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.
Suddenly this week, it actually felt like springtime! Outside recess duty actually became a pleasant time, and the classroom windows were thrown open to blow out the stink and let in the fresh air. And now, we STILL have to wait a few more weeks for Spring Break. In our school district, our break doesn't begin until Good Friday! So, we'll hang in there, begin our state testing, and keep reading!
Here's what I've been reading this past week:
Middle Grade Fiction
I found a copy of this book in my classroom library, and since I wasn't familiar with it, decided to bring it home and read it. This truly is a special story that has a lot to say about families and love. John and Marta wake up one day to find a little boy asleep on their front porch. They don't know him or who his parents are. When he awakens, he is unable to speak, but they quickly learn how to interact with him. As time goes on, the three of them develop a special relationship. While they grow to love him, they realize that he belongs to someone else. With trepidation, they know they need to solve the mystery of this child's "true" family. This book might appeal to students who enjoy reading stories about families. Many of the students today come from home situations that aren't stable and sometimes they find themselves in temporary families or foster families. These students might recognize their stories being honored in this book and I'm glad I found it so I can share it with them.
This is a cute picture book that tells the story of Kelp, who was born in the ocean and raised by narwhals. He is different from everyone else, but no one seems to mind. He is loved just the way he is. One day he gets lost, and as he comes close to land, he comes in contact with other creatures who are more like him. As he spends time with these other creatures, Kelp realizes that he has some thinking to do about who he really is and where he belongs. This book has a great message to share with young readers about acceptance of others' differences and belonging.
This cute picture book celebrates using one's imagination to take one anywhere. Romy is bored hanging around the house with her mother. She insists that everything is way better in Princessland. As the family's cat wakes from a nap, she tells Romy she'll take her to Princessland. Romy follows the cat around describing all the best parts of Princessland. The better part of the afternoon is spent this way, and when Romy finally goes home for dinner, she feels better, as she got to experience all the joys of her fantasy land. The lovely illustrations draw the reader in, making this a nice book to share with young readers.
With rhyming text and beautifully painted illustrations, this lovely picture book celebrates the minutiae of a child's day. The poems in this book describe the activities of such things in the daily round such as birds, bees, acorns, rain, and spiders. This would be a great mentor text to help young writers dig deeper when writing descriptively.
This clever picture book celebrates freedom and not being afraid to speak (or sing) out in the face of tyranny and bullying. When a village elects a mayor on the promise of peace and quiet for all citizens, they get more than they bargained for. Soon singing is outlawed and the town is as quiet as a tomb. But then a rooster and his family arrives and he can't help singing in the morning. As the mayor imposes tough penalties on the rooster, the rooster refuses to stop. The book has a powerful message about the importance of being true to yourself and the irrepressible strength of people who seek freedom and justice.
Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Tuan Ho, Brian Deines (Illustrations)
This beautiful nonfiction picture book tells a powerful story of survival and the harrowing experience of a group of Vietnamese refugees. In 1981, Tuan's family was desperate to escape the horrible conditions imposed on them by the government of their country. Running through gunfire to escape in a leaky fishing boat not meant for long sea journeys, they wound up adrift with little drinking water and the danger of not surviving. Tuan Ho's account of his family's perilous trip, along with beautiful oil paintings to illustrate this narrative, make this a terrific resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese refugees (sometimes referred to as "boat people"). It could also be used as a way to draw parallels to the experiences of refugee families of today.