Monday February 13th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Here are three.

Early morning and my room fills up with students reading books with each other. How I love this!

Monday February 13th, 2017

Student led conferences often included a read aloud from a favourite one or two Mock Caldecott titles. The Night Gardener is being shared here.

Monday February 13th, 2017

Finding a reading nook ūüôā

Monday February 13th, 2017

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:

For Nonfiction 10 for 10: Dive Down Deep


Books I enjoyed:

The Tree: A Fable by Neal Layton

There is something wonderfully powerful about this title. Powerful and refreshing. How do we share a natural space? Would pair perfectly with Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux


Tony by Ed Galing and illustrated by Erin E Stead

Oh these illustrations. Gentle. Lovely.


I Am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach

Wonderfully hilarious. A book about being who you are and being courageous enough to make sure others know it.


Nope! A Tale of First Flight by Drew Sheneman

Basically wordless. First flight can seem terrifying and a well executed “nope” should be respected, shouldn’t it?


The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

So if you are going picture book shopping, this title needs to go on the top of your list. Don’t leave the store without it. I couldn’t. An allegorical tale that will make you giggle and nod vigorously and leap up and shout in agreement. Our voices cannot be silenced. Oh, this book is timely. Cannot recommend it enough.


Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Who we are, where we belong, how big all of this can be. Lovely little book.


A Greyhound, a Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

A beautiful book. Wonderfully playful illustrations. Wonderfully playful word play. Find a group of little ones and read this aloud!


Earthling by Mark Fearing

Don’t get on the wrong bus! What a fun graphic novel! This will be a well read, well loved title in my classroom.


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Wow. Yes, this is a YA love story but it’s more than that. Love stories don’t often hold my interest. This book is a story of being ridiculously human. About hope and faith and choices and kindness. About family and responsibility and dreams.


I have also been reading a lot for the Cybils awards (nonfiction category) Winners will be announced tomorrow!


Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 8/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 44/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 2 books ahead of schedule

#MustReadin2017: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 10/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 6/50 books read

U next>I am reading Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2)

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

This is Week 2 of 3 where I will be sharing thirty titles (ten at a time) of my favourite nonfiction books for older readers. The first ten are here.

My post last week goes into more detail of why I wanted to put together these three lists. Basically, I had just written a number of blog posts featuring titles for younger readers (like this one) and had received a comment about older students losing their passion for nonfiction titles. I wanted to share some of my favourite titles that I have read with my own children or on my own that I think will appeal to these intermediate/middle school readers. I hope something catches your eye!

The second ten:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins (published 1999)

The Top of the World Climbing Mount Everst Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Poop ‚Äď A Natural History of the Unmentionable¬†written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton (published 2004)

Poop Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Predator Showdown (30 Unbelievably Awesome Predator vs. Predator Face-offs!) by Lee Martin (published 2011)

Predator-Showdown Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Let’s Talk About Race written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Karen Barbour (published 2005)

Let's Talk about Race Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares (published 2012)

 Helen's Big World Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Meadowlands ‚Äď A Wetlands Survival Story by¬†Thomas F Yezerski¬†(published 2011)

Meadowlands Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Bugged: How Insects Changed History written by Sarah Albee and illustrated by Robert Leighton (published 2014)

Bugged Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Every Human has Rights¬†‚ÄstA Photographic Declaration for Kids¬†A¬†National Geographic¬†book with a forward by¬†Mary Robinson. (published 2008)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (published 2013)

Look up! Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth written by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Rosemary Woods (published 2007)

One Well Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 2) There's a Book for That

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 102/65 complete!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

Nonfiction 10 for 10 List for 2013!

I’m so excited to participate in the first Nonfiction 10 for 10 event celebrating fantastic nonfiction picture books. Thank you to¬†Cathy Mere from¬†Reflect and Refine,¬†Mandy Robek of¬†Enjoy and Embrace Learning¬† and Julie Balen¬†of¬†Write at the Edge¬†for hosting this new meme.

In many cases, I have shared the books on my list with students, often more than once. If I have used a book with my class and blogged about it, I have provided the link (for more information about the book/possible ideas on how to use it).

