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At every age level, the books this month are excellent read alouds or books to share with a group. Simple sounds and science fill the Babies, Toddlers, and Preschooler books, Hurry Home, Hedgehog! and Water is Water— by Wisconsin author, Miranda Paul!

 

 

 

 

 

The primary titles, It’s Only Stanley and When Otis Courted Mama, have amazingly imaginative and instructive language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mysteries, family and community are at the heart of the Intermediate titles, Finders Keepers and Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School title, Cinder, is a clever take on a sci-fi version of classic fairy tale, Cinderella — entertaining while raising interesting questions.

Finally, high school title, Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a witty commentary on young adult fiction, asking what is life like for the kids stuck at the same school as the overly heroic or tragic or magical characters in some recent ya novels.

 

Click on an image to learn more about the book! Or, search below for resources and discussion questions for the titles as May approaches.

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Refugee, immigrants, migrants: these have become every day terms in recent months, as major news stories, in political arenas, and across social media. How do we talk to children and teens about the immigrant and refugee experience?  Fortuitously and incidentally, many of the Read On Wisconsin April 2017 titles, chosen last May, explore lives caught between cultures and countries. This might be the perfect time to share these titles with children, teens, parents, other teachers and librarians and school and public administration. Click on the link below to learn more about the book and for Wisconsin teacher- and librarian-created discussion questions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore more titles on related subjects with bibliographies from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), including

50 Books about Peace and Social Justice, Civic Engagement Selected K-5 Books for Reflecting on One’s Place in the World, 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know

Learn more about —  Refugees and migrants: “The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.” — including international terminology, policies and programs at The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Find more resources for these titles at TeachingBooks.net

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Plenty of poetry for National Poetry Month! Here at Read On Wisconsin, our fabulous Literacy Advisory Committee chose a variety of poetry books including novels and memoirs in verse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, on the list of book suggestions this month are picture books, chapter books, and young adult fiction. Many of the books, chosen last May, explore lives caught between cultures and countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers, try these lively titles for making, baking, building or construction themes in story or circle time. The amazing Bulldozer’s Big Day offers excellent early literacy opportunities with machine sounds and word play.

 

 

 

 

 

Find curated resources for all of these titles at TeachingBooks.net!

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. Harper Teen / HarperCollins, 2015

Mikey, his sister Mel(inda), and their friends Henna and Jared, are about to graduate high school. Mel has anorexia and Mikey lives with severe anxiety and OCD, neither fitting the image their high-aspiring politician mother wants their family to project. Henna’s parents plan on taking her to the Central African Republic to do missionary work, despite the war there. Jared feels the weight of being an only child on the verge of leaving his single-parent father. Jared is also a god. Well, technically a quarter-god. And there is the delicious twist in this emotionally rich story about facing a time of transition and uncertainty: The otherworldly is real. When indie kids (it’s always the indie kids) in the foursome’s small community begin disappearing, it isn’t the first time. In the past the culprits were vampires and soul-sucking ghosts; now it’s aliens. Mikey and his friends aren’t indie kids (despite Henna’s name) but are aware of the danger, which plays out in hilarious chapter openings chronicling the indie kids’ efforts to combat the threat, making for a merry satire on countless young adult novels. But the heart of this novel is the reality of change—in relationships, in circumstances, in what we understand; imperfect families; and the sustaining power of friendship. As a narrator, Mikey is real and complex, and a little bit heartbreaking. As a work of fiction, Ness’s book is funny and tender and true, and a little bit dazzling. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is satire? How is this novel satire? What are the targets of the author’s satire? What is the author critiquing in our culture?
  2. How is this save-the-world story told from a unique perspective?
  3. What does the title mean?

Find curated resources for The Rest of Us Just Live Here at TeachingBooks.net!

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel & Friends, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. –from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What could the alienation or exclusion of cyborgs translate to in our society?
  2. Choose a different fairy tale. How would you set it the future?
  3. What diseases in our world’s history does the plague in Cinder reflect?

Find discussion guides, a book trailer, and more for Cinder at TeachingBooks.net!

