Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Book Alert: Families Around the World

Families Around the World by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Jessica Rae Gordon (ARC provided by Net Galley, publication date Sept. 1, 2014). This book fits well with our current theme of books around the world. (See Part 1: Around the World in a Single Book: children.)

Families Around the World provides an introduction to 14 different families from 14 different countries and 5 continents. Each two-page spread is narrated by a child who provides a brief background about his/her family as well as varying topics including language, food, school, and activities. Colorful illustrations elaborate on the descriptions.

This book is geared towards preschool or young elementary students. The write-ups for each family are brief, around four paragraphs, and the illustrations take up the bulk of the space on the page. The book follows standard nonfiction formatting and includes a Table of Contents and a Glossary with pronunciation guide. There is also a note to parents and teachers that includes some suggested enrichment activities to accompany the book.

My main nit-pick with this book is the choice to use illustrations rather than photographs. Margriet Ruurs' earlier books on around the world topics (like, My Librarian is a Camel and My School in the Rainforest) used photographs to tell the story. The choice of illustrations here makes the families seem generic rather than based on actual people. (Margriet Ruurs explains in her Note at the end that all the descriptions come from real families that she has met or interviewed.) Because some of the families seem generic, it also makes some of them seem more like stereotypes than individuals.

It is clear that effort was made to embrace a wide-range of families and to both highlight and celebrate diversity as well as similarities. Many types of families are represented, including children with two parents, children with one parent, children with two moms, children whose grandparents live with them as well, and children with parents of different races. (Notably absent are children with divorced or re-married parents and children who were adopted.)

Some families do seem to conform rather strictly to stereotypical representations about their country of origin. The only family from Africa, for example, live in a Maasai village. There are no families represented from major cities in Africa, Central America, or South America. (The Brazilian family is said to live "near Rio de Janiero," but their house is shown all alone in its illustration.) This seems to be an important oversight in a book that has clearly made an effort to highlight other types of diversity.

Despite the critiques above, I still think this book should have its place in early elementary classrooms, as it provides an interesting but brief introduction to children and families around the world. I would suggest using it in conjunction with other similar resources (see my upcoming series, Around the World in a Single Book) to allow students a background to learn about similarities and differences around the world.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Around the World in a Single Book - part 1: children

Our Social Studies curriculum for third grade centers around world geography and world cultures, so I am always on the lookout for authentic books about children around the world. This post features some of my favorite books that teach kids about other children and cultures around the world. (Follow up posts will cover books that teach about cultures in general and books about specific aspects of cultures around the world.)

Books about Children around the World

Children Just Like Me series (1995) by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. Children Just Like Me is the first book in a growing series of books by husband-and-wife photographers-and-writers Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. In cooperation with UNICEF, they have traveled around the world interviewing and photographing children and their families. This book features one or two page spreads about individual children from different countries, including information about their hobbies, families, favorite foods, schools, hopes for the future, and much more. My students love learning about the kids and seeing a glimpse of their lives.


The Kindersleys have since branched out and created a whole series of books. Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! (1997) features holidays and celebrations around the world, organized seasonally. Again, information about each holiday is shared through the eyes of an individual child. Children Just Like Me: Our Favorite Stories is a collection of folktales from around the world. There are also continent specific versions of the books available, including Children of Europe, Children of Africa and Neighboring Countries, and Children of the Americas.

These books make great jumping off points for learning about a specific country or culture but also for discussing point of view and perspective. We often look at the children from the US (New York, Illinois, New Mexico, California, and Alaska) to talk about how their perspectives on the US are the same or different from our own. This helps students to see how it is just as impossible for one child to represent the whole of the US as it is for one child to represent the whole of Botswana or the whole of Africa. This is also a great beginning of the year book to share and then have students make their own "Children Just Like Me" pages as a way to build classroom community.


Another great UNICEF book series is the "A __ Like Mine" series. These books shift the focus from individual children and are instead organized more by topic (but each topic often features specific children). This series covers heavier topics and may be more suitable for middle-to-late elementary students. A Life Like Mine: how children live around the world (2002) is organized around four major topics: survival, development, protection, and participation. The book shares a lot of facts, both positive and negative, about children and children's issues in the world today. A School Like Mine: a unique celebration of schools around the world (2007) introduces readers to different schools around the world, organized by continent, and opens with a brief discussion of UNICEF's work to promote schools and "schools in a box."


