Reading, Teaching, Learning

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Poetry Friday Anthology: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core

Re-blogged from A Year of Reading by Mary Lee Hahn:



If you get the free (FREE) Kindle app for your computer (or iPad), you can project each week's poem for your class to read together and enjoy! You will get it INSTANTLY and be able to start Poetry Friday in your classroom this week!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Review





Here are the books I read this week:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore  The Fantastic Flyng Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce     

books-about-books, classroom-read-aloud, inference, leaving-a-legacy, memoir, picture-book, reading-is-thinking, symbolism, theme

I read this book to introduce the 40 Book Invitation to my students. It's a beautiful and poignant book about the power of story and our role in a bigger story. Lots of light/dark symbolism which can lead to a great discussion of "reading" illustrations and how reading is thinking. I'd like to use it with Shaun Tan's The Red Tree to talk about color in the illustrations to add to the meaning of the story. Hugo Cabret would also be an excellent step up in the reading ladder. The ending reminds me of The Bridge to Terabithia and Charlotte's Web - two of my favorite endings in children's literature.  There is a wonderful, Oscar-winning short film adaptation and an app that can accompany this book.

 
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (NERDS, #1)
 
 
adventure, books-for-boys, character-traits, fantasy-science-fiction, humor, intermediate-kids-book

This is book one in a crazy adventure series starring the N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. This superspy group is made up of actual fifth grade nerds whose nerdy characteristics have been bionically enhanced into superpowers. The government made them into agents because they're small, overlooked, underestimated, and tech-savvy. Jackson, who was once super popular and the school's star football player, gets braces and is rejected by his once admiring peers, and so is recruited by the group. There are some wise lines about what is really important and valuable, and Jackson learns that his former life of popularity and bullying the "dorky" kids was shameful. He befriends this brainiac group and helps save the world. This story is definitely over the top and full of generalizations and stereotyping, but I think kids would enjoy it. I teach gifted 4th grade reading, and I was talking to one of the kids today about it since his name is Jackson, and he loves the series. Since gifted kids are sometimes thought of as nerdy, they would love this line: "…we know that what the popular kids have to offer the world is so tiny and unimportant compared to what the nerds will do. The dorks, dweebs, goobers, and spazzes that you picked on are the ones who will grow up to discover the vaccines, write the great novels, push the boundaries of science and technology, and invest things that make people healthier and happier. Nerds change the world.”

 



The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee  (Origami Yoda #3)

books-for-boys, character-traits, classroom-read-aloud, connections, friendship, gifted-character, humor, intermediate-kids-book, point-of-view



 
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger
 

 "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." Everyone misses Dwight at McQuarrie Middle School. With no Origami Yoda, Sara shows up with Fortune Wookie and Hans Foldo. She says Dwight threw them to her out his bedroom window. Tommy starts another case file to investigate whether or not the advice Fortune Wookie doles out is real. Meanwhile, everyone is concerned about Dwight at his new school. He is totally boring! Origami Yoda is in a picture frame at his house, he never gets in trouble, doesn't repeatedly say purple or sit in holes, and no one picks on him. He claims he's completely happy about how he's being accepted at Tippett Academy. Caroline doesn't believe he's happy, and Tommy tries to convince him to come back. As with the other books in the series, there are many words of wisdom along with the entertaining exploits of the kids and staff at McQuarrie. This one ends with a big problem. All the specials have been eliminated and replaced with FUNdamentals, a state test preparatory program. Looking forward to the next installment of this brilliant series!






 



Henry's Freedom Box Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
african-american, character-motivation, picture-book, symbolism, underground-railroad


This is the true story of Henry "Box" Brown, who mailed himsef to freedom from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia in 1849. This would be a great discussion book about what the idea of freedom compels people to do. This is also a great book to use for symbolism.

 

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man  The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon
 
books-for-boys, graphic-novel, picture-book     


Franki Sibberson recommended using this picture book as a ladder for graphic novels. It's a cute story of a boy who double as Awesome Man. It could also be a ladder to introduce students to Michael Chabon's novels.
 
 


If You Find a Rock
 
If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian

This a beautifully written book about all kinds of rocks - skipping, chalk, resting, wishing, splashing, sifting, worry, hiding, climbing, crossing, fossil, walking, and memory rocks. I think kids will definitely connect to this book. I might use it with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.

