Monday, July 6, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/6/15


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach 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.


Last Week's Posts

  • Poetry Friday: Firefly July. Looking for great mentor poems to encourage kids' writing? Look no further than this incredible seasonal collection!
  • New Book Alert: I'm New Here. This new picture book features the experiences of three students as they adjust to their new life in the United States. 

Picture Books


A Party in Ramadan (2009) by Asma Mobin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen. Leena faces a dilemma: she has promised to fast for the first Friday of Ramadan but she has received an invitation to a classmate's birthday party. This story is a great introduction to Ramadan and how to be accepting of others. (H/T Alex's great post Some Books about Ramadan for Younger Readers.) See more titles in my earlier post, 5 Positive Picture Books for Ramadan.


Going to Mecca (2012) by Na'ima B. Robert and illustrated by Valentina Cavallini. This is a lovely second-person book that invites you, the reader, to join the pilgrims on each step of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. A note at the back provides more contexts about the individual steps during the journey. I really appreciated the details of this story and especially how the illustrator sought to be inclusive in her collage, including women, children, and people with disabilities. (H/T Myra from Gathering Books.)


My Pen (2015) by Christopher Myers. This book is an exuberant celebration of the powers of creativity! Myers lays out all the amazing things that he can do with his pen and encourages readers to do the same. This would be a great book to use to launch many kinds of creative units - drawing, sketching, poetry, fiction, and even memoir. Definitely one I plan to use in my classroom and one likely to come up in this year's Caldecott conversations.


What Does It Mean To Be Present? (2010) by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. This book about mindfulness for children has a lot of great explanations (and illustrations) to talk about what it means to focus on the present. I think this is a book that could lead to some really interesting discussions with kids or serve as the basis for establishing a classroom culture of reflection (For more ideas, read Poetry with a Purpose: Mindfulness about teaching a mindfulness meditation to third graders - includes a student-written poem too.)


Stella Brings the Family (2015) by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown. Stella faces a dilemma: who can she invite to her school's Mother's Day outing when she doesn't have a mother? Papa, Daddy, and her classmates help her realize what really matters in a family and how to celebrate all the types of families there are. (H/T Earl at Chronicles of a Children's Book Writer.)


Anna Carries Water (2013) by Olive Senior and illustrated by Laura James. In this story set in Jamaica, youngest sister Anna is frustrated by her inability to carry water on her head like the rest of her siblings. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the lack of context for this story - no bibliography, no author's note, no larger conversation about water issues. (H/T Mirrors, Windows, Doors.)

Middle Grade


Phoebe and Her Unicorn: a heavenly nostrils chronicle (2014) by Dana Simpson. This absurd, sarcastic graphic novel will delight and amuse readers, though I found the lack of clear chapter breaks a bit hard to follow. Some of the strips interrupt each other also, adding to the confusion. But really, who can resist a comic novel about a self-aware (and self-distracted) unicorn?


Paper Things (2015) by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. This might be my first Newbery contender of the year. This is such a powerful and important story and one that so rarely is told. Orphans may be over-represented in children's literature, but homeless kids are often invisible. This is a tug-at-the-heartstrings story, for sure, but I appreciate that the author also kept in real, especially moving towards the end of the book. Well worth the read. (A review copy of the book was provided by the Candlewick Best in Class mailing. All thoughts are my own.)

Memoir


Looking Back: a book of memories (1998) by Lois Lowry. I got on a bit of a memoir kick after reading Ralph Fletcher's How to Write Your Life Story. Lois Lowry is the author of several of my all-time favorite children's books (The Giver, my unquestionable #1, though Number the Stars and others are up there.) I loved how she chose to structure this memoir - each little chapter or vignette is preceded by a photograph. This would make a great mentor text for helping kids (and adults) write memoirs - asking them to bring in a favorite photograph or two and write about the memories it inspires.

Challenges and Summer Plans

This summer I am again joining in the amazing community and discussion of #cyberPD. This summer's book is Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8. Click here to read more about #cyberPD or click here to join the Google+ discussion group!

#Bookaday Challenge update: days read a book 32/35, books read 47/90

Award-Winning Books Reading Challenge update: 12 books, 2 dedicated posts

Dive into Diversity Challenge update: 140 books, 31 dedicated posts (this week: New Book Alert: I'm New Here)

Happy Reading!

14 comments:

  1. I had not heard of Paper Things. Adding it to my TBR list now. Crenshaw made me cry. I have a fair number of students who have or still are dealing with this. :(

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    1. It is such a tough topic, and one that this book dealt with in really powerful ways.

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  2. "The Pen" looks like it is right up my alley! I love those types of creative and creative-spurring books!

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    1. Definitely! I already sent my rec'd along to our art teacher too.

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  3. My Pen and Paper Things both high on my loved list this year. I agree about potential Caldecott for My Pen.

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    1. Right? Pen and ink is such a particular style, and this is masterful.

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  4. Thanks so much for these reviews. I'm going to try and find a copy of Anna Carries Water to check before I purchase it because of your words. It sounds like the kind of book that will fit into a hydrosphere unit some teachers are doing next fall, but if it is missing the extra context information, that could be problematic. I'm happy to say that I put Paper Things on hold at our library, and am first in line!

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    1. Cheriee, I would say that this book really has nothing to add to a hyrdosphere unit, unless you are trying to teach about access to water. Even then, like I said, without context and an author's note about water access, it isn't that useful of a book.

      Enjoy Paper Things!

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  5. See you on #CyberPd, Katie. I did love My Pen, an awesome book. I need to read Paper Things. So many have reviewed it as terrific. Thanks for sharing all these!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! Just got my first #cyberPD post together. I think you'll enjoy Paper Things.

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  6. Paper Things sounds amazing. You're right- homelessness is not addressed often enough.

    Lisa
    LisaTeachR'sClassroom

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I think Paper Things also does a great job of showing just how "normal" a homeless kid could look at school, to help other kids realize that this isn't just something that happens "somewhere else."

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  7. Paper Things is one of the novels that our librarian in my institution purchased for a new course elective that I am teaching this August - I am really hoping that I get to read it before the semester officially begins. It does sound like a beautiful novel. Glad to see that you enjoyed Going to Mecca - have you checked out Ramadan Moon yet? Also by Na'ima B. Robert. :)

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    1. Thanks, Myra! I am still on the library list for Ramadan Moon, but I am looking forward to it.

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