Find out more about these titles! Click on the book cover to read the annotation! Check out resources from TeachingBooks.net for links to teaching guides, videos, author interviews and more for all of the titles below! And, now, check out the posts below for discussion prompts, annotations, and prompts for each title.

Cover for book i am so braveBook cover to go shapes gobook cover of Shh! We Have a Planbook cover for sam and dave dig a holebook cover for gravity

book cover for separate is never equal

book cover for madman of piney woodsswallowscreaming staircsehow it went down







how it went downHow It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Henry Holt, 2014.Icon_HighSchool

The murder of African American teenager Tariq Johnson and its aftermath is experienced through the voices of witnesses, family members, and his best friend, Tyrell. Two facts are clear: A white man got out of his car and shot Tariq. The police have let that man go free. The rest is conflicting perceptions: Had Tariq just robbed a neighborhood store? (The store owner says no, but his voice is lost in the rush to assume the worst.) Did Tariq have a gun or a Snickers bar in his hand? (Even the two teens from the neighborhood standing close to him disagree.) Meanwhile, as the story hits the news, much of the attention from the media focuses not on the murder but on questions about whether Tariq was a member of the Kings, a neighborhood gang. Tariq and his best friends from childhood all swore they’d never join. Two already have; Junior is even in prison. Tyrell thought Tariq and he were staying strong; now he’s not so sure. But he is sure that Tariq’s death will make it much harder for him to not be drawn or forced into that life. Meanwhile Jennica, who did CPR on Tariq, and whose boyfriend Noodle is in the gang, is desperate to escape her current life. Kekla Magoon’s fearless, tragic, poignant novel examines racism, poverty, violence, and how mightily all of these can trap youth by limiting their options — real and perceived. Not every question is answered outright, but Magoon provides evidence for readers to decide for themselves while adding her voice to the urgent call to acknowledge and address racism and violence.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find teaching guides and ideas and more at Teaching.Books.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Using evidence from the text, explain one character’s perspective of how it went down.
  2. What is Tina’s (the little sister) role in the story? Why does Magoon include non-witness characters like her?
  3. After having read this book, how will this novel effect your view of events in real life similar to those in this novel?

swallowThe Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter. Tundra Books for Middle School AgeBooks, 2014.

Polly often feels lost in the chaos of her big family. But she’s fiery and feisty and doesn’t have trouble speaking her mind. Quiet only child Rose feels invisible. Her parents think about work even when they’re home in the house to which they recently moved, which once belonged to Rose’s grandmother. Polly, who loves ghost stories, wonders if Rose, who can see ghosts, might not be a ghost herself: Rose is pale and wild-looking. Rose’s attempts to convince Polly she’s a real girl recovering from meningitis are temporarily set back when they discover a grave stone with Rose’s name. The girl, the same age as Rose, died years before. Rose realizes this Winifred Rose must be her aunt, and soon encounters the ghost of Winifred at home. Winifred is not only an unhappy ghost, she’s a dangerous one and seems intent on hurting Polly in particular. The two girls are determined to figure out what happened to Winifred and form a deepening friendship as they dig into the past, each finding the companionship and validation they need, each understanding themselves and their families better for knowing one another. Charis Cotter’s satisfyingly scary ghost story, set in 1963 Toronto, is also, and at its most essential, a moving tale of friendship that ends with a revelation.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Swallow at TeachingBooks.net.

  1. Fear is a recurring theme in this story. What are the different kinds of fears that the characters experience? How does this affect the pace and tension in the story?
  1. Explain the way that different characters in the story feel invisible.
  1. The swallow is a symbol throughout the book. What does the swallow represent? What is the significance of the swallow? Why do you think the author used the title, The Swallow?

The Screaming Staircase. (Lockwood & Co.: Book One) by screaming staircseJonathan Stroud. Disney / Hyperion, 2013.

