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JANUARY (3)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | January - (Comments Off on JANUARY (3))

1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book by Juana Medina. Viking, 2016

A playful concept book imagines salad ingredients as animals as it counts from one to ten: one avocado deer, two radish mice, three pepper monkeys, four carrot horses, etc. Medina uses photographs of actual vegetables set against a stark white background, and then adds black ink lines to embellish each vegetable in order to bring out the animal—nose, ears, and feet added to the radish mice, for example. All the animals mixed together add up to one big delicious salad, shown in a photograph of the salad in a big wooden bowl with two inked hands and arms holding it up. Even those who can already count to ten will enjoy seeing the vegetables transformed into appealing animals. (Ages 2–5)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “Winter Adventure” in Goodnight Songs
  • Talk: About trying new foods. Try some of the foods in the book that are new to you.
  • Sing:  “Apples and Bananas” by Rafi. Look for other versions of the song online or at the library.
  • Write: Trace numbers with your fingers. Count with your fingers. Or, write a grocery list together
  • Play: Provide kids with printed out pictures or magazine pictures. Have kids add their own drawing to make an animal. Or, make faces with cut up pieces of fruit – blueberry eyes, orange slice mouth.
  • Math or Science: Make the salad and salad dressing in the book or make a recipe of your own. Talk about measurements. How much of each ingredient do you use for the recipe?

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JANUARY (2)

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

Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“To a lion, Marta is tranquila. Quiet, very quiet. / To a rabbit, Marta is ruidosa. Loud, very loud.” The same textual pattern is used on each two-page spread, cleverly describing an active little girl’s qualities in terms of comparisons and opposites. Spanish adjectives are seamlessly incorporated into the text and for each one, the English word follows as an echo. When all of Marta’s qualities are reiterated at story’s end, the animal names appear in Spanish, easily decipherable from the clear picture clues. The appealing illustrations capture Marta’s spirited nature and underscore the girl-power theme of the book, which ends with Marta described as “clever, very clever, like una niña.” (Ages 2–5)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: Pick out the Spanish words in the book. Practice saying them together. Look at the included glossary.
  • Talk: Revisit the idea of opposites. Introduce the idea of comparatives ­such as “bigger” or “smaller”. Compare your child to things in the room. Ask: What are bigger than? What are you smaller than?
  • Sing: “This is Big, Big, Big”. If you don’t know it, find it on the Jbrary Youtube channel.
  • Write: Different sizes of letters, shapes, or squiggles.
  • Play: Pretend to be the different animals in the book.
  • Math or Science: Scavenger hunt – find something big. Find something small. Find something bigger or smaller than the objects you found.

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JANUARY (1)

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

Music Is … by Brandon Stosuy. Illustrated by Amy Martin. Little Simon, 2016

This purposefully inclusive board book celebrates music as something for everyone. The illustrations show distinctive, individual people of color with a range of ages and body types. There are women playing electric guitars and a man playing a harp, a little girl with two men—presumably her dads—and so on. Some of the concepts may be a bit advanced for a typical board book audience (Lo-fi vs. Hi-fi; “fuzzy” guitars), but definitions of the music terms are provided on the final page, a welcome element for any adult who may be unsure of something’s meaning. (Ages 1–3)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “Snowfall” from Goodnight Songs and listen to the song on the accompanying CD.
  • Talk About opposites.
  • Sing: Pick a song. Sing it fast. Sing it slow. Sing it loudly and quietly.
  • Write: Listen to music and draw a picture of what you hear using colors and shapes.
  • Play: Dance to your favorite music.
  • Math or Science: Talk about how you can make music with your mouth or your hands. What other ways can you make music with your body?

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JANUARY (2)

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

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2016

From historical documents he acquired, Ashley Bryan gives breath and life to 11 enslaved individuals listed on the Fairchilds Estate Appraisement of 1828. The document identifies most of them by name, and as boy, girl, woman, or man, along with their “value.” The cold, brutal reality of a price attached to a human life is at the foundation of this work. But in imagining these individuals’ histories, daily lives, hopes, and dreams, Bryan defies that erasure of human- ness. For each person, he has created two poems and two paintings. The first poem/painting pair is a sober portrait, set against fragments of documents related to slavery, alongside a poem detailing elements of their lives and histories. The second poem/painting pair is a “dream” poem, and a vibrant, often joyful scene. In “Bacus dreams,” the blacksmith tells how every strike of his hammer against hot metal is an outlet for his anger, a blow for justice. In “Charlotte dreams,” she speaks of her artistry as a weaver, a means of self-discovery. In both these dream poems the speakers note the distance and difference between how their owners see them, and who they are. Across this extraordinary work, it is not only a sense of individual lives that emerge, but also of a community of individuals caring for one another. An author’s note includes a reproduction of the estate appraisal, which every word in this work defies. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Which person stands out to you the most? Why?
  2. Why does the author feel it was important to create stories and dreams for the people on a receipt?
  3. What do you notice about the illustrations on each page?

