Monday April 1st, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

IMG_1587I missed last week’s Monday reads blogging and the #IMWAYR community as I was away on a holiday with no internet access.

But lots of time for reading! And read I did . . .

This was our daily beach walk that did interrupt many quiet hours of reading ūüôā So peaceful!

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share your own reading!

This is my reading for the last 2 weeks! (Bolded that so nobody thinks I didn’t eat or sleep and crammed all of this reading into one week!)

More time to read allowed me to cross off three more titles from my 20 must read novels in 2013 list. 11 done. 9 to go.

Many novels consumed:

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper¬†Although hard to read at times – the subject matter is heavy – the slave trade and the horrific treatment of slaves . . . I couldn’t put this title down. Read it in a day and was lost in the story. Tragic but full of hope and resilience. Reminded me of the adult novel The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. In Copper Sun,¬† we follow Amari, a fifteen year old girl, stolen from her village in Africa and taken aboard a ship sending slaves to the Carolinas. When she is sold and brought to a rice plantation, she meets Polly, an indentured servant also living there. The two girls have an opportunity finally to escape but their path to posible freedom seems almost impossible. What a story.

coppersun

Shine written by Lauren Myracle¬†This book catches you quick and holds on tight. Part of what pulled me through the pages was the mystery element to the story. Just who was¬†responsible¬†for such a violent and upsetting assault against Patrick, Cat’s best friend who seems to have been attacked because he is gay. But there is much more to this story than a simple “who done it?” theme. It explores addiction, small town hate and poverty, family secrets and loyalty that endures.¬†

shine

How it Ends by Laura Wiess¬†There is something about this book. I finished it almost a week ago but it continues to weave its way into my thinking. Many stories are intertwined within this novel. First, that of seventeen year old Hanna. We also follow the story of her elderly neighbours and their history in Hanna’s life. But another story is offered – told on audiobook that Hanna and Helen (the neighbour) listen to together. This story and Helen’s history are what keep tugging at me. There are tender memories, issues of aging and illness, regrets and moments of extreme and simple joy all mixed up with such sadness, true horror and much grief. The teenage tribulations of Hanna were okay but these other layers of the story really captured me. Very emotional read.

how-it-ends_

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson I was so happy to settle back into the world of Hattie! Such an honourable, honest and likeable character. I want to purchase both Hattie novels and put them aside for my daughter to read in a few years. They are must reads I think, as Hattie has such character.

hattie after after

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake This book was a very pleasant surprise. I had seen this title on 2013 lists but hadn’t heard many details. I was completely engrossed in the story of Georgie, a young girl who when faced with news of her sister’s death refuses to believe it. Even when there is a body. And a funeral. Georgie is some girl – thirteen years old and full of spunk. She is a sharpshooter (whoa this girl and her gun . . . ) and¬†possesses¬†a keen mind. Her sister’s disappearance is a mystery to be solved and she sets out determined to find answers. Not going to spoil anything by giving away plot points but will highly recommend this book for those who love mysteries, adventure and historical fiction (Placid, Wisconsin 1871 is the setting).

one came home

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens¬†We happily finished this dramatic story over the holiday. I have been reading this aloud to my children. What adventure! Also much mystery, fantasy and even humour. I think I appreciated how well written this book is precisely because I read it aloud. The dialogue was so much fun to read. We can’t wait to read the second book in this trilogy.

ermerald-atlas

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr¬†So much of this novel is bittersweet. A sad story of a girl defined by a reputation that plagues her. I really like Sara Zarr as an author. Her book How to Save a Life¬†is one of my favourites novels I’ve read in 2013.

story of a girl

Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone¬†I love stories that highlight intergenerational¬†relationships¬†so loved the connections between Louise and her grandparents. Some wonderfully quirky characters in this middle grade novel but some definite sadness as Louise begins to face memories of her mother’s death.

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. We listened to this as an audio book (read by James Avery) on the driving parts of our holiday. It hooked the entire family Рwe loved the story, the history and the hilarious expressions.

