Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is my favorite nonfiction book I used or had available during our first focus on sorting. The book is part of the series Math Counts and is published by Children's Press. The book has photographed objects to illustrate each page and to guide the reader while learning about sorting. I think this book is able to reach all levels found within a primary classroom. The book begins with a collection of small objects and the following four pages each show one of the objects collected as a group, identical objects. A fairly easy sort for kindergarten students. As the book progresses, connections are made for the reader when they think about their own houses. For example, one sort is the objects found in a bathroom. Another page focuses on shoes, socks, sneakers and boots. All things worn on your feet. To extend our student's vocabulary this book did a great job defining the word set, "when like things are sorted together." The book later reinforces, "things that make up a set have somthing in common." My students found the photographs of real objects interesting and I thought they provided a higher level of engagement and interaction with the book. It's also a great model or springboard for sorting activities within the classroom.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Baby's Catalogue

By Janet and Allan Ahlberg is an interesting book for children to look at and ponder. The book begins with five pictures of six babies, there is a set of twins. The following pictures follow these babies through a typical day. The next two page spread out is sorting the parents with photos. The Dads are on the left side of the page and the Moms are on the right. A good discussion for children to see how objects and people can look different but can be put together with the same characteristic. The shopping page is another favorite of mine for it sorts what they buy into these categories; fruit, cans, baby things, sausages, and boxes. Another page later on using the same format can be found for suppers. This book lends our youngest learners to think beyond the typical sorting by color, size, and shape attributes they are comfortable with. The text is also simple enough they won't be intimidated.

Monday, September 28, 2009

is it red? is it yellow? is it blue?

by Tana Hoban is a great book to use when talking about sorting with young children. I started the school year off with a mathematical unit on sorting and this week I'm highlighting my top five favorite books I used. Tana Hoban is a master in creating photo- concept books. She has been a personal favorite of mine since the girls were infants. This book encourages children to look at the world around and notice the colors they see. Each page is a photograph of real objects you could see in your life and underneath circles identify the colors within the photograph. My favorite pages are the ones with many objects the same in a variety of colors. This lends a discussion about what the sorting category is beyond a color rule. Identifying relationships between objects using color, size, and shape is key in understanding and using sorting in their lives.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Me Hungry!

How fun, there was a new book on my front stoop when I got home today. This summer I was introduced to Jeremy Tankard and just love his Bird character. After exploring his website I saw another book of his that was appealing because it was not about Bird. It was about a stone age boy and I was thinking I needed to add more titles that will interest boy readers. I still think this will be a goal of mine as my kdg. library grows and Me Hungry! is the perfect selection to start off my new additions!

The warm, muted illustrated Jeremy uses continue to please the reading eye and provide a sense of warmth. The stone age boy is hungry and his parents are busy. He decides to take matters into his own hands and says, "Me hunt rabbits!" I personally was a bit scared to turn the next page because we have a pet bunny at our house and I thought please don't eat the rabbit. Luckily, the rabbit hides and saves himself. The stone age boy continues to hunt a few other animals with no luck and stumbles into a very large leg, which made me think an elephant. However, I wasn't thinking about setting and realizing a mammoth would be more appropriate. Together they solve the stone age boy's hunger issues and a message of friendship finds the reader.

I'm just thrilled to have this book and think my emerging readers will love it too. They are just noticing the word a within shared writing and this book will be perfect for us to read and notice the word me. The font size and use of punctuation would be great to help readers of all ages read with inflection. I could just see a group of third grade boys having a great time reading aloud this book.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I know a lot of things

by Ann and Paul Rand was the perfect book to talk about what children already know when they come to school. Children are gathering information and knowledge from the moment they are born and to assume they are coming to school to learn, is limiting in ways for our students. Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagourgy talk about Discovering Expertise in their book Starting with Comprehension which I reviewed here. "In the five years on this planet, these children have all become experts in parts of their lives." Two of their goals in the beginning of the year is to uncover a child's personal strengths as well as discovering curriculum possibilities. As I read about this idea this summer, I knew I wanted to find a picture book to foster our work and painting of our expertise.