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Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones. Illustrated by Katie Kath. Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

Adjusting to life in the country brings challenges and surprises for Sophie Brown. While her unemployed dad learns about small-scale farming, her mom is churning out one freelance article after another to stay on top of bills. Sophie, meanwhile, is learning to care for the chickens that once belonged to her Great Uncle Jim, only Uncle Jim’s chickens prove to be far from ordinary. Henrietta has a Forceful gaze—literally. Sophie has seen her levitate things. Chameleon turns invisible. And all six are the target of a would-be chicken thief who clearly knows they’re special. A funny, spirited story is told almost entirely through letters. Many are from Sophie to her Abuelita or her Great Uncle Jim, both of whom have passed away. Letters full of questions and advice also go back and forth between Sophie and Agnes, owner of Redwood Farm Supply. Agnes’s letters are mysteriously typo-ridden, but her poultry correspondence course is informative and no-nonsense. Trying to protect her flock, Sophie makes the first friend her own age in town while asserting her claim on the chickens she’s come to love. Sophie, who is biracial (her mom is Mexican American; her dad is white), occasionally reflects on cultural aspects of her family history and identity in ways that are genuine and unforced in this blithe but not unsubstantial debut novel featuring pitch-perfect black-and-white illustrations. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the author uses letters to tell the story?
  2. How do the illustrations add to the story?
  3. What community resources does Sophie use to care for her chickens? Who does Sophie build relationships with in the community?
  4. What challenges does Sophie perceive in making friends?

Finders Keepers by Shelley Tougas. Roaring Brook Press, 2015

Enjoy this book from a Wisconsin author. Shelley Tougas lives in Hudson, WI!

Christa spends every summer at the most awesome place in the whole world: her family’s cabin on Whitefish Lake, Wisconsin. Only her dad recently lost his job and her parents have decided to sell the cabin. But not if Christa can help it. Everyone knows there is Al Capone blood money hidden somewhere in Whitefish Lake, and her friend Alex’s cranky grandpa might have the key to finding it. Grumpa says the loot is gone, or worse—cursed!—but Christa knows better. That loot is the only thing that can save her family. – from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: Who was Al Capone and where did you live?
  2. How believable do you think it is that Al Capone’s money would be buried in Wisconsin? Why do you think Christa believes that his money is buried in Whitefish Lake?
  3. Choose 4 characters for the book and describe how their relationships with each other change throughout the story?
  4. What impact did the imaginative play have on the overall story?

Find resources for Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer  and Finders Keepers at TeachingBooks.net!

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee. Dial, 2015

One by one every member of the Wimbledon family is awakened during the night by a strange noise or smell in the house, and every time Walter, the father, goes to investigate, he returns to report, “It’s only Stanley.” Stanley is an ordinary looking beagle engaging in increasingly ludicrous behavior, from banging on the basement boiler with a hammer to working on the bathroom plumbing. A sudden “Kapow!” is startling for everyone. “The Wimbledons went flying, Including Max, the cat. Wendy looked around and said, ‘Well, what on earth was that?!’ ‘I’ll go and look,’ said Walter, ‘And I’ll be back very soon.’ ‘It’s only Stanley,’ Walter said. ‘We’re going to the –’” Stanley, it turns out, is not only a mechanical genius, but he’s in love with a pink poodle on the moon. Jon Agee’s absurd and delightful picture book is full of visual clues and foreshadowing. Repeated readings guaranteed.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Stanley wanted to go to the Moon, and what’s your evidence?
  2. Explain what action each sound-word (onomotapoia) represents?
  3. How do the text and illustrations tell different stories in the book? Why do you think the book was created this way?

