Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are YOU Reading? January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey.

Be sure to also visit Jen at Teach.Mentor.Text  and Kellee at Unleashing Readers for links to all of the blogs participating in the Picture Book to YA addition of It's Monday! What Are You Reading!

I'm so happy to be dusting off the blog and getting back to joining this fantastic meme. I'm thankful for those who have reached out to me (you know who you are), encouraging me to return to sharing my passion for literacy here!  While my day job has changed, my love of reading and connecting readers of all ages with fantastic books has remained at the heart of who I am and what I do! For those who don't know, I left the classroom (and the district I taught in for 19 years) to accept a Literacy Strategist role in a district about 35 miles north of where I live. The story of how it all came about is one for another day (and is AMAZING), but I'll just say that this new chapter was one I've been dreaming of for a long time, divinely appointed for this time in my career. I'm LOVING it!

In 2015 I'm attempting to read and post at least one book for each day of the calendar year. So here you will find my posts from the previous week of #bookaday #photoaday postings. 

A photo posted by literacydocent (@literacydocent) on

A photo posted by literacydocent (@literacydocent) on

So there you have it...another week of reading is in the books!
Have a fantastic week among the pages!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Build a Library Book Shower

We've all been there. We get our first teaching job. Our first classroom. We can hardly contain our excitement about the upcoming year...and then we walk into that new classroom for the first time and reality hits us square in the face! If we're lucky, we are replacing a teacher and so we find furniture, teaching manuals, math manipulatives, textbooks, maybe even school supplies ordered by the previous teacher. For some of us, our position and classroom may be a new addition to the building to address an increase in enrollment. In that case, we *might* find furniture and that's about it. In either situation, one thing we are less likely to find is a well stocked classroom library. More often than not, the bulk of a classroom library is purchased with our own funds, maybe some Scholastic bonus points and various donations. But the bulk of the collection goes with us as we move on to another teaching  assignment.

The latter was the exact situation my friend, Katie, found herself in this summer. She has landed her first classroom and I'm so excited for her and the students who will be blessed to be in her classroom. I saw her one evening back in late June, right after she had made her first visit to see her new teaching space. Excitement was overshadowed by panic as she shared with me that she only found student desks, chairs, and a teacher desk in her new space. I remember the look on her face as she asked me, "What am I going to do about a classroom library? There are no books!"  The look on her face and those words kept replaying through my mind as I drove home that night.

The library has always been the heartbeat of my own classroom. It is essential to every single aspect of the learning environment. It is also always the MOST expensive part of the classroom to build. Right away I started brainstorming ways I might be able to help Katie build a library for her 3rd grade classroom. I knew I had some multiple copies of books that I could certainly donate, which got me thinking. Maybe other friends and family would like to help with some donations also. I'd seen a few pictures of "book" themed baby showers and an idea of a Build a Library Book Shower started forming in my mind. I called a mutual friend, Sarah, who is also a teacher, to ask if she would like to co-plan and host the event with me. The key was that we wanted it to be a surprise for Katie. 

The planning was SO much fun! I have to say, if I wasn't working in education, I think I would LOVE being a party planner. We planned a menu where each food item was tied to a picture book appropriate for 3rd grade. I created book banners for decorating and Sarah made adorable Book Worm goodie bags for the guests. In the invitation, we made suggestions for 3rd grade appropriate series, author studies, and read alouds to assist guests with ideas. We suggested that books could be new or gently used, and also welcomed gift cards to a local independent book store or Amazon. All the picture books we used on the Food Table were also given to her at the end of the evening.  We pulled off the surprise and Katie left with over three boxes of great books and several gift cards to grow her classroom library!
Coconut Curry Chicken Skewers 
Pasta Salad
BBQ Meatballs
Garden Veggies and Dip
Cheese and Crackers
Mini No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecakes
Southern Sweet Tea
Pink Lemonade
Super cute Book Worm Goodie Bags
Watching Katie go through the boxes was SO much fun! Of course I had to keep stopping her with book talks and gasps of "Oh I love that book (or series) SO much!"
The guest of honor with the party hosts! Love these two girls so much! Students in their classrooms are so, so blessed!
Wouldn't this be a lovely way to welcome a new staff member to your building? You can change up the menu based on the grade level the new staff member will be teaching. Add fun bookmarks or book plates as party favors. Another idea would be to have staff members had their favorite read alouds, favorite quotes, or words for wisdom in a nice journal. The teacher could use the journal to write daily reflections from their first year of teaching, or their first year in a new grade level, building, or district. The possibilities are endless...and the rewards are far reaching as we encourage our new staff members and support well stocked classroom libraries!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Picture Book 10 for 10