 
 
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning

biography, picture

 

The Remarkable Benjamin FranklinGreat book about Ben Franklin - he really was amazing! Kids will enjoy not only learning more about the famous kite and lightning experiment, but lots of other inventions of Franlin's. Bright and amusing illustrations. Use with The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin by Cheryl Harness, which is more complex and goes into more detail of Franklin's role in the American Revolution, as a comparative text.

 

 
 


Kids could start with How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning, then ladder it with this one. It's much more complex with many nonfiction text features. Next on the ladder: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.


What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?   What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page


animals, nonfiction, picture-book, science

 

 
This is a Caldecott Honor Book. It contains lots of interesting facts about how animals use their noses, ears, tails, eyes, mouths, and feet in various ways. The way he uses cut- and torn-paper collages for the illustrations is captivating. Love the cover!

Actual Size
 
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

animals, nonfiction, picture-bookscience    
I love Steve Jenkins! What a great idea to show the actual size of interesting animals - from the pygmy mouse lemur to the Goliath beetle. The giant squid's eye shocked me the most.  It's HUGE!  After enjoying the paper collage illustrations, there are more facts in the back about each animal. I'm a big fan of this writer/artist! He makes nonfiction fun!




 

 
 
 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Just a Second

The first three days of schools have come and gone, and now it's time for a quick weekend breather to regroup for the first full week.

The book I decided to share first this year was a nonfiction one.  This is unusual for me.  I almost always share a fiction picture book first.  However, I loved Just a Second by Steve Jenkins so much when I read this summer, I knew my fourth graders would love it.

http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com/trailers/time_trailer.html

As I read the book, there were many bright-eyed, "Wows!" and "Whoas!"  Since I have gifted readers, many of them knew even more facts about a few of the objects, animals, or people featured in the book.  After we enjoyed the book, I used it as a writing launch for making goals for the school year.  The bulletin board will look like this:

 

INSPIRED BY...

 


 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

  WHAT CAN WE DO IN A SCHOOL YEAR?

 
 



 
What books did you share the first days of school?
 



Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday Review on Monday

I know I said I would be publishing Sunday Review blog posts, but school is starting, so yesterday was spent working on getting ready.  Better late than never!  Here is what I read last week:
The Art of Miss Chew

Patricia Polacco has done it again in telling a great story about inspiring teachers. Great book to use at the beginning of the year to build connections and community.


The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco
character-development, gifted-girls, memoir, picture-book, theme

  Reading Ladders by Teri S. Lesesne
teaching - professional
Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to BeThis is a must-read for all reading teachers. Lesesne talks about the merits of using contemporary literature in the classroom and building literacy ladders. I have lots of post-it-note flags sticking out of the pages marking great ideas. She's a high school expert, but there is a lot here for elementary teachers, too. One of the ways I'd like to use reading ladders is to build background knowledge using picture books for historical fiction books like A Long Way from Chicago  by Richard Peck, Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, Countdown by Deborah Wiles, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, etc. These are some of the best books for kids, but if they don't know enough about the time period, they get lost. Building their historical background knowledge could go a long way in helping them appreciate these brilliant books. I think with practice, laddering books can become second nature.



  Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
animals, nonfiction, science
I think people who devote their lives researching, studying, rescuing, and just loving animals are fascinating. This book is about a team of people who are devoted to saving the critically endangered Kakapo Parrots who live on the remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand. Only 91 parrots remain. The photographs are beautiful, and although there are plenty of nonfiction merits to the text, Sy Montgomery also captures the emotion and drama of the ups and downs of animal rescue.
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis

Fantastic. I think this would make a great read aloud (I've used Greetings from Nowhere as a read aloud). I love how Barbara O'Connor captures the simplicity, freedom, and adventure of childhood. The kids in this book are just so endearing. It makes me want to be a kid again. I listened to the audio version, and the narrator is perfect - I laughed out loud as I was walking my dog! I also love the way she weaved vocabulary throughout the story without it sounding contrived. Loved the ending - great text to use for mood, setting, and character. I also admire how she can create poignancy right after something funny. Brilliant. O'Connor is a great author, and I can't wait until her new one comes out - On the Road to Mr. Mineo's.

audio-book, character-development, intermediate-kids-book
A Crooked Kind of Perfect




A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban








Ten year old Zoe Elias is living in what I brilliantly saw described today in a review of See You at Harry's, a benignly dysfunctional family. Her dad has severe social anxiety and her mom is almost never home and always working. All Zoe wants is a piano, but she's stuck with a wood=grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ: The Perfectone D-60. The story is told endearingly and houmorously from Zoe's point of view and includes a friendship with an odd boy, Wheeler, best friend tensions, and a potential crush, and an organ competition. I like that things aren't completely wrapped up perfectly in a bow at the end, and that Zoe's parents, although far from perfect, really do try to do the right things by her. I think kids will like it.


