Monday March 5th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. This week I have a few to celebrate.

This reader is checking out a student written book that is part of our collection. Writers and readers go hand in hand 🙂

I know Mock Caldecott is a special thing in our room when last year’s students pop in to find out who our winners were and then stay to read the books!

Here are my fairy tale fans all sitting at the same table reading the same series! Pretty cute!

Our #classroombookaday titles, as always, have been inspirational.

Art, words and discussions were incredible after these titles.

Again – the impact of these books is evident in comments and writing.

One child was very moved by the book Red: A Crayon’s Story. She writes:

“I really like this theme because it really pours our feelings out. It’s like you have a big bucket on your head and the theme walks to your head and your feelings swish around and you start to be emotional and I love that. The book is telling you to express yourself and be your own person or colour. Cause that’s what makes us unique.”


I haven’t posted in a while – some good excuses include – heading to Bellingham (on a very snowy Friday) to attend the Western Washington’s Children Literature Conference.

Amazing authors and illustrators included Kevin Henkes, Sophie BlackallPam Muñoz Ryan and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. They are all wearing tiaras here – for a you kind of had to be there – kind of a reason.

We also attended nErD Camp Bellingham on Sunday and it was a pleasure to spend the day with so many educators, librarians and literary wonders. We always love hanging out with nErD camp Bellingham founder Adam Shaffer.

Classroom Highlights 

There has been art with Maggie in the Art and Discovery studio.

Science with UBC students during UBC reading week. Students shared science and we shared favourite books of course!

Lots and lots of math thinking as we explore multiplication and division concepts.

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.

Books I loved:

There’s a lot of them . . . some not yet released so mark your calendars!

Hello Hello  by Brendan Wenzel (available March 20th, 2018)

Beyond wonderful. This title features numerous animals connected by sometimes simple and sometimes surprising common features. The author’s note explains that many of these creatures are in trouble and need human awareness and action to remove them from the endangered and critically threatened lists. Ideal for young young readers as well as school age children. Highly recommended.

Watch this amazing trailer – you’re going to want this book!

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World written by Susan Hood and illustrated by 13 extraordinary female illustrators

I fell in love with this book at the mere concept. It’s nonfiction perfection – inspired poetry, additional information and incredible illustrations by some of my favourite illustrators out there. Hood chose her subjects – often girls and young women – that might not yet be known or are not all know well in order to introduce readers to inspiring role models. Well known girls and young women like Ruby Bridges and Malala Yousafzai are also included.

Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

The same author illustrator team that brought us Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? is back! If you know this book, you are already sold!

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk (released in June 2018)

Another inspiring woman who young readers will want to know more about. Add this one to your biography collections. Katherine Johnson is the mathematician who ensured that the Apollo 13 returned safely to Earth. Such a story! Written in an engaging style ideal for Elementary readers.

Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter written by Mark Gonzales and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

A beautifully written letter from father to daughter, this book celebrates culture, identity and family roots. A celebration of diversity and self. Just gorgeous.

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (released April 2018)

A must have for library and classroom collections – perfect title to complement our studies of shapes found in the world. Another beautifully illustrated title by Amini. This book is absolutely stunning. A celebration of both shapes and traditions. So pleased to include it in my classroom library.

The Boy and the Blue Moon written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Ashley Crowley

Blue like you haven’t quite imagined. Text and illustrations are the perfect complement. One part magic, another part imagination, a big splash of whimsy all seeped and soaked in the bluest of blues.

George the Hero Hound by Jeffrey Ebbeler (coming March 20, 2018)

Sometimes a farm comes with a dog. George knows his way around the farm but is under appreciated until he does something heroic. Charming and amusing.

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Celebrates the magical and beautiful way words can collide and come together.

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay 

I love this entire series of Lulu books. Perfect for the Grade 2 to 4 classroom. Lulu’s patience and persistence is admirable and readers will be rooting for this dog from the sea!

