Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Loathsome Dragon

The Loathsome Dragon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005

Summary:  In this fairy tale, the evil stepmother/queen turns the Princess Margaret into a loathsome dragon.  Only her brother Richard can save her (and the kingdom), if he can see beyond her appearance.

Lesson:  I read this book when I wanted to talk to the students about the Dewey Decimal system and where to find fairy tales.  We also talked about why something that was fictional was found in the non-fiction area of the library.  We listed popular fairy tales and folk

Level:  1st-4th grade

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon

And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001

Summary:  After the Dish and Spoon run away together, the cat, cow, and dog of said nursery rhyme set out on a quest to find them.  Along the way, they visit haunts from other nursery rhymes, such as Humpty's Wall, Jack's  Beanstalk, and the Big Bad Wolf's home in the deep, dark forest.  Armed with a map and hilarious puns and idioms, the trio race against time to save the ending of their verse.

Lesson:  I have used this for various lessons.  Today, I used it with the lower elementary grades as a review of their map reading skills.  In the past, I have used it as a support of the kindergarten teachers during their nursery rhymes unit.  It could also be used to teach idioms and puns. 

Level:  K - 3rd

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones
Dutton Juvenile, 2003

Summary: Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese Kitten whose creative imagination is always leading him to exciting places and landing him in hot water.  In this story, he imagines he is the great chihuahua sword fighter El Skippito.  He joins a band of chihuahuas  and defeats the Bumblebeeto Bandito. 

Lesson:  I love to talk to kids about using their imagination.  Part of this lesson was to extend last week's lesson about Animals and the Dewey Decimal System.  Another part was to have them use context clues.  Based on the text and pictures, I asked them what they thought the truth was behind the Bumblebeeto Bandito's existence.  Some said a real bee was in the closet, some said a picture of a bee.  A few noticed the candy and guessed pinata. 

Level:  Pre-K - 3rd

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? 
by Bill Martin Jr. , Eric Carle (Illustrator)
Henry Holt and Co., 2006

Summary:Using repetitive patterns, endangered animals are asked which animal they saw, a different animal for each page.  

Lesson:  My primary purpose for reading this book was as a springboard into a lesson teaching students where to find the non-fiction books in the library.  First we talked about the different  between the wild and domestic animals, then about their placement in the library.  Since this book features endangered animals, it was an opportunity to teach the animal names, in both English and Spanish.  We also talked listed which animals would:  run, swim, or fly?

Level: PreK - 2nd

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ah, To Be Young Again......

After school, I was standing at Bus Duty with my clipboard as the children filed in.  One of the kids recognized me.  "Hey, I saw you in the library."  I should hope so after several story times and helping kids check out books for four weeks.  He continues on with a question:  "You work?"

Struck speechless by a seven year old. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Trip to the Zoo

My Trip to the Zoo
School Specialty Publishing, 2002

Summary: Little Critter visits the zoo along with his mom, dad, and little sister.  

Lesson: I did this lesson with the Pre-K classes.  With each page we acted and sounded like the animals depicted.  We also talked about what other animals you might see at a zoo.  Students then picked an animal outline to color. 

Level:  Pre-K -1st

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Check out Barnes and Noble's "Online Storytime"

Every month, Barnes and Nobles features a children's book read by the author or other noted celebrity.  This month, Anna Dewdney reads  Llama Llama Home with Mama.  Previous months' recordings are available, such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,No Good, Very Bad Day and The Kissing Hand

Check it out here: 

Down by the Cool of the Pool

Down by the Cool of the Pool 
by Tony Mitton , Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator) 
Scholastic, 2002
Summary: A frog, duck, pig, and friends dance themselves silly until they crash and splash into the cool pool. 

Lesson:   Based on its name, I was expecting a rhyming book,  but it was more than that.  It is filled with action verbs and onomatopoeias.  With K-2,  we made a dance of the action verbs and livened up the story.  With older kids, I would have talked more about onomatopoeia.