When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Cardell “had a perfectly good mama and a perfectly good daddy.” His coyote family’s perfection is marred only slightly by the fact that Cardell’s daddy lives in a different part of the desert and Cardell has to “share him with his perfectly nice stepmama, Lulu, and his perfectly cute stepbrother, Little Frankie.” But Cardell doesn’t have to share his mama with anyone. Then Otis shows up, “holding a handful of ocotillo flowers in one paw and a bag of cactus candies in the other. Cardell felt a grrr form in his throat.” Otis isn’t the first hopeful beau to court Mama, although the previous suitors were dispatched by both Mama and her son. But Mama isn’t sending Otis on his way. And although Otis is nothing like Cardell’s perfectly good daddy, he does have his strengths (he can whip up a delicious prickly pear pudding and demonstrates impressive pouncing skills), which include patience. Eventually, Cardell’s stubborn grrr evaporates. Not long after, Cardell is able to count on Otis as a perfectly good stepdaddy. The challenges of changing family structures are sympathetically embodied by this coyote clan, while regionally specific details in text and illustrations and perfectly patterned language lend depth and finely tuned humor. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: What is a family? Who is in your family?
  2. What do you learn about Cardell at the beginning of the story?
  3. In what ways do Cardell’s feelings change toward Otis throughout the book?
  4. What words and illustrations give you evidence of the desert habitat? Give some examples.

Find a complete curriculum guide for here! Also, find other great resources for When Otis Courted Mama from TeachingBooks.net.

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul. Illustrated by Jason Chin. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2015

A description of the water cycle that is concise, accurate, and lyrical begins with “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless … / it heats up. Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless …” With each page turn the cycle moves on to its next stage, from liquid to steam to vapor and precipitation. Eventually, the water that has transformed into ice and snow returns to its liquid form and is absorbed by tree roots, finally becoming part of an apple that is pressed into cider. The rhyming text is expanded into a visual story by illustrations of a brown-skinned boy and girl interacting with the water cycle through the seasons as they wait for the school bus in the rain, skate on a frozen puddle, squelch through spring mud, and enjoy late summer cider. Supplemental pages describe the complete water cycle again, including relevant terms like evaporation, condensation, and precipitation that don’t appear in the primary narrative, as well as a few fascinating facts about water and conservation. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities at home, in the library or at school. Share with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: Talk about different kinds or forms of water.
  • Sing: Rain, Rain, Go Away. Do you know other rhyming songs?
  • Write: Write on a steamy bathroom mirror.
  • Play: Splash in the bathtub.
  • STEM: Use a pan or bucket to collect water when it rains. Measure the water using measuring cups. How much water did you collect?

Hurry Home, Hedgehog! A Bilingual Book of Sounds by Belle Yang. Candlewick Press, 2015

One of a pair of board books that offers rich vocabulary in English and Mandarin Chinese. In Hurry Home Hedgehog, a young hedgehog hurries to make it home before a storm. “Pinecones fall / Plunk, plunk” and “Mice race for their holes / Skitter, skatter” alerting Hedgehog to the coming storm. “Crack! Baroom! / The sky sounds angry” and “Rain falls hard like soybeans / Ping ping, pang pang” before hedgehog makes it safely home to his warm den and his Mama. Attractive illustrations painted in impressionistic colors are simple yet detailed.

Try these early literacy activities at home, in the library or at school. Share with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: What makes you warm and cozy?
  • Sing: Make the sounds in the book. What other sounds can you make?
  • Write: Tell a story about one of the other animals in the book.
  • Play: Pretend to be an animal in the rain. Would you run for shelter? Splash in puddles?
  • STEM: Find other ways to make the sounds from the book in your world.

 

Add some poetry from Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection:  page 14 and page 24

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!  And find more early literacy activities from the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2017 Early Literacy Calendar

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Both Margarita Engle and Naila in Written in the Stars find themselves living between two cultures. What struggles do they face in finding a place where they feel they fit?

