Browsing Tag

picture books

Books We Love: A Boy, A Mouse, and A Spider

Books We Love

My love for E.B. White’s stories has existed ever since my first grade teacher read Charlotte’s Web to our class. It wasn’t until Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer was released that I learned the story behind the beloved children’s author. It’s a story of a man who was brilliant, smart, and above all, an unrelenting optimist.

I’m so excited that Barbara Herkert and Lauren Castillo have teamed up to bring White’s story to younger readers. This well-written biography tells of White’s journey from childhood to literary fame. Readers who loved Stuart Little and other books will adore this look into the life of an incredible author. Lauren Castillo’s gorgeous illustrations are a perfect fit for the story.

Classroom Connections

This book would serve as a strong mentor text for biographies. Herkert’s text clearly explains the events of White’s life and celebrates his significance.

For paired middle grade texts, Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer! is an obvious and perfect choice. Sweet’s words add depth to Herkert’s strong overview. Students might also find enjoyment in Kid Authors by David Stabler (my review coming to the blog this Tuesday!).

Books We Love: What Makes A Monster

#bookexcursion, Books We Love

This week marked a book birthday for Jess Keating’s What Makes a Monster?! After the success of her Pink is for Blobfish, my students became captivated by Keating’s writing. With fascinating facts and strong nonfiction text features, the World of Weird Animals series draws in many young readers. Keating’s website describes the series as “a must-read series for curious kids,” and I can’t think of a more accurate description.

What Makes a Monster pulls readers in to the respective worlds of the aye-aye, the vampire bat, the prairie dog, the tyrant leech king, and other scary animals. The book explores what makes the animals dangerous, as well as how many “monsters” contribute positively to our ecosystems.

Each two-page spread features a large photo of each animal, along with a vivid description and fast facts. Funny illustrations add humor to the pages and make this book a great fit for young readers.

One powerful section in the book talks about “misunderstood monsters:” the animals who are less likely to be included in conservation efforts because they aren’t cute or furry. This serves as a call-to-action for readers as they think about how ugly or scary animals can still add to our world. By the end of the book, readers will be questioning what it means to be a monster.

Huge thanks to Jess Keating for sharing a copy of What Makes a Monster? with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of nine educators who read and share new children’s and middle grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!


Third Graders’ Favorite Picture Books – 2016-2017

Books We Love, Literacy in the Classroom

Some of my favorite memories of elementary school include my teachers reading to the class. I loved listening to Charlotte’s Web, Chrysanthemum, The Kissing Hand and so many more. I hope that as my students grow, they hold onto the stories we shared this year.

During the last week of school, I asked my students to share their favorite picture book read aloud from their year in 3M. The books below captured our hearts, inspired us, and made us laugh. I hope they bring joy to you, too!

School’s First Day of School
Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
Last Stop on Market Street

Christian Robinson is a hero in the eyes of my third graders. We fell in love with his beautiful illustrations this year. They add so much to these incredible stories! All three of these books taught us lessons about compassion and making a change.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

We first read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles last fall during a Reading Ramble (see this blog post for more on this awesome community event!). My students were so drawn into the story, so I picked up a copy for our classroom. The book feels mysterious and intriguing, while also inspiring kids to deliver messages of inclusion. As one of my students wrote, “This character never gave up with that message and it teaches you to never give up on the things you do.”

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

One of my students wrote me a note about this book and said she would nominate it for a “most inspiring” award: “Radiant Child inspires kids to think – if you have a dream, stick with it, follow it, and never give up with it!”

Are We There Yet?

So many of the boys in my class are obsessed with this book. The illustrations are incredible, and the whole thing feels like an adventure. Not to mention, there is a robot character that speaks in QR codes! This is another book that never stays on the shelf for long.

They All Saw a Cat

We read They All Saw a Cat as part of our Mock Caldecott project in January. A fantastic and humorous tale of perspective, this one definitely stuck with my kiddos. The pictures are incredible, as are the words. One of my students wrote “When the author wrote this sentence: ‘The cat walked through the world with its whiskers, ears, and paw’s I thought it sounded BEAUTIFUL!” We keep this text on our Featured Books shelf, although it doesn’t spend much time sitting there! It’s almost always in the hands of a child – the sign of a truly great book.

We Found a Hat

After I heard Jon Klassen speak at the Boston Book Festival last fall, I knew I had to add more of his books to my classroom library. My students were so happy when we added We Found a Hat. One wrote, “This book has the most adorable critters and the cutest story! This book is not only cute and funny, but has great amazing pictures with the funniest quotes! I’m pretty sure all children would like this book.”

Ada’s Violin: The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

My students loved this tale of how creativity and community can help change circumstances for people around the world. In the words of a third grader, “Ada is very devoted. Yay for the Recycled Orchestra!”

Stick and Stone

We read Stick and Stone on our first day of school, and collected ways to be a Perfect 10 Friend. I was so happy when my students added this to their reflection lists this spring, as I hope the message is one they will carry with them well beyond grade three!

Ada Twist, Scientist
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Ivy Peck, Architect

On the last day of school, we hold a Sneak Peak Day where students visit their new classroom and get to meet their new teacher. Last year, I ended my students’ visit by reading them Rosie Revere, Engineer. By the time we came back in September, we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Ada Twist, Scientist. Andrea Beatty’s spectacular books have been a part of this year’s classroom culture since (literally) Day One.

My students and I hope these books make you laugh, smile, and think! Happy reading!

Books We Love: I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Books We Love

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy
Illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley


Over the past two days, our nation has seen two historic events: the inauguration of our 45th president and the Women’s Marches in sister cities all over the world. One of the things that makes our country great is the ability we have to freely express our views. Oftentimes, disagreement helps us move forward. I Dissent tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg resisted and persisted to make her voice heard.

I can’t wait for this book to make its way into the hands of little girls around the world. It tells the story of a girl who wanted to change little things, and built her way up to changing big things. This story teaches a powerful lesson about activism. It proudly proclaims that even young children can work to change things in their communities.

With rich vocabulary and beautiful illustrations, I Dissent is sure to become a classic for classrooms. It tells how a young Justice Ginsburg was inspired by the women who came before her, and how she didn’t let disagreement get in the way of her friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia. Messages of hope permeate through the book’s pages as it tells us dissent can be productive, positive, and powerful.

Favorite Quotes

On RBG’s impact:
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t a rock star, a queen, or a goddess. But to many, she is a hero. She made change happen, and she changed minds.”

Words from RBG herself:
“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”