Monday August 7th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

This week, I would like to instead share an article. I had the honour of sharing a student’s story –  first with author/illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo and then with writer Alexandra Alter about Suzanne’s incredible book My Beautiful Birds. Alexandra included this story in her New York Times article

Children’s Authors Take on the Refugee Crisis

It was an unforgettable experience to organize a Skype with Alexandra and Nour and listen as Nour told her story. It will be something that I think about forever – the resilience and hope and love in this young girl’s voice as she talked about everything that she’s lost and found.

I am sharing this here with the #IMWAYR community because I know all of you know the power of books to change lives. This book told Nour’s story and gave her truth voice and audience. So powerful.

If you haven’t yet read this book – buy it! It’s a must have for our school and classroom libraries.

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:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

This is the second in a series of posts about working in the classroom library over the summer break.

Books I enjoyed:

I had a bookstore visit and read a lot of picture books and nonfiction titles this week. Some even followed me home. Surprise, surprise!

Some of my favourites:

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This title is an incredible celebration of looking at “mistakes” as opportunities instead of something purely negative and wrong. A creative and inspiring journey. Such an important title to share in our classrooms.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist written by Jess Keating and illustrated my Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Eugenie Clark is some kind of incredible! A scientist. A risk taker. A creative thinker that allowed the world to look at sharks through a different lens. Jess Keating shares Eugenie’s story to honour and celebrate curiosity and perseverance. Lots of additional information in the back pages including a detailed time line of Clark’s life and accomplishments. Gorgeous end pages too!

Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley

This is a somewhat haunting and extremely beautiful story about a boy who must leave his homeland in a boat clutching a teacup full of soil The ocean journey brings peace, drama and unexpected surprises as he sails in search of a new home.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead 

Gentle and sweet. A book about compassion and care.

Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

A lovely little wordless title with lots of room for talk and questions. What is community? Who should we care about? What matters?

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

A completely endearing title about one little boy’s route to being brave. Loved.

A Squiggly Story written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowery

Perfect for writer’s workshop. Clearly sends the message that all writing is story telling – marks on the page, drawings, words (regardless of spelling). I I were a K or Grade 1 teacher, I would be snapping this one up. As a Grade 3 teacher, I am also pretty tempted.

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Power plays on the playground have lots of dynamics. Creatively explored in this little gem.

This Beautiful Day written by Richard Jackson with illustrations by Suzy Lee

This beautiful book. Wow is Suzy Lee talented! A celebration of rainy days and optimistic attitudes. Lovely all around.

If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel by Elise Gravel

So I am calling this a favourite, fought over classroom book for 2017/2018. And I KNOW I am going to be right. This book will be inspiring some funky sketchbooks in my students’ futures. Again, guaranteed.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd. And Williams-Garcia, whoa, can this woman write! A must read middle grade title.

Alvin Ho (Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things) by Lenore Look with illustrations by LeUyen Pham

I was pretty thrilled to find this title as I think it will be my first classroom read aloud in the fall. A lot of things in the world frighten and overwhelm Alvin including speaking out loud at school. So wonderfully portrayed in a humorous, relatable way by Look. I am buying the series!

Patina by Jason Reynolds

I share all of my book love for this title (released later this month) here.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 43/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 185/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule (ten better than last week!)

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 31/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Nonfiction favourites from 2016

While I haven’t read my usual numbers of nonfiction titles this year, I have read enough to have some clear favourites. Here are my top ten of 2016 (published in 2016)

Looking for some incredible nonfiction? I highly recommend all of these. In fact I own all but two of these titles and plan to remedy that soon. All of these books are titles I can see multiple reasons to use over and over in a classroom. A real reason to celebrate them here.

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

An incredible title with layer upon layer of stories and illustrations about a beloved author for so many. This is a longer picture book biography (176 pages) perfect for both adults and students.

some Writer!

