Monday August 8th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. During the summer, these photos will be about getting my classroom library up and running for a room full of readers in September. Moving spaces and grade levels and sourcing bookshelves has been a lot of work!

So basically going from this (the classroom collection of books sat in these boxes until the floors were done and I could completely unpack).

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

To the beginning of unpacking and organizing . . .

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

One shelf all ready for books – this will be where nonfiction titles end up.

Monday August 8th, 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:

For Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Titles I would buy right this second

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby

Books I enjoyed:

Return by Aaron Becker

This trilogy is very special. I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in the first two titles. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.

Return

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

This has a Blueberries for Sal vibe to it. Since that was my favourite book from my childhood, I will say I loved many elements in this title!

Explorers of the Wild

 The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora

Non-book-appreciating monsters do not make for a peaceful reading environment. Let’s just say that all works out in the end and that there is a lot of book love in this book!

The Not So Quiet Library

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Now, I must admit, I do appreciated tidy and neat environments. But, I can also be productive with mess all around me. This title shows us what happens when we want the wrong locations to be too neat and clean.

Tidy

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

When a little one hates reading because reading does not come easily . . . When there is an opportunity to read aloud to a dog . . . Lots can shift with the right opportunities.

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

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

The Toad by Elise Gravel

The seventh in the Disgusting Critters collection – I was thrilled to find this at the bookstore the other day!

The Toad by Elise Gravel

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner

I think I might like this Marty McGuire title best of all. Marty is so earnest and often has the worst luck but I sure appreciate her spirit. A wonderful series of early middle grade novels.

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!2

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

I featured this title for nonfiction Wednesday – see the link above. Just stunning.

Cloth Lullaby

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda  by Tom Angleberger  

Okay, yes, it’s true. I had never read this book. I own two copies. My children have read this book. But me, nope! And then I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I have a class of grade 4/5s this fall and want to make sure I am up to date on many middle grade titles. This is middle grade perfection.

Strange Case

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds 

Jason Reynolds writes incredible characters. Unforgettable believable characters. In this middle grade title, he delivers characters and relationships in a rich, quietly humorous story full of questions, wisdom and love.

As Brave as You

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 31/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 213/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 31/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 26/50 books read

Up next? I am reading a number of titles including Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Wrapped up in shades of black and grey

It is November and that means it is Picture Book Month!

Here in B.C. we have been experiencing some dark, rainy days. Daylight savings means we just found an extra hour of light in the morning but our afternoons disappear into evening black far too soon. Yet darkness is not all about doom and gloom. It also means cozy, long stretches to read or bustle about inside. Darkness can pull us together for seasons of celebration and special events or provide us with solitude for introspection and calm. Bright is beautiful but so is dark. Whether we seek out the mystery and unexpected or the opportunity to settle into the quiet.

All of the dark has got me thinking about picture book covers. I started a list to see if I could come up with a number of titles that come specially wrapped in blacks and greys. My list ran off the page and I realized that many of my favourite books reside here. Is it just me or is there a certain elegance to these titles?

When you need a break from the bright, pick up one of these beautiful books.

25 titles to swoon over.

Wrapped up in Shades of Black and Grey There's a Book for That

Listed alphabetically by author.

Leo a Ghost Story written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Gleam and Glow written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Peter Sylvada

A Good Night Walk by Elisha Cooper

The Black Book of Colors written by Menana Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faría

Nighttime Ninja written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young

Willaboughy and the Moon by Greg Foley

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

This is not my Hat by Jon Klassen

In the Tree House written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

Our King has Horns! written by Richard Pevear and illustrated by Robert Rayevsky

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

The Dark written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Swan written by Laurel Synder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien

Friends by Mies van Hout 

Happy by Mies van Hout

Surprise by Mies van Hout 

Ten Birds by Cybele Young

How I love sharing picture book lists during this month of picture book love!

Happy Picture Book Reading!

pb month logo

Monday March 24th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

I read some wonderful picture books this week. Here are my ten favourites:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Okay, Wow. This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth. There are giggle worthy images – like the sloth in a box having just arrived by Express Mail. Or when we see that Sparky (the sloth) can win at a game – if it is Statue where you need to stand very still.  It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. Why else post a sign about a Trained Sloth Extravaganza where you plan to prove that your pet sloth is really quite amazing? And spend days teaching him tricks . . . ? If you make it through the book and aren’t sold, the last page will get you. And then you like me, will have to buy this book or . . . send away for it to be delivered by Express Mail.

