Monday July 17th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week. I have none to share this week (no students until September!) so instead will share a few photos from our week long vacation to Pender Island (we’ve been home a week now) where I got lots of reading done AND lots of wandering through nature.

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:

Life! by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Brendan Wenzel

Well, wow. Reminds me a little of All the World by Liz Scanlon. Awe inspiring and soothing all at the same time. And Wenzel – whoa, this guy!

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

Oh so clever! A very chatty conversation in the middle of a wordless book. A.k.a. a really hopeful wordless book interrupted by many words. Hilarious!

South by Daniel Duncan

When you find a little lost bird that needs your help, you had better sail south. Endearing.

Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano with illustrations by Laia Aguilar

Camille has a battle dress. Say no more!

Winter’s Coming written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon 

Almost nonfiction, this title teaches young learners about the seasons and how animals adapt and react to winter. A longer read aloud. I ordered a copy for my classroom.

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel

Wonderfully odd in Elise Gravel style. That little smelly thing is pretty darn cute. A graphic style novel that kids will love!

Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten

This is an almost there title. Quirky, clever and definitely odd. Elements of Coraline and a darker Toy Story. I think this will have huge appeal for some interesting readers – I am just not sure who they will be. I think my 4s and 5s of last year would have embraced this graphic novel. I am not sure if my new Grade 3s will manage it. The story line is somewhat confusing and it is dark, though wildly imagined.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 37/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 157/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 39 books behind schedule (Week 3 and this number hasn’t changed . . . )

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 21/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 27/50 books read

Up next? I am still reading What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein because I have also started reading Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Monday March 14th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week I had a morning visitor who told me after looking through the shelves: “Wow, animals sure are grumpy!” She has a point!

IMG_0762 (1)

Books we have recently read:


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


On the blog:

A celebration post: Now Here

Daily Slice of Life posts:

Collections from a Day

When the day starts with a pop up heart

Other Things

Let’s talk about this child: written after 2 nights of parent/teacher conferences

The Reading Warrior

Writing Truth – the comments on this post are so interesting

The season of dreams

Books I enjoyed:

Lost. Found. written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Every book I read illustrated by Matthew Cordell makes me love him more. This is a perfect book to prove that images can carry a story with just a few repeated words. My only complaint? I loved it too much. I need my own copy.

Lost. Found.

All the Dear Little Animals written by Swedish author Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by award winning Eva Eriksson. Translated by Julia Marshall.

This book is about three children: Esther, the boy who is our narrator and Esther’s little brother Puttie. Esther finds a dead bee and decides to dig it a little grave. Our narrator confesses that he is afraid of everything, especially of dying but after a few disparaging comments from Esther, decides that he can write things, like about how horrible death is. Off they go, shovel, poem and little coffin in hand to bury the bee. “Poor little bee”, says Esther, “but life must go on.” Then a plan hatches. There must be dead things everywhere – shouldn’t they find these things and bury them all? The children’s idea grows into an idea for a business. They call it Funerals Ltd.

I read this book years ago but shared it with this class after the scene in The Year of Billy Miller where the bird flies into the window and dies. I believe that we need to allow children to explore books about death and books like this make the cycle of life not so scary. Highly recommended.


InvisiBill written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

Busy, busy, busy. Everyone is busy. Too busy it seems to notice what happens when you are not well . . . noticed. Charming and kind of hilarious. My class loved this one!


Kyle Goes Alone written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Ashley Barron

Goes meaning “gotta go” as in to-the-bathroom. So you can imagine how fun this will be for kids! Layer upon layer of rainforest in these rich illustrations and information about sloths and camouflage in the back of the book.


The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Such an intriguing book. I spent part of it terrified by jellyfish (a new phobia I think) and other parts immersed in Suzy’s grief. A story of courage and confusion and the deep, hard work that is navigating grief. The science included here was fantastic.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 8/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 71/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 13/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 8/50 books read

Up next? I have packed a lot of novels for a week away on the coast. Can’t wait to share a week from now (or possibly in two depending when we are back) First up? Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’ve been inspired once again by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy to participate in the 2014 Nonfiction picture book challenge! Link up here to join in!

