Week in Review

#storymamasbookaday #authorsaturday

Here are the books we recommended this week. Also, follow us on Instagram and/or Twitter @storymamas to find out why we loved these books!

week 2 blog storymamas

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – Philip C. Stead

https://instagram.com/p/BUE5elaBqwv/

Pass It On Sophy Henn
Zoe’s Rescue School – The Puzzled Penguin
Counting Crows – Kathi Appelt
The Donut Chef – Bob Staake
Happy Dreamer – Peter Reynolds
# authorsaturday – Jennifer L. Holm

Two Weeks in Review…

We’ve shared the following books to start up our newest hashtag #storymamasbookaday


I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

Curious George Goes to the Bookstore by Margret & H.A. Rey’s

El Perro con Sombrerro by Derek Taylor Kent and Jed Henry

Adopt a Glurb by Elise Gravel

Dragons Love Tacos 2 The Sequel by Adam Rubinstein and Dan Salmieri

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham

Good News, Bad News; Look; Ah Ha; Frog and Fly by Jeff Mack

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Mouse Makes Words by Kathryn Heling, Deborah Hembrook and Patrick Joseph

Red Riding Hood, Superhero by Otis Frampton; Ninja-rella by Joey Comeau and Omar Lozano; Snow White and the Seven Robots by Louise Simonson and Jimena Sanchez; Super Billy Goats Gruff by Sean Tulien and Fern Cano

Mine by Jeff Mack

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and Troy Cummings

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo

Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce and Be Quiet by Ryan T. Higgins

I Wish You More

Here is the journey of how the book  I Wish You More  by Tom Lichtenheld and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, came into my life and has stayed in my heart. If you haven’t read it, please put it on your shelfie (a term I use for my mental shelf of books I want to read).

I first heard about the book on the Nerdy Book Club blog in May of 2015. As soon as I read that post I knew I had to get a copy and read it immediately.

Life got in the way for the next two weeks and then I was gifted the book for my birthday from co-blogger Ashley and another friend. I read the book for the first time to my son, who was then about 9 months. He sat there on my lap quietly I read each brilliant page aloud. As I turned to see what was next the tears started to form. “I wish you more umbrella than rain”. The tears came slow and steady as each page made me feel like I wanted to be the best person I can be, for myself and my son. After I finished the book I gave him a big hug and said “ I wish you more hugs than ughs”

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As much as I love this book, I have to admit I can’t read it everyday, it would be one when I was looking for hope, love or inspiration.

Almost two years later, on the night I get home from the hospital after having my second son, comes the death of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. A true loss to the children’s literature world. I knew that for our first night as a family of 4 we would have to read  I Wish You More.  Having both boys on the couch next to me, again, tearing up as I read this book. “I wish you more can than knot”.

The book is simple yet makes so many wonderful emotions come through the page in both the words and illustrations. I hope you take the time to read it and let me know your favorite wish is from the book.

As we all have busy lives, in the words of Tom Lichtenheld and the late, great Amy Krouse Rosenthal “I wish you more pause than fast forward”

 

Books That are Better Than TV…

Where’s Waldo…remember this awesome book as a kid?

A few months ago my nieces, nephews and my kids were altogether. This doesn’t happen often so it was a treat to spend time together. My favorite parts of the day where when we would wind down and read together. Since my kids are the youngest, many of my nieces and nephews took turns reading to my boys. We brought out our old copies of the Where’s Waldo series, the ones my sister and I would sit around for hours trying to find Waldo, the Wizard and all the missing items. These types of interactive books are awesome! Pop-up books have always been a favorite in my house since my three year old was small enough to interact with books. He still loves the pop-up books but now there are so many books that go beyond those classics; they give you something to explore, problem solve and think about it in a new way. Here are a few of my favorite interactive books:

Let’s Play by Herve Tullet (or any of his books)

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The Odd One Out, Where’s the Pair and Where Did they Go? by Britta Teckentrup

Move by Lolly Hopwood and Yoyo Kusters

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Spot It! by Delphine Chedru

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Who Done It? and Who What Where? by  Olivier Tallec