In this parallel universe, London residents are at risk from hostile “Visitors”—aka ghosts. Adults lack the ability to see ghosts, so it’s left to young people to put up a fight. Several agencies (think private eye meets Ghostbusters ) serve Britain in this capacity. Lockwood and Company, run by charismatic Anthony Lockwood along with studious George Cubbins and risk-taking Lucy Carlyle, is the only agency without an adult supervisor and as such is viewed as unreliable and rebellious. Lucy narrates her early career with Lockwood and Co. as their clever and brave attempts at ghost removal often end in botched results, lending credence to their detractors’ claims. Eventually they are driven to accept a high-risk, high-reward job in order to repay debts and save their company’s reputation after one of their investigations goes horribly wrong. This smart middle-grade adventure, alternately funny and scary with fallible characters that grow emotionally and intellectually, sets the stage for the continuing escapades of Lockwood and Company.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans, a book trailer and more at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these prompts:

  1. In what time period do you think this story is set? What evidence can you cite?
  1. Secrecy is a theme in this book. How do the secrets affect the plot? How do the secrets affect the development of the characters?
  1. This book’s setting mixes fantasy and realism by imagining that ghosts are real. How do the fantasy aspects of this book affect the realistic parts of the world?

separate is never equalBoth of this month’s books talk about inequality? How do the authors show the inequalities? How do the inequalities affect the main characters’ communities? How are communities different due to inequalities?

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersfor Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2014.

In 1944, Sylvia Mendez’s Mexican American family had recently moved. She and her siblings were not allowed to go to the public school nearest their farm and were instead told they had to attend the Mexican school, which was farther away and had fewer resources. Sylvia’s father found other families willing to join him in suing the school district, whose only explanation had been, “That is how it is done.” During the trial, Sylvia and her family sat through infuriating testimony in which school district officials blatantly claimed that Mexican children were inferior to white children — in their personal habits, their social abilities, and their intelligence. Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh quotes from the trial as part of this narrative that is grounded in both facts and the emotional experience of young Sylvia. The ample end matter includes a lengthy author’s note with additional information and photographs of Sylvia then and now. A glossary, bibliography, and index round out this distinctively illustrated picture book account of the events surrounding the court case that desegregated California schools seven years before Brown v. Board of Education.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find reader’s theater, various teaching guides, Common Core guide and more for this title at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why is separate never equal? What are some examples of this from the story?
  2. How do the illustrations help tell the story?
  3. What changes from the start of the story to the end of the story?

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis. Scholastic Press, 2014.madman of piney woods

In 1901, thirteen-year-old African American Benji, an aspiring newspaper reporter, lives with his parents and younger twin siblings in the Black Canadian town of Buxton. Thirteen-year-old Irish American Red, an aspiring scientist, lives in nearby Chatham with his father and immigrant grandmother. Benji gets work in Chatham as an apprentice at a Black-owned newspaper, where the demanding, good-humored woman owner shapes his talent as a writer (Benji is prone to high drama and alliteration). Meanwhile, patience-tested Red is gaining insight into his unlikable, bitter grandmother, who was scarred by her experiences in the Irish famine and the trauma she faced as a new immigrant. Red thinks it should make her particularly sensitive to racism; instead, she is hateful and bigoted. The boys are drawn together by their good hearts, humor, intelligence, and fascination with differences in how they think about the world. Meanwhile, the man the people Buxton call the Madman in the Woods and the people of Chatham call the South Woods Lion Man is Cooter Bixby, an old friend of Benji’s parents whose experiences in the Civil War left him emotionally damaged. Benji’s encounters transform his understanding of the Madman from frightening figure to kindred spirit–someone else completely at home in nature–while Red’s experience leaves him certain the Lion Man, although eccentric, is good hearted. In a stand-alone, companion novel to Elijah of Buxton, Benji and Red’s friendship, organic and wonderful, represents hope even as it comes into full relief during a tragedy mired in wrong ways of thinking. Christopher Paul Curtis has once again penned a novel of high humor and exquisite grace.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find interviews with Christopher Paul Curtis about writing Madman of Piney Woods, Common Core guide from Scholastic and more at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these prompts:

