Monika Mira obviously cares about the animals she writes about in her books. The Green Sea Turtles are no different. This book is set up to introduce the reader to these majestic creatures first with basic information including anatomy, diet, mating, behaviors, and habitat. It then shares with the readers the threats that Green Sea Turtles face from predators to marine debris and diseases. Finally, the book ends with how the reader can help sea turtles and the reefs. I love nonfiction books that makes the reader realize that what they are reading about isn't something that doesn't affect them and there is something that they can do to make a difference.
"You have already begun your journey to help protect turtles by reading this book. Getting informed is the single most important thing that you can do to protect sea turtles." (p. 24)
Mentor text for: Making connections, Vocabulary development, Research...more
After reading Dallas Clayton's An Awesome Book, I knew that I wanted to read more of his work. He had a way of preaching goodness in a way that wasn't overly bearing but still definitely got the point across. So, when I saw that Candlewick had published an anthology of his poems with his illustrations I was very excited and I was not disappointed. Make Magic is filled with fun yet thought provoking poems (some rhyme, some free verse) accompanied by quirky (done in "two parts positive vibes and three parts watercolor rainbow sprinkles) this anthology will bring a smile to anyone's face who readers it. As a read aloud this summer, during summer school, I am going to bring Make Magic and read one or two daily so we can discuss them. Each poem teaches a lesson without being always obvious and are funny and weird enough that students will love them. ...more
Jill Cochran’s introductory poem starts this book off perfectly: with using a butterfly leaving its cocoon to symbolize daring to dream. Within the anthology, I learned about historical figures who did amazing things such as Sylvia Mendez who helped desegregate Mexican students in California to Jonas Salk who discovered the Polio vaccine, modern day heroes such as Nicholas Cobb who as a child started a nonprofit organization to Chad Hurley, Steven Chen, and Jawed Karim who are the co-founders of You Tube, as well as artists who fought to stand out like Michelle Kwan, Steven Spielberg, Georgia O’Keefe, Martha Graham, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. All corners of heroes are represented. What I loved about who was chosen to be in this book is that although they are all extraordinary people, all of what they did is within the reach of anyone reading. It definitely pushes the readers’ mind when thinking about what is possible. In Dare to Dream, you not only learn about these people through the poetry, but Jill Cochran also included biographical text boxes for each dreamer to share what they did to change the world. Many different kinds of poetry are also part of the anthology. Most are narrative, telling us the story of the life of inspirational person, while others are lyric or acrostic. Some rhymed while others didn't. One included quotes and another was written completely inspired by a quote. Not two poems are alike. Another beautiful aspect to this book are the illustrations by J. Beth Jepsen. It is amazing how she was able to change her style based on the poem/person. Anne Frank’s pages are filled with a depression while Father Gregory Boyle’s pages are filled with hope. Each page represents the dreamer in such a beautiful way. Would be a wonderful book to do a visual analysis on. ...more
This book definitely brought back memories! I loved the idea of summer camp and many of the activities, but I hated the bugs and the food and the changing in front of other people. There are many times when I was away that I just wanted to go home; however, there were things that saved me- specifically, like Eleanor, the animals. I loved working in the barn with the horses and it is what saved me and then got me going back year after year. I remember walking into the barn and being able to be part of these horses' lives and the scene where Eleanor meets Cornelius the goat brought me right back to that moment. This book would be a wonderful read aloud for right before summer because even if students are not going to summer camp, there is probably something new and scary that they will try this summer and this book will definitely cause discussion about how something new may be scary, but that doesn't mean you won't like it eventually. Julie Sternberg's writing also lends itself to some amazing discussions about free verse poetry and, in this one, letter writing. Maybe use the letter writing part of the book to segue into writing a letter to next year's class. Finally, I love the idea of the Wall of Feelings! The Wall of Feelings is where the campers put up how they feel about camp; however, Eleanor is given the job of writing about how she used to feel about camp and then how she feels about camp now. What a great way for students to express themselves! This would be a great formative assessment for looking at how students feel about reading or school or some other topic at the beginning of the year vs. the end. ...more