Sparky! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Promise written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin

When I saw that Nicola Davies – my go to author for nonfiction titles had written a fiction title, I had to find it. And read it. And own it. I plan to read this book to my students along with The Curious Garden by Peter Brown and The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering. All three titles share similar messages – nature is essential, being part of a growing landscape is transformative and filling the world with more green can enrich our lives and build our communities. Only criticism – I love all of the images in the book, except the cover. Wish they had chosen a different illustration to feature. But peek under the book jacket for another gorgeous image.

The Promise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett

I really wasn’t prepared for how funny I found this book. Funny as in completely amusing – it caught me off guard in the best of the ways. A little boy loses his airplane on the rooftop. He tries in vain to get it down. His eventual strategy works – but it might not be what we all might choose. Another title I now want to own for my wordless collection.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Soccer Star written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Renato Alarcão 

This book is set in Brazil and tells the story of young children living in poverty. Their days are full of work while their heads are full of dreams. Maybe they will be future soccer stars like Garrincha, Pelé and Ronaldo and find a way to lift their families out of poverty. The dreams give light and energy to the hardships of everyday and the evening soccer game is a treasured, shared time daily. I reviewed this book with my students responses in more detail here.

Soccer Star  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lila and the Secret of Rain written by David Conway and illustrated by Jude Daly

I am always on the lookout for folktales and stories set in other places. I am excited to add this to my classroom collection. Lila’s village in Kenya is experiencing drought. Her grandfather whispers the secret of rain to her. Lila sets out on a quest to bring rain to her village. She does this by sharing her sadness with the sky. A beautiful book.

Lila and the Secret of the Rain  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Letter Lunch by Elisa Gutierrez

Love the stores full of letters, letters scattered in plants, the bottles of vowels and the Z on the top of the mountain. The fact that it is wordless makes it even more powerful. Perfect for a reader who loves to get lost in the details. So much to explore in this book.

Letter Lunch #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cave Baby written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Emily Gravett

A celebration of children’s art and colourful pictures. A rhyming read aloud title with the talented Gravett as illustrator. Can see this being a read and reread aloud for persistent toddlers who will be delighted by it!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Friends by Eric Carle

Lovely for story time. Reminiscent about a lost childhood friend, Carle celebrates a best friend and his imaginative search for her over time and distance after she moved away.

 Friends #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Eric the Boy who Lost his Gravity by Jenni Desmond

What happens when we get really angry? An interesting take on how it feels. Highlights the sibling wars of early childhood and the blame game of the parents. Interesting. Pair it with When Sophie gets Angry- Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. Anger and managing our emotions are things we should be talking about with children. These books give us a jumping off point.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Running with the Horses by Alison Lester

What a book. This is a longer picture book set in WWII. Nina and her father must rescue Lipizzaner stallions that they look after at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses in Vienna. Nina rides Zelda, an older mare, who her father suspects is not up for the journey into the safety of the countryside. Courage. Adventure. History. Alison Lester has written and illustrated a beautiful book. She does note that while the story was inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions, it is not meant to be a historically accurate account of the actual events.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I finished (all on my #MustReadin2014 list):

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Add me to the long list of readers who has been utterly charmed by the character Nate Foster. I loved his small town inexperience. His candor. His charm. The fact that he talks about his parent’s marriage problems, personal problems and parenting problems. I love that he talks about not knowing who he might like in the future and that he hasn’t got a gender all picked out yet. I love his friendship with his best friend. And then there is his audition. Okay, I basically just loved all of it.

Better Nate than Ever #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

I sat down to read this book one evening during a “family read in” (fireplace on, everyone grab a book and snuggle on the couch) and I didn’t put it down until I finished it. Beautiful writing. Touching story. My heart ached and soared. I have been thinking about this book for days. For many reasons. One of which is that I have a student that would so benefit by being “found” and loved by John and Marta.

