Slice of Life Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Dream

4 Comments

Slice of Life Small LogoI’m looking out the classroom window; the sun is bright overhead.

My head is spinning in dreams; Dreams take over my day.

Daylight, vitamin D. I need this day to be over!

“Over the river and through the woods…” Wait! It’s not Thanksgiving, but it is a holiday.

Holidays are meant for sharing.   valentineweather2017classroom

I’m sharing Valentine’s love with my family from far away.

Away I go…Ah! Back to class!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMWAYR: Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Leave a comment

Another book I finished in a few days’ time! Dan Gemeinhart is a storyteller. scarislandbook

Scar Island is the story of some troubled boys, sent to the Slabhenge Reformatory School for their “crimes.” The setting is Alcatraz-like — dark, stormy, etc. The adults are less than welcoming to the young characters. They are weird creeps, dangerous villains. Then an accident — leaving the boys to their own devices. Is that a good thing? Who can be trusted? What will happen when they are “free?” It seems that everyone on the island is doomed. Is this what the boys deserve? A modern twist on a “Lord-of-the-Flies” tale makes readers stay up late at night to finish Gemeinhart’s current GREAT read. Of course, I love it that there’s a librarian at this “school,” creepy as it is.

 

It’s Monday; What Are You Reading? (IMWAYR) — March: Book One

Leave a comment

marchbookonecoverIn elementary school I learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I read about his calm demeanor, listened to his moving speeches, and learned about a dark time in my American history. However, I felt like I was hearing only parts of a bigger story; there was something missing. From the time I was in middle school, I acknowledged that civil rights was (and is) a hard-fought battle of minds and bodies, but it still seemed all too easy. One week there was segregation, and then one week there wasn’t anymore? A little colored girl finally got to go to a white school? A lady refused to move from her seat on a bus? I knew I wasn’t hearing everything. I read newspaper articles and archives, and watched movies about history and they way the world used to be before my time. I’m so happy to have found that our current generation of young readers have more answers than I did when I was their age. I’ve been inspired by the work of John Lewis and many other non-violent leaders of our country’s history. Now I will spread the news to others through Mr. Lewis’ books, the March trilogy. I read March: Book One today for the first time.

Riveting! Please read it. Then pick up the other two books, as well. (If you bought the set, you’re on your way!) John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell tell the gripping true stories of life in America, as they happened.

 

 

marchbookonelibrarianpage49

 

Bonus! March: Book Three won FOUR book awards today. What a fabulous day to be a reader!

marchbookthreehornbooktweet

(Photos from my copy of March: Book One include the cover and page 49. Photo of The Horn Book tweet from Jan. 23, 2017 on Twitter.)

Writing for the Nerdy Book Club! My Post Today: Book Review

Leave a comment

I have problems. You have problems. Our world has problems. Did you know penguins also have problems? I read many books in the year 2016, but Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith is one of the few books I labeled “5-Star Status.” Everyone loves penguins, right? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s not the only reason you should pick up this picture book masterpiece.
penguinproblemsfrontpicpenguinproblemstitle
Jory John and Lane Smith are a talented and humorous team. Before you even open the book, you notice that it’s backwards – the title page is actually on the back of the book. The front of the book is visual penguin pattern overload with a twist. Children and adults alike will try to peel the sticker that looks like a gift tag. But don’t! You won’t want to ruin the cover of your new book. The gift of reading fun continues inside the book.
The front cover flap introduces a penguin who bets the reader that he/she won’t finish. Who wants to read a book about problems? Stop right there. Put the book down. You don’t really want to read this book. The end pages are solid black – uninteresting. I recommend turning the pages anyway – see what you find.
You find a penguin lying flat on a snow bank. This lovable, yet annoying main character tells you, the reader, all about all his problems. It’s amazing how many problems penguins have! As you giggle (because these problems become increasingly hilarious as the story continues) you realize that your own overwhelming problems are a matter of perspective. A new character tells the penguin that maybe if he just thinks about life in a different way, he’ll be okay. This is true for all of us.
The wonderfully simple, yet intricate illustrations in Penguin Problems show the texture of snow and cold, making the reader think that maybe this could be part nonfiction. Weaving facts into a fictional picture book story is a talent, and Jory John and Lane Smith nailed it. I turned each page several times to gaze at the snow, the penguins, the South Pole underwater creatures. My eyes squinted when the penguin complained, “It’s too bright out here,” and my eyes widened to follow the hunt as the penguin maneuvered his way through the dark sea.
Perspective is the name of the game in Penguin Problems. Everything from the general consensus that all penguins look alike (“Everybody looks the same as me” is one of the penguin’s complaints), to the humorous point that all penguins waddle (“See?”), to the enlightening message from a new friend, help lead the reader to a new way of thinking.
Think about picking up Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith for your winter reading enjoyment. I’m sure your own problems will melt away – at least for the duration of the reading!

