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APRIL (2)

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

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2016

Alan the alligator has built his jungle reputation on scaring the other animals. “It was what he did best.” A snoutful of pointy teeth play a big role in Alan’s frightful credibility, and he is careful to guard the secret that his teeth are, in fact, dentures. But Barry the Beaver learns the truth and absconds with the detachable chompers. When Alan’s attempts at toothless scaring are a failure, he vents his loss of self-identity with loud and miserable tears, prompting the other creatures to offer to return his dentures. There’s one condition: Alan has to agree to stop scaring them. It turns out those big teeth have other uses, and Alan reinvents himself as a gardener, hairdresser, dentist, and scary storyteller. Despite the menacing dentition, Alan is nonthreatening from the get-go, depicted in rich jungle hues rendered with pencil, chalk, and paint and colored digitally, in illustrations bouncing with playful energy. Honor Book, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: A silly poem in Goodnight Songs, like “Bunny Jig”
  • Talk: About false teeth. Ask the child(ren) if they know anyone who has false teeth.
  • Sing: The Rafi song: Brush Your Teeth; if you don’t know it, look at the library or find a video on YouTube.
  • Write: Draw a new set of teeth for Alan. Use your own Alan drawing or this activity sheet.
  • Play: Pretend to brush your teeth and practice your scary face like Alan does!
  • Math or Science: Look for shapes throughout the book (Alan’s teeth are triangles). Look around you for shapes. How many sides do the different shapes have?

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APRIL (1)

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

Snail & Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kügler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Three short stories in chapter format describe the initial meeting of Snail and Worm and two episodes in their friendship in a droll offering with a delightfully deadpan quality in the humorous interplay between the straightforward dialogue and the offbeat illustrations. In the opening chapter, “Meet My Friend,” Snail and Worm meet while playing with their respective friends Bob the rock and Ann the stick. In “Snail’s Adventure,” Worm provides support and encouragement as Snail scales a tall flower, although neither he nor Snail notes the flower has bent low to the ground under Snail’s weight. (“Wow! They look like ants down there!” exclaims Snail from no more than an inch off the ground as several large ants march by.) “Meet My Pet” has Worm looking for his lost pet, whom he describes as brown and furry with sharp teeth. Terrified Snail is convinced it’s a spider, even after Worm’s lost pet, Sam, shows up and is clearly a dog. Meanwhile Rex, Snail’s dog, is clearly a spider. Playful contradictions give readers and listeners a lot to notice and to laugh about in a book perfect for beginning readers or as a read-aloud. The deceptively simple and expressive art shows great thought and sophistication in its design and execution. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz” in Goodnight Songs
  • Talk: About the humor of the book. Why is it funny? Talk about perspective.
  • Sing: A song very slowly then very quickly. Think about how Snail and Worm move.
  • Write: Draw a favorite activity you like to do with a friend or a favorite thing you like about a friend.
  • Play: A guessing game. Describe something then see how many clues it takes to guess the object. Let everyone have a turn describing as well as guessing.
  • Math or Science: Go outside and look for snails and worms and rocks and twigs. Explore what else you see outside.

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APRIL (2)

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

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka. Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“I like to think of poems as word paintings. A poet uses words like colors to paint pictures inside your head. In concrete poems, or shape poems, the words also paint pictures on the page.” A concise definition of concrete poetry introduces a collection of 21 elegantly simple, clever concrete poems. Even the poem’s single-word titles are playfully apt in their arrangement of individual letters, while the poems themselves offer further visual delight in describing the concept or object of the title. If the first 20 poems don’t also inspire young readers to try writing poems of their own, the final poem, “PoeTRY,” is a direct invitation, and appears on the page as an inverted pyramid: “poetry is about taking away the words you don’t need / poetry is taking way words you don’t need / poetry is words you need / poetry is words / try.” © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Which poem do you like the best? Why?
  2. How do you think the form of a poem impacts its message?
  3. Where else have you seen concrete poetry?

APRIL (1)

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

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster, 2016

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was the daughter of a poet father (Lord Byron) and a mother (Lady Byron) who nurtured her curiosity in math, science and technology. Ada loved both the arts and sciences. When her friend Charles Babbage asked for Ada’s help in explaining what the “Analytical Engine” he designed could do if it were built, Ada “had the vision to see, better even than Babbage himself, how much more a computer could do besides just processing numbers.” Ada took on the task of explaining how the machine’s ability to function required mathematical operations be converted into digital format, or code, that it could understand. In other words, she pioneered programming. This engaging, whimsical look at Ada’s brief life (she died at 36) and her extraordinary accomplishment in writing what is considered the first computer program shows that both knowledge and imagination are necessary for advances in technology and science, and that Ada embodied both. An author’s note tells more about Ada’s Notes and their impact, and acknowledges some have challenged Ada’s authorship (an idea Stanley refutes). A timeline, selected bibliography and glossary are also included in a volume set against illustrations that are blithe but never make light of Ada or her work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do you think this story would have been different if Ada was a man?
  2. How do imagination and science work together in Ada’s life? Can you think of other examples of how imagination and science work together?
  3. Read the “Author’s Notes” and “Controversy”. Why have most people never heard of Ada Lovelace?

