Adventures in Literacy Land: book recommendations

Showing posts with label book recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book recommendations. Show all posts

A Lesson with Tanny McGregor

Throughout the life of our Literacy Land blog we have posted several times about the lessons within the Comprehension Connections book by Tanny McGregor.  Her lessons have proven to make comprehension strategies "come alive" for my students.

Several months ago Tanny asked to do a lesson with my students....ummmm....YES!!!!

Her lesson centered around theme and my students left with a strong foundation of the meaning and purpose behind theme.  I go into great detail about the lesson and everything that took place over at Curious Firsties.

Within the lesson, Tanny used three different texts.  She called them "text cousins."
They were text cousins because they were each different but share the same possible or similar theme (much like cousins).  She explained this visually with a triangle and a heart.  The three texts make up the triangle and the heart is the "deeper" piece that they share.

She started with the poem.  The students heard the poem, read the poem about 2-3 times.  Then they had a quick discussion about the theme.  When Tanny moved on to the second text, Each Kindness, she used only the illustrations.  And not even all the illustrations.  Just a few of them.  Then students had a discussion about theme.  The third text used was Red.  Tanny read this story aloud and stopped briefly at certain points to discuss what was happening.  Then there was a discussion about the theme.

Now, there was much, much more to the lesson than this.  But the WAY that she used the texts sent me a powerful message.  And it got me thinking...

The lesson was probably 45ish minutes long (I was not watching the clock). Tanny used three different types of texts in one lesson within that time frame.  Each piece of text was provided so much meaning and connected well to the lesson.

The poem by Jeff Moss was short but immediately the students understood that someone was being left out, someone was being picked on, and someone was being mean.

I have no idea about the actual story from, Each Kindness, but we gathered quite a bit of information from the illustrations.  A quick discussion and some "turn and talk" time was completely sufficient for the students to make connections between the poem and illustrations.

The third text was read in its entirety.  Red was a beautiful story about the strength that children can have and it served as an excellent way to bring all three texts together.  But Tanny did not have to stop on each page and have a discussion for these connections to be made.  The story was powerful and clear enough on its own.

As I reflected on the lesson, materials, and pacing, I realized that I would not have thought to use multiple texts in one sitting, in one lesson.  I tend to use multiple sources over a period of days.  And I would never look at only a few illustrations from a picture book.  No way!! I would read the whole story, of course.

This lesson opened my eyes.

When planning lessons, I need to think outside my comfort zone.  Look at how I can make these text to text connections stronger for students by using multiple sources of information.  My teammate, Karen, decided that she could pair some nonfiction texts with fiction texts by merely using certain aspects of books (such as photographs, maps, or diagrams).  I will be sitting on this new learning for a little while.  I have a good feeling that it will be changing the way I approach lessons.

What are your thoughts?  Do any book pairs come to mind right away?


Black History Month Book Recommendations

This is Deniece from This Little Piggy Reads.
In February, my school celebrates Black History Month with a huge program that every grade level participates in.  Over the past decade we have celebrated many ways, including "faux wax museums", poetry readings, choir performances and plays.  It is standing room only!  

During the month I make it a point to read a variety books to my students.  I try to read both fiction and non-fiction texts that introduce them to new people/characters they can relate to.  I normally do not read the entire book.  Instead, I read a chapter to hook them!  I consider this to be more like a book trailer and/or a book review.
I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This book is Dr. King's speech beautifully illustrated.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
This book includes primary sources and is a pretty amazing read.

Let's Read About Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges and Grace Maccarone, 
Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
An easy reader that's a good introduction to non-fiction.

Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe, Illustrated by Ellen Lindner
I've read a few books about The Little Rock Nine.  I haven't read this specific book; however, it is a graphic novel and my kiddos LOVE all graphic novels.  I have a feeling this book will end up in my classroom library this year!

This series of books is AHHH-MAZING!  I love these quick reads.  I have a small variety of the What Was books and a larger collection of the Who Was series.  These are perfect non-fiction texts for biography studies.