 

Thank you to Colby Sharp, Donalyn Miller, and Cindy Beth Minnich for giving me the opportunity to spread the book love with you at the Nerdy Book Club!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Analyzing Books for Awards Season

4 Comments

Slice of Life Small LogoI love awards season! The Golden Globes hooked me on Sunday and reeled me into the bedroom so I could watch and not bother the other family members. I love the gowns, the tuxes, the speeches — all of it. I have a passion for awards. I now want to see all the movies and TV shows, and hear all the music that won those awards. It’s only natural, I think, to want to continue participating in the “buzz” that surrounds awards.

This is the same feeling I have when I read books that are considered for awards. I read list after list, recommendation after recommendation, to find the books that I consider noteworthy. I share books with my classes. I read books aloud, I talk about books, I show my students how books affect my life. That “buzz” is the passion that led me to take some time in class to teach a Mock Caldecott unit this year.  Wow! What an experience!

My students are actively engaged, in learning! Yes, we are meeting the standards. I can prove it: 6.RL.2.1 (Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text); 6.RN.2.3 (Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text); 6.RL.2.2 (Determine how a theme or central idea is conveyed through particular details…) Wow! Our experiences matter! caldecott_2017_classtop6

We narrowed the list to six books and we are voting this week. We took the criteria from the ALA/ALSC Caldecott Medal Terms and Criteria. We made lists. We ranked each point: 4 means “absolutely meets criteria”, 3 means “yes, meets criteria”, 2 means “maybe meets criteria”, and 1 means “nope.” (It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences in the two sections/classes, too.)

We will decide a winner on Thursday. Then we will watch on January 23rd as we find out if the real voters for the Caldecott Medal and Honors books will issue the same awards that we did. It’s going to be great! Just like learning should be.

 

It’s Monday; What Are You Reading? The Bad Guys: Episode 1

Leave a comment

I grabbed a copy of Aaron Blabey’s book, The Bad Guys, at NCTE, not thinking much of it. It’s a short graphic novel about a wolf, snake, shark, and piranha, who are usually cast as “bad guys” in stories. I got home and put the book in my much-too-tall pile of “To-Be-Reads” and went on with my life.

badguysbook2017

I decided to read the quick picks from my TBR pile last weekend because I wanted to get more books to school. As I read, I found many titles that were not as well-known or highly recommended, The Bad Guys being one of the them. I read it again today, and giggled and laughed, and placed the book in my bag for a couple of students who might love this little twist of a story.

Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads: “These guys have a reputation for being BAD: a wolf (Big Bad Wolf, to be exact), a snake, a piranha, and a shark. But Mr. Wolf wants to change all that. He wants to recruit his buddies to be The Good Guys. With the reader being the extra character, giggles and gasps become outright laughs as the new gang tries to save a poor kitten, stuck in a tree. Will they be able to leave their former lives behind and become HEROES?”

You’ll find out when you read it. Take a few minutes and spend time with these “bad guys.” Then pass the book along to a reader who loves fairy tales, or sharks, or even someone in class who says, “I don’t like to read.” You might just be surprised.

Book Review: The Storyteller

Leave a comment

Have you ever skipped a meal so you can read a book? I have, but if you haven’t yet, you might find yourself immersed in THE STORYTELLER — and you’d be okay with whatever else you missed. The Storyteller, by Evan Turk, is many tales weaved into one great story.

While I was reviewing book lists online to prepare myself for the upcoming Caldecott Medal awards on January 23, I came across a picture of The Storyteller. When I researched further, I found this Goodreads description of the book, and I had to read it: “Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together.”

storyteller_goodreads-pic

I always loved the art of storytelling: live performances in the city, reading of tales, such as The Arabian Nights, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, Readers’ Theater in school, all gave me the storytelling “bug.” I enjoyed a different kind of art — a dying art, it seems. I believe that The Storyteller will bring a renewed fascination to the art here in 2017. I certainly hope so!

Spreading culture through storytelling is a lost art, and this book brings hope that will overfill your cups and your soul.

Older Entries

literacious

A guide to getting kids excited about reading!

Let Me Shine

Sharing teaching and learning stories with fellow readers and writers

Burkins and Yaris

Just another WordPress.com site

Literacy Lenses

Just another WordPress.com site

Simply Inspired Teaching

A blog by Kari Yates

Reading to the Core

Just another WordPress.com site

Literacy & NCTE

The official blog of the National Council of Teachers of English

There's a Book for That

Where book love and the joy of a classroom community are shared

To Read To Write To Be

Thoughts on learning and teaching

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

A Teaching Life

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." Mark Van Doren

Pleasures from the Page

Sharing teaching and learning stories with fellow readers and writers

A Thinking Kind of Reading

A great WordPress.com site

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas and Resources

Fiction All Day

Writing and Life ~ by David Ben-Ami

The Reading Workshop

Sharing teaching and learning stories with fellow readers and writers

Raising a Literate Human

Join me on my journey to raise my daughter to read the word and read the world.

Murphy's Law

Musings from a Literacy Coach

Out of This World Literacy

Sharing teaching and learning stories with fellow readers and writers

One Grateful Teacher

Sharing teaching and learning stories with fellow readers and writers

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

heatherrader.com/

Conversations on learning, coaching and life

Christopher Lehman

Educational Consultant and Author Christopher Lehman's Blog

TWO WRITING TEACHERS

A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.