Top Ten Read Aloud Experiences (2015)

The #TopTenTuesday theme this week is the top ten best books read in 2015. How we interpret this theme? Up to us. I have some Best of Lists coming up on the blog so I decided to tackle this list a little differently.

My theme this week: Top Ten Read Aloud experiences of 2015.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

TTT

I am looking at the calendar year of 2015. From January to June I taught a Grade 3/4 class. Since September I have taught a Grade 2/3 class.

The Scar written by Charolette Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec

I happen to own a number of books that deal with grief. I always figured that when I needed them, I would have them. And so I keep them close. Now, I need them. Sharing this very emotionally challenging book about a little boy whose mother has died with a little one who needed to see herself in the pages of a book was a read aloud experience I will never forget. Ever. Watching her lighter afterwards made me so glad I have that important stack for when.

The Scar

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney

I appreciated all of the pre-book love this title got in my room. And so, of course, my students from last year had to come in during a recess to have me read this title aloud when Josh Funk sent it our way. This book will always represent serious reading community.

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

This was the first read aloud I attempted with my class this fall. I needed an all kinds of amazing title for a group of kids who had never experienced a chapter book read aloud before. This book delivered!

I was thrilled that Abby Hanlon shared our read aloud joy with this book on her blog.

Dory Fantasmagory

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

When students remain after the bell just to share impressions and reactions, you know you have a winner. I blogged about our beautiful read aloud experience here.

This is Sadie

Wish by Matthew Cordell 

This book means something to me on many, many levels. I read it aloud to my class of three years to send them off on our last day together with the very important message – they were everything I could have wished for and more . . .  And yes, I cried. Those joyous, emotional, meaningful tears.

Wish

Little Robot by Ben Hatke

I have never read aloud a graphic novel before. A graphic novel that is basically wordless but for a number of robot noises. This title held my class absolutely spell bound. And inspired!

Little Robot

Little Robot

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Shouting. Shouting. Shouting. This book will always be about the shouting audience. “No! They missed it again!” “Oh my God!” “Seriously?!” This book absolutely surpassed my read aloud expectations!

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by

There was some absolute blow me away kind of thinking around this book in my class. I recorded it here. Children’s compassion and wisdom is a beautiful thing.

A Boy and a Jaguar

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Reading this title was definitely about watching a book be loved. It was also about watching fans be made. Loved every minute of it!

Ballet Cat

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

This is such an incredible title to read aloud. There are moments where the room fills with hold your breath hope that I might not ever forget. This title made funerals such a fascinating prospect that one student earnestly asked my parents (reading volunteers extraordinaire) if she could attend their funerals! I suppose when you spend all day with 8 year olds, the past 65 year olds who visit once a week seem like your best “might have a funeral” prospects. My parents have great senses of humour so recounting this request has been a constant source of amusement!

Each Little Bird That Sings

Do you have some unforgettable read aloud moments?

Picture Book 10 for 10 in 2014: “Go to” titles

It is that time of year where picture book love is celebrated and shared! Yes, Picture book 10 for 10 is here! What are the picture books that you just can not live without?

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 third year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations.

This year I changed it up a little. The books I have placed on my list this year are what I call “Go to” titles So often someone will ask, “Do you have a picture book about _____________?” These are the titles that I reach for – some I have been reading and sharing for years. Some, I have discovered more recently but I know they will also become favourites that I rely on.

Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

So if you are asked any of these questions, please, feel free to borrow from my list! I hope some of these favourites become your favourites.

Do you have a picture book about generosity?

Call it my generous spirit but for this theme I must highlight two titles. Both bring me to tears every time I read them. I couldn’t pick just one. Phew, cheating bending the rules is out of the way immediately. On to the books . . .

Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Suzanne Bloom (2006)

Melissa Parkington is known for her beautiful hair – everyone notices it and comments on how special it is. But Melissa wants to be known for something special that she does, not simply for something that grows out of her head. She tries to do many things to make herself special – but what ends up happening time and time again, is that she is noticed for her kindness. Melissa realizes that performing acts of kindness is what is special about her. Cutting her hair so that it can be made into a wig is an act of generosity that makes ultimate sense to her. Amazing book! What a story of generosity and a recognition of true inner beauty.

 Melissa Parkington Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

The Teddy Bear by David McPhail (2005)

A little boy loses his beloved teddy bear. It is found by a homeless man who begins to care for it, also with love. When the little boy later comes across his bear and realizes that someone else needs the bear more than he does, he gives his bear up. Tender and sweet, this book captures a moment of true compassion and the generosity of a little boy to share something that has meant so much. I know children who will so willingly give to help others feel better. David McPhail captures this generous sentiment in a beautiful book.

 The Teddy Bear Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about forgiveness?

