Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Book Review: Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

Consider this colorful picture book for your first days of school…for all ages and grades.

Yellows, Blues, and Reds live peacefully in a city, until one day, a Red declares, “Reds are the best!” The whole community is thrust into chaos — so much so that the three color groups must live apart, forming segregated neighborhoods. One day, Blue and Yellow are seen together with a new color…what will become of the union? In Mixed: A Colorful Story, Arree Chung shows us a world of colors, teaches us about tolerance, and how “mixing it up” might just be the best thing for everyone.

Why I Like This Book: My current school is a mix of old and new — students who have attended there and students who are now enrolled due to school closings and consolidation in our district. This is a perfect book to make students (and teachers) think about ways we can come together, and that being united is better than being alone.

Why You Should Read This Book: It’s colorful! (Hint: there’s an art lesson here — primary colors, secondary colors.) It includes simple and fun characters, but it also introduces a big message about communities that we all need.


Who Needs Words? A Series of Posts About Teaching Reading and Learning to Read

Slice of Life Small LogoPart 3: The Art of Comprehension

My art teacher friend, Trevor Bryan, showed me fabulous ways to look at art as comprehension of text. During my wordless picture book study in class, I first asked the students: “What IS text?”  As expected, most of them said, “Words,” or “Written down stories, feelings, or facts.” Then I read Flood, by Alvaro F. Villa. The students talked the entire time I read to them, asking questions and telling me the story as I turned the pages. When I got done, I closed the book and asked again, “So…what IS text? You said WORDS, but there were no words in the book.”

“Uh…Ah…But…”Wordless PB_Flood_Villa

Wait a minute! You mean to say that “text” is NOT “words?” We discussed at length what just happened.  We used the art to comprehend the story. With Mr. Bryan’s help, I led the students to discover patterns, view colors, and look at lines and shapes in new ways — to understand the story. A story without words.

To practice reading texts without words, I set the students off on their own (in groups and individually). They found details in the artwork, discovered patterns (also using Notice and Note signposts — see Parts 1 and 2 of this series), made connections, and talked about the evidence behind their thinking. Some students wrote their own words to go with the picture book, and read them to the class.

Our wordless picture book study turned into a great literacy experiment! Students were engaged in learning, talking, and enjoying books. And the writing after reading…I didn’t have to say a word.

You can learn more about the Art of Comprehension by following Trevor Bryan on Twitter. His Twitter handle  is @trevorabryan. Mr. Bryan also writes for with the hashtag, #4OCF.


IMWAYR: It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

I’d like to try this ritual. Each week, on Monday, people share what they are reading with the world through social media. The best part of my daily routine is sharing my love of reading and of memorable texts. I picked this up (and got my lifting workout done — this book is heavy!) at our school’s Scholastic Book Fair.

HPandSS2015illustratedThis is the new, illustrated, version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, and illustrated by Jim Kay. I read the original book years ago. I loved the story of Harry and his quest to find out where he came from, who he really is, and why he is special.

This book is gorgeous! I played with the red ribbon bookmark while I checked out at the cashier, and I continue to run my hand over the cover even now; it’s just stunning! The owl, Harry gazing up, the smoke from the train, the red and black contrasting colors, the raised gold font of the title letters…just amazing! The inside pages are just as lovely.




And yes, Mr. Schu (librarian-extraordinaire from Illinois), I smelled it, and it smells as delicious as the sweet treats from the tea trolley on the Hogwarts Express.



If you’ve never read Harry Potter before, you might consider starting here. This book’s beautiful sights will reign you in and keep you under their spell from beginning to end.