Friday, April 1, 2016

National School Library Month is here! What are the kids reading?

Happy National School Library Month!

In honor of School Library Month, I'm going to share the most circulated titles in our library right now.  One of my librarian friends, Amanda, blogs about what her kids are "really" reading from time to time.  This helps teachers, parents and friends keep up with what are kids are interested in choosing when they visit the library.  These titles are our top ten most circulated as of April 1, 2016.
Drumroll, please...

This book of our favorite superheroes in grade school is lots of fun.  

Bad Kitty's most recent adventure.

I'm so glad to still see Wonder in the Top 10!

Love all of Jerry Pallotta's Who Would Win series!  Keep them coming, Jerry.

The most recent book in the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis.

This is Book #2 in the new Bad Guys series.  Very funny for all ages.

Yes.  They are still reading Minecraft.

Still reading...Don't tell them they're reading nonfiction!

I love this new series by Aaron Blabey.  Students of all ages enjoy this read. Book #1.

As a parent of a child who reads the Amulet series, we are always waiting for the next book in the series.  We were so excited for the new arrival of Book #7.  Did you know there will be ten books in this series?  I've also heard rumor of a movie...

So happy to see our student choice reflected in the top ten!  What great books they are all reading!
Thanks for supporting your school library and your child's choice to read!
Happy National School Library Month!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Poetry Slam: Read to the Rhythm!

I love the month of April!  Everyone comes back from Spring Break refreshed and ready for National Poetry Month!  This April we are going to read, write, and share poetry all month in our library!  Our first through third grade students will be given the opportunity to join in for a poetry slam the week of April 13th during their library time.  The idea for the poetry slam came to me from Melvil Dewey, who calls himself the StoryYeller.  Here is the final round of Dewey's Rap Battle of the Books:

I love the idea of sharing poetry and building fluency at the same time!  Reading a poem along with music challenges the child to keep up with the steady beat.  It's a great opportunity to perform and read with expression as well.  And the best part is the kids will be sharing lots of great poetry with their peers!

Our students get to choose whether to participate in the poetry slam.  They also get to choose a poem that is already written or they can write their own.  They will select their favorite music to use as the background to keep the steady beat as they read their poem.  Several students have chosen to present with friends in class.  I've pulled several poetry books that lend themselves to being read along with a steady beat.  The children can choose a poem from one of our books if they choose.  I copy the poem for them and send it home with the letter at the top of this blog post so our parents can help our children practice presenting their poem at home if they'd like.
I can't wait for our kids to share their love of poetry with their classmates
 (and become fluent readers at the same time)!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

And the award goes to...

For the first time last year, we decided our school needed a book award chosen by our very own students.  One of my favorite colleagues, Chandra Verbic, blogged about the development of our award.  This year, we read so many books and it was hard to choose our three favorite.  All of our first, second, and third grade students read several books in the library that have been buzzed about all year.  We all voted and here are the results:

In third place...

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo.  We loved predicting who the troublemaker was going to be before we even opened the book!  We loved the way Castillo plays with shadows to show the emotions of the mom and sister in the story and the raccoon is simply adorable!

Coming in second place...

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.  Honestly, I expected this book to come in first.  The kids LOVE making predictions about this book.  Reading this book outloud with the kids feels like you're in on some type of a secret joke that is happening in the story but you can't quite figure it out.  If you read this book with your kids, be sure to notice the illustrations at the beginning of the book and compare them to the illustrations to the last page in the book.  As you can see, this book won a Caldecott Honor this year!  Yay!  The kids made a great choice with this book.

And finally, the winner of the Best Book of the Year for our school goes to...

Quest by Aaron Becker!

