Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A NF Book for Children - Learning About Poverty

art by Sarah S. Brannen
         Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  
       It’s not easy to explain poverty to young children and to further explain that it can mean homelessness, but it is a complex issue, so also means those with little income, needing to choose to use their limited funds to buy food, or go to a doctor, or pay the utility bills. Dr. Jillian Roberts writes in her author’s note that she read this quote, discovered who said it and contacted him. The quote by Jaime Casap, “Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up; ask them what problem they want to solve,” started their collaboration to inspire children to help solve a most important problem in our world--homelessness. She says the result is this book. 

       Following a group of three children who ask questions, each page offers the question and gives brief but clear answers. One helpful addition found on each page is one specific added explanation, like this page which gives more information about mental illness. The brief illustrations by Jane Heinrichs of the children looking for answers and sometimes showing concern to those answers offer a personal connection for children reading this. Here is one example of the way the double spreads of the pages look. And the resource page showing all three that were the questioners in this book.

left side

right side

      When classrooms of any elementary age want to study social justice issues, this book will help start that research, discussion, and hopefully, action. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Monday Books Shared

          Visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else's wonderful posts of books they share. My TBR list grows every Monday!

         It's a challenge to review a book of poetry when every poem is a delight. This recently published, and delightful, book offers a creative and new way to teach about those pesky things called "punctuation marks". Lee Bennett Hopkins has given me that challenge in his new collection that includes a poem about every.single.mark. Poems are written by Lee and others you will recognize: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Charles Ghigna, Allan Wolf, Julie Larios, Alice Schertle, J. Patrick Lewis, Michele Krueger, Jane Yolen, Prince Redcloud, Joan Bransfield Graham, and Betsy Franco. Think of this opening by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, "A Punctuation Tale" that starts the excitement of best learning how these (sometimes mysteries) help communicate exactly what one wants to share when writing: 

"Soon once again
you said away
to the island of End of Day,
where sky is a scribble
of lights and darks–

                   "good night"

cuddled/in quotation marks."  Wait till you read ALL of this poem.

         Serge Bloch's whimsical illustrations add to the learning with cartoon-like interpretations of each poem. In J. Patrick Lewis' poem "Stubby The Hyphen", Bloch shows several animals' bodies connected with, yes a hyphen.
         Lee Bennett Hopkins ends this delightful poetry with one final poem, "Lines Written for You To Think About". In it, he gives several challenges that include different punctuation marks. 
         For every classroom, for help with punctuation lessons, for celebrating "after" the lessons and showing how poems can include information, this is the book!

           With alternating chapters, the two main characters tell the story, adding layers from both genders around assault and consent, a conversation that would be good to happen for all adolescents. 
           The setting is the Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school full of traditions that are not always safe. Jules Devereux is eager to have her senior year done so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She is a stand-out, fights norms when she can, with a bit of help from a counselor, yet past years' behavior and ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends do not help. Jamie Baxter feels out of place. For instance, he's really never had to dress for dinner, but he's landed here with a hockey scholarship that will help him escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches. Two other classmates add to this mix of hurt - struggling and smart teens trying so hard to do the right thing, which is "not" the tradition. 
            Pressures to play by the rules, and NOT tell anything that may hurt the school remain rigid. The book shows these teens' thoughts and pain, and the yearning to have someone stand with them to fight back. I imagine every teen will recognize some things about their high school lives in this book, and wish they had the friendships that emerge. Or, I hope they recognize their friends they know they can count on. It's harsh but I enjoyed how Brendan Kiely (co-author with Jason Reynolds of All American Boys) wrote this serious story.

          In a wordless picture book, the reader must take much time to look, to choose what’s important, perhaps personally, perhaps considering what others might think. Kerascoët,   husband and wife illustrators, focus only on the children in this story of kindness, the actions of one “speaking louder than words” and the reaction of another who also must be considered. All kinds of children in bright colors, wearing backpacks and going to school, all kinds of children on the playground at recess, and one lone girl walking home who’s confronted by a bully. What happens next can be a discussion in itself. This may be wordless, but in “reading aloud” I imagine many will have words to share in a lively discussion. Sweet, sweet book for this school year beginning and for those who would wish to have it for a child at home.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

It's August - So #PB10for10 - Hurrah!

      It's PictureBook10for10 (#PB10for10) where many share ten picture books that are Must Haves! Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning host this wonderful tradition. You can find everyone's posts HERE!

This is a most fun day of the summer. Although I no longer teach, I'm now working at a used bookstore and among other duties, am in charge of our children's section. I also review books for various memes and on Goodreads. I want to keep up with the latest, yet also remember those books still of value for children, in and out of the classroom. My TBR list grows. Thanks, Cathy and Mandy, this is a tradition I look forward to every year!

Here are my previous posts for   2011     2012     2013     2014     2015    2016     2017

I've decided to choose one book from each of my previous lists, plus three more that I've loved this year, so far! (There are more than three, and more on the way!)

2011 - books I couldn't teach without

The Important Book – by Margaret Wise Brown, ill. by Leonard Weisgard – It’s pure poetry, or is it?  It’s also a book that can help students summarize, get to the core of ‘what’s important’.  I use this for both ideas.

2012 - a variety of books - old classics for younger children, newer ones for middle grade 

Frédérick written and illustrated by Leo Leonni – I cannot omit a book that’s about poetry and this is one of the best.  It tells the story of the little mouse Frederick who doesn’t seem to be doing any work to help his community survive a harsh winter, but he does, oh yes, he does that beautifully.

2013 - showing diversity 

Tia Isa Wants A Car – written by Meg Medina and illustrated by Claudio Munoz
               Meg Medina tells this story of people who don’t have a lot of money, but save for something important, like a car, and still send money back to family in their former country, to be respected for their sacrifice and discipline as they save.  A little sister tells the story about her older sister, Tia Isa, who wants a car so they all can go to the beach.  There are some sweet actions by the little sister in the book, doing what she can do to help. Some Spanish is included, but the country of origin is not told. The illustrations are watercolor, simple and realistic.

2014 - a variety and uses for various ages  

For use in writing workshop: Sometimes it's good to choose a topic, to show students that writing about a common topic can show the diversity of our opinions, and we learn so much about each other.  Bookspeak, Poems About Books is a great mentor text for celebrating point of view. Laura Purdie Salas shares her lovely poems in both different structures and different kinds of ways to look at writing. A favorite is her poem about the sadness of being the book's "middle" instead of being "first" or "last".