Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

First Staff Development Coming Up-Topic: Writing August 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:42 pm
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The first time I have to lead a whole staff in a professional development meeting is coming up Wednesday. I keep rereading chapter 3 “My Life in Seven Stoies” in Becoming a Literacy Leader: Supporting Learning and Change by Jennifer Allen. I hope I can learn from her trials and start the year with at least some staff support/enthusiasm and not have to personally experience her first year of staff meetings all over again in a different school, city and state! I have other professional books that I keep going back to, snacks and drinks prepared, a few new picture books to give away as incentives, and just like Jennifer Allen, new writing journals and pens. One of my friends, who used to teach with me before life with children happened, was kind enough to listen to my overview and provide feedback. Based on her suggestions, I am putting together a week of writing overview/lessons for each grade level so they can leave with something they could use in their own classrooms the next day if they wanted.

If things go well, we will follow a format of twice a month whole group meetings during Early Release days (one time a month for an hour) and Staff Meetings (one time a month for 40 minutes).

I’ll add my overviews/lessons later this week.


Writing Workshop Intermediate Grades August 30, 2008



Focus Lesson C2: Generating Ideas (sketching)



This lesson begins to teach students how writers use their notebooks and helps them begin to gather ideas. It can be taught several times with different topics, books, authors, etc. so students have many opportunities to consider stories they may choose to tell (or write…soon).


Telling stories and listening to stories spoken and read aloud prepare students
to read and write narratives later in school. The standards expect students
to develop more and more detailed oral narratives—and more like written stories as they grow older.



  • book by Patricia Polacco (I would use the same one as yesterday so that you have already read it and don’t need to use that time for reading aloud)
  • Teacher and student writer’s notebooks
  • “Ideas to Write About” list

Other books you could  use: When I Was Young in the Mountainsby Cynthia Rylant, A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams


Intended Learning Statement

“As we continue with our Writer’s Workshop, we got ready to write yesterday by listening to a story of one of our favorite authors, listening to some of my stories, and working together as we listen and share our own stories. Today I am going to teach you another strategy for coming up with ideas to write about.


Whole Group Instruction

  • Modeling: Hold up yesterday’s picture book, think aloud by saying something, such as “Wow, Patricia Polacco’s story really helped me have a picture of where the story took place. Of course her wonderful illustrations painted the picture for me, but I could have closed my eyes and been able to imagine where the story took place…” then relate an interesting personal story about a place from your life where many of your personal stories could have taken place for students. As you talk through your place, sketch it on chart paper for students to see (mine was my grandparent’s house, yard, and neighborhood). Yours could have been your bedroom, your backyard as a child, the playground at your elementary, etc.  Share that there are many places you could have listed to pick from, but for today you selected the one that came to mind first. Explain how the place could be used to think of many different ideas for stories. Remember, you are not expected to be an artist-this is a sketch! Don’t be self-conscious.
    Be sure to think about your comments ahead of time.


  • Active Involvement: “Close your eyes and think about a place that  is important to you..” Allow actual “think” time. “Now turn to your partner and share your place.” Call on one or two students to orally share their stories and extend these stories with open-ended questions, such as “That’s interesting; tell me more about…”


Work Period

Say, “Today, I shared a sketch of a place that was important to me ________________  and we shared our own stories. While sharing, I hope you found at least one or several ideas about a place that is  important to  you that you might write about in the future. Before the end of our workshop time today, let’s sketch our place.”  Then students complete the sketch in their writer’s notebooks to make a picture. Sketching is added to the chart of “Ideas to Write About” list (see below). Allow students time to work on their first idea/story from yesterday or if they are finished start a story based on today’s sketch. Don’t allow anyone to say they are finished (CRITICAL). Encourage them to go back to yesterday’s list of people and write another story about that person or another story based on the sketch they drew.


During the work period, confer with several students (probably still in table groups). Also this might be a good day to teach them/reinforce the signal that you are going to use to get their attention if you need it during their writing work time.


Share Time


Ideas to Write About

·         Think of a person who matters to you, the list small moments you remember with him or her. Choose one to write the story that goes with it.

·         Sketch a place that is important to you and write one of the stories that took place there.







·         Example: grandparent’s house/yard sketch


 Choose students to share some of their sketches, based on the writing conferences that took place during the work period (these are probably table group conferences still at this point in the year) . After sharing, ask, “What is something you learned as writers today?” Reinforce that the chart will be there for them to look at so there is no reason to not have something to write about during work time.


