I'm sure many of you have seen this clip of B.J. Novak reading his book, The Book With No Pictures.
Ever since I purchased this book my house has been filled with the sounds of "boo boo butt", "blurf!", "grumph!" and "blueberry pizza head", punctuated by uncontrollable fits of giggles. The Book With No Pictures is pure, unadulterated fun, mainly for kids under the age of 8. Just look at the smiles on the faces of the kids in the video. It doesn't get much better than that! Get out your most theatrical voice and be prepared for a lot of laughter! Got some older kids who need fluency practice? Challenge them to read this book with expression; guaranteed they will laugh too!
Jumping from early primary up in to the intermediate grades, I finally finished Out of My Mind (Sharon M. Draper). I wanted to write about it again because, well, I finished it and I'm not sure I felt as passionately about it as so many of the reviews I had read before. The subject matter was fascinating - the idea that a very intelligent person could be trapped in a body that prevents them from sharing their intelligence really makes you stop and think about some of the kiddos we come across. Are we underestimating them? If they could communicate, what would they say? How can we provide them with opportunities to show what they know? Definitely transformative thoughts to be had there.
At the same time, I just didn't really love the book. I found many of the terms used to be quite dated ("way cool", "that's what's up"), which made the book feel a bit stilted. I also think that many of my students would have trouble connecting to the students in this book; in many ways it felt like an adult's interpretation of how kids behave and what they say. Finally, the climax (which I won't spoil for you) felt forced; possible, yes, but not very likely. All in all, I loved the concept of this book and think it could spark some very interesting discussions; ultimately, however, it fell a bit flat for me.
Continuing on in the intermediate vein, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen was another one that I finally finished this week. Much older than Out of My Mind, it didn't feel nearly as dated. The mystery was very well played out and the storylines came together in a really fun way. Definitely worth the read, with some great themes - environmental issues, development and being the new kid. Be on the look out for the 2006 movie of the same name to share with your students.
Two final book-related (but not actual book) items that I wanted to share with you: 1) a beautiful list of quotes pulled from classic children's literature that popped up on my Facebook feed this weekend and 2) a list of book recommendations for holiday gift-giving from Momastery (she's got other gift items on there too, I just love that she polled her family for book suggestions!). Enjoy!
Sometimes, getting your students to think outside the box can be a bit of a challenge. Perspective is hard for all of us, and having little prior knowledge or life experience can make it even more challenging. These next few books are some of my new favorite finds for "thinking Big".
If the World Were a Village - By David J. Smith and Illustrated by Steve Adams
"If the World Were a Village" is one of my new found favorites. It takes BIG concepts and relates them to easy to visualize representations. It's comparisons of the amount of water on the planet honestly shocked me as did the pictoral representation of the division of wealth and food on the planet. The pictures are fabulous and the ideas are transformative even for us adults. It is full of excellent thoughts and ideas and will be a great book to use for transformation and questioning!
I Wonder - By Annaka Harris and Illustrated by John Rowe
"I Wonder" is another great book full of big ideas. It introduces Big Ideas but leaves them with a lot of unanswered questions (and room to discover their own). This book does a great job of introducing big concepts and teaching students to wonder. The little girl in the story asks a lot of questions and her mom does an excellent job fostering the wonder. This would be a great introduction to "Questioning" and ends with the question "What do you wonder about?". I can see a lesson forming already with a great lead in to possible research, classroom discussions and brainstorming! The illustrations in this book are incredible and a picture walk through this book would bring some incredible predictions. This really is a great addition to any classroom library.
If You Find a Rock - By Peggy Christian and Photographs by Barbara Hirsch Lember
"If You Find a Rock" is a great introduction into seeing more than what is right in front of you. It's descriptions of different kinds of rocks is imaginative and the photographs which accompany it are beautiful. This book is full of whimsy and imagination and I love the idea of introducing the students to opening their eyes to the possibilities of something as simple as a stone. Taking your students on a rock hunt after reading this story would bring a whole world of possibilities. The writing activity afterwards following this same pattern would also be a great way of extending their thinking! I know I will now look at rocks differently after reading this story!!
All four of these books are excellent books for teaching questioning. The Big Ideas leave lots and lots of room for questions and they are great springboards for other lessons whether it be research or writing.
For the first time since we started participating in #IMWAYR, we missed it. Boo. To be fair, we didn't technically miss it. Kristi wrote a post and thought she published it but the spinning wheel of death had other ideas, so no post was actually published. Argh. So frustrating (for her, mainly. She did all of the work. I am merely the reporter).
As fate would have it however, that night I came across a Facebook post written by a wonderful and talented kindergarten teacher that we know listing her top picks for books about Remembrance Day. The conversation at that point went a little something like this:
Me: Wow, these are great! Want to do a guest blog post this week?
Her: Um, not so much, no.
Me: Oh. Well, can I steal your ideas then?
So now we have a blog post. Yay! And all of the credit goes to the fabulous, somewhat anonymous kindergarten teacher who let me use her ideas. Thanks, lady. Much appreciated. These books are wonderful ways to introduce the bigger meaning behind Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day can be a hard one for kids. The events that led to its creation happened so long ago that even their grandparents likely have difficulty remembering them. Without military personnel in the family (or direct experience with war, as some refugee students may have), even the concept of war seems distant and nebulous. Yet, we ask our students for their quietest, solemnest behaviour. We ask them to wear poppies and make wreaths and listen to speeches that honour an event that happened a very long time ago. We ask them to behave in ways that we rarely ask our students to behave, understanding that it will be difficult for them but knowing that it matters. It matters because in many places around the world the bigger meaning behind Remembrance Day still hangs in the balance and that is what we need our students to understand, that is what we need them to remember. So share these books, these words, with them. Use these books to spark discussions that lead to a bigger understanding, to help them understand how important the message of Remembrance Day is. Share with them the importance of remembering.
Lest We Forget.
A Bear in War - Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat. A beautiful story that explores what happens in families separated by war, it is based on the letters, the teddy and other war memorabilia found by the granddaughter of Lawrence Browning Rogers, a Canadian soldier who fought in the First World War. This one is guaranteed to make you cry.
A Poppy is to Remember - Heather Patterson. This book explains the symbolism behind the poppy and is beautifully illustrated by Ron Lightburn. Another Canadian book, it also includes information about Canada's military endeavours and the poem, In Flander's Fields. A great one to help explain why we wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.
What does Peace feel like? - Vladimir Radunsky. This book brings the concept of peace to life by exploring what children think peace looks like, tastes like, smells like, feels like. Great for making connections and as a jumping off point for writing, the responses given by kids range from simple to quite deep and complex. Also fascinating is the list of ways to say peace in well over 100 languages, allowing you to explore the idea of global peace and what that might mean and look like.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion - Jane Barclay. Another beautiful story, this one explores the idea of war in a way that is at once fun and realistic for young kids. Most kids will learn about war by asking questions of those older than them, particularly grandparents and great-grandparents, so this story, of a young boy asking his grandfather questions about the war, will resonate with them. At the same time, the imagery that the grandfather uses to describe his feelings about the war come to life in the imagination of the young boy (and the illustrations in the book).
Thank you to my ghost writer on this one - your contributions are much appreciated! I'll get you guest blogging soon enough!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!