Tag Archives: Global Read Aloud

“Fall” In Love With Books

This past week our Maine Literacy Council held its annual Fall Book Bonanza. We wanted to share some of the best new titles for the 2015 school year with teaCQQ--BGWwAEflm9chers and librarians in Maine.  Trying to decide which books made the cut was tough.  There are SO many amazing kidlit offerings and we each had our favorites.  So rather than  offer more in depth book talks with a few titles, we wanted to share a larger harvest of books this autumn.

We decided that a good way to match readers with books was to offer speed dating with titles!  As with speed dating people, where the purpose is to increase your pool of potential “likes” by meeting a large number of people in short bursts, we wanted participants to meet a large number of books, in hopes that they will leave with a lot of potential “matches”.

We started with the Maine Student Book Award nominees for the upcoming school year.  Diana Marc-Aurele from the MSBA brought a copy of each title on display for participants to “meet” personally. She shared the MSBAs awesome website with resources for teachers and readers to preview, review,  and document the books they read. One of my favorite resources are the book trailers compiled in a LiveBinder page.

IMG_1430We shared The Chickadee Award nominee’s for this year.  Ten picture books will be voted on by over 20,000 Maine school children between March 1 and April 1 next spring.  The goal (as stated on their website) is for children to develop an appreciation of outstanding writing and illustration in current children’s picture books through participation in the program.

We shared the book nominees for this year’s GLOBAL READ ALOUD. Pernille Ripp’s amazing project brings kids and books together all over the world, and allows them opportunities to connect with other readers.  This year’s GIMG_1442RA begins October 5th, but don’t worry if you miss that date, it continues on through the month of October.

Then we put on our blitz of kidlit titles.  Organizing by genre, we tried to highlight K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade spans, but we were careful to note that these were only some rough guidelines.  Many books cross over into nearly every age or grade span, depending on its purpose.  We also put graphic novels into a category, but reminded participants that graphic novels are not a genre, they are a format.  We shared nonfiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and realistic fiction graphic novels from primary grades up through high school and beyond.

We wrapped up with some of the newest titles in professional books for literacy and instruction from Stenhouse (59 Reasons to Write, Worth Writing About, The Construction Zone, and Readers Front and Center), Heinemann (I AM Reading, Writers ARE Readers,  Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts, The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, as well as Learn Like a Pirate and The Doodle Revolution.

You can see our entire presentation HERE.

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We didn’t want to just share titles with participants, we wanted to share actual books.  So aside from raffling off some amazing professional books from Stenhouse and Heinemann we offered lots of gently used, formerly loved books for participants to adopt! One of my goals as a literacy coach is to get books into the hands of kids-either directly or through their teachers and classroom libraries.   I collect discards and unwanteds and find them new homes!  I offer tips for repurposing some older books that might not be “loved” any longer:

  • Create new covers with student artwork or photos
  • Allow students to annotate close reading evidence/strategies right in the book
  • Create “Little Free Libraries” in the community
  • Cut out the text, paste it into blank booklets and let students illustrate (visualize).
  • Cut out the illustrations, past it into blank booklets and let students write!
  • Create “CUT UP” poetry in which students clip text and reassemble into new ideas and meanings.


What ideas can you think of for re-using adopted books?

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Thing About Jellyfish

I’ve heard so much about this book, I couldn’t wait to get it and read it, and I wasn’t disappointed! Suzy Swanson becomes obsessed with jellyfish when her friend Franny drowns with no explanation. Suzy is determined to find out if jellyfish had something to do with her friends death and discovers how interconnected all life truly is. Beautifully written with compassion and everything you’d ever want to know about jellyfish! Recommend 6th grade and up.


Start the Year Off Write

September is the planting season for writing!

All month I have been encouraging teachers to set up writers’ notebooks, to offer quickwrite opportunities, and immerse themselves in a variety of writing activities.  These pieces of writing will be the seeds from which ideas, stories, and topics will germinate and grow.

In our district we offer a writing prompt to all of our K-6 students to help us establish a baseline of writing strengths and needs for our students.  It lets us get to know how they approach writing and what they bring to their writing from previous years.  It is tough to generate a prompt that will inspire and not stifle, engage and not turn off, AND is appropriate for 5 year olds as well as .  Rather than having a single prompt, we generated several options.  We chose a few videos to watch to inspire ideas




We offered two different pictures for our K-2 students and asked them to write a story that goes with one of these.



We offered two Shel Silverstein poems for our 3rd-6th grade students, asking them to write a story inspired by one of them.

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And finally we offered them the greatest choice of all-an original idea of their own. We wanted to send the message to our students that ideas come from so many places-what we read or see or touch can be an inspiration for writing. So far the writing pieces have been thoroughly entertaining and enlightening!

Some writers’ notebooks are filling with dozens of seeds waiting for the gentle watering that will come with daily mini-lessons, writing conferences, and revisions. These early sprouts are so fun to look back on at the end of year “harvest” to contemplate the almost-miraculous growth.

I hope that you are all off to a wonderful school year, and busy planting those seeds each day.  If you need some inspiration for launching writers’ notebooks or nurturing those tender shoots, head on over to my friends’ blog The Two Writing Teachers. There are actually more than two amazing teachers who contribute to this blog: Stacey Shubitz, Anna Gratz Cockerille, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Dana Murphy, Tara Smith, Deb Frazier, and Kathleen Sokolowski have loads of ideas and support to keep your writing workshop engaging and fresh throughout the school year.

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I LOVE this writing prompt idea to help us get to know our students.  Writing is such a personal journey-creating trusting relationships will be key to growing strong writers. What are 5 Things You Want Your Teacher to Know:

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Global Read Aloud is right around the corner (October 5).  I thought this month would be a great time to read some of this year’s selections.


This week I read CHOPSTICKS and FISH


Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Scott Magoon created a fun story about two chopstick friends who must face a challenging time of trying things without each other. If you are trying to encourage independence with young kids, this would be a great text to start that conversation.

Fish: A Novel

A middle grade novel of bravery and perseverance! When a boys relief worker family must flee a war torn country a young boy rescues a fish from a drying up puddle. He takes this fish on their treacherous journey and discovers small miracles can happen. Beautifully written by L.S. Matthews.

Just got the YA Novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.  Not sure I’ll be reading that one aloud to my elementary students, but the title has me hooked!  Hope you find some of these titles to read to your students next month!  They are wonderful!!!


Happy Reading