NFPB 2014

According to Goodreads, last year I read 66 nonfiction picture books – my goal had been 60 titles. I read 44 nonfiction picture books in 2012 so it was wonderful that participating in this challenge allowed me to increase the titles I read by a third! Wonderful for me and wonderful for my students as my passion for these titles has spilled over into some amazing read aloud experiences! And the learning . . . Wow!

This year when I selected my favourite titles of the year, including nonfiction picture books was a priority – I credit this challenge with my new absolute love for this genre. Thank you Alyson and all of the fantastic bloggers sharing favourite reads all year!

I would like to keep reading at the nonfiction pace I read last year – so I am choosing 65 titles as my goal. Again, I will try and read many recently published books, but there are many 2013 (and even older) titles that I really want to get to so I will be reading both new and older titles. When I can, I will include favourites and link to Alyson’s Wednesday nonfiction posts.

One of my most popular posts of the year was for this challenge: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds. I have been using this list to guide which books I share with my students. In my timetable, I have set aside two guaranteed nonfiction read aloud times each week. Often, it is more. We read a lot of nonfiction in my room!

Like last year, I am excited to learn about a variety of nonfiction titles shared via the bloggers participating in this challenge! Reading passion is wonderfully contagious!

My ten nonfiction favourites read in 2013 (not just published in 2013) included:

The final 3 titles on this list were on my Favourites of 2013 list and four of these books were on my Gift Books 2013 list. Testament to the nonfiction love!

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Tree Lady NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim 

Is this Panama? NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

No monkeys, No chocolate NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

The Case of the Vanishing Frogs NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

my first day NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke 

a little book of sloth NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Even an Octopus Needs a Home by Irene Kelly 

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Lifetime NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 On a Beam of Light NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

 The Boy who Loved Math NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

I feel compelled to share this post to highlight all of the love this book had in my classroom: For the Love of Math

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Monday September 23rd, 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.


The picture books I adored this week:

The Lonely Book written by Kate Berhheimer and illustrated by Chris Shelban

A story that tells many stories of how relationships with books can be so special. Sometimes a book is beloved by many and passes from hands to hands to hands. Sometimes a book’s qualities are treasured by one for any number of reasons. And sometimes a book, worn and well read, finds the best place to be and the reader who is most in need of its magic.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sing . . . sing a song . . . lyrics by Joe Raposa, story in pictures by Tom Lichtenheld

Yes, this is a book of that song Sing, Sing a Song. Starts off wordless. Our frustrated little bird demonstrates perseverance and finds some confidence after being serenaded by a joyful guitar player. Full of happiness and smiles. Just a lovely little book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Worth watching the video on youtube:

Tommaso and the Missing Line by Matteo Pericoli

One sentence summary: Tommaso goes in search of a line that has disappeared from a beloved drawing.

Wow. This is a book that asks to be shared and discussed. In big ways. With big questions. What inspires art? Does a piece of art contain a piece of the inspiration? Do things exist differently in our memories? Can art capture a memory? Can it prevent it from fading? Love this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am the King by Leo Timmers

Part of why I was drawn to this book is that it is very pink but appears to not be a pinkish book (it isn’t) and also because last year my class fell in love with Timmers’ book The Magical Life of Mr. Renny so I was curious. This is an interesting book. Maybe one that on first read might not seem so interesting but then when you think about the potential questions it might inspire, its interest level elevates. Various animals find a golden crown and convinced it fits them perfectly, each announce, “I am the King!” The next animal finds that assertion preposterous, dons the crown (in a totally different way) and claims “King” status for themselves. Finally, the crown lands at the feet of Lion. Lion puts the crown on his head and all of the animals cheer that “Lion is the King.” That is just that.

So back to the questions:

  • Do we see ourselves vastly differently from the way others see us? Better? Worse?
  • Does competition prevent us from celebrating our potential for more?
  • Do some people (lions in this case) just command respect? How?

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wumbers written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

What an amusing mixture of numbers and words to communicate little stories scattered throughout this book. Lots of fun! I just wished a coherent story ran through the entire book. Still, I passed this to a student last week and he was instantly hooked on deciphering the text.

Wumbers #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In nonfiction:

Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim I reviewed this book earlier this week here.