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long Shared in my class here. I love all of the Aston/Long titles (there are now four) but I think this is my favourite. Maybe it is that I love birds – my backyard is full of feeders and specific plants to attract them. But it is also the simplicity of an egg and the wonder of what it might contain. In this book we learn about more than bird’s eggs – we see the eggs of frogs, insects and various reptiles. The text is soothing and informative and the illustrations stunning. It is fun just to pore over the end papers trying to match various eggs with the creatures that may have hatched from them. I find this book is as lovely shared in the classroom as it is read aloud to just a few (my own children adored it). It inspires so much inquiry and amazement.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin¬†A simply gorgeous book detailing the birth of the Galapagos islands over millions of years and the fascinating creatures that inhabit them. Why is this book so great? The illustrations are certainly stunning and detailed but it is much more than that. I also love that big concepts: evolution, natural selection, migration of specific species and environmental changes are made so accessible for young readers. I think this is best introduced as a read aloud and then left for children to visit and revisit.¬†This is a book to return to often to further study the illustrations and explanations. I want to get a hold of Chin‘s other nonfiction titles now too (Redwoods and Coral Reefs)

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Over and Under the Snow written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal Shared in my class here. This book is truly magical and I would be thrilled to see Kate Messner do another picture book in this genre. Of course, Neal’s illustrations are also stunning – I love the muted colours – the gorgeous blues and white. I have frequently given this book as a gift to young readers especially if they have the opportunity to get out into a snowy wood and imagine all of the life happening under the snow. My students think it is absolutely fascinating that this subnivean zone (the small open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground)¬†exists and¬†marvelled¬†at the animals that inhabit it. More detail about each animal is located in the back of the book for further reading. The text itself reads beautifully and repeated readings are a must!

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Every Human has RightsA Photographic Declaration for Kids A National Geographic book with a forward by Mary Robinson. I seem to collect books that explore the United Declaration of Human Rights. I have many favourites. What I particularly love about this title is the poetry that accompanies the list of rights. All written by children and teens. The photographs from around the world make the rights so much more powerful, real and worth defending. I would share this book with intermediate students over primary children because of the more mature message in the poems and some of the photos. For books more suitable to younger students, I recommend I Have the Right to be a Child written by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty and We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures (with Amnesty International).

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Poop ‚ÄstA Natural History of the Unmentionable¬†written by¬†Nicola Davies¬†and illustrated by¬†Neal Layton. Shared in my class here and here.¬†Really what child is not going to be engaged when you open up a book that is all about poop? There is a lot to learn in this title! ¬† Do you know how often a sloth poops? How about a kind of messy thing that hippos do with their poo? Why is there hair in the poop of some animals? Wonder what follows when there is a title Sloppy or Ploppy? You must read this book! Better yet, you must share it with a group of curious children! And giggle. And oooh and ahhh.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Crocodile Safari by Jim Arnosky Shared in my class here and here. Arnosky has so many wonderful nonfiction titles but this is my favourite. Not only do students learn the important difference between crocodiles and alligators, they learn all kinds of facts about crocodiles. The art is true to life and the colours set the mood to make you feel like you really are out in the swamp. One of the best features of this book is the DVD that is included. See Arnosky out in the mangrove swamp doing research and learn how to draw crocodiles. A step by step drawing lesson is part of this DVD. My students loved this!

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

The Pebble in my Pocket¬†written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Chris Coady Shared in my class here. This is a lengthy read but so worth sharing- a book that describes a journey of over¬†480 million years. ¬†Follow a piece of rock that formed as a result of a volcano and travelled through time to end up in a little girl‚Äôs pocket. On this amazing journey, learn how the earth has changed in many dramatic ways over time. The back of the book has a geological time line that explains the main periods in Earth’s history. You might never look at a small pebble the same again.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

How to Clean a¬†Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins¬†and¬†Robin Page¬†Shared in my classroom here. How to choose just one Steve Jenkins book as my favourite? Not an easy task. I adore them all. (And there are always more! Just today I read my class part of My First Day) But if I had to pick a favourite, this would have to be it. I learned the most from reading it and my students were completely engaged with the¬†information¬† Symbiotic relationships between animals are fascinating and this book details many strange animal partnerships. This book’s format is somewhat like a graphic novel and contains, Jenkins’ stunning artwork/collage.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

¬†Fire! ¬†The Renewal of a Forest by Celia Godkin, the queen of information story books ūüôā Have you ever thought of a forest fire as a positive thing? This detailed picture book explains how fires can be a natural and necessary part of the forest’s cycle of life and growth. The pages are typically set up so that the picture is spread over two pages ¬†allowing for more scope and detail. I once did an entire unit on ecology using Godkin’s books and this was a favourite.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

And my favourite nonfiction title? It would have to be Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White Shared in my classroom here.

