Monday, December 1st, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

My favourite reading photo of the week was captured during buddy reading with the kindergarten class this week. Love the teaching and interacting that was going on between these two!

 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.

imwayrI was held hostage by report card writing this week and literally attached to my computer this weekend. I lamented and, at the same time, celebrated here. As a result I didn’t get the reading done that I would have liked to do. I also have a very limited time to get this post together as I need to go back and edit my reports one more time. Sigh.

So this is an abbreviated version of my typical #IMWAYR post

Here are some picture books that I enjoyed:

 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I See the Moon by Jaqueline Mitton; illustrated by Erika Pal

From There to Here written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Mark James (student reviews will soon be published on our class blog)

Song of Middle C by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Scott Menchin

Two Frogs by Chris Wormell

All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marc Boutavant

In other reading? Tomorrow evening I will finish Okay for Now with my children. I think our next book is going to be Twerp by Mark Goldblatt. My daughter reads all over the map but my son pretty much sticks to graphics and fantasy/adventure. When I read realistic fiction, he gets totally into it but he would never read it on his own. So, I am sticking to realistic fiction for a while with my kids.

I am reading in spurts and starts The Turtle of Oman: A Novel by Naomi Shihab Nye. I then plan to read Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Then, I have a big mission. I had plans to read 100 novels this year. That means I have to get 25 finished in a month. Nobody cares but me. But I care. A lot. Our lengthy job action (on strike forever) should have given me excess time to read. Instead it froze me and I didn’t get to dive into the land of books like I wanted to. I resent that. I am bound and determined to meet this goal. I wouldn’t quite put money on it. But, I should at least get big points for big ambition. Here goes . . .

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Preschool animal discoveries

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

I am so excited about the number of nonfiction picture books being written ideal for younger readers – from preschool to early primary. Recently I was invited to John Oliver High School‘s Wonder of Reading Event. My task? To read to rotating groups of preschool age children and their parents/caregivers for ten minutes at a time over the morning. What fun! I decided that rather than picking a fiction story, I would bring in a number of nonfiction titles and a basket of animal stuffies and set myself up for an interactive reading experience adventure into the world of animals.

I shared a few pages of different books depending on where the mood took us and the interest level of the group. We ended up talking a lot about ostriches, monkeys and penguins and the fact that none of us had a tail. What was in my bin of books?

Let me share:

From the brilliant Nicola Davies – three titles illustrated by Marc Boutavant. All of these books have a lift the flap and find out component. In my class we have started calling these “flip flap” books inspired by one student who refers to them like this because it makes one smile just to say it! 🙂

Who’s Like Me? (published 2012)

“Who’s like me? Who’s furry and breathes air like me? Is it . . . ?” 

Who's like me? #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

Who Lives Here?  (published 2012)

“Who lives here? Who lives in this still, cool pond? Is it . . . ?”

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

What Happens Next?  (published 2012)

“Here’s a hungry chameleon. Here’s a juicy grasshopper. What happens next?”

What happens next?  #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

And even though none of us could find a tail on ourselves, we were sure excited to guess which tail belonged to which animal in Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? Illustrated by Erik Brooks (published 2012)

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

Tushes & Tails! by Stephane Frattini (published 2012) Who belongs to which tush and/or tail? It is not as easy as it many seem to guess. This was a hit with the parents who were as curious as their little ones to find out about each mysterious bottom!

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 56/60 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.


Monday February 11th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I have been sick for 4 days. We all know the yucky things about being sick so I haven’t been thrilled about being ill this weekend. But, for a book lover, sick days mean book days so I happily read some great novels between naps and mint tea breaks.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King This is the second King title I’ve read (Ask the Passengers being the first) and I am fast becoming a fan of how she lays out characters and families and their sometimes strange, challenging but yet, connected dynamics. I sort of feel like I’m spying through a lit window at night into the intimate details of family relationships. Not always pretty. Sometimes all about the ugly and the weak. But so truly real.  A book with a theme of bullying and how it affects an entire family.


Crow by Barbara Wright This title is another great example of why I love historical fiction to learn about specific events in history I often knew nothing or little about – in this case, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. This book is very much about Moses and his family. I loved his relationship with his spunky and wise grandmother Boo Nanny. The racial tensions and extreme prejudice are thoroughly explored in this story – going back in time to Moses’  grandparent’s experiences and forward to his father’s dreams for him. Some challenging moments in this book. A middle grade read that might be best as a read aloud where lots of discussion could occur. With room for many questions . . .