 The Boy on the Porch #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Allegiant by Veroncia Roth

I really hate writing negative reviews and I shouldn’t be because I should have abandoned the book but I didn’t for a few reasons 1) at about 200 pages in, I was getting into it 2) it was on my #MustReadin2014 list 3) I had to get to the controversial ending

But . . . Here is what irked me 1) Characters were constantly fiddling with the hem of their shirts. Huh? But everyone doing this often. 2) The writing just wasn’t good.  Biggest issue? The dual narration and not being able to remember who was telling the story at certain points. Don’t think Roth really delivered in Tobias’ voice 3) Reading should never feel like a chore and I had to force myself to sit and read both at the beginning and after about page 250.

Still I did finish. In the end, I enjoyed Divergent and should have just stopped there. Much preferred the Legend trilogy if anyone is in the mood for YA dystopia.

 Allegiant #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 23/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 147/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/65 complete

Speaking of #MustReadin2014 – for anyone participating in this challenge, we talked about sharing our progress at the end of March. I am planning to do a post for April 1st. Anyone else in? Doesn’t have to be huge and full of reviews, unless you want it to be. Maybe just a list of titles you’ve read so far. Highlighting some favourites? Ratings? I know this community will bring their own style and signature to it! I will start tweeting some reminders using the hashtag #MustReadin2014 over the next week.

Monday September 30th, 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! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.

IMWAYR

I read some beautiful picture books this week and some very amusing Toon comics:

My absolute swoon book was . . .

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dusan Petricic with a postscript by Joshua Bell

This book is such an important experience that I want to say next to nothing yet I want to say almost everything. I LOVE, love, love and then love this book some more. It quickly shot to the top of my favourite lists for 2013. WOW! The first page spread is divine. It was a 5/5 book just because of those two sentences and the illustration. And then it just continued to get better. Read and treasure this title. Go, now! Find this book. Seriously.

The Man with the Violin #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also enjoyed . .

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett

Little Mouse has edited a book of Beasts by Emily Gravett to make it less intimidating because you know, lions and rhinos and bears . . . oh, my! And snakes, crocodiles and wasps . . . the poison, the teeth, the stings! Terrible! Little Mouse has rewritten a book that is large on ingenuity. I know this will be an instant favourite in my room. There are lift the flaps, peer through holes in the pages, wadded up newspaper (really!) – so much fun!

 Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ten Things I Loved about You by Daniel Kirk

An adorable book about kindness and friendship but it has possibilities beyond just these themes. This title really explores finding the best in a friend and thinking about the positive qualities that are dear. Would be a great prompt for a writing activity.

Ten Things I Love about You  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I found this title simple but yet, powerful – Seeger trademarks. So much is told with limited text and accurate expressions of various feelings. Explores questions such as . . . What prompts mean/bully behaviour? How do we feel when we are called on our actions? What is the cause and effect relationship of bully dynamics?

Bully  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Yellow Moon,  Apple Moon written by Pamela Porter and illustrated by Matt James

Simple lyrical language. A beautifully illustrated bedtime poem. Translation of a New Mexican lullaby included in the back pages.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

LOVE the interactive aspect of this story. Barnett is a master at this (think Chloe and the Lion) I read it to myself and must admit was tempted to leap out of my chair a few times! I cannot even imagine the mad rumpus that will ensue when I share this with my class! Fun, more fun, and then even more!

Count the Monkeys  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Barry’s Best Buddy by Renee French

A cute little story line about what we do for our friends. Love the intrigue that the marching ants carrying all kinds of puzzling things inspires – just what are they up to?

Barry's Best Buddy  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Day in the Office of Doctor Bugspit by Elise Gravel

Wonderfully odd. Doctor Bugspit works in a medical clinic in outer space. Quickly readers will suspect that his medical training might have come from some strange location where standards  are not quite up to our Earthly expectations. Many strange ailments come into the clinic and the Doctor’s suggestions are even stranger!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

With two presentations this week on top of teaching, I unfortunately missed out on big chunks of reading time so I am only half way through the novel I have been reading –  Jinx by Sage Blackwood. Finding it a fascinating read so far!

With our student book club we have started The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone. Check out our discussion here.

Next up, after I finish Jinx, I plan to read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes and The Boy in the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson.

What are you reading? Happy reading to all!

Monday July 22nd, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?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 reads! These #IMWAYR posts are a great place to “shop” for new titles.

