Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Merry Christmas To All!

The Christmas season is in full swing!!  The decorations are hung in my classroom with care and the Christmas/Holiday books line the dry erase boards and FILL my "All-Star Books" crate.  Because there are SO MANY Christmas books to choose from (and more and more come out each year), there are certain standards I set for the Christmas books that I select for my classroom.  First and most importantly, the book MUST stir some sort of emotion from within me (other than boredom).  If I laugh out loud, have a connection to the character and WANT to keep reading, then I know that is a book I need to own.  The second...the illustrations.  If you've ready any of my previous posts, you know how important I believe the illustrations are to a book...maybe even more so are the illustrations in a Christmas book.  Kids have a mental image of Santa, the reindeer, his workshop and the elves...the illustrations are so very important in helping to continue to foster those thoughts and images! 

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas/Holiday books that I have in my classroom:

This is an author/illustrator that I have written about in earlier posts.  This is one of my favorite Christmas book and it is written and illustrated by David Shannon.  Each page of illustrations tell more and more about the story than just what is written in the words.  Great pictures.  Great story.  Great moral. 

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book.  A student gave this book to me several years ago and it has turned out to be one of my favorites.  This story features letters written back and forth between Santa and a little girl named Holly.  On the pages where Santa has written Holly a letter, you will find a small envelope with letters that you can take out and read.  Kids LOVE it!!!  One of my favorite things about this book is that the letters NEVER talk about what the little girl wants for Christmas.  She asks Santa about his reindeer, elves and talks about her brother.  Santa responds with letters, reindeer jokes and an ornament (all tucked inside tiny little envelopes).  I love reading this book as much as the kids do. 
 For my younger or struggling readers...Froggy's Best Christmas!!  You can never go wrong with a Froggy book!!

 He's back!!  My favorite illustrator...David Catrow!  One of Santa's elves knocks Santa out cold (with a toy he invented) on Christmas eve.  Now the elf has to find someone to take Santa's place and deliver the presents!  Enter Murry...owner of Murry K. Diner.  This book is written in rhyme and it makes me laugh right along with the kids.
This book is written by the same author (Mike Reiss) and illustrator (David Catrow).  Cute book about a make-believe place where it is Christmas every day, kids never go to school, the mail never gets delivered...except on the one day of the year - "Un-Christmas!"

 Junie B. Jones is is as funny and sassy as ever in her Christmas book.  It is laugh-out-loud funny!!
 I found this book while wandering through Barnes and Noble one day...and I immediately fell in love with it.  The first thing that caught my attention was the cover.  (This is one of those times when judging a book by it's cover paid off!!)  I loved everything about it...just from the cover.  The story, if it's possible, is even better than the pictures.  A little boy writes a letter to Santa and tells him that he wants a penguin for Christmas.  Santa gives the boy what he wants...but it turns out to be a lot more than he bargained for.  It is a sweet, sweet book that is beautifully written and equally beautiful illustrations. 
This book has been around a while (written in 1997), but I only recently bought it for my classroom.  Don't ask me what took so long to buy it...because I couldn't tell you.   Recently, this book was made into a make-for-TV movie.  It's not nearly good as the book.  Little Olive is a puppy who hears a song about her on the radio..."Olive the other reindeer..." She makes her way to the North Pole where she knows Santa is waiting for her to help lead the way on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts!

 Splat is one of my favorite Children's book series.  This book is no exception.  Splat and his pet mouse, Seymour, are funnier than ever in Merry Christmas, Splat!

Here he is favorite illustrator, David Catrow. (Is this the part where I confess that I have a small "illustrator" crush on him?!?!) This author/illustrator duo are back with HILARIOUS poetry written to the melodies of favorite Christmas songs. It is just as fun trying to sing the words to the melody as it is to read the poems!!
A really cute book about the eight nights of Hanukkah.
For younger kids, but still a great book to introduce Hanukkah.

 These two books are great for introducing and teaching kids about the meaning of Kwanzaa!
Merry Christmas and HAPPY READING!!!!