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess (Young Adult)

This truly is a story of rock and roll, fathers and sons, addictions and recoveries, loves and loss. A beautifully executed novel in verse.

Knock Out by K.A. Holt

House Arrest – this book’s companion novel- is a book I haven’t stopped raving about. Both titles are written in powerful and personal verse. I couldn’t put either one down. This is the story of little Levi – just a baby in House Arrest – now growing up and ready to have his own story. But when you have always been the one to protect, how do you find your way and engage with the world in big and brave ways?

Up next:The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 8/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 4/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 51/300 books read

Progress on challenge: on track

#MustReadin2018: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 7/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 7/40 books read

Monday November 6th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

On Halloween morning our room was full of readers. Like this witch rereading some favourite picture books.

Book sharing circles and talking about our preferences is always an activity that promotes lots of book love.

Our #classroombookaday titles were selected specifically because Halloween was this week. We had monsters, witches, goblins, ghosts and lots of laughs.

Classroom Highlights 

My Monday posts now also contain some a lot of sharing from my week in the classroom.

Early in the week, the witches arrived. They are still around grumbling and whispering stories of their terrible Halloween nights or of their anger that Halloween is over. My little authors are telling these stories. Stay tuned!

This little writer is hard at work on her witch story.

In the Art and Discovery studio we drew about our families and things we like to do together.

Then we sat and told the stories of our pictures.It is always a treat when we can end our day listening to our current read aloud The Wild Robot, drawing and doodling as we listen.Sometimes our morning writing is to talk about Roz, the robot, the main character in The Wild Robot.

We were also very inspired by our #classroombookaday titles this week

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.

Books I enjoyed:

I managed to read a lot this week so am limiting this list to my favourites from the pile!

Wild One by Jane Whittingham with illustrations by Noel Tuazon

A celebratory romp through the day leaves a little one in an exhausted heap at day’s end. Incredible end pages and fun illustrations – this book is a bed time poem full of all kinds of surprising guest animals. Put it on your list as a gift book for parents of littles.

Jane is Jane from Raincity Librarian, a regular #IMWAYR blogger and I was thrilled to meet her at her Book Warehouse book launch Saturday.

Her she is signing her book that I purchased for a friend having a baby next month!

Creepy Pair of Underwear! written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

I will admit to having my doubts that this team could pull off another incredible title featuring Jasper rabbit. But they do! Glow in the dark creepy underwear is pretty amusing.

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds 

You really will feel calmer after reading this book. The perfect title to have in classrooms that practice mindfulness strategies.

Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora

There is a lot going on in this book beyond the lemmings repeatedly leaping into the ocean. A hilarious story about the importance of reading.

You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Liz Climo

This may be my favourite Ame Dyckman book so far. So, so very funny. Who could have guessed that a pet unicorn could be so problematic?

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

So a duck and a mouse take up residence in the belly of a wolf. Only Barnett and Klassen could pull this off.

These two not only make incredible books together. They make book trailers to make you giggle.

Refugee by Alan Gratz.

I think the cover recommendation by Ruta Sepetys captures the essence of this book – engaging and important. I would go so far as to add necessary. This is a book I want to hand to everyone. Sadly, it is relevant now just as it was relevant more than 70 years ago. I think this book is either one you will devour in a few sittings or read slowly over time. I took my time. I had to stop to process. To make room for bad dreams. To worry. To cry.

This book.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 54/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 266/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 42 books behind schedule.

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 34/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2017: 39/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King

Monday September 18th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

Here are a few from this past week. Little readers. Lots of books.

Monday September 18th, 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.

It has been weeks since I published a #IMWAYR post. I have been busy falling in love with my new Grade 3 class and settling back into fall routines. So I am sharing weeks of reading and just highlighting my absolute favourites.

Of course, in this past week I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and we completed some incredible dot art displayed as a community art piece.

