Gift Books 2015: 25 picture books to give this season

Making a picture book list to give is becoming one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014. This year 25 made the list. Why not? There are a lot of books to love!

Gift Books 2015: 25 books to give this season

Of course, I have not read every book out there. But I believe in picture books for every reason and so, I have read a lot! A lot, a lot. Some have stood out. Some I must insist upon. Going picture book shopping? Here is my list of 25 titles that I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? 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? Laughing, I always think, is very underrated.

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond

I was smitten just with the end pages. Based on a true story, this title goes back to Ontario forests of 1914. It is a memory, a story. And what a story. How incredible to think about this experience where a fire caused humans and animals to connect in an incredibly quiet, necessary way. The illustrations here are stunning.

Out of the Woods 2015 Gift Books

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton

This book. It speaks to wild wishes, big possibility and the amazing of the simple and natural. Love, love, love.

Something Extraordinary 2015 Gift Books

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

A wise nana. A regular bus ride. The importance of neighbourhood and noticing.

Last Stop on Market Street 2015 Gift Books

Wolfie the Bunnie written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Charming, humorous and sweet This book has much to offer. Sibling dynamics. The brilliance of children. Humour, giggles, and wows.

Wolfie the Bunny 2015 Gift Books

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Gorgeous. Inspiring. Saturated colours and beautiful art. The true story of one girl’s dream to drum.

Drum Girl Dreaming

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

One sweet book. About the quest to belong and have friends. Some serious perseverance here.

Elwood Bigfoot 2015 Gift Books

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder

I don’t even have words. A must own. Really, truly beautiful. This title makes me cry and sigh and sit in absolute awe. I refuse to even write about the plot. Just trust me and go buy this book.

The Bear Report 2015 Gift Books

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

It’s lush and moody and at the same time sweet and hopeful. I had all kinds of wishes. I wanted to shrink down and wander about this little garden. I wanted the book to be quilted so I could gift it as a “stuffie” type treasure to little ones to snuggle with. I wanted each image, framed, to hang on my wall. This is a book to love.

The Little Gardener 2015 Gift books

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

This book is magical. The text suggests all kinds of connections between ours and the animal world. Talk about perseverance, creativity and inspiration. Or, just get lost in the illustrations.

Wild Ideas 2015 Gift Books

Marilyn’s Monster written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Matt Phelan

What do you do when everyone gets a monster and yours never arrives? Marilyn grows impatient with the endless waiting. So she ventures out to make her own difference.

Marilyn's Monster

Bright Sky Starry City written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro

A beautiful story of father and daughter, of a curious girl wondering about space and astronomy, of a glorious sky full of stars and constellations.

Bright Sky, Starry City 2015 Gift Books

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Wordless perfection. I love everything about this book. How it is about little things, being in the moment, noticing, kindness . . .

Sidewalk Flowers 2015 Gift Books

Pool by JiHyeon Lee

Gorgeous. Wordless. Two children dive deep and meet under a bunch of swimmers and floaters in a busy pool. What do they find there? A fantastical world. The colours, the negative space, the whimsy.

Pool 2015 Gift Books

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

This book is absolutely adorable. The perfect book for reading aloud at a story time for younger listeners. The perfect bedtime book to remind all soon to be sleepers that they are brave.

Night Animals 2015 Gift Books

Toad Weather written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Rich messages beyond a fascinating story. I love that it reminds us to notice and experience the natural world no matter what the weather, no matter what our mood.

Toad Weather Gift Books 2015

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

For inspiring gardeners. For nature explorers. Spans generations and seasons.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt 2015 gift Books

The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

This is a wonderful title. Such creative twists on Little Red Riding Hood – crafted into quite a different tale. Mysterious. Unusual. Magical. The perfect read aloud for a cozy winter’s day.

The Tea Party in the Woods

Float by Daniel Miyares

Children approach rain in the best of ways. All in. Rubber boots, puddle jumping, sailing of boats! And after the rain, there is sunshine and new possibilities. Wordless and wonderful.

