Saturday, December 3, 2011

A is for Abigail- An Almanac of Amazing American Women

Written by Lynne Cheney and Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Mrs. Cheney, the former 2nd wife the the United States of America.  (Former Vice President Dick Cheney's wife) Glasser was first a successful ballet artist.  Now she is a well known children's literature illustrator.  To find out more click here.

Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography
Theme: Historical Women/ Alphabet
Ages: 7-11

Summary: This is an alphabet book that for each letter highlights an important woman or concept for american history.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity: Ask students to name important historical figures. You may or may not be surprised, but most names that pop up will be male.  Have a discussion about how men and women are equally important to our history and bringing us to where we are today.

Post-Reading Activity: Using this text as a center activity have individuals or small groups review the page that was read aloud in class for the day.  Have them keep a log, or fill out a worksheet keeping track of the letter for the day, important names, what they did, and at least 2 other facts from the page.

Reflection: To be honest this is a book so full of wonderful facts and historical information that I may take only one person/page at a time, maybe each day or highlight one woman a week.

Always and Forever

Written by Alan Durant and Illustrated by Debi Gliori. Durant is a United Kingdom native, born in Surry.  He loved to read as a child, especially C.S. Lewis's Narnia Series. He lives with his wife and family and makes them be his 'guinea pigs' and listen to his stories for him. For more information click here.  Debi Gliori is a Scottish children's book author and illustrator. She grew up as an only child and has been creating children's books since the late 70s.  She has 5 children and a golden retriever, for more information click here.

Genre: Fiction
Theme: Animals/Social Issues/Death & Grief
Ages: 4-9

Summary:  When their friend Fox falls ill and dies, his housemates, Otter, Mole, and Hare are saddened.  They feel as though they can not go on. One day Squirrel comes to visit and reminds them of Fox's wisdom and all of the funny things he used to do. This makes them laugh for the first time in a long while.  They come up with ideas and ways for how to honor Fox, but continue living because they realize that Fox's love and memory will always be with them.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity: Think of a time when you have lost someone close to you.  It does not have to be a death, maybe someone moved away, or you had to move.  Remember the way you felt when they had to go. Some of you may not know what this feeling is like yet, but you can imagine.

Post-Reading Activity:  Now, think of the person we had in mind before reading the book.  Try to remember a happy memory of that person.  Write at least one good sentence describing what you liked about that person, and what makes them special.

Reflection: To be honest, I would not address this book with a full class unless a peer or a well known person was lost.  It is a very sensitive subject matter, however is such a wonderful book for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one.  It would be a great text for helping someone to cope through a difficult time.

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies

Written by Carolyn Crimi and Illustrated by John Manders. Carolyn was born and raised in Long Island, New York.  She lives with her husband and pug in New York currently. For more information click here. John Manders studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He is interested in puppetry and learning to speak Italian. To find out more click here.

Genre: Fiction
Theme: Animals/ Adventure/Pirates
Ages: 5-9

Summary: The story begins on a ship called the Salty Carrot sailing the seas.
The ship is captained by a big, bad, mean named Barnacle Black Ear, who is embarrassed by his son Henry who is more interested in reading books then being a pirate. However, his love of books and his library are able to save the day.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity:  Have students look at the cover and title of the book.  Ask them to share their observations, inferences, and predictions.  Invite students to recall a time when they had learned something useful from school or from reading.  Ask them how it made them feel to know something new and interesting.

Post-Reading Activity:  Have students do a free write about how it would feel to be in Henry's shoes.  They can choose to write about their thoughts and questions for Black Ear.  They can retell the story from a 1st person perspective. Or they may write about a time something similar happened to them.

Reflection: This is a great book about the love of reading.  It is so great that the main character is able to not only save the day but continue to improve their lives because of the knowledge gained from reading.  Such a cute book.

The Lion & The Mouse

By Jerry Pinkney.  A native of Philadelphia he studied at the Philadelphia College of Art.  He is an award winning illustrator of children's books, having been honored 5 times each by the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award.  He currently lives in Westchester County, NY with his wife.  For more information click here.

Genre: Fiction
Theme:Animals/ Folklore/Fables
Ages: 3-8

Summary:  This is a wordless picture book version of the Aesop fable about the lion and the mouse.  The unlikely pair of creatures learn to help one another and build a friendship.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity:   Assess prior knowledge by asking if anyone had ever heard of a fable, or knew what one was.  Have a brief discussion about folklore or wise advice in the form of stories.  Ask students if they have ever heard a story about the lion and the mouse. Read a short version of Aesop's Fable, "The Lion and the Mouse".  Have students keep this brief story in mind as they go through this wordless picture book.