Monday September 18th, 2017

This display still needs the themes we are taking on from The Dot – these are the take aways the students came up with. Take aways that launch our year together.

Our #classroombookaday titles were all about friendships and relationships.

Monday September 18th, 2017

Be a Friend inspired a discussion about qualities we would like in a friend.

Monday September 18th, 2017

On the blog:

I completed the fifth and final post in this blog series: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing 

I also shared a #MustReadin2017 update post.

Books I enjoyed:

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs written by Carol Murray and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

I will be sharing this title in the next few weeks to inspire some of our own poetry, fact finding and art. The perfect mentor text!

The Bad Seed written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

I know I shouldn’t have smiled through reading this. This is really one (cute) Bad Seed. Unless, he isn’t . . .

Why Am I Me? written by Paige Britt and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

I loved this lyrical, beautiful book full of questions and musings about self, identity and the wider world. I bought a copy for our classroom collection.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel 

This title is pretty special. Sparse words, gorgeous illustrations and a message of strength.

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Another Way to Climb a Tree written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Oh this book. Sweet. Inspiring. Creative. A perfect mix of text and illustrations.

Sam Sorts by Marthe Jocelyn

Teaching early primary? Want a book for your math collection about sorting and categorizing? This is your book.

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay

I absolutely adored this title and ordered a number of titles from this series for my class!

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. How it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Another title from O’Connor that I can’t wait to read aloud. Thinking this might be a read aloud in my class later this year. So much here – this books explores the amazing and the challenging about family and friendships and allows us to question what matters when it comes to home and security. What is important enough to wish for?

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

Truly an ode to sharing the love of books and reading. A young middle grade novel about persistence and learning how to fight for what you believe is right.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 49/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 211/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 48 books behind schedule. Oh my!

#MustReadin2017: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 28/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up Next? I am starting A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season

I love to book shop all year round. In the winter holiday season, I love to insist everyone else should partake. Making a picture book list to give is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014.  Last year I bumped the list to 25 (2015). And this number seems to be the sweet spot. There are lots of books to love! It is a joy to recommend many of my favourites of the year!

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Which books make the list? There are some things I think about. Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh?

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said. Well, except to point out that the illustrations are especially swoon worthy.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

I think this picture book has shades of pure perfection within it. A spotlight on the ridiculous “must be” wedding planning that occurs when love should just prevail. And please note, this is love for love’s sake. Not love that fits in any cookie cutter mold. How I adore this book.

WormLoves Worm

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Return by Aaron Becker

The third book in a trilogy (give the entire collection!). I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in Journey and Quest. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.


The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

I echo what so many others say – oh, if this book had only existed when my children were small. It has so much going on! Each page is full of details and yet a very lovely story of one family unfolds throughout. Spend ages on each page.


Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

This is such an inspiring book based on actual events in San Diego – how a neighborhood can be changed and strengthened by art. Illustrator Rafael López is more than the illustrator here – he is the inspiration for the character of the muralist.

Maybe Something Beautiful

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This book is very funny. Very, very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

When this book was first published, someone said it was my kind of book. It is most definitely my kind of book. I think it might also be your kind of book. Gently perfect.

The Knowing Book

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

This is just a wow title. It has so much of what I love in a picture book – some surprises, a intergenerational connection, a sense of wonder, lots of creativity . . . Divine.

The Night Gardener Monday April 11th, 2016

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

This book is so well done. Talking about the story is giving away the story. So I’ll just say this: clever, really funny, perfect read aloud to inspire much conversation about how to look at life.

Barnacle is Bored Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

This book is just incredibly beautiful in its simplicity – the search for silence. One to share and share again. The illustrations are captivating.


Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved.


Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce just might be my favourite grump. Lots of giggles here.


Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Oh Flora, you sure can move. And this time with not one, but two, dancing partners. Stunning all around!