Watch the trailer here:

The second in a trilogy of three titles (the third is coming soon), the wordless picture book taps into the wonderment of an amazing quest to save a king and his kingdom.  Journey, the first book in the series of three titles, is a must read before Quest because the second story starts off where the first ended.  The kids loved making predictions and putting together the pieces of this beautifully illustrated story on every page.  We made text to text connections with this title and Chester by Melanie Watt and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

Our kids have designed medals for our school's award-winning books and here are the medals that we are voting on:

The votes are still coming in.  I can't wait to see which awards the kids choose to put on our favorite books!  This unit has been so much fun and now our three favorite books of the year will have student-designed awards on them for everyone to see when they check out the books and share them with friends and family!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

App Happy...coming tomorrow!

To say that I was app happy when finding a tweet about this upcoming app on Twitter is an understatement.

David Wiesner is one of my favorite author/illustrators.
When I saw this tweet, I immediately had to look into it!

One more day! Find David Wiesner's Spot #app in the @AppStore tomorrow!
Story image
Here is the official trailer for Wiesner's app:
Here is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the app:
Both an educator guide as well as a parent guide are available to use with the app.
School Library Journal contributor, Daryl Grabarek, has also written a review of the upcoming app.  
I like the idea that the students enter several different worlds inside the app as they pinch and zoom to look more closely.  Every time the student zooms in, the story changes.   It would be fun to let the kids explore the app and then decide which part of the story they'd like to tell.  I think I would teach story elements along with the app and have the students map out the story elements for the part of the story they choose to tell before writing their stories.  The educator's guide covers many skills including point of view, comparing and contrasting, story elements, and making inferences. Below is a list of titles that I feel lend themselves to pairing well with this app.  Please leave a comment and suggest any more titles as well as ideas for implementing this app in the classroom or in your library.

Of course, several of Wiesner's books require the reader to look closely and use images to tell the story.

Zoom and Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai also draw the reader into the story with the illustrations-both are wordless picture books.

Looking Down by Steve Jenkins zooms closer and closer in each frame.  Very similar to the concept of this app.

Journey and Quest by Aaron Becker are wordless picture books that require the reader to look and look again to tell the details in the story.  Also, be on the lookout for Return coming soon!

Journey book trailer.

Quest book trailer.

I can't wait to try the app out on my own kids tomorrow and with the kids at school when we return!
Please comment and leave any inspiring ideas that you have for using the app or book titles that pair well.

Unlikely Friendships

We've been enjoying a week of snow days this week!  My great friend, school counselor and Paws-itive School Counselor blogger sent this video to me early in the week and told me the kids would love it!

Immediately, I thought of the possibilities of pairing this video with books about unlikely friendships.  Here are a few that came to mind...

Here is the book trailer for Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland:

A few other titles that would work well with this topic are:

Visit Owen and Mzee's very own website here.
You can also view Owen and Mzee's documentary:

Here are the last few titles that made me think of this topic:

Here is the trailer for Kate and Pippin:  An Unlikely Love Story:

Here is the book trailer for the Two Bobbies:

And the link to the Two Bobbies homepage.

I asked Laura, Paws-itive School Counselor blogger, how she incorporated the video in a lesson.  She shared this TPT unit written by Laura Candler that she found for free which included an activity for the month of February which is International Friendship month.

Included in this unit is an interview which you give to a classmate you'd like to get to know better.  After interviewing classmates, students write poems about what they've learned about each other.  I honestly thought that this activity would work well with teachers in a faculty meeting as well.  We always have an opportunity to know each other better and become closer to our colleagues.  

How would you incorporate this amazing video into your lesson planning?
Please leave a comment and share!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Timeline of a Reader

Do you ever think back to a favorite book you read as a child?  The following teacher collaboration took me back to my favorite memories of reading as a child...

One of our first grade teachers e-mailed and asked for books including timelines for her students and wanted to collaborate on a timeline creation project for her class.  I started looking for ideas on Pinterest and ran across this Inspired Classroom blog post.  Creating a reading timeline seemed to be the most logical decision because we have a library full of books for the kids to use to create their timelines.  Here's how I got started with the collaboration:

1.  I asked a fourth grade classroom to team with the first graders to act as mentors.  The fourth graders would be able to efficiently help the first graders find the books they needed in the library as well as provide direction in the creation of the students' timelines.

