Favourites of 2013

So excited to share my favourites of 2013! I had a wonderful year of reading – thanks to the amazing authors and illustrators out there that enrich our lives in so many ways.

The best of the best (published in 2013) for me?

13 favourites and no more than 13 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with!

I decided to split these titles into 4 categories of what I read most of – middle grade novels, young adult novels, picture books and nonfiction picture books. 4 x 3 titles each and one bonus book = 13 titles for 2013 ūüôā

Middle Grade Titles:

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Brilliant, unique characters who teach us what it means to have “people”

Counting by 7s Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Inclusion. Bullies. Women’s rights. Orphans. Magic. Love where it’s needed.

Beholding Bee Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

High drama, adventure and intrigue led by Jaron: loyal, brave and charmingly plucky.

The Runaway King Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Young Adult Titles:

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Teenage vulnerability and humility. Best kind of uncle. Two well written male characters.

Living with Jackie Chan Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Because teenage love stories don’t often look like this. Gets you but good.

Eleanor and Park Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Intrigue, mystery, twists, upsets, revelations. Oh these Aglionby boys. And Blue . . .

The Dream Thieves Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (fiction):

The Man with the Violin¬†written by¬†Kathy Stinson¬†and illustrated by¬†DuŇ°an Petrińćińᬆ

Because we all need reminders to stop and honour the magic all around us.

The Man with the Violin Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog.

The Mighty Lalouche Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Wild Thing! I think we love you. Just divine. Swoon.

Mr Tiger goes Wild Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (nonfiction):

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

Mathtastic magic that inspires little thinkers. The wonders of number devotion.

 The Boy who Loved Math 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

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

 On a Beam of Light 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

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

Lifetime Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

And one more – published in North America in 2013. And in Australia in 2012.

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. New York City. Someone who gets you.

Herman and Rosie Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Gift Books 2013 – twelve picture books to give this season

gift Books 2013

I spent close to three hours at my favourite bookstore yesterday – Vancouver Kidsbooks selecting books for a donor that wants to gift our primary students with new books to take home this holiday season. Books in hand and in home make so much difference! While my Teacher Librarian and I shopped, we were privy to many conversations between customers and the very knowledgable Kidsbooks staff. And it got me to thinking . . . Which 2013 picture books would I recommend for a gift list?

Of course, there are many amazing titles to choose from. I narrowed it to twelve. Twelve books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently about something? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? With those questions in mind, here is my list:

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

This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos.

Gift Books 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

A wonderfully accessible biography of Albert Einstein. This title has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiosity and thinking outside of the box.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Man with the Violin¬†written by¬†Kathy Stinson¬†and illustrated by¬†DuŇ°an Petrińćińᬆ

This is an important story of what we miss by not being in the moment. How many beautiful experiences are lost on us as we rush through our days? Based on a true event where famous musician Joshua Bell played in the metro and was basically ignored. My students shared reviews here.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Matchbox Diary  by Paul Fleischman illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline 

History, stories and memories told through unveiling of various contents of a number of matchboxes. Perfect to inspire storytelling between the generations.

The Matchbox diary Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. Love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else.

Peace Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

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

Gorgeous. Want to reveal how math is all around us? This is the book to do it. There is counting and estimating and wondering and a whole bunch of other mathematical applications – in addition to being a beautifully illustrated books with lots of fascinating animal facts.

Lifetime Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty

Know a family with a new baby? Give them this beautiful book which sends the message loud and clear – we all need to be raised with daily read aloud moments.

The Snatchabook Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Northern Night written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Lyrical, soothing and visually beautiful. Let the text lull you to sleep with dreams of the magic and quiet of winter. A perfect book to celebrate this coldest of seasons.

Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Journey by Aaron Becker

Grab your imagination and enter a magical world where anything might happen. A wordless treasure.

Journey  Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Papa¬†models the curiosity and persistence of an inventor. This book is ‚Äúalmost true‚ÄĚ based on the life of¬†Lodner Phillips¬†who really did build¬†The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Papa's Mechanical Fish Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Because we all need to laugh together! Interactive. Will make you want to leap out of your chair in delight! Giggle, giggle, giggle.