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Where’s Walrus and Where’s Walrus & Penguin by Stephen Savage

Before After by Matthias Arégui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
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This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien

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One Thousand Things: learn your first words with Little Mouse by Anna Kovecses

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Giant Squids in the Library

Last spring I was able to attend the School Library Journal’s Day of Dialogue.  img_5133The book nerd inside of me jumped for joy when I was approved to go to the conference with my librarian friend.  It was a day spent listening to authors, filling my bags with their latest ARCs, and having a chance to meet and chat with some of them.  Many of these books have found their way to my classroom library bookshelves, including the book Giant Squid.  Written by Candace Fleming, or better known as “The Muncha! Muncha! lady in our house, Giant Squid is a wonderful narrative non-fiction text.  My students love reading about “gross” things, and this book presents the facts in an engaging, accessible picture book with dark, realistic pictures by Eric Rohmann, which only add to the mysterious feel of the giant squid.  Books like this should be on the shelves of classroom libraries in every school.

And lucky for me, I work in an amazing school district that values the importance of rich literature in the classroom. While finishing up the tail end of my maternity leave, I noticed a small blurb at the end of an email about book purchases, make a list, get a P.O., etc., etc., etc.  I found myself rereading the email…money for books?  Sign me up!  As it turns out, each teacher was given a generous amount of money that we can spend as we choose to purchase books for our classroom libraries.  I love shopping for books and have been scouring websites over the past few weeks and have found some amazing titles to add to my already plentiful library.

Building up and maintaining a classroom library is a labor of love, and can easily put you in some serious debt. However, over the course of my fourteen years of teaching, I’ve found that having a well-stocked, relevant library makes a world of difference.  In some areas that I taught, the books taken home from my library were the only books in that child’s household.  I had one student that would bring home picture books so his younger, non-school aged sibling could have books to read. I also spend a lot of my free time reading the books that I have in my collection so I can talk the books up to students, make appropriate recommendations, and have meaningful conversations about books. I recently turned a student onto a series that was screaming his name and by doing so, I helped a reluctant reader become a child that couldn’t put his book down.

I’m proud of my library. Just this year, another staff member walked into my room and commented on what an impressive classroom library I have. Another teacher used to send one of her students over to borrow a book. If I expect my students to become voracious readers, then I have to provide them with the means to get there. As my newest selections arrive in the mail, I plan on reading as many as I can so I can recommend them to my students with confidence.  And so I can enjoy them, too.

 

Need help building your library up without spending your entire paycheck?  Here’s some frugal tips.

1.  Your local library.  Most public libraries have a section where donated books are for sale, and in most cases, you can buy them used for a quarter. We typically go to the library every week, and it’s become our routine to look for books for “mommy’s classroom”. Just today I found a Minecraft book. A quarter well spent.

2.  Annual public library book sales. My library has a huge fundraiser every year where they have a book sale for a couple of days. Same great 25 cent price, just a much bigger selection.  I’ve checked out ones in neighboring towns, as well, and found one that would probably rival any other sale. My very pregnant self waddled out of there this past fall with as much as I could carry. I’ll have a better plan of attack this coming year.

3.  Garage sales.  I scour garage sales over the summer. Most books are inexpensive and they are in great shape because, chances are, their kid read them only once. I also look on a lot of the Facebook virtual yard sale sites. Almost every town has them. I look at what people have posted, and I also specifically ask for books that I’m looking for. Last year I scored about ten “Who Was…” books for less than a dollar per book.

4.  Scholastic warehouse sales. Twice a year, typically around the winter holidays and as school is getting out in June, Scholastic will have its warehouse sale.  All books are on sale for 50% off, minus a handful of exceptions. If that’s not enough, there are coupons, and perks if you sign up to volunteer. A $10 gift certificate for each hour you volunteer can really help.

Building up a classroom library doesn’t have to happen overnight and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.  If you have any other tips on how your have filled your shelves with books, I’d love to hear!

Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes

Right before the holidays, I was fortunate enough to win a book giveaway from @readbrightly on Instagram. Christmas came early when the box arrived with seven holiday themed books, ranging from board books to chapter books. There was one that squeaked past the others as a favorite by the young people in my life, and I strongly recommend adding it to your holiday book list for next year.

