Wordless Books

Is a book still a book if it doesn’t have any words? That’s the question kindergarten and first grade are exploring during library this week, with the help of some amazing storytellers and illustrators.  Ask your students what do they think the answer is?  Hint: the answer is a resounding, YES!

The Journey trilogy by Aaron Becker was amazingly popular.  I was only planning to share the story of the first book, Journey, but every class has begged me to read all three! We were also able to incorporate a conversation on the Caldecott Award medal using David Weisner’s books, as he won so many.

The students LOVED one of this year’s Caldecott runner-ups, Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, even though it featured a completely made-up language.  We used the illustrations to infer what the story was saying, and by the end, some students were saying it was their favorite book they’ve ever read!

Then they had time to quietly browse multiple wordless books and it was a delightful way to close out class.  I am looking forward to making a display of wordless books after we’re done using them in class– I know they’ll be excited to bring them home!

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Marvelous Mo!

Kindergarten and first graders have been having a ball this month, diving into the wonderful world of Mo Willems, one of the most acclaimed and talented authors and illustrators of this generation.  His sense of humor is second to none!  Don’t be surprised if you start seeing books starring Piggie and Gerald, the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny and more making their way home to you from the library!  With humor like this, who could blame them?

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

In the new year my goal is still to try to “catch” all the 2nd and 3rd graders and turn them into excited, engaged readers by introducing them to beginning chapter books and series that spark their interest and get them hooked.

I invested in several Jake Maddox books this summer, which are illustrated chapter books that are all about sports.  I read Quarterback Comeback to 3rd grade last week, in honor of the Patriots making into the postseason (again!), and the kids were really into it!  I can see why–the chapters are quick but if you are a fan of the sport, the stories are very detailed and exciting! Jake Maddox has published over 80 books on many different topics, from gymnastics to motocross to basketball.

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According to Jake Maddox’s website “Each of his stories is stamped with teamwork, fair play, and a strong sense of self-worth and discipline. Always a team-player, Maddox realizes it takes more than one man (or woman) to create a book good enough for a young reader. He hopes the lessons learned on the court, field, or arena and the champion sprinter pace of his books can motivate kids to become better athletes and lifelong readers.”  I hope so, too!

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2nd grade was introduced to the world of Geronimo Stilton last week, and considering almost all of my 21 Geronimo books were taken after directly afterward, I’d say they were a hit! I still have fourth graders who love reading Geronimo and Thea books after reading one of the stories last year, and with its bright illustrations, descriptive language, informational text features, and hilarious story lines, I know the current 2nd graders are going to love them, too!

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I am going to begin reading one of the Ivy and Bean series to 2nd and 3rd grade next.  Even though some of the class might think they are too “girly” and feel reluctant, once they get to know these two characters they will have no doubt that there is more to them than just a story of two girls! I have a feeling that series will go just as quickly!

Hopefully these great series will help me pique 2nd and 3rd grades’ interest!  As far as engaging young readers, I gotta catch ’em all!

5th Grade World Connections

Imagine my surprise and excitement this morning when I received a notification on my cell phone regarding current world events that completely tie in with the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award-nominated book I am reading with the 5th grade. It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas is the story of an Iranian family living in California during the Iranian revolution in 1979.  The BBC shared a concise and detailed two-minute video that outlined current Iranian protests happening right now, and I was eager to share it with fifth grade this morning (as I will with 5R on Friday).

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The conversation 5B had about the connections they could draw between the text, current events, past historical events such as the Civil Rights movement, and other texts like Brown Girl Dreaming was beyond what I could have hoped for.  Our students are so mature, thoughtful, empathetic, and interested in social justice.  I could not have been more proud and more pleased to have such an astute group of students to start my day with, and I look forward to providing them with more opportunities to learn and grow as members of the global community through books!

Be sure to ask your fifth grade students what they have learned about Iran, including asking them whether or not you are pronouncing it correctly!