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.

everybodyants

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 . . .

Crow

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!

insurgent

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.

who-lives-here-

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!)

bone-dog

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 Challenge 2013

I’ve been inspired by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy to participate in the 2013 Nonfiction picture book challenge! Link up here to join in!

NFPB2013leaves

I love sharing nonfiction read alouds with my class and integrate literature with all of my science and social studies themes so I definitely need to ensure that I am staying current and reading a variety of nonfiction titles. It is also my goal to find more nonfiction titles that my students can engage with independently during book choice time.

According to Goodreads, last year I read 44 nonfiction picture books (some I categorized as information story books) so this year my goal is to increase that to 60 books. While I will try and read recently published books, there are a number of books in our school library that I want to read so I am not limiting myself by publication date. When I can I will include favourites and link to Alyson’s Wednesday nonfiction posts (thanks Alyson!)

What I am most excited about is the opportunity to learn about a variety of nonfiction titles shared via the bloggers participating in this challenge! There is nothing like a reading community to inspire new reading choices.

My ten nonfiction favourites read in 2012 (not just published in 2012) included:

A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

a rock is lively

Life in the Ocean (The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle) by Claire A. Nivola 

Life in the Ocean

Island A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

ISLAND-cover-web

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

beetle book image

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins

jenkins

Hurricane by Celia Godkin 

hurricane

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski

meadowlands

How the Sphinx got to the Museum

sphinx

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

balloons

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

Over_and_Under_the_Snow

Monday December 17th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? Celebrate your weekly reading by joining Jen and Kellee’s meme and link up with other reading enthusiasts sharing their reads from picture books to young adult reads.

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I enjoyed many great books during this past week and tried to fit in some last minute Nerdy Book Club nominations 🙂

Picture Books I loved:

Neville written by Norman Juster and illustrated by G. Brian Karas I read this book with my reading group and we shared questions we had before, during and after the story. An amazing book to inspire questions and discussion. A boy moves to a new town and heads out for a walk, unhappy about his move and convinced he will be friendless. When he begins to yell the name “Neville!” interesting things begin to happen. I adored this book.

neville

Jangles, a BIG fish story by David Shannon Part folklore, part mystery, part adventure – all good 🙂 Gorgeous oil paintings give this book an eerie aura.

jangles

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills I agree, of course, with many other readers that this book is an ideal story to share when highlighting the writing process. Love the little yellow bird and the big tree of inspiration.

Rocket cover

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan Stunning art helps narrate this story of a nighttime adventure in the forest. Perfect for teaching about nocturnal animals.

little_owls_night

Chopsticks Amy Krause Rosenthal Scott Magoon A fun story about friendship, independence and loyalty with just the right dose of humour “mixed in.”

chopsticks

A few holiday stories shared with my class: 

Home for Christmas by Jan Brett My students loved paying attention to the detailed illustrations for hints of what was coming up next in the story. I have many holiday books by Jan Brett on my bookshelf. Always so festive and sweet.

home_for_christmas_preliminary_jacket

Just Right For Christmas by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw This book was shared in my class this week, more details here. A story with elements of Phoebe Gilman‘s Something from Nothing or Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. 

just right for Christmas

Some non-fiction themed books:

The Journey: Stories of Migration written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lambert Davis I have been sharing sections of this book all term with my class as we learn about migration. The illustrations were vivid and detailed and the stories very easy to follow for my Grade 2/3 students. Lots of learning!

stories of migration

A Strange Places to Call Home written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Ed Young The pictures in this book are incredible and I really enjoyed reading more about each creature and their strange habitats at the back of the book. Did I love all of the poems? Some more than others . . .

strange place to call home

The novel I finished this week was a young adult read called Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. Great characters and beautiful writing. I quickly requested other titles by this author from the library. Astrid Jones holds her feelings and questions close as she tries to navigate small town life and big world questions with a family not really along for the ride. Everyone in her two parent, two kid family feels very much on their own and so Astrid connects with the unknown passengers on the planes that fly overhead. A story that explores love, friendship and family dynamics.

Girl lying on sand, reaching up to the sun

Monday December 3rd, 2012

It’s Monday! What are your reading?

penguin little

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme to share your reading from picture books to young adult reads. The best way to build your book piles with recommended books from many book addicts around the blogosphere.

It’s Monday! What are your reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Busy, busy week with finalizing report cards and many meetings and special events. But always, I squeeze reading in to keep me happy and wise! 🙂

The picture books I enjoyed this week . . . 