A Faith Like Mine (2005) begins with several chapters about faith and religion in general and then has sections about many world religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and shorter chapters on several others. The photographs makes this an engaging book for children, and this is a great companion to Mary Pope Osbourne's informative One World, Many Religions: the ways we worship.  

One World, One Day (2009) by Barbara Kerley is a photographic journey around the course of a single day throughout the world. The emphasis is on children and their daily routines, and the book provides significant opportunities for discussion as multiple different versions and views are provided of basic tasks like breakfast or going to school. The end of the book includes details from the photographers about the images. (My one nitpick about this book is that the pictures are unlabeled until the footnotes at the end. I wish at least the countries were identified on each page.)

This post is just a quick look at some of my favorite books for discussing children around the world. The next parts to this series will look at other "around the world" books that focus on cultures in general and on different aspects of cultures.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Challenge is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and is a weekly roundup of educator blogs that are sharing nonfiction picture books. Click the link to check out other nonfiction posts.
Around the World in a Single Book, part 1: children | The Logonauts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Organizing a Classroom Library

This is my second post dealing with the topic of classroom libraries. The first post was on Building a Classroom Library, and the final post in the series will be on Labeling and Tracking a Classroom Library. This series of posts was inspired by a recent series of in-depth classroom library posts over at The Thinker Builder on classroom libraries.

Organizing the Classroom Library | The Logonauts

Organizing a Classroom Library: macro scale

You will want to carve out space for your classroom library. Corners or nooks have great potential, as they already serve to help define the space. Depending on the size of your room, you can also use bookshelves themselves to define space or segment the room. Michael, over at The Thinker Builder, has a very detailed post with awesome graphics to help you visualize your space. Click the pin below to check it out.

If you are willing to put in the work, you can find assemble-yourself bookshelves fairly cheaply. (Fair warning: a few days after assembling several bookshelves in my classroom I discovered a gigantic liquid-filled blister on my palm. It wasn't until I was back in my room assembling the last bookshelf that the mystery was solved!) Consider rotating book racks or displays for tight corners or small spots.

Use a Dish Holder for Picture Books - Organizing a Classroom Library | The Logonauts

In addition to bookshelves, there are many other inventive ways to display books and maximize the space that you have. Face-out displays always attract readers' interest. You can use holders for displaying dishware to hold books, as shown above. Gutters make an excellent rail for securing books for display and work especially well if you have a extra wall or wall space that you wanted to utilize. The pin below has step-by-step directions for one method.

Of course, do not forget a rug to anchor the space, and think about ways to give students choice in seating and reading. Bean bags, couches, and other chairs are always popular. Plants and soft lighting fixtures also add a warm touch. Once you have the place established, it's time to move down to organizing on the micro scale.

Organizing a Classroom Library: micro scale

Once you have the location and structure of your classroom library established, the next step is organizing the books.

Baskets and bins are a popular method for organizing books in classroom libraries, as they allow books to be displayed face-out and to keep series, authors, or subjects together. The majority of paperbacks in my library are kept in clear plastic bins - the size sold to hold a pair of shoes. These are fairly inexpensive and can often be bought in bulk. They are also extremely durable and re-usable.

Bin labels are attached by means of Velcro, making it easy to swap labels as needed. (Sticky-backed Velcro adheres well to plastic bins.) I print labels on card stock and use contact paper to laminate the fronts. (I stopped using the laminator on both sides after realizing that sticky-backed Velcro does not adhere to lamination plastic and neither do most craft glues.) The majority of labels make it through the school year, limiting waste and simplifying the process each year. (I will talk about spine labels, book plates, and series lists in Part 3: Labeling and Tracking a Classroom Library.)

Bins for Organizing Books - Organizing a Classroom Library | The Logonauts

There are many different ways to organize books within your bins. The most common methods include sorting bins by author, series, genre, reading level, or topic. The majority of bins in my third grade classroom are books by author or series (as some series, like the 39 Clues are written by multiple authors). Similar series or authors can be grouped together in a single bin (Clementine shares space with Sophie).

Genre and topic bins include mysteries, books about dragons, talking animal books, realistic animal books, and sports books, among others. I also have dedicated bins for new books, award winning books, and recommended books (students periodically share and recommend books to each other, which are added to the recommended book bin). The colors of the labels distinguish genres to scaffold these conversations later in the year.

