Celebration: All is better with a little gold dust

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I had a fantastic week back with my students. I think all of us were thrilled to be together again after a two week break, learning and sharing. I have many things to celebrate this week!

1. I loved all of the #MustReadin2014 spring updates shared by a wonderfully keen reading community. The Must Read phenomenon was born out of an attempt to gain some control over unruly TBR lists that grow and grow! Check out my update and links to update posts here. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is one of my favourite books read so far from this list. Maybe even more special because I read it aloud to my children and we all loved it.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

2. I was thrilled to have a Nerdy Book Club post published this week. I saw a request from Colby Sharp for some retro review posts to be shared on twitter a few weeks ago. I have written some other Nerdy posts but never one in this category. I asked Colby if I could share something a little different instead of a review of one specific title. I wanted to go “retro” and look back at titles treasured with my children (now 11!) when they were preschool age. It was a nostalgic look back at books we adored. Read the post here.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge  Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

3. I read the powerful picture book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E.B.Lewis to my class this week.The reactions and comments were quite incredible. I think I might share some of their thinking and writing on our classroom blog. But the most interesting moment came with the ending. If you have read this book, you know that it ends with Chloe standing at the shore of the pond feeling a mix of regret, sadness and guilt. Her opportunity to offer kindness to Maya is gone. The story ends with these words:

“I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya was becoming more and more forever gone.”

At first there was silence in the room and then one girl erupted, “What?! That’s terrible! It’s a terrible ending!” It’s not terrible. It’s just not happy so it’s confusing a bit,” someone else added. Another child piped up,”It makes you think about drama and saying sorry. It makes us think. It’s good.” As we were getting ready to move on to Reading Workshop, another child said, “I liked it. I have been waiting for a bad ending in a book. Not bad like not good but every ending shouldn’t be happy – that’s not how life is.” This little girl asked me to help her find a new novel and we kept talking about the story. I asked her if she wanted to put her thoughts into a reader’s statement (we have a huge wall of these posted on a bulletin board). She came up with something that I think is quite brilliant:

Readers can’t always expect a happy ending.

That books inspire discussions and thinking like this – this, I celebrate!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

4. Ah . . . book love! My students were happy to be back to our classroom full of books. I sensed it on Monday morning when an instant hush fell upon the room when we started Reader’s Workshop. I did “book commercials” for new books all week and this generated lots of excitement.

I felt the book love when I saw “who reads it next” lists being created and stuck to new books.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I felt it as I observed the wonderful engagement of one to one time with various adults who listen to children read and talk about stories and thinking with the students.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I sensed it when listening to the the buzz around the book bins during buddy reading time with the K/1 class.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

Ah .  . . book love!

5. If you have hung in reading this very long Celebration post (it was a wonderful week!), here is the pot of gold 🙂 One of our students makes a lot of paper objects and sculptures all throughout the day. It helps him to focus and listen. We started thinking . . . Wouldn’t it be great to showcase some of his work? Wouldn’t it be better if it was spray painted gold? Absolutely! Here is the young artist at work, gold paint in action!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

And here is the installation. Thank you to the amazing Miriam (the Support Worker who I get to work with every day!) for her huge role in displaying and advertising the “piece.” There are flyers pasted up all over the school! When this boy’s Mom came in to see this art and got hugely proud and teary, we all got teary. It was a moment.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I celebrate all the many ways this is golden . . .

What are you celebrating this week?

Monday March 3rd, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

 

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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

This week my reading was somewhat interrupted for a wonderful reason (#wwuclc) and a not so exciting one (report card writing jail) So I didn’t finish as many books as usual but I was transported to the reading/writing/thinking worlds of these amazing authors/illustrators/photographers at Western Washington University’s Children’s Literature Conference: Jennifer Holm. Steve Sheinkin. Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Nic Bishop. Wow! 

 #wwuclc #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I had the huge honour of getting to introduce Nic Bishop and showed a slideshow of my students’ questions and comments about his photographic work. Here’s a little peek at some of the thoughts shared:

#wwuclc Nic Bishop #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I plan to share more about this day in my #celebratelu post on Saturday (including how exciting it was to meet these fellow #NerdybookClub members: L to R Lorna Wheaton, Adam Shaffer, me, and Shannon Houghton).

 Pacific Northwest #nerdybookclub #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

On to the books I read this week:

Please, Louise written by Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison and illustrated by Shadra Strickland 

Full of poetic language this book delivers the message: books can be the answer to our fears. The message that reading makes a difference is a strong one. It does seem a little strange that the little girl is out wandering all alone in her neighbourhood. I can see children wondering this. Love the art.