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle. Atheneum, 2015

Margarita Engle’s mother was Cuban, her father American. Introverted Margarita felt socially awkward here in the United States but something eased for her when she visited her mother’s family in Cuba. She loved her relatives, the land, the ways of being, the very air when they would visit in the 1950s. Then came the 1960s, with the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the travel ban that cut them off from the place and the people she and her mother cherished. There were comments at school, tension at home, visits from the government, and no word on how their loved ones faired. Engle’s family continued to travel, but not to the place she most longed to go. A memoir in poems that takes Engle through age 14 ends with one in which she writes, “Someday, surely I’ll be free / to return to the island of all my childhood / dreams.” Her eventual return in 1991 and recent political changes are discussed in a brief author’s note in a volume that also includes a Cold War timeline. Grounded in Engle’s specific experience, the sense of loss, of feeling an outsider, of longing, will resonate with many tween and teen readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Engle chose to write her memoir in poetic form?
  2. As the U.S. and Cuba begin to interact politically again, many Cuban Americans will have a chance to return to their homeland. Do you think many will?
  3. Which of Engle’s memories stand out the most to you?

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2015

When Pakistani American Naila’s parents find out she has a boyfriend they see it not only as a huge betrayal of trust but also worry how far from their culture and control she is moving. It doesn’t matter that Saif is Pakistani, too. Genuinely afraid for Naila, her parents take her to visit family in Pakistan the summer before she starts college. Naila doesn’t understand until it’s too late why they keep postponing their return: They’re arranging a marriage for her. After a failed escape attempt, Naila is drugged by her uncle and forced to marry Amin. He is a kind and patient young man who feels trapped in his own way by tradition. But when Amin’s mother threatens to send depressed Naila back to her family, Amin rapes Naila to consummate the marriage. It’s a short, powerful scene that underscores the warped way conservative tradition has shaped his perspective: He thinks he has no choice. Aisha Saeed reveals complexities of characters, situations, and culture in a riveting and moving debut novel. Naila has immense strength and Saif is not her savior but her ally in self-determination when he and his father finally help her get away. An insightful and powerful author’s note provides personal, cultural, and global perspectives on the distinction between arranged marriages in which a young woman has a choice, and forced marriages that still take place in many countries, including our own.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Naila’s parents want the best for her. Naila wants to please her parents. Why can’t they find a middle ground?
  2. Before you read this novel, what did you know about arranged marriages? Naila’s experience is terrible, but the author has a happy and successful arranged marriage which she discusses in the author’s note. How did your understanding of arranged marriages change after reading Naila’s story? After reading the author’s note.
  3. Written in the Stars shows a diversity of experiences within Muslim culture. In what different ways do we see Muslim culture portrayed in this novel?

Find more resources for Enchanted Air and Written in the Stars from TeachingBooks.net!

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Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai. Harper/HarperCollins, 2015

At 12, Mia planned to spend every day of summer at the beach with friends. Instead, she’s a reluctant traveler to Vietnam with her grandma. Mia loves Ba but is unhappy about going and makes sure her father, traveling with them, and her mother, still at home, know it. Mia’s grandfather, Ong, was a prisoner of the North Vietnamese during the war and has been missing since Mia’s father was two. Ba and her seven children fled the country two days before the fall of Saigon. Now a detective has found the man who guarded Ong, and Ba holds out hope that her husband might still be alive. At least that’s what Mia thinks. Mia narrates in a voice full of snarky irreverence. She meets her match in her feisty, frog-loving, science-minded cousin named Út, although neither girl reveals that she understands the other’s native language. Despite her resentment, Mia finds more and more it is the place and people around her who matter in the moment rather than the friends she left behind. Thanhhà Lai’s storytelling moves from a rural village to the bustling city and back, following characters that are complex and vividly drawn. Even Ong, met only through Ba’s stories, feels alive, making it even more painful as Mia realizes Ba has come to say goodbye. A novel full of humor offers a deep exploration of the ways family, culture, and language impact who we are and how we perceive and experience the world.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the respect for elders compare in American culture and Vietnam culture?
  2. Why do Út and Mai become friends?
  3. How does the trip to Vietnam change Mai?

