Monday October 9th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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

Loved reading aloud this title on Friday as I had a little walking skeleton dressed for the occasion!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Our #classroombookaday titles focussed on story telling and becoming writers. So glad I chose to share these titles so early in the year. Some highlights from our learning included:

  • The middle is where all of the good stuff happens.
  • Tell more!
  • Write the stories around you.
  • Illustrations also tell stories. Pictures have important details.
  • Everyone loves to share stories!

After reading Ralph Tells a Story we were inspired to make a list of story ideas in our writer’s notebooks. I can’t wait to read about overflowing bathtubs, funny families and big and little adventures!

Monday October 9th, 2017Classroom Highlights 

In this recent post Dear Blog Readers,  I explained how I will be sharing more of what is happening in our classroom each week. Some highlights:

On Wednesday and Thursday evening we hosted Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students. It was really lovely to meet families (including older and little siblings) and participate in meaningful conversations about learning, happiness and engagement. I loved this drawing left behind by one little brother. It reminded me to listen with big ears!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Kindergarten students have so much to share. I love to pop in to the K classrooms on my prep to see what is happening. One little author/illustrator read me her animal book. 🙂

Monday October 9th, 2017

One of my students wants to be a poet. She shared her notebook with me this week. During Choices time one afternoon, she was working on her writing. She turned to a new page and exclaimed, “I love when a blank page turns into a story.” Her supportive Mom had taken her to the public library this week and helped her to sign out some poetry titles!

Monday October 9th, 2017

We have been writing to the people in our school community. I love this letter to our school engineer:

“Parm Thank you for everything. Our light is broken Parm. Can you fix it please and pretty?”

Here are our wipe off math mats patiently waiting for us to return from music and recess so we can continue practicing decomposing numbers to add.

Monday October 9th, 2017Little mathematicians at work! Overheard: “Let’s try that one again. I think we’ve almost got it.” Math is social! When we work together our learning multiplies.Monday October 9th, 2017Students are now taking the lead solving math riddles. This student is crossing out numbers on the 100s chart that have been eliminated by specific clues. Her classmates are so attentive!

Monday October 9th, 2017

After choral counting, we notice so many patterns! My job? To record all of the thinking that is shared.

Monday October 9th, 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.

Books I enjoyed:

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again by Dan Santat

Kind of impossible to talk about this book without giving anything away. I will just say this. I read a LOT of picture books. I often find books that touch an emotional nerve or inspire a sense of awe or make me laugh out loud. I am amazed at the calibre of titles that continue to be published. But I don’t often find myself completely surprised. This book surprised me. The ending caught me off guard and I loved it!

La La La: A Story of Hope written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Jaime Kim

Well, wow. This book – with only these three little repeated utterances: La, La, La and some more than expected and then some illustrations – pulls off an experience that is pretty incredible. I read a bit of criticism in the reviews about this being a challenging title to share as a read aloud. I think in a room with an adult who knows his/her readers and where there is space for wondering and talk, this book would be amazing. I need to get my own copy and prove it very soon.

La La La- A Story of Hope 2

The Wish Tree written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham

In search of a wish tree . . . There is much here about unwavering belief, hope and kindness. A magical experience.

Hooray for Books! by Brian Won

I am not quite sure what could be better than a book about book love. Such a celebration!

Hooray for Books!

Imagine by John Lennon with illustrations by Jean Jullien

A gorgeous picture book of the famous song by John Lennon. I will be sharing this as November 11th approaches. An important book to inspire conversations about peace.

Animal Camouflage: Search and Find by Sarah Dennis and Sam Hutchinson

Can’t wait to put this title out for some of our Soft Start mornings. I know students will pour over it as they learn about continents and various animals. Just beautiful.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

I was so excited to finally have the chance to read this book and I couldn’t put it down. It was full of surprises and the ending just about knocked me over. I now feel like my students who read Mighty Jack last year and then whined all year about the second in the series not yet being published. Consider this my first whine: WHEN is Book 3 coming?

Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Wonderfully quirky, gentle and true. The unbelievable becomes believable in this middle grade novel about a girl who literally has a bee hive in her hair. Not a bee hive hair style. A hive of bees who take up residence. Really. She also has a missing brother. A there, but not really, mother. A boy named Birch waiting to be her friend. And . . . those bees. Loved this book!

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 231/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 49 books behind schedule.  Under 50 this week!

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 29/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up next? I have a lot of transitional chapter books on the go as I get ready to book talk more titles for my classroom!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have!

An early intermediate library is such fun to build. Students are ready for longer chapter books with more complex and compelling story lines but they still adore silly and engaging stories that some early graphics and picture books might offer them. Picture books can be clever and witty and nonfiction can be managed quite independently. So many possibilities!