There will always be books that do not fit into the bins that you have created. Rather than create sad-looking book bins with only a single book or two, I have an additional bookshelf for these non-binned books. These books are organized alphabetically by author. I have found that students are generally less-likely to browse the non-binned books, so I try to make sure that these books rotate through genre or topic bins or are introduced through book talks.

Picture Books with Colored Spine Labels - Organizing the Classroom Library | The Logonauts

Picture books are too large to fit in the shoe-sized bins, so they are stored in taller shelves. Traditional tales are labeled with colored spine labels to distinguish the continent of origin. Picture books are divided into broad categories: poetry, nonfiction/informational, traditional tales, and everything else. If you prefer separating your picture books, you can buy over-sized magazine holders to keep them sorted.

Summary: organizing your classroom library

Do let yourself get overwhelmed! Organization is the backbone of a successful library, but that does not mean that you have to do it all at once. Start with the macro part - establish a place for your library and any necessary furniture. As for micro, start with some of the most popular books, authors, or series in your room. Work outward from there, and see where it takes you. Or, get your students involved - ask them what books should go where or have them make labels for their favorites. You might be surprised at just how fast it all comes together!

Next week, Part 3 of this series will look at Labeling and Tracking Your Classroom Library.

The Classroom Library, part 2: organizing the classroom library | The Logonauts

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from pictures books through YA by Jen of Teacher Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Other Posts this Week

Just wanted to share a shout-out for Part 1 of my new series about classroom libraries: Building Your Classroom Library. Tips and advice for how to starting building your library, as well as an overview of the importance of having a classroom library. Alright, now onto this week's reads ...

Picture Books

I am still having SO much fun going through all the books and posts from this year's Picture Book 10 for 10! Tried to whittle it down to just sharing my new favorites, since I didn't want to overwhelm.

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. There are so many great things going on in this book! First, of course, is the fact that Little Red (the pencil) is writing her own Red Riding Hood parody, but I also love the inclusion of individual parts of speech and the "story path" for how to create a fiction story. This could be a touchstone text for students when writing their own fiction stories, as well as helping them use different grammar and parts of speech to bolster their writing. Fun! (H/T Megan at Fourth Grade Literacy Lovers.)

Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee. This wonderful romp about bee-bim bop made me immediately hungry! This fun picture book covers the whole process for making bee-bim bop told by our hungry and impatient narrator. A joyful read and a great celebration of a favorite Korean dish. (H/T Jodie of Growing Book by Book.)

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. This fun look at punctuation presents us with the poor exclamation mark who is stick of always standing out from all the periods. Not until he is interrogated by a question mark, does he discover his true purpose. A fun book and great way to discuss or introduce punctuation to students in a humorous way. (Also, if you have the opportunity, Tom Lichtenheld is a wonderful speaker for an author visit. He came a few years ago and was such an inspiration to students!) (H/T Gigi at The Late Bloomer's Book Blog.)


New book alert, What is Poetry? by Trudi Strain Trueit will be published on Sept. 1, 2014. This picture book sized introduction to poetry could be a great resource for early elementary school teachers. Click here to read my full review.

Middle Grade

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. I fell in love with the Fletchers nearly immediately. Four very unique boys with four different voices plus their two fathers, a crotchety neighbor, Zeus the cat, and Sir Puggleton (the pug, naturally) fill out this wonderfully enjoyable realistic fiction story, reminiscent of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I really appreciated that this was a story about a very diverse family that did not make their diversity the center of the story. Instead, it is a story about finding your place, about learning who you are, and about how to throw the best Halloween party the neighborhood has ever seen! This one is a must have for my classroom.

Dash by Kirby Larson, publication date: tomorrow! Another must have. This incredible historical fiction novel tells the story of Japanese Internment through the eyes of 11 year-old Mitsi. You can read my full review here.

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Newbery Medal 1945). Another for my #nerdbery challenge (43/93). Cute, quick read about all of the small animals in the neighborhood and the big news that "new folks" are coming to live on the hill. Would recommend this one to students who enjoy 'talking animal' books.

Happy Reading! (And Happy Back to School! We start all-in on Thursday.)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Book Alert: Dash

Dash by Kirby Larson (ARC provided by Net Galley, publication date this Tuesday, August 26). I was so excited to get advance approval to read this book this week, and it was worth the wait!