Flora and the Peacocks Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Like many, I eagerly anticipated this title. Klassen is so unique. I love the subtle things here. The hints. The suggestions. The not neatly wrapped up ending. The room for readers to do some work.

We Found a Hat

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

This is a tender book about friendship and loss. Allows for conversations about preparing for a death and carrying on. A very special (fictional) story based on a real connection between two bears in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Ida, Always Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Finding Wild written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Where can you find wild? What is wild to you? Why do we need wild? How is wild beautiful and dangerous all at the same time. Just so full of wow.

Finding Wild Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Listzs by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (coming in October)

Quirky with gorgeous illustrations and prompts wonderful list making. A great book to share with children who appreciate all the lovely language in the lists. Highly recommended.


Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

So very clever. Literal twists and turns! Quite the reading experience exploring the feeling of time’s passage on a road trip.

Are we there Yet?

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Because picture books are especially treasured as they lull us to sleep.



The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. The illustrations here are incredible.


They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant. So rich with possibilities to share and talk about perspective, self and the world.


Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Well, I am absolutely smitten. This book speaks of friendship and individuality and acceptance and patience. I am kind of in love.

Be a Friend

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

Monday October 31st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week I snapped a photo of brothers visiting my room in the morning before school and reading together. It doesn’t get much cuter than this.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. What theme do you see in these titles?

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And these? Just in time for Halloween! (Sorry for the blurry image) #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I actually blogged this week! Sharing celebrations of my growing learning community here.

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.


Books I enjoyed:

Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures by Amnesty International

I love the possibilities this book offers us in our potential conversations about human rights and freedom. Beautiful, beautiful illustrations.


Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer with illustrations by Frann Preston-Ganon

An acorn is the beginning. A story of the Earth, environment, nature and the possibility of a tree. Such beautiful art.


The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. I wish it had existed when I was studying water and access to water with my class last year as it would have been a wonderful complement to the titles I shared with the students. The illustrations here are incredible.


The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Speaking of incredible illustrations – I don’t even have words. This will be part of my #MockCaldecott2017 list for sure. I am in absolute awe. Storytelling is the theme – told through stunning art, a visual journey and a tale that weaves into another tale into another . . .


 The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson

A fun early graphic series. These little school pets have some big personalities.


Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Impossible to put down. Impossible to not bemoan that the next title is not yet published. Impossible to not visit a myriad of emotions on every page. Absolutely one of my favourite middle grade titles of the year. Everything from Jason Reynolds is 5 glowing stars.


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

This was gifted to me by my mother in law and I was waiting for the right mood to hit so I could sit and savour this little book. For those that love nature, who believe in the power of deep thought and introspection, who realize that life and health is some kind of miracle, this book is a must read. A rare adult read for me. So very special.


Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 48/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 283/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 37/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

I am currently almost finished Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk


Monday September 28th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This week I had to share a very special reading moment. This is one of many reading duos that happens during afternoon reading where a more confident reader spontaneously reads aloud to a growing reader who joins in when he or she can. It it a pretty delightful thing to watch.

Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

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.


I missed last week’s post due to a computer glitch so this is 2 weeks worth of updates. I narrowed it down to my favourite picture books to keep the list reasonable.

On the blog:

For Top Ten Tuesday: Ten dinner invitations I would accept in the world of MG/YA fiction

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

An honest check in regarding the literacy in my new classroom: Celebration: From Here

Celebration: Little Sparks (a week later we are beginning to fan those little sparks)

Books I loved:

I am Yoga written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Gorgeous. It reads calm and pure just like its message.

I am yoga Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

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

I was so thrilled to share this title as a read aloud and am even more excited to invite my last year’s students to a recess read aloud later this week (we pre-loved this book back in June). So much silly, so much funny, rhymes that work and a trail of suspense as we move through a refrigerator adventure. We laughed a lot during this book but there was also lots of absolutely “captured” little faces waiting to discover what would happen next! Josh Funk managed to achieve an ideal balance between the silly and the adventure. I actually read this aloud to an adult after school on Thursday who was equally captivated. It’s that good that you immediately want to rush out and find a listener!

