Blog Posts

That’s Not My Name!

written & illustrated by Anoosha Syed Names are the foundation of our identity. Names matter. Being addressed by your name as it was intended is important. Children (and adults) whose names have ethnic origins or are perceived to be outside of the dominant culture are often forced to endure their names being pronounced incorrectly or… Continue reading That’s Not My Name!

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Sparking Teacher Learning through Picture Books, Professional Journals, and Conversation

Cover of the January/February 2022 journal "Social Studies and the Young Learner" published by the NCSS. This week I had the gift of time with K-5 educators across my district participating in the final of four "curriculum council" meetings we've shared this year. Teachers were first provided time to prepare by first reading a January/February… Continue reading Sparking Teacher Learning through Picture Books, Professional Journals, and Conversation

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Readers’ Theater

Scholastic StoryworksCinderella: The True Story by Louise Rozett and Monique D. Hall How do you engage students the day before vacation?  How do you engage students the day before vacation after two days of ELA state testing? On Friday, I decided that READERS' THEATER was the way to go. Readers’ theater is a great way for students to practice reading… Continue reading Readers’ Theater

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SOMETHING GOOD by Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken

The day the bad-something is discovered written on the bathroom wall, everything changes. Confusion, anger and worry spread through the class as rumors fly. It is not until some encouraging words from their principal and a creative assignment from their teacher, do the children rediscover their kindness and their power to create something good.  SOMETHING… Continue reading SOMETHING GOOD by Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken

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Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter Not Shade

This year our district's professional development focus is social emotional learning (SEL). I'm on my school's SEL committee which consists of myself, three other teachers, an instructional aide, our assistant principal and our principal. Last year we received training from an outside organization and this year we're tasked with passing on what we learned to… Continue reading Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter Not Shade

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Exquisite: The Poetry & Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Exquisite: The Poetry & Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera In honor of February’s Black History Month and March’s Women’s History Month and April’s upcoming Poetry Month, I tried to find a narrative picture book biography on a BIPOC woman that my kindergartners would understand. I succeeded with Exquisite:… Continue reading Exquisite: The Poetry & Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

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Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang

"Make them special!... Make them yours." Amy loves to create and is very excited to make her own drawing after her teacher reads about dragons to the class. Amy works diligently to make her drawing special as Ms. Mary has directed. Amy's friends do not think Amy's drawing looks like a dragon. Their comments fill… Continue reading Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang

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Migrants by Issa Watanabe

As I write this post it is hard not to tear my mind away from the current events rocking the world. The specter of global military conflict rises again. With it, the unspoken acknowledgement that for every bomb dropped, people with no tangible stake in its ends are displaced from homes, workplaces, communities, and memories.… Continue reading Migrants by Issa Watanabe

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My Sister, Daisy

Based on a true story, Adria Karlsson provides a gentle introduction to gender identity with a focus on positivity and acceptance in her debut, MY SISTER, DAISY, with illustrations by Linus Curci. This is the perfect book for parents or educators looking to have a conversation around gender identity and pronouns.  Told from the perspective… Continue reading My Sister, Daisy

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Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki

Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki When I first encountered Dad Bakes on the “New Picturebooks” shelves of my local library I didn’t have any expectations beyond a read-aloud to compliment a cold weekend after some father-son baking time. When flour finally returned to shelves a few months into the initial on-set of the pandemic, baking… Continue reading Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki

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Built Together, written by Mina Starsiak and illustrated by Barbara Bongini

Known for the HGTV home renovation series, Good Bones, Built Together is Mina Starsiak’s first children’s book. It is a book about LOVE, as Starsiak explains: “This book comes from my heart – I wanted to show that families can come in all forms and look a little different – just like houses – and… Continue reading Built Together, written by Mina Starsiak and illustrated by Barbara Bongini

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Affirming Transgender Students with Calvin

Calvin by JR and Vanessa Ford. Illustrated by Kayla Harren Children have a way of demonstrating the confidence and curiosity necessary to have courageous conversations better than most adults. Their words may not always be tactful, but a child’s sense of what’s fair and how to make space for others can strike at the heart… Continue reading Affirming Transgender Students with Calvin

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Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar

Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar shares a timeless message of perspective through it's retelling of a Parsi legend. I have recently found myself imagining a fourth grade social studies “regions” unit centered on immigration, so it was only natural that I picked up Thrity Umrigar’s Sugar in Milk while recently browsing the library shelves.… Continue reading Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar

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Ten Beautiful Things

Recently on Twitter, Tara Lazar asked people to give a shout out to picture books published during the pandemic that they thought hadn't received enough attention. I read through the chat and stumbled upon this book. The beautiful cover and the title caught my attention. When I read the reviews and learned it was about… Continue reading Ten Beautiful Things

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The Little Blue Bridge, written by Brenda Maier and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

Ranked as my new favorite read aloud, The Little Blue Bridge is a spin off of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  This new title features Latinx characters, STEM connections, and a theme of feminism. Ruby, the female protagonist, suggests to her brothers, “Let’s go pick berries to bake in a pie”. Her brothers, taunting her… Continue reading The Little Blue Bridge, written by Brenda Maier and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

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The Cot in the Living Room

I could not love this book more. Absolutely perfect mentor text for character change. As the story begins, our main character is very jealous of the children who get to spend the night on the cot in her living room. The illustrations by Gaby D'Alessandro assist the readers as we imagine what our main character… Continue reading The Cot in the Living Room

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The Alphabet’s Alphabet

Have you ever thought of the alphabet as one big happy family of relatives?  That’s how they are presented in The Alphabet’s Alphabet, written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Dan Santat.  Harris begins by explaining that the alphabet is just like a family and that they are all alike in many ways.  He then… Continue reading The Alphabet’s Alphabet

Blog Posts, Read Aloud

Amara and the Bats

Amara and the Bats models ways student can channel their concerns for the environment into civic action. Its not uncommon these days for young readers to be aware of challenges facing our planet's ecosystems and their most vulnerable creatures. Amara and the Bats by #KidLit4Climate campaign founder, Emma Reynolds aims to inspire the next generation of… Continue reading Amara and the Bats

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Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch, written by Heidi Tyline King and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

I learned of this new release when I was visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston this past August. At the very end of my afternoon tour, I rounded a corner and...it was "love at first sight". I was mesmerized and emotionally moved by this masterpiece: The young girl in the picture was highly… Continue reading Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch, written by Heidi Tyline King and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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Phoebe Dupree is Coming to Tea!

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!

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Setting Intentions: The Author’s Craft

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

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The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy

Kate O'Shaughnessy's first novel is one that touched the hearts of my students. The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane is the story of a girl who perseveres through hard times with the help of a kind hearted teacher and a boy named Tommy who has struggles of his own. Sixth graders Kate and Makenzie read… Continue reading The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy

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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