Level: K-2nd

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Clifford's Pals

Clifford's Pals
by Norman Bridwell

Summary:  Clifford and his pals play in a construction site, where it is dangerous.  After several narrow scrapes, where Clifford has to break machinery and anger the workers, they decide to stop playing there and return to a safer place to play. 

Lesson:  One of our school-wide expectations is to "Be Safe".  After reading this book, we talked about why it was not safe to play at a construction site.  We also suggested some safe places to play. 

Level:  PreK-1st grade

Monday, August 29, 2011


Perhaps I should call this installment  "Off the 'Net". is a delightful site for children and adult Dr. Seuss fans of all ages.  Video clips, music, games, activities, and character sketches provide countless hours of fun on the website.  There is an author study and teacher lesson area, along with a tab for parents.  A visit to Seussville is a jog down memory lane!!!

Level:  all ages.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Joseph had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat 
Penguin, 2000 Caldecott

Summary:  In this cut-out book, Joseph begins the story wearing a colorful overcoat.  As it becomes worn, with each page, he recuts the fabric to create a new, smaller garment.  From a vest to a scarf, he continues with each page until there is only enough fabric to cover a button. 

Lesson:  As part of Earth Day, we talk to the students about "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle".  This is a great story to model how to reuse materials.  Instead of throwing away something when we are finished with it, we can find new uses.  A crafty follow-up would be to have them turn items into new products.  For example, with some string and the bottom half of a plastic bottle, they can make bird feeders.  Old cans can be decorated and turned into pencil holders.  Scrapped paper can be decorated into bookmarks.  Let your imagination sore!

Level:  K-2nd

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AH, TO BE YOUNG AGAIN...The Definition of Retirement

As I was telling the students that their previous librarian had retired, I stopped to ask if anyone knew what "retirement" meant.  One brave fellow raised his hand and said, "It's when you are too tired to work anymore, so you don't go to work anymore."  Hello, ready for that retirement check already!  I hope everyone has a great Back to School and and a school year full of wonderment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival

For all those fans of YA literature, the Austin Teen Book Festival will be taking place on Oct. 1 at the Austin Palmer Events Center.  It is Free and has tons of your favorite authors.  For more info, visit the website at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet the Parents Night

It was billed as Meet the Teacher night, but really it was a chance to meet the whole family.  Tonight was my first glimpse of the community that attends my school.  I was so happy to see the kids peering in the windows at the books.  They brought their parents into the library and wandered around.  Many wanted to check out books right then!  I am excited to see such an eager group of kids.  The beginning of school is always such an exciting time.  I am really looking forward to working with these kids, and their parents. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- An Egg is Quiet

An Egg is Quiet
Chronicle Books Llc, 2006

 The teacher had procured an egg and space heater so the kindergartners could watch the egg hatch a baby chick.  I suggested this book to her to help the children understand what was happening inside the egg.  Beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long, a variety of eggs are described from birds to salmon. Children learn that eggs come in all colors and sizes. An X-ray perspective shows what is happening in the stages inside the eggs of several animals.  It's sister book, A Seed is Sleepy, likewise shows the many type of seeds and how they grow into plants and trees. 

level:  K - 5th

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey, Al

Hey, Al 
by Arthur Yorinks , Richard Egielski (Illustrator)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989 Caldecott

Summary:  Al's life is routine and plain, until he opens the door and is transported to a tropical island.  As he enjoys himself and relaxes, he becomes one with the island. 

Lesson:  A teacher was looking for a book to model word choice in replacing the overuse of  "he said".  In this book, Al squawks, croaks--anything but "says". 

Level: K-3rd

Sunday, August 14, 2011

OFF THE SHELF: Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006 Sibert Medal

This weekend, I accompanied a cub scout camp out at NASA.  The boys had so many questions about space, space flight, and the various missions.  I found myself recommending this book to them and their parents over and over again.  The book chronicles the Apollo 11 mission to the moon by showing all the work that went into building the rocket, capsule and limb; into the planning and training for the mission.  The book has authentic photographs and quotes from players at all stages.  The power of teamwork in achieving a goal is just important a theme of this book as learning about space flight.  A great book for kids and adults alike to learn more about what is involved in traveling to the moon. 