Read here to see more of the art in this book (and some that didn’t make the final copy) featured on the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Please, Louise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale

I requested this from the library after seeing it on a #nf10for10 list. Such creative brilliance! This title highlights possible kid version structures of actual buildings. for example Habitat 67 in Montreal could be “recreated” using lego bricks.

One by one, block by block, plastic shapes interlock.

Dreaming Up #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Paul meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

Still not sure how I feel about this book. What a cover and the art continues to be gorgeous throughout. I love what I took to be the message: The world might be small but with love/companionship it feels large. New perspective changes everything. Just not sure if this book completely pulls it off. I like it, I think. Love it? Not totally.

 Paul meets Bernadette #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dragon Quest written by Allan Baillie and illustrated by Wayne Harris 

This was our BLG book this week and I haven’t had time to share student reviews. The illustrations are particularly powerful. If you read the book you will discover why. I also liked this book because it brought up some dragon nostalgia for me – when my children were probably 4-7 years old, they were obsessed with dragons and we read all kinds of dragon stories. Their obsession is probably what launched me into being a fantasy reader. One of my particularly amusing and clever children summarized why I liked this story after we discussed it. His words here:

Ms. Gelson likes this book because 1. It’s a book 2. No dragon was harmed 3. There were monsters but it tells how to outsmart them.

Dragon Quest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier 

What a story about an artist (and slave) who carved short poems into the pots he crafted. The power in just two lines is amazing. His story and his history were literally carved into the sides of these pots and jugs.

Dave belongs to Mr. Miles/

wher the oven bakes & the pot biles ///

July 31, 1840

 Dave the Potter #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

I read this book after reading this wonderful review by Travis Jonker. I can’t add much to his brilliant review – what I was intrigued by – the gentle themes of friendship, loneliness, simplicity and creativity. Worth finding.

 Brimsby's Hats

Next up? First of all I plan to read a LOT to make up for all the time I have missed this week. I am having page withdrawal or some other kind of bookish ailment . . .

Still reading (because report cards take hours and hours and hours) Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy and read alouds with my children: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen and Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (I now have my own copy signed to my children from Nic Bishop :-))

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 12/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 114/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 7/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 38/65 complete

Monday June 24th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

 

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! The #IMWAYR community is a fantastic community of readers with many wonderful titles to share.

My favourite picture books of the week:

Trains Go written and illustrated by Steve Light A fantastically colourful and loud (when it is read) board book about various trains and the wonderful sounds that they make. Love that this book is extra long in its shape – adds to the visual appeal. This book will be ideal for our board book collection for when Kindergarten buddies visit. Really – who doesn’t love to make loud train noises? Whoooooooosh! 

There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet written by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska A beautifully illustrated picture book about a little girl from Korea who is struggling to feel part of the friendship and social groups at her new school. When another girl borrows her jade bracelet and then won’t give it back, Yoon must find a way to deal with this very real friendship/bullying issue. An important multicultural story about the challenges of finding one’s place in someplace that is new.

There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke An engaging and adorable photographic tale of the sloths that live in a sanctuary in Costa Rica. Full of information and hilarious, endearing photos.

a little book of sloth There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

Iggy Peck Architect written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts The illustrations in this book are so wonderful – I must admit I was a little disappointed to learn that the text was in rhyme. It didn’t ruin the story by any means – but . . . I am not usually much of a fan of rhyming text. Still – I would recommend this title that celebrates creativity, passion and ingenuity. Perfect way to launch a study of structures, bridge building or architecture.

There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

The Table Where Rich People Sit written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall Such a wonderful reminder to celebrate the riches of family, nature and the wonder of the world. Beautiful.

There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

The Great Snortle Hunt written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Kate Hindley A fun book for a younger story time. Loved the illustrations. More rhyming text – but suits the playful story of a serious search for a Snortle.

The Great Snortle Hunt - There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt My class absolutely adores Melanie Watt. Somehow, I had missed reading this title. Very funny as most Scaredy Squirrel titles are. Some kind of amazing beach phobic suit! Loved the feared creatures that inhabited the waters of Scaredy Squirrel’s imagination!

There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

I also finished two novels

Paperboy by Vince Vawter An eleven year old boy has his life thrown for a loop when he takes over his friend’s paper route for the month of July. Trying to navigate the world with a strong stutter is a theme in this story but there is much happening. All about relationships, choices and discovering who you are. Set in Memphis in 1959. I enjoyed this novel on many levels – for a window into the life of a boy who stutters, it’s a great piece of historical fiction and an important middle grade read that teaches students more about the racism that was so prevalent at these times in the South. Read Vawter’s Nerdy Book Club post that discusses this novel (his first).

