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Past Posts 2008 - 2009

posted Sep 27, 2011, 10:12 AM by rcase@wbschools.org   [ updated Sep 27, 2011, 10:12 AM ]

June, 2009

 “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

 As we wind down the school year and get ready for an enjoyable summer, we can look forward to some brand new books in the literacy collection come September.  Thanks to our Suffolk’s Edge Mini Grant, we were able to order the following picture books:


A Fine, Fine School                                                    by Sharon Creech


All The Places to Love                                                by Patricia MacLachlan


Beautiful Warrior; The Nun’s Kung Fu                      by Emily McCully


Bedhead                                                                      by Margie Palatini


Charlie Parker Played Be Bop                                    by Chris Raschka


Cloud Dance                                                               by  Thomas Locker


Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy                              by  Jane O’Connor


Fancy Nancy Bonjour Butterfly                                  by  Jane O’Connor


Fly Away Home                                                          by Eve Bunting


Grandfather Twilight                                                  by Barbara Berger       


Half a World Away                                                     by Libby Gleason


I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello            by Barbara Garriel


John’s Secret Dreams                                                 by Doreen Rappaport


Joseph Had a Little Overcoat                                     by Simms Tiback


One Green Apple                                                        by  Eve Bunting


Owl Moon                                                                   by Jan Yolen


Pinkilicious                                                                 by Elizabeth & Victoria Kann


Purpilicious                                                                 by Elizabeth & Victoria Kann


Rosa                                                                            by Nikki Giovanni


Say Something                                                            by Peggy Moss


Scarecrow                                                                   by Cynthia Rylant


So You Want to be President?                                    by Judith St. George


The End                                                                       by David LaRochelle


The House in the Night                                               by Susan Mare Swanson


The Wall:  Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain       by Peter Sis


Through Grandpa’s Eyes                                            by Patricia MacLachlan


Twenty-Odd Ducks                                                     by Lynne Truss


What You Know First                                                 by Patricia MacLachlan


Where the Wild Things Are                                         by Maurice Sendak


You are My I Love You                                                by Maryann Cusimano


For specific information on strategies and skills that can be taught using any of these titles, click on the tab for read-alouds, and see our updated database.  Also, look for upcoming posts about the other titles and professional resources we have ordered for next year. 


Happy SUMMER reading,



May, 2009


“May you always love reading.”  Pat yourself on the back if you know the picture book which contains that quote.  (Hint- the quote is in the illustration, not the text.)


Three people who love reading, Sue, Diane and I, joined Carol at the LILAC/NRC conference on April 24, 2009. The keynote speakers were Kwame Alexander and Irene Fountas, and the opportunity to hear them speak made the whole day worthwhile.


We’ve been so fortunate to have Kwame visit our school, motivate our students and conduct collegial circles, that it was no surprise to any of us when he brought the same infectious enthusiasm to his professional-development presentation.  He shared poems from his book,Crush, billed as the first collection of love poems for the YA market.  I was dumbfounded to read that nobody else has published a book of love poems aimed at young adults.  Surely, there must be some mistake.  What else are young adults more wrapped up in than thoughts of their own, first, romantic angst?  What topic could be more motivating for teens to read, appreciate and enjoy poetry?


Equally jarring to my reading-teacher sensibilities, was another presenter’s statistic that for every hour of reading instruction, there are only 15 minutes of actual reading.  This point resonated much of what reading guru, Irene Fountas, had outlined earlier in her keynote.


While many people associate Fountas and Pinnell’s guided reading and leveled readers with the elementary curriculum, she specifically addressed the “urgency in the middle school to get to children who have been off track for a long time.”  She stated, “Our students will not become better readers without reading every day.”  She reaffirmed what many of us believe about middle school students still needing a grounded literacy program that is responsive to the child, provides consistent and cohesive teaching, and prepares them for a reading/writing life. 