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to see my 2014 10 for 10 list! This has certainly become one of my favorite days of the year!I can't believe another whole year has passed and we are once again celebrating this wonderful (and expensive) day for a FIFTH year!  It's so fantastic to have a day where picture books are celebrated across grade levels and contents. 

In the past four years I've highlight my top 10 picture books for Kindergarten readers, top 10 picture books for intermediate readers, top 10 picture books for building character & community, top 10 Maine picture book authors/illustrators, and top 10 picture book book trailers. This year I had a lot of themes swirling around in my head and finally decided on my drive home from New York today to highlight my top 10 picture books about books and/or reading.  All of the titles have become favorites that I love sharing with readers of all ages. 

(description from Publisher's Weekly) With a pinch of the tWith a pinch of the tongue-in-cheek and a pound of perseverance, this droll wolf story is a charmer. When a hungry, nearly penniless itinerant wolf decides to make a meal of some barnyard animals, he finds that they won't even look up from their books. "This is a farm for educated animals," they tell him. The wolf is caught so off guard that he forgets about his appetite and enrolls in school. When he takes his newfound knowledge back to the farm and proudly reads, "Run wolf! Run!" the animals go on "reading their own books, not the least impressed." Not until the wolf makes repeat visits to the library and buys his own storybook (with his last coins) can he read "with confidence and passion," entrancing the cow, pig and duck with story after story.

(description from Goodreads) Cal is not the readin' type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he'd rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that's not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish; or is she braver than he ever thought? That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history; the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.

(description from Goodreads) With the help of Miss Brooks, Missy’s classmates all find books they love in the library—books about fairies and dogs and trains and cowboys. But Missy dismisses them all—“Too flowery, too furry, too clickety, too yip pity.” Still, Miss Brooks remains undaunted. Book Week is here and Missy willfind a book to love if they have to empty the entire library. What story will finally win over this beastly, er, discriminating child? William Steig’sShrek!—the tale of a repulsive green ogre in search of a revolting bride—of course! Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley pay playful homage to the diverse tastes of child readers and the valiant librarians who are determined to put just the right book in each child’s hands

(description from Goodreads) One sunlit afternoon, a bear discovers a mysterious fragment of paper that leads him to a cabin and to an unlikely friend. Although he can't understand her words, he returns day after day all summer to hear the woman read to him. Each night he carries the sound of her stories--of sailors and goddesses and far-off lands--back to his cave. The stories are from another world, but their sound touches him

(description from Goodreads) Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn't have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?  This endearing story of friendship and patience is a worthy companion to Philip and Erin Stead's last collaboration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.

(description from Goodreads) Elizabeth Brown doesn't like to play with dolls and she doesnt like to skate. What she does like to do is read books. Lots of books. The only problem is that her library has gotten so big she can't even use her front door anymore. What should Elizabeth Brown do? Start her own public library, of course! With charming verse and watercolors Sarah Stewart and David Small celebrate one of America's oldest and finest institutions.

(description from Goodreads) Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn’t like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books . . . if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favorite). And the more he eats, the smarter he gets—he’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world! But one day he feels sick to his stomach. And the information is so jumbled up inside, he can’t digest it! Can Henry find a way to enjoy books without using his teeth? With a stunning new artistic style and a die-cut surprise, Oliver Jeffers celebrates the joys of reading in this charming and quirky picture book. It’s almost good enough to eat.

(description from Indie Bound) Tomas is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather's wonderful stories. But before long, Tomas knows all the stories by heart. "There are more stories in the library," Papa Grande tells him. The very next day, Tomas meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him. Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomas Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries, and education, can make possible. 

