Tag Archives: books

The City of Books: Day 12

Today was a day for urban adventures–in the pouring rain, of course.  No trip to the Portland area is complete without a visit to Powells, the most amazing bookstore ever.  (And trust me, I have been to many, many bookstores.  I have many favorite bookstores in many different cities, but Powells is something every book lover should experience.)  So my poem for Day 12 was inspired by a book I bought today (one of several) called Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro.

img_3203

Things to Do if You’re a Book

Open doors to worlds beyond imagination
where characters become dear friends and worst enemies
And offer glimpses into places
our feet haven’t touched.
Introduce us to people and experiences
We haven’t yet encountered
And give us a whirl in their shoes
in their skin, in their minds.
Take us beyond our backyard fences
Where we can hear whispers
Of time gone by and what is still to come.
Unplug us from the virtual world
And let us lose ourselves
In a labyrinth of words.
Douillard 2018
lrg_dsc08952
Here’s a student poem full of imagination, apparently inspired by time in the kitchen!

The Pan

So much depends
upon

A sizzle
or
a fry

Just rimmed
with a
simmer and a shine

Beside the
chicken fry

By Hadley

And another inspired by observing a hummingbird in the garden.

Hummingbird

 

The hummingbird twirls with excitement

so fast

almost as fast as the flash.

 

Even the rainbow tries to form fast enough

to see the particle effect.

 

That is the color

that you dream.

 

Jameson

What’s inspiring your poetry today?

 

Wordless Books and the Power of Words

Yesterday we embarked on a study of graphic novels in our classroom by reading Owly and Wormy Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 5.17.28 PM

This picture book is a nice entry into the world of graphic novels for our young students–even though it may not technically fit into the definition of graphic novel.

Our students aren’t new to reading wordless books, last year we delighted in the wordless books of Flashilight and Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd (you can read about these adventures in a post by my teaching partner here).

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 5.19.37 PM

So there were no surprises yesterday when we began to read about Owly and Wormy.  Our older students were eager to “read” as we turned pages under the document camera, and it wasn’t long before our young students began to join in, volunteering their own readings.

Wordless books, and particularly those with a graphic format, allow confident readers to emerge–even if they are still struggling with decoding print.  Our students showed off their wealth of symbolic knowledge–recognizing that a four leaf clover in a speech bubble is a message of good luck and that a light bulb represents a new idea.

Imagine my delight when one of our first grade boys raised his hand…with two things to share. He quickly pointed out that this book was filled with verbs.  You might wonder what he was thinking…this is a wordless book.  But I knew that we had been working with vivacious verbs last week, using George Ella Lyon’s All the Water in the World and Thomas Locker’s Water Dance as mentor texts for this year’s first attempt at poetry.  As I asked this student about the verbs in the book, he pointed out that Owly and Wormy were reading, sleeping, planting…  It was obvious that he understands verbs!  (And I wish I had recorded the actual verbs he pointed out…they were better than my memory!)  I don’t remember the second thing he shared–it was relevant–but not as exciting as his noticing of verbs in a wordless book!

We’ll continue our study of graphic novels, focusing on the features as we connect back to Owly and Wormy and also to Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (a hybrid graphic novel/picture book that we read the first week of school to talk about what we needed to do to get along as a community).

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 5.27.50 PM

And we’ll take our study further as we explore Hatke’s latest graphic novel, The Little Robot as a class read aloud.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 5.29.36 PM

The more I read wordless books and graphic novels, the more I am intrigued by the power of images and the resulting power of words that my students bring to our conversations about these rich, complex, and layered books.

What are your favorite wordless books and graphic novels to use with students?  For yourself?

10 Picture Books on August 10th

I’ve done a couple of recent posts about mentor texts I use in my classroom and recently I noticed a challenge by some other teachers about a Picture Book 10 for 10 Challenge.  #pb10for10  Their invitation is to share ten picture books you can’t live without on August 10th.  So today is August 10th…and my picture books are all in my classroom.

I had almost abandoned the idea of sharing my picture book favorites since I don’t have easy access to them today.  But then I spent the morning with my SDAWP colleagues at UCSD thinking about complex texts–both reading and writing–which led me to think about the ways I use texts in combination in the classroom.  So I started thinking about some of favorite picture books for the classroom…and how I often layer books to create more complexity and deeper meaning with my students.  These books come from the top of head (with the help of the web to sort out the actual titles and authors)…you don’t get pictures or excerpts…just what I can remember!

photo

I’ll start with a few that I used with my students to examine abstract concepts.  Most of them use the idea of color in different and interesting ways.

