Category Archives: picture books

The 2018 WCCPBA Nominees

Over the weekend, my colleagues on the Washington Children’s Choice Committee met to select the nominees for the 2018 WCCPB Award. And what a list!  With twenty nominees, there’s something for everybody here (or at least for the students in K-3 in WA State).

Here they are, in ABC order by author. And…new this year: which is your favorite COVER? Which are you most excited to share with children? My votes: cover = Stick and Stone, sharing = More-igami.  Share your opinion and vote HERE!  Bonus: by voting, you can see instantly what other’s think…so take a moment and VOTE!

2017-2018 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award Nominees:

  • Thunder Boy Jr. written by Sherman Alexie, pictures by Yuyi Morales
  • The Magic Word written by Mac Barnett, pictures by Elise Parsley
  • A Bike Like Sergios written by Maribeth Boelts, pictures by Noah Z. Jones
  • The Highest Mountain of Books in the World written and illustrated by Rocio Bonilla
  • Everyone Loves Bacon! written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Eric Wight
  • Pirate’s Perfect Pet written by Beth Ferry, pictures by Matt Myers
  • Stick and Stone written by Beth Ferry, pictures by Tom Lichtenheld
  • The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring written and illustrated by Gilbert Ford
  • The Darkest Dark written by Chris Hadfield, pictures by The Fan Brothers
  • Plants Can’t Sit Still written by Rebecca E. Hirsch, pictures by Mia Posada
  • Quit Calling Me a Monster! written by Jory John, pictures by Bob Shea
  • More-igami written by Dori Kleber, pictures by G. Brian Karas
  • A Well-Mannered Wolf written by Jean Leroy, pictures by Matthieu Maudet
  • The Cow Who Climbed a Tree written and illustrated by Gemma Merino
  • Hare and Tortoise written and illustrated by Alison Murray
  • Madeline Finn and the Library Dog written and illustrated by Lisa Papp
  • Don’t Call Me Choochie-Poo! written by Sean Taylor, pictures by Kate Hindley
  • The Princess and the Warrior written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • Nanette’s Baguette written and illustrated by Mo Willems
  • Quackers! written and illustrated by Liz Wong

 

 

Love for AKR

Yesterday – March 13, 2017 – a bright light went out entirely too early.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author/writer/creater/maker/human extraordinaire – died of ovarian cancer.

I cried. Big, real tears. And at first I couldn’t figure out why. Because I’d never met Amy. Didn’t go out of my way to shower her with book-love. But damn if she didn’t have a huge impact on me as a human.

From the first book of hers that I read – Cookies: bite size life lessons – I was captivated. Here was someone who could explain abstract concepts and help humans lead a better life through clear metaphors and clever wit. I was sold.

I kept reading, and my appreciation deepened.  Her books always delivered a clear message, applicable to children and adults alike. She challenged readers to be okay with who they are in The OK Book. To say YES to fun and life in Yes Day!. To consider different perspectives (that both could, in fact, be correct) in Duck! Rabbit!.  To look past appearances and form lasting relationships in Friendshape. To make our unique mark, literally, in ! (Exclamation Mark). To think positive and be more in I Wish You More.

There are more books. These stand out. (Side note: Tom Lichtenheld, your illustrations are perfection. I wish you more peace.)

Then there is her essay. THE essay, published by the New York Times. To write so candidly, to be so honest and open (and witty!) in the face of cancer, was utterly heartbreaking. But it was true AmyKR- she explained life, from start to finish – as only she could.

From that, #loveforAmyKrouseRosenthal emerged. The sunny yellow umbrella was seen across the globe, a beacon of light to shine on during dark days, thanks to her publisher Chronicle.

I didn’t follow her online until recently (shame on me). And wow. Was I missing out. AmyKR’s Project 1-2-3 was pure brilliance. A list of three, posted by 1:23 each day. Looking back over her creations in the last weeks, I am drawn to this one:

It’s a daily reminder – literally, I see it every time I turn on my phone – to Be Present, Come Alive, Every Day.

There’s so much AmyKR to explore: TED Talks, adult memoirs, YouTube videos, blog posts…and then there are the books, of which there are still more (an apt AmyKR word).  Make the most of your time here: read her words. Watch her videos. Then make the most of your time here. I will.

New year? New ideas! Kindergarten

After teaching elementary school library for over a decade, one would think there is a set lesson or format I use to map out each school year. It’s often assumed that I do the same thing, year in and year out. After all, why recreate the wheel?

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Well, I do. New classes mean new personalities. What worked with one group of children may not work with another. Our annual school learning goals need to be taken into account, as well as curricular, technological, and logistical changes. In short: I never do the same thing exactly the same way each year.WP_20141002_006

Our K’s traditionally take part in unit studies, but the books, activities, and technologies used change a bit each year. With so many new titles, apps, and websites, there will always be new ways to foster learning.  The questions used in lessons change, too, since I work to get better at incorporating critical-thinking, claim-evidence-reasoning questions. Adding strategies and ideas from the Maker movement into our lessons (when reasonable) is also a goal.      

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Protecting their garden from invading bunnies. Inspired by Candy Fleming’s Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

The first six weeks tend to follow a pretty set format regarding skills introduced and overall expectations. Most of my first six weeks is explained here.  Note: for the lessons listed, students visit library 1x week for 40 minutes.

  • Week 1: Play I-Spy in the Library game, learn where to sit (assigned spot) and how to sit (hands/feet to self), get to know one another with the Squishy Ball, listen to one story (first author study), show where to sit at the end of the lesson (the line near the door…no chairs/table spots), learning goal: what does an author do?
  • Week 2: Review where/how to sit, play make-believe games with Mr. Tiger (large stuffed animal mascot who I “talk” to), listen to story, barcodes & passes, self check-out (books on top of shelves only), learn whose responsibility it is to bring back book (students, not moms!)
    • Before week 3 – remind students to bring back books. No tears is the goal…
  • Week 3: review where/how to sit, play make-believe with a stuffed animal Tiger (he holds our stories…I model kindness by asking to borrow it politely, then giving it back at the end), listen to one story, begin questioning, learn E=Everybody, review what happens if you forgot your book (browsing basket), review self check-out
  • Week 4: continue week 3. No new additions.
  • Week 5: Add Rhyme Time. Continue with previous skills/expectations.
  • Week 6: Introduce book care. Continue with previous skills/expectations.

By this point, routines are usually down pat. If they’re not…it’s reteach, reteach, reteach. It’s impossible to add in how to find books if children can’t remember where to sit so that they have their own safe space.

Most of our lessons will have a focus question and includes stories and rhymes. I’ll often include movement games and make-believe to maintain interest and focus. Technology (in the form of beginning database research and project creations) is usually added in the second half of the year. Some tech I like: PebbleGo (for outer space/animal research), Flipgrid (for video responses to any literature), iPads (is perfect for K to extend learning, Daisy the Dinosaur & Lightbot Jr are great for coding). Major units outside of Author Studies may include the Geisel Award, a Wool/Fabric science collaboration, and Folklore Around the World (which includes map skills). However…

I’ve been known to extend units into first grade. To leave units out. To add new learning. Because life happens: there are subs, no school days, new classroom units.  Because each group of children is different…so my teaching should embrace and reflect their differences. And while there are certain authors I read year in and year out (Ezra Jack Keats), each group has stories shared and questions asked that best meet their needs.

Curious as to which author/illustrator units were kid-friendly AND whose stories had great questioning / conversation potential from the past few years? See below! And please note: the K’s will usually study 5-7 per year at a minimum of 3 weeks per individual.

  • Ezra Jack Keats ♥♥
  • the Mo you don’t know (lesser-known Mo Willems titles)
  • Kieko Kasza
  • Jon Klassen
  • Mac Barnett
  • Candace Fleming
  • Lauren Castillo
  • Jon Agee
  • Sergio Ruzzier
  • Deborah Freedman
  • Cynthia Rylant (usually with Arthur Howard)
  • Christian Robinson

Happy reading & teaching, y’all! ~arika

Du Iz Tak?

There’s been a lot of  buzz about Carson Ellis’s newest picture book, Du Iz Tak?: it seems like every journal, Best Of list, and bookstore has it listed as a top picture books of the year.

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

You may have noticed that it wasn’t part of my Best Of 2016 list (it’s there now).  Yes, I’d read the book. It took longer expected, for a book having so few “words” (we’ll get to those in a moment).  My verdict: it was okay. Not Best Of worthy. I could leave it.

But I hadn’t stopped thinking about the book (there’s a sign).  So last night, we read it during Family Story Time.  Telling J&H (ages 9&7) that it had no real words in it piqued their interest. And 25 minutes later, we sat back, completely amazed and blown away by what Ellis created…and I admitted I was wrong.  This book is so, so worth of Best Of honors.

Let’s start with the illustrations. Ellis shows readers the passage of time – and the unfurling of Mother Nature’s gifts – with a simple, accessible ease. Grass grows, characters enter and exit with appropriate speed, seeds fall (then grow), seasons change. The cycle of life is clear, which is needed in order to make sense of the words.

The words – yes, words. You can read this story of 100% nonsense words…with a little work. And that was what made this book a grand slam to my kids. Du Iz Tak?, in our house, translated to What Is That?  Look at the cover: two insects (or oodas, as we figured out), one pointing at the green sprout – and a question mark as punctuation. It *had* to be asking What Is That?  As we read, flipping pages back and forth, we slowly figured out Ellis’s language. Using body language and gestures as well as capitalization and punctuation, we deciphered the insect’s conversation. What an exemplary example of using text features/illustrations to infer language. And for students working on decoding…it doesn’t get any better. This book is a teaching dream.

My gut says that sharing it as a whole-class read-aloud maybe tricky, but it’s totally doable. Maybe share on a doc cam would work well – to allow all to really “see” the illustrations. I’d certainly read it twice: first, without stopping, having children really pay attention to the pictures. The second time, we’d try to figure out the language. I think it’d be super-fun AND educational. Imagine pairing with an insect unit!

Fantasy. Insect Story.  ©2016.  Recommended for ages 6+. Plan on spending 20+minutes reading – and thinking through – this one.

Best of 2016: Picture Books

The end of 2016 has seen much upheaval and change…both in the big picture and my own little life.  But the year can’t end without a Best of 2016 Booklist – or two or three.  Because writing and sharing Best Of lists is a wonderful reminder of what was great about the past year…and there were some wonderful moments in picture books.

Here are my Best Picture Books of 2016

Best for teaching and understanding perspective: They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Best book to read twice – once for the pictures, then again for the endpapers: This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier

Best to share with a friend: We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Best use of gutters to show the feeling of shyness: Shy by Deborah Freedman

Best for those who need to slow down and count their blessings: Penguin Problems by Jory John

Best read-aloud for the preschool crowd: Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant

Best for those who want solitude and are willing to go to great lengths to get it: Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

Best bedtime story since The Napping House: It Is Not Time for Sleeping by Lisa Graff

Best for first-time or nervous air travelers of any age: The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Best use of an inanimate object to encourage selfless kindness: It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

Best step-by-step book: Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

Best back-to-school book EVER…from the school’s perspective to boot: School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

Best “wait one minute…that’s not what was suppose to happen!” book: A Hungry Lion (or a dwindling assortment of animals) by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Best explanation of math concepts for the young crowd: The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

Best ending to a beloved series: The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Best to share with to anyone who questions the true meaning of love: Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

Best for showing the ups and downs of friendship: Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

Best book I missed the first go-around…and best for teaching decoding and inference: Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Looking for other Best Of 2016 lists? Check out the brilliance of:

 

Oct 3-7, 2016: Deborah Freedman, Folktales, WCCPBA and maps

Week 6:  Deborah Freedman author study (K), Folktales Around the World (1), Learners in Our World (2)

Kindergarten:

Week 2 of the Deborah Freedman author study. This will culminate with a whole-kindergarten Skype visit with Deborah at the end of the month!

At the end of the lesson, students can:  identify the role of an author; identify a variety of feelings displayed in response to scenarios* (*from SecondSteps); use shelf-markers to assist in selecting books

Our book conversation focused on feelings. Mouse and Frog display a wide range of feelings in the book and struggle with their friendship – something very familiar to K students. Talking through their authentic reactions to Frog taking over the story (and Mouse’s reaction) was a powerful connection to their classroom-based SEL learning.

At the end of the story, to prepare for our author Skype, students brainstormed with knee-neighbors to generate questions for Deborah Freedman. Please excuse my messy handwriting – this wasn’t best modeled work; rather, it was getting their ideas down ASAP so we could check out before dismissal!

This was also the first week K’s could choose books from anywhere in the library using a shelf-marker. After I led today’s modeling, there will be quick (1min) student-led modeling of this skill for the next 4-8 weeks.

1st grade:

Our LAST week of our Folktales Around the World study! Based on student feedback, we had to continue for one more week and include the continent of Europe. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good trickster tale to share…so Margaret Read MacDonald came to the rescue with Too Many Fairies.

At the end of the lesson, students can: sing and locate the continents of the world; identify traits of folktales make predictions; name feelings when presented with physical clues*, use claim evidence reasoning, locate and label the folktale’s origin on the world carpet map

For this story, students had two focuses: identify the feelings of the old lady AND the fairies (and how behavior was impacted based on the feelings) and make a claim as to having the fairies come to their house. Overall, a good discussion spurred by a Celtic folktale…even for the students who didn’t want to read “a fairy book”.