Float 2015 Gift Books

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

I always say there is power in the pencil (or pen, or marker, etc) – this book celebrates the creativity on the page. But on the page is so much more. I want to share it with each group of children I teach for forever . . .

My Pen 2015 Gift Books

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

Sadie is enchanting. She embraces life – both the real and the imagined parts with gusto. Creative, inspired, endearing. Her story is a delight to read aloud. Morstad’s images are “ooh” and “ahh” and “wow” inducing. The combination is pure read aloud perfection.

This is Sadie 2015 Gift Books

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Lyrical and lovely. And illustrations to knock you over. Takes you through the seasons, the water cycle, childhood experiences. A must own.

Water is Water 2015 Gift Books

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Beautiful. Special. And inspirational. For little dancers to be. For those with big hearts who know what it is to share.

swan the life and dance of anna pavlova 2015 Gift Books

Lenny and Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Moody. Lonely. Emotional. Sweet. Lovely. A favourite in my room. Children responded to this gentle story of needing to feel secure.

Lenny & Lucy 2015 Gift Books

Sonya’s Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

Try and get past the cover with the greens, the lush, the rich and deep. Sigh. A story about nature, responsibility and hope.

Sonya's Chickens 2015 Gift Books

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski

I am not sure I have words for just how breathtaking I find this title. It is a book lover’s dream. Seriously. Stop dead illustrations. Of course, I had to own this one. And ahem, you should too . . .

The Whisper 2015 Gift Books

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

I wanted to see a whale

One of my very favourite picture books of all time is If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead When I first read this book, I had just spent a week at a summer house waiting to see a whale. I never did. But this book reminded me of how very much I longed for one to pass through the ocean as I gazed out ever so patiently at the water.If you want to see a whale I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatHow I adore this book. I love it because it’s beautiful. It is gentle and calm. It reads like I imagined a whale might move – softly, smoothly and ever so gracefully. But I mostly love it because I really do want to see a whale. It tempts me with the possibility. It lures me with the one day . . . The maybe . . .

Now, I love this book for another most perfect reason. Finally, I have seen my whale. We just spent over a week in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast of B.C and we saw a gray whale just off the beach close to where we were staying. Honestly, I got teary. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in nature I have ever had.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Of course we were not the only ones enamoured with this whale. While we watched from shore, a few small boats watched from closer by.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Two kayakers stopped as well.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Here are my children watching the water for sightings of “our” whale. Every few minutes it would surface to exhale.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

I was lucky enough to see this whale on three different occasions and each time I watched it for at least thirty minutes. Once, we saw it in the evening. It was so quiet and the sound of the whale exhaling is something I won’t ever forget.

If you are like me and have had dreams of seeing a whale, here are some more picture books – both fiction and nonfiction that will make you long for the experience even more. I have always been “swoony” about whale illustrations. I suspect this sighting will make me more so.

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

The Blue Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor
Trapped! A Whale's Rescue  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O’Connell

The Eye of the Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatBig Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland
big blue whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatHere Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan
here come the humpbacks  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman Three Bears in a Boat  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That Flotsam by David WiesnerFlotsam  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatJumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens
Jumping Penguins  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatFollowing Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino 
 Following Papa's Song  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatThe Storm Whale by Benji Davies

 The Storm Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatWater Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs illustrated by Meilo So
Water Sings Blue  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatThe Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
mermaid and the shoe  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatBilly Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex
 Billy Twitters  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatWild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim
Wild Ideas  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

To the Sea by Cale Atkinson

To the Sea I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Have you seen a whale in the wild?  I would love to hear about it!

Nonfiction Picture Books – grow a beginning collection

Recently I created a list of 20 picture books to be gifted to new parents/grandparents to begin growing a picture book collection of beautiful books. I purposely did not include any nonfiction titles because I had this list in mind – 20 incredible nonfiction titles that should be on the family bookshelf.

This list includes recent releases and some favourites I have had for some time. I looked for books that inspire wonder and curiosity about nature and the world. On this list are titles that cover specific concepts with rich language and stunning images. None are too lengthy or complex. The books that are more detailed are perfect for sharing in chunks with a parent/adult reader.