Penguin and Pinecone (a friendship story) by Salina Yoon I shared this sweet little story with the primary students at our weekly Social Responsibility gathering. It is the story of a penguin who finds a strange object in the snow. When he realizes that his new friend needs to go back to where he belongs to grow big and strong, he takes the little pinecone to the forest. Of course, the forest is no place for a penguin so the friends cannot stay together. The friends must part but the love and kindness they have exchanged grows. Grows in ways that seem quite unbelievable. Let’s just say that one page in this book produced that lovely gasp out loud reaction with the group. The perfect book for story time and to spark talks about friendship and caring.

penguin

Big Brave Brian by M.P. Robertson This is a fabulously funny book filled with alliteration, scary (or maybe not) creatures and delightful illustrations in M.P.Robertson’s signature style. Thinking it would be a great prompt for a writing activity to make a class book . . . Hmm . . .

big brave brian

Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed This was a reread that I loved sharing again with my reading group when we were doing an activity about asking specific questions about the storyline. I LOVE Berkeley Breathed. In fact, he is the creator of my favourite picture book of all times. Yes, I have one. I’ve decided and I’m sure. Curious? Read here. But back to this story . . . Lots of humour and curious Martians cannot upstage one of the most beautiful and yet, simple moments of parent/child love in a picture book.

marsneedsmoms

Dragons Love Tacos written by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri This author/illustrator team can do humour in the catch you quick, lure you in, leave you wanting more way that is an absolute hit with young readers (and the adults who get to read to them) Taco obsessed dragons who cannot do spicy salsa (tummy troubles like you don’t want to imagine) turn up to a taco party where there are hidden jalapenos.  Yikes! When things go wrong with a bunch of fire breathing dragons, they go very wrong in a big way. Delightful!

dragons love tacos

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers Wilfred and Marcel the moose go romping through some lovely landscapes. Wilfred trying to impose his ownership over Marcel who is generally having none of it. In the end, it’s not the labels that matter but how we deal with each other. Tender. Funny. Quirky. Wise. Loved this book!

this moose belongs to me

Life in the Ocean The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola I think this is a wonderful read aloud to share with upper primary (and older) students about finding your passion and making it your life’s work. I love this book for many reasons. The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.” In this story, this message applies to ecology and caring for our natural world but it is a message that applies to so many things. One worth thinking a lot about.

Life in the Ocean

Guilty confession: I abandoned What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt. This was tough. When I read Okay for Now, I frequently stopped and shook my head, not believing that someone could write a story that completely captured me and yet allowed room for me to reflect on this amazing way with words. “How can this be this good?” I kept thinking. But with this novel (Stars) I was completely distracted with having to look up words in the glossary at the back and with the flipping back between worlds and the story couldn’t flow for me. I need Schmidt to write another book so we can redeem our author/reader relationship and I can stop feeling bad.  I suppose I can blame my challenging week for not wanting to work so hard. Sometimes it is not the time for a book and reader to meet. All of this rambling about this book is the measure of my guilt!

I did begin reading Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor and am enjoying the feeling of just relaxing into a book. So far? Lovely.

Monday November 19th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? Join Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of the reading you are doing from picture books to young adult novels. This is one of the best ways to build your knowledge of new book titles and to be part of a fantastic reading community.

This week I was happy to start The One and Only Ivan with our student book club! Our first book of the year – Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper was a huge hit! So much so that we had Moms, Dads and siblings joining us and reading along! Some even commented on the blog! 🙂

Weird but True 4 by National Geographic Kids was a fun read aloud to share with my own children as an alternative to reading our novel each night. (Although we are almost finished The Search for Wondla!) What we thought would be a few quick pages read together became a big chunk of time discussing our connections, questions and background knowledge about the different information we read.

My daughter’s favourite fact: The world’s largest outdoor swimming pool (at that height) is an 150 meter pool atop a 55 story hotel in Singapore. “I definitely want to go there,” she exclaimed. My son’s highlight from the book: There are twice as many chickens on Earth as people. “That’s cool. And I don’t want to eat them so there might be even more soon!” Hmm . . .?

Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems I love the extra being prepared nature of Gerald and the chanting together of certain words. I experienced this book when two girls in my class read it to me, one reading Piggie’s part and the other Gerald’s. They read with great expression and I giggled quietly.

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri was shared by a guest reader in my class this week. I enjoyed it so much I brought it home to share with my own children. My son gave it a 6/5 rating! He is normally pretty stingy with his high scores but if it makes him laugh out loud, it fast becomes a favourite. Read about how my class enjoyed this story here. This is the third book featuring Old Man Fookwire and “those darn squirrels.” This title has some extremely humourous parts. I adored the squirrel hug, the creative flying contraptions the squirrels fashioned and as always Fookwire’s exceptionally grumpy ways (he berates the clouds for being too fluffy!)

Food Chain by M.P. Robertson. I’ve had my eye out for M.P. Robertson titles new to me since I was reminded last week of how talented he is after reading Frank ‘n’ Stan. This book follows a little goldfish after he is flushed down the toilet by a boy whose curiosities turn thoughtless. The little fish ends up in the big ocean and we begin to see who eats who. Bigger seems better that’s for sure. Our little boy from the beginning of the story gets a few doses of what my students quickly recognize as “karma.” Gorgeous illustrations and few words on each page leave a lot of space to infer and discuss.

