As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 neared, I found myself unsure of how to approach this sensitive topic with my young students. Thankfully, Amanda Davis and her debut picture book, 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag, provided the perfect solution. In 30,000 Stitches, Amanda Davis delicately recounts the events of 9/11… Continue reading 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag by Amanda Davis
Featuring Your Name is a Song Written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe Perhaps you’ve been a student in a classroom when attendance is taken and the teacher trips over the pronunciation of your name. Or maybe you’ve experienced new friends who avoid saying your name completely, out of fear that they will… Continue reading Honoring Our Names
We enjoyed Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban the first time and decided to revisit again. This story is told with a sentence per page and shares different colors are for anyone who wants to wear and embrace them. It also identifies objects in our lives that can be… Continue reading Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
I'd like you to think for a moment about what we might share with other kids and teachers about our reading community. What makes our reading community special? "We do Meet Someone New Monday." -N On Mondays, my students are introduced to someone who has contributed to the world in their own unique way. By… Continue reading Welcome to Our Reading Community
Last year I used podcasts in my fifth grade classroom for the first time. Here's what students had to say about them: "I like that I can just listen and not read a screen." “It's easier to take notes while I listen." “They are fun! I love them!" “Easy to understand." “I learned something new."… Continue reading Using Podcasts in the Classroom
One of the best aspects of a new school year is it's a chance to start fresh, to try instructional moves that I haven't tried before. I'm going to share "new-to-me" techniques that I'm hoping will help my students discover books that otherwise might stay hidden in book baskets, help students access their multiple intelligences… Continue reading The Roots of Rap
A Small Kindness It’s easy to be kind when it’s a small problem, it’s hard to be kind when it’s a big problem. - Aiden, First Grader I had popped into this first grade classroom to relieve a busy teacher as they were wrapping up a discussion on kindness. Aiden floored me with this comment and… Continue reading A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty
This summer, I had the opportunity to lead a book club for a group of six rising fifth-graders. The group’s current pick is Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles. When Wes finds out his neighborhood is at risk of demolition due to an offer from a development group, he enlists his friends to… Continue reading Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles
Our family has been going through a season of loss. I'm sure we aren't alone. Like any situation, happy or sad, we've turned to the world of children's literature to help us navigate tricky situations, big feelings, and to spark conversations. My nine year old daughter has been having a particularly hard time after we… Continue reading When Grandfather Flew by Patricia MacLachlan
I love infusing math time with math literature. And it’s all the better when the book is about doughnuts! Dozens of Doughnuts by my critique partner Carrie Finison and illustrated by Brianne Farley is a delightful, fun, and delicious book that kids will enjoy, served with a side of math. LouAnn the bear cooks up… Continue reading Dozens of Doughnuts
As we begin this school year, perhaps a little unsettled from the last year and a half, our wonderful superintendent encouraged the educators in our district to ease into this year giving the students time to adjust, to settle in. She charged us with focusing on community building, the social emotional needs of each student.… Continue reading Extraordinary! Penny Harrison & Katie Wilson
This week I had the pleasure of sharing an amazing story, Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, with a family of 6 from my school. The students range in ages from 2-12 years old. Each child enjoyed the book and interacted in their own way. I was reminded of the importance of sharing books with… Continue reading Amira’s Picture Day
I LOVE the book You Are Enough by Margaret O’Hair and inspired by Sofia Sanchez. The book starts with an introduction about Sofia who has Down syndrome. It is a description of her favorite things and how she is just like any other kid. It also describes some of the things that may be more… Continue reading You Are Enough
Who doesn’t want their students to feel like superheroes? We all want to empower our kiddos to feel like they can do ANYTHING...even when that “anything” is a little scary. This book sets that scene perfectly! Written in quasi-comic book style, Superhero vs School, by Ethan Long, tells the take of Scotty, our caped hero! … Continue reading Superhero vs. School
Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol My first introduction to author and illustrator Vera Brosgol was her middle-grade graphic novel, Be Prepared.* I loved her autobiographical story about sleep away camp and was delighted to learn she had written a picture book. In Memory Jars, which was released earlier in 2021, we meet a young girl… Continue reading Memory Jars
Summer is behind us. For some, this is the first or second week of school. For others, it’s a prep week. For me, it’s prep, as well as Kindergarten orientation and screening. Like some of my colleagues, I’m most comfortable with a solid set of plans to start the year. This year, as always, I… Continue reading Mindful Mr. Sloth by Katy Hudson
At heart, the Anti-Racist writing workshop imports a pedagogy of deep listening—Felicia Rose Chavez I highly recommend this book for all educators who teach reading and writing. While Chavez works mostly with adult students, and much of her focus in the book is about making thoughtful, purposeful changes in a college-level writing workshop, her basic… Continue reading The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom, by Felicia Rose Chavez
Usha and the Big Digger by Amitha Jagannath Knight. Illustrations by Sandhya Probhat. As an elementary science specialist I am always on the lookout for picture-books that bring science ideas to an accessible level for my students. Celestial patterns, like seasonal daylight, lunar phases, and constellations are particularly valuable. The ever-changing day and night sky… Continue reading Usha and the Big Digger
The book jacket is a poster that can be used for a variety of things. Here I am introducing new feeling words. I have so much to say about the true power of this book…So many incredible things that have already happened with my students because of this book. But the thing I’m currently feeling… Continue reading Big Feelings ~ are you feeling them?
