One of the literacy coaches at Elmer sent me this link about school and classroom libraries...great find!
The Ultimate Classroom Library: Your School Media Center
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Granted, Susan Patron, the author of The Higher Power of Lucky, was also a childrens' librarian (for 35 years, no less), but I don't feel that played a part in this novel being chosen for the Newbery. This is a novel that has something for everyone. There has been a lot of controversy over this book, and I can see both sides of the issue. Yes, the word "scrotum" is in the book. Yes, scrotum is 100% gratuitous. Yes, Lucky's dog could have been bitten anywhere...on the foot, on the leg....it didn't have to be the scrotum. But someone smart once said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. People were talking about this book. "Scrotum" is apparently scandalous! It created an uproar in the library community. At the time this was happening, I had to wonder why all of these outraged people didn't have better things to do with their time. I'm sure that if I headed over to my 612's, I would find the word "scrotum" in plenty of books, along with some even more colorful words. But people were up in arms.
Despite the shock value, the book won the Newbery, and it deserved it. Lucky is like a modern-day Ramona Quimby: spunky, inquisitive, and full of life. After losing her mother in a tragic accident, her father's estranged wife, Brigitte, leaves France to care for Lucky. Lucky is sure that her "higher power" will make her life less difficult. In the meantime, she decides to always be prepared and carry around a survival kit, just in case. This will come in handy when Lucky thinks that Brigitte is planning on returning to France, which prompts Lucky to run away, along with an unexpected travel companion. Students will relate to Lucky and her unfortunate experiences--if they are like me, they will both laugh and cry.
Personally, I would not shy away from doing this as a read-aloud. I have a feeling that if you read the infamous scrotum sentence and just kept going, students wouldn't even notice. I highly doubt there would be any gasps of shock in the room. And if anyone did ask, it could be easily defined as part of a dog's body. Don't let one word ruin the chance for a great read-aloud.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Over the summer, I read Too Far From Home: a Story of Life and Death in Space, which is the nail-biting story of the Expedition Six mission to the International Space Station in 2003. Their three-month trip turned into a five-month trip after the space shuttle Columbia exploded and NASA grounded all other space flights and left them stranded at the ISS. (They did not bring enough food or supplies for an extended stay, so their return home was in jeopardy). My interest in space prompted me to find a nonfiction book that I could read to my students at school.
One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh commemorates the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's Moon landing. The text is accessible and the illustrations are beautifully detailed, yet dreamy at the same time. The book discusses the feelings and fears of the astronauts and does a wonderful job of giving an inside glimpse of what the men were thinking. In the future, I might pair this book with another that discusses day-to-day life in orbit (being strapped into bed so they don't float around all night, changing their clothes once a week), but we paired this book with an investigation of NASA's website. This book would be a great piece of a non-fiction or space-themed lesson.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Each chapter deals with a different aspect of parenting: praise (given way too often), sleep (getting less than ten hours per night takes the equivalent of two school years off of performance) and race (kindergarteners will notice race and come to their own conclusions, whether you mention it or not), to name a few. This is a fascinating read for anyone who deals with children and challenges many of the rules that we have been taught to believe. This title would make a wonderful choice for a school-wide book discussion.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Harriet, the cook at Lincoln School, is tired from making healthy lunches for the students, so she decides to take a vacation. The book consists mostly of letters sent from the students to Harriet, describing the horrible replacements that Mr. Fitz, the school principal, scrapes up. While this wouldn't be one that I would do for a read-aloud, classroom teachers might consider it when talking about letter-writing. Kids will enjoy the humorous meals that the various cooks serve up, and it could be tied in with a nutrition lesson, too. You might have a hard time getting your hands on a copy, though...
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I am blogging in my PJs on a weekday afternoon because we had a snow day today. While I was out shoveling at 6 am, cursing the snow (out loud, I might add), I remembered that I wanted to post the website that I am using with third grade this week, snowflakebentley.com. While most of us grumble and complain about snow, Wilson Bentley devoted his whole life to documenting the beauty of snowflakes.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The Van Gogh Cafe is housed in what used to be a theater. Theaters are always magical, according to the main character, Clara. And magical things do happen at the Van Gogh Cafe: breakfasts cook themselves, the owner, Marc (Clara's father) writes poems that predict the future, and cats fall in love with seagulls. Each chapter highlights a bit of magic that occurs in this sleepy little Kansas town. This would be a great introduction to fantasy, or it would make a great classroom read aloud. It is very short (53 pages), and contains many springboards for classroom discussions about writing, such as small moments, imaginative similes, and a person who wants to be a writer but feels that he doesn't have the talent. This will be suggested to many a reluctant reader in the months to come!
Friday, December 4, 2009
We recently got one of her new titles, The Three Snow Bears. This is a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with some differences, of course. It takes place in northern Canada, Goldilocks is an Inuit, and the bears are polar bears. I have been doing a great lesson with first grade, comparing and contrasting this to Jan Brett's version of Goldilocks. This would be a great story to support a lesson discussing arctic life.