Favourite picture books from the week:

On a Beam of Light: A story of Albert Einstein written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky Sometimes in the middle of a picture book, I know. I know that it will become a favourite before I even finish it as a certain kind of enchantment begins. There is the purely wonderful feeling of experiencing the story and the illustrations and the magic of the book. But there is also the explosion in my head of all of the different ways I can use the story in the classroom. Loud, swirling and whirling ideas. So when the book itself is about how Einstein thought and approached the world, about how his thinking happened, well . . . the layers of wow can’t quite be described. Radunsky’s illustrations are divine and Jennifer Berne delivered a story about the complexities of Einstein’s ideas in a book that is simple and accessible and beautiful. Just. Pure. Brilliance. A book I plan to use to introduce my year – all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Nora’s Chicks written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Kathryn Brown A wonderfully lovely title that could be used to talk about what it is like to move somewhere new, away from friends, family and country. Little Nora moves with her family to the prairies from Russia. Nothing looks or feels the same and she is desperately lonely. Some little chicks and two geese become her adopted companions and lead her to both friendship and joy.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

 Coming on Home Soon written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis This pair create some absolutely beautiful books. I liked the simplicity to this story – a young girl misses her Mother who has gone to Chicago to work in a factory job left vacant as all of the men are off at War (WWII). Ada Ruth is cared for by her grandmother with a practical, no nonsense kind of love. Love that soothes the missing, comforts the sadness and has room for a bothersome kitten. Stunning illustrations.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator written and illustrated by Mo Willems Oh Mo Willems, how do you do it? Engaging and hilarious as usual!

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Matilda’s Cat written and illustrated by Emily Gravett. Gravett’s books are so frequently shared in my room during kindergarten buddy reading time and this title is another example of why. Even with sparse text, a big story is told. It makes you smile and lures you into frequent rereads, the repetitive elements making it all the more engaging. Matilda, dressed as a cat herself, leads her cat through a variety of activities, listing off what the cat does not like until eventually we discover what it is exactly that makes this cat so happy. Adorable. Perfect for a story time session with younger children.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

I have been previewing some early chapter books that I purchased for my class – hoping to introduce some new series.

The Disastrous Little Dragon by Gillian Johnson Part of the Monster Hospital Series. Fun and full of expressive illustrations – ideal for students moving into early chapter books. This story is full of humour, adventure and dragon mishaps. There is also a message that a certain degree of confidence goes a long way.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hello Nebulon!  Galaxy Zack series by Ray O’Ryan In the year 2120, it’s possible to travel and live on the planet Nebulon and what a fascinating new place for Zack and his family. Beds that descend from the ceiling, dinner that appears in moments, a house controlled by a robot (named Ira) and bikes and cars like nothing on Earth. Still adjusting to a new home and school is full of anxiety no matter what planet you might find yourself on! Lots of illustrations and fun fantasy perfect for readers just beginning to handle chapter books.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Middle Grade/Young Adult Novels: 

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean For a book all about a girl who stops speaking, this book was anything but quiet. But yet it spoke sort of magically – weaving connections to the characters and the story around and around my heart until I was all wrapped up in this story. This is the first book that has made me cry in quite some time. It is simple and precious and poignant. We read about a little girl’s grief and the healing process she goes through which involves new friends, visions of her mother and a very special dog called Homeless. This book took on a tragic topic – losing a parent and sent a message that grief can take many forms and the importance of accepting them all. It also touched on selective mutism – which I don’t find very often in stories. It was handled so well here. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone – but will just say that Cally teaches us a lot about how to grieve, how to remember and how to live in a world that is all of a sudden without someone who means a lot. A beautiful book.

A Dog Called Homeless  Monday reads There's a Book for That!

 Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles I have now officially read all of the Jo Knowles novels out there except for Living with Jackie Chan which is released this fall. Since I am a huge fan of Knowles’ work I needed to get this title read as it is a companion book for  Living with Jackie Chan. I found it quite amazing that even writing from four different perspectives, Knowles could convey so sensitively the turmoil and angst a teenage pregnancy brings onto a group of connected teens. As always, Jo Knowles exposes the vulnerability of both male and female characters in such a believable, not over the top way. A book where you are rooting for everyone and where, I am sure, each reader brings different connections to this story of an unintended pregnancy and the complexity of relationships.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

What am I reading next? I am thrilled to be part way through The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (much gratitude to a friend who lent me her ARC!) I was waiting, extremely impatiently, until the September release and was very excited to be able to dive back into this mysterious, eerie and supernatural drama that Stiefvater leads her readers through. Then it’s Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick and The Apprentices by Maile Meloy – both recent holds I just picked up at the library.

