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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ReedALOUD: The Story of Fish and Snail... the one with a song

Today, the kindergarten students and I read The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman. This is the second book by her that we have read this year. We read Shy by Deborah Freedman back in September. Deborah Freedman's books' messages resonate with the students and make it easy to incorporate into lessons about friendship, reading, and where these two often cross paths.

Right from the start, I talk about Fish diving into a book and share that I hope the students find book they want to dive right into.
Fish and Snail have very different ideas about fun and adventure and soon one friend hurts the other's feelings. The students easily identify how Snail feels upon being told that Snails ideas are boring. 
Included with being sad, they add angry and upset, which is exactly what happens on the next page. 
Things escalate pretty quickly and soon these two friends are saying things that they will soon regret. But lucky for all of us, Snail does something very brave and both Fish and Snail find a way to make each other happy.

After reading this engaging and thoughtful story, the students and I gathered in a circle and talked about how to be good friends in the library. They shared these ideas:

"read to each other"
"share books"
"help each other find books"
"take turn with books"
"be kind"
"include others"
"read books"
"find friends in books"
"read with each other"

I echoed that I hoped they would find great adventures in books this year and hopefully find a few friends along the way. Fish likes books about pirates and treasures, while Snail likes books about kittens and princesses. To get them thinking about the types of books they wanted to read, I took If I Had a Hammer by Pete Seeger and adapted it to the library. Corny as it sounds, we all had such a fund time singing about our reading interests. Here are my lyrics to that tune.

If I had a friend
We'd read together
We'd read on the rug
We'd read at the tables
We'd read about (fill in the blank here)
We'd read about (fill in the blank here)
We'd read about (fill in the blank here), and (fill in the blank here), and (fill in the blank here), and (fill in the blank here)
All over this library
All over this library

After singing, the students drew pictures on Fish and Snail of the things they want to read about:

making necklaces

Giraffes and Cats


More giraffes! I think Shy made an impression

Flowers and people


Spiders and butterflies

Trees and owls

Engaged readers tell their own story. 
These students made great book choices.

Friday, October 14, 2016

ReedALOUD: The Curious Garden

This week the first graders and I read, The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. This book is a wonderful read aloud and carries these distinctions: E.B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Award (2010); Children’s Choice Illustrator of the Year Award (2010); and, An ALA Notable Children’s Book (2010).

About The Curious Garden: "While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms."

We are continuing our conversation about both browsing (looking for books to read) and caring for our library environment while browsing. Lucky for me, this book also connects wonderfully to these two areas of focus in our library lesson.

Connecting with good browsing strategies
The students and I talk about things that good readers do such as making predictions while they read. I connect this with browsing by emphasizing the importance of making predictions before even opening a book. (Although, we never judge a book by its cover and always then open the book and do a picture walk or some reading to get a real sense of book.) There are three things that I ask the children to identify on the cover and use to help make predictions: the title, the name of the author and/or illustrator, and the cover illustration.

After talking about how the title, name of author and/or illustrator, and cover art can help the reader make predictions, I ask the students (that have not yet read the book) to make predictions (really good guesses) about the book.  It is a cool thing to hear their predictions about the book, they are such close readers of all media. I heard things like this:

"It's about a boy who finds a garden in an unexpected place like the desert."

"It's about a boy who reads."

"It's about a boy who reads about gardens."

"It's about a boy who makes interesting plants."

"It's about a boy who has a good imagination."

"It's about a boy who plants a garden and takes care of it."

We then read the story to great fanfare. "Would their predictions be correct?"

While Reading
I like to stop on the first spread and ask the students to use picture clues and context to think about what the word "dreary" means. The students come up with adjectives like sad, dark, polluted, and unfriendly. This year, I had two of my new students from China liken it to their city, this prompted another conversation, which was interesting. 
Spoiler alert! It's then fun at the end to have the children come up with a one word description for the last spread, which is anything but dreary.

About the word curious
We also stop on the page where Liam, our curious boy goes up the stairs to the train tracks. We talk about what the word curious means. The idea of curious to imply strange, odd, unexpected was not in their lexicon, so it is very cool to come back to the title at the end and talk about the curious garden that explores the train tracks, but also was an unexpected surprise for Liam to find.

Connecting with taking care of our library
Liam takes care of his environment the way that I hope the students will take care of our library. We talk about taking the  initiative to see what needs to be done and do it. We also love that Liam secretly spreads his gardening gifts far and wide. I hope my students will share their gifts as well.

We finish with talking about Peter Brown's inspiration and connect to the High Line in NYC. I showed the students this picture, which I took on the High Line this summer:
And share that I like to think that Peter sat at this particular spot to create this spread:

The High Line
It seems to cool not to talk about why they elevated the High Line and then why it was no longer needed and became a public garden. We finish with watching about one minute (from 1:40-2:34) of this movie about the High Line. 
Narrated by Ethan Hawke. This video is a concise introduction to the history of the High Line, from the days of Death Avenue in the 1840s, to Friends of the High Lines preservation efforts. Features historical imagery. Produced by Matt Wolf. Made possible by the Trust for Architectural Easements.

Want more information?
About the High Line
If you visit, you will see Peter Brown's book at the information stand!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

ReedALOUD: Library Lion

This week, my students and I have been reading Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.  It's hard to believe that it has been ten years since this gem of a book was published. It hasn't lost any of its appeal. There was absolute joy on the faces of the students as we read. 

The fourth graders could share the humor in a different way now that they are older. They also appreciated the language and we talked of creating a reader's theatre or skit for the book. The striding, marching, and reaching would all be fun to act out. There's wonderful dialog and an emotional arc to work with as well. Stay tuned. We might have to squeeze this into our plans! You can see how the story inspired the fourth graders here: Fourth graders share their ideas for taking care of the library.

With the second graders, I showed them the StoryLie Online version:

With the kindergarten and first graders, I read the story and act it out. I have the students roar with the lion during the two points in the book. It is much fun to see their faces light up at making such a sound while in the library. We don't really ever roar in here. 

Library Lion is a visual and auditory treat, so reading it would be enough, but we are still in the midst of creating our rules and establishing routines. This book leads us right into this conversation. Along with noting the helpful manner of the lion, we work through these questions:

Why are rules important?

What will it look like and sound like when we are taking care of our library space and the materials in it?

What does effective browsing and borrowing look like and sound like?

Fourth Graders Share How They Will Take Care of Our Library

This week's focus is on library rules and routines that pertain to taking care of our library space and the materials in it. We kicked off the conversation by reading Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Let me just tell you that there was absolute joy on the faces of the students as we read. You can read about the read aloud experience on this post: ReedALOUD: Library Lion. 
After reading the book, we connected to the story's theme of rules and why they are important. We also talked about how the lion showed his appreciation for the library by helping to take care of the space the materials in it. The fourth graders then took to Padlet to share their ideas for taking care of our library. The actionable things they could do and the things they would say. Padlet, a virtual sticky note platform, also allows the students to practice being good digital citizens. Given what they had to say, this library should be looking inviting and ready for every student coming through the doors!