Insurgent by Veronica Roth So first off, I must say that yes, I liked this book. Yes, I’m hooked on the adventure and very curious about what will happen next. But, while I appreciate adventure and fast paced plots, I need breathing room in a story. Time to reflect and ponder. Down time. There is little down time in Roth’s books. Which is probably what makes them favourites for others but not for me. I miss the space to think. Again, like I said with Divergent, it feels like I am reading a movie. With little mood music. Just go, go, go! But I like many of these characters and so yes, count me in as someone who will read the next title in this series!


Next up for me? Nothing but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. My children and I are loving The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. If my voice hadn’t been so rotten this weekend we would have read much more. Such an engaging novel! And for kids, it has it all – suspense, humour, mystery, action . . .

I continue to add board books to my classroom collection for when we have buddy reading with the kindergarten class. Two new titles added this week:

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein A sweet little title about a little joey almost ready to brave the world.

Pouch David Ezra Stein

Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills My students love sharing Duck & Goose titles. So sweet. Messages always so positive. Kids read them and smile.

duck and goose needs

I also read some great nonfiction picture books this week.

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin This book is quietly powerful which is often the very best kind. Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. The artwork is exquisite. And I love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else. A book to own.

peace book cover

Who Lives Here? written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Marc Boutavant I purchased Who’s Like Me? (read more here) a book in this same format and it quickly became very popular for buddy reading so I am excited to book talk this title next week. In this book, students learn all about different habitats. Very accessible for younger learners and fun lift the flap elements.


My favourite picture books of the week were . . .

Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski This was the only Caldecott honour title for 2013 that I hadn’t read. I was completely smitten when I turned to the page of the whales. Oh, the whales! Such gorgeous pictures. Love the cityscape on the first page with the tiger carrying away the huge orange ball . . . Text and illustrations mesh beautifully. This would be such a beautiful book to give as a gift to those who appreciate the soothing power of bedtime books.

Sleep Like a Tiger

Bone Dog written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann I am a big Rohmann fan. My Friend Rabbit is one of my all time favourites. So I was intrigued by this title. It tackles death (of a pet) which most books shy away from so it gets automatic points. I always think we should talk openly with kids about death as a part of life. I once wrote a post ranting about this very thing. This title also has some very sweet elements to it. And when tested on a child (my son) evoked some giggles (when the proud little dog struts back with bone in mouth after a skeleton chase!)


The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. A dramatic First Nations story full of supernatural beings. My students wrote reviews of this book and I shared them here.

the First Mosquito


Have a happy reading week!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A little guessing

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! Do you have any books to share and discuss? 

I am pleased to participate in Alyson’s (from Kid Lit Frenzy) non-fiction picture book challenge and share the picture books I read this week.

This week I was on the lookout for books that were very interactive and that primary students could read independently. I was also looking for books where students could learn more about animal characteristics including features, habitat and life cycles.

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 5/60 complete 🙂

Who’s Like me? by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Marc Boutavant (published 2012) This is a fun lift the flap book where children try to guess who is like me from a question and a picture clue Like (with a picture of a rabbit) “Who’s like me? Who’s furry and breathes air like me? Is it . . . ” The next page features four flaps with a clue on the outside  If you flip the picture of feathers, there is a picture of a pigeon and text that reads: “I have feathers not fur.” The next page talks about the fox who is like the rabbit and has fur and breathes air. It is explained that a fox and a rabbit are both mammals. they breathe air, give birth to live babies and feed them milk. Children learn about amphibians, fish, birds and reptiles as well. Colourful and very fun to interact with! Nicola Davies for the younger set!

who's like me

Who Has these feet? by Lara Hulbert and illustrated by Erik Brooks (published 2011) Children love books where they can guess! This title has pictures of different animal feet with the reoccurring question: Who has these feet? When I used this in the classroom this week I had children justify their guess with reasons to back up their answers. When we saw a picture of duck feet, one child guessed it was a chicken because of the skinny legs. Another thought it was a swan because of the skin between the toes. Another student volunteered that that skin was for paddling and so it had to be a bird that swims. One child knew those feet were called webbed feet. A great way to build vocabulary and to sit back and let the students talk and share.