JANUARY (1)

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

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. Viking, 2016

As a child in the 1960s, Andrea Davis Pinkney was affected profoundly by The Snowy Day. It was the first book she encountered featuring an African American child like her. Her ingenious poem is a celebration of both the character Peter and of his creator, Ezra Jack Keats. Keats started out life as a poor Jewish boy in Brooklyn who dreamed of being an artist. Peter of The Snowy Day makes several of what Pinkney describes as “peek-a-boo” appearances throughout this lyrical account of Keats’ life, “waving at the reader.” When Keats was working early in his career as a comic-book artist, for example: “The brown-sugar boy / in a blanket of white / began to ignite by what kids saw, / and didn’t see, / in the not-so-funny comics / Ezra was made to draw. / All the heroes in all the comics / were always as white as a winter sky.” This tour-de-force is illustrated brilliantly with acrylic, collage, and pencil artwork that gives a true sense of Keats’s own artwork. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How did Ezra’s responsibilities for his family affect his career?
  2. Why was/is Peter such an important character for so many children?
  3. Who and what supported Ezra’s dreams? Who supports your dreams?

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JANUARY (2)

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

Playing for the Devil’s Fire by Phillippe Diederich. Cinco Puntos Press, 2016

In his small town outside of Mexico City, 13-year-old Boli spends his time helping at his parents’ bakery, playing marbles with his friends (the devil’s fire is a coveted marble he owns), and waiting for the next lucha libre match to visit his town. But his easy, predictable life changes after the severed head of the town’s teacher is found in the square. That is soon followed by the discovery of another dead body. These two events make it impossible for the adults to continue shielding their children from the narcos who are taking over the town. When Boli’s parents leave to find help from a greater authority, they don’t return, which leads Boli to team up with a washed-out lucha libre figher, El Chicano, to find answers. Diederich wisely chose to tell this gut-wrenching story of crime, violence, and corruption from Boli’s innocent point of view. Tight, descriptive writing paints a picture of the town, its people, and their culture, and of a reluctant hero in El Chicano. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

 

 

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JANUARY (1)

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

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. Amulet / Abrams, 2016

It’s 2035 and a comet is headed toward Earth. Preparations for the inevitable destruction have fallen along class lines—those who can afford it, or who have critical skills, are set to escape on self-sustaining generation ships. Those who can’t are staying in underground shelters with little hope of long-term survival. Biracial (Black/white) Denise, her drug-addicted mother, and her trans sister don’t come close to qualifying for safe passage on a generation ship, but Denise is determined to get the three of them on board, even it means lying or sneaking on. Denise has autism—sometimes that hinders her, sometimes it helps, but always it is just part of who she is and how she views the world. Set in a futuristic Amsterdam, this compelling novel is tense, visceral, and extremely well crafted. It also offers a thoughtful exploration of ethical dilemmas: What would you be willing to do to survive? Whom would you save? And, in the face of pending doom, who deserves to live and who is expendable? ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does Denise’s autism aid or hinder her during this end of the world catastrophe?
  2. What are the ethical implications of choosing people to live or die? How would you choose who survives?
  3. In the end, why do you think Denise makes the choice she does? What would you have chosen?

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JANUARY (2)

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

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2016

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.” But forging a nontraditional path has its naysayers. Tina’s three sisters meet her dreams with a constant refrain: “IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE!” They say it when she imagines flying in a rocket ship, and they certainly say it when Tina tells her sisters about the friendly, flying dragon she’s met. Still, when Tina isn’t at breakfast the next morning they go in search of her, venturing beyond their farm for the first time. They can’t help but notice the scenery is beautiful. And what they go on to witness is impossible, ridiculous, nonsense! But it’s true: Tina is flying (well, parachuting; so are a pig and a penguin), her new dragon friend soaring nearby. This absurd and inspiring story is full of humor (e.g., Tina’s stickler-for-tradition sisters are cows living in a house, eating their grass at a well-set table) and set against singular illustrations that are distinctive and lovely, combining abstract washes of expressive color with quirky and charmingly detailed characters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some ways Tina shows her curiosity and individuality?
  2. How do the illustrations help the reader make predictions?
  3. How do Tina and her sisters see the world differently? In what ways have the sisters changed at the end of the story?
  4. Have you ever been told that something you wanted to do is silly (similar to Tina) and how did you respond?

