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Take a peek at what I’m reading in Children’s Lit. Class!

DJ's Top 10 Picture Books of the Semester.

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Even though I mostly read chapter books this semester, I still managed to get in a few picture books and here are my favorites….

In no particular order:

Flotsam by written and illustrated by David Wiesner. I love the illustrations in this wordless book. A very creative author and illustrator in one man!

Tuesday by David Wiesner. He’s at it again! This book has very little words. If you like frogs that can fly and do other supernatural things, then this book is for you!

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. I love the illustrations in this book! I know I sound repetitive, but they are so charming and endearing. This book basically tells the story of “The Princess and the Pea”, but Latino style.

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Who says a guy can’t be a tough football player AND a great artist at the same time? Inspire students to use all their gifts.

Grandfather’s Journey written and illustrated by Allen Say. Just another author who also happens to be a great illustrator too! Not everyone who lives in our country was born here and what a good way to introduce students to immigration.

Strega Nona written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. Strega Nona means grandma witch, but I won’t tell you anything else. If you want students to see another example of why it’s always important to follow directions, I’d suggest you acquire this resource.

Blackout by written and illustrated by John Rocco. We live in such a digital age that often times, children do not know what to do when electricity or the internet is not available. Why not prepare them for it with this great little book?

Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Mirandy just needs a partner for the dance, so she tries to catch the wind. By the way, the wind, just happens to look a lot like the illustrator himself!

Hey Al written by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Egielski. Al works hard at his job as a janitor and wishes he didn’t have to. Al got what he wished for, but all doesn’t seem to be paradise. Sometimes, the best things in life are already what we have!

Jumanji written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Two kids find this game, but the cost of losing may be higher than they want to pay!

Well, fellow classmates, I think this may be my last blog for Children’s Lit. Thanks for reading my ramblings and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Top 10 Books to Use in the Classroom

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As far as I’m concerned, I read A LOT of books that would create an epic classroom!

You know come to think of it, I read WAY more books that I LIKED than ones I didn’t like and that’s kinda cool!

Out of all the books I read this semester, I would pick the following books to have in my classroom. Without further ado and in no particular order……

This Robert F. Sibert Medal winner is a good one for the classroom. Great illustrations and could accompany lessons involving metamorphosis, insects, and flowers. I would suggest the book for any grade, if just using it for the illustrations, otherwise maybe 4th grade and up.

The reason I chose this book for the classroom is because the author has an easy time describing the life of an older elementary student.

This book would be a good supplement to a lesson on dictionaries or linguistics.

It’s a given that I think biographies are a must for the classroom. Why not show students that usually people who invent something or do something incredible are just normal, average people who were persistent.

This would be a good book to accompany a lesson on blindness, kindness, and even to teach braille. I would recommend this book for a read aloud as 1st grade and up.

This book would appeal to all students, but especially the ones who are mechanically inclined. There are lots of great diagrams and it is built on a true story.

I would recommend this book as a read aloud or for upper elementary students

The way the world views animals has really changed in my lifetime, thankfully.

This would give students a glimpse into what life has looked like for animals used in the entertainment industry like, in circuses.

I would recommend this book for a middle to upper elementary students. It would also be a good class reader.

Here I go again, another biography!

You probably know about the famous Harriet Tubman, but your students may not!

This would be an awesome book to introduce slavery to younger elementary students and to inspire all ages with the bravery of this woman.

This Pura Belpre Award winner is a marvelous book and I would highly recommend it for the room.

This would be a fabulous complement to a study of the Latin culture or Mexico. I would recommend it for 3rd graders and up.

I think all students would like this book, but especially boys.

It might just be that a teacher could hook a student into reading with this Newberry winner.

This book could enhance a study related to the outdoors, Canada, or survival skills. I suggest this book for fifth graders and above.

This would be a fun book to have in your library! Sometimes it is so stupid a person just has to laugh!

This little guy could support a lesson in comparing/contrasting popular children’s stories like, Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks. I suggest this book for middle elementary grades or as a read aloud in all grades.

Maybe I too was hungry for more books about other cultures because once again I picked another book that talks aboutt immigration.

This book would be a nice resource to have because it recounts one young boy’s trip moving from Japan to America.

Maybe a teacher could use it to encourage a student whose first home is not the United States? I would recommend this for middle elementary students

Well, it’s been fun dreaming about having as much money as I want, to buy all the resources I want, for my future room!

What book would you buy if money wasn’t an issue?

Top 10 Reads of the Semester

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Who would have thought this blog would be so hard to write? How in the world am I only supposed to pick 10 books?

Let me just say, there are some great authors and illustrators out there! Nonetheless, I’ve got to pick 10 of my favorite, so here they are…..

I really thought “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” would be my top favorite read for the semester, but then I just finished “Esperanza Rising” yesterday and now I’m at a loss to say which is my favorite, so it’s a tie!

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan :I’m surprised this book did not win a Newberry, but it did win a Pura Belpré Medal.

Esperanza is a very privileged little girl who lives in Mexico, that is until a series of very unfortunate events happen and she must relocate to California. Once in California, her and her family work in the fields, as poor peasants. This story has a bit of everything: drama, love, and adventure.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend: This book sold me on fantasy!

