Book reviewer extraordinaire!

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

via Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

 

i love the passion of this article. I plan to share it with my teaching staff and ask their opinion as to whether or not we should keep it and eventually ask to have it removed. Kids need to read and not test. Our students are so tired of being tested. I would love to reward the time and effort put into reading. I hate telling students they cannot check out books that aren’t on their “level” but, for now, it is expected of me. I do not require students in PK-1 to take AR quizzes. I use it as a means for me to help students monitor their own reading but do not push 2nd grade. I use it to print awards for those who are intrinsically motivated to “get to the next level” and those who wish to challenge me, or any number of teachers involved in the library reading program. Frankly, I would rather have the money they spend on AR to buy more books and create better plans and events around reading. When I came to my current school, my students did. It read “chapter books” (aka novels). They were burnt out on AR.

Now, my kids read one book in each genre every nine weeks so they can explore what is in the library. I have number of students who have finished their 3rd nine weeks required genre reading and a couple who have finished their 4th nine weeks. They can read whatever they want when they are finished. What has this achieved? Students now tell me they like different kinds of books. They know where to find their own materials. They discover we have a lot of books on all kinds of things. They help each other find materials and have even started suggesting materials to their classmates.

Next year, I will add a couple of other genres not included this year. Next year, I will include 2nd grade. Next year, I will let students check out whatever they want and compare the growth in reading of those students. Maybe, for this last nine weeks, I will let them choose books based on genre alone and not levels … . My hypothesis? Students will experience greater growth when checking out materials based upon genre and personal desire than genre and level. Radical? I hope not!

 

Marie-Louise Gay

Stella and Sam are brother and sister. It is amazing how much more Stella knows about everyday life than younger brother Sam. Stella shows him the wonders of the sea in Stella: Star of the Sea, where starfish are really stars that fell in love with the sea and fell from the sky. In Stella: Queen of the Snow, she teaches Sam all about the wonders of snow, snowmen, and making snow angels after reassuring him that snowmen don’t eat green snowsuits. In Stella: Fairy of the Forest, she shows her ever-questioning younger sibling the wonders of the forest. Stella: Princess of the Sky explains about the sun rising and falling, wearing brightly colored pajamas and teaches Sam about how the sun and moon change places.

Wonderfully sweet tales of an older sister teacher her beloved and exasperating little brother about life all around them.
My students enjoyed the silliness of the stories and even helped Stella answer all of Sam’s questions, such as, “Do parrotfish swim? Or do they fly and squawk?”

The Letter D

I have been reading books to my PreK and Kindergarten students. Big surprise. The authors all have last names that begin with the letter D. This week I read a great book to them called Sody Salleratus by Aubrey Davis.

I had no clue what sody salleratus was or meant, all I knew is the author’s last name began with a D and it looked cute. We actually learned that sody salleratus was also known as baking soda. This story is not really about baking soda. It is an Applachian Three Billy Goats Gruff. The Old Woman decides to bake biscuits and needs her sody salleratus. She sends Boy to the grocer to buy some, which he dutifully complies. On the way back home he crosses a bridge only to be accosted by a large grumpy bear. Once the bear eats Boy the story moves on. The Old Woman proceeds to send Girl, then Old Man, and then herself to find out what has taken them so long to return home. All are eaten by the bear. Oh, did I forget to mention that they had a squirrel living on the mantlepiece? Yep, and squirrel goes last to find Old Woman, Old Man, Girls and Boy only to discover the bear and his boasting at eating them all.

Squirrel ends up outsmarting the bear and … well, there is a happily ever after to this story that includes the biscuits, thanks to the sody salleratus, and a bear skin rug.

The kids love the repetitive story line and begin to “read” it with me. They love the roaring and growling of the bear. Sody Salleratus is a fun little tale great to share.

What I have read recently,

Children

 

Stretch by Doreen Cronin

Another cute story by children’s author Doreen Cronin. Children get to move with this book and explore the creative ways in which we can stretch. My pre-k students love Stretch, Wiggle, and Bounce.

It’s Hard to be Five by Jamie Lee Curtis

Cover of "It's Hard to Be Five: Learning ...   Jamie Lee Curtis created a fun story about growing up and becoming a big kid versus still being a baby. Sometime it is hard but it also rewarding. Kindergarten and first grade students like this. Some of the words are beyond my pre-k groups.

Louella Mae, She’s Run Away by Karen Beaumont Alarcón

  • Students love this rhyming book and are very surprised to find out where Louella Mae has hidden and why. Very fun! Read with PK through 1st and they all got a giggle out of it!

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont

  • My students love the lyrical side of this story. A little boy who promises his mommy that he isn’t going to paint the walls and furniture any more discovers a new outlet for his craft. Very fun!

All By Myself! by Aliki

Cover of "All by Myself!"

A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner

Another dystopian story but intended for a younger audience. Two tweens, Dak and Sera, discover a secret experiment, their world falls apart. Missing parents, time travel, historical figures and events. The past is not as we know it and they must travel back in time, all the while hiding from and evil group who has risen to power through influencing the past. Good historical references, moderate action, and a bit of humour. Intended for the Pre-teen crowd. Can’t wait to introduce the series to my third and fourth graders.