Count the monkeys Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Children love to hear about what it was like when they were a baby. This nonfiction title reveals what the first moments are like for different animals. So much to discuss.

My first day Gift Books 2013 There's a Book for That

Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!

Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

It’s funny how one’s focus can change when looking at the classroom library. For a while, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nonfiction titles in my room. Last summer I started to get anxious about whether or not I had enough books in the room that my Grade 2/3s could pick up and read independently. It seemed like my “best” nonfiction titles were books that I needed to read to my students. Which was wonderful because I had some amazing titles to use as we model strategies, but what about when it was independent reading time? Did I have enough titles that students could read by themselves with success? My book shopping focussed on purchasing titles that I knew my students could manage on their own, especially as we built strategies to read nonfiction text over the year. Some of my favourite books that I added?

  • The Discover More Series by Scholastic
  • Nicola Davies Flip the Flap and Find out books which include Who Lives Here? and Who’s Like Me?
  • Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? and Who Has These Feet?
  • A huge array of Bobbie Kalman titles
  • The Are you a . . . ? series by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  • The Amazing Animal Series by Kate Riggs

NonfictionText for Independent Reading There's a Book for That

Now, here I am a year later. Again, thinking about the books in my room . . . What is my focus now? That I want some “Oh, wow!” titles to read aloud. I want to make sure that just as I am reading a variety of picture books and some engaging novels, that I have a real variety of excellent nonfiction picture books to read aloud. Sometimes to model/practice a strategy, sometimes to enhance our learning on a particular subject and sometimes just because, the more we read, the more we know and I want my students to be inspired and curious about learning all year long!

I am fortunate to be looping my Grade 2/3 class into Grade 3/4 and so I have a sense of this group of children, what they wonder about and what I think might inspire them. Last year, I noticed that they were intrigued by stories – folklore, Aboriginal tales, stories from around the world and stories about things that really happened. They were very curious about the stories of people and how these stories connected to us in our classroom. It made me realize that I haven’t been reading enough biographies. I also want to focus on places around the world and the wonder of the world around us. Last year, students loved learning about animals from each continent and had endless questions about habitats. ¬†I know we love art and books and music. So, I have some sense of what kinds of books I need to share.

Knowing how busy school can get and knowing how I sometimes need a one stop shop when I am planning, I decided to take advantage of the time summer has to offer to amass a huge list of amazing nonfiction read alouds. I was looking for titles that my Grade 3/4 class would enjoy. Some are favourites from previous years and some I have yet to read myself. Thank goodness for the wonderful book bloggers out there that I used for inspiration. So here is my list of 25 “wonder¬†inducing”¬†nonfiction read alouds. A reference for me and one that I am sharing here.

The book I plan to use to launch my year: On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky This book made my own thoughts whirl and swirl and race around my head. It has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 On a Beam of Light

Based on some picture book biographies I already loved, I grew that list to include:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin written by Jen Bryant  and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Eric Puybaret

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon written by Jaqueline Davies illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Biographies - Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps¬†by¬†Jeanette Winter

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

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

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell¬†written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Biographies Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

Some titles to explore amazing places and the world around us:

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Redwoods by Jason Chin

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin

Fire! by Celia Godkin

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world by Allan Drummond

The World Around us Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

And to learn about creatures great and small:

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

 And a title to be released this fall:

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

Is this Panama?

Will I read all of these titles aloud this year? Maybe not. Perhaps interests and passions will take us in different directions. But this list will help keep me on track to make sure I am sharing lots of books that inspire both learning and thinking in my room!

Do you have some other must share nonfiction titles for Grade 3/4 listeners? Would love to hear your suggestions!

I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday¬†event that KidLit Frenzy¬†hosts. Visit Alyson’s blog to see what books are shared this week.

NFPB2013leaves

Monday July 22nd, 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! These #IMWAYR posts are a great place to “shop” for new titles.