What twenty titles from 2016 do I think are must have books in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom library?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

This book love is inspired by my students’ reading passions and my own reading journey as I source books for them.

Listed alphabetically by author:

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol

Kids this age are beginning to understand that alone time is precious and sometimes hard to achieve. This is wonderfully humorous!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

How a story about a robot can be so tender, I don’t know. Heavily illustrated which makes it wonderfully rich. Themes of compassion, kindness and connection.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Achy and real. This book will squeeze you heart. A beautiful, teary emotional ride. But full of hope, not sad. At least not too much sad. The hope wins.

Counting Thyme Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

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.

 Giant Squid Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Just pure poetry perfection.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Some kind of everything in this book. Fantastic, engaging, emotional, full of heart, full of adventure. This is the read aloud I am starting with in January.

Some Kind of Courage Monday Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

This book! Ben Hatke is a super hero in my classroom. This will become the “it” book in the room. Prepare to never see it again except when a child holds it wailing, “When does the next one come out?” (Fall of 2017) Relatable and fantastical all at once.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

A book to explore endlessly. Infographics are an incredible source of information. Use this book to teach how to access this information correctly.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats. 

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?

Tooth by Tooth Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

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

Big emotions is a tiny book. Necessary for young readers. All about the challenging process of saying goodbye.

Ida, Always Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

Who would think that ice fishing, Irish dancing, magical elements and heroin addiction could be combined to create a story that is impossible both to put down and then impossible to keep from immediately recommending? I have much gratitude to Kate Messner for writing this book.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Readers will fall hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. This would be a fantastic read aloud or an engaging read alone.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Oh, the kid appeal! I chuckled through this and did a lot of head shaking. There is one scene that involves a pile of dog poop that I know I never would have thought of – thankfully! This book continues to be read and reread in my room. Kids LOVE the step by step drawing pages in the back.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

CaveBoy Dave: More Scrawny than Brawny by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew

Highly appealing. A relatable underdog main character. Lots of poop. Again, the poop! Prehistoric creatures. Action. Adventure. Humour. And . . . a series! What more could kids want?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Because fairy tales can be incredible. Reimagined and retold can go wrong but Shurtliff always gets it right (add Rump and Jack to your collection too!)

Red Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Ravi has just moved from India. Joe has been here for what seems forever. They share a few things in common – a relationship with a bully and the daily classroom and lunch room experiences of middle school. Alternately narrated by both characters, this book reminds us that it is challenging for all kids to fit in, to find your way and to be noticed for who you are.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Willems is more than brilliant and doesn’t disappoint in any way in this last Elephant and Piggie title. Students this age have had Willems as a staple of their reading lives. This book is a must have. They will grieve that there will be no more Elephant & Piggie and then get back to celebrating all the ways Elephant & Piggie are part of who they are!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Intermediate libraries? They need a mix of everything!

Love books. Give your students lots of time to read. Let them choose books so they can read widely and obsessively. Read aloud daily. Share often. Gush and be ridiculously demonstrative with your book love!

Build your library.

Invest in your readers.

They matter.

Happy Reading!

 

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season

I love to book shop all year round. In the winter holiday season, I love to insist everyone else should partake. Making a picture book list to give is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014.  Last year I bumped the list to 25 (2015). And this number seems to be the sweet spot. There are lots of books to love! It is a joy to recommend many of my favourites of the year!

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Which books make the list? There are some things I think about. Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh?

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said. Well, except to point out that the illustrations are especially swoon worthy.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

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

I think this picture book has shades of pure perfection within it. A spotlight on the ridiculous “must be” wedding planning that occurs when love should just prevail. And please note, this is love for love’s sake. Not love that fits in any cookie cutter mold. How I adore this book.

WormLoves Worm

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Return by Aaron Becker

The third book in a trilogy (give the entire collection!). I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in Journey and Quest. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.

Return

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

I echo what so many others say – oh, if this book had only existed when my children were small. It has so much going on! Each page is full of details and yet a very lovely story of one family unfolds throughout. Spend ages on each page.

the-airport-book

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

This is such an inspiring book based on actual events in San Diego – how a neighborhood can be changed and strengthened by art. Illustrator Rafael López is more than the illustrator here – he is the inspiration for the character of the muralist.

Maybe Something Beautiful

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

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

This book is very funny. Very, very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

When this book was first published, someone said it was my kind of book. It is most definitely my kind of book. I think it might also be your kind of book. Gently perfect.

The Knowing Book

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

This is just a wow title. It has so much of what I love in a picture book – some surprises, a intergenerational connection, a sense of wonder, lots of creativity . . . Divine.

The Night Gardener Monday April 11th, 2016

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

This book is so well done. Talking about the story is giving away the story. So I’ll just say this: clever, really funny, perfect read aloud to inspire much conversation about how to look at life.