This collection of 'nonsense' stories, poems, riddles, & rhymes is actually much deeper than it seemed at first read. I'll be honest, I was not impressed with the first story so I did not have high expectations for the rest of the book; however, the second poem hit the ball out of the park and sucked me in. The book is broken into four sections (Breakfast, Seaside, Doctor, Bedtime) and within each section Rosen includes a variety of stories and poems. There are a few that weave their way throughout the book- "What If..." and "Nat and Anna". I, personally, loved the "What If..." poems the best because I think it is a wonderful way to have children not only think about amazing possibilities, but also is an easy format to duplicate to help students write their own poems. It would be so much fun to have students write their own "What If..." poems based on the unit's theme. It could also be pushed a little bit farther- it'd be a great way to discuss essential questions or to do an anticipation guide. The "Nat and Anna" stories also allow for a chance to discuss narrative elements as, with 4 short stories, you have quite a nice collection of stories about these two siblings. The characters have quite a dynamic relationship which could definitely lead to some great characterization conversations. One of the most surprising aspects, for me, were the more serious poems that are scattered throughout the book that are filled with imagery and alliteration: "Over my toes goes the soft sea wash..." (p. 25) "Outside after dark, trains hum and traffic lights wink, after dark, after dark." (p. 65)...more
A different kind of choose your path book. In a choice chapter book, you are still the protagonist (2nd person alert!), but throughout the book you are given choices (one is right and one is wrong; rational is given) and you only continue when you choose the right one. This book definitely would be a great introduction to camping and takes the reader through some really realistic situations. Though a bit didactical, it definitely works in teaching safety- I even learned a few things.
In the classroom, this book would be great in a 2nd or 3rd grade classroom to talk about cause and effect. You could look at what would happen if you chose the wrong choice.
Mentor text for: Cause/Effect, Point of View
Snatch of text: Choice 1 "The hand-crank radio: You tell Carla to pack her radio. Good choice! It doesn't have any games, but it will always have power. You just crank its lever. Then you can listen to music. You can also get weather reports if it looks stormy outside." Choice 2 "The smart phone: You tell Carla to pack her phone. It would be fun to play games. But the phone will run out of power. You won't be able to recharge it. And what if a storm comes? You might need to hear weather reports. You should tell Carla to pack the radio instead." ...more
Who knew there were so many animal related holidays?!?! J. Patrick Lewis takes us chronologically through the year and introduces us to quirky holidays throughout the year ranging from Dragon Appreciation Day (1/16) to National Skunk Day (Today!) to National Sloth Day (11/19). The poems range in types including concrete, but most are AB rhyming. The only thing I wish is there was a text box explaining the history of each holiday so we understood the holiday more instead of only having the poem as the reference; however, this could lend itself nicely into how to use it in the classroom. Read the poem, read a nonfiction article about the holiday, then write a story or some sort of variation. ...more
This year I am teaching a Developmental Language Arts class for incoming ESOL students who, when they enter my school, have been in the United States for less than a year or score low English proficiency on the CELLA test when they enter. I knew this class would be a challenge as I do not know any other language, but I also knew (and now know) that this class was going to very rewarding. With teaching a different group of students than I've ever had before, my thinking when searching for books to use in their class has changed and I am always looking for books that they'll connect to and books that celebrate world cultures. This book is perfect for my class! It'd be a way to build class community because many of my students come from Hispanic countries and they can share the music/dances with my non-Hispanic students. It also gives them the ability to share their language with me and the rest of the class. Finally, since it is such a well done biography, it gives them all an opportunity to learn about a fascinating young man. ...more
*A wonderful follow-up to the first Hero's Guide. I was worried that it wouldn't be as good (sequel-syndrome), but the characters grew, the story moved along nicely, and it made me even more excited for book 3. Everyone's place in the group is questioned in this book, including their place within their relationships.
I read this book for a different purpose than just to review, I wanted to really look at the princesses in the book for our girl power series we'll be doing at the end of the month and I am so impressed at the different personalities and how each princess is so unique.
Mentor text for: Making connections (like fractured fairy tales), Characterization, Multiple Story Lines, Humor, Rhyming Poetry/Songs (p. 4 et al.), Foreshadowing, Letter Writing (p. 208), Grammar (Princes Charming, Dwarves), Idioms (p. 311), Synonyms (p. 361), Oral Tradition (the bards) ...more
I found this book fascinating. It dealt with many different topics from stuttering to racism in the South and definitely shows the power of others in helping a young person find his/her voice (and in this book, that is a literal statement). I loved how it was written because although our narrator wasn't very vocal in his life, he loved writing and found his voice through his writing. It is through this art that he is able to tell his story. It is also quite interesting that though he is writing his story, he withholds his name until the very end because he has trouble saying it himself. He is referred to mostly as "Little Man" throughout the book.
