Monday March 12th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. Does it get any better than Dogman? For this little reader, nope, it really doesn’t.

Our #classroombookaday titles were all about celebrating Kevin Henkes!

Classroom Highlights 

We have been exploring the question: How did living things begin? by reading this wonderful book.

We were then inspired to create a mural of the beginning of life in the ocean 1.7 to 2 billion years ago. We will continue learning this week.

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.

Books I loved:

Swimming with Seals written by Maggie de Vries and illustrated by Janice Kun

There is such a story here. This book resonates deeply as I think about all of the students I have taught who have been raised by grandparents. For all of the complicated reasons that this book hints at and then some. I teared up in the bookstore. Beautiful illustrations. A very personal story for de Vries – be sure to read the author’s note.

Florette by Anna Walker

If you love growing plants or simply wish you could, this book is a teeny bit of paradise. What happens when you need to leave your garden behind when you come to the city? Maybe, just maybe, there is a way to find green.

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon with illustrations by Lee White

Katie is kind of brilliant. That wheelbarrow full of trees over time makes a huge difference on a windy hill for a solitary man.

There’s a Bug on My Arm that Won’t Let Go by David Mackintosh

Wacky and wonderful.

Petra by Marianna Coppo

Petra is a little rock with big vision. Super cute.

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

Wow. The colours here. Poetic and lovely. I understand the early Caldecott buzz.

Don’t Throw It to Mo! written by David A Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks

Love these little titles for beginning readers. Mo is pretty adorable.

King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (King & Kayla, #1) written by Dori Hillestad Butler with illustrations by Nancy Meyers

I am SO excited about this mystery series! Many of my students couldn’t wait to read this one. Dog lovers and mystery lovers will tear through these pages of this early chapter book title.

Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds by Abby Hanlon

I might have just made a special trip to the book store for this one and then read it that very night. Oh Dory, how I adore you! In this book, Dory has a loose tooth and you can just imagine her tooth fairy hopes and dreams.

Counting Sheep (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet #2) by Jacqueline Kelly

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this historical fiction transitional chapter book series featuring Calpurnia Tate from the novel I loved. Well written and totally engaging. I can’t wait to share this one with my students and plan to purchase the other titles in the series.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

A Schneider Family Book award winner – this is what drew me to this MG verse novel. I started and didn’t stop reading until the final page. This book is so very special. Macy discovers the power of stories as she has to reimagine her own during a personal time of change. Full of lovely things – books, gardens, wise women and delicious cookies.

We are Okay by Nina LaCour (YA)

Sad and powerful. Absolutely beautifully written.

Up next: I am still reading The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley as I picked up a lot of other titles this week and started reading . . .

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 10/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 7/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 65/300 books read

Progress on challenge: 8 books ahead

#MustReadin2018: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 7/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 8/40 books read

Monday October 16th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

This one is a favourite. Dory Fantasmagory fans being bothered by an even bigger Dory fan, their teacher (me!) being all excited that Dory is getting lots of love! I did leave them in peace after my happy dance.

Our #classroombookaday titles supported our study of insects and arachnids. The book love went to fly vomit and squishy spiders.

Classroom Highlights 

My Monday posts now also contain some sharing from my week in the classroom.

Writing has been a beautiful thing in our classroom. My post on Sunday shared how we are Growing Writers. There are some beautiful samples of student writing shared there.

Part of our celebration of writing was having author Bree Galbraith visit to talk with us about writing and to share her book Milo and Georgie. Students didn’t want to stop talking with her!

I think my favourite question she was asked was this one:

“Did you get an opportunity to be a writer or did you just do it?”

And they loved the read aloud! It looked something like this. (Read aloud rendering by Amelia)

We also have some incredible art happening! Thanks to Maggie in the Art and Discovery studio, we had the opportunity to paint our portraits with water colour paints. I love all of the portraits so much! Each one has such personality shining through.

Lots of math happened this week. A favourite activity was playing this game to practice our doubles facts. Thanks to Carole Fullerton for so many fantastic math games!

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.