BudNotBuddy

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2) by Shannon Hale Princess Academy is one of my favourite middle grade stories so I was thrilled to get my hands on the sequel. I am a big fan of Hale and her style of fairytale inspired fantasy.

palace of stone

Three other titles I have loved in this past few weeks:

Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes Oh Henkes is so on to a good thing with Penny. Think this might be my favourite title yet. Seriously hope Henkes keeps creating new characters and new titles. He is an absolute master of the illustrated story.

PennyMarble

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska Loved this book and the questions and wondering it inspires.

?????

Beach by Elisha Cooper¬†I find Cooper’s books so beautifully simple and soothing. Snippets, small moments and observations of a beach day. Would be a great text to model how a story can be told in doodles and descriptions.

beach-by-elisha-cooper-cover

I am currently reading The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen as a read aloud to my children. We are very excited because I purchased tickets to go see Jennifer in mid April here in Vancouver. Our whole family are fans and so we are all going! Yippee!

I just started One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. This book has been on my TBR shelf for some time so looking forward to reading it!

What are you reading?

Monday January 21st, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?¬†

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

A highlight of every week is linking up with Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of my reading for the week from picture books to young adult novels. Such a fantastic way to learn of new titles from an avid reading community.

I read some very lovely picture books this week. Sharing my top five here.

Again, is it just me, or are there a plethora of bears in picture books? Not that I’m complaining. Love bears! But I sure do encounter them frequently.

 

Bear in Love¬†by¬†Daniel Pinkwater¬†and illustrated by¬†Will Hillenbrand. This is an especially sweet and gentle story of kindness and friendship. I shared my students’ reactions to this story here.

bear in love

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson I found this little treasure of a book about . . . treasuring books . . . at the bookstore today and it made its way home happily with me! Any book that celebrates reading, imagination and the love of books is an instant favourite of mine. So Otto is my new friend, the book promotor!

otto the book bear

Cheer up your Teddy Bear Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and illustrated by Neal Layton¬†I always love Neal Layton’s illustrations which is what initially drew me to this book. Such a perfect read aloud for early primary students that touches on a sad mood that becomes contagious. Eventually, the little teddy bear recognizes that a miserable mood can be changed with a shift in attitude and then the sun comes out and so much more . . .

cheer up your teddy bear

The Black Rabbit by Philappa Leathers¬† Took me right back to when my children were little and shadows were absolutely fascinating – how they followed us, walked with us, joined in at unexpected times ūüôā In this story, a scary black rabbit seems to terrorize a little rabbit until . . .

the black rabbit

Mr. Zinger’s Hat by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic¬†This is one of my favourite books of the week.¬†A wonderful story about the power of storytelling and how it meanders this way and that between the narrator and the creatively involved listener. Always I adore books that feature interactions between generations – in this case it is young Leo and old Mr. Zinger who collectively “create” a story. And the storytelling continues once Leo has been “bit” by the storytelling bug. I read this at the bookstore today and think that I need to own it. A story you want to read and reread.

mr zingers hat

Early Chapter

Penny and her Doll by Kevin Henkes How I love that Kevin Henkes has created this series of books featuring Penny!

penny and her doll

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford¬†I am so excited about Violet Mackerel! She is the brainchild of Australian writer Anna Branford and is such a breath of fresh air in this genre. A young girl who is an interesting young girl – not all pink and cutesy but really just real. She loves discovering interesting things, appreciates the cozy feel of her pajamas on a cool morning and sees treasure and joy in everyday things. More in this series will soon be¬†released¬†in the North American market.

violet m

I finished two novels this week.

Delerium by Lauren Oliver¬†I found myself¬†surprisingly¬†connected to characters in this story and read through it very quickly. Of course, I want to read the next in the series but am wary of who will be there and who won’t be . . .

Delirium

Every Day by David Levithan I am still feeling speechless after completing this story yesterday. Shook up my thinking in a number of ways. This novel asks you to suspend belief and takes you to some very interesting places if you can do just that. Made me think that much is random and yet, that really nothing is . . .

every day

 

I’m currently reading Hattie Every After by Kirby Larson. With my children, we continue to enjoy The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver as our nightly read aloud.

