Monday, August 30, 2021

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs, Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Cat Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

Being a house cat is not easy! The third book is the Animal Problems series is narrated by a cat who spends the day complaining. The cat's thoughts and behavior are amusing and those with feline pets will probably relate.

Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri and illustrated by Courtney Dawson

Isabel, who speaks Spanish and prefers it over the English language, is scared to go to school on the first day. She has difficulty understanding and fitting in, but her passion for coloring helps her make a friend. A very sweet story with lovely, colorful illustrations and text in both English and Spanish.

My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên

A boy living in the Mekong River Delta paddles a wooden boat to school for the first time by himself. The boy's determination and bravery as he makes his way through rough waters and the jungle to arrive at his destination is inspiring. After reading this book I wanted to know more about the Mekong River and I think kids will, too.

GoldiBooks and the Wee Bear by Troy Wilson and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

This book-themed retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears melted my literacy-loving heart. It's amusing and charming and has a great message about the power of books to bring people (and bears) together.

Scribbly: A Real Imaginary Friend Tale by Ged Adamson

Having moved to a new town with her mom, Maude is in need of a friend, so she draws one and names him Scribbly. Although imaginary, Scribbly helps Maude make friends. Her mom gives her wise advice about not needing Scribbly for others to like her and gives her a sweet surprise. This is a really cute book about the challenges of making friends and the importance of being oneself.

Thao by Thao Lam

This is a cleverly illustrated book that gives insight into the experience of having a name that others mispronounce and misspell. Thao's story is empowering and the message about the importance of using one's correct name is meaningful.

Tiny Tales: Shell Quest (I Can Read Comics) by Steph Waldo

A lonely slug, not realizing he is a slug, tries to fit in with the snails. The slug realizes he can be himself after discovering another creature without a shell. This is a fun early reader graphic novel.

Friday, August 27, 2021

An Update on My 2021 Must Read List

At the start of the year, I made a list of books I planned to read in 2021 along with the #MustReadin2021 community. This is an update on the progress I've made with my list. Updates from other bloggers can be found at Library Matters or by following the hashtag on Twitter.

Picture Books I Have Read


All of these picture books were fantastic!

Picture Books I Have Not Yet Read

Because this book is not available at my library or local bookstore (before purchasing children's books I always preview first) I have not read it yet.

Middle Grade Books I Have Read


I enjoyed each of these middle grade reads. 

Adult Books I Have Read


I highly recommend all of these.

Adult Books I Have Not Read

I started to read Shiver, but it didn't capture me so I abandoned it. A few people have shared their thoughts with me about Of Women and Salt and I'm not sure if I'll end up picking it up.

Overall, I've made great progress with my list. I hope you've read some great books this year!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs, Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Stroller Coaster by Matt Ringler and illustrated by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay

Sam is feeling grumpy, but dad knows what to do to put a smile back on her face and tire her (them both) out. Sam's ride through the neighborhood in her stroller is fun and imaginative. The illustrations and the creative use of text make this a really interesting book to read. 

The More the Merrier by David Martin and Raissa Figueroa

A bear starts off a dance party in the woods and one by one other animals join in. They all have their own unique dance moves, but they all have fun. I can see students moving along to this book as they read/listen.

30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag by Amanda Davis and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

This is a beautiful story about the flag that was hung at Ground Zero. It was taken down when it became torn and then traveled throughout the fifty states as people had a hand in repairing it. In addition to the lyrical text, there is additional information about the flag at the the end of the book.

Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi

A pack of rescue dogs all live with Miss Lottie, an older woman who has adopted them. When a new dog joins the family, the dogs' comfortable and happy life starts to change and Gus, the pack leader, must protect them all. Each of the dogs, as well as the other characters, have a lot of personality and the plot is engaging. Themes related to family, belonging, loyalty, and bullying are addressed as well. I think kids will adore this book. 

Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee

Wren is adjusting to changes in her family life - not only have her parents divorced, but her mother has been exhibiting behavior that seems peculiar and uncharacteristic. She is also navigating new friendships as she has moved and started at a new school. Throughout the challenges in her life, Wren discovers her talent for special effect makeup and finds comfort in pursuing this hobby. As the author has done in previous books, hard topics are addressed in an age-appropriate way. The book is realistic and heartfelt. Thanks to Media Masters Publicity for a review copy. The book publishes in September. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Professional Read: How to Prevent Reading Difficulties

How to Prevent Reading Difficulties: Proactive Practices for Teaching Young Children to Read 
by Mark Weakland
(Corwin Press, 2021)

Reading is a fundamental and essential skill. Students' success in school and life is linked to their ability to read.

Reading is also a complex skill. Unlike language, our brains are not wired for this task. While learning to read comes easy for some students, it is much harder for others.

Effective instruction in reading is necessary for all students, but especially those who face challenges with learning to read.

In How to Prevent Reading Difficulties: Proactive Practices for Teaching Young Children to Read, Mark Weakland shares insight into instructional practices, based on how the brain learns to read, that support students as they build their skills to become proficient readers. As Weakland explains, there is research pointing to effective ways to teach children to read, write, and spell and reading difficulties can be reduced when instruction in the early grades is aligned with this research.

Chapter One of the book, titled "The Reading Brain," provides an understanding of the complex process the brain undergoes in order to read. Weakland describes the role of semantics, orthography, and phonology in reading, making clear that each is important to becoming a proficient reader. 