Level:  3rd and up

Koala Lou

Koala Lou
 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1994

Summary:  After his siblings are born, Koala Lou is feeling neglected by his mother.  He tries to gain her attention and affections by winning the Olympic Climbing contest.

Lesson:  After reading this story, which the children loved, we discussed Koala Lou's actions and motives.  Sibling rivalry for a parent's attention.  Pride from doing your best instead of winning.  The students made connections to real life and to movies/texts they had experienced.

Level:   K-2nd

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Air Show!

Air Show! 
Summary:  Children ride with their dad to an airshow, enjoying the feeling of flying in the small airplane.  Story is written by avid flier and flight instructor Treat Williams.  They then enjoy watching the stunt planes in the show.

Lesson:  During storytime, I read the book. The big pictures show flight from multiple perspectives.  Then I gave each student a sheet of paper.  By following my directions, they folded the paper into a paper airplane.  They then flew their planes.  On display, I had non-fiction books about flight and planes.

Level:  preK-2nd

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Librarian's Dilemma: Separate, but Equal?

I am facing a dilemma as I begin my librarianship of a new library.  The retiring librarian had a collection of Spanish books (fiction and non-fiction) which she kept in a separate area from the English books.  When I see this, all I think of is "Separate but not equal".  The books are clearly labeled SP.  I am wanting to rearrange the library and to intermix the library collection so that a Spanish copy of Clifford sits next to the English copy. 85% of my population is labeled as Spanish being their primary language at home.   I would love some feedback from others about this dilemma:  to leave separate or to intermix the collection? 

Silly Tilly

Silly Tilly 
by Eileen Spinelli , David Slonim (Illustrator) 
Cavendish, Marshall, 2009

Summary:  Tilly is a silly goose, the silliest animal on the farm.  After the animals become too annoyed, Tilly starts to act seriously.  But then the animals realize how much they miss the silliness.

Lesson:  Sometimes you just have to be a little silly, especially in kindergarten.  It had rained for an entire week, and the students were very restless with no outside play.  I read this book and then we did silly physical antics like funny faces and jumping around.  It was a fun play day at the library.  Before sending them back to class, though, we talked about appropriate times for silliness, like Tilly had to learn. 

Level: PreK - 2nd

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Number the Stars

Number the Stars 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1989 Newbery Medal

Last year I had a fifth grader who was a ferocious reader.  She liked books that were realistic and gritty, but still was a Harry Potter fangirl.  I suggested Number the Stars, which is my favorite Lois Lowry novel.   This is not Anne Frank or The Book Thief: this is the story of a young girl growing up as she realizes that life is not a fairy tale.  Set against the Danish Resistance's drive to save the Jews from Hitler's machine, two 10-year old best friends see the world as a child where the Danish King lives well in his castle with his white horse and the Nazi soldiers are the big, bad wolves chasing small girls in red riding hoods.  As Annemarie's Danish family struggles to smuggle Ellen's Jewish family out of the country, the girls come to see the gritty underlying truth of war.  An excellent read for teens and adults.

Level:  4th and up

Monday, August 8, 2011

Officer Buckle and Gloria

Officer Buckle and Gloria 
Penguin, 1995, Caldecott 

Summary:  Officer Buckle's job is to give safety speeches to school staff and students.  No one really listens to him until he buddies up with a dog named Gloria.  What Officer Buckle doesn't know in the narrative text, but is visual in the pictures, is that Gloria is acting out the scenarios, capturing the audience's attention.  But when he finds out, can he handle being upstaged by his partner?

Lesson:  I use this book to talk about the powers of observation.  If you do not see the pictures, then the story doesn't make sense.   We also discuss the safety tips in the book.  Another topic is the power of teamwork. 

Level: PreK-2nd

Pink and Say

Pink and Say 
Penguin, 1994

Summary:  A true story handed down from the Civil War, a young injured white Union soldier is saved  befriended by a black Union soldier whose home is close to the battlefield.  As they hide out from the Confederate Army, they become fast friends. 