Is this Panama? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Tushes and Tails by Stephane Frattini

A hugely engaging nonfiction title ideal for an interactive read aloud experience. Who belongs to which tush and/or tail? It is not as easy as it many seem to guess. Under each lift the flap, one is rewarded with more information about each animal – enough to learn something new, not too much to lose the momentum of guessing, checking and discovering.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Queenie:  One Elephant’s Story written by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe 

A story about a gentle elephant captured and put in a zoo. This book tells the story of Queenie, but really forces the readers to think about zoos, animals in captivity and our obligations to them and treatment of them. Made me think of Eve Bunting‘s The Summer of Riley and the questions around whether a dog should be euthanized or not based on its actions in particular circumstances. Can see this book being very powerful shared with an older primary or an intermediate class.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mimi’s Village And How Health Care Transformed it written by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Part of the Citizen Kid series of information story books that talk about real world issues and how they affect children around the world. This book teaches readers all about what life is like when basic health care and disease prevention is limited. Set in Kenya, Mimi’s reality before a village health worker becomes attached to her village is one where she and her family lack clean water, appropriate nutrition, and protection from diseases. Simple things like mosquito netting to sleep under have huge impact.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Other reading:

Bean Dog and Nugget: The Ball, an early graphic novel by Cherise Mericle Harper

Delightfully silly. My class adores this little graphic story.

Bean Dog and Nugget #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boris Gets a Lizard an early illustrated chapter book by Andrew Joyner – part of the Branches series of books by Scholastic 

Boris desperately wants his own Komodo Dragon. He is what you might call obsessed. What is his clever plan to have his own Komodo Dragon, if even temporarily? And does his plan succeed? I can see my younger readers being interested in this title. Full colour pictures and manageable text.

Boris gets a Lizard #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library written by Chris Grabenstein

A fully engaging middle grade mystery/adventure  – even more perfect for book lovers and avid readers. Many have talked about connections to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and certainly this book has those wonderful elements of unexpected adventures set in a fantastical location with twists and turns on every page. I really liked this book. Think I would like it even more if I shared it with a class of children. I can imagine those reading this aloud to a classroom are having a delightful time of it!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up ? I am loving the novel Jinx by Sage Blackwood (and I really love saying the name Sage Blackwood, it’s so beautiful). Now that we are settled back into school routine and bedtimes, I am happy to have some dedicated evenings to continue reading The Fire Chronicle by John Stevens to my own children. We have been doing a lot of nonfiction picture book reading over the last few weeks and need to delve back into this novel that we were so excited about at the end of the summer.

Have a great reading week everyone! And if you are so inspired, check out this post and add your #5words: In 2013/2014 I will be . . . Loving the comments 🙂

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Migration Stories

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

I will admit to being absolutely fascinated by the whole concept of migration – the effort exerted, the distances travelled and the whole idea of living life in different places in different seasons. Animals are amazing.

A new migration favourite: Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim (published in 2013)

A little Wilson’s warbler wakes up to a colder than usual morning and realizes that it is time to make the journey south to Panama. But, where are all of the other warblers? They must have left without him! How would he make it to Panama alone? So begins this story of Sammy (the warbler) and his quest to find his way to Panama on his own, without knowing the way.

Is this Panama? NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

Sammy meets many other animals who are also migrating, adapting for the changing season or planning to sleep away the winter. A ptarmigan explains that he doesn’t need to travel south because his changing white feathers keep him safe from predators while he continues to find lots of food in the north. A flock of sandhill cranes give Sammy a lift further south but not nearly close enough to Panama. They do however teach him that their migration strategy is to search for landmarks that they count on every year. Darner Dragonflies explain to Sammy that they follow the shoreline because flying over open water is much too dangerous. Other warblers (some redstarts, warbler cousins) show Sammy how they follow star maps by flying at night and a sense of knowing awakens in Sammy. Unfortunately, as he sets out with a clearer sense of his destination, he is confused by the bright lights of a city. In a terrible storm, Sammy finds refuge on the backs of a group of social humpback whales on route to warmer waters to calve. They bring him farther south and give him the rest he needs to find some new energy to fly. Finally, Sammy finds himself just where he needs to be. What a journey.

In the back of the book is a map revealing the regular route warblers take from Alaska to Panama and then Sammy’s much longer round about route. All of the creatures Sammy encounters are described as well – with important details about migration routes, reasons for migrating and migration strategies.