Books I enjoyed:

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

Wordless. Caldecott buzz. A huge story in these beautiful pages.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey written by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes and illustrated by Sue Cornelison

Another fantastic title to share with students to give them a sense of the refugee crisis. In this true story, we meet a family who has fled Iraq with their beloved cat. An incredible story of the cat and family being reunited.

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wilde and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

A favourite author and illustrator pairing.  A precious book is protected as a family escapes from war and tries to hang on to important history. 

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Perseverance and risk taking are a journey. Love the way they are depicted here.

What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures written by Jess Keating and illustrated by David DeGrand

The second title in this series by Jess Keating. So. Much. Fun. Keating makes learning an adventure in the wow and wild!

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

A new favourite nonfiction title exploring ecosystems and the importance of keeping oceans healthy. Students will develop an understanding of food chains and how living creatures are interconnected in specific environments.

Hero Dog!: A Branches Book (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) by Hilde Lysiak with Matthew Lysiak 

Can’t wait to share this new Branches series with my students. Written by a young writer with the support of her Dad. This author really does write a newspaper detailing crimes in her community,  A great mystery series!

Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

I read these books and I laugh. Out loud. Often. I think about these books later and I laugh. Again out loud. Just so beautifully amusing. I LOVE the story of the suit Dory sports on the cover.

The Year of the Book (Anna Wang #1) by Andrea Cheng with illustrations by Abigail Halpin

A wonderful series bridging between transitional chapter books and longer middle grade reads. Grades 3 and up.

A Tale of Two Kitties (Dog Man #3) by Dav Pilkey

I couldn’t resist reading this one before it makes its way into my classroom library and is never seen again.

Swing it Sunny by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm

Sequel to Sunny Side Up. I know many of my Grade 4 and 5 readers from last year will be clamouring to read this one. It is well done with incredible details from the 70s.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 244/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 43 books behind schedule. Closing in on 40!

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 32/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 34/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Refugee by Alan Gratz

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

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


I haven’t participated in this meme for almost a year but today’s topic of course called to me.

This week’s topic? Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card

I would purchase a variety of titles – picture books and novels for my classroom. Some I would need to preorder.

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies 

I fell in love with this picture book this week. It surprised me in the best of ways and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Grandad's Island Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

This one is published in October of 2016 and I can’t wait. LOVE Klassen’s hat titles. They have the ideal amount of wit and dark charm in an engaging story.

We Found a Hat Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I love everything that Jenkins and Page do and own most of their titles. This one was released in May and I would love to add it to my collection.

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohman

This one is released in September and it looks fantastic. Fleming does such interesting titles and paired with Eric Rohman? Can’t wait to see this book!

Giant Squid Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport

I am so intrigued by everything I have heard about this book. I think it would make an ideal read aloud in an intermediate classroom.

ada's Violin Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

I read and loved this book in April. Thinking I would like to read it as a read aloud with my new class so would need to have my own copy.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

I so loved reading the first two Dory titles aloud to my class. Can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. This book hits shelves September 20th!

Dory Dory Black Sheep Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

I have been waiting for another Barbara O’Connor title. Not always patiently. Because every book she writes is some kind of magic.  I am the starring member of my own O’Connor fan club. This spring I almost met her in person. One day . . . This title is released at the end of the summer.

wish Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

I heard Peter Brown talk about his first novel in February. I can’t wait to get my own copy!

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager

I read this earlier in the year from the library. It is one book I really think I need to own as I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

hour of the Bees Top Ten Tuesday: Ten titles I would buy right this second

What about you? Where would your book shopping lead you?

Top Ten Read Aloud Experiences (2015)

The #TopTenTuesday theme this week is the top ten best books read in 2015. How we interpret this theme? Up to us. I have some Best of Lists coming up on the blog so I decided to tackle this list a little differently.

My theme this week: Top Ten Read Aloud experiences of 2015.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.


I am looking at the calendar year of 2015. From January to June I taught a Grade 3/4 class. Since September I have taught a Grade 2/3 class.

