Read-alouds


As I said in a recent post, I believe in picture books!  And of course, I’m not alone.  Librarians, parents, authors and illustrators around the world are collaborating and celebrating the joy that these books bring during Picture Book Month.  The video above (from 2011 when Picture Book Month began) captures many of my feelings about the picture book, and I’m looking forward to promoting them this month and always.

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As a mom, librarian,  and former second and fifth grade teacher,  I can say with sincerity that I believe in picture books!  There are many who think that once children begin reading independently and skillfully they should be reading chapter books all the time. I disagree!

Picture books are appropriate right up through middle school as teaching texts and as pleasure reading.  Why?  There are many reasons but consider these:

  • the art in picture books is likely the first art children are acquainted with, and today’s picture books are full of incredible art in a wide array of media
  • the language in picture books is so well-crafted and often beautiful/lyrical with richer vocabulary than you find in other types of books
  • the pictures in a picture book often extend the story, or show a parallel story.  Attention to the pictures increases children’s visual literacy
  • picture books can be read in one or two sittings.  They make wonderful texts for teachers to use when giving instruction for particular mini-lessons in reading and writing
  • picture books are memorable because we associate the pictures with the words.
  • picture books teach important lessons and themes
  • picture books are a wonderful excuse to sit with someone on your lap and read and enjoy illustrations

Candlewick Press is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a campaign called “I Believe in Picture Books.”  Have a look at what others have to say on the subject, and then stop by the Learning Center to sign out a few picture books yourself!

Renowned author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83.  Though he might be most famous for his Caldecott Award-winning book Where the Wild Things Are, I always loved his illustrations for Elsa Minarik’s Little Bear series, and his book Chicken Soup with Rice.  When I was a second grade teacher we often performed Chicken Soup as a class.

April was National Poetry Month and in the library we celebrated by reading lots of poems and writing some as well.  We strategically placed poems in paper pockets to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. Check out our kindergarten classes’ poems about spring in the hallway!

Third graders have a major poetry focus in May in their Readers Workshop so we are continuing!  So far the third graders have written Fib poems (on display on our current hallway bulletin board), and a few have tried their hand at lemonade poems (squeezed from a single word).  We read some concrete poems, haiku, limericks, and many nature poems with beautiful imagery.

By far the most popular poetry activity, though, has been our poetry duets!  Using the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series, pairs of students have chosen a poem for two voices to share at the end of class.  I’ve been very impressed with their fluency and expression as they recite these together!

These books are great fun to do with your child, too.  Even first graders can read many of the poems in the books, especially by this point in the year.  Different colored print makes it easy to tell whose turn it is to speak in the poem, and they have a predictable sequence and ending.  Sign one out today, snuggle up with your child and the book, and enjoy the power of poetry!

In first grade we’ve begun an author study of Mem Fox, a popular literacy teacher and author from Australia.  We’ll be using the unit as an opportunity to read some non-fiction about the country of Australia and some of its unique wildlife, as well as lots of fictional works by the author.

Here’s the link to some websites we’ll be using.

Also, if you’re interested in a book for adults by Mem Fox, I highly recommend Radical Reflections:  Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living.  (We have it here in the LC.)  It definitely helped shape some of my thinking as a parent and teacher.

Here’s an update on the Reading is an Investment program with our second graders.  You may remember that here at school I shared three different books for financial literacy associated with this year’s theme of spending and saving.  Those who reported participating in the home component read for a total of 83 hours, with Miss McVey’s class leading the way with 70% of that total.

Completed reading logs are due in Montpelier by March 16.  Be sure to make the deadline if your child is to be entered for the drawing for a $250.00 savings bond for college!

What would babies say if they could talk?  Just for fun, I invite you to come on down to our wing to see the latest library bulletin board!  Inspired by the Red Clover book Born Yesterday:  the Diary of a Very Young Journalist, second and third graders wrote the words inside the speech bubbles of some great clip art photos of babies.  Check out their clever efforts!

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