Saturday, May 28, 2011

One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova

by Mary Casanova

I just shared this with Kindergartners. I have read this book countless times - and every time it makes me smile, and every time kids clamor to check it out... so I had to add it here.

What it's about:
A young girl goes out for a canoe ride with her dog, larger and larger animals keep asking to come along (ending with a little frog), until they capsize and end up having a "good swim".

What I love:
One Dog-Canoe just feels good to read out loud - it's like a meal of good words - the writing flows with lyrical rhyming and onomatopoeia.  
I love good repeating lines and predictable patterns that students can join in on. Each new animal arrives on the scene asking "can I come too?" And the girl's response becomes a pattern of all the animals met along the way.

My favorite line:
"and with a push-a-swoosh --glide-- ..." - because not only is it a perfect description of pushing off with the canoe, it's just darn fun to say.

Other connections:
The Kindergartners at my school "research" Minnesota in the spring, this book is great to share during that time because its MN connections. Since the students learn about native animals, we end up talking about the bear - which is brown and not black in the book (brown or grizzly bears are no longer native to MN).

I like to pair One Dog-Canoe with Jan Brett's The Umbrella, set in a Cloud Forest. The pattern of the story is similar, but the setting makes a nice contrast for a discussion of "what's the same?" and "what's different?"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Menzel and D'Alusio

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets
by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio

I just received my spring order of books, and this book is at the top of my favorites list.

What it's about: Imagine a photograph of you along with everything you eat in one day. What story would it tell about you, your culture and where you live? Menzel and D'Aluisio photographed and interviewed 80 vastly different people from around the world about what they typically eat in one day.

What I love:
This book is fascinating! It may not be a cover to cover read for most, but read aloud any page, or part of any page, and you will have students hooked. The book is organized by caloric intake - lowest to highest. From the Maasai Herder, to the Bullfighter, the Model Student to the Oil Platform Chief  - the photos draw you in, and the interviews are extremely compelling.

My favorite part: The immense variety of people, jobs and lifestyles included are so interesting - once opened this book is terribly difficult to close.

Other connections:
This is a perfect fit with our older grade health classes who keep food diaries at one point during the year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt (2010)

How fitting that the last post was also a bear book. All I have to say about that is "More Bears!"

What it's about: 
An author is writing a story with absolutely no bears in it, when he hears voices (the voices of children reading the story) who keep insisting on "more bears!"

Why I love it:
This book makes for a read aloud that is sheer fun. The children's voices in the book predictably call for "more bears" (except for the very end!), students quickly pick up on it and join in. And the bears who subsequently join the story are not just plain old bears, they each have quirky traits including an astronaut bear who "always kept a hamster in his pocket, just in case" and a bear named "Lucky Eddie who juggled carrots."

My favorite part:
I do love the loud groaning laughter I get at the end when it seems that the voices in the story are going to ask for more bears, but instead they surprise us by asking for "more chickens!"
But my favorite part is near the beginning when the bears being introduced just start to get silly, in particular a papa bear named "Captain Picklehead." It's right about Captain Picklehead's entrance that I can tell everyone is hooked.

Oh...and you really can't go wrong with any story that fits in a reference to underpants.

Other connections:
This is the sort of read aloud that will generate scads of holds with the primary set. Be ready.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (2010)

What it's about:
Lucy Bear is out in the woods, she finds a little boy and convinces her mother to let her keep him as a pet.
What I love:
Kids love the humorous twist that a bear wants a kid as a pet. That twist plays out in the story perfectly. Being of a certain age, it reminds me of Daffy Duck and the Abominable Snowman: "I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him." The younger readers don't understand that reference, but it adds a little something for me. 
Peter Brown so clearly convey emotions on the bears faces, providing opportunities to ask younger kids how they think the character feels at that point in the story using "picture clues". 
Students may or may not personalize the idea that not everything you "find" is something for you to own and control, or see that there is some sort of double standard for dogs (Squeaker, the little boy, has a dog for a pet), but they love the fact that after Lucy Bear decides to let the little boy stay with his family, she sees and elephant and clearly hasn't learned a thing. This last picture is perfect for a "what do you think happens next?" discussion. 
My Favorite part:
I love that Mama bear calls Lucy bear by her full name when she first brings Squeaker home. That was always a sign of something serious when I was growing up. I also like the clear voice (for all you fans of 6+1 traits) that comes through with Mama bear and Lucy at that point. 
Other Connections:
This is a good read to connect to learning about genres. There are many ways a story can be fantasy ("an impossible made up story"). Stories where animals act like humans are a common sub-genre in children's picture books, and an easy one for students to learn to recognize and remember as fantasy.
Read Aloud Today!

Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban

 To start things off, I decided to go with an old favorite: Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban.
I remember checking this out from the library during my own childhood. 
What it's about:
Little Francis badger loves bread and jam, and starts to eat it for every meal.
What I love: 
I love Francis' little songs. They add so much to a read aloud. I don't know if there is a recording of this somewhere where there is an official melody for her songs, but the melodies I use when reading it have now become part of the story for me. I also love to read with a jumping rope rhythm. I find myself holding the book with one hand and miming jumping rope with the other.
This book can be a bit long for kindergartners early in the school year, and there are some types of foods that may need some explaining, but the idea of wanting to eat your favorite food all the time is an idea many can identify with. Since most of my students wouldn't bring a lobster-salad sandwich to school - it is also a book that emphasizes the fact that different people enjoy different foods.
My favorite line: 
When Francis is at the table no longer wanting bread and jam and she sings "so softly that Mother and Father could scarcely hear her: What I am - Is tired of jam."
When Francis starts to cry - kids listening are usually right with me, and it is fun to slow way down at that moment and sing her song almost inaudibly.
Read Aloud Today!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Welcome to Read Aloud Today!

Welcome to the start of a new blog: Read Aloud Today! - a celebration of children's books, reading out loud, reading for fun and sharing great books.

I am so lucky that reading children's books is part of my job as a K-8 libray media specialist.
I love to share books and read aloud - with students and my own children.
There is something special about a shared read aloud experience. And there also something special about being the person reading out loud - conecting to word choices and the rhythm of the text in a physical way.
This site was created to celebrate that - old favorites & new finds - picture books, chapter books and nonfiction.

Read Aloud Today!