Capture the Flag Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
history, idioms, mystery
I enjoyed this mystery about Anna, Jose, and Henry, 3 kids solving the case of the stolen famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner." I think kids will really like it - it's part National Treasure, part From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, part Chasing Vermeer, and part DaVinci Code since there's even a secret society. It would make a terrific read aloud. It could be part of a unit on American History. Some picture book laddering would be a good idea to build background about the War of 1812, Fort McHenry, Mary Pickersgill, Grace Wisher, and Francis Scott Key

What did you read last week?  I'd love to hear about your reading and how you're going to use books in the classroom.  Good luck to all those teachers, parents, and kids as the new school year begins!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Review

I am going to start a weekly Sunday review of the books I read during that week.  I will write a brief review and rate each book.  Be sure to comment and let me know if you've read any of the books I review and any classroom ideas you have for them.  I love to talk books!

  The Fault in our Stars by John Green

allusion, death, empathy, friendship, humor, leaving-a-legacy,theme, young-adult-book
***** 5 stars
The Fault in Our StarsThis was a gut-wrenching, witty, smart, devastating, hopeful young adult book. I read it aloud to my friends on a return long car trip after a girls' weekend away. Wow, was it tough to read aloud. We were so absorbed in the story, the eight hours it took to get home flew. There were several times I just had to stop because of John Green's incredibe lines. I had some intense connections with some parts - the Anne Frank House and Otto Frank's video at the end of the tour and the William Carlos Williams poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow." There are allusions galore that would be great for a classroom discussion, and tons of insight on what it would be like to live/die with cancer at a young age. Much discussion, too, on legacies and life as story. There is so much there, and I think teenagers (as well as adults) would love it. I discuss death and loss in middle grade novels and why books on those topics are important on my blog (Death and Loss in Middle Grade Novels).  The list on the blog post are mostly for intermediate grade kids, but obviously the reasons why kids (and adults) need books like this can apply to young adult readers and books. Read this book! Just have a box of kleenexes close by.

  Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson  **** 4 stars



abandoned, animals, audio-book, character-motivation, intermediate-kids-book, symbolism


Small as an ElephantI listened to this book (terrific narrator) and really liked it. Eleven-year-old Jack wakes up on his camping trip with his mom in Acadia National Park and realizes his mom is gone. We find out this is not the first time she's left him. It's revealed that Jack's mom is suffering from some kind of mental illness and sometimes can't take care of him. Jack decides not to tell anyone and begins a search for his mom and the places they had planned to visit. He steals a small plastic elephant that reminds him of himself to keep him company. He wrestles with several ethical decisions he makes in his desperate journey, and we find out his past with his mother through his thoughts. I loved the chapter openings on elephant facts. The ending is incredibly sweet, and I think kids would enjoy exploring more elephant facts after reading this book.



Art & Max by David Wiesner
  **** 4 stars
art, character-traits, humor, picture-book, predicting, reading-illustrations


Art & MaxBeautiful illustrations and funny! Kids will have fun predicting what is going to happen, and they will connect with Max. Can be used in the classroom for character traits.




A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and DownA Meal of the Stars by Dana Jensen          *** 3.5 stars




This is a unique book of poems to be read up or down. Each line is only one word. I liked the cute illustrations. The giraffe poem is my favorite. Kids would have fun trying to write poems like these.

 Cats' Night Out by Caroline Stutson
Cats' Night Out

**** 4 stars
alphabet-or-counting-book, narrative-poem   


Since Jon Klassen illustrated this book, I rated it higher than I probably would have based on the story alone. I love the expressions on the cats' faces! Cute ending.


  Blackout by John Rocco      ***** 5 stars

connections, family, picture-book, plot, predicting, problem-solution, setting, theme

BlackoutI loved this book about a girl whose family is too busy to spend time with her, so she abandons her idea of playing a game and goes up to watch t.v. Then the lights go out everywhere in the city. Since the stove, phone, and computer are not working, now everyone can spend time together. They go to the roof and then outside on the street, and they discover people in the neighborhood are enjoying togetherness, too. My favorite illustration is the one of the girl and her cat going up the stairs.





  Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli
*** 3.5 stars
ti-bullying, character-development, friendship, grandparents, intermediate-kids-book, mock-newbery-2013, point-of-view, theme

Jake and LilyJake and Lily are twins and share "goombla," or an unspoken and special connection most dramatically carried out when, on every birthday, they mysteriously end up at the train station in the middle of the night, barefoot and in pajamas, with the smell of pickles in the air. This is because they were born on a train, and their father had just opened a jar of pickles. As get older, the goombla starts to fade, much to Lily's dismay, and Jake starts hanging out with a group of guys who target a "Supergoober" and start bullying him for sport. In classic Spinelli style, the "goober" turns out to not care about being different and teaches Jake about true friendship and growing up. Lily, with help from her grandfather, learns to let go and let life happen. When she does, friendship also comes her way, and her bond with Jake comes back. The first person point of view, switching back and forth between Jake and Lily is unique because they talk to the reader and even leave off ends of sentences as they argue with each other.


Just a Second
Just a Second by Steve Jenkins       ***** 5 stars




This book has fascinating facts about what happens in time measurements: under a second, a second, an hour, a week, a year, and many years. Many of the examples are mind-boggling. You could use this in all subjects. Lots of nonfiction text features.


Belated Picture Books 10 For 10

I'm a few days late on this fabulous event, but I'm not going to let that stop me!  Cathy and Mandy host a book event on August 10th in which you choose 10 picture books you can't live without.  Some people choose books to go with a theme or focus, and others just pick picture books they love.  They encourage everyone to put together their list and share them on their blogs and Twitter.  I decided to pick nonfiction picture books that I read and rated 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads in 2012 - they may have been published this year, or I just discovered them this year. I'm going to focus on nonfiction since we all need to increase our nonfiction collections for the Common Core Standards. They are in no particular order.

The Beetle Book1. The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Did you know that the leaf beetle produces a substance that is extremely sticky and if an ant tries to eat it, the ant will discover that its jaws are glued together? Did you know the Australian tiger beetle is the fastest runner in the insect world and if a human could run as fast - for her size- she'd be moving as fast as a jet airplane? Did you know the titan beetle's jaws are powerful enough to snap a pencil in half? Did you know if you lined up every kind of plant and animal on Earth, one of every four would be a beetle? AWESOME book with fantastic artwork.


Over and Under the Snow2. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

This quiet book reminded me of Owl Moon. A girl and her dad go cross country skiing through the woods, and the girl notices all the above-the-snow animals and a flash of a below-the-snow animal. Her dad teaches her about all the things they see. I wanted to be the girl as I read it, especially when they end up at a bonfire with hot cocoa, hot dogs, and marshmallows. I love that her mom joins them there. I'd use this book for mood/tone, figurative language, setting, nonfiction facts about animals in winter, and for writing - purposeful sentence fragments, various fonts, and the use of dashes and ellipses. Lots here in this beautiful book! It also inspired me to read Time to Sleep from the bibliography at the end.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature      3. Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman

This is a beautiful, intriguing book about swirls found in animals and plants and how they're snuggling, growing, strong, clinging, bold, and clever. Good information at the end.  This book has many math and science connections.

The Elephant Scientist (Scientists in the Field series)     4. The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson

This book contains a wealth of information about elephants. I like the fact that it was written because of a problem Caitlin O'Connell was hired to solve. It's a great text to have in the gifted classroom because O'Connell is a terrific role model for girls with curious, scientific minds. Amazing photographs! I would love to gather up elephant books for a unit because they are just fascinating and appealing animals.  I just finished the fictional middle grade novel Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, and she began each chapter with an elephant fact that tied into the main idea of that chapter.  One chapter began with a quote from The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, which made me think there are wonderful fictional books about elephants out there. You could ladder The Elephant Scientist with the new and already beloved book, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  Other titles include Chained by Lynne Kelly, A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata, and An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo.  If you are a high school teacher, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen would have to be on your list.

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade   5. Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

I loved this one! This is the story of Tony Sarg, the inventor of the Macy's parade puppets/balloons. The illustrations are whimsical and fascinating, and I love the problem-solving process Sarg went through to figure out how to make the puppets/balloons in the parade. Great stuff! I think kids would love this book and be inspired to figure out how things work and make their passions a job! I can't wait to share this book with my 4th graders this year!

