Monday January 25th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. I haven’t blogged for a while so I will share a few . . .

Here we are pointing to titles we would like to read after participating in a book sharing circle.

IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Buddy reading moments are amazing to capture.

IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This story is a special one. These two are taking turns reading aloud to each other. At the beginning of the year, one student read and one listened. Now they both have the skills to share in the oral reading together. A beautiful supportive reading experience that I was thrilled to capture.

IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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


On the blog:

I have been absent from this blog for just over a week (illness, busy, stuff . . . ) so just one post to share:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Whose Hands are these? 

Books I enjoyed:

Rufus the Writer written by Elizabeth Bram and illustrated by Chuck Groenink

What a very special title. It’s all about stories and creativity so it’s an automatic wow. But, what I love most is that the stories are so accessible. They whisper to children, “You could do this too . . . come on, try!”

Rufus the Writer IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If I had a Million Onions by Sheree Fitch, with illustrations by Yayo

Fun, wonderful poetry! Fitch is a master of word play!

If I had a Million Onions

Dear Hot Dog by Mordicai Gerstein 

I love both the illustrations and the poetry here. Poems that are ode to everyday things. Toothbrushes, drinking cups, the rain and of course hot dogs.

Dear Hot Dog

Sing a Season Song written by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Lisel Jane Ashlock

A gorgeous lyrical title about the seasons. The illustrations have a timeless feel – like they could have been lifted from a book of fine art.

Sing a Season Song

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

This book is “issue-y” What doesn’t it address? It hits almost everything. Self harm, dysfunctional relationships, bullying, grief, young romance, self-worth . . . I was a little bit irked by “teenage speak” because really, do people talk like that? Maybe . . . Thank god I’m old. But there were many powerful, heart wrenching pages which make it a title well worth reading.

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 3/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 26/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 3/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 8/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 3/50 books read

Next up? I continue reading More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera and have almost finished reading A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen aloud to my family. We are all addicted! Just a few more chapters!

Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015

It is that time of year where picture book love is celebrated and shared! Yes, Picture book 10 for 10 is here!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my fourth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. Last year (2014) I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness.

This year I decided to share ten historical fiction titles that are favourites of mine. When we can engage children with wondering and thinking about another time and place and what it was like for people who lived then, our discussions automatically center on who we are as people. Such rich and important conversations to have. Many of these titles can also be shared with students as we try and read more diverse titles in our classrooms.

Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

My top ten favourites on this theme: Historical Fiction

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small (2008)

What is more beautiful than bravery and perseverance to bring books into the homes of children who don’t even have the chance to go to school? Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s, this book is inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians who brought books by horseback to areas where there were few if any schools and no libraries. A story about the power of books, the devotion they are given and the magic that happens when a reader is made.

 That Book Woman Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (2001)

A story of friendship, prejudice and courage set in the American South in 1964. Beautifully written – lyrical text and honest emotions, this book is one of the best historical fiction picture books I have read.

Freedom Summer Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Busing Brewster written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by R.G. Roth (2010)

A picture book with many important themes: having a dream, the power of libraries to be transformative and what it was like to be black at an all white school. Set in the 1970s when integration was being “helped” along by forced busing – bringing black students into white schools, this story gives children a glimpse into the racial tensions of the time and the complexities of integration.

 Busing Brewster Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Shi-shi-etko written by Nicola Campbell and illustrated by Kim LaFave (2005)

Shi-shi-etko has only four more days until she must attend residential school. She spends these precious days with her family, in nature gathering her memories and avsorbing the wisdom of her family. Such a beautiful book about a very heartbreaking topic. My students were mesmerized. And full of questions.

 Shi-shi-etko Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Lizzie Nonsense by Jan Ormerod (2004)

The illustrations in this title are incredible. It is nostalgic. Lonely. Gives us a glimpse of the hardships of early pioneer life. Set, so very beautifully, in Australia.

Lizzie Nonsense Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2001)

This author/illustrator combination create absolute magic. So much in one little picture book with huge implications for discussion. In a segregated town, black and white don’t mix. A fence that represents the division of race becomes just a fence at the end of the story when a whole row of girls perches atop it.

 The Other Side Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Elsie’s Bird written by Jane Yolen and David Small (2010)

It is the late 1800s and Elsie has lost her mother. Her father moves her to the Nebraska prairie from their home in Boston. When Elsie’s beloved canary escapes his cage she must venture out into the landscape of this new quiet, open space. Both Yolen and Small are at their best – this is a literary and visual treat.

Elsie's Bird Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Red Kite, Blue Kite written by Ji-li Jiang and illustrated by Greg Ruth (2013)

Rich in truth and history (based on the story of the author’s family friend), this book is set during the Cultural Revolution in China. It is the story of father and son –  separated by distance and circumstances who stay connected through kites in the sky. Heartbreaking but full of hope. Such a beautiful book.

Red kite, blue kite Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen (2013)

An appealing book on so many levels – the history, the geography, the adventure, the culture – wow. The story begins with one girl in China (ninth century China) who dreams of traveling The Silk Road trade route. Not able to travel even part of the way with her father, she asks him to bring a single pebble to send along the road to a child somewhere further along. The path of the pebble is incredible as it is passed from person to person finally ending up in Italy. My son read this book and found it fascinating – all of the old maps and interesting journey.

 A Single Pebble Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries. Four Families. One Delicious Treat. written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2015)

This book does so much. As we travel through time with a recipe for a simple summer dessert, we are treated to a history lesson that is much more than how kitchen utensils and appliances have changed. Sometimes, history titles have heavy themes. This one is about the everyday of cooking together. Pure delight.