Young Adult (YA)

Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet, #1) by Orson Scott CardCover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
  • Dystopian view of the US, very popular today. At 16, kids are required to choose a faction in which they will spend the rest of their lives. They will leave friends and family if they choose a faction other than the one in which they were raised. As in all dystopian stories, the system is broken and these kids must figure out how to fix it. Similar to the Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) in that children are put in harm’s way over and over to survive. Some make it and get stronger, some crumble and turn, some do not make it out. I am concerned that the movie version of this series will be like Hunger Games and use actors much older than the book characters and change the “feel” of the story. The who idea is that children are put into situations even adults cannot bear. I did not like the ending to the series. I understand why the author wrote it the way she did, I personally wanted a different outcome.
The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Jude Watson

The 39 Clues is a great series written by multiple authors. Siblings, Amy and Dan, find themselves in turmoil as their parents and beloved grandmother, Grace, have been murdered and they are involved in a clue hunt to not only save themselves, but the entire world. This is the first book of the Unstoppable series, a sub-series in the 39 Clues world.

Amy and Dan have just finished another clue hunt to save members of their remarkable family and find out more about themselves, their parents and grandmother. Now, another entity has stolen something no one should possess and he is out to remove Amy and Dan from getting in his way as he attempts to dominate the world. These books are entertaining and educational as the characters travel all over the world, learn about famous people and events in history.

Great for the upper-elementary and middle school age kids. My husband even enjoys them!

Scholastic

You can also find a series of mystery and adventure games on the 39 Clues website.

by Eric Litwin, James & Kim Dean

At the beginning of the school year I read a variety of books to students in PK through Fourth Grade. I want to grab their attention and draw them into reading as quickly as I can and turn them into independent life-long readers.

I focus on Library Manners for my new students in PreKindergarten and Kindergarten to help them understand what it means to use a shared space and how we can use the small library well without being disruptive to others. However, there are times when we must be a little disruptive. :D

The Book Fair is coming and we have been watching the video sent with the chairperson tool kit. My PK through 2nd grade students are loving Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons! I love the silliness of the book and how it implements math! Yeah, MATH!

My only issue with the book fair video is the singer of PtC and HFGB is the enunciation of the word buttons. I know, it may be picky but when teaching children to speak clearly, spell and read well, it is so important to enunciate. In the video, Pete is singing “My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons” but it comes out like my buh-uns, ,y my buh-uns, my four groovy buh-uns. Yeah. I am going to be picky.

Dear James & Kim Dean,

PLEASE do not allow a great book and teaching tool to be degraded by poor speech!

Thank you,

Shawn Weisser, Teacher Librarian.

 

UPDATE: 10/3/2013

We are running the book fair this week and I sold out of the Pete the Cat books! All of the books I read or showcased the week before, students bought! I love that I made these books come alive for my students! I LOVE reading and turning students onto books!!

 

Author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, per...

Author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, personally autographing books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series at an event promoting the books sponsored by the South San Francisco Public Library in South San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a fan of this series by Scholastic. When it came out, I bought the first book, A Bad Beginning, at the Scholastic Book Fair to see if it was appropriate for my daughter to read. It was, but I did not care for it at all. Too negative. I found no quirky humor to it and I chose not to read any more. My daughter; however, loved the first one and proceeded to read the entire series, as did my students! Sometimes, you just can’t tell what kids will like!

Well, jump nearly ten years later and I have been challenged to read the entire series before my student finishes them. He is way ahead of me. I am struggling to read them because I do not like the style of book. A couple of my coworkers (classroom teachers and teaching assistants) have gotten in on the challenge as well. They are all ahead of me. Shameful! I am the library teacher.

You see, the main characters are these three kids (Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire) who, in the first book, become orphans as a fire burns down their home and their parents inside. They are then given to a distant relative to be cared for, but instead, he plots to marry the oldest child, Violet, and then kill off the children. To be fair it is written in such a manner that it sounds worse the way in which I wrote it than the way the author, Lemony Snicket, writes. Violet is a mechanical genius, Klaus is a reader of anything and everything, and the baby Sunny does not speak but has four incredibly sharp teeth she uses to bite through a number of hard items. He does write well, using big words and offering definitions, of which I am a fan. Just not the negativity behind it, but what do I know, many of my students love the series!

Just so you know, the children are “saved” from the relative, Count Olaf, but it does not end with the “happily ever after” of most kids books.

Book 2, The Reptile Room, which I just finished, places the children in a new home with “Uncle Monty” who is an herpetologist. A snake scientist, as if you didn’t know. Uncle Monty is awesome and the children are so happy they finally breathe a sigh of relief. They should have known better.There is NO happily ever after in this series. Whatever begins well, does not end well.

These are not my cup of tea but I cannot let this student win, we have a ten-dollar bet going on here! Yep, he bet me ten bucks he could read all 14 books in the series before I could. He is winning. You see, I have a life, a second job, a book study, a husband, family obligations, etc. Yeah, excuses, legitimate ones, but still. So, I must stop blogging and start reading so I can whip his skinny behind and win my 10-bucks!!

UPDATE: 10/2/2013

Book 3, The Wide Window. Same premise. The orphaned children are delivered to a new “relative” to be cared for and Count Olaf shows up to ruin the not-so-happily-ever-after. A new twist is the relative in question is afraid of her own shadow and instead of protecting the children she runs off to hide and save her own skin. Count Olaf is thwarted by the children and the indomitable Mr. Poe, her parent’s attorney and executor of the estate.

Still not sold on the series.

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