Tuesday, November 27, 2012


 Quick as a Cricket By Audrey Wood
Grades K-3

Quick as a Cricket is a fantastic book if you're teaching children how to write similes, but it is also a wonderful stand-alone read aloud about how we all have different moods and can feel one way one day and completely different on another. Don Wood's illustrations make this story even more special; he is so gifted.

Lesson Seed: Use the worksheet below, or create a similar one yourself in order for your students to make their own similes. This one is from www.smileplaylearn.com and I think it's awesome! Another idea if you're reading this book to younger children is to allow them to act out each animal in the book as you read it. That will make for a much more boisterous storytime, but if the students are having fun that's what it's all about!

My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil By Hanoch Piven
Grades K-4

I can't write a posting about similes and leave My best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil off the list. Not only does this book use tons of similes like my teacher is "as relaxed as my favorite pair of jeans", but the whole book uses objects like marbles, candies, crayons, bells and rubber bands to make collage portraits. 

Lesson Seed: Have students make their own portrait collages using photographs of everyday objects cut out of magazines. The objects they cut out should represent things about themselves. For instance a baseball and a tennis ball forming the eyes of a sports lover. I think this would be a fabulous getting to know you lesson for September with 3rd or 4th graders. It's like making their own personal Mr. Potato Heads!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Wumbers By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Grades 1 and up

Wumbers are a mix of a word with a number. This isn't a book that tells a story, it's more of a game. Wri10 by Rosenthal who is coming out with some of the best and most cre8ive works right now for kids it will definitely get kids thinking. Each 2 page spread is an illustr8ion and a sentence using words with numbers replacing some of the letters. For example a penguin bride and groom are getting married and it says, "When you m8 4ever, it 10ds 2 be a 4mal affair."

Lesson Seed: Read this book with your students then have them create their own wumbers and illustrations to make a class book.


Sit-In By Andrea David Pinkney
Grades 3-7

Teaching about the Civil Rights Movement can be difficult with young students that don't grasp what it was like to live during segregation. Sit-In does a wonderful job of showing the unfair treatment of blacks in the south and how a peaceful movement inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King's words slowly brought an end to segregation. I love how the author used a recipe metaphor throughout the book.
Here are Andrea Davis Pinkney's steps for the recipe for integration:
1. Start with love.
2. Add conviction.
3. Season with hope.
4. Extra faith to flavor.
5. Mix black people with white people.
6. Let unity stand.
7. Fold in change.
8. Sprinkle with dignity.
9. Bake until golden.
10. Serve immediately.
Makes enough for all.

Beautiful - Important - Inspiring

Brothers at Bat

Brothers at Bat - The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team By Audrey Vernick
Grades 1-5

12 Brothers - 1 Baseball team - right here in New Jersey. The Acerra family had 16 children, 12 of them were boys who played baseball. Playing as kids throughout the 1920s and then as adults until 1952 this family became quite famous. They were honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. Unlike most baseball books about famous players this one highlights an entire family and their love for each other as well as the game of baseball.

Basketball Belles

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map
By Sue Macy
Grades 2-6

The first line of this book says it all, "Nobody can ever accuse me of being a girly-girl." Hand this book to your girls who are tough athletes, the ones who wouldn't be caught dead reading Fancy Nancy. Basketball Belles tells about the first ever women's college basketball game that just happens to be between Berkeley and Stanford University (my husband's Alma Mater). These feisty women were breaking barriers and having a great time doing it!

GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys

GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys By Bob Raczka
Grades 1 and up

I just die for this book. Seriously. It's not just haiku for boys, it's haiku for kids, for grownups who still wish they were kids, for absolutely anyone who was ever a kid, ie everyone. It's divided into seasons and I have to share a few of my absolute faves.

I watch the worms squirm
and decide to bait my hook
with hot dog instead

Mosquito lands on
my cheek. I try to slap her,
but I just slap me.

Hey, who turned off all
the crickets? I'm not ready
for summer to end.

How many million
flakes will it take to make a 
snow day tomorrow?

Lesson Seed: This book begs to be read aloud and then turned into a class book of haiku poems, either season based or not. Just have fun with it and get those kids writing poetry. Bob Raczka explains a little about Haiku and why he wrote the book on the last page.


BookSpeak! Poems about Books By Laura Purdie Salas
Grades 2 and up
I can't imagine any library not owning this ode to books. Actually, I can't imagine any parent who loves books and reading not having this in their home to share with their children! It's just that awesome. Use this in your classroom to demonstrate the many different poetry formats. Salas uses acrostic poems, free form, speech bubbles, rhyming poems and not rhyming poems, both long and short. My favorite is the one titled Vacation Time! It's written from the book's perspective about all the different places it gets to travel when it's checked out of the library.

Dear Hot Dog

Dear Hot Dog By Mordicai Gerstein
Grades 1-5

Wonderful poems about the simple everyday things: toes, shoes, kites, crayons, etc. I think that's what so special about poems, they show us the beauty in things we might not have ever noticed before.

Discussion Seed: Read some of the poems that don't mention the object they are about and have your students guess as they listen to the poetic descriptions.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dad and Pop

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers By Kelly Bennett
Ages 4-8

Going through a remarriage and have young kids? This book is a great way to broach the topic of having two fathers who can be very different, but have one important thing in common, loving their child/step-child.

Up Down and Around

Up, Down and Around By Katherine Ayres
Ages 3-6

Get your kids out in the garden with this book..or at least to the farmer's market! Such a bright, fun book that shows vegetables that grow up (like corn), down (like carrots) and around (like pumpkins). I think it's fabulous to show kids where our food comes from and reading about healthy foods might even make them more likely to try something new.


More By I.C. Springman
Ages 3-8

This intricately illustrated picture book is sparse in words. It sends a message about consumerism without ever mentioning the environment or shopping or buying. It shows a bird gathering more and more things for the tree in which it lives until it is ENOUGH and then TOO MUCH! It starts to give away things until is goes back to being just right. Interesting and unique book.

Discussion seed: When does it become too much? What can we do when we have more than enough? Charity? Sharing? Being thankful for what we have and not always wanting more...