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DECEMBER (2)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (2))

First Snow by Bomi Park. U.S. edition: Chronicle, 2016

A small girl wakes up in the night to the soft sound of falling snow. “Pit, pit pit against the window. Glistening, floating in the night.” She puts on warm clothes, walks outside, and begins rolling the snow into a ball. With her puppy following, she rolls the snowball out the yard, into the street, and through the darkened town. A speedy train passes as she goes “Fast Fast Fast.” Through a fallow field, through a friendly nighttime woods full of animals. Finally, she is moving “Slow Slow Slow” with her huge ball of snow, passing from the night into a bright, snow-white field full of children who are also rolling huge snowballs and making … snow figures! A magical, dreamlike story is told through a spare, lyrical text and stunning, textured, mostly black-and-white illustrations that are understated and exceptional. The art, which begins with nighttime black dominating has occasional, subtle accents of other colors, and whimsical punctuations of bright red for the scarves, hats and mittens on children and snow people. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: The poem, “Cherry Tree.” Read another book that involves prepositions or placement of objects such as Rosie’s Walk.
  • Talk: About how to make a snowman. What other things do you make in the snow? Snow angels? Snow castles?
  • Sing: Going on a Bear Hunt – talk about prepositions.
  • Write: Your name in the snow or in your own “snow” using sand.
  • Play: Pretend to roll a snowball.
  • Math or Science: Bring a snowball inside let it melt in a bowl or cup. Talk about how it turns to water. How long does it take the snowball to melt? Is it a different size? Shape?

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DECEMBER (1)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (1))

Tickle My Ears by Jörg Mühle.  Translated from the German by Catherine Chidgey. U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2016

In this interactive board book, little white rabbit is poised to react to actions from young readers and listeners, as directed by the narrative voice. Tap him on the shoulder [turn the page] and he turns around. Clap your hands [turn the page] and he’ll put on his pajamas. Eventually the rabbit is tucked into bed. He needs only a good-night kiss and switching off the light. A darkened, final double-page spread shows the little bunny sleeping peacefully. A clever, child- friendly book invites involvement in a bedtime story. (Ages 18 months–3)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: The poem, “Advice to Bunnies”
  • Talk: What do you do to get ready for bed?
  • Sing: “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” or sing a family lullaby together.
  • Write: Have a grown-up rub your back and trace shapes or letters on your back. Can you guess which shapes and letters they are?
  • Play: Act out the book’s motions and actions while someone reads the book. Bring favorite toy/blanket to story time.
  • Math or Science: Talk about textures. What do you cuddle with at night? Is it hard or soft, smooth or rough?

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DECEMBER (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (2))

A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy. Groundwood, 2016

Most of the kids in Evelyn’s grade 5 class don’t know what to make of the new boy, with his long hair, pink shirt, bead necklaces, and name: Queen. Evelyn doesn’t either, but when he’s shooting baskets on his own at recess the first day, missing every time, she shows him how to make a bank shot. From that moment, they’re friends. Queen takes the other kids in stride, telling Evelyn that he imagines he has a turquoise force field that mean comments bounce off. Evelyn’s imagination, no less active, works differently. She wonders, for example, what her walk home from school would have looked like 100 years ago. When Evelyn enters the realm of Queen’s easygoing, artistic family—his mom and dad are laid-back musicians (the dog is named Patti Smith)—Queen and his parents share the story of how he started calling himself Queen when he was four, wearing a purple velvet cape everywhere (his mother confesses it was actually velour). It couldn’t be more different from Evelyn’s staid home, but the love is the same. A short, charming novel distinguished by fine writing that reveals characters and relationships with wonderful clarity and great delight. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What lessons do Evelyn and Queen learn about friendship?
  2. How are Queen’s and Evelyn’s families alike and different?
  3. How might this story be continued?

DECEMBER (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (1))

Shadows of Sherwood (A Robyn Hoodlum Adventure) by Kekla Magoon. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016

The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected. Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world. – See more at: Bloomsbury USA Children

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is a dystopian story? What are some elements of dystopian stories that you can find in this novel?
  2. What lessons does Robin learn about herself and the world around her?
  3. Do you think Robin is selfish? Why or why not?