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JANUARY (1)

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

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau. Illustrated by Matt Myers. Candlewick Press, 2016

Two rat brothers, Louie and Ralphie, live with their hard-as-nails father in a big city. They aspire to be as mean as their dad, so they constantly scheme ways to prove their toughness. Each episodic chapter recounts a different mean thing they plan and execute; however, each ends up having the opposite effect. For example, when they snatch a big bully’s hat right off his head, they are lauded for doing so—it turns out the bully had stolen the hat from a much smaller kid. When they make a sandwich with all the gross stuff in their fridge to give to a new student, Fluffy Rabbitski, it turns out to be all of her favorite foods. The chapters are short and snappy, and each one has a funny and surprising reversal. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are the differences between being a bully and being tough? Use examples from the story.
  2. What do you do to make life easier for your community?
  3. Have you done something differently than you expected?

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JANUARY

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

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan. Putnam, 2016

Like many children in Mali, 15-year-old Amadou and his little brother, Seydou, left their village in Mali in search of seasonal work to help support their family. But the boys were tricked and, two years later, they are still working on a cacao plantation in Ivory Coast for no pay, little food, and plenty of beatings whenever they fail to meet their daily quotas. And then Khadija arrives at their camp—an educated girl with the eyes of a wildcat. It turns out Khadija was kidnapped to silence her journalist mother. Together Amadou and Khadija begin to plot their escape, an act that becomes all the more critical after Seydou is gravely wounded and needs medical care. This tension-filled, well-plotted story reveals the horrors of child slavery that fuels much of the modern-day chocolate industry. The fast pace will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they follow Amadou, Khadija, and Seydou on their dangerous escape through unfamiliar, often threatening territory to safety at last. An author’s note provides more background information on the exploitation of children in the cacao industry. (Ages 10–14)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Does this book change the way you feel about eating chocolate? How?
  2. How are Amadou and Khadija’s childhood experiences different from one another?
  3. How does Amadou’s sense of responsibility affect his decisions?

Find more resources here

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Playful Books for Learning: January 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | January - (Comments Off on Playful Books for Learning: January 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

big-and-smallBig and Small (Odd One Out) by Guido van Genechten. Translated from the Dutch. U.S. edition: Clavis, 2013

A pair of interactive board books will provoke all kinds of conversation with a delightful and increasingly challenging series of questions related to the illustrations. Each book features three questions on every double-page spread, two of them unique to the illustration, and one repeated across the spreads. In Odd One Out: Big and Small, the repeated question is “And who is ready to go to a party?” In Odd One Out: In, Out and All Around, it’s “And who is ready to go to a dance?” Each illustration features a different group of the same kind of animal. They are nearly identical, but the questions are designed to single several of them out. A page showing eight alligators asks “Who has lost all his teeth?” and “Who is long and who is short?” Young children can study the picture to find the answers. Identifying the one ready to go a party (or a dance) requires even closer observation as the clue to the repeated question is a small, black-and-white element added to the color illustrations (in this case, one of the alligators is wearing a crown). The growing challenge is due to the greater subtlety in the variations among the animals and/or the increase in the number shown on a spread (e.g., thirty almost identical hedgehogs). The final page spread shows the group of animals at the party and the dance, making it possible to go back and find those individuals in illustrations where the challenge may have been too great. Finding the answer is not always easy, but kids who love to pore over illustrations will find it a delight regardless.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: What would you wear to a party?
  • Sing: Sing a favorite party song.
  • Write: Make your own handprint and other stamp art.
  • Play: Dance to your favorite song.
  • Math or Science: Count the types of animals in the book. How many can you find? Who’s biggest? Who’s smallest?

one-word-from-sophia

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck. Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015

Wonderful to read with The Pet Project and One Cool Friend!

