Monday November 27th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Sharing reading and learning from the past 2 weeks.

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. This one was taken when we went to visit the Grade 3 & 4 class down the hall while they were having Camp Read. Tents, shoes and books everywhere! Every student in my classroom brought along a favourite picture book to share. Nobody Likes a Goblin is being devoured by these two readers.

Our #classroombookaday titles from last week allowed us to have some serious conversations about the world.

Writing was rich. Some students shared some very personal writing connected to their own experiences with leaving their countries because of war. We have started to talk about books as mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors (from Rudine Sims Bishop) and students instantly began to use this language to describe their connections to the books.

We watched a short video of the actual Kunkush, the cat who inspired Lost and Found Cat and students reread the book many times looking at the photographs in the back and having serious discussions.

This week with #classroombookaday, we laughed a lot!

Some of these titles inspired students to create their own retellings!

Which made one author very happy (and flattered)!

Classroom Highlights 

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

One student is working on a How to Draw book! How great is this?

More #classroombookaday thoughts

In the Art and Discovery Studio, students are working on paintings about significant places. I love the stories these pictures hold.

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:

Windows by Julia Denos and illustrated E.B. Goodale

This will be one of our Mock Caldecott titles. I could read this book endlessly. It is so calm and quiet and the little details . . . Just divine.

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mike Curato

Warmth of family traditions. Rich descriptions. Stunning illustrations. This one is fabulous!

What If You Had Animal Eyes? by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is such a favourite in my classroom. I loved this one in particular. Would be great to pair with Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World

Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain by Hilary McKay

I can’t get enough of these Lulu titles. I have now ordered the entire series for my classroom. This one was particularly endearing. I could just imagine children planning hedgehog runs. A wonderful transitional chapter book.

The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

A younger middle grade title than Sonnenblick typically writes but some pretty serious threads – bullying, domestic abuse, addictions, poverty. For readers who like books with lots of issues and rooting for the underdog, Maverick is a character they will want to meet.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

I had a hard time putting this one down – the mystery makes it addictive. But this book is beyond a mere mystery. Matthew is the last one to see the toddler who goes missing on his block. But he sees everything from his upstairs window. Matthew’s OCD makes it difficult for him to venture out of his home. Matthew wants to help find the child but this means he needs to face numerous fears and delve into grief and worries from his past.

Up Next? Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 57/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 280/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 49 books behind schedule.

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 35/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2017: 40/50 books read

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.

This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop

Kids love cheetahs. But what is the story of their endangered status and what is being done about it? That is the story that this title showcases – in particular the story of  Laurie Marker and the work she does at theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.

Dorothea's Eyes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.

How to Swallow a Pig Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that.

Tooth by Tooth Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.

What if you had Animal ears?Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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

Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People

Pink is for Blobfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Such a beautifully written and organized book – almost like a nature journal or a scrap book.  Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).

 Feathers Not Just for Flying Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.

Separate is Never Equal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!

I, Fly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange 

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive? Introduced in order of their evolutionary arrival, read poems and facts about such creatures as the squirrel, ants, geckos and diatoms. Fascinating and a lyrical experience all at once. Blending of art, poetry and nonfiction. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!


Monday February 3rd, 2014

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 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 celebrated many happy #booklovish things on my classroom blog this week. Read here for a few smiles (especially if you have read Rump by Liesl Shurtliff).

My favourite picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) reads of the week:

Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka

The sequel to A Ball for Daisy which won the Caldecott Medal. I know not everyone loves Raschka but I really do. And I think that this title is so special. It completely captures the feeling of suddenly realizing you are lost and the absolute joy of being found.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lucky Ducklings written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

This is based on a true event where a bunch of little ducklings did get lost down a storm drain and had to be rescued. Wonderful illustrations. Well written repetition. A perfect title for reread after reread.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Voyage written by Veronica Salinas and illustrated by Camilla Engman

A book that definitely needs more than one read. This one is philosophical and contemplative. How do we face what is new? How do we begin to belong? How are we understood? How do we manage the unknown? What makes us feel a part of things? How do we extend compassion and welcome to others? All of these questions are addressed as a little duck finds itself in a new place and moves through a range of emotions from confusion and fear to joy and calm. Would children navigate this book on their own? Not sure. I think it would be best in a read aloud/discussion situation.