What fantastic titles are you reading?

Monday May 13th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee in their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the bloggers who link their Monday reads posts 🙂

I read many picture books this week but forced myself to narrow it down to my favourite ten to share here. In no particular order . . .

Big Wolf & Little Wolf written by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrated by Olivier Tallec I have been waiting years to experience this book. I have seen it celebrated on blogs and book lists but had yet to lay my hands on it. I bought it finally, never having read it because I just knew that this book was meant for me. I was not disappointed. In fact I was just in awe. The colours in many of these pages are so beautiful. I love the blue ground under the tree at night, the red red of the tree bark in the full light of day and the fiery leaves of autumn. Friendship. Connection. Longing. So lovely!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Ard Hoyt This book has pretty much everything anyone could want – a real individuality, great energy, a definite sense of humour and absolutely fantastic hair. Hair that is so much more than gorgeous! Love that this book so cleverly celebrates the creative spirit of a little girl and her determination to be herself.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne I am not sure that Anthony Browne can make a book that I will not adore. This book is certainly NOT that book. Because . . . wow! A simple counting book with the most wonderful of primates. The colours? Whoa . . .  And each number is so much more because it is attached to a jaw dropping illustration of a group of primates. 6 gibbons. Sigh. 8 macaques. Wit and wisdom. 10 lemurs. Pure joy.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Boys, an almost wordless book by Jeff Newman Okay, book, where have you been while I’ve been happily amassing amazing wordless titles? First published in 2010 but my pretty finely tuned wordless radar missed it! A lovely little story of finding a way to belong. With some pretty fantastic persuasion delivered by the cool old guys who hang out on the park bench. So absolutely delightful!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Little Yellow Leaf written and illustrated by Carin Berger This book magically captures the colours of fall. Those golden changing colours that seem to be pure magic against bleak autumn skies. But this book also tells a story of perseverance, anxiety around change and finding the way with the little help from someone else. I could just flip through the pages over and over and marvel at the illustrations. Gorgeous.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Azad’s Camel by Erika Pal A story infused with magic about child camel jockeys in the Middle East. Lots of room to infer. Pictures are stunning. Would be great to use in a unit on children’s rights – to discuss child labour, etc More information about camel racing at the back of the book. Definitely a book that needs an adult to help navigate the theme and the story.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Courage of the Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker My class just completed some amazing art inspired by Neubecker’s Wow! City! So I was very pleased to find this little book in our school library. Travelling through various one coloured pages and on a green sea, the reader follows our little blue hero as he experiences and questions diversity, identity and belonging.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson Fractured Fairy tales are either very clever or very not! This is a fun little twist on the classic Goldilocks story with whimsical, endearing illustrations. Much fun to be had in exploring this book. My son couldn’t stop giggling when the bear sat on the cat and claimed that the “chair” was too noisy. Silly humour with big appeal.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Wolf Won’t Bite by Emily Gravett So what happens when we fully bury ourselves in trust with a wolf? Well . . . read on 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Again by Emily Gravett A unique example of impatience gone wrong involving bedtime stories, eager listeners and tired parent readers. And little dragon impatience is pretty powerful! If you don’t believe me . . . check out the back of this book! I must admit, “Again!” is my favourite response when I read a picture book! 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

In other reading . . .

I finished Endangered by Eliot Schrefer but I am not so sure it is finished with me. This book won’t leave my head. It was that powerful. Endangered is about many things. But mostly – love. It tangled itself around me just like those precious hugs between Sophie and Otto, the little bonobo who needs her desperately. An unthinkable story of survival and connection. Unforgettable. I often recommend books that I love. Sometimes quite adamantly. This book though . . . I will go as far as to insist it is a must read.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

What’s next/on the go? 

A Tangle of Knots

scumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently flying through A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff. Our new family read aloud is Scumble by Ingrid Law.  

Many magical connections ironically between Scumble and Graff’s novel and as they both sit on my bedside table, I have noticed that they are completely colour coordinated! Don’t you agree?

