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May 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

I’m Back!

Sorry for the long hiatus.  I had to take a break from the blog in order to focus on pursuing National Board certification and planning my wedding (I don’t recommend doing both at the same time.)  Now that my portfolio has been submitted and thank you cards have been sent, I have more time to read children’s literature!

Check back each week for more reviews.

June 30, 2011 at 6:40 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

137. When Lightning Comes in a Jar by Patricia Polacco

Retell: Patricia Polacco describes a fun-filled family reunion where the adults challenge the kids to baseball games, the aunties make meatloaf and jello salads, and everyone catches fireflies.

Topics: reunions, family, baseball, curiosity, storytelling, fireflies, tradition, parties

Units of Study: Memoir, Personal Narrative

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating sensory details, storytelling

My Thoughts: When planning read alouds, I have been trying to create text sets, planning books not just by unit of study, but by themes.  I’m thinking of creating a text set with the theme of ‘traditions’ which may include  When Lightning Comes in a Jar, The Keeping Quilt, and When the Relatives Came.  This book could also be great to read when you are teaching students to storytell to their partners.  Storytelling is a Polacco family reunion tradition.

November 30, 2009 at 9:10 am Leave a comment

132. The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George

the first thanksgivingRetell: The story of the first Thanksgiving which addresses some former misconceptions.

Topics: Thanksgiving, Cape Cod, Plymouth Rock, Pawtuxets, slavery, Squanto, Puritans, Mayflower, survival, death, cooperation, farming

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Social Issues

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: When I was a kid, I learned about how the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.  They toiled through the winter and many people died.  I learned how Squanto helped the Pilgrims plant corn, beans and squash and as a gesture of peace, the Native Americans and the Pilgrims sat together to celebrate the harvest.  What I didn’t learn until I read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen is how Squanto came to learn English–he had been a slave in London.  Several years before the Pilgrims arrival, Squanto had been tricked onto a boat headed for Spain.  He was purchased by a merchant ship owner from London.  Squanto eventually sailed back to the village that he had been stolen from only to find that his entire village had died from smallpox!

This book attempts to tell the story of the first Thanksgiving without glossing over the contributions of the Wampanoag and of Squanto.  I plan on reading this during the few days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I also think I want to reread it during our Social Issues unit.

November 15, 2009 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

129. Amos & Boris by William Steig

amos and borisRetell: A mouse named Amos and a whale named Boris become friends after Boris saves Amos from drowning.  When he is returned to land Amos vows to help Boris if he’s ever in need.  Many years later Boris finds himself washed up on the very beach where Amos lives.  Though he is but a tiny mouse, Amos makes good on his promise.

Topics: ocean, adventures, survival, help, mammals, friendship, goodbyes, relationships

Units of Study: Character, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: interpretation, prediction, monitoring for sense, envisionment

My Thoughts: This story is so heartwarming that you may have to have a box of tissues ready for the end of the read aloud.  Steig’s illustrations are so simple, yet he has a great way of expressing emotion.  Often there is a lot more going on in the text than in the illustrations.  When reading this book aloud, it’s important to show how readers must envision even when illustrations are present.

 

November 8, 2009 at 5:02 pm 1 comment

120. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

where the wild things areRetell: After Max is sent to bed without supper he imagines traveling to a world where he becomes king of the wild things.  Being a wild things is fun for awhile but he learns that it cannot compare to the comforts of home.

Topics: monsters, mischief, disobedience, imagination, travel, dreams, home

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About texts

Habits of Mind: creating-innovating-imagining

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, crafting endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I dressed up as a wild thing for our recent school Halloween parade.  I looked more like a hairy viking than a wild thing, but I get points for trying.  To introduce my costume I read this book aloud.  Many of them had heard it before.  I’m glad I was able to tuck in this classic read aloud before the majority of my students head to the cinema to see the movie.  Upon rereading it, I realized that one has to do a huge amount of envisionment as they read the text.  The illustrations are wonderful, but they don’t reveal all.  When reading this book aloud I recommend using the pages where there is no text to have your students (or your own children) role play and act like Max or the wild things.  You can encourage them to make noise like them, talk like them, move like them and think like them.

November 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

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