I have not participated in It's Monday What Are You Reading? in a very long time but lately I have found myself missing this community of readers. I have been following the lovely Carrie Gelson's blog (thereisabookforthat.com) for quite awhile now and she has been drawing me back with her wonderful descriptions of new books (and the way she shares them in her classroom; I would love to be a learner in her room). I have also been doing a lot of reading lately and want to share it. So, here we are, back to joining #IMWAYR.
I always like to have a theme to my #IMWAYR posts. Themes help me organize my thoughts and bring cohesion to my final product - whether that is a blog post, a birthday party or a new unit I am prepping for a class. While choosing a theme can sometimes be a process (I'm looking at you birthday parties!), more often than not themes seem to gradually make themselves known to me until they are so obvious that I can no longer ignore them. In this case, the theme comes from the recent movie release of Wonder, an adaptation of the book by R.J. Palacio.
Wonder (R.J. Palacio) - A truly transformational read, Wonder tells the story of a young boy who, due to a severe facial deformity, has been home-schooled his whole life. Now, in Gr. 5, his parents have enrolled him in public school. As Auggie negotiates life in middle school we learn not just about him but about all of the people around him and all of the ways that his condition touch their lives. Much like the books below, this book is a fabulous gateway to discussing differences, kindness, bullying and more. With the addition of the movie it becomes even more accessible to our young readers.
Highly Illogical Behavior (John Corey Whaley) - Just finished this one and really enjoyed it. I will put out there right off the bat that, although this is a book that could be read at the middle school level, there are a few swear words and a fair bit of discovering your sexuality (no sex scenes but lots of talk about it), so I wouldn't recommend it for general consumption below Gr. 9 (aside: we were chatting the other day at a district gifted/enrichment meeting about needing to allow some precocious readers to read above their pay grade. Some kids are ready for this material earlier than others and, with parent permission, that's a-ok). Anyway, back to the book. Highly Illogical Behavior nails the teenage characters in all of their awkwardness and enthusiasm; they are stereotypical but with just enough of a twist that they are endearing - the highly-driven keener (with a dysfunctional family), the jock (who loves Star Trek and is reluctant in the bedroom), the lovable Star Trek fan (who hasn't left the house in 3 years). The premise - that of an agoraphobic teen who hasn't stepped foot outside of his house in 3 years - and the journey the characters embark on together is rich fodder for classroom discussions about differences, mental illness, helping others, friendships and more. Definitely a book worth sharing!
A Mango-Shaped Space (Wendy Mass) - What a wonderful book! A Mango-Shaped Space takes a look at a young girl with synesthesia, a condition that causes her to see colours for letters and words. I loved the way this book explored the way Mia's feelings about her condition develop and change; nothing felt forced or awkward about Mass' portrayal of a teen coming to grips with who she is and who she wants to be. I can definitely see many kids making lots of connections to this book! Much like Highly Illogical Behavior, this is a great choice for discussing differences, loss and friendships.
Out of My Mind (Sharon M. Draper) - I've blogged about this one (and my I'm-not-so-sure-I-loved-it feeling) 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.
The Honest Truth (Dan Gemeinhart) - This is a heart-breaking book (expect tears!) about a boy who decides that he is too much of a burden for his family and friends, so he runs away to fulfill a dream or die trying. Told from his point of view and that of his best friend, Jessie, we get a clear picture of two very different perspectives on the same event. Well-written for the middle grades but be aware that the content is pretty heavy and there are some dark scenes. Again, though, another great book for exploring friendships, differences, illness, dreams and more.
I can imagine using all of these books in a themed (of course) lit circle, along with classics like The Outsiders. The rich conversations that all of these books will inevitably spark are so enticing! Stay tuned for a differences-themed lit circle task cards unit that I am working on...any of these books would be a perfect fit.
Have a wonderful week!
After a relaxing and restful 2 week Spring Break, we jumped right back in to the thick of things today. The great thing about Spring Break, other than that it's a break from the day-to-day busy-ness, is that I have time to power through some longer reads that otherwise take me forever to get through. So this edition of #IMWAYR is dedicated to some of the bigger books I read over the past 2 weeks, with a few picture books thrown in for good measure.