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

Simply beautiful. I featured this book here

Cloth Lullaby

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

I look forward to sharing this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange with my students later in the year. I plan also to share these photos she took in a Japanese Internment camp.

Dorothea's Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

adas-violin

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. I highlighted this book here

Tooth by Tooth 1

The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

The ideal blend of mesmerizing art and story that informs and prompts more questions. I plan to use this title with other books on polar bears and videos about the shrinking ice in the Arctic seas.

the-polar-bear

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

I featured this book here (lots of ideas for how to use in the classroom). This book has been a huge hit in my classroom and we have gone on to become fans of Animals for Smart People videos. You will never think the same about pink again.

Blobfish

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

The photographs, the lyrical language . . . absolutely captivating.

best-in-snow

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

As always – such interesting information. All communicated via infographics? Perfect.

animals-by-the-numbers

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!

nfpb2016logo

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

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

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

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

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

Listed alphabetically by author:

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol

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

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

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

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

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

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

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

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

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.

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

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

Just pure poetry perfection.

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

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

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

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

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

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

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

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

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

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

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

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

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

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

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

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

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

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

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

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

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

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

Intermediate libraries? They need a mix of everything!

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

Build your library.

Invest in your readers.

They matter.

Happy Reading!

 

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I just finished the first full week of school with my new students. For me, there is lots of new. New students. New school. New grade combination (Grade 4 & 5). New community. New room. I teach and learn in The Land of New.

Nothing was perfect. But everything was about learning. Sometimes, I was absolutely the biggest learner in the room. Sometimes, I felt the beginning faith in my students that they are both learners and teachers here. I want them to always know this.

Today I celebrate that some wonderful happened. This classroom that I worked on for endless days in the summer feels like so much more with students in it. Together we are building community. It’s exhausting. But it’s fantastic.

And, there is no way I could be doing this alone. My family (parents, children, sister) helped me with set up all summer. My husband has helped me multiple days this week to hang art, affix labels and shift furniture around the room. My new school community has been supportive and willing to answer my endless questions. Things I have needed have been sourced. An iPad charger. A classroom carpet (thank goodness!). Blue markers for the white board.

I am constantly inspired by the PLN I continue to grow. You will see in this celebration that I have borrowed, emulated, utilized, shifted and considered the ideas and work of many incredible educators, authors, illustrators and artists in the work we did this week. I am always bursting with gratitude to be connected with so many creative and thoughtful individuals.

Now to celebrate!

We completed two pieces of art to celebrate International Dot Day. I wanted students to approach their work playfully and to embrace the feeling of no one way to make an art piece. I discovered the wonderful blog of artist Michele Guieu and was blown away by all that she does. After resurfacing from her blog (prepare to spend hours!), I had the inspiration for our Dot Day pieces.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

On one wall – our collective work! Can’t wait for students to walk into this on Monday morning.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

We are learning to think like scientists by waking up our brains to be observant, organized and full of questions. Thank you to Jess Keating and her Animals for Smart People videos. These videos are all under 3 minutes so we watch them twice and then talk about what we learned and the questions the information inspired.

Our first response web was completed together. Students will begin completing their own next week. We talked about jotting down new learning and connecting this to further questions.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of NewAll last year my students and I participated in #classroombookaday (Follow the link to the presentation that Jillian Heise and Angie Huesgen gave at nErdDcampMI 2016 for more information). Near the end of the year, I started choosing a collection of books around a theme. This year with an intermediate class, I decided to continue this and then have the students respond at the end of the week. What was their favourite book? What did they feel was the theme of the week? Which book best exemplified that theme?