The Scar written by Charolette Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec

I happen to own a number of books that deal with grief. I always figured that when I needed them, I would have them. And so I keep them close. Now, I need them. Sharing this very emotionally challenging book about a little boy whose mother has died with a little one who needed to see herself in the pages of a book was a read aloud experience I will never forget. Ever. Watching her lighter afterwards made me so glad I have that important stack for when.

The Scar

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney

I appreciated all of the pre-book love this title got in my room. And so, of course, my students from last year had to come in during a recess to have me read this title aloud when Josh Funk sent it our way. This book will always represent serious reading community.

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

This was the first read aloud I attempted with my class this fall. I needed an all kinds of amazing title for a group of kids who had never experienced a chapter book read aloud before. This book delivered!

I was thrilled that Abby Hanlon shared our read aloud joy with this book on her blog.

Dory Fantasmagory

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

When students remain after the bell just to share impressions and reactions, you know you have a winner. I blogged about our beautiful read aloud experience here.

This is Sadie

Wish by Matthew Cordell 

This book means something to me on many, many levels. I read it aloud to my class of three years to send them off on our last day together with the very important message – they were everything I could have wished for and more . . .  And yes, I cried. Those joyous, emotional, meaningful tears.


Little Robot by Ben Hatke

I have never read aloud a graphic novel before. A graphic novel that is basically wordless but for a number of robot noises. This title held my class absolutely spell bound. And inspired!

Little Robot

Little Robot

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Shouting. Shouting. Shouting. This book will always be about the shouting audience. “No! They missed it again!” “Oh my God!” “Seriously?!” This book absolutely surpassed my read aloud expectations!

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by

There was some absolute blow me away kind of thinking around this book in my class. I recorded it here. Children’s compassion and wisdom is a beautiful thing.

A Boy and a Jaguar

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Reading this title was definitely about watching a book be loved. It was also about watching fans be made. Loved every minute of it!

Ballet Cat

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

This is such an incredible title to read aloud. There are moments where the room fills with hold your breath hope that I might not ever forget. This title made funerals such a fascinating prospect that one student earnestly asked my parents (reading volunteers extraordinaire) if she could attend their funerals! I suppose when you spend all day with 8 year olds, the past 65 year olds who visit once a week seem like your best “might have a funeral” prospects. My parents have great senses of humour so recounting this request has been a constant source of amusement!

Each Little Bird That Sings

Do you have some unforgettable read aloud moments?

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the “in between” place

So if you are a voracious children’s book addict, you often experience the world in relation to images and phrases in children’s books. If you have a blog called There’s a Book for That,  you absolutely do . . . Some of you, I know, are with me. Yes?

“Shhh!” I often exclaim, “I have a plan.” (Full credit to Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We Have a Plan) And the children, they actually stop and listen. Yes, for about 2.5 seconds, but still.

When I do something particularly impressive, I might deem it “skilly” (thank you Bob Shea and Cheetah) The “skilly” descriptor elevates things. And makes us smile.

Holy Bagumba!” once was uttered in my classroom (a classroom besotted with Flora & Ulysses) multiple times a day. For a while, when I was reading one of the Clementine novels (thank you Sara Pennypacker) the children delighted in affectionately calling each other vegetable names. Nowadays, we pretend to have Mrs. Gobble Gracker sightings. (Thank you to Abby Hanlon and the wonderful Dory books) Sometimes, I am almost convinced she is lurking around the corner. Sometimes, in very hopeful ways. I could go have a third cup of coffee and Mrs. Gobble Gracker could take care of everything.

A recent afternoon consisted of a mini Betty Bunny (thank you Michael B. Kaplan) reading marathon. All of us professed our love for chocolate cake or equally divine lemon tarts, strawberry cupcakes or apple pie. Although none of us wanted to stuff any of these favourite desserts into our socks (Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake is a must read), we did certainly identify with Betty’s intense love for delicious sweet treats.

We then read Betty Bunny Didn’t Do it and talked a lot about the honest truth. Betty, has switched her obsession from chocolate cake to honest lies and the “situations” she anticipates them saving her from. Honest truths. Honest lies. In the world of Betty Bunny? Quite hilarious. And of course, perfect inspiration for those important conversations we can have with children about accepting responsibility, “owning up” and dealing with the consequences.