But, by far, my favorite thing about this story is all of the characters our narrator gets involved with when he begins his paper route. First is Little Man's first crush, a pretty young wife who likes to drink and who Little Man cannot figure out. Second is a homeless man who bullies Little Man out of some of his possessions and is haunted by his past. Third, and most importantly, is a Merchant Marine who shows Little Man that there is more out there and that he can be whomever he wants to be. It is through these different adults that our narrator really starts to become his own.
In the classroom, this book would be a great discussion start about many different topics. Since it is historical, it gives a different perspective into many different topics including television and racism. Vawter also writes this novel with a great voice and makes interesting choices with punctuation that would be interesting to talk to students about.
Snatch of Text: p. 11 (simile), p. 101-102, p. 108-109 (poetry) Mentor Text For: Voice, First Person Point of View, Grammar, Simile, Making Predictions, Contractions (p. 30), Poetry (p. 108-109) Writing Prompts: There are some unexpected players in this young boys life that he would have never thought would affect him the way they did. Think of someone in your life that you thank for helping, influencing, or changing you and write them a thank you letter. Topics Covered: Candide, Voltaire, Speech Pathology, Baseball, Alcoholism, Anxiety, Infidelity, Genetics, Fathers, Heidegger, Existentialism, Segregation, Linguistics, Language, Race Relations, Faith, History of the Alphabet (p. 64-65), Myths (p. 66), Television (p. 44) ...more
If you are like me, there are times when I question what I am doing and how I am doing it. Sometimes when I am working harder than others around me or if I do things a bit differently or I stand up for my belief in certain things, I wonder if I am really doing all of this right. Book Love is one of those books that will remind you that you are in the right and what I am doing is what is best for my students and will make a difference in the end. Penny Kittle takes us through how she makes a difference in her classroom taking us through her procedures for everything reading from reading hurdles, nonreaders, building stamina, fluency, book talks, conferences, responses, and building a community. Through each of these topics, and many more, she shares with us what has worked in her classroom. I felt like she was talking to me and about my kids because what she encounters is definitely universal: Why do students not read what is assigned to them?; How can we get students to enjoy reading?; How do we monitor our students' reading effectively?; How can we get kids to read over the summer?; How can we make our room/school a reading community? and so much more. Here are some of the things that I specifically marked to figure out how to use in my classroom: *Weekly reading recording sheet (p. 29) *Using a Book Talk to Teach the Qualities of Writing (p. 65) *Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (p. 69) *Types of conferences (p. 79) *Big Idea Books (p. 117) *Quarterly Reading Reflections (p. 124) *School READS posters (p. 136) *Summer reading changes (p. 152) Here are some quotes which I marked because I loved them (and these are only some and only from chapters 1 & 2!): "Students who I believe are determined nonreaders become committed, passionate readers given the right books, time to read, and regular responses to their thinking. The pathway to difficult reading begins with books they enjoy. Once they're reading, together we can reach for the challenging literature I want them to know. Rich and rewarding reading lives are within reach for all of our students." (p. 1) "...struggling readers, the most in need of independent reading, simply do not read outside of school. We can say this isn't our thought because they arrive so far behind from where they should be, but if we don't do something to help them gain the skills they need for the rich, challenging texts we love, we are part of the problem." (p. 6) "We have to commit to helping students choose texts they can navigate alone, then teach the skills needed to unravel more difficult texts in class, so that their skills increase while they experience the pleasure of reading. When skills and pleasure align, students begin to choose more difficult texts to read independently." (p. 14) "That's the art of this work. Teaching reading will never be a script of simple steps at the end of which all readers become proficient. Teaching is far more complex than any publisher or program can imagine. But teaching is the only way to improve readers." (p. 16) Remember: If you are ever questioning yourself, pick up Book Love, give yourself a hug, and remember that you are doing what is best for the kids!...more
This year I have more students who want to join the military then every before. Because of this, I am trying to bulk up my nonfiction books that have to do with the military to A) Interest them & B) Teach them about what their dreams entail. This book will definitely fit both of my goals.
