Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10.24.16

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

I featured Part 3 of my blog series - reading longer chapter books when you don't read cover to cover.  This week I featured Candace Fleming's new book Presenting Buffalo Bill.

Are you thinking about doing a Mock Geisel?  Here are the books we're using and how it's starting.

Picture Books

Wonderfall by Michael Hall
4/5 stars
If you by chance have a collection of books to be read in the fall, make sure this one is on it!  One sentence review:  Lovely poems, each one titled with a word that is a word play on a word that ends with -ful, and includes a brightly colored Michael Hall illustration.

The Storybook Knight
The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty
4/5 stars
From the husband and wife team that brought us The Snatchabook, another fun, rhyming tale about a character that just loves to read.  This time we see the power of stories prevails over fighting.

The Journey
The Journey by Francesca Sanna
4/5 stars
Powerful book.  About a family who must escape the home and country they live in when war comes too close.  The impact of war on a family and how it makes a family become refugees.  This is such an important book to talk about with kids today.  I imagine very rich conversations with students in grades 4 and up - because picture books are really meant for everyone.

Samson in the Snow
Samson in the Snow by Philip Stead
4/5 stars
Everyone needs a friends like Samson.  One who gives away things to make others happy.  One who thinks about others.  One who helps others when they don't even ask.
Very sweet story.  Beautiful illustrations.

In Plain Sight
In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson
4/5 stars
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, which makes it a delight for the eyes.  Story about a tradition between a granddaughter and grandfather - the grandfather always hides things for his granddaughter to find... in plain sight.

First Snow
First Snow by Bomi Park
5/5 stars
Perfect perfect perfect book to read on the first fall of snow of the year.
Simple text but just gorgeous illustrations.  This one is going on my must purchase list.

Bringing the Outside In
Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals
4/5 stars
I love Patrice Barton's artwork.  I had not heard of this book before, but walked past it while in the library.  Noticed it was Barton's work right away and checked it out!  Rolling poem about the seasons and how the outside tends to cling to us.  Loved the incidental diversity within this book.

Informational Texts

One Day on Our Blue Planet . . . in the Antarctic
One Day on our Blue the Antarctic by Ella Bailey
4/5 stars
This is the first book I've seen in this series, but it seems to be one to check out.  This narrative follows an adelie penguin as it travels to the open water.  I had no idea a penguin could live in and around the sea for as long as it does - before it comes to solid land again.  
You could certainly read this book to pick up facts about this penguin.  The illustrations are colorful, but are often very busy.  It's hard to know what information to pick up through them.  I really liked the end pages.  The end pages at the beginning spotlight animals found above the ice in the Antarctic, the end pages at the end spotlight animals found under the ice.

Currently Reading

Like Magic
Like Magic by Elaine Vickers
I'm almost done with this wonderful wonderful book.  I have really enjoyed getting to know the three main characters and seeing how their story is being woven together.
It's taken me awhile to read the story, but by no fault of its own.  I've been taking a lot of time reading some longer nonfiction for my blog series on Wednesdays and its cut into some other reading time.  But, it's been very informative thinking how kids might approach reading longer nonfiction texts!
I will have a review about this book on Thursday.  Come back and check in!

Excited to get back to reading some more middle grade this week.  Cross your fingers!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spotlight Friday - Mock Geisel 10.21.16

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

Our Mock season has officially begun.  We've had our first Mock Newbery meeting with our 4th grade club and now we're getting ready to kick off Mock Geisel and Mock Caldecott at our school. Here's an update on how we do Mock Geisel.

Several years ago I learned about the Geisel Award.  Since I work with early readers, I was so excited to see an award that is dedicated to books for readers like them.  My first stop was to read all of the past Geisel winners.  I was introduced to new series as well as other great picture books to use with my young readers.

When we decided to start holding Mocks at school, I wanted to include the Geisel Award.  Our school starts at kindergarten so we have readers for these books.  We decided kg-1st grade would do Mock Geisel.  My first step was to become comfortable with the Geisel criteria.  You can take a look at it here.

