Thursday, April 26, 2012

Press Here

Press Here by Herve' Tullet
Ages 3 and up

This book is fantastic in its simplicity. I love to read it to my Kindergarten students and have them take turns coming up to the book and following the simple directions on each page such as: press here, tilt the page or shake the book. After they do each action and we turn the page the dots have changed or moved and they giggle thinking they have altered the book each time.

Lesson Idea: This year I had my kindergarten students make their own mini Press Here books. I bought the dot stickers that you can get at an office supply store and folded white drawing paper in half. I wrote "Press Here" on the cover and had each student write their name on the cover and add a yellow dot sticker. Then on the inside they picked other color dots and placed them in a design of their choosing to show how the dot changed after pressing the cover. They loved making their own mini-books inspired by something that was so creative and enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pierre the Penguin: A True Story

Pierre the Penguin: A True Story By Jean Marzollo
Grades K-2

This feel-good book is a true story about a penguin named Pierre who inexplicably loses his feathers. Pierre lives at the California Academy of Sciences and is fortunate to have an aquatic biologist named Pam caring for him. She noticed that Pierre was afraid to go in the water because he'd be too cold without his feathers to protect him. The biologists gave him pills to make his feathers grow but nothing worked, until one day Pam came up with the ingenious idea to make a neoprene wetsuit for Pierre to wear until his feathers eventually grew back. This is a fabulous addition to any penguin unit of study or just as an outstanding nonfiction book selection for children.

This book also won the Outstanding Science Trade Book award by the Children's Book Council.

I'd Really Like to Eat a Child

I'd Really Like to Eat a Child By Sylviane Donnio
Grade 1-3

Achilles the little crocodile has his parents very concerned because he won't eat his tasty bananas the way he usually does. He won't eat anything they try for that matter, including chocolate cake! All Achilles wants to eat is a child. However when a child finally does wander along she grabs Achilles, tickles him and tosses him in the river. It's then that Achilles realizes he's much to small to eat a child and now he WILL eat his bananas so he can grow up to be big and strong...WATCH OUT CHILDREN!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken Little and Henny Penny

I love reading two versions of the same tale and having children compare them. They are great at finding similarities and differences. The titles below are ones that I like to read with first graders.

 Chicken Little By Steven Kellogg
 This is a funny version from that has the twist of Foxy Loxy dressing up as a police officer to trick the unsuspecting poultry.
 Chicken Little By Rebecca and Ed Emberley
What I love most from this father daughter team is the colorful wacky illustrations. Some great one-liners in this one too.
Henny Penny By Jane Wattenberg
This version is a collage mash-up of real photographs and a lot of catchy rhymes. If Elvis wrote a version of Chicken Little this would be it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fabulous Read Alouds for Boys AND Girls

Looking for a great read aloud that your entire family or class will enjoy? Need it to appeal to both boys and girls? Check out these titles:

Lawn Boy  By Gary Paulsen
A 12 year-old boy is given a riding mower for his birthday and turns this random gift into a booming business. Very funny and quick read.

No Talking By Andrew Clements
The 5th grade boys and 5th grade girls have a contest to see who can speak the fewest words in this funny school story.

Obi - Gerbil on the Loose! By Michael Delaney
Obi the gerbil is left home alone when her owner goes away on vacation. This story is about her break from the cage and all the interesting adventures she has along the way.

Extra Credit By Andrew Clements
When 6th grader Abby Carson discovers she is at risk for failing, her teacher offers her an extra credit opportunity to save her social studies grade.  Abby writes to a boy in Afghanistan and learns through these letters about their cultural differences but also how much they have in common.

Dear Max By Sally Grindley
Max writes a letter to his favorite author DJ Lucas and she writes back to him. This story is told in their letters back and forth and eventually Max shares some secrets along the way about school bullies and the loss of his father. Great book for prompting discussions.

Leaving the Bellweathers By Kristin Clark Venuti
This quirky family lives in a lighthouse and has a pet alligator. Their butler Benway is sick of being mistreated and is writing his memoirs and planning to leave the family, but when the kids find out about his plans they band together to make sure he sticks around. Bizarre and funny book.

The Tilting House By Tom Llewellyn 
Josh's family moves into a strange new house filled with secrets and even talking rats!

 Everything for a Dog By Ann M. Martin
The kind of book that stays with you long after you've finished it. This book is actually two parallel stories about a boy who desperately wants a dog and a boy dealing with a terrible loss. Eventually you discover how these two boys' stories entwine.

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children By Keith McGowan
A scary and modern version of Hansel and Gretel. Not for the faint of heart.

Because of Winn Dixie By Kate DiCamillo 
Opal and her father move to a new town and meet a host of interesting characters along the way. A touching book that won the Newbery Honor award.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale By Julia Donaldson
Grades K-3

This beautifully illustrated rhyming story tells about a snail who longs to see the world. A whale takes the snail on his tail to see fiery mountains and golden sands, towering icebergs and far-off lands. Seeing these grand things makes the snail feel very small in this wide world. Not until the whale ends up getting beached on the shore does the snail realize that she too can be important. She helps save the whale and this tale of friendship has a sweet ending.