(description from Goodreads) Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever. In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. 

(description from Amazon)  Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages. Granted I only use this one with adult learners, but I love it SO much! 

It's been so fun to participate in #pb10for10 from the very beginning. I am always excited to see what spin others will take with their lists. Thank you to Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) atReflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek (@mandyrobek) atEnjoy and Embrace Learning for continuing to host this fantastic celebration of picture books! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday! What Are YOU Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey.

Be sure to also visit Jen and Kellee at Teach.Mentor.Text for blogs participating in the Picture Book to YA addition of It's Monday! What Are You Reading!
I feel like I'm always saying it's been a busy week and I didn't get much reading done.  Last week was no exception. I'm four days away from Spring Break and I Can.Not.Wait for the break from all things school related. Of course I'm also looking forward to more reading time!  Oh...and did I mention I get to meet Kate Messner this week? She's the keynote speaker at the 24th Annual Reading Round Up of Children's and YA Literature Conference in Augusta, ME! I also have the honor of presenting a workshop there with my friend Cathy Potter, school librarian and co-author of The Non-Fiction Detectives Blog, on using Skype to connect readers and authors outside the four walls of a classroom or school library.  So excited about all this week has to offer in the way of bookish things!
Picture Books I read last week
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (April, 2013)
Okay, before you read anymore add this title to your "I MUST BUY THIS BOOK TODAY" list. Go on....I'll wait....did you? Okay, let me tell you about this little gem you're going to buy this week.  Oh, wait! I first must give full credit for finding this little gem to my amazing public children's librarian, Deanna. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my reader's heart, Deanna, for bringing this one to my attention! the book...Nugget and Fang are best friends, even though Fang is a shark and Nugget is a minnow. Life is good...until Nugget's first day of Minnow School. Nugget is shocked to find out that he's supposed to afraid of sharks, and so begins the self-doubt of his ability to choose friends wisely. Fang of course is devastated and immediately begins to employ laugh out loud hilarious measures to regain Nugget's trust. This super funny story includes themes of friendship, peer pressure, and not judging people by what others think. The illustrations really add to the awesomeness of this book too! Great read aloud potential!
Publisher:  Chronicle Books (Jan. 2013)

Middle grade books I read last week
Middle Grade books I listened to last week

Publisher: Candlewick Press (Mar. 2013)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

I'm currently reading

This week I'm planning to read

So there you have it...another week of reading is in the books!
Have a fantastic week among the pages!

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Monday! What are YOU reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey.

Be sure to also visit Jen and Kellee at Teach.Mentor.Text for blogs participating in the Picture Book to YA addition of It's Monday! What Are You Reading!
Last week I read

Publisher:  Scholastic Press (April, 2013)

If you're looking for an action packed jungle adventure dripping with mystery then Kate Messner's second addition to her Capture the Flag series is just the book! José, Anna, and Henry travel to the rain forests of Costa Rica to find the Silver Jaguar Society's treasured Jaguar Cup. Great characters and lots of action will keep readers hooked to end...and anxiously awaiting the next installment!

Last week it was announced that Amazon had purchased Goodreads. This news was concerning for many who use Goodreads. Users are concerned about how Amazon will use the reviews that have been written into Goodreads and how this will affect book sales for independent bookstores.  It's clear that people like the ease of ordering books on line. I get that! I order on line occasionally myself. But while it's still unclear exactly what changes this acquisition will bring, one thing is certain, if we don't continue to support independent bookstores as well, they may become a thing of the past.
Now you might be wonder why I bring this whole issue up as a part of my It's Monday, What are YOU Reading post. Well, Kate Messner shared a great idea on her blog about how she intended to continue local independent bookstores while still using Goodreads that I that was fantastic! You can read her entire post here, but the idea is a simple one. End each review with a link to IndieBound. Genius, right? So here's the link I added to my review of Hide and Seek:

I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order HIDE AND SEEK on IndieBound:

I'll be going back to reviews I've already written as I have time to add a link, but from now on, I'll also be adding a link to any new reviews I write. I hope you'll consider doing the same.