Next step is to find books.  As I read books throughout the year, when I find a book that fits Geisel criteria, I write it down.  My long list begins!  I'm thrilled there is an official blog dedicated to this award - Guessing Geisel.  It has really helped having people who are familiar with the criteria and what to look for guiding my way!  I really appreciate the suggestions they publish every week.  Once we arrive to this time of year, I shorten it to about 10-12 books and our list is set.

We typically try to begin in November so teachers have ample time to introduce the books to their students.  Child-friendly criteria is posted and teachers help students refer to it and use the criteria in the discussion.  Our goal is to expose students to these books and get them thinking about criteria.  It is difficult for young readers to completely hold the criteria in their heads, but at this point it's about exposure.  We will put together a padlet with resources for each book and the teachers can choose to use with their class.

In January, the students will vote on the book they think holds true to Geisel criteria.  We'll compare our winner to the winner the actual Geisel committee chooses.  This is our third year.  I'm hoping this will be the year we predict a few more titles than years past!

Here is the post I wrote in January to celebrate our Mocks.  Some info about last year's Mock Geisel is included in this post.

Here are the books our students will be reading for this year's Mock Geisel:

The Mixed-Up Truck
The Mixed Up Truck by Stephen Savage

Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends
Snail and Worm:  Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kugler

The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25)
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit
Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit by Cece Bell

We Are Growing! (Elephant & Piggie like reading!, #2)
We Are Growing by Laurie Keller

The Cookie Fiasco (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!, #1)
The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants!
Ballet Cat Dance Dance Underpants by Bob Shea

Duck, Duck, Porcupine!
Duck Duck Porcupine by Salina Yoon

What This Story Needs Is a Munch and a Crunch
What This Story Needs is a Munch and a Crunch by Emma Virjan

When Andy Met Sandy
When Andy Met Sandy by Tomie dePaola

Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs
Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin

When Spring Comes
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

I'd love to hear if you're doing a Mock Geisel!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Reading Longer Nonfiction Part 3 - 10.19.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

The nonfiction material that is being published is absolutely amazing.  Authors are covering fascinating topics and writing with such voice that even readers who formerly despise nonfiction are coming over to the "enlightened" side!  From picture books to longer chapter books.  From graphic novels to interactive books.  Such wonderful material!  

During the month of October, I'm going to spotlight some longer nonfiction.  Just like their picture book counterparts, authors of longer nonfiction books are putting an amazing amount of detail and engaging stories into their texts.  Each week I'll share a quick summary, along with tips on how to use it if you're not reading the text cover to cover.

Part 1: Some Writer! and Super Gear
Part 2:  Watch Out for Flying Kids

Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West
Presenting Buffalo Bill:
The Man Who Invented the Wild West
by Candace Fleming
published by Roaring Brook Press

This week is a very different book - a more traditional biography, but it's told by Candace Fleming and I'm pretty sure I would never use the word tradition with Candace's writing!

This book she turns her attention to William Cody, better known in history as Buffalo Bill.  When thinking about Buffalo Bill, one usually thinks of his Wild West show.  His wild stories of growing up on the plains, exploring the wild west, fighting off outlaws and Indians.  What I love about Candace's writing is she doesn't just explore the facts, she explores the myth and reminds us that just because we're reading nonfiction, does not mean we need to take it at face value.

