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The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

Teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging and frustrating, but one thing has remained steadfast—my belief in the power of books to connect. This belief was reconfirmed when I read the picture book, The Arabic Quilt, to my third graders during our morning Classroom Book-a-day. Together, Aya Khalil and illustrator Anait Semirdzhyan tell… Continue reading The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

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The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts, written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Mike Curato

Sometimes One can feel like a small and lonely number. One teacher sits alone in her home classroom. One third grader tries to find a quiet place in a bedroom, dining room, or kitchen. We are each one square in a checkerboard of faces on our screens. The oneness of teaching and learning from home… Continue reading The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts, written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Mike Curato

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Going Up by Sherry Lee

Going Up by Sherry Lee reviewed by Susan Kennedy As we are going back to school in whatever form that is taking, hopefully we are returning to writing. I love writing with students and hearing them storytell their narrative plans. Returning to school this fall, I hope we'll start with some narratives: small moments, memoirs,… Continue reading Going Up by Sherry Lee

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The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf

As soon as one of my sixth grade book clubs finished The Boy in the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf, they immediately took to the internet to find other books by the same author.  When they found The Star Outside My Window, they begged me to order it right away! Student Thoughts:… Continue reading The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf

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Sharing Fry Bread with 2nd and 4th Graders

“Fry bread is...food, shape, sound, color, flavor, time, art, history, place and nation. Fry bread is everything; fry bread is us.”  Fry Bread is doubly gifted. It’s a simple, short-verse picture book that even the youngest readers will enjoy, but it’s also an informational book through an extended author’s note for older readers. The author… Continue reading Sharing Fry Bread with 2nd and 4th Graders

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Can I Give You A Squish?

It’s a tremendous honor to join the TBR blog this school year. I am beginning my twentieth year as an educator, and my sixth year working with third graders. I’m looking forward to sharing books, building my library, and creating a passionate reading community in my classroom. I recently found out that my school district… Continue reading Can I Give You A Squish?

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Noise and Summer Reading

A Teacher's Thoughts: I just finished the oddest school year in my 25 years of teaching and that’s saying a lot. My students and I made heart shapes with our fingers toward the camera and promised to say “See you soon” instead of goodbye. Then I pressed, “End meeting for all” and my school year… Continue reading Noise and Summer Reading

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The Journey by Francesca Sanna

Francesca Sanna’s The Journey is a beautiful, powerful book that delivers a timely message to readers.  It describes the journey of a brave family who must flee from their home to escape a war.  Francesca Sanna created this picture book after interviewing refugees in Italy. Educators can use this book to teach a variety of… Continue reading The Journey by Francesca Sanna

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Bilal Cooks Daal written by Aisha Saeed and illustrated by Anoosha Syed

In a hurry up society, Bilal's friends are at first confused by the long wait that daal entails. As the day goes on and Bilal and his friends try to wait patiently Bilal is excited, then nervous to share his favorite food. I was surprised that some of my students had not had daal, but… Continue reading Bilal Cooks Daal written by Aisha Saeed and illustrated by Anoosha Syed

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Can I Touch Your Hair?

One of the last demonstration lessons I wrote before we left school in mid-March was a cross-text synthesizing lesson with this lovely poetry book,  Can I Touch Your Hair?  by Irene Latham & Charles Waters. While I can't find my hard copy in the sea of books I have brought home with me,  I bought… Continue reading Can I Touch Your Hair?

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Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu

*I would like to use this post to thank all the authors and publishers who have stepped up and allowed teachers to read their books online during this unprecedented time...We appreciate you!  Teacher's Story: I leave school on a Friday, having started the first few chapters of Eventown, by Corey Ann Haydu. On Saturday, I discover that… Continue reading Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu

Blog Posts, Read Aloud

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Kids love Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae, but they love it even more when it has sounds and songs. After reading this aloud to a first grade class recently, the students all stood up and cheered. The book was front and center at their meeting place on the rug, but Novel Effect, a free,… Continue reading Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

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Penguin Flies Home by Lita Judge

Even fifth graders can’t help but love a penguin story, especially when the penguin has “the soul of an eagle!”  This is Lita Judge’s sequel to Flight School, which is another one of my favorite picture books.  She creates amusing stories that teach wonderful life lessons.  The theme of this book is friendship. It could… Continue reading Penguin Flies Home by Lita Judge

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Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy

"My color is black... and there's no black in rainbows." The first time I read these words, it felt sad. But on the very next page, the narrator begins to list all the places the color black is found, like a crayon, "the dirt where sunflowers grow," and "the braids in my best friend's hair."… Continue reading Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy

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Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson An advance copy of this book made it into my hands from our local independent bookstore last spring.  I immediately loved it!  Always on the lookout for a book that fits the complexity we hope for our upper elementary readers without being too mature for them, Some… Continue reading Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

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The Light in The Lake by Sarah R Baughman

Addie finds herself caught between science and magic, family and nature, and grief and hope. - The Light in The Lake Teacher Thoughts: The Light in the Lake was the perfect book to bridge our social issue and fantasy units of study in reader's workshop.  Even my most reluctant readers could not put down this… Continue reading The Light in The Lake by Sarah R Baughman

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One Big Heart by Linsey Davis

With Beverly Davis, Illustrated by Lucy Fleming A celebration of being more alike than different! Each Friday, my sixth graders pair up with a kindergarten buddy to read, do math, or work on a project.  This week, we read One Big Heart and talked about the big idea of the book. Kindergarten students understood the message… Continue reading One Big Heart by Linsey Davis

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The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

"The entire world is full of hearts searching for a place to call home. But refugees are different, because they don't just look for a home.  They look for peace too. And because of that, they possess the most special hearts anyone could ever have."                     … Continue reading The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

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Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour and Ken Daley

Ken Daley’s illustrations in this book immediately grabbed my students’ attention.  They wanted to know if Haiti really looked like the pictures. They were captivated further by Francie Latour’s story of a girl who travels from the United States to Haiti to visit her aunt, a painter.  As she experiences the sights, sounds, colors, history,… Continue reading Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour and Ken Daley

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When Aidan Became a Brother written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

When Aidan Became a Brother written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita   “That can’t be right, it says ‘When Aidan Became a Brother’ and that is a girl on the cover,” Z said. “Boys can have hair like that,” L responded.   I knew that this was a potentially challenging book, but… Continue reading When Aidan Became a Brother written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

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Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

On a good day, Chicken liked to wander.  On a bad day, Chicken would bolt. But no matter what, Cat loved him as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge, as deep as the sea floor, and as fierce as a shark bite. Sixth Grade Book Club Members Think... Caterpillar Summer is a wonderful, figurative language… Continue reading Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

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The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Every once in a while a book comes along that students and teachers alike can not put down.  The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is one of those books. The pages are filled with quirky characters, an interesting setting and one of a kind adventures that leave readers at the edge of their seats.  I read… Continue reading The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

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Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

Teacher Thoughts: When I got my copy of Stella Diaz Has Something to Say, I included it at the last minute to our read aloud vote versus Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan and Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. To my surprise, it won. The themes of having a best friend end up in a… Continue reading Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

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The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, Illustrated by Alea Marley

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh has been a favorite read aloud as I’ve visited K-2 classrooms this fall. Harpreet is a school-aged boy who wears a small turban, called a patka, in the tradition of the Sikh religion. Harpreet changes the colors of his patka based on his mood - pink for celebrating, red… Continue reading The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, Illustrated by Alea Marley

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The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

A cautionary tale from Caldecott Honoree Vera Brosgol We are the Little Guys.  Yes, we are small. But there are a lot of us. Together we are strong, and we can get all we need. A new addition to my coaching bag is a sleeper tale, The Little Guys.  This versatile book made the rounds of my… Continue reading The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

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Brave

by Svetlana Chmakova Teacher Thoughts… This graphic novel is a perfect way to teach older students about the challenges of middle school. Readers learn how being brave and using their voice can help change a negative school culture.  Your students will love how Svetlana Chmakova compares middle school to a video game, mean kids to… Continue reading Brave

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Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki and Genevieve Simms

I had to have this book as soon as I saw the cover. I am a big gardener and have always been fascinated by Japanese gardens, even though my gardening style is a bit different. But this book is about so much more than gardening – it is a book about saying good-bye, accepting the… Continue reading Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki and Genevieve Simms

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A Piglet Named Mercy

Have your favorite readers ever wondered how Mercy came to live with the Watsons on Deckawoo Drive? They don’t need to wonder any more because Kate DiCamillo has shared her vision with us in the endearing picture book, A Piglet Named Mercy. In this prequel to the Mercy Watson series, the “porcine wonder” accidentally finds… Continue reading A Piglet Named Mercy

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The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson

As teachers, we are always looking for the very best books to help our students grow both as learners and as kind people in the world. The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez is one of those books. Jacqueline Woodson has beautifully expressed what many of us want to say to… Continue reading The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson