Tag Archives: Read-aloud

We’re Full…of Beans

Oh, Jenni Holm. How I am thankful for you.

As a parent, your books make reading fun. Babymouse was J’s first graphic novel that she loved. Proof: her 2nd grade diorama.  H, like any younger sibling, followed suit. He doesn’t care if a book is pink or blue. He’s all about fun. And Babymouse is fun to read.

When your new chapter book came out – Full of Beans – I read it. LOVED it. Talked about it. And gave it to J – now a 4th grader – to read. And she did: she likes Jenni Holm books, after all. And like the little brother he is, H picked it up. He started reading it a week ago, then said he was almost done the other night. Like a good teacher-parent, I asked what he liked about it. Turns out, there was a lot that went over his head. So: FAMILY READ ALOUD.

Full of Beans is a brilliant read aloud: fast-paced, diverse characters, memorable setting. And as we read, we sometimes talk. About Key West. Rum-running. Choices. Through your story, we’re building understanding and empathy for others whose lives might be different from ours.  We are inferring (who DID paint “Queen Dot’s Throne” on the outhouses?). Learning. Enjoying. And, ultimately, connecting.

History is a tricky subject to teach and to learn. (My childhood report cards are evidence of this.) I truly believe literature – specifically kidlit – is a magic portal for learning and understanding historical events and outcomes.  Full of Beans is a brilliantly accessible novel to introduce readers to the Depression, the New Deal, and how lives are impacted by economics. This was not my goal; rather, it is a happy result of our time spent reading and reflecting on Beans, his choices, and his family.

Our reading and conversations about Full of Beans has really stuck with my kids. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, there was a kid-initiated discussion on which character each child would choose to be and why. Ultimately, H chose Termite…because everyone loves dogs, even flea-ridden ones. J was Beans. Naturally.

So Jenni, thank you. Our family is full – full of appreciation for the stories you share with us readers year in and year out. Full of gratitude for creating memorable characters who have depth and flaws.  Full of admiration for writing historical fiction that is appealing and informative.  The bright, shiny 2017 Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award is truly deserved.

Read-Aloud Tuesday: 03.10.15


Welcome! On Read-Aloud Tuesday, I read to the Maple classroom at my son’s Montessori school to students ages 3-6.  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of children’s literature with them each week.

boy-who-cried-wolfThe Boy Who Cried Wolf retold by B.G. Hennessy

The classic folktale of a young shepherd who, looking for adventure, cries “WOLF!”.  Once, twice, townspeople come running to rescue his flock of sheep.  But as in many folktales, it’s the third time that counts.  Here, three wolves show up and the boy, alone, must find his sheep (a job clever readers will enjoy!).  An excellent, kid-friendly retelling with choral-reading opportunities.

wolfie-the-bunnyWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

Dot’s family arrives home one day to find a sweet bundle on the doorstep.  Inside: a wolf baby.  Mama is smitten.  Papa’s in love.  Dot cries, “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!”  As Wolfie grows so, too, does his appetite.  Upon finding an empty carrot cupboard, Dot sets off for the Carrot Patch Co-Op store…with devoted Wolfie in tow (wearing his precious pink bunny suit).  It’s at the shop where, confronted with a real-life predator, Dot realizes what Wolfie means to her and how far she’ll go to protect him.  Perfectly paced with rich illustrations and a spunky bunny, this is not to be missed.  NEW in 2015.

LarfLarf by Ashley Spires

Larf is a solitary fellow, and he likes that just fine.  He’s a Sasquatch, after all, and having his privacy invaded by creature-seeking folk isn’t his style.  When an upcoming Sasquatch appearance makes the news, though, Larf treks to the city to see if there’s another like him, or if he’s meant to be alone.  With a cute-as-pie pet bunny and engaging topic (unknown creatures), Larf highlights that it’s okay to be a quiet fellow, but having a good friend isn’t so bad either.

Thanksgiving Read-Alouds

Thanksgiving is fast approaching!  For anyone who needs a great book to share, here are my favorite Thanksgiving read-aloud picture books.  Be sure to check out the related activities, too!


When Mouse creeps from his hidey-hole to get one luscious green pea for his Thanksgiving feast, he can’t resist taking just a bit more than he can hold.  Ages 3-8.

Free activities for One is a Feast For Mouse

One is a Feast For Mouse by Judy Cox


What makes a Thanksgiving perfect?  Is it the perfectly browned turkey, the decadent desserts…or the people you celebrate it with?  Ages 5-9.

Free activity for The Perfect Thanksgiving

The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli


In rhyming verse, Bear decides to host a feast for his woodland friends.  Each shows up with a delicious dish, ready to celebrate.  There’s just one problem: what does Bear have to share?  Ages 3-6.

Free activity for Bear Says Thanks  And another one!

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson


For anyone who wants to guide children to answer to the question, “What are you thankful for?”.  From thoughtful to self-aware to silly, the answers to this question are guaranteed to get children thinking.  Parr’s signature illustrations add charm and delight.  Ages 4-10.

A free activity for The Thankful Book

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

The true account of why American’s have a national day of Thanksgiving.  Everyone should know of Sarah Hale.  And as one who loves Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for her.  Ages 7-11.

A free activity for Thank You Sarah

Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson

Coming soon: Candace Fleming!

The best email came this morning: a grant I wrote to host author Candace Fleming at my school in early March 2014 was funded!  This is so exciting!   I ♥ Candace Fleming, and I ♥ and her books!  She’ll also be visiting 6 other schools in the district during her visit to Seattle – what an exciting opportunity for the students!