Ape¬†is a visually stunning book! A book to pore over again and again marvelling at the details ‚Äď both visual and written.¬†Vicky White‚Äôs¬†close up portraits and lifelike illustrations are fascinating while¬†Martin Jenkins‚Äô poetic¬†text provided so much new information it is difficult to turn a page in a classroom of children without endless questions being tossed around the room. Learn about four endangered ape species:¬†Orangutans, Chimps, Bonobos, and Gorillas. The fifth species of ape? Us. Similarities between apes and humans are described – for example, that we usually just have one baby at a time. Read and share the information in this book and then just flip through the pages taking in the pictures – there is so much to notice that a once through won’t do this book justice.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Thanks again to Cathy, Julie and Mandy for the inspiration and hosting this event!

Happy reading and sharing everyone!

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 . . .


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.

Celebrating students, celebrating books

Having time off from the day to day of teaching gives us space to reflect back on all that we treasure. Highlights of the last calendar year for me and picture books that exemplified these important themes:

1. Lots of laughter.

This was one of the favourite non-fiction read alouds I read with a class.

Poop ‚ÄstA Natural History of the Unmentionable written by¬†Nicola Davies¬†and illustrated by¬†Neal Layton. This was¬†the¬†discussion. Theories of why some animal poop seems to have hair on it and why do we fart anyway. Hard to keep a straight face.

2. Moments of awe

Sometimes in sharing a powerful piece of literature, the learning in the room just surrounds us. The book or the important conversations are not soon forgotten.

Nan Forler‘s Bird Child was one of the most beautiful books I have ever shared with a class.

We learned about the power in all of us to stand up for each other. Recounting our conversations in this post was important. As a group, we shared something big.

3. Experiencing vulnerability

Some books produce such strong reactions. In our responses, we are vulnerable and need discussion and support to make sense of our feelings.

This book reduced some of us to tears: The Day Leo Said I Hate you! written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang

What happens when our feelings explode and we say something hurtful? How do we navigate our way back? We talked about this book here.

4. Honouring the power of books

We were inspired by the beautiful Book written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated byPeter Catalanotto. to talk about what reading means to us.

This post details the beautiful art and writing we did in response. Students talked about how reading transported them into the book and about how much they love to be read to.

5. Celebrating wonder

I love to use information storybooks to inspire student questions. This book The Last Polar Bear written by Jean Craighead George motivated students not only to ask questions but to explore answers.

In this post we talked about how climate change is affecting the habitat of the polar bears. We found we were left with more questions than when we started.

Looking forward to what books will bring to us in 2012!

More on Poop

Well, yes, it is true we are addicted to Poop (the book Poop of course!) Every page of this little book is full of fascinating facts on poop. We have been reading and learning in every spare minute and just have to share our new learning. (For Poop Part 1 read¬†here) Nicola Davies and Neal Layton have created a book to keep you busy learning, reading and stopping to say “Really? Wow!” all on the topic of poop.

We learned that many predators use poop as clues to where to find their prey. So many animal parents get rid of their young’s poop to keep their babies safe and hidden. Jenny had a connection. “So it’s just like you can follow footprints, poop can be like a trail to lead them to the prey.”

We learned that golden moles in Africa stay underground all of the time to avoid being eaten. So they make one chamber in their large burrow just for pooping in. This prompted much discussion.

Ricky wondered, “But if that chamber gets full . . . do they just make a new one?” ¬†Jena suggested that the moles could fill that chamber, close it off and then dig a new one. Kevin pointed out “This is just like we make a bathroom place in our houses.” (Unfortunately moles don’t have that flush feature that is so handy for us!) Miami asked, “Do they eat their poop to get rid of it?” This is not a farfetched questions as we had just read about rabbits eating their feces to get more nutrients out of it.