2nd grade:

To conclude our unit on Learners Around Our World, I chose a 2017 WCCPBA nominee to bring the learning full-circle: Anne Sibley O’Brien’s I’m New Here.  With children from 3 different countries (Guatemala / S Korea / Somalia) moving to a school in America, this reinforced the idea that we are all learners while opening a conversation on empathy and compassion.

At the end of the lesson, students can: independently access a database; locate and label a country/continent on a world map; use and understand map features; use physical, verbal, and situational clues to determine what others are feeling*; identify ways to show compassion for others in response to scenarios*

During reading, we had whole-class discussion on how the students felt in their new schools. We also talked about the (seemingly unfair) expectations of one of the teachers.  After sharing, I modeled again how to access CultureGrams, and students were set to work locating and labeling one of the countries featured in the story on a world map (a “magic map”, as I call it, thanks to Quiver!).

However…this happened in one class:

It was a Make It Work moment…time to model flexibility and problem-solving! Thinking fast, we used a generic world country map to locate and label countries as a whole class (thankfully, Google still worked!). By modeling a growth mindset of “problems happen” and staying calm, we were successful and met our learning goals.  And next week, they’ll use CultureGrams one more time!

PS: CultureGrams fixed the problem in a matter of minutes after the tweet!

 

Sep 26-20, 2016: Deborah Freedman, Trickster Tales, Learners in Our World

Week 5:  Deborah Freedman author study (K), Trickster Tales (1), Learners in Our World (2)

Kindergarten:

The first week of a 2-3 week Deborah Freedman author study (one class will miss a week due to a teacher workday).  I shared Blue Chicken as our first story…which was perfect, as the first part of the lesson was on book care.

At the end of the lesson, students can: identify ways to keep books safe, identify the role of an author, show where the E section is in our library, identify the E on the spine label of a book.

My friend Tiger – who only speaks to librarians and allows me to model polite conversation and manners – was holding a package as we sat down. After asking him if we could open it, we found books that had been destroyed: chewed up, colored in, pooped on, ripped apart, dropped in water. This was a tactile way to show why caring for books is important. I stressed that accidents happen and that telling someone if a book gets hurt is the right thing to do…no matter what.  And that they won’t get in trouble for it. 🙂

Blue Chicken – when blue paint is spilled everywhere – was a lovely story to follow. The chicken who spilled blue paint did her best to be a problem-solver and fix her mistake…which is what we expect our students to do.

1st grade:

Possibly the final week of our Folktales Around the World lesson…possibly, because my 1st graders called me out for not featuring a story from Europe!

At the end of the lesson, students can: sing and locate the continents of the world, explain what a trickster tale is, identify key traits of folktales (retellers, from 6 continents, stories passed down orally), make predictions.

Years ago, I performed Tops and Bottoms at a storytelling festival, and it remains a favorite to share with listeners of all ages. After the first trick Hare played on Bear, students started predicting what Hare could grow that would benefit him while giving Bear nothing good to eat. Many giggles, lots of opportunities for conversations, and fabulous illustrations!

2nd grade:

Week 2 of Learners Around the World! This week, we looked at schools in Colombia, South America with Monica Brown’s Waiting for the Biblioburro.

At the end of the lesson, students can: identify the 7 continents of the world and Equator, use a primary source to learn new information, access a database to learn about a country, compare schools and education in two different countries using personal knowledge and information gathered from a database and primary source.

This week, YouTube came to the rescue with these two video clips, showcasing the work of Librarian Luis and his two burros, Alfa and Beto, as he takes books to remote areas in Colombia.

Safeshare – https://safeshare.tv/x/ss57ed282af200f

Safeshare – https://safeshare.tv/x/ss57ed2896db50f

Other happenings in our library:

  • Fifth graders are enamored with the PokemonGO game in our library…so much so that they wanted to create game pieces, too. So, during recesses the past few weeks, I taught a handful how I created the images and QR codes. They came in on their own time (usually 10-15 minutes) and worked…and the first student PokemonGO to our library QR code was made this week!
  • A 2nd grader stopped by one morning, sharing how she downloaded the Quiver app at home and showed her parents how to use AR with the dot picture she made in library. She wondered if there was more she could do with the app.  Answer: YES! She came in during her recess and together we explored the Quiver website, downloading new coloring pages to augment using their free app. She had the best time coloring and making her work come to life. We wonder how the technology is made and works. Maybe a future Skype visit with Quiver?
  • Fifth graders+ lunchtime + Wednesday + picture books = Lunch & Listen in the Library! It’s holding steady with about 30-35 students in the room each week.
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Happy reading and teaching, y’all!   🙂   arika