  1. This story is told from the perspective of two different characters, Benji and Red. How would the story be different if it was told by Grandma O’Toole or the Madman of Piney Woods?
  2. How do the traumatic experiences in Grandma O’Toole’s and the Madman’s lives affect them, their families and their communities? How do these experiences change the choices each makes in life? How are the grandmother and the madman alike? How are the different?
  3. How does the setting of the book help in the development of the characters and the difference in their experiences?

sam and dave dig a holeSam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerJon Klassen. Candlewick Press, 2014.

Sam and Dave are on a mission: They plan to keep digging until they “find something spectacular.” When digging straight down doesn’t yield results, they turn to the right. Then they split up. They come back together and start digging down again. They take a rest. And all along, their dog — and readers and listeners — understand what they don’t: they keep missing one spectacular thing after another. The straightforward narrative is the foil for the marvelous visual storytelling in a hilarious picture book in which Sam and Dave manage to miss gemstone after gemstone, each one bigger and more spectacular than the one before. The last one is so big the page can’t show it all. When they stop to rest again, dirty and done in by their effort, they are mere inches above a bone. While Sam and Dave sleep the dog starts digging and suddenly all of them are falling … falling … falling … only to land right back where they began … or do they? Brilliantly conceptualized and illustrated, this is truly a book for all ages.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find book trailers, story hour kit and other resources for this title at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading the book: What are some reasons why Sam and Dave would want to dig a hole?
  2. In the pictures, how is the place where Sam and Dave begin their adventure different from where they end up?
  3. The characters say, “We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular?” What do you consider spectacular? Did they find something spectacular? What about the dog, did it find something spectacular?
  4. What story does the text tell? What story do the pictures tell? How are they different?

Gravity by Jason Chin. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press,gravity 2014.

In an engaging introduction to gravity, a day at the beach unexpectedly turns into a surprising science lesson. In the first few pages, a young cape-clad boy plays with his spaceman and rocket ship on the rocky beach until he discovers a book on gravity. The boy is drawn into the book and soon his toys and other earthly objects are illustrating gravitational principles. The toy spaceman, rocket ship, pail, and shovel, along with a nearby pitcher of lemonade, spin above the earth. Jason Chin explains that without gravity the moon and the sun, just like the toys, would drift away from the earth. “Gravity keeps the earth near the sun, the moon near the earth,” and gravity also keeps objects on the earth. Punctuated text — a few short words per page — provides an accessible definition of gravity and its effects. The accompanying illustrations complement and reinforce the text while the story offers humor and a narrative structure in this simplified, but not diminished, explanation of a complex concept.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find STEM and literacy resources for Jason Chin’s Gravity at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts?

  1. This book is about gravity. What does this book want us to know about gravity?
  2. How do the illustrations help you to understand gravity?
  3. This book combines fiction and non-fiction to relay information and to tell a story. Which parts do you think are fiction? Which parts are nonfiction? Why?

shh! we have a planShh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton. U.S. edition: Candlewick Icon_PreSchoolPress, 2014.

Four wide-eyed hunters are trying to catch a bird in a net. Make that three hunters; the fourth—and smallest–member of their party just wants to be friendly (“Hello, birdie.”). The group’s comical, not-so-stealthy pursuit of the bird features one failed attempt after another, with a pattern emerging as the youngest one greets the bird, the others shush their small companion (“We have a plan”), and then counting to three before they pounce….on nothing as the bird has already flown away. The spare, droll narrative is set against marvelous visual storytelling. The stylized illustrations are in shades of deep blue with black and white, against which the brightly colored red bird stands out. Young readers and listeners will be reciting along and laughing out loud, with the delight heightened by two big surprises as the story draws to a close.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Ask children why the character with the plan kept saying “Shh!”
  • Play: Hide a toy and give your child some clues as to where it may be. Now have your child hide a toy and give you the clues.
  • STEM: Take a walk with children and look for animals. How many different type of animals did you see? Talk  about how the animals are similar and how they are different.