The Joy Of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World (Christina Crook) - Full disclosure: this book is written by a friend of mine. If it weren't however, I might still have come across it as it is getting some pretty major press exposure these days (NY Times, CTV Morning News, CBC, Psychology Today - wow!). The book explores our complex and often addictive relationship with technology, an exploration driven by Crook's 30-day internet fast (chronicled at Letters from a Luddite). At once well-researched and intimate, Crook's book exhorts us to put down our phones, tablets and computers and reconnect with the people that really matter - those immediately around us. She encourages us to slow down, to live in the moment, to take the time to see and feel and listen, to be present. This book is one of a growing number of books, blogs and websites that focus on the idea of living in the now and is well worth the read.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) - Although Wild bears no similarity to JOMO in writing style or subject matter, it nonetheless focuses on the same idea - getting the heck out of Dodge (literally or figuratively) in order to find "rest, stillness and attentiveness" (JOMO). Unlike JOMO, this is not a researched piece of writing; it is a painful, funny, intimate memoir of someone who was headed right off the rails and rescued themselves in a drastic and rash manner. More Eat, Pray, Love than Hands-Free Mama, Wild was a great beach read.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie) - This book lived up to everything I had read about it - wonderful, depressing, maddening, hopeful. The tone in which the book is written is light, belying the tragedies that come fast and furious throughout. While reading it, I could not but help thinking of some of the families that we encounter in our teaching lives and the tough row they have to hoe. Definitely a great read for high school but some of the themes are probably a bit too mature for middle school.
Tilly the Trickster (Molly Shannon) - Another book purchased because we were going to see the play, Tilly the Trickster is perfect for April Fool's Day! Tilly loves to play tricks, most of which are harmless fun. But as her tricks begin to adversely affect more and more people around, Tilly begins to question whether or not they are such a great idea. The only thing that I don't love about this book is the ending but it could lead to some great discussions about how our actions affect other people and what we should do about that.
Stranded (Jeff Probst & Chris Tebbets) - Playing on the success of the Survivor TV show, this series follows 4 kids stranded on a deserted island. A fun read for 7-12 year olds who love adventure books and are looking for an easier read than Rick Riordan or Gordon Korman. This one gets high marks from Kristi's son!
Once again, I didn't get this out on a Monday but I did it and I appreciate everyone who let me know that they're happy I'm doing it even if it doesn't happen exactly on Monday! Hope you had or are looking forward to a wonderful, restful spring break!
In the Town All Year Round (Rotraut Susanne Berner) - This book was a gift from friends a few years ago and still hasn't grown old. Following the lives and antics of a fun cast of characters through 4 seasons in a small town, this book is like a grown-up Where's Waldo? Each season is prefaced with a brief explanation of what some of the characters are up to this season; the rest is left up to you and your imagination! We often choose just one or two characters to look for and then spend the rest of the time discovering new aspects of each picture. Great for observation skills, this book would be a great addition to your classroom silent/buddy reading library or as a teacher-led small group activity focusing on observation and oral language skills.
Hands Off My Honey (Jane Chapman) - At first I thought this book was part of Karma Wilson's Bear series; the illustrations are very reminiscent of her books. This story, however, does not have the same rhythm as one of Wilson's; nonetheless, it is a very cute read with a surprising twist at the end. A great choice for teaching little ones about the joy of sharing, what it means to be a friend and appropriate play (Why does everyone think this is a fun game when Bear is being so scary?).
My Blue is Happy (Jessica Young) - This wonderful little book has so much potential in the classroom; I can't wait to take it for a spin! It explores the emotions we attach to colours, highlighting the fact that different colours "feel" different to each of us. A great book for exploring differences, making connections and creating writing based on the book. The only disappointment is that the book has the rhythm of a rhyming book but it doesn't actually rhyme!
