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Refugees and Migrants: April 2017 Intermediate

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | April - (Comments Off on Refugees and Migrants: April 2017 Intermediate)

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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

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

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Discovering Family: April 2017 Primary

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | April - (Comments Off on Discovering Family: April 2017 Primary)

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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

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Making and Baking: April 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | April - (Comments Off on Making and Baking: April 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Propensity for Poetry?: April 2017

March 15th, 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 Propensity for Poetry?: April 2017)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | April - (Comments Off on Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title)

silver peopleSilver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Icon_HighSchoolMargarita Engle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

At what price progress? Margarita Engle follows four individuals involved in the building of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century. Mateo is a fourteen-year-old Cubano whose dangerous work digging the canal helps him escape a cruel father. Henry is a Black Jamaican wanting to earn money for his family. His job is blasting through rock. Augusto is a Puerto Rican mapmaker who can’t ignore issues of race and class that mean he is treated better than laborers like Mateo and Henry, but worse than the white engineers who oversee the project. Anita is a local Panamanian girl, adopted daughter of the village healer, who knows all the flora and fauna in jeopardy because of the canal. These “silver people” (dark-skinned workers paid in silver rather than gold) are living and laboring under Colonialism, and their voices illuminate the impact of its arrogance. Engle also, strikingly, gives voice to elements of nature—trees, birds, insects, and the ever-present screaming monkeys—whose world is being brutally destroyed as work on the canal progresses, offering another critical perspective on “progress” in a stirring work that invites thought and discussion. (MS)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Silver People at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Silver People is an historical novel in verse. How would this story be told differently if it were a [prose] novel? A textbook?
  2. The story is told from the perspective of different people. How do the different voices add to the readers understanding of the story? Whose voice resonated with you and why?
  3. Hollywood called and they are doing a casting call for Silver People. Who would you recommend for the main characters and why? What elements of this story would lend itself to the big screen?

Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | April - (Comments Off on Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title)

if i ever get out of hereIf I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Books for Middle School AgeArthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2013.

Lewis Blake is the only Tuscarora reservation kid tracked with the “braniacs” in junior high. Sixth grade was a social disaster—it turns out white kids don’t get Indian humor–so he starts seventh grade in 1975 determined to have a better year. He’s even cut off his braid in hopes of fitting in. George, a recent arrival to the nearby air force base in upstate New York where they live, becomes his first, and only, white friend. The two initially bond over a mutual love of music, especially the Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings. Surprised that George’s military father and German mother genuinely welcome him into their home, Lewis knows he’ll never be able to reciprocate the invitation. Money has been tighter than ever since his grandfather died, and the house where he lives with his mother and Uncle Albert is literally falling down. So he lies about why George can’t come over, although in many ways Lewis has much more in common with George than with Carson, his closest friend on the reservation. In a narrative full of humor and rife with tender, honest, and unsettling truths, author Eric Gansworth explores identity, and what it means to find and be a friend. Gansworth’s first foray into young adult literature lovingly captures both time and place, and reveals characters whose complexities bring sadness, joy, and survival into full relief. In a novel that exposes racism both subtle and overt (seen most vividly in the subplot involving the school’s unwillingness to punish the son of a school donor who is bullying Lewis), Gansworth also portrays two very different but equally loving families. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Lewis and George’s lives intersect for a brief period of time in their seventh grade year. How does the author chronicle their friendship as the plot develops? How does each one of them change over the course of the story?
  2. Identity and friendship are major themes in the story. Do any specific elements (scenes, interactions, etc.) stand out when you think of how either one of these themes was explored in the story?
  3. What role did music play in the lives of the characters? How is it woven into the story?

Try pairing this book with Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles)

african acrosticsAfrican Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersAvis Harley. Photographs by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2009.