Did you know that Hudsonian Godwits can fly almost 10, 000 km in one go? Really! Humpback whales use the position of the sun and Earth’s magnetic field to guide their journey. Caribou migrate farther than any other land animal.

There is also a page titled How Animals Migrate detailing the various strategies animals use to guide their migration, why animals migrate and what are some of the dangers of migration (most happen to be caused by humans).

An amazing story and so much more on the topic of migration, I highly recommend this title. It would be a great read aloud in primary classes and ideal for independent reading for early intermediate students.

Interested in other picture books about migration?

These are also favourites:

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

Bird, Butterfly, Eel NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

The Journey: Stories of Migration written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lambert Davis

Stories of Migration NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 50/60 complete

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.


Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

It’s funny how one’s focus can change when looking at the classroom library. For a while, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nonfiction titles in my room. Last summer I started to get anxious about whether or not I had enough books in the room that my Grade 2/3s could pick up and read independently. It seemed like my “best” nonfiction titles were books that I needed to read to my students. Which was wonderful because I had some amazing titles to use as we model strategies, but what about when it was independent reading time? Did I have enough titles that students could read by themselves with success? My book shopping focussed on purchasing titles that I knew my students could manage on their own, especially as we built strategies to read nonfiction text over the year. Some of my favourite books that I added?

  • The Discover More Series by Scholastic
  • Nicola Davies Flip the Flap and Find out books which include Who Lives Here? and Who’s Like Me?
  • Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? and Who Has These Feet?
  • A huge array of Bobbie Kalman titles
  • The Are you a . . . ? series by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  • The Amazing Animal Series by Kate Riggs

NonfictionText for Independent Reading There's a Book for That

Now, here I am a year later. Again, thinking about the books in my room . . . What is my focus now? That I want some “Oh, wow!” titles to read aloud. I want to make sure that just as I am reading a variety of picture books and some engaging novels, that I have a real variety of excellent nonfiction picture books to read aloud. Sometimes to model/practice a strategy, sometimes to enhance our learning on a particular subject and sometimes just because, the more we read, the more we know and I want my students to be inspired and curious about learning all year long!

I am fortunate to be looping my Grade 2/3 class into Grade 3/4 and so I have a sense of this group of children, what they wonder about and what I think might inspire them. Last year, I noticed that they were intrigued by stories – folklore, Aboriginal tales, stories from around the world and stories about things that really happened. They were very curious about the stories of people and how these stories connected to us in our classroom. It made me realize that I haven’t been reading enough biographies. I also want to focus on places around the world and the wonder of the world around us. Last year, students loved learning about animals from each continent and had endless questions about habitats.  I know we love art and books and music. So, I have some sense of what kinds of books I need to share.

Knowing how busy school can get and knowing how I sometimes need a one stop shop when I am planning, I decided to take advantage of the time summer has to offer to amass a huge list of amazing nonfiction read alouds. I was looking for titles that my Grade 3/4 class would enjoy. Some are favourites from previous years and some I have yet to read myself. Thank goodness for the wonderful book bloggers out there that I used for inspiration. So here is my list of 25 “wonder inducing” nonfiction read alouds. A reference for me and one that I am sharing here.

The book I plan to use to launch my year: On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky This book made my own thoughts whirl and swirl and race around my head. It has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 On a Beam of Light

Based on some picture book biographies I already loved, I grew that list to include:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin written by Jen Bryant  and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Eric Puybaret

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon written by Jaqueline Davies illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Biographies - Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Biographies Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

Some titles to explore amazing places and the world around us:

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Redwoods by Jason Chin

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin

Fire! by Celia Godkin

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world by Allan Drummond

The World Around us Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

And to learn about creatures great and small:

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

 And a title to be released this fall:

Is This Panama?: A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill  and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Is this Panama?

Will I read all of these titles aloud this year? Maybe not. Perhaps interests and passions will take us in different directions. But this list will help keep me on track to make sure I am sharing lots of books that inspire both learning and thinking in my room!

Do you have some other must share nonfiction titles for Grade 3/4 listeners? Would love to hear your suggestions!

I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday event that KidLit Frenzy hosts. Visit Alyson’s blog to see what books are shared this week.