I was lucky enough to meet Candy six years ago at the annual International Reading Association conference, held that year in my hometown of Atlanta.  She was, in a word, lovely.  Her books are, in two words, entertaining and informative…two great reasons to bring an author all the way out here from her home in Chicago.

While she writes all types of books, it’s her picture books that I particularly love.  My J&H are big fans, too: J likes Clever Jack Takes the Cake, while H prefers Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!  Her most recent title, Oh No!, is a 2014 WCCPBA nominee.  And the Candace Fleming author study that I do with my K’s each year is one of my – and their – favorites.  I am so thrilled that she’ll get to share her experiences as an author with my students!

As her trip gets closer, I’ll share the pre-visit activities in my weekly Library Lessons posts.  Yay!

Read-Aloud Tuesday

Each Tuesday, I read stories in my boy H’s Montessori classroom.  In classic librarian form, I research and choose books I think they’ll like (and that I like, too!).  Here are this week’s choices:

Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows


It’s time to hibernate!  But with a train full of noisy, active animals, how can anyone fall asleep?  Sweet and rhyming.  While perfectly timed to the season, I wasn’t wowed by this book today…and I know my lack of joy was apparent.  Reminder to self: only read books aloud that you love.  Period.  Share with ages 2-5.

Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen


Tiny little fly may be tiny and little, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t have a big impact!  He buzzes around large, fierce animals with little regard to his safety, even as the animals try to tramp, roll and swat him away.  This book was so fun!  Short, simple, repetitive, and predictable – all the traits of a wonderful read-aloud for a young group.  The students sat silently, watching the tiny little fly buzz his way around all the animals.  Share with ages 2-6.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham


It’s time for each letter of the alphabet to shine on stage!  A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat…so M must be for Moose.  But when M is called, it is Mouse that hears his name, and Moose is horrified.  The natural result?  An all-out, attention-seeking tantrum, of course!  An all-out, pitch-perfect delight.  Moose’s personality is recognizable to anyone who has worked with (or parented) young children, and his behavior after not getting what he wanted is a great catalyst for a discussion on appropriate / inappropriate behavior choices.  The kids loved Moose.  This is one book I hope all children get to experience.  Share with ages 2-7.

Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead


Ruby is a little bird who is making new friends the best way she can: by introducing herself to each new animal she meets and asking “Will you be my friend?”  She flies with one new friend and walks with another, making new friends with apparent ease.  What happens, then, when one animal tells her “No, thank you.” and walks away.  Broaching the sticky topic of “but they don’t want to be my friend,” this book had kids thinking and talking this very real situation.  Gentle and open, there are no easy answers given in the book.  I think was appreciated by the students, as it allowed the kids to talk about the situation and offer personal insight and experiences.  New in 2013.  Share with ages 3-7.

Read-Aloud Tuesday

It’s two days until Halloween…and I could tell before I even began reading.  The first question I was asked, “Did you bring any Halloween books?”  Yes!  The kids are ready for the holiday…there was lots of giggling and silliness during read-aloud time.

Patch by David Slonim

We finished up this from last week.  Lots of giggling throughout the last two chapters, but I’m not sure it was from the story.  This would be perfect to share with children who love their pet dog.

I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems


Review:  Piggie thinks he is a frog.  Gerald doesn’t understand and worries that he, too will become a frog.  When Piggie clarifies that it’s just pretend, Gerald finally understands…but then Piggie is confused.  Why can’t Gerald pretend to be a frog, too?

Piggie and Elephant are almost always a guaranteed hit to read aloud.  This book – released yesterday! – paired beautifully with last week’s Ribbit!  Similar character, similar behavior, but different purpose (friendship versus playing pretend).

Spooky Friends by Jane Feder


Review: Igor the Mummy and Scarlet the Vampire are friends.  The trouble is that they just don’t agree…ever!  Three short chapters capture their unlikely, yet realistic, friendship.  I really like this book.  Today, though, the group was silly…and this sweet story of friendship wasn’t fitting the mood of the group.

Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson


Review: Skeleton’s been invited to a party, and he’s in luck: there’s a dance contest!  He just needs to make it to the party in once piece.  With a great groove, this book begs to be read aloud.  Having the kids do a call-and-response chant every time the words “Doing the Halloween hustle” is a way to make this book interactive and memorable.

Read-Aloud Tuesday

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes


Four animals – a squirrel, bird, fox, and dog – have a problem: they’re each having a bad day.  But the day changes when each finds a unique solution to change the outcome of the day.  Super-short, this worked very well! Clear problems and solutions, along with Henkes’s vibrant illustrations, were enjoyed by all.  H said this was his favorite of today’s stories.

Like this book?  Try Good News, Bad News

Hugs for Pearl by Paul Schmid


Pearl loves hugs.  There’s just one problem: Pearl is – gasp! – a porcupine with sharp quills.  What is she to do?  The students really enjoyed this after reading Perfectly Percy last week.  One girl asked where Perch was in this story; another commented that Pearl had a problem, just like Percy.  Pairing these in back to back weeks fostered great connections.

Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira


A little pink pig sits on a lilypad in a pond that’s home to the frogs.  When the frogs ask him why he’s there, he replies, “Ribbit!” and causes chaos and confusion among the frogs.  A lovely, unexpected story about friendship and making friends, this is perfect for ages 4+.

Patch by David Slonim


Told in three very short “chapters”, Patch and his owner show what life is like for a dog and his owner.  We read chapter 1 (“Rabbits”) this week, and the children were quite eager to hear the rest of the story.  Next week!