Sophia has one true desire for her birthday. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad…and Grand-mama. Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise? Turns out, all it takes is one word.  From the publisher

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: What kind of pet would you like? What would you name your pet?
  • Sing: Sing a please and thank you song.
  • Write: Draw your favorite animal. Would this animal make a good pet?
  • Play: Pretend you have an unusual animal for a pet. What would you need to do to take care of this pet?
  • Math or Science: Your pet needs exercise. Draw a map of where you will take your pet on your walk.

More ideas and resources including a book trailer at Teach Mentor Texts

vincent paints his house

Vincent Paints His House by Tedd Arnold. Holiday House, 2015

When a Van Gogh-looking artist sets out to paint his house, he decides on the color white. The spider hanging from the eaves has another idea. “This is MY house, and I like red.” To which Vincent replies, “Red is nice.” But the caterpillar likes yellow, the beetle likes purple, the bird likes blue, and so on. Each time, Vincent affirms his appreciation for the new color and starts using it. The creatures are all helping paint, too. The end result is an Impressionistic display of color. “Everyone was happy!” This pleasing story has a simple text with a lot of repetition, and the added use of a large bold font makes it a great choice for beginning readers. The book’s final image of the house at night set against the swirl of a starry, starry sky is nothing if not perfect.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: Take a walk around the block. What color houses can you find?
  • Sing: Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Write: Draw a picture of where you live. What colors will you use?
  • Play: Build a house for a favorite toy out of boxes or blocks.
  • Math or Science: What happens when you mix colors? What colors can you make?

Include some poetry: Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection: page 22 and Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Play section

Find more resources for Big and Small, One Word from Sophia and Vincent Paints His House at TeachingBooks.net

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Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2)

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | January - (Comments Off on Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2))

Amazing storytelling, endearing characters and warm illustrations make these books favorites for many kids, parents, librarians and teachers.

finding winnieFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  Little, Brown, 2015

Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Author Lindsay Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, the Winnipeg veterinarian who purchased an orphaned cub at a train station while on his way to service in World War I. Mattick’s unique perspective and engaging style (punctuated with plenty of humor) make for an irresistible narrative that includes herself and her young son, Cole, as characters as she tells what is clearly a familiar and much loved story to the little boy. Harry named the cub Winnipeg (soon shortened to Winnie) and she charmed everyone. Winnie was full of affection and exploits, and it was hard for Harry to imagine leaving her behind in England when word came his unit was leaving for the front. But he took Winnie to the London Zoo and it was there, years later, that a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne first saw her. The conversational style of Mattick’s narrative is finely crafted and utterly charming. So, too, are Sophie Blackall’s warm illustrations, which are finely detailed and emotionally expansive, emphasizing the bond between mother and son, and man, child, and bear. An album of photographs of Colebourn, Winnie, Christopher Robin, and Mattick and Cole round out this winsome volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. Pre-reading: What do you know about a bear named Winnie?
  2. What are the three different stories in the book?
  3. How do the illustrations add to the story? Do they add information, emotions, and/or movement to the story?
  4. In what ways, do the author and illustrator use the photos in the scrapbook in the text and Illustrations?
  5. Who would be on your family tree?

first caseThe First Case by Ulf Nilsson. Illustrated by Gitte Spee.  Translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall. (Detective Gordon) U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2015

An engaging, character-driven mystery begins with an aging toad detective investigating the theft of nuts from a very upset squirrel. Detective Gordon can’t move as quickly or as easily as he once did. Then he meets a nameless mouse who is young and spry and eager and she quickly becomes his able assistant. First order of business: give her a name. He suggests one he’s always loved: Buffy. The interactions between Buffy–so bright and optimistic and open-hearted–and Detective Gordon–slightly world-weary but wise and buoyed by her presence—are warm and wonderful in a story full of understated humor punctuated by brighter, laugh-out-loud moments (often involving the squirrel). The duo inspects the scenes of the crime, gathers clues, conjectures based on what they’ve observed (clearly the suspect can climb trees, for example), then lays a trap and eventually capture the thieves. Beautiful design, including charming spot and full-page color illustrations, embellish a winning, winsome short chapter book. Add it to your read-aloud repertoire! (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Describe how Detective Gordon and Buffy are different from and similar to each other. Why do you think Detective Gordon and Buffy work well together?
  2. Why do you think Detective Gordon handed the squirrel the mirror?
  3. What rituals and routines does Detective Gordon eventually share with Buffy?

Find more resources for Finding Winnie and The First Case at TeachingBooks.net!

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