Don’t forget that these are personal narratives. If a child starts going down the imaginary place/person path, try to redirect and explain that these are TRUE stories.










Intermediate Writing Workshop with read alouds

Earlier in this blog I put up a schedule of implementing the first Unit of Study for the intermediate aged classroom. I added a couple new lessons that I felt were missing from the original plan and thought I would share them here as well.

Focus Lesson C2: Generating More Stories



This lesson uses a book to wake up stories in students’ minds. It can be taught several times with different books and authors so students have many opportunities to consider stories they may choose to write about.


A common lament heard from students is “I have nothing to write about.”
This lesson generates excitement for writing by getting students to orally tell
their own stories, propelled by the storytelling of favorite authors and their teacher. It builds structure for the notion that “writing floats on a sea of talk.”



When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Chart, “Ideas to Write About”

Other books to use: The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola, Ticky, Tacky Dollby Cynthia Rylant, many Patricia Polacco books


Intended Learning Statement

“As writers, we have been experiencing where authors get their ideas. Today we’ll analyze how Cynthia Rylant (or another author of your choice) gets her writing ideas.”


Whole Group Instruction

  • Modeling: Read aloud from the book When I Was Young in the Mountains  by Cynthia Rylant. Say, “Wow, this book makes me think of several stories I might tell. I could tell you about the time when my grandma made a chocolate cake that I called “The Soggy Chocolate Cake”-I loved that cake! and how I always wanted to eat at her house because she made spaghetti out of a can. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out she didn’t know how to cook.Or, I could tell you about the time I was catching crawdads with my neighbor  when one of my friends lost their shoe in the mud (we were convinced it was quicksand!).Then share a special personal story.


  • Active Involvement: Say, “Now I’d like you to talk with your partner about a story—or stories—this story helped you think about.”
    After students talk with their partners, they share an idea their partner came up with. Allow several pairs to share their responses.

“Be sure to write any new ideas down in your writer’s notebook during the work period.”


Work Period

Students add a few ideas to a brainstorm list to write about in the future. During the work period, confer with students by asking, “After hearing When I Was Young in the Mountains, what new ideas did you come up with to write about?” “Why would you like to write about that idea?” and/or “I’d love to hear more about why it’s special to you.”


Share Time

Choose students to share some of their ideas based on the writing conferences that took place during the work period. Ask, “What is something Cynthia Rylant can teach us as writers about getting ideas?” and/or “Where else might you get ideas for your writing now?”
































Comprehension Strategies launching lesson August 28, 2008

Today I taught my first model lesson for three other teachers in fourth grade. I thought it went pretty well. I was nervous the day before when meeting with the teachers to talk about the lesson, but once I was in the classroom with the students, it felt very natural. I did have several things going in my favor: It is a lesson that I had done successfully in my classroom last year; I know many of the students since my daughter is the same age; it was in the classroom of the woman who used to be my co-teacher until this year. I don’t think I could have gotten a more comfortable setting for a first time!

The lesson is one I had read about in book entitled Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor. The lesson is called Reading Salad. I really like the set-up she describes of telling students that you bet they are really good at pretending. You then go onto to explain that they are going to pretend to the be teachers and you are going to pretend to be a student. Remind them teachers are very serious about reading, so they should be very serious because they are going to be grading me as a reader (while pretending to be a student). I selected the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for my role as “student”. The book it is one that I know many of the teachers read last year as we had had several ongoing conversations about it at lunch. I read aloud (with a couple choice words removed) parts of the first two pages of the prologue. I did (accidentally) stumble over a word or two and also have to go back and reread one sentence when my “editing” made the sentence unclear.

When done I asked them to give me honest feedback about me as a reader. They were very complementary, as was last year’s group, despite my couple stumbles. When asked why they thought I was a good reader, they offered things such as “you knew all the words”, “you used expression”, “it seemed like a hard book” and other similar offerings. I then revealed to them that the first time I had read that part of the book, I had been very confused about what was going on, and also shared that I went back to the prologue and reread it many more times as I was reading the book as I figured out new things that I didn’t know when I read it the first time. They were very impressed that I would reread part of a book more than once because I wanted to.