Morrigan Crow is a 11 year old girl who is supposedly cursed. Everyone in town blames her for any bad thing that happens. Just as she is about to die, she is rescued by Jupiter North from Nevermoor. Will she be able to stay or is she doomed to die?

Here are the other 8 books on my top 10 list in no particular order….

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: The book is based on a true story about a young boys by the name of Hugo. He has to take care of the train station’s clocks by himself and as he does, he comes across an automaton. Will it have the answers to many of life’s mysteries?

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson: Gilly is a handful and that is evident by how many foster homes she has been in. Maybe there’s a reason why she acts the way she does? Does she ever find a forever home?

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: This little books has about 3 stories in 1. The main character Miranda keeps receiving mysterious notes and she has no idea who is writing them. Does the crazy, homeless man and time travel have something to do with it?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: If you enjoyed the movie, you will probably enjoy the book just as much. This novel is a great example of what a difference a little fresh air and a new mindset can make.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis: Elijah is the first black child born free, in Buxton, Canada. Even though the boy is “fragile” he sure can do some brave things! Take a glimpse into the difference between slavery and freedom.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli: Jeffrey or Maniac, as his friends like to call him is homeless. His town is divided into two different zones. The white’s area and the black’s area and the two shall never cross. Well that is until Maniac goes where he darn well pleases!

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: I guess I must like the author, Katherine Paterson, because this is the second book of hers that I have picked! Jess and Leslie have a special place that is just their’s. Even though the two kids are raised differently, they build a friendship and take all kinds of adventures when they are in this unknown place.

Flotsam by David Wiesner: This author also illustrated his own book! This worldless book has fascinating pictures and it tells a great story at the same time. Can you figure out why there are so many pages with a mom and child?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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I had a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you did too. I was so busy having a good time eating turkey and pie, that I only got one book finished. Well, I did listen to part of another book, but it didn’t keep my attention, so I basically slept through it. Don’t worry, my husband was driving. Jeesh! I know better than to sleep behind the wheel! 😉

This is the book that I read this week…..


by Gary Paulsen

This is an older book, but still a good one! So good in fact, that it is a 1988 Newberry Award Winner. This isn’t Gary Paulsen’s only Newberry book. He also won the same award with his 1985 book “Dogsong” and a 1990 novel called “The Winter Room.”

Another interesting fact about the author is that he is married to an artist who has illustrated many of his book covers (Famousauthors.org)

The book’s main character, Brian is an angry, depressed preteen. He has such negative emotions because his parents are going through a divorce and his mom has a new boyfriend. Truthfully, that is a lot for a kid to handle, let alone the wild emotions of being a middle schooler.

Brian boards a small plane to go visit his father in Canada. It’s such a small plane that it is just Brian and the pilot. The pilot suffers a heart attack and the plane goes down in the middle of the lake.

As you can imagine, it’s very scary for Brian as he is all alone in the Canadian wilderness, but somehow he musters up the strength to do what he needs to in order to live.

I would recommend this book for the upper elementary to middle school classroom. It’s exciting to read how Brian solves his problems of warmth, food, and safety and therefore, I think it would keep the students’ attention.

It’s not a real long book at 194 pages and the chapters go fairly quick, so that’s always a plus when you’re looking at read classroom read alouds.

Well, as I close this, I realize this is our last normal week of school before the semester ends. I must admit that the weeks did fly by. Was it because I was so busy reading good books? Maybe so!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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I’m thankful for books! How about you?

Books allow us to go somewhere when we can’t go physically, financially, or even emotionally. Books allow us to learn all kinds of new things. Books help prevent boredom on a super hot summer day or even during an icy, cold blizzard. Books create memories with the ones we love. Books are irreplaceable!

Maniac Magee

by Jerry Spinelli

I enjoyed this book. I wish I would have read it during our diversity week, but truth be told, I didn’t even know the book would talk about racism. It was on my goal list of books and I’ve heard the title before, so I went for it.

Jeffrey, also known as Maniac, as his friends like to call him was an orphan. Both of his parents were killed, so he went to live with his aunt and uncle. That is until, he couldn’t stand it anymore. They were cruel to him, so he ran away.

The town where Maniac “lives” has an east side and a west side. You see, if you are white you live on the west side and if you are black you live on the east side and that’s the rule, period! That was the rule until Maniac shows up!

Maniac lives with several different families and it doesn’t matter which side of the town they live on. He goes wherever he darn well pleases and in the long run, that’s a good thing.

Maniac Magee teaches us all kinds of lessons, some of them being: race doesn’t matter, school is important, and books are great!


by Andrew Clements

When this little book was published in 1996, it was Andrew Clements first one. He has since gone on to “No Talking, The Report Card, Lunch Money, and Extra Credit” to name a few of the 7 books he has written so far.

It’s easy to see why so many students like “Frindle.” The author does a great job of a “being” a fifth grader. He writes about things fifth graders would care about.