Teach Like A PIRATE (David Burgess) - Despite it's very intriguing title, this book hasn't exactly wowed me. That being said, the underlying premise of increasing student engagement is of fundamental importance and one that I think gets harder and harder as our students' attention becomes more media focused. This book is worth the read if you are looking for ways to diversify or change up your presentation methods and would make a good school-wide book study if you have a few staff members who need some help moving beyond the old stand and deliver. Be forewarned, however, that while it is an easy read, the writing style is not as polished as some of the other options in the professional development category.
Happy reading this week!
One of my favourite things about Christmas is the fresh new stack of books that I know will be waiting for me under the tree. I wait in delicious anticipation for the moment that I get to unwrap the adventures that await me over the course of the next year (or at least until my birthday!). To me a book is one of the most thoughtful and personal gifts you can give; knowing that the giver spent time perusing the multitude of books to find just the right one makes me deeply happy. In turn, I love choosing just the right book for each person on my list, considering their interests, reading styles and so much more to find the one that fits. If all I gave and all I got for Christmas were books (and love, lots of love), I would be one happy mama!
Since it's not always easy to sift through all of the options available, we thought we would bring you our 2014 Book Giving Guide. We hope it helps you find just the right book for each person on your list!
I am Malala (Young Readers Edition) - Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick. A very well crafted account of the life & work of Malala Yousafzai, 17 year old winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. A must-read for all kids who are even remotely interested in social justice issues and world events. 9-15 years old.
The Seven Realms Series - Cinda Williams Chima. Looking for a new series for the fantasy fan on your list? Look no further - The Seven Realms Series is perfect! Magic, royalty and adventure blend together in to a wonderful read. 12-17 years old.
The Book With No Pictures - BJ Novak. Looking for something that is just plain fun? You can't beat this book for it's silly, completely ridiculous, giggle inducing text. We will be buying one for all the kids on our list! 3-9 years old
Press Here - Herve Tullet . This book is whimsical and fun for kids of all ages. Consider pairing it with the latest from the same author - Mix It Up. 3-5 years old
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site - Sherri Duskey Rinker. For the younger readers on your list, this book is a wonderful bedtime read. The rhyming text leads you through the process of putting all the big machines at the construction site to bed in a peaceful, soothing manner. One of my youngest daughter's favourites. 3-5 years old
My Brave Year of Firsts - Jamie Lee Curtis. If you have a child on your gift list who is in kindergarten or grade one, this book is a fabulous choice. Chock-full of connections for all those firsts they run in to in those early years. 4-9 years old.
Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect - Andrea Beaty. Love, love, love these books! The rhyme scheme is fun and the message of perserverance and passion (not to mention women in STEM!) is fantastic! 3-9 years old
The Most Magnificent Thing - Ashley Spires. Another great choice for the budding engineer on your list, with a powerful message of perserverance and success. 3-9 years old
What Does it Mean to Be Present - Rana DiOrio. An amazing present for both adults and children alike. In our busy world it reminds us what it means to enjoy where we are and take every moment as a gift! 5-10 years old
Ish - Peter H. Reynolds. A great little book which teaches us that its ok to try and be "ish". Peter Reynolds does an amazing job of teaching the power of our words. A great book for teaching inference or just a cute read. 3-9 years old
The Way I Feel - Janan Cain. This book is a great one for young kids and is especially helpful for parents looking to help kids identify and deal with some of their big emotions. The bright, colourful drawings draw kids in and the words open the door to bigger conversations about feelings. 3-9 years old
Tap the Magic Tree - Christie Matheson. A fun, interactive book that needs to be shaken, wiggled and touched! Great fun for little ones! 3-5 years old
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!
The final countdown is on. Report cards are finished, the Christmas concert is mere hours away and exhaustion is showing on everyone's faces. The last week before winter holidays is always one of high emotion in an elementary school - most kids are excited but some are worried, stressed and anxious about the days ahead. What everyone needs, in and amongst all the fun and excitement, is a moment of calm; an oasis, no matter how brief, from the high that everyone is running on.
The last week is also one of flagging energy for many teachers, myself included. I have been sitting here for quite awhile, trying to come up with a list of soothing books to read to your class or your kids to calm them down at this busy time of year but to be honest, I am struggling. So in that spirit, I have one book that I really want to share with you, one that might just help calm things down for a moment, in your class or at home. After that, take a cue from my husband who, when asked which books he found most soothing, replied "Any book I have read a thousand times."