Comparison Seed: Read this story along with a version of The Lion and the Mouse about tiny animals saving larger ones through unlikely friendships.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Board Books

Want to get an adorable board book for a baby that I can practically guarantee they won't already have? Keep these in mind the next time you're invited to a baby shower that asks you to bring a book (instead of a card) for the baby's library. Try the Hello, Friends books by Emma Quay. All four books in the series star three friends: Panda, Sheep and Owl. With only a brief sentence on each page these books are perfect for holding your little one's short attention span.These books are good for children from birth up to age 4. My son who is almost 17 months loves them and I hope your children will too.

This one happens to be my favorite of the four books!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Earth Day...Always

Books about our precious planet and how we can all help take care of it should be read year round...BUT we all know these books receive extra attention when we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. There are so many great titles out there to check out! They aren't dry, they aren't preachy, they aren't boring; I promise. Let one (or more) of these books become your little one's new favorite. And if it inspires them to Go Green...even better!

We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers By Lauren Child
Grades K-2

Lauren Child's much-loved characters Charlie and Lola appear in this adorable picture book about recycling. Lola is on a cleaning campaign and wants to throw all her old toys in the garbage. Her older brother Charlie convinces her to recycle them instead. That's when she discovers there is a recycling contest going on and the prize is winning your very own tree to plant. With the help of her classmates Lola manages to collect 100 things to recycle!

Clarice Bean, What Planet Are You From?  By Lauren Child
Grades 2-4

Clarice is creative and fun, just like this book. The collage illustrations are unique and brightly colored. The text runs all around the page in typical Lauren Child style. In this story Clarice needs to come up with a school project about the environment and ends up staging a sit-in with her family in a neighborhood tree which is threatened to be cut down.

 Love Your World: How to Take Care of the Plants, the Animals and the Planet By Dawn Sirett
Ages 3-6 - PreK-K

Photographs of real children are enhanced with colorful graphics. These kids, called The Green Team, are doing things like recycling, composting and planting a garden. My favorite part is where they show ideas on how to make a mini snail garden in your backyard! This smaller sized book is perfect for little hands to hold.

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World By Melanie Walsh
Ages 2-6 PreK-K

This die-cut flap book starts with phrases like I can, I try, I always and ends with planet-saving tips like planting seeds, turning off the water when brushing teeth and using both sides of the paper when drawing. Such simple tips make this book easy to comprehend.

 The Earth Book By Todd Parr
Ages 3-7 Grades PreK-2

Todd Parr's bold and bright illustrations show children that even small steps can add up to making a BIG difference. Some of the tips in this book are silly like putting your underwear in the freezer to wear on a hot day (instead of turning on the AC). Some are more abstract like saving leftovers to not be wasteful with food. I think the benefit of these suggestions is the conversations they will ignite. Besides I can't read a Todd Parr book to my library classes without garnering plenty of smiles and giggles.

Ants in Your Pants, Worms in Your Plants! (Gilbert Goes Green) By Diane deGroat
Grades 1-2

The Gilbert books by Diane deGroat are wonderful for my first and second graders because they are about a group of students with unique personalities just like my students. Gilbert always deals with real-life elementary school dilemmas and most of the books revolve around a particular holiday. This particular title is about Gilbert's concern with deciding on an Earth Day project for Mrs. Byrd's class. He becomes inspired while having a picnic outside to plant a tree. He reasons that this will mean his favorite picnic spot can be in the shade. True to form there's always a happy ending!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mystery of Eatum Hall

The Mystery of Eatum Hall By John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell is a fabulous book to use if you're teaching foreshadowing or covering the genre of mysteries. This book is especially good to use when discussing picture clues. It's geared for a grade 2-4 audience that will appreciate the play on words of a pig and goose married couple whose last name is Pork-Fowler. This story is about Glenda and Horace Pork-Fowler who are invited by Dr. A. Hunter to a weekend of gourmet eating. Throughout the illustrations you notice that Dr. Hunter is a wolf who has actually lured them there to be fattened up and eaten on Sunday as a pie feast. It's Dr. Hunter who ends up surprised though...

Big Nate

Do you know a child who loves graphic novels? A child who isn't a big fan of reading at all? A child who thinks nothing can top the humor of Diary of a Wimpy Kid? I've got your cure! Lincoln Perice's Big Nate books are sure to win over boy readers, reluctant readers, or any readers who love to laugh!

My 2nd - 5th grade students were fortunate enough to meet Lincoln Peirce on Monday, April 2nd when he came to Washington School for an amazing author visit. This visit was compliment of my favorite children's book store in Glen Rock, NJ called Books, Bytes and Beyond. Lincoln did 6 presentations that day and my students had an amazing time with him. The students worked at tables cartooning right along with him. Lincoln explained that cartooning is fun because it's both simple and exaggerated. He taught my students that unlike in math there are no right answers when it comes to drawing comics. Pictures tell a story and there are a million ways to show what you want to tell. It doesn't hurt when a New York Times Best-selling author gives you a shout out in his tour blog...great day!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two Great Spring Stories

 Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms By Julia Rawlinson

This sweet story, great for students in grades K-2, is about a fox who is concerned to see snow in the spring and rushes off to warn his animal friends that they might want to fly south, store more nuts, etc. As the story goes on Fletcher's friends join him and they discover what was thought to be snow flakes is actually falling blossoms from the orchard.

Possum and the Peeper By Anne Hunter
Possum is awoken to a loud "Peep!" He goes along trying to find who is making the racket and inquiring of different animals along the way. Eventually Possum and his friends find out it is just a tiny spring peeper (frog) and they all decide to share breakfast together and enjoy the spring morning.

Discussion Seed: How are these stories the same? How are they different?