Posts filed under ‘Picture Books’

151. The Ant Bully by John Nickle

Retell:  Lucas constantly gets picked on by the neighborhood bully. He takes out his frustration on the ants in front of his house. The ants decide to take revenge and teach Lucas a lesson.

Topics:  bullying, revenge, ants

Units of Study:  Fantasy

Tribes:  mutual respect

Reading Skills:  analyzing character motivation, interpretation

Writing Skills:  experimenting with sentence structure

Thoughts:  Apparently this story was made into an animated movie back in 2006.  I guess I’ve been out of the loop.

This is a great read aloud for teaching about karma, the Golden Rule and the basic concept of treating others (even non-humans) with respect.  It’s also a great mentor text for students writing fantasy stories.  The structure is short and simple enough to mirror the fantasy stories that upper grade students may be writing.  It’s also great for demonstrating how stories can be structured around teaching the reader a lesson.

Unfortunately, it looks like this book is out of print.  Definitely worth a trip to your local library.

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August 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

150. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini

Retell:  Gritch the Witch wakes up one morning with an intense craving for ‘piggie pie’. When she discovers that she is missing the main ingredient she heads to Old MacDonald’s Farm where she meets some crafty pigs.

Topics: witches, pigs, nursery rhymes, cultural literacy, Old MacDonald, wolves, Wizard of Oz

Units of Study:  Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Habits of Mind:  Persisting, Thinking Flexibly

Reading Skills:  Understanding humor, catching cultural references

Writing Skills:  Writing commas in a list, Including alliteration, Using sentence variety

Thoughts:  I can see reading this book during a study of fairy tales and folk tales.  To thoroughly understand the story, students need to have a good understanding of the song “Old Macdonald”, the movie The Wizard of Oz as well as the role of the wolf in fairy tales.  Though this book may be geared to children under 8, this could be a good book to read for older children when teaching readers to analyze cultural references.  The “Spy vs. Spy” endings makes the story.

July 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

147. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela S. Turner

Retell: Everyday Hachiko accompanies his owner,  Dr. Ueno to Shibuya Station and patiently awaits his return.  When Dr. Ueno doesn’t return one day Hachiko continues to wait at the station…for ten years.

Topics:  dogs, Japan, loss, loyalty, Tokyo

Units of Study:  Nonfiction, Memoir

Tribes:  mutual respect, appreciations/no put downs

Habits of Mind:  persistence

Writing Skills:  using imagery, describing setting details

My Thoughts:  A colleague of mine gave me this book as a gift knowing my connection with Japan.  I taught in Japan for three years.  Last summer when I visited Japan again I took a trip to Shibuya Station and learned about the story of Hachiko.

I’m not sure if I’d be able to read this book out loud to my class without crying, or making someone else cry.  It’s such a beautiful book though.  I can see using this as a mentor text for showing how writers describe the setting.  Many of my students have difficulty describing anything but the weather.  This text shows how a writer takes time to describe the ‘action’ of the setting–the movement of the crowd, the clothes the people are wearing, etc.

June 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

146. When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Retell: Rylant beautifully recalls her childhood where she swam in swimming holes and sat on porch swings.

Topics: grandparents, family, rural communities, childhood, country

Units of Study: Memoir, Personal Narrative

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing commas in lists, including poignant details

My Thoughts: This is a read aloud classic that I have rediscovered.  My class has just started collecting ideas for their memoirs.  I read this book out loud the other day.  Though half the class had read it previously, there were no groans when I showed the cover and read the title.  During a “turn-and-talk” I over heard one student convincing her partner that the author was trying to show how special rural life can be.  She said, “In the city, you are never allowed to go outside by yourself.  But in this book the girl was allowed to go to the swimming hole all by herself.  I think this book might be about freedom.”  I had never actually read this book in that way before.  I love it when my students make me see a book in a new light.

Read this book when you need the room to go to a peaceful, sentimental silence.

May 9, 2010 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

145. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Retell: A boy visits the home of the Once-ler who, for a fee, tells him the story of how he destroyed the pristine Truffula Forest and its inhabitants.

Topics: trees, deforestation, environment, environmentalists, pollution, consumption, greed, factories, habitat, animals, Earth Day

Units of Study: Social Issues, Content Area, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: Mutual Respect

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating rhyme and rhythm, connecting the beginning with its ending

My Thoughts: I recently read this book to my class to celebrate Earth Day.  There were misty eyes when the last truffula tree was cut down; I have never heard the room so quiet.  Upon rereading I noticed how well the illustrations supported inferential thinking throughout the story.  Specifically, the color of the illustrations helps support the idea that without trees the world is a dark, miserable place.  In the beginning of the story, the pages are illustrated in dark tones:  navy, burgundy, and gray.  When the Once-ler flashes back to the first days of his Thneed venture, the illustrations are painted in bright, cheerful hues:  magenta, yellow, green and turquoise.  One student pointed out toward the beginning of the story, while the illustrations were still bright and cheery, the Once-ler’s materials were painted in dark tones, a premonition that the environment was going to change for the worse.

May 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

144. Just Us Women by Jeanette Caines

Retell: A niece describes her annual road trip with her favorite aunt.

Topics: road trips, family, freedom, women, bonding

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: applying past knowledge to new situations, thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

My Thoughts: I’m beginning a new unit this week–a unit devoted to strengthening my students inference and interpretation skills.  I’m looking for short and engaging texts to read aloud.  This is a great text for modeling how readers can infer a lot of information about a character/relationship from a simple line of text.

February 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

143. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

Retell: Through a worm’s diary the reader learns about the ups and downs of being an earthworm.

Topics: earthworms, diaries, composting, differences, predators, soil

Units of Study: Content Area, Nonfiction

Habits of Mind: Finding Humor

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, synthesis

My Thoughts: My class has just started a study on earthworms.  Before read aloud each day we check on our worms working hard in our new worm compost bin.  Students are bringing food scraps from their lunches (one student even brought coffee grounds from home).  A colleague of mine referred me to this adorable book that allows readers to look at the world through the humorous perspective of a young earthworm.  I think this book will make an excellent mentor text for students who are deciding to write narrative nonfiction pieces.  It’s a great text for teaching readers to be on the look out for jokes and for teaching writers how to incorporate humor into their writing.

January 31, 2010 at 8:02 pm 1 comment

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