Read aloud everyday – in practice

This week in a piece of writing, one of my students¬†shared, “My teacher is a book maniac!” This not only made my day, it made my week. Because the love of books, the excitement over stories and the magic of reading are the gifts I never tire of giving and hope that I have gifted in abundance this year. Every week we share a lot of things. And books? Well, they are at the top of our list! Reading aloud on a daily basis is a priority. We find many reasons to read together.

What did Division 5 read this week? When you add it all up, it’s a lot!¬†

On Monday we read . . . 

We often begin our mornings with a read aloud (or two or three). On Monday when we had five students absent, we began to wonder if this book might have been up to no good on Friday afternoon. Was is ravenous? Were some children devoured? We had to wait until the next few days to see who returned all in one piece! A fabulous book to humorously explore a little bit of fear . . . . The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearling.

We used Thank You Miss Doover to get us in the mood for writing an appreciative and personal thank you letter. Students learned a lot about writing and giggled through the how to train a puppy aspects of the story. Hint: there is paper and it is often yellow after a certain puppy stands on it. I was ordered to place this new book in the humour bin!

(Written by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson)

On Tuesday we read . . .

On Tuesday morning I shared some books that were brand new to our school library. When the students saw author Kevin Henkes on the cover of Penny and Her Song,¬†they begged me to read the book aloud. Well, c’mon! Kevin Henkes? How could I say no?

I then shared another new to the library title. The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert is the sequel to the fabulous Ice that we read a few months ago. (The book that instantly made us Geisert fans). This new title lets us revisit the island with the industrious pigs and this time, the disaster they face is not a water shortage but a volcanic eruption. Evacuation via dandelion parachutes is absolutley delightful. Our class loves sharing wordless books!

Our Reading Group finished Hurricane, another fantastic information story book by Celia Godkin. Students had many questions about what happens during and after a hurricane. Just how destructive can it be? How do living things survive? This book allowed us to explore these questions and later students wrote about what they discovered. Our latest focus in our writing has been to include supporting details/ evidence. This book offered lots of great information on life in and around a mangrove swamp just before, during and after a hurricane. Writing was prolific!

In the afternoon we read A Butterfly is Patient  (an extension of our plants/seeds/garden theme) and students wrote about their new learning and their background knowledge. Read more here.

 On Wednesday we read . . . 

Wednesday mornings always begin with Just a Second by Steve Jenkins. This is¬†a perfect book to read in little chunks as there is so much to discuss, ponder and dijest. We only have 15 minutes before Ms. S picks students up for their weekly book exchange so we love to share a few fascinating facts to turn on our brains and make us exclaim “Wow!”

 After recess we have one of our favourite events of the week. A reader from the BLG law firm comes to read to us and leaves us with a wonderful new book for our Seymour library collection. This week we listened to Crafty Chloe read by our BLG reader, Dan. Read more here in our latest BLG Reads this week post.

Every Wednesday afternoon, our three primary classes meet for our weekly Social Reponsibility Gathering. Often we share a book with a SR theme or a title that helps us extend our learning over concepts covered in the MindUp curriculum. This week I read the gorgeous Little Bird. A book that celebrates finding joy in the smallest of things. We learned that when we are mindful of our environment and those around us, real magic happens. A nearly wordless book so we were able to tell it together. Just lovely. Written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine (winner of  2011 Prix Sorcieres (the French Caldecott) for this title).

little-bird 12 for 2012


On Thursday we read . . .

Crafty Chloe reminded me of the creative genius highlighted in I Had a Favourite Dress written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by¬†Julia Denos. So this new addition to Seymour’s library was our morning read aloud.

In the afternoon we shared stories from Donata Montanari‘s Children Around the World.¬†We enjoyed reading about children’s lives in different countries: their school experiences, their homes, their traditions, the languages they speak, their parents’ jobs and tasks and their favourite pasttimes. This inspired our own writing where students shared information about themselves and their families thinking all the while about what a child somewhere else in the world might want to know. Lots of great writing and wonderful sharing!

Elementary teachers РWhat did you share in your classroom this week? Do you get a chance to read out loud every day? 

Picture Books on a Theme

Teachers often search for picture books on a particular topic and it is wonderful to be able to come to a blog and “nonstop shop” so to speak. In other words, find more than a few books on the same theme in one place.