Desmond and the Very Mean Word written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford (2012)

Gorgeously illustrated by A.G. Ford, this title handles forgiveness and its power in a totally accessible and meaningful way for children. An engaging story of negative interactions between boys where the negative tension is finally soothed through gestures of apology and forgiveness. A wise adult helps Desmond navigate feelings of vengeance, anger and upset. Set in South Africa and based on a true story in Desmond Tutu’s own childhood.

Student reactions here

 Desmond and the Very Mean Word Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about self-expression?

Emily’s Art written and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto (2001)

Emily is an expressive and happy artist until her work is judged in an art contest. The judge’s reactions to her work are hurtful and heartbreaking. She needs to work through her feelings about someone judging her art and her feelings about making pictures she loves. Inspires amazing conversations about rejection, the negative power words can have and about finding your self despite what others might say.

Talked about in my classroom here and here 

 Emily's Art Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about friendship?

Matthew and Tilly, written by Rebecca C. Jones and illustrated by Beth Peck (1991)

There are so many books about friendship but this one remains one of my favourites year after year. It explores the feelings of friendship and forgiveness in a totally believable way. A short but powerful story about best friends that argue, as friends do, but then find it easy to forgive each other when they realize that favourite activities are just not the same without a friend. When I read this aloud, I watch the rhythms of conflict, tension and reconciliation play out in the student’s faces. They feel each page deeply.

Matthew and Tilly Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about courage?

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (2011)

A black dog is spotted outside the window of the Hope family residence. As it is described and worried about, it “becomes” larger than life – the size of a tiger. . . no, an elephant . . . maybe a T-rex? These illustrations are beautifully odd. But in the best of ways. From the full page spreads with the huge menacing dog to the little sepia coloured boxes surrounding the text that reveal close ups and clues from the story. Small (the littlest Hope) finally braves the outdoors to confront this creature. What ensues is absolutely delightful – a visual treat to tickle our imaginations. Small becomes large and Large, small. Fear and courage intermix into teasing and challenge and joy. You don’t need to work hard to get a conversation about courage happening after you read this book.

Black Dog Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about grieving?

The Scar written by Charolette Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec (2009)

This book gets you on the first line, no easing in or warming up: Mom died this morning. We turn page after bright red page and experience, along with the little boy who has just lost his mother, a whole range of emotions: anger, frustration, disbelief, anxiety . . . So sad when just Dad and son try to navigate through their grief, being there for each other but both feeling so alone. Grandma soothes, consoles and explains, patting his chest.

“She’s there,” she says, “in your heart, and she’s not going anywhere.”

Watching the little boy run until it hurts to breathe so that his heart will beat very fast and he will feel connected to his Mom (beating in his chest) is both heartbreaking and comforting. He has found his connection to Mom and can begin to heal. This book needs kleenex, deep breaths and many hugs from those you love to get through it. But it might be the first book I would reach for when a child needs it most. Raw. Human. Real.

 The Scar Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about standing up for yourself?

Willow Finds a Way written by Lana Button illustrated by Tania Howells (2013)

When I read this to my class, there was silence. A well done story, illustrations that convey emotion and a plot that is completely relatable make this title an absolute must for the primary classroom. It explores how we treat each other, standing up for what we know is right, honouring our feelings . . . Children can so often be bossy and controlling and it is often difficult for other children to stand up and be assertive. This book shows us how -through quiet Willow who surprises everyone, including herself.

willow Finds a Way Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about the role of the bystander?

Bird Child written by Nan Forler and illustrated by François Thisdale (2009)

Eliza is a sensitive little girl who witnesses bullying. Lainey, the new girl is teased and excluded. It is terrible for Eliza to stand by and do nothing. She agonizes about it and finally talks to her Mom. The next time Lainey is bullied, Eliza acts. She “reached down inside herself and found her wings.” The power in standing up to say “No, this isn’t okay,” is dealt with carefully by Forler. We are pulled into the story and feel the emotional struggles of Eliza. This book is a must read if you are exploring the bully/bullied/bystander relationship. There are not enough picture books that so thoughtfully explore the active role of the bystander in changing the way a bully might act and the way a peer is treated.

Student reactions here.

Bird Child Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about moving somewhere new?

Neville written by Norman Juster and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2011)

Who wants to be the new kid? Sad about missing the “real” home far away and starting all over again is just not fun. One little boy has the “moving blues” and how! Mom sends him out for a walk to explore, as Moms do. He stands on the corner and begins to yell, “Neville!” It starts something. Soon everyone is calling for Neville. But he never turns up. A book that touches on moving anxiety, making new friends and realizing things might be a little better than they first seemed. If you haven’t read this book – prepare for the most interesting of twists at the end. One that children are delighted by!