We will be learning more about theme in the weeks to come, including how to think about supporting ideas from the text that confirm/illustrate the theme. What I love about this is the potential for students to be thinking and talking all week about how stories connect and what messages they include.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

In math, we began our week with representing numbers in interesting ways. While students built and created, I learned about their understanding of place value and ability to “count up” to prove to me that their structure/creature represented the number given.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

We have started Reading Workshop in full force. This group happily reads independently for 20-25 minutes and daily asks for more time to read. We have started to learn about genre through our picture book collection. This week we talked about fantasy stories, humour and books with rhyme and repetition. I have been trying to connect with each child to talk about books that are loved and what to read next. One important moment? When the child who told me he did not like to read and had no favourite books (on his reading survey) came to me on Friday and asked for my help in choosing a novel. The power of a reading community in a classroom full of books!

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I finally finished covering exposed black board (non magnetic and marked up with tape marks) with book jacket covers. I call this book wall paper 🙂 The covers I selected are favourite titles of mine but I hope that they also convey a few things: we are readers here, we read fiction and nonfiction, stories are important, diversity is celebrated, we will be creative here, we will share laughter, we will learn together . . .

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I celebrate turning out the lights on Friday afternoon (okay, early evening) to chairs up, art on the wall, student words in my head. Goodnight to my new classroom community.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

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!

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Monday March 28th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. I haven’t been teaching for the past two weeks (Spring Break) so I don’t have any reading photos from my classroom. Instead, I will share a view I had on holiday for a week. This was what I looked at when I sat in my reading and writing place. This is early morning after a night of rain.

Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

As we were away last week, I didn’t share a #IMWAYR post so this post includes 2 weeks of reading. Lots of novels!

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:

I have written everyday for the Slice of Life challenge. All of these posts can be found here.

If you missed it, I celebrated our week long author/illustrator study of Melissa Sweet here: Riding Through an Artist’s Life

Books I enjoyed:

The Dead Bird written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Christian Robinson

This is the newly illustrated (2016) edition of Brown‘s 1938 title. I think it is beautiful. Perfectly captures children’s fascination with death and their gentle care. I purchased this one for my collection of books on death and grief.

The Dead Bird Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Spare Dog Parts written by Alison Hughes and illustrated by Ashley Spires

A little girl imagines how her dog must have come to be. Lots of charming in Spires’ illustrations.

Spare Dog Parts Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

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

I shared lesson ideas for this title in my #nfpb2016 post this week. A must own.

 Pink is for Blobfish Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

The Princess in Black and the Angry Bunny Horde (Princess in Black #3) written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Seriously this is wacky. Purple bunnies that can destroy a landscape or worse in mere moments, on masse. But the best kind of wacky! Love this series for young readers!

Princess in Black #3 Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Some kind of everything in this book. Fantastic, engaging, emotional, full of heart, full of adventure. This would make the ideal middle grade read aloud or book club selection- truly something for everyone! One of the first books of 2016, I won’t stop talking about!

 

Some Kind of Courage Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Stand Off  (Winger #2) by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West continues to be one of my all time favourite characters. The characters in this book . . . Just fantastic.

Stand Off (Winger #2) Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

 All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

I read this aloud to my family – my 13 year old twins and my husband. Such a powerful story to share. We had moments of silence. On a few pages, I wept. It prompted many conversations. Incredible read.

All American Boys Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead 

This may be one of the all time most wise and wonderful book about preteen/young teen relationships ever. Friendships, choices, worries, decisions, forgiveness, care . . . Stead is an incredible writer.

Goodbye Stranger Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Paper Hearts  Meg Wivott   

A novel in verse based on the true story of a group of young women who were forced to work at the munitions factory in Auschwitz while they were imprisoned in the camps. A story of incredible courage, friendship and survival. I couldn’t put it down.

Paper-Hearts Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

Someone passed an ARC on to me and I opened the book and never looked up. I love Kephart’s writing more with each book. Reading her words is like being immersed in something beautiful. Everywhere you look is an image you want to hold on to and savour. Released in April 2016. Highly recommended.

This is the Story of You Beth Kephart Monday March 28th, 2016 There's a Book for That #IMWAYR

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 84/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 15/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 9/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Our family read aloud is Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Pink is for Blobfish

It’s Wednesday – the day to share some love for a nonfiction picture book.

