"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, February 5, 2016

ReedALOUD: Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine

I recently read Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine, written by Heather Lang, illustrated by Raul Colon and published by Boyd's Mill PressThis November will mark the 100th Anniversary of Law's historic flight from Chicago, Illinois to Hornell, New York. Her 521 miles nonstop flight broke the previous record.

"On November 19, 1916 Ruth bundled up in four flying suits and a skirt, ready to make history. She planned to fly her little biplane from Chicago to New York City in one day. No one had done it before. Aviation experts thought the flight was doomed. Impossible! But that didn't stop Ruth. What Ruth Law did next amazed America."

I read this book aloud to four consecutive classes and enjoyed it each time. My third grade students were riveted.

The writing is tight and yet flows easily. The shorter sentences allow for dramatic interpretation as well as absorption of the information. Well-placed and well-chosen quotes made the story feel personal, as if Ruth Law was recounting the whole thing. 

My students wanted to place Law's feat with those of Amelia Earhart. I love these text-to-world connections. Well-written and produced biographies like this one, broaden readers' knowledge and help knit together a greater understanding of history.

Raul Colon's illustrations match the narrative energy and enhance the drama of the event. My students poured over the illustrations of the plane appreciative of the detail he brought to life. The map box tied to her leg was a fascinating and ingenious invention. The SLJ Review describes Colon's art perfectly:

"Colón’s harmonious palette is comprised, appropriately, of blues, yellows, and greens; his signature etched lines provide additional energy. He maintains interest by shifting perspectives and changing the color of the light."

Reading the author's note provided additional information on Law's life before and after the historic flight.  The students were especially interested in the Wright Brothers connection and WWI service. It was easy for them to see how Ruth Law made a difference.

After reading the book and having a conversation, the students contributed their voices to three posters: one that asked for other book titles with characters that showed courage; one asked them to share what courage looks like, sounds like, and feels, like; and, the third asked them to share an example of a time when they themselves had shown courage.

Lang has provided excellent extensions to go along with the book on her website. In the "Get to Know Ruth" section readers can follow her flight path and  
Look for Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine in bookstores on March 9th!

ReedALOUD: Let's Play!

"The familiar yellow dot returns to take readers on a spectacular journey of color, motion, shape, and imagination, filled with the artistry and delight typical of the other two in the series. But this time, a new dimension is added to the mix: emotion. Connecting to both the mind and the heart, this dot expresses an extraordinary sense of humor, fear, joy, and more as it pushes, lurches, wiggles, and slides its way through—and even off—the pages of this picture book." ~Chronicle Books

That's right! 
The third book 
in the series by Herve Tullet 
hits bookstores on March 29, 2016!  

Let's Play is another interactive reading tour de force. My students LOVE both Press Here and Mix It up and were thrilled to see Let's Play! It is reassuring to have third graders so excited to press, taps, blow, trace, and generally interact with the book. With each page turn, their bodies were inching closer and closer to the book and each other. Those whose pages did not have them physically touching the book were disappointed, I reassured them that we would have many copies of the book and there would be opportunities to read and play often, but in the moment, it showed me how much they get lost in the interactions. 

Along with the other aspects of the book, The students enjoyed the opportunity to utter words and phrases like "za-za-za-zoommm.

After the students played with the book, I turned back to this page:
I explained to the students that they were to answer this question, "Now what do you think we should do?" and that their answers would be the next page in the book. 

I showed how the papers I had fit right into the book. After brainstorming and sharing ideas, the students and I reviewed what we noticed about the writing and art in the book and what we thought needed to be on each page. 

My library was almost silent for the first ten minutes as students created their pages, and then a slow murmur built into a hum as they approached each other to share their ideas and try them out. 

Here's a look at the students' work.  I plan to laminate the pages and mount them into a book which I will give to the classroom for the rest of this year and then keep in the library after that.
"Now what do you think we should do?"
Class One

Class Two

Class Three

How will you play 
with Herve Tullet's latest 
dotty adventure?

In this article from Entertainment Weekly,  Herve explains how Let's Play came about: “After Press Here and Mix it Up!, I wanted to find another way to explore the dialogue between the book and the reader,” Tullet tells EW. “In Let’s Play!, the dot becomes a character with feelings and emotions. In the text, I use words that encourage the reader to play, gesture, and have fun with the child they are reading with. The book is really a tool for interaction between the reader and child that needs a reader’s voice in order to work.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

ReedALOUD for WRAD: Alvin Ailey

It's Confidence Week in the read up to 
Today, my fourth graders and I read the biography of Alvin Ailey, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

After reading this well-written and beautifully-illustrated book the students and I watched this video of clips from the 
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre production of Revelations.

The students were moved by the production and wanted to see more of the dances. I love this opportunity to grow and plant seeds of curiosity and understanding.

How will confidence serve these students as they pursue their dreams?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ReedALOUD: SWAP! (Once more!)

What would you swap for this red button?
This is just the question that I asked my kindergarten students this morning.
It's the question that leads me into reading SWAP , written and illustrated by Steve Light and published by Candlewick Press. SWAP is a book about friendship, creativity, and persistence. In SWAP, a young sailor (or is it a pirate?) helps his sad friend repair his ship. This is a wonderfully interactive read aloud with elements of math, science, and reasoning. 
So, what would my kindergarten students SWAP me for my red button?