Shopping for gift books for a family? Think nonfiction picture books! Here are 20 beautiful titles:

Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Listed alphabetically by author

A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

There are so many different kinds of nests for so many different creatures. This book is a treasure.

Nest Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Wonder, curiosity and thinking outside of the box. Accessible Einstein!

 Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Gravity by Jason Chin

Visual story telling, simple text explain a complex concept so that all readers can grasp it.

 Gravity Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Just Ducks! written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

Gentle narration infused with facts in this beautifully illustrated book about ducks!

Just Ducks Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

Explore just how enormous a blue whale really is. Gorgeous.

The Blue Whale Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Some Bugs written by Angela Diterlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Will absolutely inspire some bug hunting! And maybe collecting. Break out the magnifying glasses.

 some Bugs Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? written by Rita Gray illustrated by Kenard Pak

Beautiful lyrical text. Will get everyone outside to listen to beautiful and varied bird song.

HaveYouHeard Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Betsy Thompson

Counting. Guessing. Lovely repetition.

eggs123 Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

The format is engaging – each animal is introduced with a mini letter/question and answer.

Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

What happened on the first day each animal was born? Children love to wonder about animal babies.

My first day Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents by Lita Judge

How do mammals care for their babies? Will inspire many conversations about how young children are cared for too.

Born in the Wild Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

Were all dinosaurs gigantic? If they were walking around today, just how big would they be?

Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Will prompt a discussion about perseverance, creativity and inspiration.

Wild Ideas Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons written by Sara Levine with illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth 

A fun interactive style. What kind of animal would you be if . . . ?

bone by bone Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

A beautiful poetic title about the water in our world.

Water Is Water- A Book About the Water Cycle Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Oh these photographs and this beautiful language. Walking in the rain? You will want to go.

Raindrops Roll Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Lifetime written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Math is all around us. Gorgeous illustrations. Fascinating animal facts.

lifetime Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

How do birds use their feathers? For so much more than flying . . .

feathers Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Forest Has a Song poems by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater  and illustrated by Robbin Gourley 

Beautiful poems about the forest – the perfect place to wander.

Forest has a song Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Poetic text showcase all of the different nests birds build for their babies.

Mama Nonfiction Picture Books - grow a beginning collection There's a Book for That

Give books.

Read books.

Share books.

Often.

Monday April 20th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This one captures a particularly sweet moment. One of my students and Miriam (who works with me) got to witness one of our little K buddies showcase her beginning reading skills. Wow, did she work hard to read this book aloud. It was precious to watch!

 Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR 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.

imwayr

Lots of interesting titles this week. My favourites included:

Wandering Whale Sharks by Susumu Shingu

Absolutely stunning illustrations. Lyrical text describing details of the largest fish in the ocean.

Wandering Whale Sharks  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

This book is magical. The illustrations have inspired an art project that my students are in the middle of . . . And the text suggests all kinds of connections between ours and the animal world. Prompted discussion about perseverance, creativity and inspiration.

Wild Ideas  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Goodnight Already! written by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies

Lots of silly and full out charm. Both of these characters – bear and duck will amuse any little (or big) reader. The Kindergarten class brought this up to me with big recommendations! Their teacher had had to read it aloud multiple times.

Goodnight Already  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

I took this out from the library and am thinking I need to bring it into my classroom to actually try it. I’ve heard great things about its read aloud effect.

The Book with No Pictures  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Know Here written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Matt James

A beautiful book about place and home.

i know here  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton

Each of these children has personality leaping off the page.

Little Humans  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

I have a real soft spot for Rayner’s loose lines and smudgy images. Louie loses his “smell” in a bath and goes in search of some deliciously stinky places to find it again.

Smelly Louie Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

I can already say with quite a bit of confidence that this will make my favourites of 2015 list. I adored the relationships in this story – between Mai and her grandmother, Mai and her family in Vietnam, many of the characters and their grief and cultural connections. A powerful story about the pull of home, the strength of family, the importance of culture and the complexities of personal and family histories. Highly recommended.

