Sunday, January 11, 2015

Snowy Collection

Letters from the Sky
Non-fiction Picture Books about Snow

Some are old, some are new, some are tried, and all are true!

This post is dedicated to Mister...whose wondering inspired a post on books that tell about Snow!
Mister, thank you for the lightbulb moment when you wrote about your wonderings of snow in your writer's notebook!

Discovery and Snowflakes
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Illustrated by Mary Azarian
A biography of the life of Wilson A. Bentley, the "Snowflake Man" of Jericho Vermont.  This beautiful book won the 1999 Caldecott Award.  It tells of Bentley's life in a gentle yet powerful way to let the reader know how dedicated and serious the man was to his life's work-photographing snowflakes.

The story of Wilson Bentley and his quest to photograph the perfect snowflake...he so strongly desired the perfect snow that being out in a snowfall acutally contributed to him becoming sick and dieing from pnemonia.

"The Snowflake Man" from Chuck Smith on Vimeo.
A short video about the work and struggle to photograph the snowflakes!

Snowflakes in Photographs by Wilson A. Bentley
This book contains the photographs Bentley took of the snowflakes-no two are exactly alike!  Children will love looking at these pictures!  It may inspire them to want to run outside and catch snowflakes on black paper to observe with magnifying glasses.  Also, here is a link to the WA Bentley website

By Franklyn Mansfield Branley and Illustrated by Holly Kellar
A typical read and find out story-great for anwering questions that children might be wondering about snow!

by Josepha Sherman, Illustrated by Jeff Yesh
Kids will be able to learn about snow crystals. They will be able to learn how water is turned to snow.  The book contains a discussion of extreme weather conditions including a blizzard.

By Melissa Stewart and Illustrated by Contance R. Bergum
Children will be able to learn about how animals exist under the snow in this beautiful story.  It shows how animals survive during the cold months of winter. 
I also found a curriculum guide link to the story via Melissa's website

By Kate Messner Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Students will love this book!  Taking something simple, opposites of over and under, and recounting not so ordinary things that are happening in the moment both above the snow pack and under it.  There is a new word connected with this story-the subnivean zone!  Check out the story to learn more about this amazing process that's easily taken for granted.
Students may even want to write Kate a letter about what they learned from her views in the story.

By Mark Cassino, with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.
This is an amazing book with a more scientific feel to it!  The story explains how the snow crystals are formed, and how various shapes are changed by the temperature.  The story includes ending advice on how to catch your own snow crystals.  It ends with a glorious quote:
"A snow crystal is a letter from the sky."  --Ukichiro Nakaya, Japanese Scientist

So there you have my list of Non-fiction nods on Snow!
Happy Reading!


Thank You to Picture Books

Picture books, oh picture books, how lovely are your pages...

I am a kid lit junkie.  I love picture books for so many reasons...they're great stories, they know how to pique kids interests and they really are a lot of fun.  Some of my favorites are even books that I like to sing...I have 2, 5 shelf bookshelves that are loaded with my picture books-I definitely have my favorites.  This year, especially, I intend to display my two favorites (one fiction and one non-fiction) each week on a plate stand labeled "Teacher's Hot Reads".  I heard about this idea last year at a middle school and decided to give it a go this year.

So, here are my top ten "start the year" books...all the way from 10 to 1-read on down for lots of fun...I have a new appreciation for the work authors do, so I wanted to thank my top 10, "Cheers" to you!

#10-Thank you Derek Munson, for writing Enemy Pie.  I love Enemy Pie because this book is all about the on again off again theme of friendship/getting along in Elementary School and it teaches kids that the best way to get a friend is to get to know someone better and be a friend.  Everyone needs friends.  And here you'll find the link to a lesson idea for making Enemy Pie.

#9-Thank you Kevin Henkes for writing Chrysanthemum.  I love Chrysanthemum because it shows the value in a name.  I want each child to know that their name is special and we will do a name finding activity with this story during the first few days of school.  I also love Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin as well.

#8-Thank you Peter Reynolds for writing The Dot.  It reminds us that something simple can turn into something bigger...we must try and believe in ourselves, be brave! It also reminds me as a teacher that I need to see the possibilities for every student.  I also love Ish by Peter too!