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APRIL (2)

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

Scythe (Arc of the Scythe, Book 1) by Neal Shusterman.  Simon & Schuster, 2016

In a future on earth when humans have become immortal, fatal disease and injury and even aging neutralized by the ability to regenerate, the population is kept in check by Scythes, individuals trained to kill, or “glean,” those whom they select. When teens Citra and Rowan are chosen as unwilling apprentice Scythes (saying no is not an option), they find themselves caught in the political machinations within the Scythedom. Scythes, says their mentor, Scythe Faraday, should abhor the taking of a life, but another faction gaining power relishes killing, and has been doing so with increasing violence. Citra and Rowan, already going through rigorous physical and mental training, know that they are competing for a single position, but the stakes grow higher when a rule change Faraday is helpless to challenge dictates that the first task of the winner will be to glean the loser. Timeless questions of whether the good of the many outweighs the good of the one, and ethical dilemmas exacerbated by power struggles and greed, invite contemplation, while martial arts combat training will entice thrill-seekers in this riveting work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. When faced with life or death situations, how is the humanity of the characters in the book challenged? How does that affect them later in life?
  2. Discuss how death is portrayed in Scythe. What do you think of this portrayal?
  3. What experiences lead to the growth of the characters in Scythe?

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APRIL (1)

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

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown. Candlewick Press, 2016

A novel in verse in the voice of 19-year-old Mary Ann Graves tells of her family’s journey west by wagon in 1846. They eventually join another group that includes the Donner family. The travelers reach the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range late and the snows come early, stranding them in the mountains. With food scarce, Mary Ann, her father, and her older sister are part of a smaller group that attempts the pass, hoping to send back help for the others. They end up lost in a storm. Mary Ann’s father, a driving force of optimism early on in the journey, a voice of pragmatism later, is one of the first to die. There is an absolute lack of sensationalism in this moving account of the Donner Party, and the grim decision to eat those who died. Mary Ann’s voice stitches a story of small, compelling details, creating a vivid sense of people, time, and place. And she describes the desperation from hunger and malnutrition that turn an unbearable, unthinkable choice into one that becomes numbly inevitable for anyone hoping to survive. An author’s note tells more about the Donner Party’s journey, and Mary Ann’s life after she and other survivors were rescued.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. When faced with life or death situations, how is the humanity of the characters in the book challenged? How does that affect them later in life?
  2. Discuss how death is portrayed in To Stay Alive. What do you think of this portrayal?
  3. What experiences lead to the growth of the characters in To Stay Alive?

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APRIL (2)

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

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. little bee, 2016

A potent narrative begins, “Mondays, there were hogs to slop, / mules to train, and logs to chop. / Slavery was no ways fair. / Six more days to Congo Square.” Congo Square, the essential Foreword explains, was a legal gathering spot for enslaved and free Blacks in New Orleans. The first 14 couplets count down the days to Congo Square, documenting the work of enslaved men and women as they labored in fields and in houses, in despair and in defiance, Monday through Saturday. “The dreaded lash / too much to bear …. Run away, run away. Some slaves dared.” The remaining 11 couplets mark the transition to Sunday, and the gathering in Congo Square, spinning out details of music and dancing, chanting and singing, lifting spirits and hearts. The words are set against spare, expressive paintings in which stylized, elongated figures with little or no facial details carry out the heavy work of Monday through Saturday. The constrained figures break free once Sunday comes, moving with fluid joy and abandon. A glossary and an author’s note providing more historical context conclude this rich and stirring work. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the illustrations help the reader understand the text?
  2. Using the text and illustrations, compare what the slaves are doing on Sunday versus the rest of the week?
  3. How does Congo Square represent freedom? What makes Congo Square unique?

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APRIL (1)

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

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2016

Each day leading up to “Poetry in the Park,” Daniel asks a different animal what poetry is. And each animal has an answer. Poetry is “when morning dew glistens,” says Spider. It’s “when crisp leaves crunch,” says Squirrel. It’s “a cool place to dive into,” says Frog. By week’s end, when the event arrives, Daniel turns the many things he’s heard into a poem that reveals how poetry is senses, and observation, and language, and feeling. “On the way home, Daniel stops to watch the sunset sky reflecting in the pond. ‘That looks like poetry to me.’” A quiet, purposeful story featuring brown-skinned Daniel features lovely, striking collage illustrations and invites children to notice the poetry in the small moments of their lives. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does Daniel show that he is curious?
  2. What did you learn about poetry from Daniel’s experiences at the park?
  3. What looks like poetry to you?

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APRIL

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

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum, 2016

Three girls coming of age in three separate centuries, all facing limits on expectations and opportunities because of being female, and all making significant contributions to science. Their stories unfold in three verse narratives. “The Artist’s Daughter” introduces Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), who grew up loving nature, butterflies in particular. She was the first to observe, understand, and document the life cycle of moths and butterflies. Mary Anning (1799–1847) was “The Carpenter’s Daughter.” She found and helped unearth what turned out the be the first ichthyosaur fossil. “The Mapmaker’s Daughter,” Maria Mitchell (1818–1889), grew up in a Quaker family on Nantucket. She could repair a sextant as well as her father, and when the king of Denmark announced a prize for the first person to discover a new comet, Mary eventually won, after six years of closely, doggedly observing the skies. Personalities of the three come alive in fictionalized profiles full of small, meaningful details as they move from childhood to adulthood. An author’s note and suggestions for further reading are included. (Ages 10–13)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are the threads that weave the three stories together?
  2. Why is it important to tell these women’s stories today?
  3. How do art and science complement each other in this book and in our world?

    Find more resources here

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Between Cultures: April ROW Books Explore Immigrant and Refugee Experiences

March 25th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Between Cultures: April ROW Books Explore Immigrant and Refugee Experiences)

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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Between and Within Cultures: April 2017 High School

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | April - (Comments Off on Between and Within Cultures: April 2017 High School)

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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Home and Family: April 2017 Middle School

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | April - (Comments Off on Home and Family: April 2017 Middle School)

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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