“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 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.
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:
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!
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:
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,
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 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.
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!
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.
October 10, 2008
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.
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
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.
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.