 The Tuskegee Airmen Story by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly
I have this book and another one about the Tuskegee Airmen.  My boys are obsessed with the Tuskegee Airmen!  Last year for Black History Month, we made paper mache' airmen helmets.  If you'd like to read about my adventure into paper mache', click here

This book is a great option to incorporate STEM.  
My students love aviation and this book was a hit last year!

I am a teacher on a mission.
My mission is to ensure that my students see themselves in the literature that they read.  It is incredibly important for children to see themselves in the stories that they read.  I highly recommend adding any of these books to your classroom or school library.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
This quick read is definitely for 5th grade and up.  If memory serves me right, there are pieces that are written like a diary.  The 3 sisters in this book have to deal with their unconventional mother.  The good news is Rita Williams-Garcia continues the girls' story with two other books.  


Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolen, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I love this book and highly recommend adding it to your Tall Tale Unit.

Ellray Jakes (series) by Sally Warner, Illustrated by Brian Biggs
If your boys don't know Lil' Ellray Jakes...they are missing out.
This is a good introduction to reading a series of books.  It is an easy read and the characters are very relatable.

Liberty Porter, First Daughter by Julia DeVillers, Illustrated by Paige Pooler
This is a new series about the First Daughter.  It is on my "to buy list".  There are a few books in the series and I have a feeling my students will definitely like Liberty!

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Have you heard of Henry "Box" Brown who mailed himself to freedom?
I found out about him a few years ago during Black History Month when our Kindergarteners studied him.  It is a pretty amazing story.  I added this book to my library last year and it both shocked and intrigued my GT students.  We ended up getting a box and many of them would sit inside it when they read the book.  Interesting.

Sugar Plum Ballerinas by Whoopi Goldberg.
I will admit, I heard about this book while watching The View.
It is a newer series, but has been successful.  I have one of them and some of my younger girls will read them.  Again, I think it's a good beginner series.

I know we have many primary grade teachers and although I do not own these books, I did read them when they were at our book fair.  I thought both were beautifully illustrated.  Music is a great way to introduce books in a PK/K classroom.

Do you have a favorite book to celebrate Black History Month? 


Great Books for Boys (and Girls)

Hi, lovely readers! I'm always on the lookout for great new books, especially series, that will appeal to my boys. I feel like I'm pretty set on girl books because I can recommend what I used to read or the latest series on Scholastic. With my students, however, I'm overloaded with boys who hate reading with the exception for maybe Diary of a Wimpy  Kid. I'm not as familiar with graphic novels, although I'm slowly learning my way around.  I've discovered two series recently that are a step away from graphic novels but make a great transition to "regular" books while still showing a decent amount of pictures.

The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda is a fun series about a social outcast who walks around giving advice through his Origami Yoda that he carries around on his finger. This "Origami Yoda" eventually makes him more popular. Lots of humor (and not as "boy gross" as Captain Underpants)! These are written slightly higher, but they're perfect for my fifth grade readers and some of my fourth graders.

Time Warp Trio was a series that I had had a small amount of interaction with before but didn't really know about until this year. Some of these books are graphic novels, although not the whole series. Jon Scieszka is the author, though, and he's kind of the guru on boy books (check out, his website). In this series, a group of boys travel back in time to different important historical periods to help save history. And if you've ever read any of Scieszka's books before, you KNOW they're funny!

What books do you like for your boys?


Creating Our Classroom Enviornment with Books

Summer has ended and for most of us, school has started.  All of our summer planning, relaxation, professional development ideas, and bloggy-inspiration are put to the test.  How are we going to create the classroom environment that we want?  How do we make the kids respect each other and all their differences?  How do I make them listen, trust me, respect me, and want to learn in my class this year?

Lucky us, there are so many great authors and illustrators that have created some amazing books to help us create the environment that we want.  Books that help us to illustrate good listening and respect for others.  I (Em from Curious Firsties) wanted to highlight a few of these books today.  You will have so many more to add to this list.  Please comment below and let us know what other books we can add to our "back to school toolbox."

