Monday August 12th, 2013

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 reads!

I did lots of picture book reading this week – often lugging stacks of books to the pool to read while my children had swimming lessons. I did my best to narrow the books I want to feature this week to ten:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Gorgeous. Inspired. I shared this with my family and we had so many connections to other stories and experiences. My children thought of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Howl’s Moving Castle, Airborn . . . A book that lures you right back to the beginning to start it again. A book you won’t be able to resist. It’s a must own.

Journey  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Andrew Drew and Drew by Barney Saltzberg

Very creative – such an experience seeing what unfolds with each lifting of the flaps. Celebrates imagination and doodles that might become  . . .

Andrew Drew and Drew #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wag by Patrick McDonnell

Why is it exactly that Earl’s tail wags so enthusiastically? It takes a while to get to the answer but it is absolutely worth it. Adorable.

Wag #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler

A very special story about an important tree that a family visits everyday. When it turns out this tree is dying, it is heartbreaking. Touches on the life cycle of trees, environmental hazards, community, hope. So many possibilities for the primary classroom.

Someday a Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Roses for Harry! written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

How did I not know there were other stories about Harry (of Dirty Dog fame)? And wow, am I glad I found out!

no roses for harry #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Long Way Away by Frank Viva

I am still not sure of this title. I appreciate the concept of two stories in one – told either front to back or back to front – very creative. But . . . I kind of felt like the images could have stood on their own. I think this could easily have been a fantastic wordless title. I will see what my students think in the fall. With this book I really need “test readers” to try it out and see . . .

a long way away #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Matchbox Diary  by Paul Fleischman illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline 

I wasn’t quite prepared for just how beautiful these illustrations would be. The cover hints at the story’s concept and not the beauty of what is inside. Still – the concept – sigh. Just amazing. History, stories and memories told through unveiling of various contents of a number of matchboxes. Also love the intergenerational connection! A favourite of the year absolutely.

MatchboxDiary #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Goodbye Mousie written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Jan Ormerod

A well done title that deals with the death of a pet – how will it be handled by a preschooler? Illustrations of the family interactions are warm and natural.

goodbye mousie #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bluebird by Bob Staake So I will confess that I have been avoiding this book since it was published. I think every staff member at Vancouver Kidsbooks (my local bookstore) has tried to share it with me or inquired whether I’ve read it yet. And, I’ve made multiple excuses. “Not in the mood.” “The cover just doesn’t grab me.” “I’ll look at it next time I’m in.” The truth? The cover has been whispering to me – “I’m going to get to you in a big way.” I knew I would love this book. I knew I would find it powerful. I knew I would find multiple ways to share it with my students and that our conversations would be huge and raw and honest as conversations with kids about great books often tend to be. I’m not going to share details about this book. I’m sure everyone but me has already experienced it. I will just say that this time at the book store, I read it and then, it came home with me.

 Bluebird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

A fantastic nonfiction read. What was happening to the golden frogs in the Panama? Could they be saved? This book explores the thinking and research of the scientists who tried to answer these questions. A longer read but could be shared even in upper primary over multiple read aloud sessions. So much to discuss – purposes of zoos we might not have known, ecology, environment, endangered species . . .

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I continue to try and read early chapter books and graphic novels that are already in my classroom This week I read:

Ivy + Bean (Book 1) by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

Somehow I have never sat down and read an entire Ivy + Bean. What was I thinking? They are more delightful than my skimming through titles had conveyed. Spunky characters in all the best ways. A friend of ours loves reading them with his daughter. He says it best:

“I like that these books have a bit of a wicked edge to them, a lovely appreciation of 7-year old anarchists. Nothing saccharine about Ivy&Bean.”

Ivy&Bean #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Also realized that I had never read the first Lunch Lady title. I didn’t really read this so much as read it along to a running commentary from my children asking me which part I was at or what had just happened or did I think that . . . Wow, do kids love Lunch Lady! A series I always love recommending.

Lunch Lady #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read Sold by Patricia McCormick

A difficult but important read. A book that I hope is in all high school libraries.

Sold #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am currently reading Eleanor and Park (almost finished!)  Loving it so far 🙂

I also finished

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers by Steven L. Layne

Appreciated Layne’s voice and passion for making reading something that is adored by students everywhere. He makes it very clear however, that this passion begins with the environment we create in our classrooms. There are many people who need this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a few novels I want to read that are due back at the library at around the same time so it will be a due date competition that determines what I read!

Huge words, huge feelings

Last week I read The Day Leo Said I Hate you! written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang (famous in my world for When Sophie gets Angry, Really, Really Angry.) We read it because some days there are lots of strong feelings and strong words flying around our classroom and so my belief is we need to embrace what’s going on and explore it.

This book lets us explore how we feel when we get mad. What do we do with those frustrated feelings? What happens when our feelings explode and we say something that is hurtful? Can you take back words once they are spoken? Where do you go from the terrible words to get back to the care and connection that a relationship is made out of?

Leo tells his Mom, “I hate you!” Then the two of them discuss how those words made them each feel.

Did my class react? Oh my yes! One student pointed out, “__________ shouted those words at you last week, Ms. Gelson!” Very true. Now we had another way to look at that situation since we had been able to explore it through a well told story. Those words have big power, but there is also power in calming down, reconnecting and moving on. Talking about it lets it all be normal.

One student burst into tears when our story ended. This story hit close to home and before she could continue with her day, she needed to write a letter to a family member to apologize for some strong words used that very morning. The book was a gift – it allowed her to give words to her sad feelings and move on with her day.

I believe strongly in the healing power of books. When we talk about the stories, connect to the strong feelings, we learn about ourselves and our place in our world. Using powerful literature allows us to reach in and grab a hold of hidden feelings and shake them up. Doing that in a caring, calm classroom builds community along with strong emotional learners. Books have the ability to connect us through stories and our conversations allow us to strengthen those connections even further.