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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I recently read SWAP! by Steve Light with my first grade students. The book, which is published by Candlewick, hits the shelves in January and I would recommend you get a copy when it does.

In SWAP! "... 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."

The first graders and I started out by crowd sourcing what they students knew about pirates and sailors and then noticing what the two had in common. With some basic ideas held within our group, we started into the story.

SWAP! is a wonderfully interactive story to read with children and in classic Steve Light style offers a feast for the eyes and the brain on every page. The first graders did math throughout the story adding and subtracting the amounts of items that were swapped.

After reading SWAP! the students and I reflected on what we had thought we knew about pirates and sailors and how that information compared to the characters in the book.

The book sets the stage for fabulous learning extensions. I hope there are some in the works. I tried to create a swapping game for the students, but had a hard time making it work with twenty-four students. I have plans to create a reader's theatre script that would involve the students swapping items. I'll share it when I do. Maybe there's something you'd SWAP for it!


  1. Please share or write a blog post teaching us what resources and journals you use to find these fabulous picture books...I'd love to learn how you go about making book selections for your collection. amabile.susan@gmail.com Thank you! Susan Amabile