Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Tech Work

Our school district has been rolling out new MacBook Airs to teachers, 4 per building at a time several times a year.  My name cam up at the end of the school year and I recently completed the short class required to receive the new machine. It's pretty awesome.

As part of the class we had to create a short video and post it to the district collection of videos.  I figured since I was spending time on it, I might as well make something I can use in the library so this is what I came up with.  I plan on using it the first week of library, probably just have it playing on a loop as the kids come in and then talking about what I read as they share their summer reading.

I'll be adding to the video over the next few weeks because summer's not over and I'm still reading.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tops of far

My reading has picked up again after a bit of a lull, so I'm adding to my list of top titles for 2015 every day.  I'm also changing my list Tops of 2015 every day, so it's all a bit confusing. I've mentioned a few in my recent posts and thought I'd do a bit of organizing to make it easier to think about what is on my list since we're a little more than half way through the year.

There's a lot of good stuff this year, so it wasn't easy to narrow my list down to top 5, all of these titles are easily interchangeable with other titles but I had to start somewhere.  I'd love to hear what titles you have on your list that are missing from mine.

My top 5 picture books for far, are:

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson: Obviously the illustrations are beautiful and the simple lesson about sharing is too.
My Grandma's a Ninja by Todd Tarpley Ill by Danny Chatizikonstantinou: When ninja Grandma comes to visit it's all fun and games, until she starts to get in the way. Can't wait to read this in THE PIT!
With a Friend by Your Side by Barbara Kerley: A collection of photos accompany the text that tells the importance of friendship. Kids will love looking at this one.
And Nick by Emily Gore Ill by Leonid Gore: The four mouse brother are always competing for attention and Nick always gets left behind. In the end he blooms brightest of all.
See You Next Year by Andrew Larsen Ill by Todd Stewart: The annual trip to the beach highlights include a new friend and all of the usual beach things. Good end of summer story for THE PIT.

and my top 5 fiction books for far, are:

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart: Two points of view, one a teen cancer patient runaway and the other his friend who is left behind and knows where he is. One word description, INTENSE!
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan: Starting with a magical fairy tale, this is a wonderful piece of interwoven story writing.
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff: Strong and dramatic from start to finish. The main character, Trent, deals with his anger after being involved in the accidental death of a friend. I'm thinking this will be best for older readers.
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville: This 3 Bears story from the bears' view is a little long, but fascinating how the author brings in all of the other fairy tales.
Catch You Later Traitor by Avi: Based on Avi's memories of growing up during the Red Scare, written like an old time detective novel make this a pretty quick read.  I'm not sure kids will have enough background knowledge to completely understand it.

So there you have it, my Top 5 of far.  I know there will be changes as I keep reading, let me know what yours are.

Monday, July 13, 2015

#IMWAYR - July 13

#IMWAYR is one of my favorite days to check blog posts. It is so fun to see what everyone is reading! Thanks to Jen Vincent for hosting the kidlit version of this at her blog, Teach Mentor Texts!!

It's been a few weeks since I've posted my reading, so it's fun to see that one book I loved, Bill did too - Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. Some of the other books that I read the past weeks and entered in GoodReads are shown below.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate - This was a generous gift received at #nerdcampMI last week and it did not disappoint. An imaginary friend that stays with you when he/she is needed - so many children will relate to this. It seems that I've read several books on homelessness and this would be another one to add to that list. With all the great books out there on this topic, a unit on empathy could add Crenshaw as a must read.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan - This was my read after Crenshaw and since I loved that story so much, I didn't think any book could measure up. Boy, was I wrong! Three separate story lines, intertwined by the same musical element, and cliffhangers after each section that left me needing more - all of these combine in a story that children will love. 

Blizzard by John Rocco - A wonderful picture book that many have already read, but I just got to it this summer. I still liked Blackout better, but I really enjoyed the community service displayed in this book. And the winter of "the blizzard" was my first year to live on my own as an adult after college - many of the scenarios in this book felt very familiar!

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett - This was a fun story of two boys who both labeled themselves master pranksters. It was only natural that a "prank war" would ensue. Lots of trouble and fun, all at once. The best is what happens when two pranksters combine their efforts toward a common goal!

The Island of Dr. Libris - An island where a very imaginative boy can make characters from stories appear - that is the premise of this story, but it gets a little complicated when characters from different stories start to engage with one another. I enjoyed the literary elements built into this story, and I really liked the message of how much more creative children are than adults.

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman - Another story with a literary backdrop, but I liked this one even better!!!! This was recently recommended to me, and was a great find! Ciphers, friendships, trying to fit in, bad guys, playing a game that no one else (except the bad guys) know about, family relationships - this book has it all. I love the shout out to Edgar Allen Poe in this book, but I especially liked the different books the main character, Emily, leaves in different parts of the city for others to find using a site for Book Scavenger players and giving online clues - Escape from Mr. Limoncello's Library and The Westing Game, just to name a few. I think students will really enjoy this, though I also think many of them may miss out on some of the Poe literary references.

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard JacobsonI loved this book as much as I loved her other book, Small as an Elephant. This is a beautiful story that focuses on unique family units as well as homelessness (another book to help promote empathy).

I had a great few weeks of reading! I'm looking forward to even more great books in the next weeks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dear Hank Williams Full of Surprises

I found this gem while looking over the new fiction table at my favorite Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metro Library and was drawn by the author, Kimberly Willis Holt.  I like her style...A LOT!  Dear Hank Williams didn't disappoint.

Set in post World War II Louisiana, Tate begins writing letters to Hank Williams who she listens to on the radio every week.  He performs as part of Louisiana Hayride, a music show much like the Grand Ole Opry only on a much smaller scale.  She falls in love with his sound and, as part of a class project, she takes him as her pen pal instead of a student in Japan.

Through her unanswered letters we learn the story of Tate, and her absent mother and father.  She is in the custody of her great Aunt Patty Cake and sometimes her Uncle Jolly when he is not out with his latest girlfriend or drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole.

Tate spends a lot of time with her little brother, Frog, pretending to be spies, practicing her singing or playing hide and seek.  Frog seems to be a scared of a lot of things, and disappears mysteriously at unusual times.

The story moves quickly and filled with surprises and turns that frankly, I didn't see coming.  I love the down home language and Kimberly Willis Holt's descriptions of a simple time in a small town in Louisiana.  I can't wait for my 4th any 5th graders to read this book so we can talk about everything that happens.  I'm definitely adding it to my tops of 2015 reading list.