Respecting Yourself and Others:

All of these books help our students to understand the importance of being yourself and being different from each other.  I always try to emphasize how boring our classroom would be if we were all the same.  And that I would never want to be in a classroom like that.

For "The Crayon Box That Talked" I ask the students to draw me a picture using all the different colors.  When they open the box of crayons that I hand them, they see that all the crayons are the same color.  They start shouting that they cannot make a picture with just one color.

But I make them do it anyway!  Then they get to color a picture with a regular box of crayons.  We discuss the importance of having many colors in our world, just like we need lots of differences in our classroom.

"Cat The Cat Who Is That?" may seem like an odd book to have on my list.  It is a very simple book.  But I read it right along with "I Like Me."  I want the students to think about why they like themselves.

 After they complete a self portrait, I ask them to mirror the language from "Cat The Cat."  They write "I am _________ the ________." (It is also a great book to begin introducing speech bubbles during that first week.)

"Arthur's Nose," "I'm The Best," and "Chrysanthemum" are all stories that do a great job of illustrating a character that does not feel comfortable with what sets them apart from others.  But as the book progresses, they learn to accept themselves and their differences.  What an important skill to hit over and over and over again.

Building Teamwork:

Teamwork....SO important.  I like to work on this skill throughout the whole year because I really believe that it is a life skill that our students need to survive in any job/career that they enter.  Here are a few books that can be used to help reinforce this skill:

I think all of these books help to set the tone for teamwork in a classroom environment, but it is the activities and discussions that you plan and implement with your students that make the most difference.  One example comes with "Rainbow Fish."  Teamwork is not the focus of this book.  It is more about sharing; however, I use it to teach teamwork by putting the kids into groups and asking them to make a fish together.  Once they work together to complete this task, they receive their "sparkle" fin.

This year I will use "Swimmy" to work on teamwork during our first full week of school.  My entire group of first graders will use their individual fish to create one large fish in the hallway!  I love this visual to help them understand the impact that teamwork can have.

Being a Good Listener:

I know that there are some really good books out there to help introduce good listening skills in the classroom but I want to focus on just one right now.

My firsties think this book is so funny!  They crack up as I read it because Rapunzel does not listen to the prince and throws many silly things out of her tower.  This book has some great vocabulary, includes rhyming, but really serves the purpose I need it to: listening.  Rapunzel is a terrible listener.  Once we complete the book, we discuss what a whole body listener would look like and we label those parts on a person.  The book is so engaging and funny that I can refer back to it and remind them to be a whole body listener.

What books do you use to create the classroom environment that you want?


5 Engaging Picture Books for Back to School

Hello, all!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars, and I am back to school already!  I can't believe summer is already over!  My son went back to school today, ready for fifth grade ~ his last year in elementary school.

Our students come back on Thursday, and I am ready.  I usually start my year off reading books aloud to my students to get them back into the swing of things.  Here are five of my favorites!

  I love this book because it helps students and teachers realize that school cannot be everything.  In this book, the principal continues to add time onto the school days and year so that students can learn more and more.  What he doesn't realize is that kids need to be kids.  We all need to learn so much more than what is in textbooks.  Go out and enjoy life during and after school!

The first time I read this book, I was completely surprised, and I think students will be too.  In the book, the "father" is getting someone up for the first day of school.  Of course, she doesn't want to get up, much like our own children.  In the end, students are excited to see who really has "first day jitters".
Of course, this school year will be the best!  I love using this book to help students create their own goals for the year.  The book highlights a class of students and their goals for the year.  Last year I used this book with a fifth grade group, and they had some wonderful goals, both realistic and silly.

The Night Before series are perfect for getting students ready for their next year at school.  My little girl started preschool last year, and we enjoyed reading this book as she got ready for her first day.  Each year the books focus on the struggles a student may have that first day to help alleviate any fears.
Who doesn't love Curious George?  Though this isn't the original Curious George, children are entertained by his antics.  He is a special helper in Mr. Apple's class when his curiosity peaks.  Children understand that school can be a place of fun and excitement.

What are some of your favorite books to help students get ready for back to school?