I’m excited to use our grant money to order professional resources by Fountas and Pinnell for our Sixth-Grade Literacy Collection.  In the meantime, I’ll leave some publishers’ catalogs in the TRC.  Feel free to stop by and browse.


Happy reading,




April, 2009


Thanks to the generosity of Debbie Goodwin and substitute teacher, Ms. Baden, the Grade 6 Literacy collection now includes the following “Big Books” and teaching guides for science:


            Animal Senses


            Digging for Dinosaurs


            Life in a Coral Reef


            Life in the Polar Regions


            Life in the Rainforest


            The Restless Earth


            The Web of Life


            Those Fabulous Frogs



-and, just in time for Earth Day!


Happy Reading,




March, 2009


Top o’ the mornin’!


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, why not check out one of these beloved titles by the prolific Tomie dePaola: 


            Fin M’Coul                                                    


            Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato


            Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka


Each year on St. Patrick’s Day,   “St. Baldrick’s Day” celebrations throughout our nation remind us all of the importance of compassion, community service, and giving thanks for the healthy children in our lives.  Why not launch a discussion of this worthy organization and others, such as “Locks of Love,” with the picture book, Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair.  (Pat Brisson)


To learn more about either of these organizations, please visit their websites:






Happy St. Patrick’s Day and happy reading,




February, 2009


With the ELA thankfully behind us, you may want to check out these titles for the month of February:


            Vinnie and Abraham               by Dawn Fitzgerald


            Freedom Summer                   by Deborah Wiles


            Dad, Jackie and Me                by Myron Uhlberg


            Keeping the Night Watch        by Hope Anita Smith


            Pitching in for Eulie                by Jerdine Nolen


            Alivin Ailey                              by  Andrea Davis Pinkney


            Duke Ellington                        by  Andrea Davis Pinkney


            Ella Fitzgerald                        by  Andrea Davis Pinkney



Happy Reading,




January, 2009


Happy 2009!  As we get ready for a new year, a new administration and the ELA,

why not combine test-prep, the teachable moment and a picture book?


Diane Grimsley-Goldberg does a great ELA- prep lesson using the picture book, So You Want to be President, by Judith St. George.  She reads the picture book to her students and then models a typical ELA question.  She even made a poster-size graphic organizer to model her thinking.


What a great way to open up discussion about the inauguration!  Our school library has a copy of the book.


The sixth-grade literacy collection houses the book, Elizabeth Leads the Way, by Tanya Lee Stone.  This would make an interesting tie-in to women’s roles in the new administration.


Happy Reading!




December, 2008


Holiday Reading for Teachers


Happy holidays!  The upcoming break offers us the gift of time to spend with family, friends and a few good books.   Here is what our colleagues are reading, according to the results of my very unscientific poll:


            The King and the Cowboy:  Theodore Roosevelt and Edward V!I,   

              Secret Partners    David Fromkin


            The Host    Stephenie Meyer


            the Twilight series   Stephanie Meyer


            The Lace Reader       Brunonia Barry


            The Girls                   Lori Lanser


            The Island                 Victoria Hislop


            The Gatehouse           Nelson DeMille


            Tales of Beedle Bard   JK Rowling


            Dashing Through the Snow   Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins



Now, how well do you know your colleagues?  Can you guess which teachers are reading which books?  (Bear in mind that several people are reading the Twilight series.)


Happy holidays and happy reading!




November, 2008

Text-to-Text Connection - Where the Red Fern Grows


The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie dePaola, would be great for making connections to the novel, Where the Red Fern Grows.   The gorgeous illustrations make the legend come to life, and the detailed author’s note reinforces the importance of preserving our natural history.


To check out this, or any other book in the collection, simply sign the card in the library pocket of the book.  Place the signed card in your personalized space in the chart in the TRC.  When finished, please place the book in the carton labeled, “Returned Books.”  I will reshelve it for you.


Happy Reading,




October 10, 2008



Literary Elements


The picture book collection contains titles that can be used to illustrate various literary elements.


Home, by Jeannie Baker,is a wordless picture book which could be used to demonstrate how setting can shape the plot. 


Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair, by Pat Brisson, could be used to illustrate what is and is not a character trait.  A text-to-text connection could be made between this book and A Perfect Snowman, by Preston McDaniels.  Both of these titles could lead to a discussion of what truly makes one beautiful or perfect.


Any of our biographies could be used for further identification of character traits.


From my own personal collection, I’m going to use Fancy Nancy, by Jane O’Connor, to illustrate the ways an author can reveal characterization – through what the character says, does, and thinks, how the character looks, and what others say and think about the character.


For any teachers interested in a “grown-up” look at literary elements, I’d recommend a book that came out this past July, How Fiction Works, by James Wood.  Mr. Wood, a writer for The New Yorker, took his own personal book collection, and analyzed how each of the authors employed various literary elements to their best effect, or not.  He showed when the authors got characterization, voice, mood, etc. right, and achieved literary genius; and when they got it wrong and merely bored the reader.  It’s not a light read, but definitely worth a look.


Happy Reading,




September 12, 2008


Sigh of relief—The first full week of school is successfully behind us.


If, in these early weeks of the school year, you are reviewing the terms genre, fiction,and non-fiction with your students, you may want to explore some of our non-fiction picture books:


            Alvin Ailey       by Andrea Davis Pinkney


            Battles of the American Revolution   by Victoria Rushworth


            The Boston Tea Party   by Joanne Wachter


            Caesar Rodney’s Ride    by Jan Cheripko


            Duke Ellington               by Andrea Davis Pinkney


            Elizabeth Leads the Way   by Tanya Lee Stone


            Ella Fitzgerald                 by Andrea Davis Pinkney


            George Crum and the Saratoga Chip   by Gaylia Taylor


            Gregor Mendel; The Friar Who Grew Peas  by Jennie Baker and

                                                                                         Cheryl Bardoe


            Stargazer’s Alphabet       by John Farrel


            The Story of Muhammad Ali    by Charles R. Smith, Jr.



Some of these titles are long for read alouds, so you may want to share excerpts.  Also, you may want to save Elizabeth Leads the Way, for closer to Election Day.  It would be a perfect tie in for this election year.


For information on how to check out these or any other titles from the collection, click on my August, 2008 post.


Happy Reading!




August, 2008


Welcome to the grade 6 literacy collection.


I hope you come to love the picture books and professional resources as much as I do. Although it is relatively small now, I am thrilled that the collection has found a permanent home in the TRC, because we have great plans for its growth and evolution in the future. We are ordering new books, updating the database, and writing grants.


As we launch a brand new school year, there are some titles in the collection that you might want to read aloud to your students:


     The Kissing Hand         by  Audrey Penn   (geared to a young audience, 

                                                                              but a classic)

     Jungle Bullies               by  Steven Kroll

     The Brand New Kid      by  Katie Couric  (forced rhyme, but a nice


     Thank You Mr. Falker  by   Patricia Polacco

     Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden   by Edith Pattou


To check out any of these books, simply sign the card located in a library pocket in the book.  Then place the card in your personalized space in the blue pocket chart in the TRC.  If you teach a special area class, or seventh or eighth grade, please use the “guest” space in the chart.  When you are finished using the book, simply place it in the bin labeled “Returned Books.”  I will reshelve it for you.  


From my personal and classroom collections of picture books, I will be reading Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler, and A Fine, Fine, School by Sharon Creech.  Of course the latter title had more relevance when Mike was still in our building.  In fact, one year, after a particularly emphatic “Best school, best staff, best students” speech, I gave him a copy of the book.   I’m sure everyone who misses Mike would love this title.   If you are interested in borrowing either book, let me know.


Finally, I would like to thank Carol, Scott, and Nicole for the opportunity to work on this worthwhile project. 


Check back often for updates as we add new books to the collection.  In a few weeks, I’ll post a message about which titles are especially useful in illustrating literary elements such as setting, plot, characterization, etc.


Happy reading!