Lesson:  A 4th grade teacher was looking for books to use in her Black History month unit.  I suggested this one.  She held on to it, and referred back to it with her class when they reached the Civil War in Social Studies.  It could also be used to discuss tolerance.

Level:  3rd -5th

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You wouldn't want to be a ..... (Series)

You wouldn't want to be a ......(series)
various authors, Created by David Salariya
Children's Press

Summary: A fun look at a variety of jobs, lifes, and situations that humans have found themselves in throughout history:  16th Century whaling ships and germs, Egpytian mummies and American pioneers.  There's a book for just about everything, even Apollo 13 astronauts.  The books provide fascinating facts in an entertaining format.  There is a glossary of terms in the back.

Lesson:  One of my reading challenges asked the students to explore their world. To create a book display for this, I used several books that explored places, cultures and science.  I placed these books throughout the sections.  They were popular and often checked out.  The "Viking" book quickly became a classic, even after the challenge.

Level:  3rd - 6th

Thursday, August 4, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Harpercollins Childrens Books, 1999

Joey is a good-hearted, well-meaning child with ADHD and a single mom.  He explains life at school, home, and in between in this 1st person narrative.  He is just as perplexed by how things always seem to go wrong for him, and confused at how to control himself, as the adults are.  I feel reading this book made me a better and more understanding teacher/librarian.  As such, I often recommend it to other teachers.  The intended audience is adolescents, though.  Those with ADHD/ADD will find a kindred soul; those without will gain a better understanding of some of their peers.  A Finalist of the National Book Award, this is a must read book for anyone that works or spends time with children. 

Level:  4th and up

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee 
by Philip C. Stead , Erin E. Stead (Illustrator) 
Roaring Brook Press, 2010  Caldecott Award

Summary:  The zookeeper Amos McGee gives all the animals special attention.  But when he takes a sick day, they come to give him special attention.

Lesson:  I used this book in a lesson about Fiction vs. NonFiction.  It was paired with the NonFiction title A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper by Nate LeBoutillier.  The book can also be used in lessons about animals and about compassion and caring for the sick. 

Level:  PreK-2nd

Ah, to be young again......

As I was typing up the book It's Christmas, David by David Shannon for the blog, I was laughing about the comments the students made as I read different pages.  They truly loved this book.  On one page, he writes his name in yellow in the snow.  Most of the kids thought he was using mustard (in their defense, it doesn't snow much in Texas).  They were properly scandalized when a classmate who knew better educated them.  There's always one in every class who delights in his sharing of his potty humor.  For once he got to shine! Also, no David book is complete without a scene where he strips down.  In this scene, the reader sees his hiney as he runs away.  Most of the kids were shocked and giggly.  One boy stated, "You shouldn't show that--there are girls in the room."  So glad to know that they've learned to keep their clothes on by kindergarten.  LOL.   Of course, it's always funny when someone else's kid does the shocking behavior instead of your own. 

It's Christmas, David!

It's Christmas, David! 
Scholastic, 2010 

Summary:  As usual, everyone's favorite bad boy, David, is up to his useful mischievous self.  As his curiosity lures him into trouble during the Christmas season, David learns what isn't socially acceptable.  

Lesson:  No one reinforces socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors better than David.  Children love his books.  So I decided to read this one during December's storytime.  The kids laughed at David's antics and corrected his behavior.  Many of them made life connections between David and themselves.  This one stayed checked out for the rest of the school year. 

Level:  PreK-1st

Truckery Rhymes

Truckery Rhymes
David Gordon (Illustrator) , David Shannon (Illustrator) , Loren Long (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009

Summary:  Mother Goose meets Mater the Tow-Truck!  All of your favorite nursery rhymes have been taken down to the Trucktown body shop and given a major overhaul.  Be sure to wear your tool belt and hard hat while reading.  The illustrations by Gordon, Shannon, and Long add to the hilarity of this book. 

Lesson:  Previously, the Kindergartners had completed a unit on nursery rhymes.  It was wonderful to watch the students make the connections between that unit and this book, watching the light turn on above their heads with each one.  It was a great post-assessment tool.  Many of the teachers bought this book from the book fair after I showed them this. 