Can We Save the Tiger?   6.  Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins


Gorgeous book with lots of good information about animals that are extinct, are in danger of extinction, or have been brought back from near extinction. I want to read Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery next, a book I bought awhile ago, but haven't read yet. The Kakapo parrot is mentioned in Can We Save the Tiger? so now it's time to read it!


The Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock   7.  Children of Alcatraz byClaire Rudolf Murphy


I think Alcatraz is fascinating, and kids will love looking at all the photographs, maps, mug shots, newspaper articles, and other primary sources in this book. Anecdotes about growing up on Alcatraz and the different uses of the island, such as Native American protests, add to the appeal. Great accompaniment to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Just a Second   8.  Just a Second by Steve Jenkins

I loved this book on time and what happens in each a second, an hour, a day, etc.  Some of the facts and figures are mind-boggling.  This book could inspire a thematic unit on time.

Curious Critters   9.  Curious Critters by David Fitzsimmons

I love the photographs in this book about interesting animals. Each animal has a few facts written beside it from its point of view. Some fun writing techniques could be shared with kids like playing with homophones, onomatopoeia, punctuation, text shape and size, etc. At the end, there are more facts about each critter, a life-size silhouette guessing game, extra challenges, and a website.

Time to Sleep   10.  Time to Sleep by Steve Jenkins


I read this book after Over and Under the Snow. There are amazing facts about how animals sleep in this little book. Kids would love it, and there is a lot more information in the back on each animal featured.

I can think of a hundred ways to list 10 picture books I love, but this list will have to do for now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Authors...My Rock Stars!

TOM ANGLEBERGER AT BLUE MANATEE   CHILDREN'S BOOKSTORE IN CINCINNATI

I like musicians and actors just like most other people, but I get most excited when I get to meet an author.  I enjoy hearing them talk about their writing processes, books, and ideas.  Some young adult and children's authors I've met or heard speak include Christopher Paolini, Jerry Spinelli, Shannon Hale, Libba Bray, Richard Peck, Wendy Mass, David Wiesner, Brian Pinkney, Sharon Draper, Holly Black, Lester Laminack, Ralph Fletcher, Georgia Heard, George Ella Lyon, Tony DiTerlizzi, and Chris Colfer (also known as Kurt in "Glee").  I enjoy letting kids know that I have reading relationships with these authors and meeting them gives me the opportunity to find out more about their literary lives.  I'm reading Reading Ladders by Teri S. Lesesne right now, and she makes a case for using contemporary young adult literature in the classroom, not as a substitute for the classics, but in conjuction with them.  Using the "Four Rs - rigor, relevance, relationships, and response," we can help students choose books with essential characteristics of quality literature.  Meeting authors and interacting with them develops relationships with literature, which  helps students become better and more involved readers.  Therefore, when I get an opportunity to meet an author, I take it!


My colleague, Megan, and I had a great time at Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore Thursday when we saw  Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame. He did a great presentation and entertained all his fans - kids and adults alike. I took this video clip of Tom explaining how he patterned Dwight's character after himself.  It would be a fun video to show kids how authors get ideas and write characters after themselves at times. 




Anglebeger talked about each of his books and promoted his newest one, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.  We each got a free Wookiee cookie, too!

Fake Mustache

Wookiee Cookie

Look who else visited the bookstore:


Lucky I am to have had Tom Angleberger write this on the inside of my book!


Thank you to all those authors out there who take the time to talk to us about their books! 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Connections

It's August 1st!  That means my brain is kicking into full-time school gear.  I haven't had teacher dreams yet, but I know they're coming!  Today I'm thinking about books to share with students in the first months of school to help them with connections.  I'm going to introduce sentence collecting and talk about reading strategies with the focus on text to self, text to world, and text to text connections.  I'll begin sharing books and beging the sentence collection strategy, but we'll only concentrate on choosing sentences with which we connect.  (See previous blog on Sentence Collecting.)  Quick Writes (Penny Kittle and Donald Graves) will be a way to write down the connections we have.  The best books I can think of for a connections unit are in the memoir genre.  We will probably define what a memoir is and discuss why that genre would be the best for making connections.  My favorite professional book on this top is Writing a Life by Katherine Bomer.  She has a full bibliography in her book of recommended literature in the memoir genre.  A lot of these books came from that.