Post-Reading Activity: Have students individually, in pairs, or in small groups depending on class size and ability take one page each of the story, and write the words to describe what is happening in it.  Compile class  written words to go along with pictures and create the book.  Read to whole class to see how well everyone has done with creating their own story to go along with the pictures.

Reflection: I really enjoy nearly text less picture books.  They create a world of imagination and individuality to the reader responsible for creating meaning for the pictures. This is a great opportunity to discuss making inferences and observations to support them.  It is also a wonderful text to discuss sequencing, the events of the story are still known thanks to the order of the pictures.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Silly Street

Written by Jeff Foxworthy and Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. Jeff Foxworthy is a popular and well respected comedian.  He was born in Georgia and is well known for his coined phrase "you might be a red neck."  In 2008 he began publishing children's books.  For more information about Jeff click here. Steve Bjorkman has illustrated over 70 children's books.  He lives with his wife and children in California. Visit his website.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Theme: Poetry/ Humor
Ages: 5 - 8

Summary: This is a silly story about a silly place with silly poems to describe what you see and who you would meet. There is a daily parade and all sorts of other fun things.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity: Have students think-pair-share with their elbow partner about what makes the place they live unique.  Take a few examples and possibly list some adjectives on the board or a chart.  Tell students that they are about to hear some poems about  a very different place, and to think of some adjectives to describe the place they are hearing about.

Post-Reading Activity:  Re-Read one of the poems from the text, maybe Silly Street.  Have students do a free draw while listening to the words in each phrase slowly.  Have them write 5 adjectives to describe what they've drawn.

Reflection: I remember hearing recordings of Jeff Foxworthy as a young girl.  He is a really funny, and still a very appropriate comedian.  It was surprising to me to see that he had written poetry for children's books.  It is so cute and fun.  Children will love all of the silly and funny details of such an interesting made up place.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Old Bear

Written and Illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Henkes is a popular children's book author and illustrator awarded with the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor for his works.  Growing up he thought he would become an artist when a teacher encouraged him in his writing.  He has since had a successful career in children's literature.

Genre: Fiction
Theme: Animals/Seasons
Ages: 3 - 6

Summary: This story is about a bear that goes into hibernation for the winter.  While he sleeps he dreams of each of the four seasons and what makes them beautiful.  When he awakes, he doesn't realize how much time has passed and that it has stopped snowing and it is lovely spring already.

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity:Talk to students about the changes in weather as winter is approaching.  Ask what they have noticed is different in the weather, or if they have seen any changes with the animals.  See if students understand the concept of hibernation offer some background knowledge if necessary.

Post-Reading Activity: Have students do a writing activity about what their favorite season of the year is and why.  They will have to give one description of what the season is like, and why they enjoy it. Or have students complete a science activity sheet on what are the four seasons and what order do they cycle in.

Reflection: This is a sweet story that talks about the seasons and a bears hibernation.  It is great to do a science content area literature text.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

Written by Laura Numeroff and Illustrated by Felicia Bond.  Numeroff born in Brooklyn New York and is the author of the popular "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"  books.  She was honored by Laura Bush at the White House for the "Laura Bush Honors American Authors" event. Bond, the illustrator for the popular series, currently lives with her family in Santa Fe, Texas.  For more information about them both, and the book series click here!

Genre: Fiction
Theme: Animals/Food
Ages: 3-6 years

Summary:  If you give a cat a cupcake, he'll ask for sprinkles to go with it.  Which spirals into a whole story of "If....then..." scenarios which are so silly and fun the reader will be delighted. The story finally loops back to the sprinkles and cupcake to bring the ending full circle.   

Link to Picture

Pre-Reading Activity:   Introduce the story a mini lesson on cause and effect. The "if...then..." scenarios of the story are a great way to solidify the concept.  Ask students if they have ever been told by their parent that "If you finish your vegetables, then you can have dessert".  Explain the cause and effect works with weather, if it rains then you have to use an umbrella.  As class if they can think of examples of cause and effect.  Tell students that this story will have many causes and effects and to be listening closely for them.

Post-Reading Activity:  Have students write about an "if...then..." scenario in their life.  This can be a free write activity in a journal, or a worksheet created by instructor.  Students may model cat and cupcake examples from the text, or create ones of their own.

Reflection:  When I was a child I loved reading through the mouse and moose books in this series.  This story is full of animals, foods, sequences, and a fun series of events that will keep children excited and laughing along.