Let's pretend you have readers that don't want to go from cover to cover with this book.   Silly, I know.  It's Candace Fleming.  How can you support those readers?  How can you show readers to take an extended biography like this and find points that they want to read and cover?  Try some of these ideas:
  • usually we can tell readers that biographies like these are written in chronological order - makes sense, right?  Readers may want to only read about certain parts of the life in the biography.  For Buffalo Bill, that may be his part in the Wild West show, or when he "rode" for the Pony Express.
  • Teach readers to use the index to search for needed information.  It could even be a way of searching for what they want to read.
  • Visual learners?  I have found more and more nonfiction writers including visual sources on the web for readers to check out.  Sometimes, getting a visual and some background information is helpful before readers tackle a longer text like this.
  • Something Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are talking about in their Nonfiction Notice and Note is questioning the text.  Too often readers take nonfiction at face value, but it's not always true.  Throughout the text, Fleming questions the authenticity of some of Bill's claims.  Great mentor text to show how an author questions sources and looks in multiple locations for sources.  If you want to closely examine this, just look for the sections titled "Panning for the Truth".
I hope students who pick up this biography and start looking at some of the sections get caught up in the story and decide to read it cover to cover.  Candace Fleming's writing may just make them do that!  If not, help students enjoy this book with some of the suggestions listed.

Goodreads summary:
Everyone knows the name of Buffalo Bill, but few these days know what he did or, in some cases, didn't do. Was he a Pony Express rider? Did he ride with Wild Bill Hickok? Did he "scalp" countless Native Americans, or did he defend their rights?

This, the first significant biography of Buffalo Bill Cody for younger readers in many years, explains it all. With copious archival illustrations and a handsome design, PRESENTING BUFFALO BILL makes the great showman—perhaps our first true global superstar—come alive for new generations.

Monday, October 17, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10.17.16

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Last Week's Adventures

Part 2 of the series - reading longer nonfiction when you don't read cover to cover.  Be sure to check out the book Watch Out for Flying Kids.

Have you heard about Holly Goldberg Sloan's upcoming book Short?  Check out some quotes here and then make sure it's on your TBR for January 2017!

In this day and age, and with this presidential election, I feel so strongly about the need to spread kindness amongst this generation.  Here are some books to use to talk about wishes and kindness.

Picture Books

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker
3/5 stars
This would be a great book to include in a Morning Meeting.  We all have bad days, but it's how you react to them that is important.  Use this book as a springboard to talk about how to make a good decision.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
4/5 stars
Another book to use in Morning Meetings.  This time to talk about kindness - and how that one small ripple can continue and make bigger impacts.  

I think this book has gotten some buzz recently because it is part of the Scholastic Book Fair carts for the primary grades.  It's a good one to purchase to have in the classroom.

Yellow Time
Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer
4/5 stars
Definitely a book to read this time of year if you live in the midwest or experience that moment when all the yellow in the trees get blown off in one big gulp onto the floor!

Home at Last
Home At Last by Vera B. Williams
3/5 stars
I first heard about this book through The Horn Book magazine.  It was a fascinating story of how Vera Williams and Chris Raschka collaborated on this book.  It's quickly told in the back matter of the story, as well.
I think this story will be important to some young readers.  The writing seemed a bit off to me - it didn't flow like other Williams stories flow.  

Henry & Leo
Henry and Leo by Pamela Zagarenski
5/5 stars
I really didn't know much about this book and I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.  Henry's favorite toy is Leo and Leo almost takes on a lifelike quality in Henry's mind.  One day Leo is lost in the Nearby Woods and to Henry, he has lost his best friend.  The reader sees the woods come alive with animals and take care of Leo and bring him home.  
This book is going to resonate with young readers who have a favorite toy.

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh
5/5 stars
I believe this is my favorite Tonatiuh picture book.  Tonatiuh gives a spin to a Mexican folklore that explains the story of two volcanoes located outside of Mexico City.  A love story told in a Romeo and Juliet vein, the readers learn how far love will go for a princess and a warrior.  
I really hope this book sees some awards in January!

Hotel Bruce
Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
4/5 stars
I was so glad to see Bruce again!  I think he's quite the amazing bear since he puts up with geese.  I'd get rid of them!
Bruce and his goslings are back from their winter migration to Miami and find out 3 mice have turned Bruce's house into a hotel.  Of course chaos ensues!