1.  The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor:  This book is a gem (like most of the others by this author).  I love the way she describes colors using senses other than sight.  I wish I had my book handy to include an excerpt!  Read it — you won’t be disappointed!

2.  The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin:  This book, all in black in white, is gorgeous!  The use of texture and Braille add a fresh dimension to this book…and reinforces the need to use powerful sensory language in descriptions.

3.  The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao:  This book describes the experience of a blind girl as she travels in the New York subway system.  Imagination takes the girl on a powerful journey. What do you experience when you aren’t able to see?

4.  The Colors of Us by Karen Katz:  This books offers way to describe the colors of our skin in beautiful and appreciative ways.

5.  What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Rudunsky:  This book is a collection of similes and metaphors from students describing peace–helping to bring some concreteness to this big and abstract concept.

6.  If… by Sarah Perry:  This books takes a fanciful journey into the imagination and invites students to imagine if worms had wheels and other fanciful and surrealistic ideas.

And I also love books that are about math and nature.  Two more favorites that I used this past year to support my students’ understanding of the Fibonacci sequence and its appearance in the natural world.

7.  Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed by Joy N. Hulme:  This book explores the appearance of Fibonacci numbers in the natural world–mostly focusing on the spiral.

8.  Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by  Joyce Sidman:  This book is another look at Fibonacci’s sequence and spirals using spectacular illustrations.

And to round out my ten, two other books I purchased this summer and intend to use with students this year.

9.  One Hen by Katie Smith Milway:  A book about micro loans and how small investments can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

And one more math and science focused book

10.  Dave’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop by Stuart J. Murphy;  This book combines geology and classification as the characters devise new ways to sort and display their rock collection.

I look forward to seeing what picture books other people love.  I’m always looking for new books to inspire my students’ thinking and to help them understand complex concepts.  I’m especially interested in those hidden treasures that somehow don’t get the attention of the large bookstore chains…and yet have wonderful content, language, and illustrations.  What picture books do you love?

Neverwhere and more: a book(s) review

In the last few weeks I read two books written by Neil Gaiman.  I finished Neverwhere last night and read The Ocean at the End of the Lane a few weeks before that.  I read Coraline a few years ago…and remembering some picture books I bought last year, I reread The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish today.  In some ways I’m surprised that I like these books, they are a little bit fantasy with some parable-type qualities woven in.

photo

So what do I read, you might ask?  That question seems to become more and more complicated.  If you follow me on Goodreads you may notice that I have binged on several YA series.  I’ve read the Hunger Games series followed by a number of dystopian novels including Blood Red RoadDivergent and InsurgentThe Water Wars, and the Maze Runner series (that was not my favorite series).  I’ve also read some series more in the fantasy category including The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas FlamelThe Mortal Instruments (City of Bones…), The Infernal Devices, and Graceling Realm.  Interspersed were murder mysteries by Gillian Flynn and Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen…and then there were the 4000+ pages of The Game of Thrones (haven’t gotten to A Dance with Dragons yet).  I’ve also read other odds and ends, novels and plenty of books for kids, especially graphic novels for the younger crowd.

But back to Neverwhere.  I read a lot.  Fiction and non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, realistic fiction, historical fiction and everything in between.  And some books stay with me longer than others. I liked Neverwhere.  Some reviewer described it as an urban fairytale.  In some ways I think that most of Gaiman’s books are fairytales of sort…maybe in the Grimm tradition.  When I think of Richard (of Neverwhere) and the unnamed narrator in The Ocean at the End of the Lane, they are both those anti-heroes who learn powerful life lessons as they interact with supernatural beings from somewhere other than the world of humans that you and I live most of our lives in. They are flawed, often seen as weak pushover types as the story begins.  They find their strength in unusual ways.

These are stories about overcoming difficulties…in many cases difficulties that the adults around them just don’t get.  When I think about Gaiman’s books I find myself thinking about the qualities of grit and resilience that we look to cultivate in our students…and that teachers need too in our current educational climate.   Neverwhere is a story about trusting your gut, learning from close observation, and hanging in there even when the going gets tough and things are scary.  It’s about feeling invisible and doing what is right anyway and finally about realizing that what you thought you needed and wanted for your life might not really be what you were looking for.

Gaiman’s books are richly layered, both readable and complex.  There are books for kids (The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish), for older kids (Coraline) and stories for adults.  And I haven’t read them all yet.  I think The Graveyard Book is up next for me.  What’s your favorite Gaiman book?  What else do you recommend?