Caminar by Skila Brown. Candlewick Press, 2014

“She did not / sit down, did not / take more than two steps. Just / pointed her finger right to me, / “You / will / run.” A novel written in verse and set in 1981 during the Guatemalan civil war juxtaposes the beauty of the Guatemalan landscape and goodness of many of the country’s people with the brutality of war. Carlos obeys his mother when she tells him to run into the forest and hide when their village is attacked, promising to find him. But she never comes. On his own, Carlos heads up the mountain toward his grandmother’s village and meets four rebel soldiers who are lost in the forest Carlos knows so well. They tell Carlos that government soldiers attacked his village and massacred all the people. Devastated, Carlos begins to walk (caminar ) with the rebels, to help them find their way. He’s also determined to warn the people in the village where his grandmother lives about the soldiers. Once they arrive, he must make a choice: join the rebels, or stay in his grandmother’s village. There is strong sense of Carlos and his people as a minority Native culture within Guatemala in a beautifully written book that deals with violent realities in a way that feels honest yet appropriate for young readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. The author chose to write this story in verse. How does the poetry format add to or detract from the story?
  2. What examples of symbolism can you find in the poems’ text and layouts?
  3. How does Carlos change throughout the book? How does Carlos decide who to trust? What decisions does he make? What decisions are made for him?

Find a complete discussion guides for Listen, Slowly and Caminar and more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

Refugees and migrants: “The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.” Learn more from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books / House  of Anansi Press, 2015

“When we travel, I count what I see … One little bored donkey and fifty birds in the sky … the people who live by the train tracks.” A singular and extraordinary picture book pairs the matter-of-fact of a voice of a young girl giving a childlike accounting of the journey she and her father are taking with detailed color illus-trations that show the context and content of their travels. They are journeying away from their home and toward some unknown that surely represents safety, and, one can imagine, freedom and opportunity. However, none of this is stated in a narrative firmly grounded in the child’s voice. From riding atop her father’s shoulders to crossing a river on a raft, sitting on top of a train car to sleeping in the back of a pickup truck, the challenges and potential dangers of their travels are revealed through the art, in which the warmth between father and child is also apparent. So, too, is the weight of the father’s worry, although he is clearly trying to keep it from being her burden, too. Tender, heartbreaking, exceptional, this volume concludes with a note about the movement of refugees across Central America and Mexico toward the United States.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What significance do rabbits play in this story? What other animals have significant roles in the story? What do those animals represent?
  2. Why do you think the girl overlooked how difficult her family situation was?
  3. Use the question at the back of book: What do those of us who have safe comfortable lives owe to people who do not?

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord. Scholastic Press, 2015

Lily has never given much thought to the migrant workers who harvest blueberries in her Maine community. Then she meets Salma Santiago, and they become friends. When Salma, with Lily’s support, decides to enter the local Blueberry Queen contest—the first migrant child ever to do so—Lily’s friend Hannah offers to help, despite also being in the competition. In the hands of a less skilled author, this premise would turn into mean girl drama, but Cynthia Lord is sure-handed in a novel that focuses first and foremost on the deepening friendship between Lily and Salma but doesn’t freeze out Hannah. Lily, whose single mother died when she was two, wants her tightly contained world to be fixable when it isn’t predictable. She’s saving money so her dog, Lucky, can have cataract surgery, because she is convinced he’s miserable. Salma can’t control many things about her life, but her family is a reassuring constant. The same is true of Lily’s grandparents, but Lily misses not having a mother. Nuanced, fully realized characters and a well-developed story arc distinguish this quiet, satisfying novel in which Lily begins to see her life not in terms of what is missing, but rather what she has.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why is it good to try new things? Why is it good to let other things go? Give some examples from the book of a time that a character tried something new? Let go?
  2. What did you learn about where your food comes from? How did the migrant lifestyle impact each girl’s life?
  3. What does each girl learn from the other?

Find discussion guides and more resources for Two White Rabbits and A Handful of Stars at TeachingBooks.net!