**All images are from 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spooky Fun Halloween Books!

Halloween is my favorite time of year for Children's books. (Yes, even more than Christmas!)  There are so many wonderful, funny, creepy, and beautifully illustrated books that are Halloween themed.  Here are some of the books I have in my own classroom!
 This one of my newer books Halloween books.  It's a spin on the "12 Days of Christmas".  It can been kind of I wouldn't recommend it for little kids!
Cinderella Skeleton is a version of (obviously) Cinderella. The illustrator is David favorite.  It's written in poem form and some of the words are REALLY big.  It would be perfect for upper elementary and higher.

 These "Black Lagoon" books started as a picture book series (Class From the Black Lagoon, Gym Teacher From the Black Lagoon, etc...).  A few years ago, they came out with short chapter books.  The kids love them!! 
 This book, by Jerry Seinfield, is HILARIOUS.  I read it to my kids, but it really is geared more to adults.  We've all been there...the costume mask with the wimpy piece of elastic that breaks 10 minutes into trick-or-treating, or having to wear our coats over our costumes which defeats the whole purpose.  It's truly a great book for kids and adults alike!!
 Poor Wiener dog...his owner puts him in a hot dog costume.  But he ends up saving the night!
 Cute, cute, cute book.  Great for those kids who are scared of a monster under their bed!!

 Junie B. Jones...a quick-read chapter book and so funny!
 This is my newest Halloween book.  Again, my favorite illustrator.  He takes the classic song and puts it in a book with fantastic pictures!!
This is a remake of the classic story.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the illustrations in this book.

 Rainbow Magic series: Trixie the Halloween Fairy.  Girls LOVE these books!!
Last but not least, my favorite fuzzy, funny, and spooky cat Splat!!  

**All images are from

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's Back To School We Go!

School has been back in full swing for a week (although, if you are a teacher, it's been in full swing for several weeks!).  This is one of my favorite times of year because it is my chance to introduce my love of books to my students.  I have a little speech that goes something like this..."This year, you will hear me say 'This is my favorite book!' several different times.  I just can't help it.  I have SO MANY favorite books!"  When I say, "This is my favorite book," they just roll their eyes and say, "You say that about ALL of the books you read!"  I love it!!

Here are a few of the books that I read to my class every year when school starts. (Some of these books I've already blogged about...but then again, I love books!!).
First Day Jitters is A MUST for ALL teachers to read on the first day of school.  There is a twist ending that leave the kids speechless!!  (There is a follow up book to this one called "First Year Letters".)
I read several of Roald Dahl's books to my kids each year.  This is always a favorite.  George mixes up a new medicine for his horrible grandma and gets marvelous results!
This book is wonderful for a first of the year writing activity.  After I read it, I have the kids write about what they like about themselves.  Pictures by my favorite illustrator, David Catrow.
Let's Go Home is another good book for a writing activity.  Each page of this book is dedicated to a different room in a house/home and why the character likes that room the best.  I have the kids write about their favorite room in their house and draw a picture of the room to go with it. It's a great way to get to know the kids.
I found this book a year or two ago. Max's brothers collect stamps and coins.  Max wants to start a collection so he begins collecting words.  From those words he starts to make stories and those stories come to life. I read it on the first day of school and give the kids a "homework" assignment.  They find 10-15 words that describe them and cut them out of magazines, print them from the computer, or write them on paper.  Then we use those words to come up with fun, silly, and creative sentences that are turned into stories!
Me First is FANTASTIC for talking about citizenship...and it's just plain funny!!
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful book.  Great book for self-esteem and how to deal with bullies.  The kids LOVE it (and I do too!!)
This is another good book for citizenship. Princess Penelope gets a little taste of her own medicine!!
Splat is seriously one of my favorite characters in children's books.  In this book, it's the first day of cat school for Splat and he doesn't want to go! 
A teacher friend introduced The Treasure Tree to me several years ago and it became a book that I ALWAYS read the first week of school.  This book shows how different personalities (Lance the Lion is a leader, Giggles the Otter loves to make people laugh, Honey the Golden Retriever makes people feel warm and fuzzy, and Chew the Beaver like to make plans and is always prepared) work together even though they are very different.  Then I have the kids decide who they are most like and talk about why and how we can all work together this year in the class.
Have a wonderful school year!!!

**All images are from

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Teachers Love to Read

I asked the teachers I work with if they would tell me books that they liked to read.  Some of them gave me the titles of books that they read with their students.  Others gave me book titles that they liked to read as children or with their own kids. 