With my student book club, we have started The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Such an ideal book to share with a book club!

Monday, January 7th, 2013

It’s Monday!  What are you reading? 

orange pear spread

Join the #IMWAYR community participating in Kellee and Jen’s meme and share your reading from picture books to young adult novels.

Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles!

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I enjoyed a lot of picture books this week including some board books for the collection I am building for Wednesday buddy reading with the Kindergarten class.

Picture books I loved:

the bear in the book

The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben. This book is so lovely. It’s a story within a story of sorts that captures the gentle quiet moments of bedtime story time between parent and child. As the mother and little boy settle into their bedtime routine, they read a story about little bear settling into his winter hibernation. Love how it portrays the intimacy of the mother/child interactions as they talk about the story, ask/answer questions, etc.

Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld Delightful!

DuckRabbit

 

Good News Bad News

Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack Sparse in text but full of humour and lots of space to infer, discuss and wonder. A fantastic book to teach about perspective, optimism/pessimism and patience.

I cannot wait to share this with my class. I can imagine that it will be one of those stories where we can’t get through a page without everyone talking and then it will travel from book box to book box as it is read and reread.

Nighttime Ninja written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young Stunning illustrations by Young.

nighttime ninja

Bear Despair by Gaetan Doremus I can see many thinking this book is either atrocious or hilarious. When animals keep stealing his teddy, this bear does the first thing he thinks of to do in his angst and frustration . . he gobbles them up. In the There was an Old Lady style of . . . wow, how can anything else fit in that tummy? Curious to see how children will respond. I have the feeling they will think it is very funny and it will certainly prompt many discussions about choices and managing our anger/frustration. A wordless book.

bear despair cover

Animal Masquerade by Marianne Dubuc Fantastic for independent rereads or sharing during buddy reading. Silly, creative illustrations with lots of room for discussion/comments.

animal masquerade

Board Books I loved (and now own :-)):

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

orange pear

Thank you Bear by Greg Foley

thankyoubear

Nonfiction titles:

Who’s Like me? Nicola Davies Marc Boutavant

who's like me

Who Has these Feet?

Who_Has_These_Feet1

In other reading:

SmallDamages

I finished Small Damages by Beth Kephart and absolutley adored it. The perfect first novel to complete in 2013.

Lyrical. Everything mixes up – the past, the present, the longing, the worry and the beautiful Spanish landscape and food. Slow and full – like a beautiful, well spiced meal over a long night. What was particularly lovely in this book was the strength of character and the wisdom in the main character. I also loved Kenzie’s relationship with Estela, the house cook who taught her much more than delicious Spanish cooking. Looking forward to reading more titles by Kephart.

wonder 12 for 2012

I finished reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my own children. Must admit I enjoyed this novel just as much if not more on a second read – perhaps because I was sharing it with my own children who are ten years old – the same age as many characters in the book. I was surprised at how often my voice broke when I read this aloud especially since the plot was not a surprise. My son who is typically a “fantasy or not interested” reader loved this book. Hoping that this opens him up to more realistic fiction. My daughter who reads everything snatched the book away as soon as we were finished to go reread her favourite parts!  Such a beautiful story about the power of human spirit.

I am currently reading The Diviners by Libba Bray and just started The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver as the new read aloud with my children.

A Love of Reading Starts Between Us

This post was originally published on the Nerdy Book Club blog on February 24th 2012.  Next week my Grade 2/3 class begins reading with their Kindergarten buddies for the 2012/2013 school year and I am excited about the magic bound to happen once again!

A Love of Reading Starts Between Us

I teach at a tiny inner city school, located in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. The school is located in what some have described is the country’s poorest postal code. Looking at factors from census statistics like parents’ educational attainment and the number of families living below the poverty line, our school is described as vulnerable even amongst schools who also have inner city status.  So, like all teachers my mission is to teach children to read and hope that I can also make them passionate life long readers. But I know the statistics that link poverty to limited access to books and limited access to books to levels of school achievement. So I feel an urgency to create a community of readers in the classroom. And . . . I want that community to extend into children’s homes and futures.

We do a lot of fabulous things at my school to ensure that our children read and have access to fantastic books. What I am particularly passionate about this year is the buddy reading between my Grade 2/3 class and the K/1 class. (“Really? We’re the big buddies? Wow!” my students marveled when I revealed our buddy reading plan) We meet together Wednesday afternoons for forty minutes but my class spends time everyday making sure this weekly reading is as successful as possible.