Animal lovers, poetry appreciators, and puzzle fiends will all find something to appreciate in this collection of poems about birds and animals of the African savannah. Most of Avis Harley’s clever descriptive poems are traditional acrostics, in which the first word of each line spells out a word relating to the poem’s subject. But some are more devious—there are double acrostics, which feature words spelled from both the beginning and end letters in each line, multiple acrostics—one poem has five imbedded vertical words—and other variations on the acrostic form. Accompanying each poem is full-page photograph of the animal subject. Photographer Deborah Noyes took most of the photos in Namibia and includes a note about that experience. Brief additional notes about each of the animals, and a more lengthy explanation of the acrostic form, round out this unusual volume. (MS) ©2009 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. How do the text and pictures work together to add meaning to this book?
  3. How did the acrostic part of the poem add to the meaning of the poem?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To enhance setting? To share information? To add detail?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library: A Puzzle Mystery bymr lemoncello Chris Grabenstein. Random House, 2013.

Check out this comprehensive list of resources for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and more on the author’s website: Chris Grabenstein: fast-paced fun reads for young(er) readers.

Find even more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. Solving puzzles helped the characters win the challenge. What else helped them?
  3. Teamwork gave some kids an advantage. How did the book show this?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To tell a story? To create tension? To enhance setting?

Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles)

benjamin bear's bright ideasBenjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! by Philippe Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerCoudray.  Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2013.

An unusual entry in Toon’s comic series for beginning readers features one-page comic strips, each with a clever visual punchline. For example, Benjamin Bear says to a fish swimming in a bowl, “Let’s go play at your house” and, after dumping the fish in the lake, dons the upside-down fish bowl to wear as a diver’s helmet before entering the lake himself. Or, after seeing his rabbit friend jump over a stream, Benjamin Bear builds a bridge for the rabbit, who proceeds to jump over the bridge. It’s one laugh after another in this engaging easy reader. The humor is simple enough for new readers and sophisticated enough so that older children will enjoy it, too.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans, book trailer and more for Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some of the problems that bear solves?
  2. How would you describe the relationship between bear and rabbit?
  3. Which of the stories is the most realistic and which is the least realistic? Show examples for your reasoning.

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry by Joyce Sidman. meow ruffIllustrated by Michelle Berg. Houghton MIfflin, 2006.

Plump / bright dome / of sugary white / sky muffin.” Joyce Sidman’s descriptive cloud poem will change shape, form, and content over the course of this intriguing picture book, just like the clouds themselves. If there’s a story here, it’s of small dog and a small cat at odds with one another until a sudden storm finds them sheltering beneath the same picnic table. But the real story is the way that tale is told—in a series of concrete poems that chronicle the storm’s rise and fall, the changing relationship of the two animals, and their surroundings. The rain is represented in falling words that convey both the sight and sound of the downpour: “sudden ferocious drilling” (the storm’s onset), “stinging ropes of water” (the height of its fury), “fat fingers tip tapping” (as the rain begins to subside). A series of lovely descriptive poems also describe the tree in the yard, the grass beneath the animals’ feet, and, of course, the clouds. While some of Sidman’s poems are true concrete verse, taking the shape of their subject, others are merely suggestive of a form. Illustrator Michelle Berg’s task was to draw the characters and complete the scene, and the bold, clear, graphic design of her illustrations provide a perfect complement to Sidman’s words.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans and more for Meow Ruff at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What story does the book tell about the dog and cat?
  2. Give some examples of how the print looks like what it’s describing or representing? Why do you think the author and illustrator chose to show the words this way?
  3. What are some of the different voices expressed in the poems?

Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

baby animal farmBaby Animal Farm by Karen Blair. Icon_PreSchoolCandlewick, 2014.