Level:  PreK-2nd

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello Ocean

Hello Ocean
by Pam Munoz Ryan , Mark Astrella (Illustrator)
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2001

Summary: As a girl visits an ocean beach, she experiences it with all five of her senses. 

Lesson:  A teacher was looking for a book using imagery (sensory language) to show as a model for his writing unit on adding details.  I suggested this book.  Would also be a good book to pair with a lesson about oceans and beaches, especially for children who have never visited the ocean. 
Level:  K-3rd

Kid Tea

Kid Tea 
by Elizabeth Ficocelli , Glin Dibley (Illustrator)
Cavendish, Marshall Corp., 2007

Summary:  Each day the bathwater changes to a different color of tea as the colorful dirt (brown mud, purple popsicle juice, yellow paint) washes off.  A book that makes bathing fun instead of a chore for the kids.  Topics include colors, days of the week, hygiene, and beginning science (solutions).  
Lesson:  A teacher was looking for examples of writing using colors in his writing unit about adding details. I suggested this book.  It could also be used to teach colors to younger students, days of the week, hygiene, and beginning science (solutions). 
Level: PreK-2nd

Online Book: Edward and the Pirates

Edward and the Pirates
David McPhail
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1997

Summary:  Edward loves to read; and when he reads, his imagination runs wild.  But when he reads a book about treasure maps, real pirates come to claim their booty.  Will Edward give up the book?

Lesson:  This online book is found on AOL Kids, along with several other stories.  As the narrator reads the story, the words are highlighted for the student reading along.  I chose this of all the stories because it showed the power of reading.  Afterwards, we made a list of the types of adventures it would be fun to read about.  Then the students used the online catalog to search for books about the subject they chose.  [I did this the week after teaching how to use the online catalog.]  This story is found at AOL Kids

Level:  PreK-3rd

Friday, July 29, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- I Read It, But I Don't Get It

I Read It, But I Don't Get It
Stenhouse Publishers

This book is another gift to my fellow teachers who are preparing to start another year of teaching.  Even if you don't teach reading, even if you don't teach adolescents--this book will help you to create focus in your students as they read your lessons.  It is full of strategies and theories that will be immediately useful, and that will show results. I am a Tovani fan! We all know people who read the page but have no idea what they just read.  Help them focus by incorporating these strategies.

Level:  Professional

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are
1964, Caldecott Medal 

Summary: Mas, after running wild through the house, is sent to his room.  He creates an imaginary forest, which he cruises away to, becoming King of the Wild Things that live there. 

Lesson:  This book was part of my Halloween unit, which also included Skeleton Hiccups and the song, "Monster Mash".  First I read Skeleton Hiccups.  The children, without much prompting on my part, loved doing the hiccups sound effects for each page.  I then read Where the Wild Things Are.  During the dancing section of the story, I played "The Monster Mash" and we all danced like monsters and zombies.  We returned to end the story.  The kids were then given handouts with a skeleton on it for them to color as they wished.  (If more time had allowed, I would have allowed glue-ons, like string for hair.)

Level:  PreK-2nd

Skeleton Hiccups

Skeleton Hiccups 
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2002

Summary:  In this hilarious story, Skeleton tries every known cure for the hiccups. 

Lesson:  This book was part of my Halloween unit, which also included Where the Wild Things Are and the song, "Monster Mash".  First I read Skeleton Hiccups.  The children, without much prompting on my part, loved doing the hiccups sound effects for each page.  I then read Where the Wild Things Are.  During the dancing section of the story, I played "The Monster Mash" and we all danced like monsters and zombies.  We returned to end the story.  The kids were then given handouts with a skeleton on it for them to color as they wished.  (If more time had allowed, I would have allowed glue-ons, like string for hair.)