I keep thinking about life right now in these categories. Honest truths. Honest lies. The honest truth? This has been a challenging fall. For some reasons I can share freely and for some reasons I can’t. Unfortunately, much is not in my control. Also the truth? That when lots is hard, we doubt what we know. We get pulled from our confidence. We drift from our strengths. We see clouds over what we trust. We don’t feel all that skilly.

Honest lies? Sometimes I tell them to myself until I can get back to the truth. What are they? That I am fully coping. The truth? Not really. Not always. I have been drifting. I have been waiting to see the metaphorical whale in front of me – the inspiration and the amazing in a class full of children that can and does outweigh the challenges that might be swimming around. But storms have taken me off course. I have been doing it all wrong. I have been looking the wrong way.

In If you want to see a whale, the beautiful book written by Julie Fogaliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, Fogliano writes,

“If you want to see a whale, keep both eyes on the sea and wait . . . and wait . . .  and wait . . .”

I have not had both eyes on the sea. My attention has been pulled. I have been looking at foggy, cloudy skies and missing things. But I have kept faith that one day again soon, I will look out at the right time, in the right way and see. When I see my “whale” I will realize that my boat is strong and steady, that I can row in rough waves and that I can pause and appreciate the wonder and the magic of teaching children. I can recognize that multiple little sightings of amazing lead to something with the promise as enormous as a whale.

I didn’t know that Marla Frazee would point me in the exact direction I needed to look. But she did.

Yesterday, Marla Frazee addressed an audience of picture book lovers and devoted fans at the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable‘s Illustrator breakfast. She began with a gracious acknowledgement of her welcome and introduction. She honoured Vancouver’s torrential rain, calling it beautiful and welcome to a California resident. And then, before she launched into an inspirational talk about her books and her art and her practice, she asked, “Is Carrie here?” Once we figured out that she was actually talking about me, I raised my hand. “I just wanted to see who you were,” she explained.

The honest truth? This simple statement was a gift. It made me teary. Teary beyond being flattered that my “super fan status” and my sharing of how meaningful Marla’s titles have been in my classroom had also meant something to her.

Yesterday, in that room full of picture book love, these words from Marla Frazee brought me back. In my searching for a whale metaphor, they steadied my boat. But really, they planted my feet. Right back where they needed to be. They reminded me of who I am.

I am a teacher. A teacher who believes firmly in the gift of literacy.  I am a conduit between authors and illustrators who have magic to give and the children who need to receive it. And when I can, I reflect it back. I love nothing more than to share how very beloved stories are in a community of little readers. I am blessed to sit “in between“- in the middle of the book makers and the readers and listeners who they make these books for.

How lucky we are – reading teachers – who get to read aloud to children daily. To put amazing books in the hands of children. To witness as all of the creative energies, the stories, the world flows to these students entrusted to us from nine to three each day. To bask in the wow moments as these children shine it back out into the world. And sometimes, to catch bits of that and pass it back to the book makers who shared in the first place . . .  It is a beautiful thing.

The honest truth? I am a reading teacher. And I have important work to do. Marla Frazee, thank you for reminding me of this. What a pleasure it was to listen to your wisdom and meet you yesterday.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

Thank you also to the wonderful Nancy Johnson from Western Washington University who I loved visiting with yesterday. She hears the same words I do when we are in the presence of author/illustrator brilliance and writes them down and holds them close. I love that we both know that through books we find most of the answers and all of the questions and that these beloved book makers, when they share, help to illuminate both. Your students, Nancy, are so blessed to have you shine the light on this.

And so, on Monday, I will do what I do. I will let books do what they do. Yesterday, I found the perspective and the emotion I had been missing. Hard things wear us down. It would be an honest lie to say all is well, but honestly, truthfully, I feel like I have renewed energy to focus on what I need to be doing each day.

For me, yes. But more importantly, for my students.