The main character, Nick is somewhat of a trouble maker and is always trying to pull one over on the teacher, like asking questions so that the teacher gets carried away and loses track of time and then the class doesn’t have to do the work. What Nick started out as something to “one up” the teacher, turns out to be a heartwarming ending to the story.

What’s frindle? You’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out!

At first, I thought I didn’t know if this would be a good read aloud in the classroom because it would give students some not so good ideas. Then as I thought about it, students don’t need a book to give them any ideas! They come up with these things on their own!

This book would be a great supplement to a small linguistics lesson in the classroom. I can’t say that I’ve read many children’s books that touch on the origins of words AND I believe students will like it!

Henry and the Elephant

Thomas & Friends

Step Into Reading #2

I know this book seems out of character for me, but I was helping in the SPED room at the elementary and read this with a student. He basically had it memorized, but it was my first time learning about the elephant hiding in the train tunnel!

Until next week, I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving and remember there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for!

Mock Caldecotts

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Ok! I’ll admit it, just don’t say you heard it from me!

The longer I’m in my Children’s’ Literature class the more I realize that regularly reading blogs about children’s’ books gives a person some great resources and some good ideas.

First of all, I never knew about Caldecotts, let alone Mock Caldecotts, before this class, but what an awesome idea! I see several reasons why implementing something like this in my future classroom would be a good idea. I mean who doesn’t like to be involved in a competition? This would create excitement and enthusiasm for school, for reading, for listening and those are all pluses in my book!

Another benefit of a mock trial like this, is it would be another way of encouraging students to read. The child might read for the simple fact that everyone else is reading, so they will too. The students may not necessarily do the assigned reading for me, but they might do it because they want to rate the book or because they want to be sure to get their vote in

. Lastly, the books that are chosen could be a spring board for other content areas. This could be included in writing assignments, character development, spelling lists, art projects, or maybe even science experiments.

Let’s see, some negatives about running a Mock Caldecott?

Honestly, I don’t foresee many, but if I was to try and dig up some ideas they might include not every student may be able to read the selected books on their own. This may require extra participation from the staff. On the other hand, a Mock Caldecott could inspire a student to try hard and learn to read the book on their own.

Another negative about the process could include more work for the teacher to set it up, run it, and finalize it. Many teachers feel there are not enough hours in the day and to add one more thing to do would be too much. Yet, if a teacher creates the program one year, then it would be so much easier to run the next year. The biggest time commitment after the first year would be just picking out the new books. Speaking of new books, after watching some of the trailers, I would like to read the following books.

“Life begins when you get back up again.”

That’s a true statement and one that a youngster and an adult needs to remember! Sometimes, that’s easier said than done and this book may help!

I’m sensing a theme with the books I’m picking out…..mistakes, falls, getting back up again. Maybe I too need to be reminded why a person needs to keep trying?

I picked this book for no other reason than because the cover intrigued me!

What do you think? Do you have a book you’d like to read because the cover looked interesting?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Another week and 2 more books down!

Do you know what I think would be fun? If each of us took a selfie with all of the books we’ve read this semester. I think it would be a great visual for us to see how far we’ve come. I also think it would be a great example for our students on how a few minutes here and there really adds up to a lot of reading.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

I really, really, really liked this book and I think your students (or as in my case, my future students) would too!

Hugo Cabaret was a young boy who lived and worked at a train station in Paris, during the 1930’s. He single-handedly took care of the numerous clocks in the station and did it anonymously. Another secret Hugo kept was an automaton, a machine made to look like a man. He just knew that the when he got the mechanical human working, it would reveal a message from his dead father and sure enough, it did and that message involved one of the shop keepers in the train station

I learned a few things about this book:

  • Written and illustrated by the same man, Brian Selznick.
  • The first novel ever to receive a Caldecott Medal (2008). You may remember Caldecotts are reserved for picture books.
  • I never knew the hard copy had so many illustrations (284), I can see how this would really make the story come alive. Even though I listened to it on audio, I don’t feel slighted for not having seen the pictures.
  • Based on a true story about George Melies, a turn-of-the-century pioneer film maker and his mechanical figures.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

by Katherine Paterson

Even though this book tugged at my heart strings, I’m still glad I read it.

Gilly is a girl who has been shoved around to multiple foster families and it’s abundantly clear why, she’s a brat! The story begins with her once again switching homes. She is placed in Trotter’s home. A large, loving woman who has dealt with hard cases before. She proves to be the exact thing Gilly needs and the girl herself is falling in love with Trotter, her foster brother, and the next door neighbor.

The reason I say that I am glad I read this book is because it helped me to gain a better perspective on a child who just wants a home, who just wants to be loved and the reason why a student may act the way they do.

This would be a great book for the classroom because it would allow the students to see what life may be like for someone in the foster care system. A child with behavior issues could relate to Gilly and it would provide for some good discussions.

If you do decide to read this out loud, I would strongly suggest that you read the book beforehand because, the main character has a foul mouth and isn’t afraid to use it. You are going to have to substitute some school appropriate words in their place.

In the long run, what I’m really trying to say is, if you plan to teach, read this! It’s psychology 101.

Until next week…….