story in our world.


Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

A duck and Death spend some time at the pond. Unusual. Touching. Philosophical.


Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho Art by Brian Deines

A picture book that depicts a true story of the escape from Vietnam in 1981. Full of dangers, emotions and leaving home. I bought it for our class collection.


Ballet Cat: What’s Your Favorite Favorite? by Bob Shea

This is not my favorite favorite of the Ballet Cat titles but still amusing enough to be enjoyable.


Hilo #3: The Great Big Boom by Judd Wick

Quite possibly I enjoyed this one more than Hilo book 2. This is a fantastic graphic series! So entertaining that I always read them first before bringing them into my classroom library – because then, I will never see these titles again!


Newsprints by Ru Xu

Gorgeous illustrations. I found some of the story line confusing but think this graphic title will have many fans.


Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

An emotional MG read about one young girl’s OCD that begins to spin out of control. Highly recommended.


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Just fantastic! This book explores the Iranian Hostage Crisis, dealing with middle school while still figuring out America and all of the complexities of family and friendship a 12 year old girl from Iran might experience. And it’s super funny and touching and so wonderfully written! A must have for classroom libraries.


Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 10/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 52/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 3 books ahead of schedule!

#MustReadin2017: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 10/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 7/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Picture Books about Love

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

This week’s theme? All about Romance – I am going to take liberties with this theme and stretch it and shape it to be all about love. Love as in romantic love or connection love. Deep friendship. True devotion. Care, concern, warmth.


The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A nonfiction title about Richard and Mildred Loving whose marriage and love were questioned because of their race. A story of determination, persistence and the power of love and family.

The Case for Loving- The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

Love, love, love, love! Love because it’s love, not because it is celebrated in any particular way.

WormLoves Worm

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

This book celebrates love in the happiest and most joyful of ways. But it doesn’t scrimp on the realities of love: loss, pain, frustration, forgiveness, sacrifice. Love is all of it and this book delivers. It takes you on a journey sailing through a myriad of emotions and delivers you on the other side, changed. Better. Brighter. Exhausted.

I often tell people that yes, I have a picture book favourite even though I LOVE many books. This is it. This one here. How I adore this book!


The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

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.


Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Hunwick’s egg never hatched although it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Yes, he realized his egg was not an egg at all but a perfectly shaped stone and he loved it all the more.

Hunwick's Egg

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. The joy and the solitude of New York city. Finding someone who gets you and shares your quirky tastes. It all comes together in this delightful story.


Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

A sweet tender story of loving and letting go.

Ida, Always

Pierre in Love written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Petra Mathers. 

A beautiful picture book about being in love and being brave enough to admit it.

pierre in love

Bear in Love written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Finally bear and bunny meet, convinced they have each found the perfect friend. For bear it is a cute little bear and bunny thinks he was found a lovely big strong bunny. Confusion aside, the two friends sit together and chat and sing as the sun goes down. A feel good book that made us all smile!

bear in love

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiosity and calm wisdom.


Which book would you add to the list?

Monday February 13th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Here are three.

Early morning and my room fills up with students reading books with each other. How I love this!

Monday February 13th, 2017

Student led conferences often included a read aloud from a favourite one or two Mock Caldecott titles. The Night Gardener is being shared here.

Monday February 13th, 2017

Finding a reading nook 🙂

Monday February 13th, 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.


On the blog:

For Nonfiction 10 for 10: Dive Down Deep


Books I enjoyed:

The Tree: A Fable by Neal Layton

There is something wonderfully powerful about this title. Powerful and refreshing. How do we share a natural space? Would pair perfectly with Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux


Tony by Ed Galing and illustrated by Erin E Stead

Oh these illustrations. Gentle. Lovely.


I Am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach

Wonderfully hilarious. A book about being who you are and being courageous enough to make sure others know it.


Nope! A Tale of First Flight by Drew Sheneman

Basically wordless. First flight can seem terrifying and a well executed “nope” should be respected, shouldn’t it?


The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

So if you are going picture book shopping, this title needs to go on the top of your list. Don’t leave the store without it. I couldn’t. An allegorical tale that will make you giggle and nod vigorously and leap up and shout in agreement. Our voices cannot be silenced. Oh, this book is timely. Cannot recommend it enough.


Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Who we are, where we belong, how big all of this can be. Lovely little book.


A Greyhound, a Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

A beautiful book. Wonderfully playful illustrations. Wonderfully playful word play. Find a group of little ones and read this aloud!


Earthling by Mark Fearing

Don’t get on the wrong bus! What a fun graphic novel! This will be a well read, well loved title in my classroom.


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Wow. Yes, this is a YA love story but it’s more than that. Love stories don’t often hold my interest. This book is a story of being ridiculously human. About hope and faith and choices and kindness. About family and responsibility and dreams.