For the children who want to be readers and who aren’t yet . . . For each child, no matter how they express this – through quiet admissions, through masking behaviours, through various emotions, through smiles of pride as progress happens. For these children, I will continue searching for books that each one can read at every stage so that we all get to feel like the books in our room are for all of us. I made a pit stop at Vancouver Kidsbooks yesterday, to fuel up. Yes, there are over a thousand books in my classroom library but each new group of readers has new needs and so I will always be book shopping.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For Joey in my class who just wants to read all day and is on #2 of Stone Rabbit and our classroom library has only #1 to #3, I purchased these. Because nothing makes me happier than hearing a child tell me, “I just want to read all day. Can I?” Oh, reading bug, I hope the contagion factor is very high. Go forth and infect!

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the children who comment, “Look at all of those books we have read,” I will continue to read aloud. Every day. Multiple times. For those who ask me to read more books like “this” of “that” I will find them and I will read them so that all of us are hearing the stories we need to hear.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the Elephant and Piggie devotion, we will celebrate and read and read and read. And giggle, of course.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the buddy reading pride. Such an amazing thing to watch these moments between my students and the little ones who come to visit each Wednesday afternoon. As Marla Frazee said yesterday, anything an illustrator puts in a picture, the children will see. They naturally know how to read pictures. I want to give them multiple opportunities to do just this.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

Because I have readers to support. Because I have learners to celebrate. Because this is what I believe in. All the World shines through when I know this.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

And yes, for those who have been asking, more blog posts should be happening. Soon. Maybe not quite as often but they are coming.

Celebration: This and That

I am posting a little later than usual on this Saturday. I needed a walk in the beautiful fall sunshine and some time skating through the fallen leaves. There are colour explosions everywhere in my neighbourhood. Just gorgeous.

This week I want to celebrate some general things – like the beautiful fall we are experiencing, the support of good friends and the strength I take from my daily walk to work.

I also want to share a little bit of this and a little bit of that from my week in my classroom.

I honour the importance of play and all of the language, problem solving and creativity it inspires.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I am thrilled that one child fell hard for Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka. He just hasn’t figured out how to read them all at once!

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I particularly loved the comment from one child who looked at our recently read/book talked fiction shelf and said, “Wow. We have read a LOT of books.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

We finished our first novel of the year – Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon and the students drew some pictures and did some writing about it.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I had the opportunity to go see Ben Hatke here in Vancouver and have started reading Little Robot to my class.

Little Robot Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

After I shared the first 25 or so pages of the book, the children did some robot drawings. One little listener was able to retell much of the first section after just that one read through. Impressive!
Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

The robots are all kinds of adorable.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

One child was away when we did our art and came in early one morning to work on his drawings.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I am happy to celebrate this, that and all of it.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

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


Celebration: From Here

If you read this blog, you know I am a reader who shares. I am a teacher who believes in the transformative power of stories. I spend thousands of dollars and endless time filling, organizing and thinking about my classroom library. Recently, I have shared details about it here and here and here.

This year, I moved from a grade 3/4 class (mostly 4s) to a grade 2/3 class (mostly 2s). This summer, I spent time switching out books that would likely not be at the reading or interest level of my new students. I thought a lot about how to ensure I “switched on” the reading love with this new group. I even wrote a post about it: Literary Nest Building 101. Two weeks in, some of my instincts were bang on. We are reading a lot of humour filled silly stories. Read aloud time is joyous! It often ends with “Read it again!” We read multiple times a day. Every afternoon we begin with a #classroombookaday and on Friday we vote for our favourite. The children love this. One of them has even figured out that I will share the news with the author if I can.

“Ms. Gelson you have to tweet Cece Bell! I Yam a Donkey is the winner of the vote this week! Tweet her so she knows.”

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We have connected books with celebration. We read the amazing story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and made a dot of dots. This dot is now hanging in our room and we broke out a fancy felt pen to have each of us sign our names around the outside.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Our first chapter book read aloud was the perfect pick for many children who have never listened to a chapter book read aloud. It is illustrated, it is full of kid humour and fun and it works a little bit like magic. As soon as I start reading it, these little bundles of energy and distractibility start to calm as they inch closer and closer to me to listen at the carpet. I think some of them even hold their breath as they listen. I feel little hands on my arm, on my shoe, on my leg as if touching me can bring them further into the book. When Dory explained about ketchup monster noises, there was a whisper, “So that’s what that noise is.” When Dory shot Mrs. Gobble Gracker in the butt with a sleeping dart, there was pure joy that their teacher said “in the butt” out loud! They laughed and giggled but they also shared knowing smiles that said, “How cool are we?” I hear them heading home at the end of the day debating whether Mary, the Monster is really a monster, really even real or some strange talking dog. 🙂 I will be forever in your debt Abby Hanlon for Dory Fantasmagory!