Being a U.S. SEAL is not something to just mention lightly. They are some of the most respected members of our military and I personally had no idea how much went into becoming one. This book definitely lays out all aspects of becoming, being, and living as a SEAL so students who are interested in doing so will know exactly what they need to do to reach their goal. It is also done in a very structured way with chapters dealing with each aspect and many photographs and facts to back up the chapters. It also has many other text features including maps and a glossary to assist the reader. This is definitely an inside look at being a SEAL and I can see why my students find this nonfiction book fascinating. ...more
Protecting apes is a passion of mine and I love that this nonfiction book for kids not only teaches kids about orangutans, which are such amazing creatures, but it also teaches the reader about what it means to be endangered, rain forests, palm oil and how even the littlest person can help. I like that no where in the book does it seem to talk down to the reader. When I look at nonfiction for kids, I want it to include the same facts as it would for adults and this one does.
I love that this book (and I hope a series) shows children that they can make a difference. That the decline in our Earth does not have to be something that we just sit and come to terms with; there are ways to make it better.
The first half of the book is primarily about the orangutan species and what makes them unique as well as why they are endangered. The second half shares how kids can help the orangutans. All of this is accompanied with beautiful illustrations and fun facts throughout.
Mentor text for: Nonfiction Text Features, Author's Purpose
Things I loved about this book: -Cop show allusions ("This is the city. Kalamazoo City. Population: 75,000. By day, it's bright, vibrant metropolis, the kind of city where dreams come true. It is a mecca of business, the arts, sports, and cuisine, and, at the center of it all, the gleaming facade of Pandini Tower, the jewel of Kalamazoo City. Those who don't live here dream of making it here. And those who do, well, they know that there's just no city like it. But it is a different city once the sun goes down. The criminal element, asleep by day, haunts certain dark corners at nigh. Especially the run-down old docks on the south side of town, perhaps the darkest corner of all." p. 1) -Puns (specifically animal puns) -The sly inclusion of forensics -Jarrett Krosoczka's illustrations -Um... Platypi are awesome! (Or is it platypuses just platypus?) Specifically Zengo and O'Malley who are the typical old cranky cop and young anxious rookie who team up together to fight the crime of Kalamazoo City. -The mystery aspect which allows the reader to be part of the police squad and can make predictions about what the outcome will be...more
What I Think: When I first started reading Chin Music, I couldn't figure out how the 2013 story would connect with the 1926 story. As I read, I really enjoyed both stories though they felt so disconnected. Though this disconnection is part of what kept me reading- I had to know "How do they connect?". But the more I read, the more I also wanted to know what happened to the characters. I felt Ryan's loss and wanted to make sure he was going to be okay, I rooted for Zel as she fought the sexism of the 1920's, and I wanted Ryan's family to be fixed. Some of the topics within the book are much deeper than the story. Ryan's aspect of the novel discusses survivor's guilt, PTSD, death of a family member, amputation, and depression. Although his story seems to be about baseball, it is more about his dealing with grief and family. Of course, there are great baseball discussions that can be built from many different parts of this book: there is Ryan's baseball journey as well as baseball history. I loved the author's notes in the end that shared which Babe Ruth aspects in the book were based in truth. With Zel's story, it seems like it is about Babe Ruth and barbers, but it is about women's rights and a young lady finding herself a place in the world that women still struggle to survive in. I found many passages throughout that would be a wonderful addition to a discussion about women in the 1920s.
Read Together: Grades 10 to 12 (Though aspects can be used as read alouds with lower grades.)
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino by Dan Shaughnessy, Nonfiction books about Babe Ruth, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920's
Snatch of Text: "It was the middle of the night and Ryan awoke bathed in sweat. It was the dream again, the same damn one. The one where he throws a pass to his wide receiver but instead of a football, it's a key tumbling ever so slowly, like in slow motion, end-over-end, until it lands softly in his receiver's hands, except it's Michael who catches it in the end zone for the winning touchdown. Ryan throws his arms up in victory and goes charging down the field to celebrate with his teammates but he runs right into a hospital room where he suddenly finds himself in bed. His father and Michael are standing behind the doctor who is saying to him 'you're going to make a full recover.'" -2013 (p. 3)
"It was the height of the season and the streets of St. Petersburg were alive with activity. The city, like many others in Florida, had grown dramatically, riding the boom of Florida real estate that had been going full bore since the beginning of the decade. Just in the past year five new hotels had been built or were under construction, employing hundreds of people." -1926 (p. 20)
Mentor Text for: Attention Grabber, Characterization, Setting
Writing Prompts: Zel deals with prejudice because of her gender, but overcomes it because of her gumption; has there been an aspect of your life where you have felt prejudice? How did you overcome it?