Level: PreK - 2nd

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Tsunami!

by Kimiko Kajikawa , Ed Young (Illustrator) 
Penguin, 2009

After the Japanese Tsunami of 2011, parents and teachers wanted a book to use to talk to their younger children about the natural disaster.  This narrative tells of the foreboding caused by the surreal earthquake and tidal movements, the waves, the ensuing destruction, and the people's reaction throughout as one farmer's act of heroism saves their lives.  The narrative is supported by Caldecott winning illustrator Ed Young.  The vicarious experience opened doors for discussion about an ocean-based phenomena to students that had never seen the ocean. 

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day
1963, Caldecott Medal

Summary:  Waking up to a snowy day, a young boy enjoys playing in the snow. 

Lesson:  2010 Read for the Record title. When I decided our campus would contribute in the Read for the Record event, my students were elated to be part of something that was worldwide.  Instead of reading the book to them, I decided to make it feel more global by showing the online book version.  The images were bigger and easier to see, so afterwards, I talked about the Caldecott Medal for artwork in a book.   

Level:  PreK - 2nd

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

OFF THE SHELF--Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn 
1935, Newbery Medal Winner

I would be remiss if I did not give recognition to one of my favorite books of all time, Caddie Woodlawn. It is a work of historical fiction written based upon stories told by the author's grandmother of her childhood.  Raised in the Midwest plains, with Indians for neighbors, young Caddie is brave, smart, and loyal, each of her adventures as harrowing as the next.  To this day, 30 years later, I can still hear the rattlesnakes rattling in this book.  When the 4th grade teacher said she wanted her kids to pick a work of historical fiction, it was the first book I grabbed off the shelf.  

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks 
by Faith Ringgold , Faith Ringgold (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2002

Summary:  This delightful book tells the story of Rosa Parks from the bus's point of view.  Unlike other Civil Rights books that speak from erudite perspective, this is a friendly voice that children used to Thomas the Tank Engine, et al, will feel quickly warm up to.  A great way to couch an important event in the visuals and language of a younger audience.  

Lesson:  The Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers were looking for a book on Civil Rights.  Most books are written in textual format, with a few photographs interspersed.  This book was appropriate to engage their interests and to bring abstract concepts down to their level.  

Level:  Kinder-3rd 

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse 
Penguin, 2010

Summary:  Nellie Sue is a cowgirl who needs a horse. And when she gets a bike for her birthday, she uses her imagination to ride her horse around the neighborhood.  Full of whoopin' and hollerin', and a good ole time. 

Lesson:  This was completely impromptu--the children realizing it was my birthday insisted we read a birthday book.  I had just gotten this one in a delivery, so I read it to them.  The girls loved it; the boys were at first put off by all the pink, but then became involved with her crashing down the hill and lassoing the other kids.  Afterwards, we had fun sharing what we imagine when we ride a bike, or go down a slide, etc. 

Level:  PreK-2nd

Monday, July 25, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Fox Makes Friends

Fox Makes Friends
Sterling Publishing, 2005

This book comes with my son's seal of approval.  I cannot even begin to count how many times he brought this book home from his school's library between kindergarten and 2nd grade.  So when I first started working in an elementary library, it was my "go to" choice when a student asked for a "good book".  When Fox's mother suggests that he go outside and make some friends, he takes her literally and starts to build a friend with sticks.  As other animals come along to help him with his task, he unknowingly fulfills his task by making real friends.

Level:  PreK - 2nd

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Latino Legends: Hispanics in Major League Baseball

Latino Legends: Hispanics in Major League Baseball 
Coughlin Publishing, 2003

Summary:  Short, Sports focused biographies of famous Hispanics in Major League Baseball.

Lesson:  I used this book twice.  First, when a grade level was doing biographical research, I showed them this as an example of how to find biographies based upon the topic's profile:  Female scientists, Presidents, Civil Rights Leaders, baseball players, etc.  Then later, when talking about searching for information, I was showing the students how to use the table of contents and the index pages. 

Level: 3rd - 6th

Cinco de Mouse-O!

Cinco de Mouse-O! 
Holiday House, 2010

Summary:  Following the smells, mouse visits a Cinco de Mayo celebration.  Danger ensues as he climbs onto a pinata above the stalking cat.  A great adventure, full of Mexican culture. 