Dash is a middle grade historical fiction novel set during World War II. Based on the actual experiences of Mitsue Shiraishi, the story is told from the perspective of 11 year-old Mitsi and picks up right in the thick of it.

The story draws you in immediately, as Mitsi struggles to understand why her friends have started treating her differently, and any student can empathize with growing slights and the difficult dynamics of lunchroom seating. The broader context of the recent bombing of Pearl Harbor and peoples' reactions are introduced in flashback. (It might be helpful to preview some of the context of WWII for students who might need more background.)

The story gives a detailed picture of this regrettable time in US History, from the initial imprisonment of Japanese men to the deportation and relocation to internment camps of Japanese-American families. The horror is further compounded for Mitsi when she learns that her dear dog Dash will not be allowed to accompany them to the camp.

This book hits on so many issues of importance to late-elementary and middle school readers including issues with friends, rejection, sibling disagreements, and the power of connections with pets. This book will be a huge draw with fans of historical fiction but is also accessible and engaging enough to draw in fans of realistic fiction too. It would make a great Book Club selection for a whole class or small groups, as there is a lot of potential for discussion and conversations, especially in conjunction with a unit on World War II or Japanese Internment.

I will definitely be adding this book to my recent post on resources for teaching about Japanese Internment, and I look forward to sharing it with our US History teacher and all of you!

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Book Alert: What Is Poetry?

What is Poetry? (Name that Text Type! series) by Trudi Strain Trueit (ARC provided via Net Galley, publication date Sept. 1, 2014). What is Poetry? is a new picture book resource for early elementary school. This attractively-done nonfiction book provides information about several basic poetry forms as well as example poems and literary devices.

The book follows standard nonfiction conventions, including a Table of Contents, Glossary, and Index. The four major chapters provide an introduction to poetry, a look at some example poems, an overview of literary devices (including alliteration, simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia), and finally a section on poetry forms.

Sample page, Onomatopoeia
The information is set against a background of photographs and images that match the poems or topics being introduced. While the majority of poems in the book were written by the author, some well-known poems are also included. (One nit-pick: several of the well-known poems are presented only as excerpts, but this is not clear unless you already know the poem.)

This book would be a useful resource for an elementary teacher looking to introduce students to some of the basics of poems and poetry. It could also be used independently by students, perhaps at a Writing Center encouraging an exploration of poetry forms or literary devices. This book would be useful for helping students grow in their understanding of poetry and in pushing them to try new things in their writing.

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is being curated by Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge. See the whole list of hosts at Poetry Friday by Kitlitosphere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Building a Classroom Library

My classroom library is the heart of my classroom, and it is fundamental to how my classroom lives and functions. I started building my library the same week that I turned in my application for my teaching certification program, and it just continues to grow. This post was inspired by a recent series of in-depth classroom library posts over at The Thinker Builder on classroom libraries.

Why a Classroom Library?

Let's start with the most obvious question - why do you need a classroom library when your students already have access to a school library and a public library? For me, there are many, many answers about the benefits of a classroom library, but first and foremost is ease of access and the ability to curate.

Building a Classroom Library | The Logonauts

Having a classroom library makes a statement about you and about your classroom. It establishes the importance of reading and access to great books. Constantly surrounding students with books helps pique their curiosity, teaches them to browse and borrow, and reinforces the class as a reading community. There is a huge difference between telling a friend about a favorite book and handing a friend a copy of a favorite book. It is hard to convince yourself or a teacher that you "can't find" a book, when you are surrounded.

Another benefit of having a classroom library is the ability to curate a collection that best fits the needs of your particular students. Depending on the scope of your school, your school library likely has a wide range of readers and grade levels, whether you teach at a K-5 or a K-8 school (or any other configuration of grades). Having a classroom library makes it easier for students to be successful in finding and browsing for books at their own developmental and reading levels.

Knowing the books in your classroom library makes it easier to help match books and readers. As a teacher, you need to be a reader and to be knowledgeable about the books in your library and in your students' lives. Have I read all 1,500+ books in my classroom library? No, but the percentage I have is quite high, especially if you count having read at least one book in a series as covering the whole series. My familiarity with my library and its books makes it much easier to help students find books based on another favorite book or books by the same author or books on the same topic. Getting books into the hands of readers is an important step.