Switching on the Moon, A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems (collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters) - These wonderful poems, arranged in three categories - Going to Bed, Sweet Dreams and In The Night - are soft, soothing and wonderfully calming. This collection is a refreshing break from your usual collection of Mother Goose nursery rhymes or school readers. A gift from my parents to my oldest daughter, this book has given us many quiet moments curled up on the couch.
Hoping that the last week treats you well and that you enjoy a well-deserved holiday with family and friends!
In the lead up to my husband's Christmas party (part of which we hosted) last week, we pulled out the decorations and, more importantly, all of our Christmas books. As fate would have it, my parents also brought the girls a new Christmas book so we continue to add to our collection - yay! Since my kids can't yet read this, I can also safely reveal that we will be adding several more to our collection in the next few days as part of our Countdown to Christmas. We lost our refillable advent calendar somewhere between here and last Christmas so I scanned Pinterest (of course!) and found these three great ideas (click images to follow links):
I've added a gift/treat/activity element to the blessings jar, including lots of books and most of the activities on the Christmas Bucket List, and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, I have a new Christmas tradition. So far, the kiddos seem to like it, so that's a win for me!
So, with all of these Christmas books floating around the house, it seemed only fitting to share them with you. Here are some new picks and old favourites:
A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Helaine Becker) - Canadiana at it's Christmas finest! This book is a hilarious version of the popular song, complete with Canadian cliches galore. My favourite? The ten Leafs-a-leaping...but never quite reaching... the 5 Stanley Cups. Awesome, just awesome. Perfect for all the Canucks on your list!
Dashing Through the Snow (Helaine Becker) - Porcupine is back in another healthy dose of Christmas in Canada. Although not quite as cheeky as the first book, this one is still a lot of fun as the uber-Canadian animals try to figure out which present belongs to whom. The illustrations in this one include beautiful backgrounds representative of the Canadian north, something which was not there in the first book. If I had to choose, I think I would pick the first one as my top choice but I certainly am happy we own both!
The Christmas Birthday Story (Margaret Laurence) - This one may be a little unfair to share, as it is out of print. If you can get your hands on a copy, however, you will be rewarded with a wonderfully told version of the birth of Jesus, a version which focuses on the family, the travel and the birth of the baby rather than the religious aspects of the story. The writing is wonderful and soothing and the illustrations are stunning, simply rendered line drawings coloured with bold, beautiful colours. One of my favourite Christmas books. I'm thrilled that my parents saved it to allow me to pass it along to my kids. Thanks mom and dad!
The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg) - This classic Christmas story is one of my favourites. I have read it to children of all ages and have always been able to hear a pin drop while I do; kids love the magic and mystery of this book and it's illustrations, which are just stunning. I have yet to see the movie and may never do so; this book is just so magical to me that I fear wrecking it if I see the movie. If I read nothing else at Christmas other than this and The Christmas Birthday Story, I would be happy.
The Christmas Orange (Don Gillmore) - I must confess I have yet to read this one but it comes highly recommended by Kristi, so that makes it a must-read this year! It's the story of a greedy young boy who hands Santa an extraordinarily long Christmas list, only to find a single orange under the tree come Christmas Day. Being the charming child that he is, he sues Santa and in the process discovers the true meaning of Christmas. I am looking forward to sharing this one because every year the onslaught of presents feels overwhelming to me (especially with little ones) and I silently crave a simpler, less materialistic season that focuses on family, friends, peace and joy.
Note - The Christmas Orange has been made in to a made for TV movie (released in 2002) and an adaptation featuring Al Simmons, filmed in Manitoba (find it here).
Snowmen at Christmas (Caralyn Buehner) - This fun book takes a peek at holiday traditions from a snowman's perspective - caroling, tree trimming, dancing and singing all take place while people sleep snug in their beds. The rhyming text is fun and the illustrations are quite cute. Perhaps not a Christmas classic, but certainly a fun addition to your collection.