We then read about latrines (animal toilets) of the giant otters in South America. They use their latrines as more than just a toilet. They make a large flat area on the riverbank and poop all over it. This big smelly area is like a sign that says stay away: we made all of this poop, it is our area! The students found this quite amusing. “Like a big sign to say stay away!” “It’s a poop shield. You can’t get to us!”

We continued to read more intersting poop facts and Ricky piped up. “Scientists want to know things and they learn a lot of them from poop. They even studied dinosaur poop – prehistoric poop!” “I want to be a poop scientist,” said Eddy. “A poopologist,” suggested Josiah.

We then read about sloths and how they climb down their tree and poop every four days. Jenny wondered if they poop really slowly too. Good question!

At the end of our reading I asked students to share their new learning. Here is some of what they said.

Miami “Sloths eat lots and lots of leaves.”

Lisa “If sloths poo, they go down the tree to do it in a big pile and then back up every 4 days.”

Kevin “Sloths sniff other sloths poo to see what’s happening.”

Edwin “It’s weird that sloths have poo piles near each other. If they made them together, it would be huge.”

Jena “Some animals sniff other animals poo to know what is going on like who is pregnant.”

Ricky “Male hippos wiggle their tail when they poo to tell other hippos they are fierce and strong. The poo sprays everywhere.”

Have we tempted you yet to go and read this book?

Poop. Everything you ever wanted to know. And then some

Our current read aloud is a non-fiction title. On a kind of gross but okay, let’s admit it, kind of a lot of fun to talk about topic: Poop – A Natural History of the Unmentionable written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton.

How can you not love this book? The cover shows a huge elephant behind with a pile of dung and a little scientist carefully examining the specimen. Open up the cover and notice that it is all brown and smeary coloured. “Eww! Is that real poo on there?” someone asked. (No, it’s artistic suggestion ūüôā )And then on the first page you get to learn that feces is the proper name of poop and that if we were speaking scientifically, we would know that all animals defecate (meaning to poo). So it seems that reading this book will make us into scientific experts on poop. Excellent!

Today we decided to use Adrienne Gear‘s Questions and Inferences sheet from Nonfiction Reading Power to record some of our questions and what we were inferring as we listened to the text.

The level of engagement was pretty high. Poop is an interesting topic! Near the end of the lesson, Jena commented, “Who knew poo could be so interesting?” Indeed.

We practiced asking some questions/inferring together when we looked at the first few pages titled – A Tour of Poop

We noticed that tapir poop seemed to have hair in it. Nobody knew what a tapir was so it seemed to be the perfect question to do some inferring.

Question:  Why does some poop have hair in it?

Our inferences:

Jenny: It must mean they are predators. The hair is from their prey.

Eddy: Maybe they have furry bums. When the poo comes out, it gets covered in their own fur.

Miami: I’m thinking that – perhaps, they licked their babies’ fur to clean them and stuff. So that’s how hair got into the poop.

Manny: Maybe it’s not hair. Maybe it is grass and they eat grass. Maybe it just looks like poop. If it is hair, why doesn’t the stomach acid eat the hair?

As we read on, we found out that meat eating animals (carnivores) have poop that contains hair, fur, feathers and bones. But I love all of the thinking we were doing to come up with different possibilities!

Most conversation and discussion was related to the text but as I read and we shared our thinking some students just couldn’t help sharing. A few hilarious statements I overheard: “I feel better when I poop.” “Do you think everyone pees a bit when they poop?” “Do you think we would explode if we never pooped?” “My Dad got diarrhea when he ate spicy pork.” Poop is a great topic of conversation! Maybe not to use at your next dinner party but when hanging out with primary students, it rates pretty high!

During our sharing someone asked this question: “Why do we fart?”

Kevin happily shared his thinking. “Maybe when your body has no more poop in it, there are still poo smells that need to get out so you need to fart.”

This was a very popular suggestion. One student responded. “Oh! Oh! Kevin may I write that down on my sheet?” “Yeah me too,” someone else said. We love to share our thinking! ūüôā

Some other questions/inferences from our sheets:

Hajhare: Does poo have food in it? I think it does because the food all combines together to make it brown.

Edwin: Why is animal poo smaller? Maybe the animals don’t have big tummies like people.

Kevin: What happens if you poop a lot? I think you live longer.

The students can’t wait to learn more about poop! Stay tuned!