Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

It's been a heck of a week, that's for sure!  As the stress of the election outcome plays out and everyone deals with the emotional turmoil that has followed, we've also had two nights of Parent Teacher Conferences along with the business of teaching and learning. As I've said before, thank goodness for the awesome children's books that help calm us and the children around us. When it's difficult to find the words to reassure everyone that we will be safe and all right in our homes, classrooms, and schools, great kidlit is always there to help us. By the end of the week, I was thankful to take a moment to rest up, light the first fire of the season in my fireplace, and cook good comfort food to help us recharge so we can move forward. I hope everyone finds a moment to hug those that are close to them and find the peace and happiness that will give them the strength to spread that love outward to those that need it.  Here's what I've been reading this week:

This is a beautiful picture book that tells a story of a circle of life. A tiny plant begins to grow as neighboring insects live their lives nearby. They admire the growing shoot, build a fort in it, and experience happiness and sadness through the course of the season. Written in an invented language, readers really need to focus on context to determine what's happening. This would be great to share with students to talk about making inferences, determining theme, and developing vocabulary skills. 

This is a nice picture book to share with kids, as it has a great theme of acceptance of differences. Big Bob moves in next door to Little Bob, and it's clear from the beginning that these two children are very different from each other. They look different and they enjoy different activities and they have very different personalities. But when another new neighbor moves in, they realize that their differences are all right. 

This is a sweet picture book that tells the story of a little robot that was tossed out with the trash. When he becomes friends with a sparrow, he learns so much about the world. Eventually the season changes and it's time for the sparrow to fly south. The illustrations are beautiful. This would be a great picture book companion to The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. 

This nonfiction picture book written in verse is an awesome resource for fans of jazz or anyone who would just like to learn more about the great musicians of this time. This book tells the story Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph for Esquire magazine. A special issue was being planned focusing on American jazz. Kane decided to gather as many jazz musicians as he could to pose for this picture in front of a Harlem brownstone building. The rhythm of the poetry along with the beautiful illustrations make this book an excellent resource. You can almost hear the music as you're reading. I definitely want to get my own copy of this book!

I shared this book with my students as part of a mini lesson on determining the sequence of events in a nonfiction selection. The story is a fascinating account of Christopher Ludwick, a German baker who fed the American patriots and convinced the Hessians to switch sides during the Revolutionary War. Engaging text and humorous illustrations made this a good read aloud book.  

I am old enough to remember the blizzard of 1978. I was 8 years old and was thrilled to have the time off from school to play in the snow. I love the way the author of this book captures the excitement of the first snowflakes of the storm, the thrill of school closing early as the snow starts to pile up, and the coziness of drinking hot cocoa by the wood stove. There is excellent storytelling about his trip to the neighborhood grocery store with tennis rackets tied to his feet to get food and supplies for his neighbors and family. This would be a great book to have on the bookshelf when the snow starts to fly!  

This is a cute picture book that tells the story of a rabbit who loves the snow. Using a traditional Iroquois drum song, he is able to make it snow whenever he wants. He decides he wants snow in the summertime, so he can hop to the treetops easily. Young readers will enjoy reading what happens when an impatient rabbit gets too much of a good thing.

This is a good picture book to share with kids as it teaches an important lesson about bragging too much, and the effect it has on others. Tyler's neighbor, Jake, is constantly boasting about how much better he is at just about everything. Whenever Tyler shows Jake a basketball skill he has learned, or something new he has bought, Jake always has to throw shade by saying how much better he is. Eventually Tyler becomes resentful of Jake, and begins to avoid him. This book has a foreword with tips for parents and educators about helping children change their boastful ways from Michele Borja, EdD.  

This is a beautiful picture book that takes a look at two children, one black and one white, separated by a fence that runs through their town. They've been told by grownups to stay on their own sides, but neither of the children understand why they shouldn't play together. Eventually they sit together on top of the fence, and learn to see farther than anyone before them. This would be great to share with kids to discuss how racism has kept people apart, and ways we all can sit on top of the fence with each other.



  1. The Other Side is something that I'd try... maybe I can get it for my younger cousins!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Need to find and read Du Iz Tak? It's been well reviewed a lot of places. Thanks for the new ones, will put them on my list. I enjoyed Gingerbread for Liberty, a piece of history I'd never heard. The Other Side is terrific, too. Thanks, Jana, love seeing that fire!

  3. What a beautiful selection of books this week! Picture books can be such a balm for strained nerves and frazzled emotions.

  4. You've got some new ones on here for me this week! It was quite a week and I think these next 4 years are going to be interesting. I hope we can all just hold on.... a little nervous.

  5. Ever since the election I've been thinking about Neil Postman's book, Teaching as a Subversive activity. Now, more than ever I think educators need to be subversive and spread the message of love and acceptance. Doing it through literature is the best way I think. I loved The Other Side and while the rest of this list looks great, I'm mostly looking forward to reading Better Than You.

  6. I love both Jazz Day and Gingerbread for Liberty. They're such an interesting pairing: nonfiction constructed in radically different ways to radically different things.