Dory Fantasmagory Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We started our first nonfiction read aloud: Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg by Mia Posada and the children love listening for “specific” words to add to our vocabulary list. Words like swamp, water-proof and instinct. Many of them were delighted when I explained to them that they could take their new knowledge home to share with their families. I am sure a lot of Moms and Dads and Grandmas heard about how alligators, despite all of their teeth actually don’t chew their food but swallow it whole. “I guess their teeth are just there to look scary,” suggested one child.

guess what is growing inside this egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

These children love books. They love stories. They love to be read to. They love to sit with a book that we have read together and in twos or threes retell or reread the story. I think I have heard Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We have a Plan about thirty times. I might have it memorized! Such an engaging fun book to read and feel successful.

“Ready one . . . ready two . . . Ready three . . . GO! “

Shh! We have a plan Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

And . . . (I am not going to write but) many children (more than half) in my new classroom are not reading even close to grade level “expectations.” This, I was not fully prepared for. Not to this extent, not so many children. Expectations, levels, proficiency are all descriptors that can officially name what is happening for these students. I am going to name it this way: they aren’t independent. (“Can you read this to me?” “I wish I could read this book.”) They desperately want to be. (“I really need to learn to read more words.”) They don’t identify as readers. (“I can’t read.” “I don’t know how.”) They can’t self select titles that correspond to their levels. (filling book boxes with chapter books because this is what they want to read when they can’t read 90% of the text on the page.) They need to be reading and they aren’t and this is not okay.

I feel a lot of things as I have discovered this. I feel angry and I am not going to elaborate on what I know has gone wrong. I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

I began sharing wordless titles in “tell aloud” experiences to make the point that we can read with or without words. That the pictures tell a story. That our own experiences and inferences fill in the missing pieces. That we have a sense of stories that is in us and we bring it to the books we read.

hank finds an egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Friday afternoon, I packed up books from the classroom library into three rubbermaid bins. 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.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I filled display shelves with titles we have read and loved together. We need to look around and see our reading experiences in our environment.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I went to the library and brought up bins of levelled readers and have them available not to start labelling a child with a number but to have titles to place into book boxes that match reading ability and a “ladder” to climb. I filled some other display shelves full of books that many of us can read with success. Displaying titles honours them. It screams, “Hey you! Read me!” It says these books are for us.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I celebrate that I must get my students reading. I acknowledge the fear and the worry. I accept the challenge. I celebrate the necessity, the urgency and the will.

From here . . . here we go.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Happy 100 celebrations! I haven’t shared 100 times yet. But, in the future, I will get there. Every celebration gives me more.

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. This week, knowing that I must celebrate allowed me to frame this challenge in the most positive way possible. Healthy for me, necessary for my students.


Monday July 27th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. Now that it is summer, I am not surrounded every day with little readers so . . . I am choosing moments from the year not previously shared. I love this photo of these three girls so engaged writing about their Mock Caldecott choices.

From the classroom 2014/2015 archives:

Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

I also have to share this group of books. My daughter is a reading buddy this summer, working with an eight year old girl. She came into my classroom library and selected some books to read with her buddy. Great taste don’t you think?

Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

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 this week:

Top Ten Titles that Celebrate Diversity for Top Ten Tuesday

For Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water Connects us All: titles on a water theme.

Celebration: Talking Classroom Libraries

Sunday Reflections: Ten Things I will do again this school year 

Books I read and loved:

Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon

I am completely enamoured with Dory. I kind of want her to come to life so that I can teach her. I love her spunk, her wild imagination and her observations about the world. This title is just as much fun as the first Dory book. Both titles will be in my classroom library this fall.