Keeping with the who eats who in the water world theme, I read Ugly Fish by Kara Lareau and illustrated by Scott Magoon to the primary gathering this week. It definitely was a crowd pleaser from K to Grade 3! Ugly Fish is nasty to every visitor to his tank. So nasty in fact that after exchanging a few unpleasantries with each new fish, he gobbles them up. Eventually, he realizes that he may be King of his Tank but he is very alone. When a new fish arrives, and Ugly Fish has decided to change his ways, this new (bigger) visitor isn’t exactly ready to make nice. Spoiler: more karma. You can imagine what happens . . .

Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires. Very hard not to adore Binky! I love what my  daughter says about Binky: “I love Binky because he has all of these adventures but really he isn’t having them. But you wouldn’t want to tell him that. He’s too cute.” We loved meeting Gordon and laughed at how his eager puppy energy conflicted with Binky’s frequently scheduled naps.

The novel I finished this week was Sharon Creech‘s The Great Unexpected. I loved the lyrical and mysterious flow of this book. I’m hesitant to write about it in detail because I am still savouring the perfect mix of simplicity and complicated, reality and fantasy, memory and now. This story is many stories all shaken up into one, it becomes more powerful as bits and pieces intertwine with one another. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if it all makes sense. The journey and possibilities were divine.

Let’s talk!

There is nothing more exciting for me than watching students really talk about their learning. I love the debate, the encouragement, the giggles, and the interrupting. I love watching one student really listen to another and then jump in to share ideas. These type of exchanges happen more and more during our morning reading group. Especially when we have informative non-fiction texts in hand!

This week I pulled out a selection of non-fiction titles from the Ready to Read series including Dangerous Dinos, Slithering Snakes, Sharks and Bugs. All written by Sarah Creese. (I purchased these titles through Scholastic)

Students were asked to read the book aloud with their partner and to note down cool facts they learned and list any questions they had as they read. We had done this in two small groups (led by me and my teaching partner) the week before so the students were familiar with this process. Today though, they were in charge of the way this process would roll out.

Students took turns reading the text aloud. Some pairs wrote questions and facts as they read. Others read and then came back to the text for a second read through.

The rich discussions came out of deciding what questions were important and which facts should be noted down. Two boys reading about dinosaurs couldn’t stop laughing about one sentence that stated that a T-Rex had such short little arms that it couldn’t touch its nose. They included this as a cool fact and then went on to write a question about what use T-Rex’s short little arms had.

There was a lot of “Listen to this!” “Should we write that?” “Did you know . . . ?” I also heard “Look for the page that says . . .” “Can you read that again?” Lots of rereading and checking for understanding.

Many went on to add pictures to their chart paper. As they drew, the talking continued, using the vocabulary that they had just been reading about. “Look I’m drawing a shark swimming in the shallows.” Do you think these scales look real?” “I made the sharks jaws open so we could see the rows of teeth.”

Question lists were interesting and gave me a basis to start conversations with each group.

The best thing about this activity? Lots of discussion, reading and writing all managed by the students themselves. My role was to circulate and enjoy the conversations I joined and to do a little learning too! (Did you know some snakes can eat an entire deer? Eew!)

Did you know that . . . ?

This week when we looked at non-fiction text, I wanted my reading group to think about pieces of information that they deemed important as either new information or information that should be shared. We used a series of insect books from Capstone Press as these little books have gorgeous photographs and simple, meaningful information. I wanted the focus to be on the conversation, not on reading long sections of text.

Students worked in partners and took turns reading a page of information. I encouraged students to also talk about what they noticed or wondered about in the photographs. I was pleased to see students referring to the text as they had these conversations, often rereading for clarity.

The task was then to each choose two pieces of information to share and draw about on a recording sheet. Some partners focussed on the same facts, others chose very different things. All the while, they were chattering about what they were thinking about what they saw and read.

Students referred to a chart of sentence starts that we had brainstormed together to help organize their thinking:

  • I found out that . . .
  • I discovered . . .
  • I just learned . . .
  • Did you know that . . . ?

Having a “Did you know . . ?” phrase honoured those students who did not find out anything new when they read the text. Students also used this phrase because they liked the excitement it generated.

The children studied the photographs carefully and added details to their own pictures to convey things that they were noticing. We have been talking a lot about “reading the pictures” as much as “reading the words” on a page.

What I love about the picture below is the tiny label “close up padern

What learning and experiences happened today? Students had the opportunity to:

  • explore a piece of non-fiction text
  • determine importance
  • distinguish between new information and facts already known
  • read aloud and listen to a peer read aloud
  • talk about information and photographs
  • share their learning in a picture and writing