Writing a Life: Teaching Memoir to Sharpen Insight, Shape Meaning--And Triumph Over Tests

Here are the books I'm going to pull to share with them:

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon (Black Lagoon, #1)

This isn't a memoir, but The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler is a classic and most of the kids have heard it before, but it breaks the ice on the first day of school when read theatrically.  We can talk about school and teacher fears, hopes for the school year, etc.  Lots of connections to be made.  Quick Write title:  Fears, Hopes, and Dreams for 4th Grade

Chrysanthemum

This isn't a memoir, either - I promise I will get to them in a minute!  Crysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is fun to share on the first or second day of school to talk about what we know of our names.  I start a Quick Write in school (title is each student's full name) and they finish up at home after talking with their parents about their name.


 All the Places to Love

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorites.  It puts a lump in my throat every time I read it.  We talk about our favorite places, what family members did for us at birth, siblings, grandparents, it goes on and on.  Quick Write title:  The Places I Love

When I Was Young in the Mountains

What we do without Cynthia Rylant?  She's the quintessential mentor text author.  When I Was Young in the Mountains is a great way to talk about growing up.  Quick Write Title:  When I Was Young in .....(fill in hometown)

Saturdays and Teacakes

LOVE this book!  Lester Laminack, in Saturdays and Teacakes, brilliantly re-creates his childhood.  Kids make connections to their grandparents right away and enthusiastically.  I tear up at the end of this every time.  I don't really need to talk about this book because who wouldn't rather listen to Lester instead?  I could listen to him all day!  Take a look at these two videos:


Quick Write Title:  Every Saturday (or Every Summer or Every Thanksgiving, etc.)

What You Know First (Trophy Picture Books)
What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan (you can tell I love her) is a beautiful book about a girl moving and wantimg to make sure she'll never forget her beloved birth place.  Quick Write Title:  What I Knew First

When I Was Nine

I love in particular because my fourth graders will be nine when they start the school year.  Quick Write:  My Summer Car Trip



Waiting to Waltz

Yes, Cynthia Rylant again.  Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood is book of poems about growing up.  Stephen Gammell is one of my favorite children's illustrators.  Quick Write Title:  Growing Up Poem

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Winifred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is a wonderful book about memories.  What makes a memory?  Sometimes, I make this into an extended activity, and we bring in items for each kind of memory and write about them.  Quick Write Title:  What is a Memory?


Looking Back by Lois Lowry is a unique way to tell a story.  She writes  brief recollections about her photographs by year.  I love it and have wanted to try to write one like it!  Quick Write idea:  Bring in a photograph, glue it into notebook, title it by the year it was taken, and write about it.

Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir

Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir by Eloise Greenfield and Lessie Jones Little is a memoir including three generations of black women:  a grandmother living in a Southern mill town at the turn of the century; a mother winning the hard-fought right to vote; and a daughter born the year of the Great Depression.  Ideal Quick Write idea is for the kids to get a memory written by a grandparent, a parent, and then write one.  By the way, families love to be included like this in homework!  It adds to family time instead of taking it away.

I love The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World.  It's beautiful.  Children's authors, illustrators, and advocates write about childhood memories.  My favorite, of course, is Cynthia Rylant's "On Beginning School," a memory of catching the school bus with her grandfather watching. Other topics throughout the book include birthdays, haircuts, pets, doctors and dentists, etc.  Quick Write Title:  Milestone: (fill in the blank)

When I Was Your Age, Volumes One and Two  These two volumes of memoirs have a plethora of stories about growing up by children's authors such as Mary Pope Osborne, Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, James Howe, etc.  Quick Write Title:  When I Was (age)

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Any Patricia Polacco book would do, but Thank You, Mr. Falker is one of my favorites.  It is also truly autobiographical.  Quick Write:  My Favorite Teacher or A Time Someone Believed in Me or My Struggle


How Angel Peterson Got His Name

I don't read this whole memoir by Gary Paulsen, How Gary Peterson Got His Name, aloud, but the section on the skiing speed record is laugh-out-loud funny, and kids LOVE it!  Quick Write:  A Time I Did Something Stupid and Lived


Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka

Jon Scieszka's memoir, Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly Ture Stories About Growing Up Scieszka can be shared as a whole, or read aloud in parts since each chapter is its own story.  Of course, it's funny, and if the kids don't know Jon Scieska yet, they will want to after this book!  Then you can introduce them to all his Guys Read books.  I think a good one to start with is "Sorry, Mom."  It's about his little brother breaking a breaking a collarbone playing football with him and his older brothers.  The kids will love the line, "Sorry, Mom.  We broke Gregg."  Quick Write ideas are endless depending on which stories you read.

I could go on, but I better stop there.  Any memoirs you'd like to share?