Barnacle is Bored Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

This book is just incredibly beautiful in its simplicity – the search for silence. One to share and share again. The illustrations are captivating.

the-sound-of-silence

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved.

nobody-likes-a-goblin

Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce just might be my favourite grump. Lots of giggles here.

hotel-bruce2

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Oh Flora, you sure can move. And this time with not one, but two, dancing partners. Stunning all around!

Flora and the Peacocks Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Like many, I eagerly anticipated this title. Klassen is so unique. I love the subtle things here. The hints. The suggestions. The not neatly wrapped up ending. The room for readers to do some work.

We Found a Hat

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

This is a tender book about friendship and loss. Allows for conversations about preparing for a death and carrying on. A very special (fictional) story based on a real connection between two bears in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Ida, Always Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Finding Wild written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Where can you find wild? What is wild to you? Why do we need wild? How is wild beautiful and dangerous all at the same time. Just so full of wow.

Finding Wild Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Listzs by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (coming in October)

Quirky with gorgeous illustrations and prompts wonderful list making. A great book to share with children who appreciate all the lovely language in the lists. Highly recommended.

the-liszts

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

So very clever. Literal twists and turns! Quite the reading experience exploring the feeling of time’s passage on a road trip.

Are we there Yet?

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Because picture books are especially treasured as they lull us to sleep.

twenty-yawns

 

The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. The illustrations here are incredible.

the-water-princess

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant. So rich with possibilities to share and talk about perspective, self and the world.

they-all-saw-a-cat

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Well, I am absolutely smitten. This book speaks of friendship and individuality and acceptance and patience. I am kind of in love.

Be a Friend

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

Monday November 21st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This photo of students book shopping before school started was part of my Celebration post this week.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. Suggestions for this theme included hope, faith, finding the beautiful and grappling with expectations.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Celebration: The Formula The secret to book love in the classroom. Although, IMWAYR community, I know you know this so very well.

Books I enjoyed:

Many of these titles will likely be part of my #MockCaldecott list this year! Very excited to be narrowing down my list.

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be. So much additional information in the author’s note, glossary and bibliography.

the-princess-and-the-warrior-a-tale-of-two-volcanoes

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I had no idea that Louis Braille was so young when he invented braille. I also didn’t realize, as Bryant points out in the back matter, that so many inventors were teenage inventors. Amazing. This is not just a fascinating story that is beautifully illustrated, it is also full of a wealth of additional information in the final pages. One thing that broke my heart a little here was how much young Louis wanted to be able to read books on his own. Again, this speaks to the importance of access to literature for all kinds of readers.

six-dots-a-story-of-young-louis-braille

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph written by Roxane Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo

I am blown away by this title and kind of have no words. These poems. This art. These small moments of a day captured in one incredible photograph. Nonfiction and poetry combine to tell the story of one day with a goal of one photograph – snapped by Art Kane in Harlem,1958. Would make a beautiful gift book. Trying to justify gifting it to myself.

jazz-day-the-making-of-a-famous-photograph

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The art in this book is beyond, beyond. Absolutely stunning. An incredible biography made accessible to children. I particularly appreciated the back matter here. Information on Motifs and symbolism in Basquiat’s work is something I will certainly share with students when we explore this book. Steptoe’s author’s note is very important too. Especially this:

“Basquiat’s success seemed to me to begin an era of inclusion and diversity in fine arts where there had been little to none. This meant as a young African American artist coming up that my chances of having my voice heard and achieving mainstream success were majorly expanded.”

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin by Matt Tavares

This is an interesting story of balancing acts and feats that are all kinds of incredible. First, not to be believed and then, seemingly not all that impressive. Except, they actually become more impressive. Jean François Gravelet who became the greatest tightrope walker in the world and acquired the name the Great Blondin was truly an incredible acrobat and performer. In 1859, he made his first walk across the falls and went on to make even more spectacular crossings. Crowds that at first had absolutely no faith in his abilities later seemed disinterested. This is a testament to public fickleness and has nothing to do with the accomplishments of the Great Blondin. Back matter reveals that in sixty five years as a rope walker,he was never injured. Pick up this book to get a peek at some of his incredible performances.

crossing-niagara

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Oh, this book. I had heard of this orchestra in the news in the last year and knew I had to own this book. There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.

adas-violin

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My class is Ben Hatke crazy. Like, madly, deeply obsessed. Graphic novels are read, reread and shared around the room. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is never on the shelf as someone is always using it to draw the creatures located inside. “Hasn’t he done something else?” I am frequently asked. So finally, I got my act together and purchased this book. It is full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved, I know. Now, I just need to figure out how to introduce it to our classroom collection without some kind of stampede.

nobody-likes-a-goblin

Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

Lizi Boyd does the most amazing things with books – getting us to look at the page in new ways. This is part concept book about opposites, part story book and part work of art. There are so many ways this title could be used in the classroom.

big-bear-little-chair

Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl

I read an ARC of this engaging historical fiction title in the summer and forgot to share it. This is a sequel to Odin’s Promise which I haven’t read but found picking up this title and just beginning to be easy.

