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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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Fight Dragons or Fighting the Cold? Try our December 2016 Intermediate Titles

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | December - (Comments Off on Fight Dragons or Fighting the Cold? Try our December 2016 Intermediate Titles)

dragons beware smallIcon_Intermediate1Dragons Beware! by Jorge Aguirre. Illustrated by Rafael Rosado. First Second, 2015

She’s back! Still the “act first, think later,” wooden-sword wielding fighter introduced in Giants Beware, bold Claudette is itching to protect her town from the menacing sorcerer Grombach and his army of gargoyles. With her best friend, Marie, and little brother, Gaston, at her heels, Claudette follows her father on his quest to reclaim his powerful sword and face their foe. Grombach’s true identity is revealed, a cursed hag provides a helpful tool, and a sword-swallowing dragon is convinced to return his plunder (albeit in a disgusting vomit-manner). Drawing on a combination of courage, luck, and a dose of cooperation and diplomacy, the three kids again save their community from looming disaster. Appealing characters and large doses of humor (like the seven hopeful princes trailing after Marie) complement the non-stop action of this full-color graphic novel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. The heroine, Claudette, is a fighter. She likes to “act first, think later.” How does compromise work better than force in this story?
  2. The children’s father has physical limitations. How does he persevere?
  3. How does this book challenge gender stereotypes? Have you ever felt that because of your gender you should or shouldn’t do something?
  4. If you could play a character in this book, who would you want to be and why?

winter-bees

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Rick Allen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Tundra swan, snake, snowflake. Bees in their hive, a vole under snow, the fly-high raven and the earth-bound wolf. The lives of these and other creatures in winter are the subject of poems by Joyce Sidman that crackle with cold and sing with warmth. “We scaled a million blooms / to reap the summer’s glow. / Now, in the merciless cold, / we share each morsel of heat, / each honeycombed crumb…. / Deep in the winter hive, / we burn like a golden sun.” (From “Winter Bees”) Sidman’s evocative, lyrical poems are paired with brief factual information written to resonate with an illuminating the imagery by showing how it is drawn from what the poet knew about each of her subjects. Gorgeous, stylized linoblock and digitally rendered art by Rick Allen is an elegant backdrop to a lovely and inspired collection. (MS)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the poem “Winter Bees” was chosen for the title? Which poem would you have selected and why?
  2. The author pairs poems and informational text to describe animals and their habitats in the winter. Why do you think the author chose to use both formats? Do you like the poems or the informational text better, or do you like them both? Why?
  3. What role do you think the fox plays in the illustrations?
  4. What Wisconsin animal would you add to the book?

Find more resources for Dragons Beware! and Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold at TeachingBooks.net!

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Community, Family and Arts: December 2016 (K-2)

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | December - (Comments Off on Community, Family and Arts: December 2016 (K-2))

hanahashimotoPrimary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerHana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki. Illustrated by Qin Leng. Kids Can Press, 2014

Hana’s decision to enter the school talent show is met with derision by her older brothers. “It’s a talent show, Hana.” “You’ll be a disaster.” It’s true she’s only had three violin lessons. But on their summer visit to Japan, their grandfather, Ojiichan, played for them every day. Hana’s favorite was the song about a crow calling for her chicks. “Whenever Ojiichan played it, Hana would feel a shiver of happy-sadness shiver through her.” She also loved the way he could make his violin sound like crickets or raindrops. She practices every day for the show, and when the time comes to step onto the stage, the sixth violin performance of the night, she’s nervous but determined. She begins with three “raw, squawky notes” to mimic the caw of a crow, followed by a “the sound of my neighbor’s cat at night” as she drags the bow across the strings in a “yowl of protest.” Hana also makes the sound of buzzing bees, squeaking mice, and croaking frogs before taking a bow. Not everyone can be a prodigy, but in a warm, refreshing, beautifully told and illustrated story, loving what you do is enough of a reason to share it.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do you think Hanna’s performance at the talent show differs from the other five violinists? How does her performance surprise her brothers?
  2. In what ways does Grandfather’s playing of the violin inspire Hanna?
  3. How does Hanna overcome her stage fright at the talent show?

song within my heartThe Song within My Heart by David Bouchard. Illustrated by Allen Sapp.  Red Deer Press, 2015