#7-Thank you Victoria Kann for writing Pinkalicious.  I love the story and the idea that eating too much of one thing can turn you into that color-too many pink cupcakes turn the girl pink...also wrote Purplicious and Goldilicious!  I like the idea that there has to be cause effect thinking and relation to the color of things.  It could get students to think about colors of foods they like to eat and could be a mentor text for more color, cause/effect exploration.  For example, my son loves strawberries and strawberry milkshakes, so maybe he could write about Redilicious-the boy who turned red after he ate his 33rd strawberry waffle, drank his 22nd strawberry shake and his 11th strawberry poptart...just an idea.

#6-Thank you Tom Rath and Donald Clifton for writing How Full is Your Bucket This book can really help to build community in the classroom.  I intend to use it along with bucket filling slips that kids need to write about each other.

#5-Thank you Audrey Penn for writing The Kissing Hand  I love how this book let's children know that when they feel a little scared, all they have to do to find love is hold their hand up to their cheek for reassurance.  I plan to use this book and give children a special treat on the first day that is a hand cut-out cookie and a Hershey kiss stuck to it.  Audrey Penn's written other books in the series too-check them out.

#4-Thank you Kay Winters for writing This School Year Will Be the Best.  It is so inspirational for the children to see possibilities, hopes and dreams.  I intend to read this story and have the students write about what they hope or what their goals may be.

#3-Thank you Eric Litwin for writing Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes.  I am so glad that for Pete, everything is all good-no matter how bad things might seem for Pete, he keeps his "Good" state of mind through it all.  This is one of the stories I also love to sing...Get the song-you'll love it-Remember, it's all good!   Eric also wrote Pete the Cat, I Love My School Shoes, and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons (great for teaching subtraction-take away).

#2-Thank you Daniel Kirk for writing Library Mouse.  I want every child to see themselves as an author.  I have my "Meet the Author Day" box ready for them to meet on the first day of school-because they all are authors, they just don't know it yet! Two others by him are Library Mouse A Friend's Tale and Library Mouse Worlds to Explore.

and drumroll please...................................................................................................

#1-Thank you Margaret Wise Brown for writing The Important Book.  I love this book because the structure is easy to follow.  It can be a great mentor text that can go into other content areas.  I have used it for introducing students, teaching about Ohio content, and even wrote with this structure about writing in the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  I love the structure of The Important Book (Main idea, 3 details, Restate Main Idea).

So these are my top 10-10 I could not do without to start the school year...Are some of your favorites posted here?  What others could you recommend that I have not mentioned?  Please leave a comment below-Thanks!

Also, a special thank you to Ruth Ayers who inspired this post..."Hello" ideas!

Girl Power Books to Inspire

In 2013, I participated in #pb10for10 (10 Picture Books to share on August 10).  I decided to resurrect this post and share it here as an inspiration to share "All about these Books".  I have always been inspired by children's literature and authors who write it.  Now, I look forward to sharing more books here.

Thanks, authors, for these inspiring Girl Power stories!  The Idea of “Girl Power” hitting home for me (with my own little ball of fire around the house these days-Nattie) has inspired me to choose the August Picture Book 10 for 10 List this year with an emphasis on strong girl characters.  There are some new (and not so new) books that I cheer because of how they emphasize girls who are not necessarily in the “pink” state of mind.  Hooray for authors that choose the road less traveled these days and tell of adventure-minded girls.  Our adventure seeking girls deserve to have characters to look up to in stories.  I also tried to include a blend of fiction and informational text.  And so, here is my 2013 August Picture Book 10 for 10:

Thank you, Shana Corey for writing and Hadley Hooper for illustrating, Here Come the Girl Scouts  (2012).  The book is special because it tells of the adventurous thinking of Juilette Gordon Low, visionary founder of the Girl Scouts.  She was someone who made a difference to the world.  Why shouldn’t girls be able to do what the boys are doing?

Thank you, Kate Messner for writing and Brian Floca for illustrating Marty McGuire (2011).  The star is an adventure-minded little lady-Marty who is non-traditional and non-interested in all things princess.  Kate Messner wrote about her in a way that lets little girls know it’s ok if you don’t want to think like a princess.  She emphasizes the importance of a character who thinks outside the box-as we should be taking this approach with girls as well as boys.   