Chapter Two focuses on reading difficulties and the importance of identifying the cause of students' reading deficits. The Simple View of Reading is presented as a lens to observe and assess students so that instruction can be designed to ensure students have both the language comprehension and word recognition skills that are necessary for reading.

The majority of the book, chapters three through seven, include techniques, activities, and routines for building the foundational skills associated with reading. These are based on what researchers know about how the brain reads and learns best. Chapter Three describes the following general evidence-based teaching practices that enhance student learning:
  • Repetition and Distributed Practice
  • Direct and Explicit Teaching
  • Instant Error Correction
  • Wait Time
There are chapters devoted to instructional practices for building students' language comprehension, phonological, and orthographic skills. Chapter Seven focuses on practices that involve students in extended and varied reading practice including guided, repeated, and independent reading. 

Throughout the book, Weakland gives examples of the instructional practices he describes. There are also quite a few QR codes included that link to video demonstrations. The clear explanations will help teachers easily implement the ideas from the book. The "For Future Study" sidebars throughout the book consist of resource lists that will be useful to teachers who want to seek out additional information.

How to Prevent Reading Difficulties will be a great resource for any teacher providing reading instruction in the primary grades. Teachers will gain knowledge about the process of reading and the instructional techniques that are informed by research. The book serves as a bridge between the information that exists about how students learn to read and what teachers can do to be effective in helping students become skilled readers.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs, Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose by Lauren Tarshis and illustrated by Lisa Bronson Mezoff

The title of this book will definitely grab the attention of students! Based on the title, I was expecting humor, but was surprised that it was really sweet, too. This is a story about the adventures of a child and dog and the love they have for each other. Readers are going to want a dog best friend after reading this one. Thanks to Scholastic for providing my book review group with a review copy.

You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Christine Davenier

This is a fun and clever book that celebrates reading and writing. Written in rhyming text that connects in the center of the book, one side is about being a reader and the other being a writer. Both stories will help to inspire and empower readers and writers. The illustrations of kids engaged in reading and writing are lovely and filled with joy. The author shared with me that there are twenty-six characters that each appear in both stories and the center spread. I look forward to sharing this with students at the beginning of the school year.

Fish and Sun (I Can Read Comics) by Sergio Ruzzier

Fish is bored so he swims to the surface where he meets sun. They have fun together until sun sets and disappears. Fish doesn't understand what has happened, but returns the next day and gets a pleasant surprise. This is a sweet early reader graphic novel about two unlikely friends.

She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner by Rita Williams-Garcia & Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger & Gillian Flint

She Persisted: Sonia Sotomayor by Meg Medina & Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger & Gillian Flint

Inspired by the She Persisted picture books, there is now a chapter book biography series. Both these books are informative and inspiring. This is a series I am excited to put on my shelves because the message about working towards one's dreams and not giving up is an important one.

Summer Reading Recommendation 

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

This is a quick, entertaining read that was perfect for my beach reading. A mystery/suspense, I couldn't put it down until I knew who did it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Picture Books About the Experiences of Immigrants and Refugees

For the sixth year, I am participating in the annual Picture Book 10 for 10 event hosted by Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Every August, those who participate share a list of ten favorite picture books. It's always a joy to see all the picture book love!

These are my lists from previous years:

This year my list includes picture books that tell stories of immigrants and refugees and give insight into their experiences. This summer, I read Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Supporting Our Immigrant and Refugee Children Through the Power of Reading by Don Vu, a book about cultivating a literacy culture that will allow immigrant and refugee children to thrive. I saw him present a webinar on this topic, as well. He discussed the importance of sharing books about the immigrant and refugee experience. By doing so, we offer students with similar experiences the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book. We also help to foster compassion and empathy by giving students who have not had these experiences insight into the challenges and issues related to being an immigrant or refugee.

My 10 For 10 List...

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

This book has now made my list two years in a row. It's a beautiful book about embracing differences and accepting others' cultures and languages.

Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim

Being new to America, Danbi is unfamiliar with the games and activities of school. Using her imagination, she brings a little magic to everyone's day and begins to feel like she fits in. This is a sweet story about new beginnings and the joys of connecting with others.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Autobiographical, this book tells of a mother's journey with her son as they leave Mexico and travel to the United States. It's a story of hope and resilience that also shows the power of books. 

I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne and illustrated by Julia Kuo 

This is a poignant story about a girl who moves to the United States from Taiwan and maintains a connection with her popo in spite of the physical separation.

I is For Immigrants by Selina Alko

An alphabet book that celebrates our diverse American culture.

Lilah Tov Goodnight by Ben Gundersheimer and illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan 

With few words, this book tells a meaningful story about the resilience of a refugee family and celebrates nature.

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus 

Lubna, a refugee girl, comforts another and makes a friend in this heart-breaking, but hopeful story.

Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh

This is a beautiful and lyrical book about a sister and brother who flee their home and go in search of another. 

Watercress by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin

The author based this story on her experiences growing up as a child of immigrants. It's a beautiful and poignant story.

Wishes by Muon Thi Van and illustrated by Victo Ngai 

This story of a family's journey as they leave their home in search of another, told through a series of wishes, is poetic and incredibly moving and powerful.