My role is collecting books, modeling reading aloud, nurturing the joy and providing feedback. I have raided my home bookshelves for early picture books I read to my children. Beautiful alphabet books so letters can be chased all over the page, Thanks to Audrey Wood for the popular Alphabet Adventure.  I brought in lots of rhyme and repetition like Phoebe Gilman’s feisty Jillian Jiggs, Mem Fox’s Where is the Green Sheep? and all of the Five Little Monkeys books written by Eileen Christelow.

Recently I received some designated funds for my classroom book collections. I purchased board books for our buddy reading. My students will tell you that board books are great for little five year old hands and you don’t need to remind anybody to be gentle turning pages. Each morning I read a new book to my students with the intention of doing a few things. Of course, sparking excitement and interest in the new book is a priority. But I also model. “When you read to your little buddy you could ask them to guess which animal is on the next page,” I point out while sharing Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett. “Ask your little buddy to do the animal sounds with you,” I encourage as we read Alice Shertle’s Little Blue Truck. Now I have students coming to me with classroom books. “Look Ms. Gelson I could read this book to my little buddy and they could say the parts that repeat with me!” One girl found a Fairy Tale book told in rebus style. “This is a good one for little kids, you can ask them what the picture is.”  Thinking about our little buddies is hardly just a Wednesday afternoon event.

Now as I watch my students together with their little buddies, I am delighted to hear them trying out new things we’ve talked about. My eight year olds are encouraging choral reciting, asking little ones to guess, predict and turn the page to find out. There is reading, laughing, talking and much joy shared.

I have one student who won’t read to any adult who visits our class but he is a star in buddy reading. A little kindergarten girl who struggles a lot with managing her emotions in class and often needs breaks and extra supports makes a beeline for this boy every Wednesday afternoon. She sits engrossed in their book sharing for forty minutes. None of us can believe it. But of course we should. It is the magic of books doing their thing!

This boy in my class who shines as a buddy reader is reluctant to accept compliments. So I sneak them in casually but my feedback is specific. “Erich,” I say. “It is amazing to watch you read to Kayla. You involve her in the stories. You listen carefully to her questions. Reading with you is such a happy time for her.” Erich grins cautiously but his pride radiates. Now I am passing him books to take home and read to his younger siblings. “You are so great at this. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to share books.” He doesn’t tell me a lot about reading at home to his siblings but he brings the books back and he asks for more.

I know these Wednesday afternoons mean a lot to all of us. The little buddies and the big and the lucky teachers who witness it all. A love of reading starts between us and it spreads. Together my students and I are passing on the joy of reading. We are letting books work their magic. Books are the tickets to our future and we are loving every step of the journey!

Read more here about some of the board books we love for buddy reading.

New Books for Buddy Reading

Thanks to a generous donation towards books for our classroom and funds matched by Adopt a School, we have some amazing new titles to share when our Grade 2/3 s invite the K/1 class up for buddy reading once a week. It is an important time we all enjoy and now we have some wonderful new books to share together!

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell is a tiny little book all about having a huge heart. A little kitten so filled with love decides to give the whole world a hug and sets out with friends and a Hug-To-Do-List to travel the world from pole to pole and do just that – hug every living thing he comes across. My favourite? Hugging a big blue whale!

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett has wonderful rhyming, repetitive text perfect for sharing with our 5 year old little buddies.

Monkey and me, Monkey and me,

Monkey and me, We went to see,

We went to see some . . . .

Flip the page and who knows what you might find? Bat! Elephants! Penguins! All beautifully illustrated in classic Gravett style.

Antoinette Portis created the extremely clever Not a Box. Little Rabbit is in the first picture sitting in what looks like a box. “Why are you sitting in a box?” the text reads. Next picture, little rabbit is in a race car, “It’s not a box,” he explains. And so the book continues. The power of imagination means that a box is really anything a child can make of one. Fun to read and more fun to begin a conversation. What else could a box be?

Hello Baby is written by one of my favourite authors for young children, Mem Fox and illustrated by the incredible Steve Jenkins.

Hello, Baby! Who are you?