The Voyage #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My Elephant by Petr Horáček

Often for little ones, it seems everyone is too busy for play and fun. This is the case for the boy in this story. Grandma and Grandpa are often occupied but his elephant is never too busy! Elephant and boy get up to all kinds of imaginative antics.

My elephant #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Questions, Questions by Marcus Pfister

Any book which inspires wonder and questions gets points in my world. Questions about the natural world and some stunning illustrations – like the one of the whale with this text:

Does a whale make up a song so other whales will sing along?

This would be a wonderful mentor text for children’s own natural wonderings . . .

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Under the Snow written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R Bergum

It really is one of nature’s most interesting mysteries and magic – where does everything go in winter? How do animals survive? What do all of the creatures we see at other times of the year do all winter long? Children often know some things about hibernation – but what else might happen during the cold, cold winter? Which creatures really do sleep winter away? Informative and beautifully illustrated. Feel like you are peeking into winter hiding places of animals and creatures that seemed to disappear. Of course, this would be perfect to read with Kate Messner‘s Over and Under the Snow

Under the Snow #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Jumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens

This is a gorgeous and engaging animal concept book – I featured it this week in my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post. An amazing blend of facts, whimsy and wonder.

Jumping Penguins #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What if you had Animal Hair? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

I bought this on a whim with a Scholastic order because I recognized Sandra Markle as an author of lots of nonfiction. I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried out a page with my own children and they insisted we read the whole book. And then we had to look through it all again and choose which animal hair we would most like to have. Lots of information about animal fur and hair – told in an engaging way and connected to our everyday life. For example, did you know that . . .

If you had three-toed sloth hair, you’d never be alone. Because of the algae, your hair would be home to many different kinds of harmless insects.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Frog and Friends: Frog Saves the Day written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Josee Masse

I continue to be impressed with this set of Frog and Friends titles. This one has two distinct stories inside featuring lots of adventures with the animals that live near frog. This title features a dramatic rescue and some serious confusion about what exactly a train might be. Lots of pictures, interesting dialogue and well told stories.

frog saves the day #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 The Vengekeep Prophecies written by Brian Farrey

I read this aloud to my children and it was often difficult to put it down and enforce bedtime. Gripping, full of adventure, magic and the perfect blend of humour and fantasy to keep both of my eleven year old listeners (one boy, one girl) captivated. This is really well done fantasy. It is fresh with many unexpected twists and turns. We loved the main character – a mediocre (at best) thief from a long line of thieving tricksters, the Grimjinxes, Jaxter Grimjinx has heart and morals that one might not have expected. Lots of action. Many disasters. Ethical choices. And magical and fantastical creatures that surprise, amuse and astound. My children instantly asked if there is more of this Brian Farrey writing out there to feast their curious eyes upon. Both were thrilled to hear that there is a next title: The Shadowhand Covenant. If I was the prophecy kind . . . I would say for certain that there will be more time with these characters in our read aloud future.

Vengekeep Prophecies #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Living written by Matt de la Pena (One of my #MustReadin2014 titles)

While this is fast paced and full of action, I don’t recommend anyone bringing this along for a vacation read. I would not want to be in a boat, near a boat, near the ocean, on a beach or anywhere tropical and islandish when reading this book. In fact, I think if ever I might have taken a cruise, this book might have convinced me not to! I had to start there because this book has a lot of OMG scary disasters and survival. It also has mystery, deception and dystopian themes thrown in. And at this point, I can say no more without giving away important plot points. Well written YA fiction for certain!

The Living #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am reading Marie Lu‘s The Champion to finish the trilogy. After this, I think I will read Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. I have started Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo with my children. So, so good! With my new Junior Book Club at school, I am reading Charlotte’s Web .

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 8/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 79/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 30/65 complete

Happy Reading to all!