Listen, Slowly  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

As a family, we also finished Doll Bones by Holly Black on audio. This was a second “read” for me and so enjoyable to listen to! Cheriee, if you are reading this, you can do it! We have faith.

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 19/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 157/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 8/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 33/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 17/50 books read

Up next? I am about to begin  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Monday July 28th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

My favourite picture books of the week are all kinds of amazing! I figured since I didn’t share any last week, highlighting a number of them this week will be okay!

Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann

Lyla Browning is different and when you are having a bunch of girls to a birthday party, that doesn’t seem like a good thing. As Ginger’s party progresses, it turns out that in close proximity, true colours shine through. And some seem to be shining a little more brightly after all. Lovely story about choosing friends for how they make you feel.

Two Speckled Eggs #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry 

A cute little story about having friends and being part of a community. An ideal story time title for younger students.

 Turtle Island #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM written by Elizabeth Bluemle with illustrations by G. Brian Karas

I adore any illustrations from G.Brian Karas and this rainy journey through the city has many charming images. But the rhythm of the text makes this book a delightful read aloud! It would be a book you want to practice before reading aloud so that it can be delivered with all of the drama it deserves. Lots of fun!

Tap tap Boom Boom #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Knock Knock My Dad’s Dream for Me written by Daniel Beaty with illustrations by Bryan Collier

Made me cry. What a story of loss and hope, upset and deep love in 32 beautiful pages.

Knock Knock #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Captain Cat by Inga Moore

Gorgeous cover and illustrations. While I don’t necessarily love this story, I can see this being such a popular book for students to read and enjoy independently or with a buddy. A longer story perfect for upper primary students. And the rat chase is lots of fun!

Captain Cat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

You are Stardust written by Elin Kelsey with illustrations by Soyeon Kim

Simply breathtaking illustrations. The message is a huge one – every living thing is connected – in perfect, child friendly text. Beautiful to read over and over – to savour the art and let the words swirl around.

 You Are StarDust #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Julia, Child written by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Julie Morstad 

This is kind of a cheeky little book. Pay attention reader. The title is not Julia Child but Julia, Child. Yes, we see a little girl in an apron surrounded by cooking utensils, herbs and berries. Yes, this book is inspired by the idea of Julia Child and her passion for food and cooking. But this is hardly a biography. This is a playful book, full of joy and friends and butter. The message? Hang on to the best parts of being a child. For those adults who need some help with this, recipes are adjusted accordingly.

 Julia, Child #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Owl and the Pussy Cat written by Edward Lear with illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch  

This was a gift for my husband who loves this poem and used to recite it to our children often when they were little. He also loves illustrator Stéphane Jorisch so it was a must. Just a beautiful book to treasure.

 The Owl and the Pussycat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Wow of the week:

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

This book was on my picture book wish list. I am not supposed to be book shopping. But I happened to find a little money tucked away in a bag I hadn’t used and found money should be for wishes, don’t you think? Anyway this title is now mine!

I absolutely adore it for so very many reasons. I have favourite pages, favourite series of illustrations and am completely enchanted by the green grass that we see one night at dusk. Wow. And then there is the story. A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connection to family – Ojiichan (Grandfather) in Japan who played Second Violin in front of the Imperial Family and his influence on little Hana who wants to play the violin too. Hana enters a talent contest. Little girl with medium sized violin walks out onto the huge stage. I dare you not to hold your breath! What happens when she begins to play is pure delight and probably not at all what you are thinking. Suki’s Kimono by Uegaki is a favourite picture book on our family bookshelf. This book will sit, also beloved, one space over.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

I also read lots of great nonfiction that I will highlight on Wednesday’s #nfpb2014 post

I finished two novels:

Son by Lois Lowry

The fourth and final title in The Giver books. As I was reading it, I wasn’t loving it, yet I just couldn’t get the story out of my head. If you have read all of the other titles, yes, read it. I’m still deciding what I think. One thing bothered me and so . . .