I have also been reading a lot for the Cybils awards (nonfiction category) Winners will be announced tomorrow!


Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 8/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 44/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 2 books ahead of schedule

#MustReadin2017: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 10/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 6/50 books read

U next>I am reading Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

This year for nonfiction 10 for 10, I invite you to dive into the ocean and explore the wonders of ocean life and ocean exploration.

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this meme. Click here to read all of the top ten lists shared.

This is my fifth year participating in this meme.

In the first year of #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways.

In the second year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.

In my third year, I shared nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Last year I featured titles that allowed readers to travel the world.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

Dive Down Deep! Head into the water! 

Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the sea by Steve Jenkins

How can we not be intrigued at the idea that we may only have encountered half of the large animals living in the sea?

 Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

In this title, being lost in a book means getting lost in a completely different world – in this case the magical world of coral reefs.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Some amazing creatures:

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy 

A mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites hunt in the Farallon Islands so successfully. This book illustrates how sharks are perfectly adept hunters, at the top of the food chain.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

An incredible read aloud for children who love to be amazed by nature. I loved the illustration of the blue whale’s mouth with 50 people standing in its lower jaw!

The Blue Whale Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor

A beautiful, lyrical story with stunning paintings by Wendell Minor. Follow this real life rescue of a humpback whale.

Trapped! A Whale's Rescue Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

The reader is invited into the world of seals. Learn all about gray seals – how they move, how they hunt and how their body is perfectly suited to their ocean home.

See What A Seal Can Do Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Celebrating the study of the ocean and ocean life:

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jodi Solano

“Sharks are magnificent and misunderstood!” This was Clark’s message to the world. Sharks need our respect and our protection.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón

I love when nonfiction is the perfect blend of incredible story and breathtaking pictures – increases the wonder factor exponentially!

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola 

The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.”

Life in the Ocean Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

What are your favourite books about the ocean?


Monday February 6th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This one is my favourite this week. One child. A new book. Time standing still as he wasn’t going to move until that book was done.

Monday February 6th, 2017

Our #classroombookaday titles continue to focus on some important themes as we explore home – leaving, losing, finding, coping . . .

Monday February 6th, 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.


On the blog:

I continue to celebrate our Mock Caldecott process: Celebration: More Mock Caldecott Love This post is told mostly through tweets and images – including some amazing art by my students.

*Particularly exciting? This post is very much about Aaron Becker and our Skype conversation with him and he commented on the post!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Swimming with Sharks

Books I enjoyed:

It wasn’t intentional but it seems I read mostly poetry picture books this week.

I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too! by Rachel Isadora

Playful and simple exploration of the five senses. Fun for little ones. Perfect for young writers.


Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka

Poems are shaped and arranged in creative ways all over the page. A delightful experience bringing meaning to all of it through the images and text.


Beastly Verse illustrated by Joohee Yoon

The poems are from Lewis Carroll, William Blake, Robert Desnos, Hilaire Belloc, William Cowper, Christina Rossetti, and D.H. Lawrence. The art? Well, wow. Colour and wild and imagination are all over these pages. Absolutely fantastical!


When We Collided by Emery Lord

A 2017 Schneider Family Book Award winner. Love. Family Mental health. Grief. Our human capacity to be broken and find ways to heal.


Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb

I actually found myself getting angry reading this book as I wasn’t prepared for how difficult and emotional a read this was going to be. This title touches on so much from friendship to family to community dynamics. So many things are explored: trust, loyalty, commitment, forgiveness, judgement, prejudice, love. A powerful middle grade read.


Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 7/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 30/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 5 books behind schedule

#MustReadin2017: 4/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 8/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 3/50 books read

Up Next? Almost finished The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and then moving on to my huge stack of books that all just arrived for me at the library! But Scar Island that I just bought is kind of calling my name!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

The “after” of our Mock Caldecott has been just as rich as the reading, voting and analysis process. It is with much joy that I continue to celebrate here.

This will be a celebration mostly revealed through tweets and images.

After our voting, of course we had to share.

And sharing led to an amazing experience – an opportunity to Skype with Aaron Becker!

Students were beyond excited as we were serious, serious fans.

We visited Aaron’s website and watched videos and book trailers about his books. Students prepared questions and began art projects. I shared them all with Aaron!