A Fine Dessert Monday Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

I have other favourites on this theme that I didn’t include. Check out my Historical Fiction Pinterest board.

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10


Happy picture book reading!  

Monday August 13th 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Celebrating books read and enjoyed from picture books to young adult reads. Link up with the meme sponsored by Kellee and Jen.

This week was quite busy for me – organizing/revamping my classroom library. Much of my reading was picture books and early chapter/graphic novels. (Trying to make sure that I am as familiar as possible with my library – often my purchasing gets ahead of my reading!)

The one novel I finished was Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones. I had been wanting to read this young adult novel for some time. Years ago I read The Maestro by Wynne-Jones and it became one of my favourites. While I loved the mystery and drama associated with the plot of Blink and Caution, what sold me on the book were the characters. Both main characters (Blink aka Brent and Caution aka Kitty) were so accessible, vulnerable and likeable. I was along for the ride simply because I really wanted to be around these characters. Wynne-Jones did not disappoint.

Early Chapters/Graphics:

Fangbone 2 The Egg of Misery by Michael Rex. While I personally didn’t love all of the gross humour (the stinky feet did me in), I can absolutley see the appeal for my Grade 2 and 3 students. I know these books (I have #1 as well) will seldom be in a basket and frequently passed around the room and enjoyed. Lots of fun, lots of action, lots of silly.

 I also read the first book in the Captain Awesome series. Comic books. Super heroes. Yucky cafeteria food. Another book with large kid appeal.  I plan to get a few more of these titles for my classroom collection. Captain Awesome to the Rescue was written by Stan Kirby and illustrated by George O’Connor.

I spent much of this week reading picture books. Four of my favourites were:

 Press Here by Herve Tullet. How I haven’t read this book up until this point, I have no idea! I’ve frequently seen it but this week I sat in the library and actually read it. Or is that what happens with this book? It is much more than reading! Yes, I did everything asked. Pressed. Shook. Titled. Turned. Giggled. Now I must own this book for my buddy reading/sharing bin!

Elsie’s Bird written by Jane Yolen and David Small. I adored this book. I think every week I fall just a little more in love with David Small’s illustrations. I am also trying to read as many picture books within the historical fiction genre as possible because. . . . Well because I am just in the historical fiction mood in a big way! I even started a new pinterest board! Any suggestions? Please share!

Fish on a Walk by Eva Muggenthaler. I found this book at the library earlier this week and was captivated by the illustrations. It is basically wordless – just two words on each page. Opposite words like scared/brave, cranky/kind, jealous/accepting . . . Examine the pictures. Find the stories. So interactive.

Let’s Talk About Race written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Karen Barbour. I have almost nothing to say about this book right now because I have so much to say about it. Many ideas in my head, plans for themes I’m considering for this year. Philosophical discussions. Art projects. Oh, I have plans for this book . . . .

Currently I’m reading The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi to my children. It’s an engaging read aloud and we love all of the picures. I’ve just started Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage So far – wow!



Owl Moon and inspired Owl Artists

One of my favourite books to read aloud in the cold dark days leading up to winter is Owl Moon, the 1988 Caldecott Medal winner written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr. This book fits in with our theme of Courage that we are exploring through various picture books but also allowed us to have a wonderful springboard for some gorgeous owl art.

A little girl goes owling with her father for the very first time and we, the readers, get to creep along with this pair over hard packed snow illuminated by the moon. We breathe the cold air, feel our own cheeks burn and marvel at the wonderful sound of crying out “Whoo-whoo-whowho-who-whoooo,” and then feeling the silence (heavy and full of wonder) surround us. Yolen’s text is poetic and the illustrations magical. A treat for the senses! When an owl is finally discovered, all of us gasped at the huge wing span and bright yellow eyes depicted in the pictures. A gorgeous book and one I never tire of reading with a class.

We discussed why the little girl in the picture was so courageous even though she was out on a dark night deep in the forest. Some insightful suggestions from the group:

  • She was too excited to feel fear
  • Being with her Dad made her feel safe and secure
  • Watching and listening for the owl distracted her
  • She pushed her fear away because she was doing something (going owling) that she had been waiting a long time to do

After the story, Ms. Gelson led a mini “how to draw an owl” lesson inspired by this wonderful blog post from Art Lessons for Kids.

And wow, did students get engaged with making beautiful owl scenes to fill up our room!

First we drew owls on plain paper and added details and colour. Hailey did a lovely job of filling up her whole page with an adorable looking owl and baby.


Catriona drew her owl in flight!


Some owls seemed to be waiting to jump into a picture book as the main character of an exciting story. Purity‘s owl is very dramatic.


Students then cut out their owl (s) and glued them to black paper making a scene. Khai made a whole family of owls perched on a branch.


Carefully positioning owls on the page.


Sergio was very clear that his owl was pregnant and put an awaiting nest on the branch. Many debates began whether an owl could be pregnant if it lay eggs. Some people thought an owl should be called “ready to lay eggs” and not pregnant. Sergio made it clear he liked his idea best and made a label on his picture pointing to the owl’s belly “pregnent” 🙂


Truman made lightly grey owls with beautiful ear tufts. Striking against the black background and yellow moon.


Little buddies and big smiles

Today we invited our little buddies in K/1 up for some actual book sharing! We read favourites like:

Alphabet Adventure by Audrey and Bruce Wood



How do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague


Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss


The engagement, the smiles and the chattering said it all! What a fun experience! We can’t wait until next week 🙂

Reading an alphabet adventure story.


Reading about dump trucks and zooming cars.


A quiet few minutes on the carpet


Time to stop and discuss what is happening.


Searching for letters!