It's Christmas, David! (David Shannon) - Who can resist the mischievous little David, especially as he runs down the street bare naked?! Shannon's portrayal of what a young child might hear at Christmas time is spot on, especially for little monkeys like my almost-3-year-old. The heartwarming ending to this book reminds me of how tiring the holidays can be for wee ones and how important it is to remember to say Yes to them more often than we say No, even if it's just a simple reframing of our answer. Once again, David is a winner.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
We blew it again. Last week, Monday came and Monday went. Neither Kristi nor I managed to eke out a measly blog post. Chalk it up to being busy moms with busy personal and professional lives. Chalk it up to an unexpected meeting that got dropped in during the time Kristi had allotted to writing the post. Chalk it up to, well, life.
Life, as busy as it may be, always holds moments of time that can be repurposed or multi-purposed, freed up for things other than that for which they were intended. Which is how I find myself writing this when I don't really have the time. Multi-tasking as I wait for my youngest to fall asleep. I've been really thrilled lately to have received several compliments on our blog, a few (surprisingly, to me anyway) from non-teacher friends. So I feel like these stolen moments are important moments; I'm no longer writing just for me (which was fine, I enjoy doing it) but for others who are reading it too. Wow! So no matter how late, no matter how busy, I want to get something down, for me and for you. Thanks for reading!
Lots of professional reading going on this week but we'll throw in a couple of picture books to round it out.
Bear Says Thanks (Karma Wilson). I love all of the Bear books. Their rhyme and rhythm is so wonderful, I could read them over and over again (which is good, because my kids love to do just that!). Recent events in the world and in my own life have reminded me of how important it is to be thankful for the little things and this book is just perfect for that. Kind-hearted Bear discovers that, even though his cupboards are bare, he still has something wonderful to offer his friends, just as they have something to offer him. A beautiful book to use simply as a read-aloud, this book could also spark discussion about materialism, gift-giving and the importance of being thankful. A definite must-read.
Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success (Regie Routman). I've had the pleasure of hearing Regie speak when she came to Kelowna last year so when this book was presented as an option at a recent in-service I was excited to read it. The thing that struck me the most about this book was the focus on changing the culture of your entire school, from principal right down to student, to embrace literacy success. While this might seem to be rather obvious based on the title of the book, Routman's book goes deeper than just strategies and structures; beginning with establishing the communally held beliefs (even if, as she says, you can only agree on one!) of your staff about education, Routman charts a course towards a place where every teacher believes that every child will learn to read and does everything they can to make it so. Although not as easy and enjoyable a read as Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild, Read, Write, Lead is an excellent choice for instructional coaches, principals and other teacher-leaders looking to forge a way towards excellence in literacy instruction in their schools.
If I Built a House - Chris Van Dusen. One of the most powerful structures that we have in place at our school is deliberate chunks of time set aside for collaboration. Called, simply, collab blocks, these are two blocks per week where Kristi and I have intentionally scheduled nothing; this allows one (or both!) of us to cover a classroom teacher so that that teacher can meet with whomever they need to - usually one of us, since we do a lot of co-teaching, but occasionally with their grade partner. We have found this time to be invaluable to ensuring a responsive and flexible support schedule for our kiddos, allowing us to meet their needs quickly and accurately. What it also means is that one of us is frequently called upon to deliver a somewhat impromptu literacy lesson (that, or cover centres in Kindergarten, cringe). This is how, just the other day, I found myself reading If I Built a House to a rather large group of Gr. 2s and 3s. What fun! We talked about visualization, imagined what the rooms would look like if the book had no pictures (which, as a total aside, is a book I would love to read to this group!) and then got to draw out the rooms we would have in the houses we would build. Fun was had by all; I think I'd like to go back and do If I Built A Car!
Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On K-2 (Debbie Diller). This is a book filled with practical strategies and ready-to-use activities for setting up math stations in your classrooms. I picked it up as part of our staff professional reading lit circle in the hopes that it would give me (and my co-teacher) some great ideas for the math pit. In reality, it has not been a great fit for us because it focuses on K-2 (I know, I know. It's in the title! I had hoped that some of the activities could be repurposed for older kids) and uses a somewhat different definition of stations than we do in the Lit Pit/Math Pit. That being said, there are tons of great ideas and activities in here if you do teach K-3 and prefer more of a centers-based approach to stations (Diller pairs students up and allows them, in a guided fashion, to choose their activity, rather than run stations on a small-group rotation basis.) or if you are just starting to explore the idea of math learning stations. I love that she guides you through everything, right down to the purchase and storage of your materials. I also love that most of the strategies can be implemented right away with very little work - as far as I'm concerned, that right there is worth the price of admission!
Thanks again for reading! Still filled with gratitude that others are taking the time out of their day to read what we write.
First off, I imagine it's rather apparent by now that Bryn and I are a sucker for books. In fact, our husbands would say slightly obsessed. So even though I am really attempting to not spend my entire pay check on kids books I was drawn to a couple of great new titles at my children's Scholastic Book Fair at their school. I admit I am drawn to the covers of books. I know it's not a good idea to judge a book by it's cover but I can't help it, I'm visual.
Nightsong - Written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long. The Book Nightsong was new to me, in fact I've never heard of it before (or seen it for that matter) but it captured my attention. In reading it it captured my heart. It is a beautiful story of a bat and its mother. It touches on some beautiful underlying themes (of common sense, intuition and separation) and has some great bat facts! On the back it says "Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you." This quote would be a great springboard for this book. I can't wait to see what my students think this quote means. Admittedly it made me think, "What is the song I sing into the world and what song am I hearing?" I'll let you know how the lesson goes in another post.
Bear Sees Colors - Written by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. Bear sees Colors is a cute book that lends itself to a great writing activity. It's rhythmic pattern would be easy to recreate and have students come up with their own text. In our Writing Station we are doing lots of work on the building blocks of sentences, so this book lends itself perfectly to our study of adjectives (and word choice!). The pictures and the words are captivating to little audiences!
hello! hello! written by Matthew Cordell. Hello! Hello! is an incredibly intelligent book. With little language (much like the book Hug by Jez Alborough) there is tons of room for inference and, in today's technology obsessed world, more connections than we would probably like to admit. There have been a number of books written lately about being "present" where we are and this is another great one. This book will illicit some great conversation and I am very intrigued to hear what my "phone toting" students have to say about it!
Born from the Heart - By Berta Serrano. There aren't many books that can bring me to tears with just the title. But this is one of them. My family is made up of three incredible children. My oldest daughter is my born from the heart daughter. I met her when she was five and I started dating her dad. From that moment on I have told her she was born in my heart, not my belly. She is now 17 and I know the love you feel for your children is not determined on whether or not they grew on your inside. This book is an incredibly beautiful illustration of that journey. This book also hits close to my heart as two of our dear friends are in the process to adopt. This process is so incredibly beautifully illustrated here and would be a beautiful book to read to classes of students and show just one more way a family can be born. Thank you Berta Serrano for so beautifully illustrating the song in my heart!!
This past week Kristi and I got to sit down with the teachers we will be working with throughout first term and hash out what exactly that will look like. I love this collaborative time; I get so excited to be trying new things and love the energy and learning that goes on when we put our heads together. It is truly one of my favourite parts of the overall shift in how we "do" learning assistance at our school (more on that here, if you're curious). Inevitably, many of the teachers I work with want to focus on literacy, often based on the book Reading Power by Adrienne Gear (Adrienne, coincidentally, was just in Kelowna to talk to us about lit circles. Perfect timing!). Frequently, these teachers would also like me to model a lesson or two before we dive right in to co-teaching; twist my rubber arm, I say. So today, as I was working through my plans for these first few lessons, I pulled out a few of my favourite Reading Power books and thought I would share them here with you too!
Je Reve en Couleurs (Sophie Rondeau) - It was brought to my attention that we have not featured any books in French on #IMWAYR. If you are not a French Immersion teacher it's hard to appreciate how difficult finding resources and books can be and how imperative it is to share anything you find. So, given the nudge by our new (and fabulous!) librarian, I am going to try and feature more books in French here on the blog (I'm headed to a book fair next week so will hopefully stock up the collection!). Please, if you know any French Immersion teachers, let them know so that we can all share the wealth.
