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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

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Starting Anew

As an educator, I have always felt that August offers the kind of renewal and restart that so many others seek to find in January. This August feels especially ripe with opportunities to tip everything on it’s head and to address what’s broken, to actively change what has been exacerbating inequities in our education system… Continue reading Starting Anew

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The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Before we left school due to COVID, one of my sixth grade book clubs had just finished a book that they wanted to blog about. If you are a fan of the Among the Hidden series, you will love the new Greystone Secrets series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  The first book, entitled The Strangers, will… Continue reading The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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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

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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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The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter By: Shabazz Larkin

A true gem for any classroom! Shabazz Larkin’s The Thing about Bees is an “all about”, “how to” and poem all wrapped into one.  A mentor text dream! Second Graders said I never knew bees were so important! I think this book is about courage.  Mr. Larkin was afraid of bees. He wrote this book… Continue reading The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter By: Shabazz Larkin

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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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Spencer’s New Pet, by Jessie Sima

Picture this… 21 students sitting silently “listening” to a story.  Only this story is different. There are no words. There is not a sound- not from the teacher or from the students.  You can hear a pin drop. This wordless picture book is like no other I have read. Illustrated in black and white with… Continue reading Spencer’s New Pet, by Jessie Sima

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Fungus is Among Us! written by Joy Keller Illustrated by Erica Salcedo

At first I thought that fungus was really gross...but now I think they are good for our planet- Julia, Grade 3 They mixed a storybook with poetry and a BUNCH of facts! - Rain, Grade 3 That's a LOT of fungi!  Barely any fungi in my yard!  Yeast is fungi.  We eat fungi ?!? -… Continue reading Fungus is Among Us! written by Joy Keller Illustrated by Erica Salcedo

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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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Please Don’t Eat Me, by Liz Climo

Have you ever had an unusual friendship?  One in which it seems like your friendship doesn’t seem to work very well, or at all?  Maybe you felt that your friends wouldn’t approve? These were all questions posed before we began reading Please Don’t Eat Me by author and illustrator Liz Climo.  This book highlights the… Continue reading Please Don’t Eat Me, by Liz Climo