Monday November 4th, 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! Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read!

A book filled week to be certain! Some of it was spent reading books. Much of it was reading books to my students. And laughing and wondering and being in awe. Shared a lot of our reading week on our new classroom blog in a new feature called That’s a Wrap!.

Here are my favourite picture books of the week:

Anna May’s Cloak written by Christiane Cicioli and illustrated by Susan Pearson

Isn’t this cover absolutely divine? This is a beautifully illustrated book that spans generations and weaves the importance of a blue cloak into the love of a family. Reminiscent of Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

Anna May's Cloak #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa 

A powerful wordless title that looks at how nature can change everything for a family when a storm causes floodwaters to threaten the safety of their home. Powerful images of worry, upset and hope.

Flood #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Chu’s Day written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Adam Rex

I always appreciate Adam Rex’s illustrations always but these are particularly adorable. A simple and exaggerated story line of a powerful little sneezer. I found this charming as I once taught a student who sneezed (always in threes) so loudly that he could be heard in every classroom on the same floor. A sneeze can be quite the thing!

Chu's day #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 

This week some of my curious little students went exploring the Halloween display across the hall. The scattered candy proved too tempting and there was a little bit of tasting. Then there were rumours of the dangers of this oldish candy and oh, my, oh my! The anxiety set in and turned, for some, to full blown panic. We all calmed down, learned a lesson hopefully to not sample candy in a display but wow, did it prove that the worry of consuming something that maybe should not be consumed is a powerful stressor! This is the theme of this delightful little picture book told through sweet illustrations all pink, green and black and much humour. What happens when you swallow a seed? Will you end up as fruit salad? Sprouting vines?

Read and find out just what happens to this voracious watermelon muncher.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Day the Crayons Quit written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

I know, I know. Everyone has read this book. And I just finally did. It wasn’t for lack of awareness! It just hadn’t happened. Love Jeffers. Love the voices. Fun all around. Mostly what I love is watching students sit and share this book together. One day last week, two girls chose reading this book (taking turns as different crayons) to a classroom volunteer over play time during choices. I think they might have had the most fun in the room!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Gorgeously illustrated, this book conveys so much about the importance of sunlight and green plants to our life and survival. Nicely accessible for kids with lots of relevant and additional information in the back.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems

A purely whimsical celebration of pretend like only Elephant and Piggie can do it!

I'm a Frog #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Other reading:

Ivy + Bean: What’s the Big Idea (#7) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Ivy + Bean titles are big in my classroom this year! I have a few girls who have made it a goal to read every title in the series! I must admit to being pretty partial to these energetic and interesting friends myself. This book explored the idea of saving the planet. What could two girls do that would make a difference? Turns out that after some very outlandish ideas like throwing ice cubes into the air to slow down global warming, Ivy and Bean happen upon an idea that might make a big difference in a small moment for the very people who might need it most.

What's the big idea? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I’m going to start by saying that I think I might just have met some characters that could be the most memorable characters I have met in some time. I would like to have weekly check in sessions with them or at least regular emails/updates. These were characters that you would never put together but yet they turned out to be the perfect fit. Willow Chance inspired me to think about what it is to have “people” in your corner. She reminded me that growing anything in a garden has all kind of magic wrapped up within it. She also made me a little anxious about many things that she knew mostly everything about: the importance of staying hydrated, how essential regular flossing is and why we shouldn’t ignore any strange skin conditions. Willow Chance: brilliant, quirky, vulnerable and not nearly as enigmatic as she first appears. If you have read this title, I’m betting on the fact that you loved it. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Counting by 7s #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am beginning the only title by Jo Knowles that I have yet to read! Living with Jackie Chan. I read Jumping off Swings earlier this year and have been eagerly anticipating this title! Knowles is one of my absolute favourite authors so I know I have many happy reading moments ahead.

My students and I are absolutely adoring The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor. Whoa can this lady pull kids in and quick? My students beg me to read more of this novel multiple times a day!

How to Teach a Slug to Read (and maybe improve your own skills in the process)

Do you know this book? How to Teach a Slug to Read by Susan Pearson and illustrated by David Slonim.

How to Teach a Slug to Read

Find a copy and appreciate. Ms. Sheperd-Dynes, Seymour’s Teacher-Librarian passed it on to me. I was delighted and knew it had to be shared and quick!

My reading group had been busy brainstorming a list about what good readers do. It is important to reflect on things we might not even be aware of but also, a good time to check in – are there things on the list I could be doing?

IMG_1072What do good readers do?

We certainly had some great ideas. I love that daily, enthusiastic reading made it on there.

Good readers love to read after all and the more they read, the better they get at it!!

We also knew that we needed to use a variety of strategies: sounding words out, visualizing, and paying attention to context clues. Good readers also read from a variety of levels and a variety of genres.

A balanced diet of books.

My daughter saw this list and had something to add: “Good readers feel the emotions of the characters so they can feel what the author wants them to feel.”

Yes, she’s brilliant.

I then asked them to think about how they learned to read. I gave them strips of paper and felts and 10 minutes. Go write down everything you remember!


Some more great ideas

 I then read them the very clever and delightfully simple How To Teach a Slug to ReadYes, it is all about how Mama Slug teaches her little slug to read, but it is not much of a stretch to apply it to early readers and developing readers everywhere. When we finished the story, I gave the students 10 more minutes to write any more “How to learn to read tips,” that they might have thought of after hearing this story. Here is what happened second time around:


Some specifics

Be careful when you read.

Make it sound fun.

Have expression.

Be really into the book.

Make it sound interesting.


Another great idea

Other great ideas included: repeat favourite words, point out words in the text, label words in your world, learn from your mistakes, read poems, make it interesting, choose fun books, etc.

All in all some great learning and some careful summarizing of  important reading advice. We’re going to have great a year of reading.

“Why did we do this today?” I asked my students. “Well Ms. Gelson,” said Catriona, “It’s not like we know everything. There is still room for improvement! We have to keep thinking of ways to get better.”

They also told me that I should give this book to the Kindergarten teacher so she could use these ideas with her students.