Thank you Corey Rosen Schwartz for writing and Dan Santat for illustrating The Three Ninja Pigs (2012).  When I first started reading it, I thought it was just another ninja book for boys-but (no spoiling intended), when I found out the third pig was a girl, I was impressed.  I started following Corey on Twitter (@coreyPBNinja) and got into a conversation with her about the girl power idea.  She shared with me that her daughter was the one that inspired her to make the third pig a girl!  And, Corey mentioned, that she was only 5 at the time.  Yay!  “Girl Power!” 

Thank you, Jane O’Connor for writing and Robin Priess Glasser for illustrating Fancy Nancy (2007).  Now, I know you’ve got to be thinking-girl power? and Fancy Nancy don’t mix-but actually, they do!  Because, Nancy is an inspirational character to girls as she is investigating her world and making sense of the wonderful words in it.  There are many, many Nancy stories around now.  So many that they have created a fancy world website. 

Thank you, Helen Recorvits for writing and Gabi Swiatkowska for illustrating My Name is Yoon (2003).  I picked this book because we have many girls (and boys) immigrating near our area these days.  I think it would inspire the girls to know that in their transition, they will adjust and need to hold on to what makes them special. 

Thank you, Alan Madison for writing and Kevin Hawkes for illustrating Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly (2010) because it’s inspirational!   Velma lives in the shadows of her older sisters but things change the day the butterfly lands on her finger and she turns into a nature lover.  It also reminds me that we need to know our students well and we must try our best to tap their interests as they enter our classrooms.

Thank you, Denise Brennan-Nelson & Rosemarie Brennan for writing and Cyd Moore for illustrating Willow (2008).  I picked Willow because she’s inspirational girl character too.  When I read this book, I could relate to her because I think I was sort of like her as a little girl-doing things in a non-traditional way and inspiring her teacher to use imagination and think of the possibilities.  

Thank you, Tanya Lee Stone for writing and Marjorie Priceman for illustrating Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors.  It’s the true story of Doctor Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor.  She was a persistent lady who would not give up on becoming a doctor (rejected 26 times for med school) and led the way for women to enter the medical profession.  Thank goodness for her perserverance!

Thank you Jesse Hartland for writing and illustrating Bon Apetit! (2012)  I picked this book because as a little girl, I remember my grandma watching Julia Child cooking every Sunday!  Julia was one of my gram’s favorites.  I am inspired by the many delicious facts that make up Julia’s story.  She was a great cook and a very interesting person.  

Thank you, Jennifer Fosberry for writing and Mike Litwin for illustrating My Name is Not Isabella (2010).  I like this story because Isabella shares her dreams of characteristics she sees in strong women as well as herself.  The women she aspires to in the story are Sally Ride, Annie Oakley and Rosa Parks to name a few but the one she is most inspired by is…I leave it to you to read and find out.   There is now a companion book for boys entitled, My Name is Not Alexander (I still need to read it).   I have decided Isabella will be my school year opening read aloud.  I found a poster and dream cards at this site:  I will print the cards and record the dreams of the students and post them to a bulletin board for others to read!  All goals begin with a dream!  What’s your dream this year?

As I close on this adventure of my 10 for 10 strong girl characters, I am glad I chose the “girl power” theme this year.  I think more authors are realizing that girl characters no longer have to be a part of the princess profile.  And, as we’ve seen through history, there are many more strong women who deserve to have their story told.  These women inspire me and I feel blessed that they have blazed a trail for me, my daughter and future generations of women.  What books could you recommend with strong girl characters?

Speaking of two inspiring women, I’d like to offer a special thank you to Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for hosting the August Picture Book 10 for 10.  You are both motivational forces in fostering a love of children’s literature.  You can also follow the event on Twitter at #pb10for10 –happy reading and spending everyone!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Inaugural Post

One of the high interest areas of my life is reading and learning about new picture books for children.  I thought long and hard about this part of my life as I wanted to make a regular habit of sharing about books I read with other people.  I wanted to create a history of books I've read and share that with others.  So, here I am ready to launch my new blog.  I hope to share the joy I find when I read new books.

I also hope to share resources that are connected with the books that I share on this blog.  I look forward to possibly connecting with authors as well!  Happy picture book reading!