SON #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrara

I was quite charmed by this story. And oh so happy that it was written. So many of my students  are impacted by poverty in so many ways. In our community, it is just the norm. So there isn’t a lot of judgement. But I remember once one of my students was going to move to a community where low income didn’t define the community in general. She was bright and spunky and didn’t miss a thing. I knew she was going to be okay but I worried about the getting there to that place of okay. In this book, Star Mackie moves to California and she is the girl from the trailer park. Standing out for something that doesn’t even seem to be about her. I love Star’s stubborn streak, her voice and her passion for the written word. I love how friendship and family dynamics are explored. A middle grade novel that is really going to resonate with readers.

Ironically, just as I finished this review, my eleven year old (I gave her this book to read this morning) came charging into my room.

“Mom! It’s not long enough! Is there a sequel? I can’t wait for it. My favourite characters are . .  ” Natter, natter, natter. Yep, the perfect book for middle grader readers!

 Hope is a Ferris Wheel #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a huge, huge pile of books – holds that have all arrived at once. Top of the pile?  Winger by Andrew Smith

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 53/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 363/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 86/65 complete

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’ve been inspired once again by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy to participate in the 2014 Nonfiction picture book challenge! Link up here to join in!

NFPB 2014

According to Goodreads, last year I read 66 nonfiction picture books – my goal had been 60 titles. I read 44 nonfiction picture books in 2012 so it was wonderful that participating in this challenge allowed me to increase the titles I read by a third! Wonderful for me and wonderful for my students as my passion for these titles has spilled over into some amazing read aloud experiences! And the learning . . . Wow!

This year when I selected my favourite titles of the year, including nonfiction picture books was a priority – I credit this challenge with my new absolute love for this genre. Thank you Alyson and all of the fantastic bloggers sharing favourite reads all year!

I would like to keep reading at the nonfiction pace I read last year – so I am choosing 65 titles as my goal. Again, I will try and read many recently published books, but there are many 2013 (and even older) titles that I really want to get to so I will be reading both new and older titles. When I can, I will include favourites and link to Alyson’s Wednesday nonfiction posts.

One of my most popular posts of the year was for this challenge: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds. I have been using this list to guide which books I share with my students. In my timetable, I have set aside two guaranteed nonfiction read aloud times each week. Often, it is more. We read a lot of nonfiction in my room!

Like last year, I am excited to learn about a variety of nonfiction titles shared via the bloggers participating in this challenge! Reading passion is wonderfully contagious!

My ten nonfiction favourites read in 2013 (not just published in 2013) included:

The final 3 titles on this list were on my Favourites of 2013 list and four of these books were on my Gift Books 2013 list. Testament to the nonfiction love!

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Tree Lady NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim 

Is this Panama? NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

No monkeys, No chocolate NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

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

The Case of the Vanishing Frogs NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

my first day NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke 

a little book of sloth NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Even an Octopus Needs a Home by Irene Kelly 

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Lifetime NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 On a Beam of Light NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

 The Boy who Loved Math NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

I feel compelled to share this post to highlight all of the love this book had in my classroom: For the Love of Math

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Monday September 23rd, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.

IMWAYR

The picture books I adored this week:

The Lonely Book written by Kate Berhheimer and illustrated by Chris Shelban

A story that tells many stories of how relationships with books can be so special. Sometimes a book is beloved by many and passes from hands to hands to hands. Sometimes a book’s qualities are treasured by one for any number of reasons. And sometimes a book, worn and well read, finds the best place to be and the reader who is most in need of its magic.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sing . . . sing a song . . . lyrics by Joe Raposa, story in pictures by Tom Lichtenheld

Yes, this is a book of that song Sing, Sing a Song. Starts off wordless. Our frustrated little bird demonstrates perseverance and finds some confidence after being serenaded by a joyful guitar player. Full of happiness and smiles. Just a lovely little book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Worth watching the video on youtube:

Tommaso and the Missing Line by Matteo Pericoli

One sentence summary: Tommaso goes in search of a line that has disappeared from a beloved drawing.