Back to the book. I stumbled upon Je Reve en Couleurs while looking for some other resources on the Scolartek website. What a find! This book has the most wonderful descriptions, using language that is at once rich and accessible (the meaning of most unfamiliar vocabulary can be easily inferred from the picture or sentence). I use this one for visualization and then generally spill it over in to some writing lessons about word choice. Last year, we had our students create their own pages for a book "in the style of...". The kids loved it and we loved it! Wish this one came in English too!
Jessie's Island (Sheryl MacFarlane) - This is a beautiful book, full of powerful imagery. I use this one in much the same way I use Je Reve en Couleurs; linking visualizing and word choice to create powerful learning in reading and writing. There are so many senses that are stimulated by this book so I like to use it to talk about how visualizing can be more than just pictures in your head; that it can be sounds and smells and feelings too. Provided you live near the ocean, this book provides countless opportunities for connection too; if your students have never seen the ocean, use it to get at that idea of how connections help us understand a book.
Of course, there are many, many more books that Kristi and I love to use to teach literacy skills. The ones I've featured here are the ones that I went back to today, that fit with the lessons that the classroom teachers and I have decided we want to do, that are some of my go-to favs. We would love to hear about some of your go-to books - we are always looking for great new ideas!
I just have to begin today's post by sharing with you this image:
Isn't that just lovely?
Kristi and I are always tweaking thing in The Lit Pit and we just set this up today! We are super excited to be able offer our students such easy access to such a wide variety of wonderful books; books they helped us choose (yes, that's why there's a cookbook displayed right up on top there) and books we hope will help grow their love of reading.
Of course, that's why we're all here, isn't it? To share the gems that we as educators just can't keep quiet about, that make us as excited as we know they will make the kids. It is truly wonderful to be part of such a great community!
Our picks for this week are all about the magic of reading:
The Water Hole (Graeme Base) - What a fascinating book! From the beautiful illustrations, to the curious hole in the centre of the book, to the creative text, this book begs to be explored over and over again. And it truly is an exploration; part fiction, part non-fiction, The Water Hole takes readers on a journey through life at a watering hole, with hidden pictures, an ever shrinking hole in the pages and the mystery of whether or not the water will return propelling readers forward. With fairly obvious social studies and science tie-ins, as well as the sheer pleasure of just looking at the images, this book is a great addition both to your arsenal of personal favourites and to your classroom library.
Press Here (Herve Tullet) - In a world where most kids know how to make something change colour, shape and size instantly with just the swipe of their finger, this book comes along and changes things up. With a little bit of imagination and a press, a shake, a blow and a tilt, readers are transported in to world where a book behaves just like an iPad, only a bit different. Watch as the dots change size, shape and number, all because you followed a few simple instructions. Just try to not smile while you're reading this fun little book! Keep an eye out for the sequel, Mix It Up, that just came out in September.
Tap the Magic Tree (Christie Matheson) - Similar to Press Here (Herve Tullet), this is a book that needs to be touched, shaken, wiggled and jiggled! As you follow the directions given in the book, you discover a tree changing through the seasons, starting with a bare brown tree. Lots of fun for little ones, who will want to "play" with the book over and over again. A great introduction to a unit on the seasons, with some very cool writing lessons thrown in for good measure (especially if you paired it with Press Here). I love books that beg to be played with!
Flotsam (David Weisner) - This captivating wordless book has it all - adventure, intrigue, mystery and delight. A young boy, searching for treasures at the beach, discovers a washed up underwater camera. Upon developing the film (a bit of explanation may be needed there!), what he discovers is nothing short of incredible. The illustrations are so detailed that you could look at them for hours, pouring over each detail and imagining new and ever-changing scenarios. Wonderful to just look at on it's own, this book would also be great for inference (as most wordless books are), prediction and as a set of story starters for some pretty imaginative stories!
Reading can be a great adventure, you just need to choose the right books!
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!