Go, Shapes, Go! by Denise Fleming.  Beach Lane, 2014.go shapes go

A small toy mouse on wheels commandingly directs a variety of shapes — squares, circles, ovals, arcs, and rectangles — in different sizes — big, small, thin, tiny — to slide, roll, flip, and fly into the form of a monkey. When the mouse suddenly crashes into the monkey, the shapes reform into a bounding cat. Mouse quickly tames the shapes back into the safer monkey mode. Denise Fleming’s trademark painted-paper collage, uncomplicated text, and comfortable pace make this book an engaging introduction to shapes, sizes, and movement for younger children, as well as to the concepts of parts and wholes, as separate shapes create concrete objects.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Letter knowledge begins with shapes. What shape does the letter A look like? Think about other letters and their corresponding shapes.
  • Write: Draw shapes in sand, shaving cream or pudding
  • Play: Act out the actions from this book – slide, bounce, roll, slither, flip, march, leap, scoot, fly, twirl, hop!
  • STEM: Discuss the different shapes you see in this book and talk about the shapes you see in your daily lives.

i am so braveI Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky. Abrams Appleseed, 2014.

In this slim board book, a young brown-skinned boy tells of overcoming his fears. Each fear is resolved in a way that allows the boy to feel safe, content, and brave. The boy’s obvious pride at overcoming his fears is reflected in the straightforward text and bright graphic-design-style illustrations in primary colors with brown, black, and white. Many of the boy’s fears are common childhood worries — barking dogs, loud traffic noises, bedtime darkness, being separated from Mom and Dad — that all parents and children will easily recognize. The boy’s solutions to his fears offer positive, encouraging responses to the anxiety that many children may feel in new or uncomfortable situations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Ask your child what they can do now that they couldn’t do when they were younger. How does that make you feel to be able to do all of those things now?
  • Sing: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Replace happy with different emotion words like grumpy, scared, or excited.
  • Play: Take turns with children acting out different emotions and guessing the emotions.



milk of birdsThe Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman. Icon_HighSchoolAtheneum, 2013.

Here are some the reasons that our High School Literacy Advisory Committee chose The Milk of Birds as a ROW selection. … the story draws you in with its appealing writing and sympathetic characters; the author offers believable school struggles; characters’ reactions felt realistic and authentic; learned a lot about the refugee experience and Darfur but book never felt didactic.

Read the CCBC annotation:

Nawra is a fourteen-year-old Muslim girl living in a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan. Through a nonprofit called Save the Girls, she is paired with K.C., a Richmond, Virginia, teen, to exchange monthly letters. A novel that moves back and forth between the two girls chronicles their correspondence and their lives. In the camp, where living conditions are awful, Nawra cares for her silent and barely functional mother, who has been traumatized by what she and Nawra have gone through—events that are gradually revealed. Eventually Nawra tells K.C. that she’s pregnant—she was raped on their journey. Later she almost dies giving birth. K.C. is initially furious her mother signed her up for the correspondence program and doesn’t write Nawra for the first four months. She struggles in school with undiagnosed learning disabilities and faces constant pressure from her mom to try harder, while her dad seems uninterested. Sylvia Whitman’s novel is effective and compelling on multiple fronts. Both girls try to understand each other’s culture without judgment. But the truth is their experiences are vastly different. Once K.C. begins exchanging letters with Nawra in earnest, a genuine friendship develops, and she goes from reluctant correspondent to a teenager deeply moved. The pain of Nawra’s story is intense, but her voice is engaging and vivid, and the back-and-forth of the narrative provides respite from the horrors she sometimes describes.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. What events and actions contribute to Casey’s change of heart regarding the “Save the Girls” program?
  2. How does the author suggest that taking action, either for yourself or others, makes a difference? Conversely, what are the consequences of being a bystander? Provide examples from the text.
  3. Which one of Nawra’s proverbs is most relevant to the problems of teenagers today?

crossover with sealsThe Crossover by Alexander Kwame. Houghton Books for Middle School AgeMifflin Harcourt, 2014.