Now that this blog is almost 18 months old, there are a few themes that reoccur – enough to make up a list of sorts (through a tag search) or an actual list exists under the Book Recommendations page. Favourite picture books make more than one list. Often I have included responses from my students if I have shared the books in class.

Books about Kindness РFor a list, read here

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones was one of our favoutite books that explored this theme.

Books about Courage – For a list, read here

A favourite book on this theme was Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes

Books about Death and Bereavement – For a list, read here.

One of the most powerful books on this theme is The Scar written by Charlotte Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

Picture Books that Tackle the Big Issues РFor a list,  read here Books on this list have been hugely powerful in my primary classroom Рmany of them can also be found under Social Responsibility Books (here) with themes on the bully/bullied/bystander dynamic, friendship, sibling relationships, self-esteem,  etc

Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto provoked huge discussion in my class last year. Themes of self esteem, judgement and the negative power of words.

What can we learn from Sheila Rae?

Sheila Rae wasn’t afraid of anything.

That’s the first line of Sheila Rae, the Brave written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. “Hey everyone,” I said, “Isn’t this just like some of you? No fears at all?” (This came out in our discussion yesterday) We decided to read and find out just how brave Sheila Rae really is.

Well, the dark didn’t spook her. Neither did thunderstorms, principals or closets supposedly full of monsters. She approached life brandishing her bravery. She rode her bicycle no handed. She walked backwards with her eyes closed. She bared her teeth at stray cats. Fearless and determined to show it! When her little sister Louise marvelled at her decision to walk home from school a new way (“You’re too brave for me.”), ¬†Sheila Rae called her a scaredy-cat.

But when Sheila Rae suddenly finds herself lost, her bravado melts away. She sits on a rock and wails. Louise pops down out of a tree where she has been secretly spying and carefully leads Sheila Rae back home.

Phew! Home is in sight!

Sheila Rae is thrilled to get home and turns to her sister.

“Louise, you are brave. You are fearless.”

“We both are,” said Louise.

Our class talked about what Sheila Rae learned in this gem of a story. Some pretty thoughtful responses were volunteered.

  • It’s okay to be brave but you don’t have to be mean
  • Everybody can be brave
  • Everybody has some fears.
  • Brave people sometimes aren’t.

Stay tuned for more stories on this theme as we try to figure out just what it means to be courageous.

Connecting Stories

Our reading group has been busy reading picture books and writing and drawing about their connections. ¬†We love using this BLM Connecting Stories from Adrienne Gear‘s Reading Power book to help us explain how the story is connected to our own lives.

Jenny read Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. This is a lovely book about Wemberly who worries about everything!  Now Wemberly is starting school.  This book helps us feel better about starting school, making new friends and growing up.  Jenny writes:

In the story, when Wemberly went to school, she saw someone else just like her. She had a stuffy and she was shy just like Wemberly.

This reminds me of when I had the first day of school. I was shy and then I met Maria. And then when Jocelyn came, we all became friends. And we all made other kids laugh.

Annie read The Best Book to Read by Debbie Bertram.  The fun, rhyming text takes us  along on an adventure to the public library.  How to choose a book when so many are available?  Annie writes about her connection:

In the story, it was a boy who had a field trip to the library. He found lots of books that he wants but he can’t choose some.

This reminds me of ¬†. . . I went to the library and I didn’t know what book to choose. I was confused about choosing books!

Scott chose to read Froggy’s Sleepover by Jonathan London. As expected, Froggy has all kinds of funny escapades on his sleepover at Max’s house. ¬†Lots of giggling happens when someone reads this book about silly sleepover fun! Scott writes:

In the story, Froggy went to a sleepover with Max. They play pillow fight. I think Froggy was happy when they were play fighting.

This reminds me of when I went to a sleepover with my best friend. We play pillow fight too. I feel happy when I played. I connected to Froggy’s happy feelings.

Ms. Hong brought us a lot of books from the Connect bin in the library to add to our classroom collection so that we have many choices when we are choosing books to read. Thanks Ms. Hong!  Everyone is enjoying recognizing how they share feelings with the characters in these stories. This helps us to understand the story better.  We look forward to reading more of these books in the next few weeks.