Monday, December 16, 2019

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.

The Christmas season is speeding along! I've been super busy, as I'm sure everyone else is, shopping, wrapping, and getting organized to travel to visit my family. It's a wonderful time of year with a lot to celebrate, but I wish I had a little more time to read!!!! Here's what I've managed to read this past week:

Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this middle grade novel and it tells an engaging story about a family who has immigrated to a country that is full of promise due to a powerful resource that exists there. Mia and her parents came when Mia was five. Her mother is a research scientist involved in the work of finding ways to create more Amber. Amber is a substance that gives people strength, skills, talent, and health. It's only available to citizens of the country, and even then it's rationed. The amber is running out, and, as in all scarcity circumstances, people have strong disagreements about who should be able to get this precious substance. This story might have a lot of interest against the backdrop of the current national debate over immigration policy.

Picture Books

This sweet picture book takes young readers on a fun ice-skating outing. With bouncy, rhyming text and awesome digital illustrations created with watercolor and colored pencil, young readers get the frustration of falling, the fun of enjoying hot cocoa in the snack bar, the excitement of ice hockey, and the coziness of going home to a hot bath and a warm bed. There is a small print reminder on the front title page - "If you are skating on ice that isn't part of a rink, it is important to keep the following safety considerations in mind: An adult should measure the ice to make sure it at least six inches thick before anyone skates on it. Do not skate on unfamiliar or untested ice or in unlit places. Always skate with at least one friend, never alone." It might be a good idea to point that out to young readers as a precaution.

This charming picture book has a great message about friendship and the need to work together and compromise in order to be in relationship with those around us. Croc and Turtle are great friends and love spending time together. On a cold, snowy day Croc has a list of fun outdoor activities he wants to enjoy and Turtle has a list of warm, cozy indoor activities. I like that both friends are willing to give both lists a try, but it becomes clear that Croc prefers outdoor adventure and Turtle wants to stay safe and warm inside. I also like that instead of giving up, the two put their heads together to come up with a way that they can play together in a way that they can both enjoy.

Living in community means we need to appreciate the ways everyone is special and how that diversity makes our world more fun and interesting. Drawing on her own experiences growing up with diabetes, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has written this gorgeously illustrated picture book describing a group of friends planting a garden. Just like all of the plants in the garden are different, all of the children are also unique. This would be a good book to share with young readers as a way to start a conversation about how those that are differently abled can be brought into community with others and how everyone benefits from these relationships.

Catching fireflies (or lightning bugs where I was raised) is a favorite activity of lots of children in the summertime. This lovely picture book uses awesome, close-up photography and simple, poetic text to tell the story of a female firefly trying to attract the attention of a male firefly by blinking her light on and off. The reader can almost feel the soft heat of a summer evening and see the blinking of hundred of fireflies in the twilight. It reminds me of the verse from the Bible, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) This would definitely be a good book to share with young readers at bedtime, especially if fireflies can be seen from a window.

This awesome picture book should be on every elementary classroom bookshelf because it speaks to all children and all children will be able to recognize themselves in it. This book was a collaboration between the author and teachers and students in Durham, North Carolina. Combining stunning black and white photography with student poetry describing the parts of their bodies they like best or explains the most about them, this could start some great conversations about body image, culture, and appreciation of everyone's unique body. I love that the student poetry is printed in each child's handwriting. This could definitely inspire young writers to write about what's special about themselves.