“Little Baby Mouse and the Christmas Cupcakes” by Jennifer and Matt Holm, was an instant hit. After I read it to my daughter for the first time, she put it back in the pile of books we were reading so that we could read it again. The pictures are bright and colorful, and the graphic novel style helps to tell the story. I often find graphic novels difficult to follow, but my daughter and her two elementary-aged cousins loved it. Clearly the Holms know their target audience. Baby Mouse is an independent character that marches to the beat of her own drum, which is demonstrated by her actions throughout the story. The book celebrates her uniqueness and the story is easily relatable by children. It was a well-loved story that had the kids laughing and smiling.

I plan on adding this book to our collection of holiday books. And speaking of such, as the holidays came to a close, so did our book advent calendar. While my daughter is only three (almost four), I know I have done a good job so far when she got just as excited to open her wrapped book each night as she was her chocolate. This is the second year I’ve done the book advent, and will continue to do it for years to come. I’d love to think of another time or theme to do this at a different point in the year, and would welcome any suggestions!

Paying it Forward

For as many years as I’ve been teaching I’ve been doing a very special Thanksgiving lesson with my students. It has been so long since I started it that I don’t remember how the idea came to me. I just know that it has been a favorite in my lesson box. I talk to the kids about how during Thanksgiving time we are asked to think of what we are thankful for, and the kids come up with the same answers, family, friends, dogs, etc. Then I tell them that there is a whole group of people that we don’t often stop and thank, our past and present teachers. I then read them to wonderful book by the talented author/illustrator Patricia Polacco, Thank You Mr. Falker .

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If you have never read it, it is a story about a young girl who loves to draw and has trouble learning to read. When she finally gets to 5th grade her teacher recognizes her struggles and spends time before, during and after school helping her finally learn to read. There is so much more, but I don’t want to spoil it.

After we read the story we talk about how important teachers are in our lives. Then I ask the kids to think of a teacher to write a letter to to give them thanks. We define teacher as anyone who has played a role in teaching us something, school teachers, coaches, parents, etc. I require the students to include at least two specific memories or things the teacher did that you remember. After they draft, revise and edit the letters we gather them up to be delivered. I include this note so the receiver understands why they got the letter.

Thank You! After reading the book Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, the third graders chose a teacher they wanted to recognize and write a letter and thank them for specific memories they had. You are the lucky teacher chosen!

I want to thank you for all you do and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Love,

Mrs. McDermid

Most students usually choose someone in the building so delivering is usually easy. I am currently teaching in Denver and this year the students sent me on quite a bit of an address hunt. I tracked down some retired teachers, and I also sent letters to past teachers in Washington State, Michigan, and Israel.  

The response to this project has been tremendous.  Both teachers from the building and parents have told me how much the letters meant to them. And on a few occasions the students receive a letter back, via snail mail, from their chosen teacher.

Last week, Matthew, a student from my class, got a response from his first grade teacher, Mrs. Lieberman, in Michigan. Matthew and I opened the letter together. In it was a beautiful hand written note from her with her memories of Matthew, she included pictures of him in her class, and also added a word puzzle, because she remembered he liked them.  I was blown away and touched by this note.

I emailed Matthew’s parents to tell them how sweet this woman was. Matthew’s mom said that she was going to send her a thank you for the thank you. Here’s where it gets paid forward; when Mrs. Lieberman wrote Matthew’s mom back she told her that this lesson meant so much to her she was going to do it with her students.

To Mrs. Lieberman, I am happy to give you this lesson as I hope by having you continue the tradition with your kids, more teachers can be touched by students who are thankful for the things we have done.