So . . . who has these feet? Intrigued? Find the book!


It’s Moving Day by Pamela Hickman and illustrated by Geraldo Valerio (published 2008)  In this book, we “travel” through numerous seasons that focus on a specific hole/burrow under a tree that a variety of animals use for a home. Great introduction to how woodland animals use burrows and change environments during different seasons/when raising young/etc.


Whose Nest in this? by Heidi Bee Roemer and illustrated by Connie McLennan (published 2009) Another fun book to guess from clues given – this time in a rhyming riddle format. This text is longer and more complicated so would be best used as a read aloud with primary students. Young intermediates/late primaries could read it independently. Lots to learn – certainly nests are very diverse and it is not just birds who build nests!


See Me Grow (Scholastic Discover Moreby Penelope Arlon (published 2012) This book has some fantastic nonfiction features like colourful photographs, life cycle charts, an informative glossary, a variety of labelled diagrams, fact boxes, etc. Lots of information about how a variety of animals grow from birth to adulthood. Learn about which animals hatch from an egg, which are born live, how long they stay with their mother/parent, etc. Not too much text on each page makes this perfect for young readers to interact with independently. Part of this Scholastic series.

scholastic title

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013!


Monday, January 7th, 2013

It’s Monday!  What are you reading? 

orange pear spread

Join the #IMWAYR community participating in Kellee and Jen’s meme and share your reading from picture books to young adult novels.

Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles!

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I enjoyed a lot of picture books this week including some board books for the collection I am building for Wednesday buddy reading with the Kindergarten class.

Picture books I loved:

the bear in the book

The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben. This book is so lovely. It’s a story within a story of sorts that captures the gentle quiet moments of bedtime story time between parent and child. As the mother and little boy settle into their bedtime routine, they read a story about little bear settling into his winter hibernation. Love how it portrays the intimacy of the mother/child interactions as they talk about the story, ask/answer questions, etc.

Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld Delightful!



Good News Bad News

Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack Sparse in text but full of humour and lots of space to infer, discuss and wonder. A fantastic book to teach about perspective, optimism/pessimism and patience.

I cannot wait to share this with my class. I can imagine that it will be one of those stories where we can’t get through a page without everyone talking and then it will travel from book box to book box as it is read and reread.

Nighttime Ninja written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young Stunning illustrations by Young.

nighttime ninja

Bear Despair by Gaetan Doremus I can see many thinking this book is either atrocious or hilarious. When animals keep stealing his teddy, this bear does the first thing he thinks of to do in his angst and frustration . . he gobbles them up. In the There was an Old Lady style of . . . wow, how can anything else fit in that tummy? Curious to see how children will respond. I have the feeling they will think it is very funny and it will certainly prompt many discussions about choices and managing our anger/frustration. A wordless book.

bear despair cover

Animal Masquerade by Marianne Dubuc Fantastic for independent rereads or sharing during buddy reading. Silly, creative illustrations with lots of room for discussion/comments.

animal masquerade

Board Books I loved (and now own :-)):

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

orange pear

Thank you Bear by Greg Foley


Nonfiction titles:

Who’s Like me? Nicola Davies Marc Boutavant

who's like me

Who Has these Feet?


In other reading:


I finished Small Damages by Beth Kephart and absolutley adored it. The perfect first novel to complete in 2013.

Lyrical. Everything mixes up – the past, the present, the longing, the worry and the beautiful Spanish landscape and food. Slow and full – like a beautiful, well spiced meal over a long night. What was particularly lovely in this book was the strength of character and the wisdom in the main character. I also loved Kenzie’s relationship with Estela, the house cook who taught her much more than delicious Spanish cooking. Looking forward to reading more titles by Kephart.

wonder 12 for 2012

I finished reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my own children. Must admit I enjoyed this novel just as much if not more on a second read – perhaps because I was sharing it with my own children who are ten years old – the same age as many characters in the book. I was surprised at how often my voice broke when I read this aloud especially since the plot was not a surprise. My son who is typically a “fantasy or not interested” reader loved this book. Hoping that this opens him up to more realistic fiction. My daughter who reads everything snatched the book away as soon as we were finished to go reread her favourite parts!  Such a beautiful story about the power of human spirit.

I am currently reading The Diviners by Libba Bray and just started The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver as the new read aloud with my children.