Dory and the Real True Friend Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Squishy McFluff Meets Mad Nana Dot written by Pip Jones and illustrated by Ella Okstad

I don’t always like rhyming text but Pip Jones makes it work in these Squichy McFluff titles about little Ava and her “invisible” cat. Nana Dot gets a pretty smashing hairstyle in this title!

Squishy McFluff Meets Mad Nana Dot Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

George in the Dark by Madeline Valentine

So many children are so very afraid of the dark. This title captures how this fear plays itself out in the dark, trying to go to sleep time.

George in the Dark Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Banjo and Ruby Red written by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

I love this story telling team from Australia. This is a tender story of friendship and compassion between farmyard animals.

 Banjo and Ruby Red Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle. Seriously? That should tell you everything about how wonderfully off the wall this graphic novel happens to be. Clever, witty and many shades of absurd. Love it!

Phoebe and her Unicorn Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Completely engaging, I read this before getting out of bed Sunday morning. Two stories interweave in these pages. Salva’s story of walking from war, from family and from all that he knows and finally coming to America. And Nya’s daily walk for water, a tedious and exhausting walk that she and her family depend on.

ALongWalkToWater Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 40/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 263/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 15/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 52/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 28/50 books read

Up next? I am still reading Black Dove  White Raven by Elizabeth Wein as I was reading multiple novels at the same time. It is absolutely an incredible read. I find myself putting it down for a few days and reading something else just to let it all sink in. This is my book stack for my time away. Always, I bring more books than I will have time to read because you just never know . . .

Monday July 27th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Happy Reading everyone! See you in two weeks 

Monday April 13th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This picture makes me completely smile. This is one of our readers from the BLG law firm that visits with a new book each week. He is reading us Strongheart: The World’s First Movie Star Dog. I love that one listener couldn’t remain seated and stood next to him through the entire read aloud.

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This week it has to be two photos as it just gets cuter! My class so loves to be read to!

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This week I also shared details of some very special buddy reading we did when we had a K class visit us from another school.

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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


I read a wide variety of picture books this week:

Gaston written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson

What makes family? Having your Dad’s blue eyes or feeling like you belong? This book lets us ask those important questions. There will also be some giggles and smirks along the way.

Gaston Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham

I love all that John Burningham does! He captures vivid childhood imagination so very well.

The Way to the Zoo Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Strongheart The World’s First Movie Star Dog by Emily Arnold McCully

What an interesting story about a retired police dog that started acting in silent movies. We learned about Strongheart’s training, how he needed to be taught how to play and about his deep connections to his owners. My students were captivated.

Strongheart Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Coyote Run by Gaëtan Dorémus

Wild wordless about the wild west. Won’t be for everyone but should be experienced.

Coyote Run Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sam’s Pet Temper written by Sangeeta Bhadra and illustrated by Marion Arbona

This book explores many aspects of anger and self control – some really quite well. Others, still not sure as I haven’t had a chance to “kid test” this book. Love how strategies of calming down are explored.

Sams Pet Temper Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Camp Rex by Molly Idle

This book made me nostalgic for story time with my own children – I can see this being a read it again and again title when they were small. Charming. Sweet. Silly.

Camp Rex Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch

I can see this book being used in a high school class and keeping conversation going for days. Not a book I would pick up and read without previewing with a primary class. Could intermediate classes manage this? Absolutely. There is much to talk about. It poses such large and important questions about war. Just who is the enemy?  What and whose purposes does war serve? How do we remember the humanity behind each soldier? Powerful.

Enemy Davide Cali Serge Bloch Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In other reading:

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

I literally laughed out loud multiple times reading this book. It is absolutely silly and full of fantasy, imagination and “made-up-ish-ness” attached to many things. It is over the top at the same time as absolutely accurately portraying sibling dynamics, parent frustration and little child antics. Full of wonderful illustrations, this has ADORED written all over it.