We are so thrilled to start the ROW year off with this amazing book! It’s powerful! The styles of poetry and rap as well as the sports and family stories are electric and appeal to so many readers! — The ROW Middle School Literacy Advisory Committee

Read the CCBC annotation:

Josh Bell is a talented middle school basketball player, as is his twin brother Jordan. They learned from their dad, Chuck “Da Man,” who played in the Euroleague before retiring from the game. When Jordan gets a girlfriend, Josh resents that his twin no longer does as much with him, and he takes his frustration out on the court during a game one day, almost breaking Jordan’s nose. It creates a huge rift between the boys and gets Josh banned from playing. The tension between the brothers is wonderfully portrayed within the greater dynamic of this African American family where there is a lot of love and laughing but also consequences when expectations are unmet. Meanwhile, their mom, principal of the boys’ middle school, is also worried about their dad’s health. Hypertension runs in his family and he not only isn’t taking care of himself but he’s doctor-averse. This element of the plot builds to a moment readers can see coming when their dad has a heart attack, yet it’s shocking, as sudden death is, when he dies. Kwame Alexander’s narrative has two styles—straightforward prose poems and vibrant, rap-like poems in which Josh describes the basketball action. Josh also likes language and occasional poems have Josh exploring the meaning of specific words that connect to what’s happening in his life, such as the one titled “ca-lam-i-ty” (“As in: The HUGE bald patch / on the side / of my head / is a dreadful / calamity.”). Josh’s voice is vivid, funny and moving in this fast-paced and poignant story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. A theme of this book is family relationships. How do these relationships change over the course of the book?
  2. Evaluate the format of the book. How does the novel in verse format help to develop the characters and the story? How does the use of different fonts and typefaces affect the reader’s understanding of the story and characters?
  3. The author uses three style of poems to tell the story. One style uses the twin’s SAT vocabulary homework; another style acts like Josh’s rap. What do these different styles show us about Josh? Pick one of these styles to tell your thoughts about the book.
  4. Describe a particular scene or character that you are able to visualize vividly in your mind. What did the author do to create that vivid image?

Watch these great videos:


el deafoFrom the ROW Literacy Advisory Committee Intermediate Group: We paired these two books because they both focus on friendship and kindness. You don’t need to have superpowers to be kind, helpful or friendly — but you’ll definitely be a hero to someone if you are.

El Deafo by Cece Bell. Amulet, 2014.Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Cece Bell contracted meningitis at age four and lost her hearing. Once she started school she wore a Phonic Ear, a device that amplified her teachers’ voice through a microphone the teachers wore on a cord around the neck. Cece could not only hear what her teachers said in the classroom but also the teachers’ lounge and — gasp! — the bathroom. Feeling like she had a superpower, she secretly began to think of herself as a superhero she called “El Deafo” (turning a pejorative term on its ear, so to speak). The experience of not being able to hear (as when her Phonic Ear is sent off for repair after the gym teacher breaks it, or when the lights are turned off at a sleepover and she can’t lipread anymore) is strikingly depicted in the graphic novel format, whether the text is gradually fading, or dialogue bubbles are filled with sounds of gibberish (e.g., “WAH BESS MAH WAWA GAH ANDY! YOO GOOLA FA BERRY GAH BOOLA!” while watching The Andy Griffith Show without amplification). But the novel’s main focus is Cece’s deep desire to have a best friend as she goes through elementary school. She tries to assert herself when bossy Laura claims her; endures passive-aggressive Ginny, who insists on speak-ing slow-ly and loud-ly to Cece; and finally finds a kindred spirit in neighbor Martha. Cece’s friendship struggles are sometimes complicated by her hearing loss but also have a universal dimension that most children will recognize. Bell’s memoir is set against the vividly realized backdrop of 1970s culture (from the TV shows to food and fashion), and told with great humor and honesty. The characters are all drawn as rabbits, giving the book a quirky charm.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these prompts:

  1. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
  2. How do the illustrations add to your understanding of the book and of the author? Why do you think the author chose to illustrate herself as a rabbit?
  3. In many ways this is a book about friendships. How does Cece find a best friend?
  4. This book is a memoir – a story about the author’s life. In memoirs, authors find ways to talk about their lives in colorful, creative ways that might bending the truth a bit. What parts of this book do you think are nonfiction? What parts do you think are fiction?

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net including this teaching guide from Abrams.

Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving by John Frank. lend a handIllustrated by London Ladd. Lee & Low, 2014.

An engaging, purposeful collection of thirteen poems, each in the voice of a child who is doing something helpful. The range of subjects shows how small kindnesses matter and can happen in many ways: jamming with an elderly neighbor who shares a love of music; sharing lunch with a friend who has none; teaching an awkward classmate how to swing a bat; loading groceries in the car of a mom with small children; giving up a bus seat to someone who needs it more; tutoring a younger child; writing a letter to a soldier overseas; helping stitch a quilt for someone in need. The quilting poem concludes, “A warm spread / should have maximum size … / but the spread of warmth / should have no bounds.” The illustrations show diverse kids and adults, and a note from the illustrator recounts discovering connections between the models he photographed and some of the poems’ subjects.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. What kinds of things do you do to help around your community?
  2. How do the illustrations and text work together throughout the book?
  3. The author tells about helpful acts using poetry. Do you think this format works well for the author’s purpose? Why?

Resources at TeachingBooks.net including this teaching guide from Lee & Low.

hula-hoopin queenThe Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin. Illustrated by Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerVanessa Brantley-Newton. Lee & Low, 2014.

We love this multi-generational and multicultural story with universal themes of friendship, family and community! — ROW Primary Literacy Advisory Committee members.

Read the CCBC annotation:

Kameeka is determined to defeat Jamara Johnson and become the Hula Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. Kameeka’s so preoccupied with thoughts of victory that she makes a mistake setting the oven temperature for the cake her mama’s making for Miz Adeline’s birthday and it falls flat. Hoop in hand she heads out to buy more sugar for another cake but gets sidetracked when she runs into Jamara. By the time Kameeka remembers the sugar it’s too late to make another cake before the party. And Miz Adeline loves chocolate cake. But to Kameeka’s surprise it turns out she also loves something else — hula hooping! An appealing debut picture book set in a predominantly African American neighborhood is grounded in lively details and has a wonderful sense of family and community along with terrific dialogue and turns of phrase. (“Mama stands still as water in a puddle. She gives me her look.”) Highly Commended, 2015 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. What conflicts does Kameka face in the story? What is the result of these conflicts? How are these conflicts resolved?
  2. In the book, what do you think Kameka learns? What makes you think this?
  3. The author uses comparisons such as “Momma stands as still as water in a puddle” to describe characters and situations. What other comparisons did you notice in the book?


Ling & Ting: Twice As Silly by Grace Lin. Little, Brown, 2014.

A great funny story to engage and encourage beginning readers! — ROW Primary Literacy Advisory Committee members.