Some highlights of our read aloud experience:

  • Early on when Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast announced that they were going to race for the last drop of syrup, one little boy started to quietly chant, “Share it! Share it!” At the end, he shook his head. “See, they should have shared.”
  • On page four, one child leaned into another and announced: “I like this book already.”
  • During the bean avalanche, one little boy started shaking his head, “Oh oh. The beans are waking up and getting cranky.”
  • When BVW did his thing (avoiding a spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t read it), many children began a conversation that ended with general consensus that BVW should be eaten!
  • There was pure despair when the butter was going to be shared. “No, don’t let the butter die!”
  • During playtime, about 30 minutes after we finished the book, one little boy came up to me and said very seriously, “I’m voting for the waffle.”
  • This was our #classroombookaday book of the week with many many votes and a little note scrawled on the chalkboard that I discovered at the end of the day “+ 500 more”

Lady Pancake Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

In a Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Brian Deines

An important book that depicts how access to education is so very complicated. With a bicycle, a long arduous walk transforms into a manageable ride.

In A Cloud Of Dust Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Elwood Bigfoot: Wanted: Birdie Friends by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Nate Wragg

This is one sweet book. So lovely that I will soon be featuring it on the blog with student reactions (also very sweet). I am completely smitten with Elwood.

Elwood Bigfoot Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Water Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija

I adore all of these titles by Salas and Dabija but am perhaps most excited to share this one with my class when we begin our theme on water in a few weeks. Such an amazing book to allow students to think more broadly and creatively about something so much a part of their lives.

Water Can Be Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Hilo: The Boy who Crashed to the Earth by Judd Winick

Oh Hilo! Joy. Adventure. High degree of action. Engaging characters. An absolute winner in the graphic novel department.

Hilo Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

It is totally cliche to talk of being completely lost in a book about being lost in the mountains. But, this book pulled me in and I had a really difficult time putting it down. Lori Lansens is one of my all time favourite writers so I couldn’t miss this title when I heard it was released. An incredible survival story that leads us nowhere safe through memories, dreams and visions. Wolf Truly sets off on his eighteenth birthday to jump to his death from a ridge overlooking Palm Springs. Up on the mountain he meets three women, three generations of one family who become stranded with Wolf. This is a story you won’t soon forget.

The Mountain Story Monday September 28th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 54/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 332/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 16/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 60/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 39/50 books read

Up next? I am reading a number of titles including Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ( a rare adult read)

Celebration: From Here

If you read this blog, you know I am a reader who shares. I am a teacher who believes in the transformative power of stories. I spend thousands of dollars and endless time filling, organizing and thinking about my classroom library. Recently, I have shared details about it here and here and here.

This year, I moved from a grade 3/4 class (mostly 4s) to a grade 2/3 class (mostly 2s). This summer, I spent time switching out books that would likely not be at the reading or interest level of my new students. I thought a lot about how to ensure I “switched on” the reading love with this new group. I even wrote a post about it: Literary Nest Building 101. Two weeks in, some of my instincts were bang on. We are reading a lot of humour filled silly stories. Read aloud time is joyous! It often ends with “Read it again!” We read multiple times a day. Every afternoon we begin with a #classroombookaday and on Friday we vote for our favourite. The children love this. One of them has even figured out that I will share the news with the author if I can.

“Ms. Gelson you have to tweet Cece Bell! I Yam a Donkey is the winner of the vote this week! Tweet her so she knows.”