A grandmother guides her grandson through his first pow-wow. He hears the beating of the drums and the singing, but does not understand what they are saying. By urging him to listen and hear, the grandmother gently directs her grandson until he finds the stories and an understanding of his culture. With her warm presence and thoughtful words, the boy’s grandmother, his nokum, grounds her grandson in the history and present of this First Nations experience as well as leads him into his future, encouraging her grandson to own his “stories, songs, and beating heart.” Written in both English and Cree, this story showcases the stunning, brilliant colored and evocative artwork by renowned Cree artist Allen Sapp. Poetic, tender, and informative, the paintings and text are based on Sapp’s memories of being raised by his grandmother on the Red Pheasant reservation in Saskatchewan.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the story is written in two languages — English and Cree? Why do you think the larger grey-colored words are included?
  2. How does the beating drum tell the story of an individual boy and of his people? How do the illustrations and captions improve your understanding of the story?How does listening to the CD increase your understanding of the story?
  3. Why do you think Nokm tells her grandson to value the songs and stories more than toys, clothes, jewels, or cars, and other material things?

Find more resources for Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin and Song Within My Heart for TeachingBooks.net.

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Look Around in Wonder: December 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | December - (Comments Off on Look Around in Wonder: December 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

happy in our skin smallIcon for Babies Toddlers & PreschoolersHappy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin. Illustrated by Lauren Tobia. Candlewick Press, 2015

“Look at you! You look so cute in your brand-new birthday suit. This is how we all begin: small and happy in our skin.” And skin, whatever beautiful color it comes in “keeps the outsides out and your insides in … When you fall, your skin will heal with a scab, a perfect seal.” A simple, rhyming text affirms both universality and uniqueness within the human family when it comes to skin: how it looks, what it does. The joyful narrative’s message is amplified by illustrations focusing on a mixed race family as part of a diverse-in-every-way, vibrant community. The light-skinned parent in the family is a woman; the Black parent’s gender is open to interpretation.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Talk: Name your skin color. For instance, are you cocoa brown, cinnamon, honey brown, ginger, peaches and cream or something else entirely?
  • Sing: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
  • Write: Draw a picture of yourself.
  • Math or Science: Explore your 5 senses, especially touch.

waitingWaiting by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2015

Childhood is full of waiting. It turns out childhood toys spend a lot of time waiting, too. An owl with spots waits for the moon, a pig with an umbrella waits for the rain, a bear with a kite waits for the wind, a puppy on a sled waits for the snow, and a rabbit with stars looks out the window in which they all sit, happy to be just be watching. Some waiting is easily fulfilled—the moon shows itself often. Some waiting stretches on and on. But there are always new things to see, occasional visitors, and sometimes delightful surprises. Kevin Henkes’s lyrical picture book is a graceful and perfect interplay between words and images. The finely paced narrative expresses and extends the sense of possibility in waiting, whether attached or unattached to expectation. The soft, muted illustrations expand on that possibility, further illuminating how the quiet between big moments is as important as the moments themselves. Time is measured in the repeated refrain of a four-paned window, through which seasons change and change again. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Talk: What are each of the toys waiting for? Are they waiting for different things or the same thing?
  • Sing: If You’re Happy and You Know It. Replace “happy” with a word that describes one of the toy’s feelings.
  • Write: What shapes can you find in the clouds? What shapes can you find (or make) in the snow?
  • Play: Play Mother, May I? How long do you have to wait to do what you ask to do?
  • Math or Sciences: Play the waiting game. Count while you wait. How long do you wait for snack? For friends? For holidays?

global baby bedtimesGlobal Babies: Bedtimes by Maya Ajmera. A Global Fund for Children Book. Charlesbridge, 2015

Babies love seeing other babies. So what could be more appealing than the sight of one sleeping baby? How about a book that shows 18 sleeping babies from countries around the world? Following the format of earlier books in the Global Babies series, this board book features a photograph of a sleeping baby (and in one case, twins) on every page. A very brief rhyming text points out that babies everywhere sleep, whether in a crib or on a floor, on the back or in the arms of someone who loves them. Every photograph is labeled with the country in which the baby pictured lives.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Talk: Where do you sleep?
  • Sing: Sing a lullaby
  • Write: Tell a story about one of the babies in the book.
  • Play: Tuck a baby doll into bed.
  • Math or Science: Explore textures. What’s soft? What’s scratchy?

Try these poems:

Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Bedtime section

Find more resources for Global Babies: Bedtimes, Waiting and Happy in Our Skin at TeachingBooks.net!

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