Read the CCBC annotation:

ling and ting twice as sillyAlmost identical in appearance, twins Ling and Ting have far from identical personalities as fans of this series that began with Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same (Little, Brown, 2010) know. But both girls excel at being silly, as the stories in this third offering about the Chinese American sisters show. Wordplay is at the root of the humor in some chapters, as when Ting gives up on her idea for a cupcake garden and decides to plant jelly beans instead (because beans are seeds). When Ling announces she can swing higher than a tree, even one that is taller than a building, taller than a mountain, and higher than the clouds, Ting is skeptical until Ling points out that “Trees can’t swing.” The six chapters conclude with Ling and Ting making up a story that is “very, very silly,” and that also brings the volume full circle as they imagine a cupcake tree.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. What does Ting plant in the garden to see if it will grow? Why does Ting plant this?
  2. What words do Ling and Ting change in the last story? How does this change the meaning of the story?
  3. The author/illustrator outlines the pictures in either straight lines or curvy lines? Why do you think?

My Busmy bus by Byron Barton. Greenwillow / HarperCollinIcon_PreSchools, 2014.

What could be more appealing to toddlers than a book about a bus driver and his canine and feline passengers? A book in which those cats and dogs are driven to a boat (“They sail away”), a train (“They ride away”), and a plane (“They fly away”). Finally there is only one dog left. “My dog,” says the bus driver. “Bow wow.” Classic Byron Barton, the illustrations feature bright colors, rounded shapes, and flat perspective, as well as priceless expressions on the faces of the cats and dogs. Barton’s winning book offers the opportunity to count on every page spread (anywhere from one to five), not to mention bark and meow with wild abandon.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

mommies and their babiesMommies and Their Babies (Black And White) by Guido van Genechten. Translated from the Dutch. Clavis, 2012

daddies and their babies

Daddies and Their Babies (Black And White) by Guido van Genechten. Translated from the Dutch. Clavis, 2012.

Two simple board books show animal parents and their offspring, using the correct name for the young: “snake mommy with her baby snakelet,” “crocodile daddy with his baby hatchling,” and so on. But it’s the warmth of the relationships captured in the striking black-and-white illustrations that really is the point. The illustrations’ bold shapes and shading create great visual interest for very young children, while the round eyes of the creatures in each pair gaze upon one another with affection and delight.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Yep, that’s right! We start our Read On Wisconsin year in September at the same time the schools around Wisconsin begin their new school year. That means we have a new list of suggested titles for engaging, exciting and easily accessible monthly common reads for babies up to high schoolers. Reader’s advisory, book group, read-alouds: you can use ROW titles for these and more. We also encourage you to share the titles with kids and caregivers in your library and your school. See the list here or at the Books tab above.

Also, we encourage you, your kiddos and their caregivers to check out titles and resources on our website, @ReadOnWi on Twitter and Pinterest. Again this year, the fabulous TeachingBooks.net has partnered with us to share their amazing resources. You can find hundreds of instructional materials for the ROW titles at their Read On Wisconsin 2015-2016 bookshelf. They even have QR codes for all the ROW bookshelves and individual titles that you can print and post around your library or with the books.

A few new things this year: First, we’re trying to make information and resources for the books easily accessible. Monthly titles along with a CCBC annotation for the books, discussion starters, discussion questions, recommendations from the ROW Literacy Advisory Board and links to resources will be posted on the front page of the website. You can now easily search by age level group titles using the new sidebar buttons. We’ve reorganized our Pinterest boards. Now, you can get a sneak preview of upcoming books and their resources. Also, we’re going all in with hashtags and our age level icons. Now you can search any social media with #ROW2015 for the latests post this year. We also have hashtags for the age level groups related to their icons (see below).

Watch for these icons to appear throughout the site and social media to help you identify the appropriate age titles

Legend for the age icons

Robin = Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers = #ROWrobin
White-tailed Deer = Primary (Grades K-2) = #ROWdeer
Muskie = Intermediate (Grades 3-5) = #ROWmuskie
Maple leaf = Middle School = #ROWmaple
Badger paw print = High School #ROWbadger

And, as always, if you have suggestions or if you’d like to be part of our programming and outreach efforts, please contact the me at Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Thank you for your ongoing interest and support!

Check back regularly for news about ROW programming and outreach as well as monthly titles and resources!

Read On Wisconsin!