Paperboy

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder I must admit that while reading this novel I was constantly irritated by the cover because . . . well, I tend not to read novels that look like sappy romance stories. This looks like one but it certainly isn’t. More of a story of relationships gone wrong – a controlling and obsessive boyfriend, an abusive step father . . . I didn’t love this young adult novel but I appreciated that it tackles the topic of realizing that a relationship isn’t safe and drawing a line. 

Falling-For-You-Lisa-Schroeder-

Next up? Twerp by Mark Goldblatt 

A Love of Reading Starts Between Us

This post was originally published on the Nerdy Book Club blog on February 24th 2012.  Next week my Grade 2/3 class begins reading with their Kindergarten buddies for the 2012/2013 school year and I am excited about the magic bound to happen once again!

A Love of Reading Starts Between Us

I teach at a tiny inner city school, located in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. The school is located in what some have described is the country’s poorest postal code. Looking at factors from census statistics like parents’ educational attainment and the number of families living below the poverty line, our school is described as vulnerable even amongst schools who also have inner city status.  So, like all teachers my mission is to teach children to read and hope that I can also make them passionate life long readers. But I know the statistics that link poverty to limited access to books and limited access to books to levels of school achievement. So I feel an urgency to create a community of readers in the classroom. And . . . I want that community to extend into children’s homes and futures.

We do a lot of fabulous things at my school to ensure that our children read and have access to fantastic books. What I am particularly passionate about this year is the buddy reading between my Grade 2/3 class and the K/1 class. (“Really? We’re the big buddies? Wow!” my students marveled when I revealed our buddy reading plan) We meet together Wednesday afternoons for forty minutes but my class spends time everyday making sure this weekly reading is as successful as possible.

My role is collecting books, modeling reading aloud, nurturing the joy and providing feedback. I have raided my home bookshelves for early picture books I read to my children. Beautiful alphabet books so letters can be chased all over the page, Thanks to Audrey Wood for the popular Alphabet Adventure.  I brought in lots of rhyme and repetition like Phoebe Gilman’s feisty Jillian Jiggs, Mem Fox’s Where is the Green Sheep? and all of the Five Little Monkeys books written by Eileen Christelow.

Recently I received some designated funds for my classroom book collections. I purchased board books for our buddy reading. My students will tell you that board books are great for little five year old hands and you don’t need to remind anybody to be gentle turning pages. Each morning I read a new book to my students with the intention of doing a few things. Of course, sparking excitement and interest in the new book is a priority. But I also model. “When you read to your little buddy you could ask them to guess which animal is on the next page,” I point out while sharing Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett. “Ask your little buddy to do the animal sounds with you,” I encourage as we read Alice Shertle’s Little Blue Truck. Now I have students coming to me with classroom books. “Look Ms. Gelson I could read this book to my little buddy and they could say the parts that repeat with me!” One girl found a Fairy Tale book told in rebus style. “This is a good one for little kids, you can ask them what the picture is.”  Thinking about our little buddies is hardly just a Wednesday afternoon event.

Now as I watch my students together with their little buddies, I am delighted to hear them trying out new things we’ve talked about. My eight year olds are encouraging choral reciting, asking little ones to guess, predict and turn the page to find out. There is reading, laughing, talking and much joy shared.

I have one student who won’t read to any adult who visits our class but he is a star in buddy reading. A little kindergarten girl who struggles a lot with managing her emotions in class and often needs breaks and extra supports makes a beeline for this boy every Wednesday afternoon. She sits engrossed in their book sharing for forty minutes. None of us can believe it. But of course we should. It is the magic of books doing their thing!

This boy in my class who shines as a buddy reader is reluctant to accept compliments. So I sneak them in casually but my feedback is specific. “Erich,” I say. “It is amazing to watch you read to Kayla. You involve her in the stories. You listen carefully to her questions. Reading with you is such a happy time for her.” Erich grins cautiously but his pride radiates. Now I am passing him books to take home and read to his younger siblings. “You are so great at this. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to share books.” He doesn’t tell me a lot about reading at home to his siblings but he brings the books back and he asks for more.

I know these Wednesday afternoons mean a lot to all of us. The little buddies and the big and the lucky teachers who witness it all. A love of reading starts between us and it spreads. Together my students and I are passing on the joy of reading. We are letting books work their magic. Books are the tickets to our future and we are loving every step of the journey!

Read more here about some of the board books we love for buddy reading.