Monday, April 27, 2009

To consider - Emily Gravett books.

Last night my youngest daughter, who is in kindergarten right now and I read Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett. I should say, she read it to me! This book has been a huge success since I was introduced to it by my friend at It has a fabulous repetitive phrase and the setting takes place at the zoo, which is my daughter's favorite place. As B and I were talking, we wondered if Emily Gravett had any more books we should read. B was quick to tell me that she must be the author and illustrator because there is only one name and two names would be one author and one illustrator.

Today I was in our school library and found Orange Pear Apple Bear. While this book was published in 2007, I think I will be discovering a whole bunch of "new to me" books since I've been focusing on the transitional reader in third grade. Emily Gravett takes just 5 words to write a simplistic yet important text for emerging readers. This book is perfect for readers who use the illustrations to help support their reading of the text. B read it through on the first time with such enjoyment. Then we reread it two more times in bed and had a quick discussion on the last page. The text says, "there!" and she read it as, "The End". She understands story structure and I tried to show her the words the, here, and there. Just modeling looking for something you know when you come to an unknown word. I will be looking and considering an Emily Gravett author tub for next year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009 website

Today I spent a few minutes at the website after receiving an email with news and updated links to their website. If you aren't familiar with this website it's a project here in Ohio that promotes standards-based best practices in math, science, and reading. It's mission is to provide high quality and effective resources. Each resource is reviewed by educators before going on their website and rated either a best or promising practice. It's so easy to google a word or an idea and find a lot of ideas on the internet and then spend time reading to decide if it's something you could use partially or as a whole. I find comfort in knowing peers, fellow teachers have thought about the quality of an idea before it is posted. We are all busy and a little help is nice along the way!

During my quick visit today, I discovered a new project for and that would be Literacy K-5. I instantly loved the areas I found on the homepage. Questions from the Classroom led me to questions and answers about fluency written by teachers currently in the classroom with resources to help me think further. The next section I found was about Reading Strategies with teacher information and ideas for teaching different comprehension strategies. This area has a plan for more strategies to be added. Primary teachers will love the K-2 Bookshelf. Here you can find children's literature reviews with the intent to help teachers find books to use as starting points for discussions and instruction. There is an area called Resource Collections with subsections that provide the reader with lessons, resources, assessments, video demonstrations, and professional reading. Then there are some articles and lessons to help teachers Develop Writers. I think this summer I will spend time looking for ideas to help with my transition to kindergarten.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Happy Earth Day, everyone! I was recently at a local conference and carefully bought just a few books not certain about what next year would bring me. When I saw this book, I just loved the message and ownership I felt just from the title. I stopped and thought, what can I do to help my world? If I stopped to reflect on this question I knew I could help children stop and reflect.

The text of the story is written in the first person; I remember, I try, I always, I will, I use, I remind, and I enjoy are a few examples. I thought the phrasing was guiding, provoked thinking, and enpowered readers to take action. After each phrase I just mentioned, there is an example of something that can be done easily by anyone to improve our world.

The illustrations really caught my attention and the book format. The colors chosen are warm, subtle and bright on each page and were done with arylic. There is a pattern with every other page being a different width. These pages reminded me of a lift the flap board book but in a picture book format. For example, "I try" a big sink with running water and the right side cut right at the curved edge of the sink for you to turn and read..."to turn off the tap when I brush my teeth."

I can't wait to read it today at school and home. This would be a great read at any grade level. The illustrations and format would intrigue our oldest readers and of course our younger ones. I also think the "shaped" pages will inspire our writers. The text is not complicated but the message and theme is very important.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

what to read when by Pam Allyn

I love finding out about great books from blogs I follow, it can be a dangerous thing because I have a few friends who are always sharing great titles. This book was one I read about just a few weeks ago at A Year of Reading and I knew I had to have this title. I thought it would be a valuable resource to have to help parents with reading at home and if a family needed a special title.

Now that I'm teaching kindergarten next year, I loved the book for many more reasons and thought about how I would use it to help my new community, children coming to school for the first time. In the first chapter, Pam Allyn says this.."I know that books and the ritual of the read-aloud do truly have the power to change the world." She consistently says how important this ritual is for homes and schools. Here's another quote from the book that I think is very important to ponder when thinking about community. "...rituals, bind us to one another and give us predictability, the kind of predictability that allows us to take risks and try new things." I want this in our home and in my classroom.

I think the first chapter is very helpful for parents and will help me communicate with parents about why we read aloud. She provides the reader with ten things reading aloud will do. I found her four keys to a lifelong reader to be simple, manageable as a mother and a teacher, and true based on my experiences. To become a lifelong reader there needs to be ritual, environment, access, and dialogue. Another chapter provides the reader with interesting children's literature history through what she refers to as landmark books that all children should be exposed to on their reading journey. I am thinking about displaying these books on mini easels and making them a focal point somewhere in my new classroom. I think this would be a great idea in the library too.

What makes this book a book you will return to weekly are the second and third sections. The second section provides a list of books that a child should hear read aloud based on their age. For example a six year old would enjoy books in the following categories; books about school and home, comfort books, books that cultivate imagination, and poetry books are just a few. The third section is a list of books based on fifty different themes. Each theme has books for emerging (0-4 yrs. old), developing (4 - around 7), and maturing (7 - 10). With each book title you will find a reason to read the book and brief summary. I am thinking I will start the year using books found in themes of being yourself, sharing, creating community,and making friends.

You can also find new books Pam Allyn has reviewed on her website.
Additional Note - This has become my new favorite baby shower gift with a couple of board books.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Today I was talking to a friend of mine and sharing the three adult books I read on my spring break vacation. I was sharing with her how they all had a positive theme for life, daily. I didn't pick them with that intention in mind so as I was reading it was very interesting to reflect on how they the text had connections with each other. When I was sharing more information with her about, Why We Teach by Linda Alston she felt this book was a sign; a foreshadow of my future and teaching kindergarten.

This is a great book to read for reflection and easy to enjoy. Linda Alston shares with the reader her experiences while working with young children in diverse settings. Linda Alston has been a kindergarten teacher. Through her experiences Linda shares the secrets to her success, "Believe in the Child!, Do It!, and Catch Sight of Your Results!" Each chapter begins with a thought that inspires Linda, for example, "I trust my inner knowing." She shares snippets and stories that make her inspirations come to life and provides the reader with a reflection piece at the end of each chapter with questions to provoke your own thinking. I felt this book was a great read for any teacher who wants to reflect and feel renewed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thinking and Ordering

I love books! My family has been known to make fun of me because anytime I need to know something about a topic or a change in my life...I order books and read. I relied on a book the first three days after our first baby. I just walked around Disney World for two days and carried my Unofficial Guide, guiding our time there. This new experience, teaching kindgergarten again, will be no different. I've been finding books on my professional shelf to reread. I've already ordered some great resources and will share them as part of my journey.