Neville Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about being yourself?

Suki’s Kimono written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch 2003)

This book has long been a favourite in my household. We love how Suki possesses a joyful inner spirit and how she lives in the moment not worrying about what the world might think.  Suki adores her blue cotton kimono – for the memories that it holds and the way it makes her feel. She vows to wear it on her first day of school despite the disapproval of her older sisters and manages to maintain the magical happy feeling of wearing this special kimono throughout her day even when questioned and taunted by classmates.

 suki's Kimono Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

For many of these themes, I could probably have added ten titles. But, knowing that my books might not be your books, I would love to hear from you. If you have a favourite “go to” title on any of these themes, please share in the comments section!

Follow the links above to see other favourite picture book lists and follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag.

pb-10-for-10

Happy picture book reading!  

Monday June 10th, 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! A fantastic way to learn about new titles.

It’s report card writing season so my reading has been interfered with . . . But I managed to sneak in some fantastic titles!

In picture books . . . .

I found three new lovely board books for my Kindergarten buddy reading collection:

Northwest Coast Native Animals by Kelly Robinson Students loved the gorgeous illustrations and many connected to art they have seen in their homes and relative’s communities up north. Bright, beautiful and perfect for sharing.

northwest coast native animals

Good Morning World by Paul Windsor A lovely board book that celebrates nature and the world around us. Students have loved sharing this title with their little buddies.

native_nw_morn

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes I was pleasantly surprised by the stunning colours of the seasons in this story. Such a gentle tale about an old bear dreaming about his days as a cub. Soothing and sweet.

old bear

Other picture books I enjoyed:

Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood I think Freya Blackwood is such a gifted illustrator. I adore her blog.  This is a picture book perfect for a story time setting about a little girl, Ivy, who loves to gift things she finds to whoever is near. Often, her gifts don’t quite match the needs of the recipient but her generosity is treasured.

ivy-loves-to-give

Museum Trip a wordless book by Barbara Lehman This book is about getting lost on many levels – but quite nicely not about lost and being scared. More of an adventure – getting lost in the pictures of mazes quite literally . . .

museum trip

My two favourite picture books of the week:

Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn’t Fall by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec Oh how I am coming to adore these two long snouted wolves and their adventures through all that is friendship and nature and love. Devotion. Bravery. Patience. I don’t want to give anything away so I will just say that there is much that is simple and celebratory of the wonder and complexity of nature and near the end a moment of pure beautiful.

leaf that wouldn't fall

A Hen for Izzy Pippick written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Marie Lafrance I confess to falling for this book before I even read it. I loved everything about the cover – the greens, the pluck of the girl and hen marching across the page, the quirky title . . . So I could have been disappointed. But not even close. I adored this book through every page (and it is a longer picture book). This book celebrates what we don’t often encounter in a picture book: honesty and a fierce determination to simply do what is right. Yet, this story is not overly dramatic. It is actually quite amusing and whimsical. We meet Shaina who in protecting a hen that belongs to the illusive Izzy Pippik starts a bit of a chicken invasion in her small village. All the while waiting for the return of Izzy Pippik. This story is inspired by Jewish and Islamic traditional texts.

hen for izzy pippik

I also finished two novels:

Clementine and the Spring Trip written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee In my family, Clementine has reached a sort of cult status. Even though we read our first Clementine story way back (five years ago) when my chldren were five, they have not become too old for another Clementine story. Each time, a new book in the series is published, we need to read it! Immediately! We read this story in probably three sit down read aloud sessions and felt like we curled up with our old friend. Many giggles over the mystery of the very unpleasant odour of Bus #7. Can’t wait for the next one!

clementine

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I thought I should at least really like it. But it was simply just “like” Even though the writing is great. . .  The storyline is very interesting. The characters have some wonderfully odd elements to them. Yet, nothing pulled at me to keep reading this book. It was like being offered a very nice cup of tea. But I just don’t really like tea – I want my strong black coffee. Lots of adventure and some of it was very dramatic but I never felt on the edge of my seat. A story of a summer trip that goes sideways in every way.

s easy as

What is on my reading horizon? I just started Torn Away by James Heneghan as a read aloud to my children. I started reading Accomplice by  Eireann Corrigan – a young adult novel I knew very little about going in so we shall see . . . I have many books on hold at the library and looks like they might all arrive at once! So I had better get these report cards written!

Monday May 13th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee in their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the bloggers who link their Monday reads posts 🙂

I read many picture books this week but forced myself to narrow it down to my favourite ten to share here. In no particular order . . .

