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

Friday, February 26, 2016

The second graders frolic through stories on World Read Aloud Day

Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 
By connecting with other readers, we're helping to demonstrate the importance of reading along with bringing attention to the work of closing the global literacy gap.

These second graders connected and read aloud with Ame Dyckman and Salina YoonWe have been blessed with some amazing read aloud partners all week. Check out the fun time we had with these two:

Ame Dyckman

Salina Yoon

is a global literacy initiative founded by LitWorldLitWorld empowers young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy. 

A third grade World Read Aloud Day palooza

Wednesday was World Read Aloud Day, but we're celebrating all week. WRAD is a global literacy initiative founded by LitWorldLitWorld empowers young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy. 
Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 
By connecting with other readers, we're helping to demonstrate the importance of reading along with bringing attention to the work of closing the global literacy gap.

This week the third graders connected with Lauren CastilloLouise Borden, and Claire Nivola along with students in Cathy Potter's class in Maine. We have been blessed with some amazing read aloud partners all week. 

Here's a look at these visits:

Lauren Castillo

Louise Borden

Claire Nivola

Cathy Potter
I couldn't video since we were taking turns reading Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds, so here are two pictures:

Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 

Wherein the fourth graders have one incredibly memorable World Read Aloud Day

Wednesday was World Read Aloud Daya global literacy initiative founded by LitWorldLitWorld empowers young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy. 
Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 
By connecting with other readers, we're helping to demonstrate the importance of reading along with bringing attention to the work of closing the global literacy gap.

On Wednesday, my fourth graders read aloud with Sophie Blackall, Dan Santat, and Laura Given, a friend, colleague, and member of the 2016 Caldecott Committee.

Here's a look at these incredible Skype visits and read aloud experiences:

Sophie Blackall

Dan Santat

Laura Given

Be the Change.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#WRAD16: the kindergarten students connect

Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 

February 24, 2016 

We think closing the global literacy gap is so important that we connect and read with others all week long. It's not just World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), it's World Read Aloud Week. WRAD is a global literacy initiative founded by LitWorld. LitWorld empowers young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy.

Today, we connected with...

Melanie Hope Greenberg:

Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Mrs. Broderick and her students

Mrs. Lussier and her students

Thank you for making our WRAD read aloud connections so special! 

WRAD-i-cal Connections: Day One: Molly Idle and Deborah Freedman

Read Aloud. 
Change the World. 

February 24, 2016 

It's finally here! It's World Read Aloud Day, a global literacy initiative founded by LitWorldLitWorld empowers young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy.

We think closing the global literacy gap is so important that we connect and read with others all week long.

On Monday, my second grade students connected with Molly Idle and Deborah Freedman. Here's a sneak peak at the two visits.

Molly Idle

During the visit the students shared ideas for more books about Flora and Rex. I had them write some down.

Deborah Freedman

After our time with Deborah, the students shared their thanks along with some new art techniques they had learned.

We're thankful for these WRAD-i-cal visits!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Recent Reads: The Wild Robot

I am eagerly awaiting the publication of The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. 

I have read the ARC of The Wild Robot and love it, so why this eagerness to get my hands on the final copy? It is these words, "art to come." I cannot wait to see Peter's art for this book. Luckily, April 5th is not that far away.

The Wild Robot is an incredible story of awakening. It's about finding love and community along the way.  Roz, short for Rozum unit 7134, is a robot stranded on an island after a hurricane sinks the cargo ship on which she was a package. Roz takes in her surroundings and slowly begins to understand and communicate with the wild inhabitants that live on the island. 

Roz encounters a few missteps along the way. She accidentally harms some geese and ends up taking on the care of their goose egg (and the eventual gosling that hatches from it).  As Roz demonstrates her ability to care for her gosling, the animals perspective of her shifts from "monster" to "Roz."  Slowly Roz builds a support network around her new-found family. Robot and gosling take on the role of mother and child and a family is born. Yet it is not a story about humanizing creatures, these are not humans, they are animals and a robot. Brown allows for the natural tendencies of the animals.

The reader will not likely realize how attached he or she has become to Roz, Brightbill, and the island full of Beavers, Bears, Geese, Squirrels and others. It is only when it is threatened that our attachment is evident. The end is striking and violent as the new-found community is ripped apart, but sadness is tinged with hope; hope for for Roz, Brightbill, and the inhabitants of the island. Readers will see themes about the environment and technology. I see other similarities to society as well, with conversations around immigration, non traditional families, and the choices we are sometimes forced to make.

Once this books hits the shelves, I don't expect my copies will stay long on them. Students will love this robot adventure.
About The Wild Robot
"When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her....

Heartwarming and full of action, Peter Brown's middle-grade debut raises thought-provoking questions about the environment, the role technology plays in our world, and what it means to be alive." ~ from the publisher

Monday, February 8, 2016

Recent Reads: Fenway and Hattie

"Get a dog’s-eye view of the world in this heartwarming, enthusiastic “tail” about two best friends."

And what a tale it is!

Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe is the story of a lovable canine hero eager to guide and protect Hattie, his small human and best friend, as they navigate a move to a new neighborhood. 

Victoria does a fabulous job of capturing a dog's perspective. She places the reader solidly and authentically in Fenway's shoes (or paws as it were). We want so desperately for Food Lady and Fetch Man (Hattie's parents) to understand what Fenway is trying to tell them. Don't they see how slippery the evil floor is? Can't Hattie see how much he wants to help? I am hoping to bring Victoria into my school to talk about perspective in writing. In the meantime, her classroom guide is a fabulous start.

Not only do we get a dog's eye view of the world, we also get an opportunity to touch upon weightier topics such as the emotional impact of: moving; changing friendships; and, new opportunities. Fenway and Hattie is full of heart. Both light-hearted and heart-warming, the story left me hoping to find additional pages hidden beyond the cover. I was hooked! How could I leave life with this energetic, misunderstood, squirrel-chasing, protagonist? 

Check out the Fenway and Hattie 

About Fenway and Hattie
"But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in her new short human friend, Angel, and learning to play baseball. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it!" ~ from the publisher

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:

"Col√≥n’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?