A group of five racially diverse toddlers visit a baby animal farm in this board book sure to invite noisy participation from the toddlers with whom it is shared. On each page, the toddlers in the story interact with baby farm animals, their actions coupled with a matching sound. Throughout the farm visit, one of the children is looking for his missing teddy bear, which is obligingly returned by a playful puppy by story’s end. All of it is conveyed in a minimal, rhythmic text (“Follow the ducklings. ‘Quack, quack, quack.’ Chase the chicks. ‘Cheep, cheep, cheep’ ”) and tidy illustrations in cheery watercolors  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources for Baby Animal Farm available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Talk about animals sounds and encourage your child to make some.
  • Sing: Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”.
  • Write: Find some pictures of farm animals and have your child trace the outlines of the animals. Talk about the size and shape of each animal.
  • Play: Visit a farm. Enjoy a picnic.

Call Me Tree = Llámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez. call me tree Translated by Dana Goldberg. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2014.

“I begin / Within / The deep / dark / earth.” A child imagines himself a tree, beginning as a seed that pushes through the earth, reaching and rising to discover other trees all around. Maya Christina Gonzalez pays tribute to both trees and children, affirming the beauty of each in a picture book that pairs a bilingual (English/Spanish) text with lush, colorful illustrations that convey something magical in their literal depiction of children embodying trees. Together, the text and illustrations work as a both an imaginative flight of fancy and as a stirring, strong statement about the importance of nature and value of all children: “All trees have roots / All trees belong.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find excellent resources — video of author reading book as well as teacher’s guide – at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: This book is written in English and Spanish? What other languages do you hear or speak. What is the Spanish word for tree?
  • Write: Practice writing with a tree branch in some sand or dirt.
  • Play: Try the yoga tree pose. What other yoga poses can you try?
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe different trees.

wolfsnailWolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell. Boyds Mills Press, 2008.

Drama on a small scale unfolds in this introduction to the wolfsnail, a gastropod that feeds on snails and slugs. A sentence or two per page and large close-up photos document a wolfsnail as it follows a slime trail across a hosta leaf in search of prey. After a brief retreat into its shell when a bird lights nearby, the wolfsnail catches a small snail and uses its tooth-lined tongue to scoop the meat from the shell. A glossary, fact page, and additional information on wolfsnails are included at the book’s close.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Educator and librarian resources for Wolfsnail available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Reinforce new vocabulary by labeling the body parts on a picture of a wolfsnail.
  • Write: Take photos and write some words to describe them.
  • Play: Move slowly and crawl like a snail or a slug.
  • STEM: What were some interesting facts you learned about a wolfsnail? Drip some water on a leaf and watch it roll. Try other liquids like cooking oil, milk, juice and syrup. Find a recipe to make some slime.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!

March 23rd, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!)

baby animal farmcall me treewolfsnail

meow ruff

 

 

benjamin bear's bright ideas

african acrostics

mr lemoncello

if i ever get out of here

silver people

Click on any book cover image to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Big Impact of Diverse Books: Student Interview with Mitali Perkins

April 29th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January | April - (Comments Off on Big Impact of Diverse Books: Student Interview with Mitali Perkins)

Author Mitali Perkins and Middleton High School student, Ali Khan, shared thoughts on race, humor and her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013), during an interview in March 2015. Mitali’s addition of humor to discussions of race in her book has positively impacted Ali’s life and his approach to communicating ideas about culture and politics. This is an excerpt from that interview.

Coming Soon! Interview with Mitali Perkins

April 26th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January | April - (Comments Off on Coming Soon! Interview with Mitali Perkins)

In March 2015, Ali Khan, a senior at Middleton High School, interviewed author Mitali Perkins about her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013). As part of a book trailer project with Simpson Street Free Press, Madison Public Library, and Read On Wisconsin, Ali created a book trailer of Open Mic. Mitali’s approach to adding humor to discussions of race strongly resonated with Ali. Fortunately, we were able to bring Mitali and Ali together on Skype to share thoughts on the book, racial identity, and humor. Check back soon to see excerpts from the interview! In the meantime, enjoy Ali’s book trailer for Mitali Perkin’s Open Mic.

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