Favourite picture books from the week:

On a Beam of Light: A story of Albert Einstein written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky¬†Sometimes in the middle of a picture book, I know. I know that it will become a favourite before I even finish it as a certain kind of enchantment begins. There is the purely wonderful feeling of experiencing the story and the illustrations and the magic of the book. But there is also the explosion in my head of all of the different ways I can use the story in the classroom. Loud, swirling and whirling ideas. So when the book itself is about how Einstein thought and approached the world, about how his thinking happened, well . . . the layers of wow can’t quite be described. Radunsky’s illustrations are divine and Jennifer Berne delivered a story about the complexities of Einstein’s ideas in a book that is simple and accessible and beautiful. Just. Pure. Brilliance. A book I plan to use to introduce my year – all the perfect themes of wonder,¬†curiousity¬†and thinking outside of the box.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Nora’s Chicks written by¬†Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Kathryn Brown¬†A wonderfully lovely title that could be used to talk about what it is like to move somewhere new, away from friends, family and country. Little Nora moves with her family to the prairies from Russia. Nothing looks or feels the same and she is desperately lonely. Some little chicks and two geese become her adopted¬†companions¬†and lead her to both friendship and joy.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

 Coming on Home Soon written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis This pair create some absolutely beautiful books. I liked the simplicity to this story Рa young girl misses her Mother who has gone to Chicago to work in a factory job left vacant as all of the men are off at War (WWII). Ada Ruth is cared for by her grandmother with a practical, no nonsense kind of love. Love that soothes the missing, comforts the sadness and has room for a bothersome kitten. Stunning illustrations.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator written and illustrated by Mo Willems Oh Mo Willems, how do you do it? Engaging and hilarious as usual!

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Matilda’s Cat written and illustrated by¬†Emily Gravett. Gravett’s¬†books are so frequently shared in my room during kindergarten buddy reading time and this title is another example of why. Even with sparse text, a big story is told. It makes you smile and lures you into frequent rereads, the repetitive elements making it all the more engaging. Matilda, dressed as a cat herself, leads her cat through a variety of activities, listing off what the cat does not like until eventually we discover what it is exactly that makes this cat so happy. Adorable. Perfect for a story time session with younger children.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

I have been previewing some early chapter books that I purchased for my class – hoping to introduce some new series.

The Disastrous Little Dragon by Gillian Johnson Part of the Monster Hospital Series. Fun and full of expressive illustrations Рideal for students moving into early chapter books. This story is full of humour, adventure and dragon mishaps. There is also a message that a certain degree of confidence goes a long way.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hello Nebulon! ¬†Galaxy Zack series by Ray O’Ryan¬†In the year 2120, it’s possible to travel and live on the planet Nebulon and what a fascinating new place for Zack and his family. Beds that descend from the ceiling, dinner that appears in moments, a house controlled by a robot (named Ira) and bikes and cars like nothing on Earth. Still adjusting to a new home and school is full of anxiety no matter what planet you might find yourself on! Lots of illustrations and fun fantasy perfect for readers just beginning to handle chapter books.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Middle Grade/Young Adult Novels: 

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean¬†For a book all about a girl who stops speaking, this book was anything but quiet. But yet it spoke sort of magically – weaving connections to the characters and the story around and around my heart until I was all wrapped up in this story. This is the first book that has made me cry in quite some time. It is simple and precious and poignant. We read about a little girl’s grief and the healing process she goes through which involves new friends, visions of her mother and a very special dog called Homeless. This book took on a tragic topic – losing a parent and sent a message that grief can take many forms and the importance of accepting them all. It also touched on selective mutism – which I don’t find very often in stories. It was handled so well here. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone – but will just say that Cally teaches us a lot about how to grieve, how to remember and how to live in a world that is all of a sudden without someone who means a lot. A beautiful book.

A Dog Called Homeless  Monday reads There's a Book for That!

¬†Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles¬†I have now officially read all of the Jo Knowles novels out there except for Living with Jackie Chan which is released this fall. Since I am a huge fan of Knowles’ work I needed to get this title read as it is a companion book for ¬†Living with Jackie Chan. I found it quite amazing that even writing from four different perspectives, Knowles could convey so sensitively the turmoil and angst a teenage pregnancy brings onto a group of connected teens. As always, Jo Knowles exposes the vulnerability of both male and female characters in such a¬†believable, not over the top way. A book where you are rooting for everyone and where, I am sure, each reader brings different connections to this story of an unintended pregnancy and the complexity of relationships.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

What am I reading next? I am thrilled to be part way through The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (much gratitude to a¬†friend¬†who lent me her ARC!) I was waiting, extremely impatiently, until the September release and was very excited to be able to dive back into this mysterious, eerie and supernatural drama that Stiefvater leads her readers through. Then it’s Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick and The Apprentices by Maile Meloy – both recent holds I just picked up at the library.