Building a Classroom Library - investing the time and money

Absolutely, building a classroom library is a commitment of both time and money. Don't feel that you need to rush out to the nearest book store and buy a thousand dollars worth of books. Shop smart and commit to building your library slowly over time, and you will find that you can get far more for your money than you may have expected.

  • Buy used. There are many opportunities to find inexpensive used books, no matter where you live. Start with your local thrift stores, Goodwill, or Half Priced Books-type stores. (Even at half-price, books can be expensive, so I often stick to the clearance section.) Our local thrift store chain has a large library reading room that sells most children's books for fifty cents to a dollar, maybe a little more for hardcovers. Pay attention to neighborhood garage sales as well.
  • Check for library book sales. Many libraries accept donations of used books and resell them to raise funds for the library. One of our local libraries has a monthly sale, and I often return with an entire large bag or two of books for around $20. Other libraries have yearly or semi-yearly sales. If you do go to a library book sale, you want to be early. Flipping and reselling books online from cheap book sales has become increasingly popular. While children's books are not usually the target of book resellers, you have the best chance of finding great books if you are there when the sale starts.
Building a Classroom Library: browse library book sales | The Logonauts

  • Check for Scholastic Warehouse sales. Once or twice a year, Scholastic will host teacher-only sales from their book warehouses. While there is often only one warehouse in a given state, you may be in luck, depending on where you are located. Books are usually still a few dollars each, but there will also be clearance areas and special deals. You can check for warehouses and sales here: .
  • Buy used (online). Many book retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and maybe even your local book seller offer used books for sale at discounted prices. You can often find children's books for a few dollars but watch out for shipping costs, which add up quickly. I often only turn to online used books if I need a specific high demand book, such as to finish a series. 
  • Accumulate and spend book order points. If your school participates in a book order program, like Scholastic, make sure that you pay attention to and use any book order points your class accumulates. Let families know if there are actions they can take (like ordering online) that can early your class additional books or points. 
  • Ask for books as gifts. My school has the wonderful tradition of collecting a teacher "wish list" of books around the holidays. Parents then have the option of buying a book for the classroom if they choose. Kids love seeing their names inside such a book, so making up a little personal "donated by" tag is a great touch.
  • Ask for donations. You may be surprised at what families are willing to donate if you simply ask. This works especially well if you teach at a school with a wide-range of grade levels, as families of older students may be ready to downsize their book collections and get rid of books geared towards younger kids. (Any books I receive as donations become a part of the classroom library for good, rather than my personal classroom library collection.)
  • Know when to use the public library. Finally, do not forget to put the public library to good use in filling in the holes in your classroom library. I use our public library extensively to get picture books and nonfiction books for each of our different units of study during the year. Picture books, in particular, are quite expensive ($15-20 new) and utilizing the library ensures a steady stream of new and interesting books. Students can read and enjoy these books during read to self time, but they stay in the classroom to avoid loss. (In six years I have only had to pay for one lost library book. A great return on investment.) 
Be committed. A classroom library is a huge investment in your classroom and in your students, and one that will pay dividends for years and years to come.

Stay tuned for the next installment when I talk about how I set up and organize my classroom library and labeling and tracking a classroom library.

The Classroom Library, part 1: Building a Classroom Library | The Logonauts

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from pictures books through YA by Jen of Teacher Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Picture Books

Suki's Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. This first day of school story features first grader Suki who is determined to wear her new blue kimono to school, despite her older sisters' protests. Suki learns the value in being yourself and in not being afraid to tell your story. (H/T Mum-Mum's the Word.)

War is a difficult topic at any age. This week I posted a series of suggested Picture Books that Deal with Modern Wars as a way of gently introducing students to the topic. You can read the full review here.

A Bucket of Blessings by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong. This lovely picture book retells an Indian myth as monkey seeks out peacock for his aid in bringing back the rain. A tale of perseverance and the benefits of doing something to help others.Adorable block-print illustrations too.

Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. After my recent post on Picture Books about Japanese Internment, I received several recommendations to check out this book (H/T Linda at Teacher Dance and Kellee at Unleashing Readers). This is the true story of Kenichi "Zeni" Zenimura, a Japanese-American baseball player who was sent to an internment camp. At the camp, Zeni strove to build his own baseball field and inspire hope in a difficult situation. Publisher Abrams Books has a curriculum guide available here.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. This one showed up a TON during #pb10for10, but I saw it first from Megan at Fourth Grade Literacy Lovers. This is the immediately engaging collection of letters from Duncan's crayons as they each share their grievances about his recent coloring. I really look forward to sharing this one with my students when we talk about perspective and point-of-view in our writing, as each crayon has a distinct voice. May also try to plan a collaboration with the art teacher here too.


Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. This lavish picture book of cut-paper and fabric collage tells the story of the decline and revitalization of the parrots of Puerto Rico. The vertical format might make it a little awkward for reading aloud, but the historical story and the modern day events will keep students captivated. There is also an extensive Afterward with photographs of the actual parrots and the parrot recovery program. A great resource that I look forward to sharing with my students when we study the Caribbean. (H/T Debbie at The Styling Librarian.)


Part three in my three-part series on haiku features Picture Books Told in Haiku. This post includes two different types of books: stories that are told entirely in haiku and books of haiku poems. Click here to read more about these books, or read the rest of the series, Do You Haiku? and Picture Books about Haiku.

Middle Grade


Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (Newbery Winner, 1956). Found this in the "Award Winning Book" section of our local library book sale and had to pick it up. (Taking this as a sign that I should join Mr. Schu's #nerdbery Challenge.) This turned out to be a very sweet story about Marly and her family's move out to her grandmother's farm on Maple Hill and their adjustments as they learn about the farm, the seasons, and as her father finds relief from the impacts that the War had on him. Would be a great book for a student who is interested in nature, seasons, and farming, as well as realistic fiction about families.

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Books Told in Haiku

This post provides descriptions of some of my favorite picture books told in haiku and is the third post in this series dealing with haiku poetry. The first post, Do You Haiku?, is an overview of the pros and cons of teaching kids haiku, and the second post covered Picture Books about Haiku.

Stories Told in Haiku

Dogku by Andrew Clements. This simply precious picture book is told entirely in haiku, with one haiku on each two-page spread. Many of these haiku are powerful enough to stand on their own, as each contains its own small story. The story opens with

There on the back steps,
the eyes of a hungry dog.
Will she shut the door?

and continues through the story of Mutt and his new owners, including some ups and downs along the way. This story is always a favorite with students, and I appreciate how Andrew Clements often uses words and phrases, rather than sentences, to pack his haiku full of meaning, feelings, and description.

Won Ton: a cat tale told in haiku by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Of course if one shares a dogku book, one must also share a catku book. (The author's note does point out that the poems are most comparable to senryu than haiku since the focus in on "the foibles of human nature - or in this case, cat nature.") Won Ton tells a similar story to Dogku with its pet adoption theme and combines multiple poems per page told from the cat's point of view, often with humorous results.

Wait - let me back in!

These two books would be a great text set for comparing and contrasting as well as discussing perspective and point of view. (In searching for this book, I was delighted to discover that a sequel, Won Ton and Chopstick: a cat and dog tale told in haiku, is coming out next March.)

Haiku (and Senryu) Collections

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Tricia Tusa. This absurd collection of haiku (or, more accurately, senryu) relies on a series of verbal and visual puns to provide amusement and interest. Some are more obvious, while others may take another moment to decipher:

Noah Webster had
no choice except to put
the cart before the horse

The fun and foolish poems and illustrations will keep kids engaged, and the book broadens the standard topics of haiku to a wider range of ideas and amusement.

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth. This charming collection of haiku (loosely defined) follows panda bear Koo as the seasons progress from fall until the following summer, and the 26 poems also each feature a letter of the alphabet in order. Jon Muth explains a little bit about haiku in his introductory Author's Note and frees himself from the constraint of perfect syllable counts.

Reading aloud
a favorite book
an audience of sparrows

Some great examples to inspire students.

Guyku: a year of haiku for boys by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Guyku is a seasonally-organized collection of haiku inspired by the author's experiences growing up and watching his own boys grow. Each haiku is accompanied by an illustration that helps expand the story (and often adds to the humor). Each haiku stands alone, but they are all connected by the underlying progression of seasons.

How many million
flakes will it take to make a 
snow day tomorrow?

Although there is no matching "Girlku" book, both boys and girls enjoyed and appreciated the humor and connections to nature found in these haiku. Some great examples of how a small poem can tell a big story.

Do you have a favorite haiku picture book that I missed? Please share in the comments below!

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is being curated by Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe. See the whole list of hosts at Poetry Friday by Kitlitosphere.

Picture Books Told in Haiku | The Logonauts