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, as Elton John lets us know in his 1976 hit by the same name. If only Sir Elton had the advantage of reading the picture book, How to Apologize, by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, perhaps he could have found a solution to his relationship struggles.… Continue reading How to Apologize
Written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Alea Marley Abby is a relatable character who anxiously awaits her friend’s arrival to her house for tea time. She spends time meticulously preparing her table and refreshments, as this is how she regards Phoebe Dupree's standards. Abby describes Phoebe as “speedy...smart...brilliant...sings like a bird…”. Abby works diligently… Continue reading Phoebe Dupree is Coming to Tea!
Book love is contagious. Kids catch it from their parents, siblings, teachers and friends. Goodnight Moon was my daughter’s favorite book. Before she could speak she would grab a copy of it and climb up into my lap for me to read it to her. A while back my husband gifted me this t-shirt. No… Continue reading Make New Friends, But Keep The Old.
With the beginning of a new school year (especially this one) comes the often unspoken worries and fears that accompany the unknown of a new grade, new classroom, new teacher, and new classmates. My first job as a classroom teacher is to quell these anxieties and begin to lay the groundwork for our class community,… Continue reading My School Stinks! by Becky Scharnhorst
by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander When my ten-year old son came home from his school book fair with Becoming Muhammed Ali, by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander, he had no idea that he was about to become immersed in Alexander’s poignant poetry and Patterson’s powerful prose. Never having read a novel in verse before,… Continue reading Becoming Muhammed Ali
Milo’s Museum was recommended by our counselor during my time as a remote teacher of fourth graders. Initially I thought it might be better for younger students, but the depth of conversation it promoted left me feeling very inspired. I broke my lesson into four parts: IdentityA Sense of Belonging DiversityAction Identity For identity, I opened… Continue reading Equity Work with Milo’s Museum by Heather Rader
Last week, author Meg Medina shared a link to an article on Twitter--Why Adults Should Read Middle Grade Books: The value in returning to these books as adults is in reminding ourselves what it’s like to be a kid, to gain a different perspective on the world, and to expand our understanding of different experiences… Continue reading Coming Soon: September 2021 Releases!
By April Jones Prince Two Books In One! Welcome back, everyone! I have to say this has been the best reading and writing summer of my life and I thought that was what I’d blog about this month. Wrong! When I opened up April Jones Prince’s You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer!: Two Books… Continue reading You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer!
Beginning the year feels BIG to me, and I want it to feel BIG to kids too. To prepare, I reread my notes from a professional development session about deeper learning, and I paused at this list: AntiracistCurious and CreativeAdaptable and CourageousEmpathetic and Equity-MindedAdvocates, Collaborators, and LeadersAbility to Build a Life of Possibility This list… Continue reading Launching Reading and Writing Workshop with the help of Ekua Holmes
If you’ve just started school or are seeing the first day come over the horizon at the end of the month, you’re probably building community in your new classroom by learning about and celebrating each other. Add Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder to your collection of identity-affirming read alouds for primary readers! Feder’s playful… Continue reading Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder
Perfectly NormanBY Tom Percival I was first introduced to Perfectly Norman, by Tom Percival, during a demo lesson this summer. A candidate for a kindergarten position shared this story as an interactive read aloud with a group of rising first graders and as soon as the demo was over, I ordered a copy of this… Continue reading Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
At this time of year, I consider the beginning of a new school year. There are many obligations given to me as a literacy educator in a school district, but along with those noble ideas, I always set an intention for the focus of my work for the year, my personal work, my inner work,… Continue reading Setting Intentions: The Author’s Craft