Wow. This is a book that asks to be shared and discussed. In big ways. With big questions. What inspires art? Does a piece of art contain a piece of the inspiration? Do things exist differently in our memories? Can art capture a memory? Can it prevent it from fading? Love this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am the King by Leo Timmers

Part of why I was drawn to this book is that it is very pink but appears to not be a pinkish book (it isn’t) and also because last year my class fell in love with Timmers’ book The Magical Life of Mr. Renny so I was curious. This is an interesting book. Maybe one that on first read might not seem so interesting but then when you think about the potential questions it might inspire, its interest level elevates. Various animals find a golden crown and convinced it fits them perfectly, each announce, “I am the King!” The next animal finds that assertion preposterous, dons the crown (in a totally different way) and claims “King” status for themselves. Finally, the crown lands at the feet of Lion. Lion puts the crown on his head and all of the animals cheer that “Lion is the King.” That is just that.

So back to the questions:

  • Do we see ourselves vastly differently from the way others see us? Better? Worse?
  • Does competition prevent us from celebrating our potential for more?
  • Do some people (lions in this case) just command respect? How?

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wumbers written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

What an amusing mixture of numbers and words to communicate little stories scattered throughout this book. Lots of fun! I just wished a coherent story ran through the entire book. Still, I passed this to a student last week and he was instantly hooked on deciphering the text.

Wumbers #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In nonfiction:

Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim I reviewed this book earlier this week here.

Is this Panama? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Tushes and Tails by Stephane Frattini

A hugely engaging nonfiction title ideal for an interactive read aloud experience. Who belongs to which tush and/or tail? It is not as easy as it many seem to guess. Under each lift the flap, one is rewarded with more information about each animal – enough to learn something new, not too much to lose the momentum of guessing, checking and discovering.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Queenie:  One Elephant’s Story written by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe 

A story about a gentle elephant captured and put in a zoo. This book tells the story of Queenie, but really forces the readers to think about zoos, animals in captivity and our obligations to them and treatment of them. Made me think of Eve Bunting‘s The Summer of Riley and the questions around whether a dog should be euthanized or not based on its actions in particular circumstances. Can see this book being very powerful shared with an older primary or an intermediate class.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mimi’s Village And How Health Care Transformed it written by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Part of the Citizen Kid series of information story books that talk about real world issues and how they affect children around the world. This book teaches readers all about what life is like when basic health care and disease prevention is limited. Set in Kenya, Mimi’s reality before a village health worker becomes attached to her village is one where she and her family lack clean water, appropriate nutrition, and protection from diseases. Simple things like mosquito netting to sleep under have huge impact.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Other reading:

Bean Dog and Nugget: The Ball, an early graphic novel by Cherise Mericle Harper

Delightfully silly. My class adores this little graphic story.

Bean Dog and Nugget #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boris Gets a Lizard an early illustrated chapter book by Andrew Joyner – part of the Branches series of books by Scholastic 

Boris desperately wants his own Komodo Dragon. He is what you might call obsessed. What is his clever plan to have his own Komodo Dragon, if even temporarily? And does his plan succeed? I can see my younger readers being interested in this title. Full colour pictures and manageable text.

Boris gets a Lizard #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library written by Chris Grabenstein

A fully engaging middle grade mystery/adventure  – even more perfect for book lovers and avid readers. Many have talked about connections to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and certainly this book has those wonderful elements of unexpected adventures set in a fantastical location with twists and turns on every page. I really liked this book. Think I would like it even more if I shared it with a class of children. I can imagine those reading this aloud to a classroom are having a delightful time of it!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up ? I am loving the novel Jinx by Sage Blackwood (and I really love saying the name Sage Blackwood, it’s so beautiful). Now that we are settled back into school routine and bedtimes, I am happy to have some dedicated evenings to continue reading The Fire Chronicle by John Stevens to my own children. We have been doing a lot of nonfiction picture book reading over the last few weeks and need to delve back into this novel that we were so excited about at the end of the summer.

Have a great reading week everyone! And if you are so inspired, check out this post and add your #5words: In 2013/2014 I will be . . . Loving the comments 🙂