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand (Knopf Books for Young Readers February 2016)

This book! That cover! That gelatinous blob? I really didn’t even believe this creature on the cover was real – or at least looked like this. So I looked up images of blobfish. Yep, they really are this challenged in the aesthetically pleasing department. Author Jess Keating shares that they were voted ugliest animal in the world and I would have to agree, they are worthy of top prize. But there is a lot more to this fish than its not pretty face!

I will also say that I had a really, really hard time reading this book. Honestly, I couldn’t sit in one place and just read it because I had to keep stopping and leaping up to write down ideas of how to use this book in class. Wow, does this book have crazy amounts of classroom potential. Although, I am sure you could just put it out on display and say nothing and that cover would sell itself! I could imagine within moments it would be passed around and marvelled at in the classroom. Mr. Blobfish, you are such a cover model!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Pink is for Blobfish

But because it is spring break and I have no children to use this book with for at least another week, I have decided to share in an enthusiastic (and maybe not so organized) way all of the ideas I had while reading it. The irony of this “blob” on the cover and all of the energy this book gave me, did not go unnoticed.

This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats. Back matter is fantastic including: a colour coded map of where to find each creature featured in the book, a glossary of useful words, more resources if you want to learn more and some scientist careers to aspire to (i.e. Want to learn more about reptiles? You can be a herpetologist)

How I might/should/could/will use this book in the classroom:

Pre-reading:

  • Brainstorm: What are all the pink animals we can think of. (I will admit I didn’t get much further than flamingo and earth worm (are they even considered pink?))
  • Ask: What colours do we normally associate with animals? In our local environment? Why is that? What about in different habitats around the world? Different biospheres? Where do we see more colours? Fewer colours?
  • Brainstorm in small groups: Can we think of some colours and try and name a number of animals under each colour category?
  • Read and ask: On the inside jacket flap it begins: “Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princessy color.” What are your associations with the colour pink. (chart these to compare to later)

During reading:

  • Notice and ask: What organization do we see on each page in terms of structure, headings, lay out?
  • Turn and talk: After we know structure, reveal name and photograph and have students predict in turn and talk partners/small groups about information they will learn. For example: “Here is the Pinktoe Tarantula, with your turn and talk partner think about and predict: Where would we find these creatures? Who would there predators be? What do you think they eat? When we share, be prepared to support your predictions.” After student discussion and sharing, read the page and talk about what was learned, what was surprising, what was confirmed.
  • Turn and talk: After certain pages ask: “With your turn and talk partner, share what was the most interesting fact about this creature? What surprised you the most? What are you still wondering?”
  • Chart: Create a chart with these headings: Creature, Natural Predators, Threats For each page, fill this in and look at trends as you go. How many of these creatures have many predators vs few? How many are threatened because of deforestation? Pollution? Habitat loss?

After reading:

  • Ask: What is your favourite of all the pink animals in this book? Why do you think Jess Keating decided to use blobfish in the title Pink is for ________ Would another animals have sounded as interesting? Think about the cover with another animal. The way it would sound, the image, etc. Was blobfish the best choice?
  • Look again: Do we have any new words we would associate with the colour pink after reading this book? Don’t share the back cover until this time and compare your list to this list.
  • Look closely: Look at the map in the back pages. Where do we see the most pink creatures? What do we notice? Why?
  • Mini research project: Choose an animal and make a (Colour) is for __________ page using same structure as Jess Keating did in her book (with same headings, etc.) This could become a class book. Orange is for fox, White is for arctic hare, etc.
  • Research: What is the status of each of these creatures. Endangered? Threatened?

This title has so much potential in the classroom and I am beyond excited that it appears to be the first in a series: The World of Weird Animals. Jess Keating is just kind of generally amazing – visit her site here. And if you didn’t know . . . she has a Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People See? Amazing!

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!

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