Informational Texts

Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter
Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter by Amy S. Hansen
5/5 stars
I found this book through Linda Baie, and I'm so glad she blogged about it when she did!  Our school is getting ready to start a Woodland Project - it's project based learning where the students are going to be immersed in a real life problem that will require them to use inter- discipline concepts to solve it!  First grade will be specifically looking at insects and the adaptations they go through to survive.  What a perfect book to use to show how insects survive through winter!

Adult Reads

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
3/5 stars
I remember a few years ago hearing the buzz for this book.  I preordered it and then get a signed copy at ALAMW Chicago.  But I just never got around to reading it.  Too many other good books were put in front of it.
I saw the trailer for the movie, and knowing what I knew about the book, I wondered how the movie would be put together.  So, I promised to read the book first (always have to do that, it's an unspoken rule) and then go see the movie with friends.
I did not love the book.  I read Gone Girl years ago and that's what drew me to this book.  Like Gone Girl, this book had deplorable characters, but unlike GG, TGoaT did not have the exciting twists and turns that kept me going.  Until we reached the end, it was all just a train ride and unlikable characters.  In my opinion.  
The movie stayed pretty well with the book.  There were things that were cut or slightly changed, I imagine due to it going from a book to a movie.  None made me mad.  They took something out that happens close to the end that I didn't quite understand.  But no spoilers here.  I will say Emily Blunt did a fantastic job acting drunk and unlikeable.  Make me like her more as an actress!
Glad to be done with that book and back to children's literature!

Currently Reading

Like Magic
Like Magic by Elaine Vickers
Finally started this yesterday.  Darn TGoaT kept me busy all week long.  I really really like the character of this book.  They are diverse, yet all have the universal need of friendship.  I'm excited to see where this book takes me!

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spotlight Friday - Making Wishes 10.14.16

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

"Starlight, star bright... first star I see tonight.  I wish I may, I wish I might...."

"A dream is a wish your heart makes."

We all have dreams.  Some we openly wish for, some we hold close to our heart.  When is a dream a wish?  When are our wishes dreams?  Can a wish or a dream look different than what we imagine it to be?

Both of these books cover the idea of wishes.  How they look vary in each book.  Both books have wonderful conversation pieces.

Before Morning
Before Morning
written by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Beth Krommes
published by HMH

This is a beautiful, beautiful book.  Going on my Mock Caldecott for sure!  I highly recommend reading this book without the illustrations first.  Sidman's poetry is beautiful and I would love to know what images come to mind before looking at the pictures.  Then go back and share the wonderful story line Kommes has crafted in the illustrations.  Talk about the wish - what was the wish?  Who made it?  How did it come true?  Why was it made?  Then share the author's note on wishes and invocations.  Have you ever made a wish that hasn't come true?  Does it make you feel hopeful to make the wish?  Have you ever made a wish that you knew would not come true?  Does it make you feel hopeful to make the wish?  Can all wishes come true?  So much to talk about and share in this book!

Goodreads Summary:
There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a child uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, to persuade fate to bring her family a snow day — a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together. In a spare text that reads as pure song and illustrations of astonishingly beautiful scratchboard art, Sidman and Krommes remind us that sometimes, if spoken from the heart, wishes really can come true. 

The Wish Tree
The Wish Tree 
written by Kyo Maclear
illustrated by Chris Turnham
published by Chronicle Books

This is a wonderful book to talk about wishes and kindness.  How sometimes being kind can be the best kind of wish.  How sometimes we put aside what we need, what we're looking for, and show kindness instead.  And how maybe then we'll find a new wish.

Goodreads Summary:
Charles wants to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don't believe there is such a thing, but his trusty companion Boggan is ready to join Charles on a journey to find out. And along the way, they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways.

I think with all that is going on in the world around us, books about wishes and dreams and kindness are needed.  The world we live in now is not what I hope for for my own child.  And while I see glimpses of hope and seeds of kindness, I would love to see this generation live in one where it has spread worldwide.  Maybe the world we grew up in didn't have the amazing literature we have available now.  Maybe books will help make the difference.  Please share these books with your students.  Have these conversations of hope.