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DECEMBER (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | December | High School | 2017-2018 High School - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (2))

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016

Miel and Sam have been friends since the day Miel, drenched and scared, appeared in a field where a water tower had just been drained in Sam’s town. Miel is haunted by snippets of memory that include a curandero father long gone, and a mother and older brother who drowned. In the wind she sometimes hears her mother’s cries. But Miel has Aracely, the young woman who raised her, curer of lovesick, broken hearts, and Sam, who hangs the moon for her. Miel is one of the few who knows Sam is really Samira. He and his mother moved to town when Sam was small so he could live as a boy. The practice, from his mother’s Pakistani heritage, is called bacha posh and typically ends in adolescence. But Miel understands that it expresses who Sam is, now and forever. The Bonner Girls, las gringas bonitas, are four sisters who once could make any boy fall in love with them, but not anymore. Ivy Bonner believes the roses that grow from Miel’s wrist, the roses Miel see as her curse, can restore the sisters’ power. When Ivy learns Sam’s secret, Miel knows she’ll do what Ivy wants to protect the boy she loves. Latin American magical realism is foundational to this lush, sensual, astounding work graced by characters that are exquisitely, exceptionally human. Thick with secrets, this is a story of love and family and the power of speaking one’s truth. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Discuss the theme of secrets. How do secrets bind and tear different characters apart?
  2. How does the author address the subject of gender identification? Why do you think the author chose to approach gender in this way?
  3. How does this book show the difference between sexual identity and gender identity?
  4. Did you prefer the magical realism of When the Moon Was Ours or the realistic portrayal in Symptoms of Being Human?

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DECEMBER (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | December | High School | 2017-2018 High School - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (1))

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2016

Riley feels feminine some days, masculine others, but never feels safe outwardly expressing this shifting identity so dresses in gender-neutral clothing. As a result, Riley experiences dysphoria almost daily. On the first day at a new high school, Riley is called “it” before even getting in the door. But Riley gradually becomes friends with Bec and Solo. At the suggestion of a therapist, whom Riley has been seeing since a suicide attempt the year before, Riley has also started writing. Blogging under the pseudonym Alix, Riley is a source of online support for other teens. Riley’s parents know nothing about the blog or Riley’s shifting gender identity. It’s Bec who takes Riley to a transgender support group, one Bec attends because her sister, Gabi, who committed suicide, was transgender. It’s there Riley learns the term “gender fluid,”  and feels relief  even without being ready to say “this is who I am.” A horrifying sexual assault eventually fuels Riley’s determination to speak out. Riley’s voice is compelling and Riley, Bec, and Solo are vivid characters with believable strengths and quirks and uncertainties in a novel that also succeeds because the emotional arc feels authentic, and ultimately cathartic. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Discuss the theme of secrets. How do secrets bind and tear different characters apart?
  2. How does the author address the subject of gender identification? Why do you think the author chose to approach gender in this way?
  3. How does this book show the difference between sexual identity and gender identity?
  4. Did you prefer the magical realism of When the Moon Was Ours or the realistic portrayal in Symptoms of Being Human?

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DECEMBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (2))

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Orchard / Scholastic, 2016

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass each had a significant impact on America in their own right, but the two also became friends when they were both living in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1800s. There is a statue in Rochester of the two of them having tea, and Madison author Dean Robbins has imagined what that meeting might have been like and what they might have talked about based on their mutual interest in fighting for civil rights. The text also serves as an introduction to both Anthony and Douglass as people and as change agents in American history. Mixed-media illustrations are at once playfully inventive and historically respectful. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why were Susan and Frederick friends? What did they have in common? In what ways were they different? How did they help each other?
  2. How do the author and the illustrator show that words are important in this story?
  3. What do the two candles symbolize?

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DECEMBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (1))

The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2016

The princess Izta is known for her beauty but rejects all suitors until the warrior Popoca compliments her kind and beautiful heart. Her father admires Popoca’s bravery as a solider but hoped his daughter would marry a ruler. Still, he agrees Popoca may have Izta’s hand in marriage after defeating Jaguar Claw, ruler of a neighboring land. Jaguar Claw tricks Izta into thinking Popoca is dead and gives her poison. Popoca, finding his beloved in a sleep from which he cannot wake her, does not leave her side, even as the snows begin to fall. Their two snow-covered forms eventually become two volcanoes. This traditional Aztec legend of eternal love is also an origin story for two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, located south of Mexico City. This spirited retelling weaves in original elements and Nuhaatl words—“the language Popoca and Izta would have spoken.” An informative author’s note places this version in the context of many others, and of various forms of art created to honor the two volcanoes. A glossary defining the Nahuatl words is also included. Tonatiuh’s singular illustrations, inspired by Mixtec codices, provide striking visual accompaniment. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is a legend? Connect the names of the volcanoes to the story. What are some other similar stories you know?
  2. How are Popoca’s words “music to Izta’s ears”? How are they different than her other suitors’ words?
  3. How does Popoca show that he is brave, courageous, and loyal to Izta?