2.  I polled a few teachers/staff around the building about the books they grew up reading.

3.  I used the conversations from Step #2 to create some mystery reading timelines as visual examples for the students (see mine above).  We shared the mystery timelines by looking at each book title and guessing which staff member in the building the timeline belonged to.  It was a fun way to get the kids excited about this project and creating their own timelines.

This mystery timeline belonged to our assistant principal.  We organized the books she chose in chronological order by the ages in which she read the books.
In addition to the visual timeline, our first grade teacher also created her own reading timeline on chart paper which was the format she wanted her students to create.

Our student teams began by brainstorming a list of books they've read since they were young.
They then pulled the books off of the bookshelves (this was a good practice using the library catalog and finding specific call numbers).  We asked that they find a minimum of five titles.

After the partners brainstormed and pulled their titles, they were ready to start designing their reading timelines.  We asked each child to write the age range in which they read each title, the title and author of the book, and a short description about the book.  Ex:  "I loved to read this book over and over with my mom when I was young," or, "This is the first book I could read all by myself."

Here is a closeup picture of a first grade timeline.

Another example of a timeline in progress.

When the teams were finished with their timelines, we photographed the first and fourth graders together posing with their final product.

I think this project could work successfully with students in 1st through adulthood.  Students with more experience as readers will find it easier to choose from a larger selection of books they've read.  It is fun to take a walk down memory lane and see how we've each grown as readers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What Are Your Kids Reading? Here's What Ours Are...

I've been inspired by a media specialist friend, Amanda, to run reports about the most popular books that have circulated through our library this year.  She recently read the amazing Scope Notes blog written by Travis Jonker who posted the most popular reads in his library. I've run circulation reports from the beginning of the year through the end of January and the following books are the books that have been read the most by our students! There are some books that are checked out immediately as soon as they come back in...every day!  It's fun to take a look at the stats and see what our children CHOOSE to read and enjoy!  


 Our kids LOVE all of the Who Would Win books written by Jerry Pallotta.  Luckily, he keeps cranking them out!  Keep up the good work, Jerry!  Our kids can't get enough of this great nonfiction!


I definitely choose favorites and Bad Kitty and Nick Bruel are two of my favorites!  Our kids love to read everything Bad Kitty.  Our newest title, Puppy's Big Day, has also been a great hit!


Another Who Would Win?  Yep.  The kids don't even realize they are learning all about nonfiction features as they read these high-interest titles, but they are! Ha!


Scaredy Squirrel is also another title that came up several times in our circulation reports.  Melanie Watt has perfectly crafted each Scaredy Squirrel book to shine a light on phobias in a fun way! The kids love to learn that Melanie has many of the same phobias that Scaredy has.


He's back!  Chester, also written by Melanie Watt, is a huge hit in our library!  Make sure to read all of the Chester books including Chester and Chester's Masterpiece.


Two words:  Wimpy Kid.  This series has kept kids entertained and enjoying reading for years!  Way to go, Jeff Kinney!


Star Wars, graphic novel and funny storyline=success!  Our kids were hooked after the first Jedi Academy was published and can't get enough of it!  We didn't even have to advertise soon as the kids found it on the shelves, it was gone!

We're ready for the top three of this 2014-2015 school year...
Are you ready?


One of my personal favorites this year.  If you check out Wonder, you've got to read Julian's Story and Pluto:  A Wonder Story which is available for the Kindle this February 10th.  You can also check out 365 Days of Wonder:  Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts.  I love the way R.J. Palacio continues sharing more sides of Auggie's story with each title.


The kids cannot get enough of Jedi Academy!  I love that these graphic novels have a very well-written story line that the kids can relate to.


Well, let's just say I had to put a picture of the whole set because our Minecraft books are all circulated more than any title in our library!  I love that boys and girls alike can't get enough of the Minecraft guides and they are learning new skills they can apply to the game as they read!  More Minecraft, please!