Thank You, Mrs. Lieberman… Thank You…

Authors as Celebrities…

In my last post I wrote about the love my 3-year old son has for the book Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf. I decided as I was writing my last blog post to email Sallie and tell her just how much we love her book and I sent her the link to this blog so she could read our accolades. Here is the email I sent:

Hi Sallie,

I have now read your book, Truck Stuck at least 40 times since we rented it from the library. My three year old son even took it to preschool because he listed it as one of two of his favorite books of all time thus far. I told him we had to return it to the library so others could enjoy it and he started crying! Of course as a book lover I immediately said, “Don’t worry, we can order our own copy so we can have one to keep.” He was so excited and tears stopped. Before returning your book to the library though I read him the author’s information. When I read the part about you living in Chicago (where we live as well) he was so surprised and excited. He put his hands to his mouth and gasped. He said, “that’s so cool!” Anyway I just wanted to say thank you so much for bringing such joy to my sons reading life. I have started a blog with two friends of mine who are also teachers and moms and wanted to share this post I recently wrote because it’s about your book. 🙂

All the best,

Ashley

I wasn’t expecting much. However, the next day I opened my email and instantly smiled. I was so excited to not only see a comment on the blog from Sallie but to find an email from her as well! I read it halfway through and then I had to share the excitement with someone so I started reading it over again to my husband. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to share with my little guy that a real live author wrote back but I wanted to wait until we got her books in the mail to share with him. Here is the email she wrote to us:

Hi, Ashley,

There’s nothing an author likes to hear more than that someone enjoys her book. Please tell your son that this book is really a Chicago book—and I had trouble finding a publisher until I submitted to an editor outside of New York City. In Chicago we hear about trucks being stuck under viaducts pretty frequently. In NYC they call them “underpasses” and  editors there questioned if a young child would understand the word Viaduct. Of course they do! It’s such a fun word!

I live in Oak Park where the el tracks run right through town and there are quite a few viaducts which trucks must negotiate. I’ve seen stuck trucks numerous times and that’s how I first got the idea for this story. Truck Stuck will be coming out as a board book in Jan. and I hope to have a book release party at The Magic Tree Bookstore, in Oak Park, on Lake St. Perhaps you and your son can come to the Magic Tree and we might meet and I can sign his book.

Happy Reading!

Sallie–

Sallie Wolf

http://www.salliewolf.com

The day we got Sallie’s books in the mail of course J requested that night to read Truck Stuck and Peter’s Trucks. As we were reading Truck Stuck I told J the author wrote us back. You should’ve seen his smile, he was grinning from ear to ear and said, “WHAT?! She wrote us a letter!” I read him the letter and when we got the part about writing about the underpass he said, “wait underpants?! WHAT?!” (and yes he actually does use that much expression when he speaks). Through our laughter I explained to him what an underpass was and we looked at the picture together. For what it’s worth he did like the word ‘Viaduct’ much better than ‘underpass’. 🙂 When I read to him the part about the book release party he said, “We can go right now?” I said, “no not until January.” Then J started singing the month song (since it starts with January). Oh the mind of a three-year-old is just so amazing!

The next book we read that night was Sallie’s other book Peter’s Trucks. J said that he didn’t think it could be as good as Truck Stuck but as we read it he enjoyed it just as much and even made a connection to the concrete mixer that was in both books.

I think it’s safe to say that both J and I have a new celebrity author crush! Neither of us can wait until the book release party to meet Sallie in person! Thanks for the invite!

 

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Recommended: “Book Scavenger” by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

I have to say, I genuinely enjoyed reading “Book Scavenger”. Typically with kid lit, I have my students’ reading interests in the back of my minbook-scavengerd, and I often read the story through the eyes of a third grader. Often I find both the characters and plot overly predictable. This was not the case in this debut novel by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Instead, the characters were well developed and the plot was believable.

This novel follows the main character, Emily, as she recently moves to San Francisco and has to navigate not only a new town, but a new school and new peers, as well. She befriends James, the boy in the apartment upstairs, with a love of puzzles instantly bonding them. After discovering a book  that was left in the BART station, they soon learn that the book is in fact a puzzle left behind by the creator of the infamous Book Scavenger, Garrison Griswold. It’s then that their adventures begin. The strong continues as Emily and James try to piece together the clues, while also navigating the ups and downs of their personal lives.

“Book Scavenger” was a well-written adventure that kept me wanting to stay up late and read. I strongly recommend this book for intermediate classrooms, as it would appeal to a variety of readers. Just make sure you read it and enjoy it for yourself first!