While I had little time for middle grade novel/nonfiction reading last week, I did get to catch up on some of my picture book reading. Three of my favorites were:

Publisher: Scholastic Press (March, 2013)
As an admitted over-user of the exclamation mark, I LOVED this book!!! Exclamation mark doesn't fit in with all the other periods... even though he tries, he simply stands out too much. When question mark, whose inquisitive nature causes him to quickly strike up a friendship with exclamation mark, the story gets interesting. Exclamation finally gets sick and tired of question marks constant questions and he discovers what he is truly made for! As is usual with the talented, witty team of Rosenthal and Lichtenheld, the book is filled with smart word play and visual puns. You won't want to miss this one!!!!! Trust me!!!!

by Leslie Muir (Illus. by Julian Hector)
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (March, 2012)
C.R. Mudgeon is a hedgehog who likes the slow and comfortable pace of his very predictable life. He is quite rattled by his new and very animated neighbor, Paprika, who is quite his opposite. Paprika shows C.R. Mudgeon how to let loose a bit and teaches him that good friendships are the "spice of life."  Loved the subtle wordplay and supporting illustrations. Really fun read!
Publisher: Nosy Crow (August, 2012)
I love variations on favorite tales and this one is not only cute and funny and clever, but it has a wonderful and unexpected surprise at the end. Bear somehow gets lost while walking in the woods and ends up in a bustling city. To escape from the noise and overcrowded streets, he enters a high rise apartment complex where he tries to find something to eat, a place to sit, and somewhere to sleep. When the family that lives in the apartment arrives home, one of them turns out to be a long-lost friend.  The illustrations are a strength of this book and had me going back for have a second...and third...and fourth look. Really fun read!

I'm currently reading

This week I'm planning to read

So there you have it...another week of reading is in the books!
Have a fantastic week among the pages!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Timmy Failure-Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
by Stephan Pastis
Publisher: Candlewick Press (Feb. 2013)
Recommended Age: 8-11
Review copy provided by the publisher.

From the Publisher: Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure -- the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile -- Timmy’s mom’s Segway -- and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won’t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn’t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into "Stanfurd" that he can’t carry out a no-brainer spy mission.

I loved the cover of this book as soon as I took it out of the envelope. Then I read the first page...

"It's harder to drive a polar bear into somebody's living room than you'd think. You need a living room window that's big enough to fit a car. You need a car that's big enough to fit a polar bear. And you need a polar bear that's big enough to not point out your errors. Like the fact that you've driven into the wrong house. Which, when it comes to cars in living rooms, is bad."

And then I fell in love with Timmy,  a kid detective who attempts to solve local cases with the help of his business partner a 1500 lb polar bear named Total. I mean, who wouldn't after an opening like that?!? The only problem is Timmy's perception of himself as a successful detective is far from reality. The reality is that Timmy often misses the most obvious clues in his cases with entertaining effects.  What I liked most about this book was that while humor is definitely the focus, there are also so serious issues that Timmy must face woven within the hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings. His friendship with Total the polar bear is definitely on the rocks, he feels like he has to deal with his mother and the hard times that she is going through, and he has to face the possibility of not passing third grade. Timmy way of "coping" is to place all his energy is his detective agency.  The layout of the book, the drawings and the pages that have whole page notebook cutouts make this new series very engaging for kids, especially those who like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Strange Case of Origami Yoda series.

I handed Timmy Failure to my 11 year old nephew the day I got it and he read it in one sitting, then recommended it to our children's librarian when we went to the library. I book talked it the following Monday in my classroom and intervention groups. It hasn't been on the shelf since then!  You will definitely want to add this series to your classroom, school, or public library collection.

Timmy has his own website that includes information about the author, Stephen Pastis, fun activities, and information about Total Failure, Inc. Be sure to visit!

Courtesy of Candlewick Press I’m excited to be able to offer one reader a  copy of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis. Leave a comment on this post and you are entered! It's that's easy. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I contact you if you are the winner. The giveaway is open to residents of the US  only. Comment before  Friday, March 29, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.
This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to the winner, Stacey (@libraryjo92)!