Here is what they answered:

"In a young scalawag's first tale of bartering, a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And so it goes, until the little swashbuckler secures sails, anchors, a ship’s wheel, and more . . . including a happy friend. Steve Light’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, punctuated by brilliant blue and other hues, anchor this clever tale of friendship and ingenuity."

Here's my experience reading SWAP! with my first graders. 
What would you SWAP for a red button?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

ReedALOUD: Newbery Medal: Last Stop on Market

That Last Stop on Market Street is considered the most distinguished piece of writing for children has created opportunities for all readers to really explore the language in a picture book as well as learn about the Newbery Medal.  What does it mean to be distinguished and can this be accomplished in thirty-two pages There are numerous conversations happening on this subject and it will be interesting to see where they lead. I am okay with this book winning the Newbery Medal. I love Matt de la Peña's writing and how, in thirty-two pages, we are invested in this grandmother and grandson making their weekly pilgrimage to a soup kitchen along with how the value of material objects diminishes as Nana helps CJ see the "beautiful where he never even thought to look."

The first time we read it was last spring and we read it just because I loved it. 

The second time we read it, we read it as part of our Mock Caldecott unit.

This, the third time, we were reading it with a Newbery Medal lens. I explained to the students that we were going to read the book twice. I wanted them to just listen to the language the first time and then, on the second reading, I wanted them to write down phrases, words, and sentences that stood out or resonated with them.

I read the book twice. I didn't show the pictures. The students had already seen them, but I also wanted them to really hear the language. In our discussions, the students spoke of the rhythm of the language as well as the rich and descriptive language. 

Here are some more of the words, phrases, and sentences that the students wrote down:

What kindness role models have you met through reading?

It's Kindness Week on the World Read Aloud Day seven strengths count down.  On this poster are a few of the book titles that my students shared when asked, "What kindness role models have you met through reading?" During our conversation they mentioned specific characters and the actions that modeled what it means to be a friend, but that seemed too much for the poster, so it is just the titles.
We've joined the WRAD initiative a little later than usual this year, so we are jumping right in at week four.  The WRAD classroom kit has suggestions for titles of books to read with students or children, for each week. For Kindness Week, I  was happy to see Each Kindness by Jacqueleine Woodson on this list. I have read this book with students in the past and it always invites important conversations. I decided to read it today, along with talking about Patricia McKissack's Mirandy and Brother Wind and The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, two books I would add to their list.
After reading Each Kindness with my four classes today, there was a quiet hush and at least one student said out loud, "That was so sad." I asked them why it was sad and eventually brought the discussion around to authenticity and how this story reminds readers that we need to make the right choice the first time because there might not be another opportunity to make things right. The students also felt the hope in the book, knowing that Chloe would make a different choice the next time. 
I'm looking forward to Confidence Week. 
What will you be reading?
Read Aloud. Change the World.

February 24th. Read Aloud. Change The World.

Read Aloud. Change the World.  

When I see these motivating words from LitWorld's World Read Aloud Day initiative, I think of Patricia and Fred McKissack their important messages around the Power of Story.  In an interview with Reading Rockets, they explained their thinking:

"Einstein's theory of storytelling

Frederick: Most people that we have been around don't really understand what the power of story is and I think it's best illustrated again by an Einstein paper. He was asked…one of those great questions, "What should mankind be doing now that will benefit him in the future, him or her, whoever mankind might be?"

He answered, "Read stories to the children." So the person interviewing didn't quite understand that. They wanted to move on and he said, Mr. Einstein, what else do you think we should be doing?" He said, "Read more stories to your children." And I don't think he ever got it. But the power of story is just beyond, you know, beyond the idea.

Patricia: It prepares children for making adult decisions and developing their problem solving skills. Without story you're not connected to anything. I mean, think of yourself as being the Little Red Hen. You've been there. You've done all the work for the committee and then they show up for the photo-op.

Well that's the Little Red Hen — of course it is! The Boy Who Cried Wolf…we know that story and we've seen it acted out in life and we react and respond to those situations based on what we were taught in those stories. And so we needed to tell…you have to tell old stories so that we don't lose the connection. And we have to tell new stories. We have to meet children where they are with new stories."

World Read Aloud Day is about recognizing and celebrating the power of story and the power of the shared story. 

Stories do hold power and this year LitWorld is building towards World Read Aloud Day with a seven week challenge based upon their curriculum. 

"The 7 Strengths is the foundational model for all our curriculum, from LitClubs to LitCamps to advocacy events. We combine resilience building activities with literacy best practices in sets of dynamic lessons around the themes of Belonging, Friendship, Confidence, Curiosity, Courage, Kindness and Hope."

Each week, we are challenged to think about how books have influenced our understanding of or grown our knowledge of the seven strengths.

belonging week: When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?

curiosity week: What kind of reading makes you curious and fills you with wonder?

friendship week: How does reading help us connect and make the world friendlier?

kindness week: What kindness role models have you met through reading?

confidence week: What stories make you feel confident and proud to be you?

courage week: When did reading give you the courage to stand up for something you believe in?

hope week: If you could share a message of hope, what would you read aloud to the whole world?

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Read Aloud. Change the World.