Dory Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Whoa Maggie. What a girl you are. Voice bellows from the pages. What a family. So much that is challenging. Not much that is perfect. So very endearing.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

If you just read the poems in this book, I suspect it would garner its fair share of 5/5 ratings. But then there is Gabi and her story. Her story is everything. She is surrounded by issues via her family, her friends, her own experiences. Drug addiction. Teenage Pregnancy. Coming out. Family rejection. Teenage hormones. Teenage dreams. Grief. Angst. Passion. Gabi is . . . such an out there character -not out there as in extreme or strange but out there in terms of honest and real and relatable. Loved this novel for so many reasons. Highly recommended.

Gabi A girl in pieces Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 18/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 145/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 8/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 30/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 14/50 books read

Up next? I am about to begin Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Monday October 21st, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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 reads! Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read!

I read many picture books this week. Unfortunately, many were just okay. Yet, many were wonderful. These picture books stood out:

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon

Just. Delightful. And then some!!! Oh, do I love this book! I love the quirky teacher – her style, her passion, her celebration of just about everything! I love Ralph’s avoidance strategies. I love Daisy’s ability to see a story in everything. I love that Ralph spends lots of time lying under his desk. And I love the story of the inchworm. Inspiring for little writers? Oh yeah! But also just such a warm representation of a primary classroom. Swoon.

 Ralph Tells a Story #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Crocodile who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino

The illustrations in this story are absolutely charming. Meet a little crocodile that abhors water. He watches his siblings from afar and finally gets enough courage to dive in himself. Cured of his water phobia? Hardly. And it turns out there is a very good reason why not . .

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Little Red Writing written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I have seen much #booklove for this title so I will get this out in the open quickly: I, personally, did not love this book. I love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations as I always do. I find the storyline clever and full of possibilities for writing workshop activities. But . . . I worry that this title doesn’t have enough stand alone enjoyment factor as a picture book. Did I read it and feel transported? No. Did it make me laugh? No. Did it evoke emotions? No. Was it just a great story? Not sure. I’m reserving final judgement until I try it out on kids. There was enough to like that I am including it as a title I enjoyed but . . . jury is still out.

Litte Red Writing #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late by Mo Willems

Not sure how I had yet to read this Pigeon title. Read part of it with a student in a reading conference this week and then nabbed it from her book box when recess started. As always, I am delighted by Willems’ ability to engage the reader to participate so actively in his stories. My students adore the Pigeon!

Toads on Toast written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Colin Jack

I liked how Mamma Toad schemed to save her little toadlets from Fox and his cookbook full of toad recipes! In the end, we learn that a truly simple and delicious meal can truly save the day (and the toads)! Lots of humour and delightful illustrations.

Toads on Toast #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier

Some confusion. A worried bear. A clever bee. A made-to-be-friendship. Sweet and simple. Perfect for story time.

Bear and Bee #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read two wonderful nonfiction picture books:

What does it Mean to be Present? by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

We practice mindfulness in our classroom (read more about the Mind Up curriculum here) so I am very excited to share this title with my students. It highlights with various daily examples what it really means to be present in the moment.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing with art by Julia Breckenreid

I continue to be impressed with the variety of picture book biographies available to share in the classroom. This title had me stopping numerous times to carefully examine the images in the book. I learned many things about colour and can see this being a wonderful title to share with children of all ages.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I read:

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

A quiet, introspective story about a 12 year old girl, her brother and her grandparents during a wheat harvesting season. Family dynamics are beyond believable and ring with all that is true about relationships that span generations and cultures. And wow did I learn a lot about the seasonal work of harvesters! True, the plot is not fast paced but can see this being a story that speaks to the inner voices of many preteens. A lovely book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Girl, Stolen by April Henry 

I have had a terrible cold all weekend and found this to be the perfect title to read while sick in bed. Certainly suspenseful but calm enough to put down when extra rest was needed. Still, I raced thorough this book in a day and enjoyed learning so much about being blind from the main character. Even though this is a YA title, I can see mature MG readers finding the text and story line easy to navigate and not too upsetting.

Girl, Stolen #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up from my very large TBR pile? Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord Very excited to begin this title! I also have a number of picture books and nonfiction titles I want to test out on my own children this week. I am finishing my first chapter book read aloud with my class (Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner) and think I’m going to read them The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor next.