The morning of our Skype call began like this:

Many students arrived very early (“So we won’t even be a little bit late!”) They invited others (siblings, students from other classes) into our room to explore Aaron’s books. One determined boy in Grade 6 showed up at ten after 9 announcing that he would be spending the morning with us to meet Aaron Becker. “I am going to be a librarian, I can’t miss this opportunity,” he explained. How can you say no to that? 🙂

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

These girls came in an hour early and got started on Aaron Becker art.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

We pulled our room apart to set up chairs for the Skype.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Trying out various seats.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

I don’t think I can possibly capture how incredible the Skype experience was for my students. We had various questions prepared but we didn’t need them – Aaron somehow managed to just have a conversation with us. He was curious about where the students and their families were from and we shared that many of us (or our parents) are from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Korea. Aaron wanted to know about the languages students spoke. He shared stories of his art, his travels and his process. He told us about what he is currently working on and shared more stories from the trilogy. He held a room full of children (and adults) absolutely spellbound.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Maybe this exchange will sum it all up:

A few hours after the Skype this happened-

J: “Ms. Gelson, thank you.”

Me: “For what?”

J: “For reading us Journey and Quest and Return. If you didn’t read them to us, then we wouldn’t have loved them and then you wouldn’t have told Aaron Becker that we loved them. So he wouldn’t have wanted to Skype with us. And . . . well that was one of the best things of my life.”

Me: speechless, mushy mess

After the Skype, we took all of that excitement and pulled out our books and found a place to read.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

But the buzz of all things Aaron Becker continued throughout the day.

Aaron Becker’s response was very special. He wrote: “Imagination is strong” in Tagalog. My students from the Philippines were so touched!

In the afternoon, students reflected on the Skype experience. Here are some highlights:

  • I was surprised to see Aaron Becker’s room and how big his printer is! I wish that I could be an author and have a room like that!
  • I can’t believe he told us the back story of the King. Wow, we are so lucky.
  • I like when he told us secrets from the books and showed us cool maps.
  • I love how his books make us think so much. I learned about the girl’s feelings and how Aaron Becker showed her loneliness. He told us that it’s our time to use our imagination because we are special at our age.
  • There are surprises in all of the books. Now I want to study them more. I love his stories that he told us.
  • He was pretty smart to make a model of the book Journey so the publishers would know how great that book is!
  • Aaron Becker told us that we have a lot of imagination at this age because we are not at the age for all of the boring responsibilities. This made us feel really special.
  • Seeing Aaron Becker was very amazing. It’s not everyday that you get to Skype with an author or illustrator like him. I will never forget it!

We then decided that we should continue to celebrate all of these books we love so much. We got to work on persuasive letters to the Caldecott Committee either congratulating them for their choices or suggesting that maybe they missed a special book.

The fan art was pretty stupendous!

Return art has been everywhere!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And then there are the persuasive letters!

Advocating for A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Return championing:

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Have our books got a rest on the shelves now that all of the hoopla is over?


These students have reread Giant Squid countless times!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Before school this little K insists his older brother bring him into our classroom so he can look at his favourite books (Journey, Quest and Return) again. “I love these books forever,” he told me yesterday.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And Aaron Becker – as promised we have some baby name suggestions from a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds in Vancouver, Canada who wish you and your family the very, very best: Violet, Paige, Sky, Florence, Grace, Ida, Cleo, Blossom, Ira, Odessa, Penelope, Alexa, Jacklyn, Jade, Lilly, Gigi and (no surprise) this came up a lot: “Could they name her Journey?”

Next week we have student led conferences and our Mock Caldecott experience will feature big. I can’t wait to watch students share their learning and experiences with their families.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Swimming with Sharks

Imagine being called the “Shark Lady” . . .

I can’t! My fear is too great to wrap my head around being calm enough, focussed enough and determined enough to dedicate my life to both studying and swimming with sharks.


With all of those teeth and those great big jaws.


Yet, reading this book allowed me to start to consider sharks from Eugenie Clark’s perspective.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Swimming with Sharks

I learned that sharks are many things – even, as Clark saw them – remarkable.

In Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jodi Solano (2016 Albert Whitman & Company) sharks are described as timid, sophisticated and clever.

Clark herself was remarkable: a persistent student – curious, dedicated and inspired by her subject. Clark was able to train sharks to press an underwater bell and then swim somewhere else to retrieve a food reward. She dove with sharks, swimming with them and noting all kinds of discoveries about their habits and behaviour. She was determined to learn about sharks so she could address people’s fears. Help us change our minds. See sharks in new ways.

“Sharks are magnificent and misunderstood!” This was Clark’s message to the world. Sharks need our respect and our protection.

In the back matter, Lang points out that Eugenie Clark was still swimming with sharks into her nineties. She published over 175 articles about fish in her lifetime and made 72 submersible dives.

I particularly appreciate biographies that feature passionate scientists asking questions and doing work that transforms and enhances our current understanding of a subject. Eugenie Clark was such a scientist. Her life’s work is absolutely inspiring.

A fascinating biography ideal for young naturalists. Highly recommended.

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!


Thank you to Tracie Schneider for providing a copy of this beautiful book for review