I know a lot of things, is written from the voice of a child who notices the world around them and values what they see. "I know a cat goes meow." "And even an ant could carry a load on his back big as a berry", this is my favorite illustration. One ant carrying a large berry upon it's back against a background of soft pink paper. The illustrations are muted tones and simplistic. The book was originally published in 1956, before the illustrators media was listed in the book information, but I would love to know exactly what they used. Throughout the book you can hear the voice of a child, "a book needs pages and a cake takes ages to bake." Check in with your students and find out what are they experts at, what do they know a lot about, it will help you understand them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


by Barney Saltzberg is about a young pig getting ready for school. As you read the text of the story one would listen and think it's a typical conversation between a child and mother. The mother is asking various questions to guide the pig in getting ready for his day. "Are you up?, Did you make your bed?, Are your clothes on?" are a few examples. Cornelius P. Mud always replies, "YES!" The children were able to participate in a shared reading easily with this response.

However, as the reader reads the bright acrylic and pencil illustrations they discover Cornelius P. Mud is not quite getting ready for school in the traditional sense. When he is up, he is flying in his room because a bunch of balloons are tied to his feet. He made his bed but he made it to look like an elephant that he is riding. His clothes are on but they are on his fishbowl and not his body. My kindergarteners just giggled after a couple of readings when we could focus and discuss the illustrations with more depth. This was a perfect book for discussing the importance of reading the pictures to support our comprehension.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire!

by Jane O Connor is a fun twist to the traditional picture book format for the character Fancy Nancy. B is the biggest Fancy Nancy fan I know and received this gift last spring for the birthday with an exploring kit just like Fancy Nancy. It included rain boots, a bug catcher, a tea set, a notebook, collecting box, and a big fancy bag.

While the Library of Congress lists this book as fiction you will find many nonfiction features. One page is filled with sketches and labels answering the question, What does an explorer extraordinaire need? If you are an explorer than most likely you will need and use the map of your territory. B loved looking at this because familiar characters homes are on the map. Fancy Nancy tells you a little bit of sugar will attract ants and included a diagram of an ant hill. As she talks about bugs she includes photographs looking like a Polaroid film with labels. There are lots of information about flowers, birds, and plants one might find while exploring always with Fancy Nancy's great tone and use of rich words.

This past weekend was great weather wise and B got out her book and went shopping to make Nancy's Extra-Fancy Lemonade. Of course, it is pink! I hope Jane O'Connor will continue to include the notion of exploring and learning with nonfiction features in her books with a strong and positive girl character.

Monday, September 14, 2009

WoW! ScHooL!

by Robert Neubecker is the perfect book to use in the beginning of the school year with kindergarten! Thank you to my friend Maureen for sharing it with me. The book's colorful illustrations capture the awe a classroom and school can have for a first time student. My students found WoW! TEACHER! to be such an intriguing page. The author/illustrator turned the page vertically and then created a two page layout which enhances the teacher's height in relationship to her students.

The word WoW! probably won't be found on any kindergarten sight word list but I'm thinking it could be a great word to hear a child's voice when writing if they choose to use it. I think the word WoW! is the perfect word to share what a palindrome is and see what young child latches on to little interesting tidbits of knowledge. I think the word WoW! is just a fun word to read.

The repetitive use of WoW! on each page has made this book a great shared reading in our class within just two days. It's a great book to support my readers early on in the school year and will be for yours too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Friend

by Beatrice Alemagna jumped right off the shelf while I was book shopping over the summer. I was intrigued instantly with the front cover. The illustration is done using fabric and stitching, in a collage format. You have to love the first line, "I am a most unusual animal" and you only see the belly and legs in the illustration. The animal meets a new person on each page and is accused of being a cat, a monkey, a rat, a pigeon, a lion, a dog, and more. Until something closely looking like a rabbit but with a spiny back says, "Hello. Do you want to play with me?" The original animal is hesitant and asks..."Don't you want to know what I am?" and the reply is, "I know what you are. You are my friend." Isn't that a lovely message to read for the beginning of the year. I learned how to sew when I was growing up and continue to sew projects every once in a while. I love collage illustrations and this book stands out with the use of fabric and stitching to create visuals.