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We have connected books with celebration. We read the amazing story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and made a dot of dots. This dot is now hanging in our room and we broke out a fancy felt pen to have each of us sign our names around the outside.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Our first chapter book read aloud was the perfect pick for many children who have never listened to a chapter book read aloud. It is illustrated, it is full of kid humour and fun and it works a little bit like magic. As soon as I start reading it, these little bundles of energy and distractibility start to calm as they inch closer and closer to me to listen at the carpet. I think some of them even hold their breath as they listen. I feel little hands on my arm, on my shoe, on my leg as if touching me can bring them further into the book. When Dory explained about ketchup monster noises, there was a whisper, “So that’s what that noise is.” When Dory shot Mrs. Gobble Gracker in the butt with a sleeping dart, there was pure joy that their teacher said “in the butt” out loud! They laughed and giggled but they also shared knowing smiles that said, “How cool are we?” I hear them heading home at the end of the day debating whether Mary, the Monster is really a monster, really even real or some strange talking dog. 🙂 I will be forever in your debt Abby Hanlon for Dory Fantasmagory!

Dory Fantasmagory Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We started our first nonfiction read aloud: Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg by Mia Posada and the children love listening for “specific” words to add to our vocabulary list. Words like swamp, water-proof and instinct. Many of them were delighted when I explained to them that they could take their new knowledge home to share with their families. I am sure a lot of Moms and Dads and Grandmas heard about how alligators, despite all of their teeth actually don’t chew their food but swallow it whole. “I guess their teeth are just there to look scary,” suggested one child.

guess what is growing inside this egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

These children love books. They love stories. They love to be read to. They love to sit with a book that we have read together and in twos or threes retell or reread the story. I think I have heard Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We have a Plan about thirty times. I might have it memorized! Such an engaging fun book to read and feel successful.

“Ready one . . . ready two . . . Ready three . . . GO! “

Shh! We have a plan Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

And . . . (I am not going to write but) many children (more than half) in my new classroom are not reading even close to grade level “expectations.” This, I was not fully prepared for. Not to this extent, not so many children. Expectations, levels, proficiency are all descriptors that can officially name what is happening for these students. I am going to name it this way: they aren’t independent. (“Can you read this to me?” “I wish I could read this book.”) They desperately want to be. (“I really need to learn to read more words.”) They don’t identify as readers. (“I can’t read.” “I don’t know how.”) They can’t self select titles that correspond to their levels. (filling book boxes with chapter books because this is what they want to read when they can’t read 90% of the text on the page.) They need to be reading and they aren’t and this is not okay.

I feel a lot of things as I have discovered this. I feel angry and I am not going to elaborate on what I know has gone wrong. I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

I began sharing wordless titles in “tell aloud” experiences to make the point that we can read with or without words. That the pictures tell a story. That our own experiences and inferences fill in the missing pieces. That we have a sense of stories that is in us and we bring it to the books we read.

hank finds an egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Friday afternoon, I packed up books from the classroom library into three rubbermaid bins. This wasn’t about taking books away. It was about removing titles that are currently not relevant and are actually, distracting. I left about 7/8 of the books still out. There are a lot of books. But now, we can focus on surrounding ourselves with books that we can read or might grow into in the near future. Some people thought this made me sad. Only very briefly. Until I thought about it: I love books because I love that they are read by readers. I adore the readers (and the readers to be) and these readers are my priority. These books will be back. When we’re ready.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I filled display shelves with titles we have read and loved together. We need to look around and see our reading experiences in our environment.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I went to the library and brought up bins of levelled readers and have them available not to start labelling a child with a number but to have titles to place into book boxes that match reading ability and a “ladder” to climb. I filled some other display shelves full of books that many of us can read with success. Displaying titles honours them. It screams, “Hey you! Read me!” It says these books are for us.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I celebrate that I must get my students reading. I acknowledge the fear and the worry. I accept the challenge. I celebrate the necessity, the urgency and the will.

From here . . . here we go.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Happy 100 celebrations! I haven’t shared 100 times yet. But, in the future, I will get there. Every celebration gives me more.

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. This week, knowing that I must celebrate allowed me to frame this challenge in the most positive way possible. Healthy for me, necessary for my students.