From Goodreads:

Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian
girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord. German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily
life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her
family and a few close friends.

I connected quickly with the character of Mari and loved her connection with her family. I love that Brehl chose to  look at this time in history and focused on this one family, and more specifically this one girl. Mari’s life becomes about daily difficult decisions and she must focus on protecting her family and trying to understand the actions of those around her. Living under Nazi occupation hits a small village hard. This novel asks the reader to imagine how absolutely everything is not the same during war times. Trust is fragile and invaluable at the same time. A wonderful historical fiction title.

bjorns-gift-cover-large

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

This is the kind book I try to avoid when I hear about it. But it lures me at the same time. Picking it up is about being brave and open to all kinds of emotions. The vulnerability showcased hits too close to home. A Dad who has a stroke out of nowhere. His teen children and wife need to find a way to cope. I have teen children. I can’t even imagine something like this happening to us. This book immerses its reader in the experience pretty fully. It is hard. I was often weepy. But, Sonnenblick can take us to these sad and scary places and remind us of our strengths and the power of others to get us through. Highly recommended.

falling-over-sideways

Reading Progress updates:

*Note: I am 50 books behind on my reading challenge this year. 50 books! This doesn’t usually happen. But then, it’s been quite a year. Moving and setting up a new classroom ate into my reading time for months. A saner person would embrace forgiveness and say, this year, I might not meet my challenge. Me? Not ready to throw in the towel yet. I have report cards to get through and then, I am determined to plow through and reach my goal! Which includes reading 19 novels still . . .

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 56/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 304/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 50 books behind! Yikes!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 44/50 books read

Up Next? I am reading Little Man by Elizabeth Mann (look for this one!) and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Monday September 19th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Here is the first reading photo of students in my new room! This group loves to read and they literally perch all around the room and get lost in their books.

Monday September 19th, 2016 IMWAYR

For our first #classroombookaday titles, I chose a theme around self. Students described this theme in a variety of ways: “Be who you are.” “Be you.” “Don’t be afraid to be your true self.”

Monday September 19th, 2016 IMWAYR

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

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Slice of Life: Knowing and Not Knowing (Written the night before my first day of school)

Celebration: Week One in the Land of the New

Books I enjoyed:

The Whale by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow

Such an interesting concept for a picture book – the story is revealed through a combination of dense, dark wordless pages (absolutely stunning) and details and further elements to the story shared through newspaper clippings at either end of the book. Quite the experience. I was fascinated.

the-whale

The Listzs by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (coming in October)

I used this book on the first teaching day with the students I taught before we switched classes. It’s quirky with gorgeous illustrations and prompts wonderful list making (which we spent the morning doing). A great book to share with intermediate students who appreciate all the lovely language in the lists. Highly recommended.

the-liszts

The Menino: A Story Based on Real Events by Isol (translated by Elisa Amado)

Oh this book. Life with a baby and life as a baby revealed in this wonderful book. Captures how little ones transform and enchant.

the-menino

Leaping Lemmings! written by John Biggs and illustrated by Nicola Slater

So if you were a lemming and all of the lemmings were going to jump off a cliff, it would be the thing to do, yes? Yes! Well, actually, no. Hold on! Lemmings all act and think alike. But is there another way? I loved all of the speech bubbles and the interesting illustrations in this title. Larry the lemming is a hero of sorts.

leaping-lemmings

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days written by Shelly Becker and illustrated by Eda Kaban

We all need to use our powers for good and a bad day or a bad mood is not an excuse to do otherwise. This is a fun rhyming book about managing big emotions. Younger primary classes will relate to the message. Older groups will love the super hero antics!

even-superheroes-have-bad-days

Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

First sleep away camp can be full of emotions. This little illustrated chapter book captures them so very well.

like-bug-juice-on-a-burger

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

So, well, I will start with a warning: Waiting for the sequel will feel unbearable! This book! Ben Hatke just keeps getting better. I haven’t seen this book since I brought it into my classroom. It is currently the “it” book in my room and for good reason. Relatable and fantastical all at once.

mighty-jack

Saving the Whole Wide World (Hilo 2) by Judd Winick

I love these titles and so do my students. Funny, quirky and action packed!

saving-the-whole-wide-world-hilo-2

Legends of Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke

Zita is another favourite character! This book is nonstop action. I was exhausted keeping up but thoroughly entertained.

legends-of-zita

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 40/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 253/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 32/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 30/50 books read

Up next? I am still reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (so good) and have a number of other titles on the go.

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.

TTT

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.

Wish

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?

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.

celebrate-link-up