The book begins with this first question and goes on to ask many more, Are you a . . . ? Everything rhymes, images are striking and often surprising and at the end, you want to go back and read it all over again. Yes, our 5- 8 year olds aren’t babies but many of them are intrigued by animal babies and Fox and Jenkins have created an engaging delight in a tiny little book.

It is hard to resist the humour in Jeremy Tankard‘s Grumpy Bird. Grumpy Bird wakes up, clearly on the wrong side of his nest, too grumpy to do anything. He won’t eat, play or even fly. His grumpy march across the land looks lovely to every other animal who joins him as he trudges along snipping and quipping at everyone he meets.

“WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT TO KNOW WHAT I’M DOING?” shouted Bird.

In the end, as you might guess, Grumpy Bird has found a cure for his grumpiness and he gets to share it with his friends. Lots of fun, especially for those of us that work really hard to stay mad even when we aren’t anymore . . . .

Little Blue Truck is written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Jill McElmurry. In this sweet little story, Litle Blue Truck shows a Big Dump Truck the power of many helping hands. I think this book will be a favourite as it is full of rhyme, repetition and animal sounds! So fun to read aloud and have a little buddy join in as they are able: Oink! Quack! Baa! Moo! Cluck! Peep! Neigh! Croak! Maa!

I absolutely adore this book by James Mayhew and now, happily have a copy for the classroom! Saber-toothed tigers. Wooly mammoths. Sleepy dinosaurs. A little boy exploring the world around him. In Boy, author James Mayhew explores a little guy’s yearning for independence while at the same time honouring his deep connections to home (and the happy snuggles from Mom and Dad). Where in the world do we find warmth? In the security and love from our own family.

How fun is this book by Edward Gibbs?! In I Spy with My Little Eye, we turn page after page of eye spy riddles – on each page, we get a clue, the name of a colour and that same colour in a perfect circle that turns into the eye of each creature.

I spy with my little eye . . . something that is gray. I have a very long trunk.

Flip the page and of course you find . . . an elephant! So much fun to look through a spy hole to discover an exciting parade of gorgeously illustrated animals in bright and beautiful colours.

Note: I purchased many of these books in board book version – to give them more lasting power and to be easily held in tiny hands. 🙂

Thanks to our generous donors and the Adopt a School fund for supporting early literacy at Seymour! We are keen to put the remaining funds into other important book purchases to share with our students.

Enjoyment guaranteed

I love picking up a book at the library by an author/illustrator I know and love. Based on past interactions with the artist’s books, enjoyment is pretty much guaranteed. It’s like knowing you will love a wrapped present before opening it. It is all about settling into the book and preparing to be pleased. These three books I just found at the public library yesterday prove my point.

Wolf Won’t Bite by Emily Gravett


Three pesky (and very well dressed) pigs have captured a wild wolf! And no matter what they do to him: dress him in bows, make him dance a jig, shoot him through the air (yes, in a cannon!) he just won’t bite. Aren’t they clever? Aren’t they brilliant? Aren’t they trusting? But if it all seems a little farfetched . . . (poor wolf reminds me of the dog I had when I was 5 years old who loved to play dress up with me 🙂 Not! ) Well, let’s just say in the end, the pigs need to more than clever and brilliant. They need to be fast! There is a chase, and it doesn’t take much to guess who is chasing who!

You’re Finally Here by Melanie Watt

I love how this book celebrates the relationship between reader and character and the interactions between the two. A book is nothing without its reader and the reader nothing without books. Oh how we depend on each other! Melanie Watt knows how to make us laugh out loud, snicker knowingly and read and reread because her books withstand multiple readings and just become more fun! Yes, little rabbit we are happy to be your readers and yes, you certainly entertained us! Are you sticking around or what?

Caramba and Henry by Marie Louise Gay

Be careful what you wish for Caramba. Little brothers of your dreams are very different from little brothers of reality. Dream little brothers cooperate, participate and share secrets. Real little brothers named Henry yell and howl and . . . maybe, fly? Caramba is the only cat that can’t fly and now that Henry is here and learning to do something that Caramba wants to do desperately, how could it be any worse? Yet, Caramba realizes that to be happy Henry needs to fly and in a very BIG big brotherly fashion, Caramba encourages Henry to learn this important skill. Caramba and Henry build their sibling relationship through trials, tribulations, encouragement and love.