After reading this book the first time, I knew I was going to have to tackle it differently than just reading a picture book. I wanted to make sense of it and I knew that I didn't have the background knowledge and I know that the power of all of the words had not sunk in yet. So, I typed up the poem in Google Drive and begun doing my very own close reading of the poem. I started with research of terms and names that I didn't know building my knowledge of the culture and history of Harlem. Through this build up of knowledge, I began to understand the beauty behind Myers's poem. The voice of this poem is one of heartbreak, but strength; proud of not only what he has become, but where he came from. This poem is a celebration of the history of Harlem and its citizens- a celebration of its religion, music, poets, authors, and everything that made/makes it a hub for the civil rights movement and African America culture. While doing my research, I found an amazing website that I will definitely use when teaching this poetry book- Harlem: A Visual Interpretative Analysis- which takes an excerpt of the poem and an accompanied collage and takes the reader through an analysis of the excerpt and artwork. Fascinating! This book would be a great one to use across many different subject areas- history, literature, and art. ...more
Portia is looking for her family, but ends up finding a place in the least likely places- a "freak show" touring around the midwest during Depression-era America. The author seamlessly intertwines Portia's story with the story of the traveling show even mixing up points of views and narrators during the story. Although it sounds like it should definitely not work, it does. And it does beautifully. This book is mostly about heart, family, and home. Portia's story is so enthralling and her transformation is amazing to be part of.
As I read this book, I found so many different places that could be mentor texts within the classroom. Hannah Barnaby's debut novel is not only a great example of literary, lyrical writing, it is also a novel that would definitely be useful for a reading mentor text. Since the story is so complex, it takes a strong reader to read it thus would be a great book to model comprehension with. As a writing mentor text, there are examples of exemplar writing throughout.
Read Together: Grades 9 and up
Read Alone: Grades 8 and up
Read With: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Snatch of Text: "The truck lurched uncertainly onto the dirt road indicated by the sign and quickly came to a fork - downhill, to the right, Portia saw a cluster of small wood cabins and, behind them, the apple trees. They were different than her apple trees. Hers had grown tall and sat heavy over her like a canopy, even now that she was thirteen. These were dwarfish, twisted, and gray. It was halfway through harvest time, and many of the trees stood bare as skeletons, reaching for the cold sky. Uphill, to the left, was a massive dark house with a sharp, staggered roof that looked like the teeth of some huge, mythical beast. Portia had no desire to get any closer, but Sophia, as usual, had other ideas." (p. 25)
Mentor Text for: Suspense, Predicting, Point of Views, Imagery, Attention Grabber, Vocabulary, Voice, Literary Writing, Setting
Writing Prompts: Don't judge a book by its cover does not only apply to books; it also applies to people. Think of a time when you judged a person by their cover and you were wrong. Connect this with Portia when she first arrived at the Wonder Show.
Topics Covered: Human Curiosities, Family, Loss, Loyalty, Relationships, Identity...more
I love a book with a strong, smart female protagonist. It helps if the story is thoroughly entertaining as well. This book fits that mold. Farrah is nicknamed Digit because of her insane aptitude for numbers. She's never really fit in because of her brains, so when she went to a new school, she decided to hide her intelligence so she can hang out with the popular kids; however, she cannot completely block out her mind and ends up cracking a code to a terrorist plan. Now, she is FBI's only hope for stopping these criminals who are not afraid to kill others and die doing so. Now, she gets to embrace her genius and help save the world.
This book is one that will definitely find readers in many classrooms and has a great protagonist for girls to look up to.
Topics: Ecoterrorism, Fathers, Role Models, Geniuses, Fibonacci
Mentor text for: Grammar, Puns, Voice, Suspense
"I smiled, a little embarrassed, and started scanning the alley for nothing too, while I thought about my new favorite word: either. He could have just said, "I'm not just a pretty face." But he added either. Either can be an adjective (I could lean over and kiss either his neck or his lips), a pronoun (His neck or his lips? Either will do), or, like here, an adverb following a negative subordinate clause (I'm not just a pretty face either). I wondered if it could be a name. We could have a daughter and call her Either." (p. 54) ...more