Big Wolf & Little Wolf written by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrated by Olivier Tallec I have been waiting years to experience this book. I have seen it celebrated on blogs and book lists but had yet to lay my hands on it. I bought it finally, never having read it because I just knew that this book was meant for me. I was not disappointed. In fact I was just in awe. The colours in many of these pages are so beautiful. I love the blue ground under the tree at night, the red red of the tree bark in the full light of day and the fiery leaves of autumn. Friendship. Connection. Longing. So lovely!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Ard Hoyt This book has pretty much everything anyone could want – a real individuality, great energy, a definite sense of humour and absolutely fantastic hair. Hair that is so much more than gorgeous! Love that this book so cleverly celebrates the creative spirit of a little girl and her determination to be herself.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne I am not sure that Anthony Browne can make a book that I will not adore. This book is certainly NOT that book. Because . . . wow! A simple counting book with the most wonderful of primates. The colours? Whoa . . .  And each number is so much more because it is attached to a jaw dropping illustration of a group of primates. 6 gibbons. Sigh. 8 macaques. Wit and wisdom. 10 lemurs. Pure joy.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Boys, an almost wordless book by Jeff Newman Okay, book, where have you been while I’ve been happily amassing amazing wordless titles? First published in 2010 but my pretty finely tuned wordless radar missed it! A lovely little story of finding a way to belong. With some pretty fantastic persuasion delivered by the cool old guys who hang out on the park bench. So absolutely delightful!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Little Yellow Leaf written and illustrated by Carin Berger This book magically captures the colours of fall. Those golden changing colours that seem to be pure magic against bleak autumn skies. But this book also tells a story of perseverance, anxiety around change and finding the way with the little help from someone else. I could just flip through the pages over and over and marvel at the illustrations. Gorgeous.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Azad’s Camel by Erika Pal A story infused with magic about child camel jockeys in the Middle East. Lots of room to infer. Pictures are stunning. Would be great to use in a unit on children’s rights – to discuss child labour, etc More information about camel racing at the back of the book. Definitely a book that needs an adult to help navigate the theme and the story.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Courage of the Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker My class just completed some amazing art inspired by Neubecker’s Wow! City! So I was very pleased to find this little book in our school library. Travelling through various one coloured pages and on a green sea, the reader follows our little blue hero as he experiences and questions diversity, identity and belonging.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson Fractured Fairy tales are either very clever or very not! This is a fun little twist on the classic Goldilocks story with whimsical, endearing illustrations. Much fun to be had in exploring this book. My son couldn’t stop giggling when the bear sat on the cat and claimed that the “chair” was too noisy. Silly humour with big appeal.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Wolf Won’t Bite by Emily Gravett So what happens when we fully bury ourselves in trust with a wolf? Well . . . read on 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Again by Emily Gravett A unique example of impatience gone wrong involving bedtime stories, eager listeners and tired parent readers. And little dragon impatience is pretty powerful! If you don’t believe me . . . check out the back of this book! I must admit, “Again!” is my favourite response when I read a picture book! 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

In other reading . . .

I finished Endangered by Eliot Schrefer but I am not so sure it is finished with me. This book won’t leave my head. It was that powerful. Endangered is about many things. But mostly – love. It tangled itself around me just like those precious hugs between Sophie and Otto, the little bonobo who needs her desperately. An unthinkable story of survival and connection. Unforgettable. I often recommend books that I love. Sometimes quite adamantly. This book though . . . I will go as far as to insist it is a must read.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

What’s next/on the go? 

A Tangle of Knots

scumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently flying through A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff. Our new family read aloud is Scumble by Ingrid Law.  

Many magical connections ironically between Scumble and Graff’s novel and as they both sit on my bedside table, I have noticed that they are completely colour coordinated! Don’t you agree?

With my student book club, we have started The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Such an ideal book to share with a book club!

Picture Books on a Theme

Teachers often search for picture books on a particular topic and it is wonderful to be able to come to a blog and “nonstop shop” so to speak. In other words, find more than a few books on the same theme in one place.

Now that this blog is almost 18 months old, there are a few themes that reoccur – enough to make up a list of sorts (through a tag search) or an actual list exists under the Book Recommendations page. Favourite picture books make more than one list. Often I have included responses from my students if I have shared the books in class.

Books about Kindness – For a list, read here

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones was one of our favoutite books that explored this theme.

Books about Courage – For a list, read here

A favourite book on this theme was Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes

Books about Death and Bereavement – For a list, read here.

One of the most powerful books on this theme is The Scar written by Charlotte Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

Picture Books that Tackle the Big Issues – For a list,  read here Books on this list have been hugely powerful in my primary classroom – many of them can also be found under Social Responsibility Books (here) with themes on the bully/bullied/bystander dynamic, friendship, sibling relationships, self-esteem,  etc

Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto provoked huge discussion in my class last year. Themes of self esteem, judgement and the negative power of words.