DECEMBER

May 8th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Middle School | December | 2017-2018 Middle School - (Comments Off on DECEMBER)

The Inquisitor’s Tale, Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Godwitz.  Illustrated by Hatem Aly. Dutton, 2016

Three children on the run become determined to save Jewish texts from the flames of the Inquisition in this riveting, richly detailed story set in thirteenth-century France. Jeanne is a peasant who has visions and has fled her village pursued by Church representatives. William, son of a nobleman and a north African Muslim woman, is a monk in training. Extraordinarily strong, he’s been tasked with carrying a satchel of books to the monastery of St. Denis as punishment for disobedience. Jacob is Jewish and has unusual gifts as a healer, but he is helpless when Christian boys on a rampage burn his village. Their separate journeys converge at an Inn where the boys help Jeanne escape the men who captured her. The trio continues to Paris, where Jacob hopes to find his parents alive. Instead, they learn of King Louis’ plan to burn 20,000 Jewish texts. Realizing William was given the books he is carrying to save them from the flames, it becomes a race against Church and King to get them safely to St. Denis. Each guest at the Inn where the children first met tell pieces of this story, a la Canterbury Tales, while the novel’s mysterious narrator, one of the eager listeners, brings the breathless account to a close. At times sobering as it reveals anti-Semitism and oppression during the Inquisition, this is ultimately a story of light and faith and hope and miracles, and friendship holds them all. Black-and-white illuminations illustrate the trio’s adventures with wit and tenderness. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did the use of multiple narrators either enhance or detract from the story?
  2. If you could be one of these characters, who would it be and why?
  3. Although book burnings aren’t as common now, in what ways do people still try to control information?

Find more resources here

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December 2016 Titles: End this Year, Start the New Year Sharing Great Books!

November 22nd, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | December | High School - (Comments Off on December 2016 Titles: End this Year, Start the New Year Sharing Great Books!)

Whether celebrating the arts, the seasons, community, family, friends or ourselves, the ROW December 2016 titles are great books to read and discuss. Check them out below. Find discussion questions here and other resources at TeachingBooks.net!

global baby bedtimes

waiting

happy in our skin small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

song within my hearthanahashimotoweb

dragons beware small

winter-bees

 

friends-for-life

this-one-summer

girls-like-us

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Another Perspective: December 2016 High School

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | December | High School - (Comments Off on Another Perspective: December 2016 High School)

Icon_HighSchool1girls-like-usGirls Like Us by Gail Giles. Candlewick, 2014

A 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner

We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad.

Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought — and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.  From the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What lessons do other characters learn from their interactions with Biddy and Quincy?
  2. How are Biddy and Quincy’s lives after graduation similar to most young adults? How are their lives different?
  3. What rights does a mother have after she has given her baby up for adoption?
  4. What does the duck symbolize? Why? Does this help you make sense of Biddy’s story?

this-one-summer

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki. Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. First Second, 2014

A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book
A 2015 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Early adolescence is a fluid and challenging period of awakening and discovery and in-between-ness in this graphic novel that beautifully and keenly captures that time. In this summer of tension and change, Rose and her parents are at the cottage they have gone to for years. Rose is between child and teenager, more mature in some ways than her younger friend, Windy, even as Windy’s innocence helps ground them both. At the store where the girls go to get videos on languid days, Rose is drawn to the local teenage clerk. She picks out horror movies to impress him, and is intrigued by the drama surrounding the boy and his girlfriend who, she learns, is pregnant. Windy is still sure enough of herself to see and state things in a refreshingly straightforward, uncomplicated way, and calls Rose out for her sexism in blaming the pregnant girl. Meanwhile, Rose’s mother is battling depression and something else Rose doesn’t understand. Rose’s parents are tense and often fighting, and Rose thinks her mother can and should just choose not to be sad. Everything feels profoundly connected in this story that illuminates that time of adolescence when young teens are just starting to open their eyes to the world in new ways; when their interests outpace their experience or their understanding; and when their ability to understand can mature at an astonishing rate.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What was your first reaction to the cover and the illustrations of this book? How does this reaction compare to your reaction to the novel after reading it?
  2. What characters did you most identify with? Why?
  3. What aspects of Rose’s life drive her urge to grow up?
  4. How do the illustrations and texts work together and apart to tell this story? What do the illustrations add that the text leaves out?

Find resources for Girls Like Us and This One Summer at TeachingBooks.net!

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Life Changing Friendships: December 2016 Middle School

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | December - (Comments Off on Life Changing Friendships: December 2016 Middle School)

Books for Middle School Agefriends-for-lifeFriends for Life by Andrew Norris. David Fickling Books/Scholastic Inc., 2015

A timeless and uplifting book about friendship, filled with humor and heart.

When Jessica sits next to Francis on a bench during recess, he’s surprised to learn that she isn’t actually alive — she’s a ghost. And she’s surprised, too, because Francis is the first person who has been able to see her since she died.

Before long, Francis and Jessica are best friends, enjoying life more than they ever have. When they meet two more friends who can also see Jessica, the question arises: What is it that they have in common? And does it have something to do with Jessica being a ghost?  From the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What do you think makes the adults turn to a 13 year-old like Francis to solve their parenting problems?
  2. Why do you think Andi risks being expelled to defend Francis?
  3. How do the three friends change after meeting Jessica?

Find more resources for Friends for Life from TeachingBooks.net

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