Refugees and migrants: “The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.” Learn more from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Finding the Music = En pos de la música by Jennifer Torres. Illustrated by Renato Alarcão. Spanish translation by Alexis Romay. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2015

When Reyna accidentally breaks her late grandfather’s vihuela, a small guitar-like instrument he played in a mariachi band, she asks various community members to help her fix it before her mother finds out. During her visits to her music teacher, the music store, the hardware store, and other places, Reyna learns more about her abuelito and mariachi music. Each person also gives her an object related to her grandfather—his old hat, a photo, a record of his band—which Reyna brings home to share with her mother. A warm, bilingual picture book has a strong, satisfying storyline that conveys a vibrant sense of community and family, reflected in the acrylic illustrations. A note provides more information about mariachi music, which grew out of the blending of indigenous and Spanish musical traditions in Mexico.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In what ways do Reyna’s feelings about her community change during the story?
  2. How did Abuelito make a memorable difference in the lives of people in the community?
  3. How do the items that Reyna receives from members of the community help her learn more about her grandfather?  How does the author use these items to create a description of Reyna’s Abuelito?

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Lee & Low, 2015

A warm picture book collection alternates between poems in the voice of an African American girl whose mom is away in the military, and poems in the voice of her mother as a child, growing up in a military family that moved many times. The contemporary girl’s discovery of her mother’s childhood poems has inspired her to write her own, which often reflect on the differences between their childhoods, especially as she is living in one place with her grandmother while her mom is away, rather than moving from place to place. But there are many parallel experiences that play out in the two poems on each page spread, one in each voice. There is a strong sense of connection and continuity—grandmother, mother, grandchild—while in both present and past there is a child missing a parent who is away on duty. The illustrations do a terrific job of distinguishing between present and past on the same page spread. An author’s note talks more about the experiences of military children and identifies the actual U.S. air force bases which formed the locales for the places the girl’s mother lived as a child.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In what ways do the poems in the attic connect the girl with her mother and with her grandparents?
  2. What do the poems tell us about the similarities and differences in the life of the girl and her mother?
  3. In what ways does the writing of poems help both the girl and her mother?

Find discussion guides, lesson plans, and more resources for Finding the Music and Poems in the Attic at TeachingBooks.net!

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Whose Tools? By Toni Buzzeo. Illustrated by Jim Datz. Abrams Appleseed,2015

A clever board book shows the stages of building a house, with each page spread labeling four different tools and asking to whom they belong. “Keep all rooms dry in rain or snow. Whose tools are those? Do you know?” is the question on a layout that features a utility knife, nail gun, snips, and ladder. A foldout page reveals the answer (“the Roofer’s!”) and shows a worker or workers on the job using the tools. The workers include both men and women and are culturally diverse in a board book that is a wonderful vocabulary builder and discussion starter, in addition to its obvious child-appeal.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Share these early literacy activities with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: Name the different tools in the book. What jobs do the tools do?
  • Sing: Johnny Works with One Hammer
  • Write: Get a large a box and make a house.
  • Play: Can you pretend to do each job?
  • Math or Science: Build a block house.

Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Atheneum, 2015

A small bulldozer is full of excitement as he sets off across a construction site. “Guess what today is!” But his happiness gradually wanes as each big vehicle he encounters seems too busy to care. Digger is “scooping … scooping … scooping.” Dump truck is “sifting … sifting…sifting.” Cement Mixer is stirring. Scraper is filling. Grader is chopping. Roller is mashing. By the time he gets to Crane (lifting … lifting … lifting), Bulldozer’s blade is “dragging sadly in the dirt.” But what is Crane lifting? Candace Fleming’s text is a marvelous balance of repetition and freshness, with well-chosen verbs doing double-duty to describe both the work of big equipment and cake-making. Eric Rohmann’s colorful illustrations featuring bold black frames and black outlines masterfully personify the vehicles without veering into cuteness. A story that is immensely entertaining also has an immensely satisfying emotional arc as a much-loved little bulldozer is celebrated.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Share these early literacy activities with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: What happens on your birthday. What do you look forward to on your birthday?
  • Write: Role a toy car or truck in paint. Make tracks as you drive your car. What shapes can you make
  • Sing: Happy Birthday to You. Do you know other birthday songs in other languages?
  • Play: Go to the park and play with trucks and diggers.
  • Math or Science: Cover some stones and other items with sand in a plastic tub. Can you dig for them?

Find more resources for Whose Tools? and Bulldozer’s Big Day at TeachingBooks.net!

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