What fantastic titles are you reading?

#1 (One) and One = 2 books (called One)

What happens when you read 2 books called One? A few things . . .

It seems to me that when a book is called One, there must be something within in it that offers us some simplicity – that by the time you are finished reading it, you can clearly articulate at least one thing you learned. ¬†Often with simplicity is weight. A simple message with some power behind it. So let’s see – I tried out two books titled One with my class this morning.

We started with #1 (one) by V. Radunsky: A nice story about an awful braggart. This story is about one of ten little armadillos who is actually called Six but is convinced he is #1. The strongest! The smartest! The bravest! The best! #1! #1! #1! He boasts about his inventions, his height, his speed ¬†. . . He gets the best presents. What does he want? He has a big list including: Three cats plus one more cat. Five altogether. If you aren’t convinced, he will help you by explaining all of the reasons why he is #1. My favourite? His story of why he is the strongest: I saved this horse the other day. Twenty grown armadillos couldn’t even lift this horse but I did. Because I’m #1. The horse was so grateful.

In the end, everyone in his family completely agrees. Yes, # 1 they say. Definitely.

You are the #1 clown, show off, chatterbox, storyteller, dreamer! You are our # !!

Maybe not the reaction this little pink armadillo was looking for, but definitely recognition!

Reactions from my class?

Ricky: “He’s lying about everything. He can’t be that smart or that strong. He can’t be an inventor. Duh.”

Eddy: ” You have to be in college or even higher when you want to invent something.”

Scott: “He’s just dreaming.”

Miami: “He just thinks about himself.”

Alyson: “Selfish.”

I clarified that we actually call this “self-centered.”

Ricky: “He can’t go to college anyway cuz 3 + 1 = 4, not 5.” (remember the cat comment?)

We then read One by Kathyrn Otoshi. This amazing book explores what happens when someone is picked on and nobody steps in to say that it is not okay. All of the colours are in the shadow of the hot-head Red who grows bigger and bigger as he continues to be mean, unchallenged by the other colours. Then One comes on the scene and shows all of the colours how to stand up and count!

We had a lot of reactions to this book as it fits right in with the books we have been reading about bullies, the bullied and the bystander.

Ricky: “The colours are too scared.”

Hands shot in the air. “Oh! Oh! Oooh!”

“They’re like bystanders!”

A collective hands down. Many of us were just about to say the same thing.

Interesting perspectives came next.

Alyson: “If they all teamed up together, they might be bigger than red.” (work together against the bully)

Jena: “Maybe red is mean because no one is his friend.” (show some empathy towards the bully)

Hajhare: “Maybe there’s bigger guys – like brown and black?” (overpower the bully)

Otoshi offers us another perspective. Everyone stands up to be counted and says, “No!” when Red tries again to roll over Blue. Red, seeing the others standing tall, shrinks and is about to roll away when One points out that “Red can count too.” Red becomes Seven, and joins in the fun. Sometimes it just takes One ends the story.

Jena: “If one person stands up, everyone else might join.”

I asked the students. “So how are these two books different?”

Kevin: “One book is teaching and the other is just a story.”

Miami: “No. All are teaching a lesson.”

“Really?” I asked. “What lessons did we learn from this book?” (I held up the Radunsky book)

“#1 wanted to be # 1 but being Six was special.”

“Don’t get your hopes too high.”

“Just be yourself.”

“Don’t be a show off!”

“And this one?” I held up Otoshi‘s One.

“Stand up.”

“Don’t be a bully. It makes it all worse.”

“It just takes one person to make everyone be a community.” (Officially the beautiful comment of the day!)

So there you have it. Read one book (x 2) and savour the learning and thinking it inspires

Our reading of 2 books called One was certainly worth more than one + one is two ūüôā