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 by 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

Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016

Picture book 10 for 10 is here! Not many days can rival the picture book love shared on this day!

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 fifth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. In 2014, I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness. Last year I highlighted favourite historical fiction titles.

This year I chose books that may inspire philosophical discussion. BIG questions with no absolute answer. Questions about meaning. And truth. Knowledge and reality. Ethics and morals. Books that will allow readers to think critically. To reason. To argue. To listen. To take risks in understanding and meaning making. To stretch one question into deeper and more complex questions.

Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

For each title I have listed the initial questions I had after reading. Of course, in a room full of readers and thinkers, these questions would only grow!

Little Bird written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine

Little Bird Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is a small thing insignificant? What state of being do we need to be in to notice small details?  How does this noticing change our reality?

You Call That Brave by Lorenz Pauli and Kathrin Schärer

You Call that Brave Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is courage? Is it an action or a decision? How do we determine what is bravery? Can a brave act for one be common place for another?

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

this moose belongs to me Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is ownership? Do we have the right to “own” something live? If yes, what responsibilities go along with this? Or is it even possible to own a living thing?

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

The Gift of Nothing Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is nothing? Is it something? Does it have value? Significance? How do we measure the power or weight of nothing?

There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

There Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is there a place that brings bigger happiness? What are we searching for? Is it someplace we have been?  Or someplace we only imagine? Can we truly be in the moment or are we always thinking ahead or looking back?

Wild by Emily Hughes

Wild Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Can our true self be changed? What do we mean by the influence of nature or nurture? What is freedom? Can our spirit be contained? How much of our inner life is our own?

The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have written by Edward van de Vendel and illustrated by Anton Van Hertbruggen

The Dog that Nino didn't have Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Where is the place between imagination and reality? Can what we imagine make us truly happy? Which is superior – imagination or reality? In which circumstances?

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton,

Something Extraordinary Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is real? What is fuelled by imagination? How does that influence our reality? Is there beauty in simplicity? In the everyday? Does it count if we don’t notice it?

 My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown 

My Teacher is A Monster (No, I am Not!) Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What defines us? Who we are or how we are perceived? How does emotion affect perception? How does our reality change over time? How does experience alter reality?

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies 

Grandad's Island Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is there life after death? What would it be like? Do those we love remain with us? How? Where?

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!  

If I could go to Kindergarten . . .

I love reading to the Ks at Seymour. I get to do it at least a few times a month at our primary Social Responsibility Gatherings. The Ks sit right up in front, eyes wide, serious expressions, taking it all in. They listen intently, little hands raise in the air to tell me connections and ideas. Then when they leave, they wave, they smile, they whisper, “I’ll miss you.” One of my favourite things to do is to read to the Kindergarten class.

So I got to thinking what if I could go to Kindergarten everyday? And read? What would I read?  During my last few visits to the public library I found some wonderful possibilities.

Saber-toothed tigers. Wooly mammoths. Sleepy dinosaurs. A little boy exploring the world around him. Boy by James Mayhew explores a little guy’s yearning for independence while at the same time honouring his deep connections to home (and the happy snuggles from Mom and Dad). Where in the world do we find warmth? In the security and love from our own family.

A beautifully illustrated story inspired by the author’s love of his own son.

Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick wrote There – as a series of questions. A story about growing up and celebrating the journey as much as the destination. When will I get there? How will I know? And will I know everything, There? The little girl then wonders Can I change my mind and go Elsewhere instead? She then decides that she will go There tomorrow – after she does all the things she needs to do.

A book that begs to be explored with children. Winner of the Bistro Awards in 2010.

I think this book by Mara Bergman and illustrated by Cassia Thomas Lively Elizabeth is especially appropriate for kindergarten. Life when you come to school is all of a sudden a lot about lining up. Going here, going there, hands to yourself, “shh!” Several times a day. What happens when you have a little extra energy and it kinda spills over into a push? Well in a kindergarten line, it is full on domino effect! Bergman does a lovely job of playing out the whole scenario – from upset to apology and then forgiveness and moving on (and quickly – after all, little ones have the important business of play to get back to)! Cassia Thomas’ illustrations are absolutely delightful! A book, I predict, that will get many “Read it again!” requests.

Okay who doesn’t love surprises? And guessing what will happen next? Little ones do especially. What a treasure is The Surprise by Sylvia van Ommen! Wordless so there is a lot of space for interactions. Predictions. Inferring. Questions.  Sheep zips here and there on her moped on a mission. She dyes her wool, when it seems long enough, a brilliant red. Then she brings it to poodle who spins it into yarn. She then knits something special and wraps it up and delivers it to . . .  Well, not going to spoil the surprise here but how fun would this be to do with a class of Ks?

Mattland coauthored by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert and illustrated by Dusan Petricic is a wonderful book to explore with children stressed by moving. The scary sadness of someplace new followed by the gentle, spontaneous introduction of new playmates and new activities. But this book is also ideal to celebrate imaginative, outdoor play. Building a place – roads, rivers, houses, prickly trees and getting some quiet help from someone with their own treasure trove of discoveries – a flattened penny, some popsicle sticks, four pine cones . . . To be fair, you can only read this book with intended outside play planned next. Lots of it. And it should probably involve some mud!

Now I just need a plan to sneak in and share some of these with the Ks!