Lesson:  I read this story on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) as a way to celebrate Mexican culture and part of our state's history (Texas).  We also talked about ways our community celebrated Cinco de Mayo.

Level:  Kinder-3rd

Saturday, July 23, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games 
Scholastic, 2008

The Hunger Games is the first book of the dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games, followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The series combines the political statement of 1984 with the dangerous societal games of The Running Man, using teenagers as main characters.  While the YA target audience is middle and high school, I did suggest this first book to a few 5th graders already reading middle school books.  Before long, most of the 5th and 4th grade faculty had read the trilogy.  

Level:  6th - adult

The Popcorn Book

The Popcorn Book 
Holiday House, 1989

Summary:  This book includes recipes, facts and legends about popcorn.  An informative and entertaining read.

Lesson:  A teacher was going to talk about Native Americans foods, so I gave her this book to use in her unit.

Level: 2nd-6th

Arthur's April Fool

Arthur's April Fool
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1985

Summary:  It's April Fools Day and the whole school is preparing for a talent show.   But the school bully is ruining it for everyone.  Arthur puts the bully in his place with a little joke of his own. 

Lesson:  A good book for standing up to bullies.  Also a good book for showing lower grades harmless April Fools fun. 

Level: 1st-3rd

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ah, to be young again........

Last night I was driving two 10 year old boys to see the final Harry Potter movie.  I was listening to them discuss the house elves, who had been (for the most part) a sub-plot left out of the movies.  As I thought of 2 ten year old boys reading and discussing what they had read, I thought--"It just doesn't get any better than this."  But then they went on to explain to the father of one (who hadn't read the books) how the elves deserved to be free, to explain the importance of Hermione's cause.  And then I knew--"It doesn't get any better than this."

OFF THE SHELF--When a Pet Dies

When a Pet Dies 
by Fred Rogers , Jim Judkis (Photographer) 
Penguin, 1998

Mr. Rogers talks sensitively about the emotions people feel as a beloved pet dies.  He discusses the grief and healing processes, reassuring the children that this part of life.  When a community death touched much of our population, teachers of lower grades sought resources to help the children understand death.  With this book, the teachers were able to first talk about death and grief and healing; and, then, they talked about the tragic event and loss of a father, uncle, friend of the family. 

Level:  PreK-3rd

One is a Feast for Mouse

One Is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale 
by Judy Cox , Jeffrey Ebbeler (Illustrator)
Holiday House, 2008

Summary:  After the humans finish their Thanksgiving feast, Mouse climbs down to take just one pea for his feast.  But his eyes are bigger than his stomach as he adds more and more to his menu.  A repetitive book that kids loved repeating with me as each new item was stacked on top. 

Lesson:  I read this book for Thanksgiving.  The repetition allowed for students to become verbal participants in the storytelling, and to predict what would happen next. 

Level: Kinder-3rd

Shark vs. Train

Shark vs. Train 
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010

Summary:  Shark and train match up against one another to see who would win in a variety of scenarios, from swimming to hot balloon riding, video games to hide-n-seek.  Hilarious side comments are made in the voice balloons in the pictures. 

Lesson:  I read this book to expose my lower grades (and teachers) to the 2x2 list (recommended reads for PreK-2nd).  If I had found the book sooner, I would have used it for the "live vs not live" units in kindergarten and 1st.  After I read this book, the three copies never touched a bookshelf for the rest of the school year.  And the students loved the signed poster by author Chris Barton I put on the wall.

Level: Kinder-3rd  (although even my 5th graders loved this book)

McDuff's Christmas

McDuff's Christmas 
Hyperion, 2005

Summary:  McDuff and his family are waiting for Christmas to come, despite the tremendous snowfall outside.  When McDuff hears something outside, he wakes up his owners to go out into the cold.

Lesson:  This was a great book to talk about snow.  The types of clothing, the necessity of shoveling, the problems with holes in your shoes.  Being in the South, our children rarely see more than an inch once every few years.  They were very amazed at all the trouble it caused for McDuff and his family.  After I read this book, I couldn't keep McDuff books on the shelf. 

Level:  1st-3rd