Because the list is fairly long, I will only add the covers of a few books. 

Books that teachers read to their students:
The Million Dollar Strike by Dan Gutman
Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld (**One of my personal favorites:  I read this every year around Halloween to my students)
Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehert
Airmail to The Moon by Tom Birdseye
Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long (**The sequal to When I Became A Pirate - GREAT book)

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (**This book was listed as a favorite by MANY teachers!)
A Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn (**Another one listed several times by teachers!)
Small Steps by Louis Sachar (**GREAT chapter book author!)
Ghost of Fossil Glen by Cynthia C. DeFelice
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown; series
Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett; series

Pig Kahuna by Jennifer Gordon Sattler
Mrs. McBloom Clean Up Your Classroom by Kelly S. Dipucchio (**This is one of my picks.  I LOVE the voice that comes through in the teacher, Mrs. McBloom.)
My Little Sister Hugged An Ape by Bill Grossman

Books teachers read as children or to their own kids:
Little House on The Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Poems by Shel Silverstein
The Family Minus by Fernando Krahn
I'll Love You Forever by Rober Munsch
Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
You Read to Me, I Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman; series (**I hadn't ever heard of these.  But they sound WONDERFUL for kids who are learning to read!)

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin (**I also read ALL of these books.  I just looked up the cover on Amazon...the covers are completely different than 25 years ago when I read them!)
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Say Boo! By Lynda Graham-Barber
What in the World? By Eve Merriam
The World God Made by Donna D. Cooner, Ed.D  (**Sweet, sweet book)


**All images are from

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Graphic Novels - A Whole New World

A teacher friend came up to me and asked if I had any book suggestions for her son. She told me that her son can read (and reads well) but he just hates it.  It sounded like she had exhausted everything that she knew to try and peak his interest.  A few days later, our school librarian does a lesson on the genre Graphic Novels.  Maybe it's just me, but when I hear the phrase "graphic novel" my mind jumps to comic-strip books that are typically dripping with aliens, monsters, and blood (sometimes all in the same book) and that all the nerdy boys would read on the bus ride home from school.  So, when the librarian told the kids that they would be spending the lesson looking at and reading these "graphic novels" my stomach did a flip.  Was she serious?  I don't consider myself a children's book expert by any means, but did I miss something here????  Yes, apparently I've missed something big.  I've been missing an entire genre that has made a BOLD resurgence. 

As my students read through and traded the graphic novels that the librarian picked out for them, I did a little perusing myself.  I was truly blown away at the amount of books and the types of books that have been turned into graphic novels.  It wasn't until I sat down to do more research for this blog that I realized how big this genre was...and I had NO CLUE it was out there.  There are graphic biographies, graphic classics, graphic science, graphic for girls, graphic invention and discovery, graphic history...and the list goes on. 

Here are just a few (as in a drop in the bucket) of the graphic novels that I found on available on Amazon.  All of these are suggested for the age groups of 6 and up (some are 8 and up).  If you have a boy (or a girl-although there seem to be a lot less geared towards girls) who just doesn't enjoy reading, try checking a few of these out. **Please Note: I have not read the majority of these books and do not take responsibility of their content.  That responsibility lies with you, the parent, to preview them before your child does!

I thought I'd start with a classic series.  I would read these books ALL.THE.TIME as a kid.  I don't know why....but I loved them.  Apparently they are making a comeback as well.  Our library has several different copies.  All it took was me saying that I read those books as a kid and my students were pulling them off the shelves.  The girls seem to really like them...more than the boys, at least.

Graphic Biographies

Graphic History

Graphic Science

Graphic Sport Illustrated Kids

Graphic Muppet...yes, I said it.

Graphic Nancy Dew and Graphic The Hardy Boys

Graphic Boxcar Children

Graphic Novels that would appeal to girls

Graphic Inventions and Discoveries

Graphic Tall Tales

Just a few random ones...I have one of the "Knights of the Lunch Table" series in my class library. The boys seem to like it a lot.

Graphic Classics

 So there you have it!!  I could have posted SEVERAL other covers...but I need to save room on my computer for more pictures of my adorable niece!!

**All images are from