On the fly I remembered a story that my teaching partner had shared with me about her son, who is now a senior in high school. She was very excited that he had learned to read and when she went to parent teacher conferences for the first time, she told the teacher how proud she was of his reading. The teacher (as it so happens, was my mother-which makes the story even funnier to the kids) informed my teaching partner that her son wasn’t reading, but had memorized certain books. She asked her to write some of the words out of context to see if her son could read them. He could not.

This story was a perfect tie-in to the rest of McGregor’s Reading Salad lesson as you ask the students, “Since you are so good at pretending, I bet you’ve been able to pretend you are reading or that you understand something you read, when really you didn’t.” We did a turn and talk with a partner and then shared some instances of when they have “pretended” to read or understand when they really didn’t. It is AMAZING how honest they are about times they knew the words, but didn’t understand, or only looked at the pictures, or flipped pages without reading, etc. The most promising sharing was of a student who shared that sometimes she stops and daydreams about what is happening in the books when she is reading, instead of continuing reading (perfect springboard to come back to for visualizing). 

I went on to explain the Reading Salad part of the lesson. You have a bowl with green pieces of paper marked “text” and another bowl with red pieces of paper marked “thinking” (this is opposite of what is described in her book, but a modification that I found worked better for me after last year’s students).  There is a third bowl marked “salad”. I put two students up on stools/chairs on either side of me and held the salad bowl in my lap. I read aloud Splat Cat (see earlier review) as a think aloud. Each time I read text, green text “lettuce” was added to the salad and when I stopped to do the think-aloud, red thinking “tomatoes” were added until the book was over and there was a salad. 

This year I also added orange carrots to represent unknown/unfamiliar words. The lesson ends with a specialized Venn Diagram of a book (text) intersecting with a head (thinking) for Real Reading (not pretend reading!). I will post a photo of our chart later this week so you can visualize. 

As I stated at first, this is a modified lesson from the McGregor comprehension book. She has many other great, hands-on, visual, or concrete lesson for launching your strategies lessons. 

Later this week I will then like to follow up with a lesson that Franki Sibberson describes in her book Still Learning to Read: Teaching Students in Grades 3-6.


New “er” Read Aloud Titles for Intermediate Aged Students part 2 August 25, 2008

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:58 pm
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The fifth grade staff asked me to make up a list of newer titles for read alouds that I really like. I tried to make a different list so that if they ended up really loving a book, that they wouldn’t be frustrated when they went to read it aloud and part (or all) of their class had heard it the previous. I am not a big fan of claiming book titles as “ours”, but knowing that this issue comes periodically in my building, I decided to be proactive. As always, I recommend previewing a book before reading it aloud. Just because I really liked, doesn’t mean it is right for you or your particular group of students. 

Red Kayak by Priscialla Cummings

I could not stop reading this book last summer! In a nutshell, Brady is at first considered a hero for rescuing a young boy from a freezing local river after he and his mother were reported missing.  Soon he makes some discoveries that put him right in the middle of issues of loyalty to friends and doing what he knows is right. I found this an amazing book that combined modern day issues kids face with peer pressure, but also family issues of loss and how one deals differently with a loss.



The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of Fifth Grade by Ken Derby 

            Fifth-grader Anthony loves David Letterman’s Late Show–especially the jokes, the Top 10 Lists, and Stupid Human Tricks. Determined to appear on the show as a guest, he tries all kinds stunts, including getting his foot stuck in a toilet, starting a food fight at lunch, and xeroxing his rear. After he steals the ball at a NFL and runs for a touchdown in a bear costume, Letterman invites him to the show. A fast, fun read aloud.





Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

            This is the first book in her newest series. I loved it and it has gotten some great reviews from other intermediate teachers and librarians. There is a link for a video the publisher created for the book that gave me the chills.  I loaned it a couple students over the summer who also really liked. You don’t have to like the Among the Hidden series to like this. Two boys, one knows he is adopted, the other doesn’t. They both get letters telling them they are “one of the missing”. It is part mystery and part time-travel.  

Check out the above link if you aren’t sure it is for you!


Listening for Lions By Gloria Whelan

Here’s a quote from a teacher who read it aloud in another district:

“I read LISTENING FOR LIONS, Gloria Whelan’s 38th book, as a read-aloud to my fourth graders from the newly released galley of the book. While I am not usually wild about books without much “action,” my students and I were really hooked into this book, due to Whelan’s character development and interplay. The book was (as many of Whelan’s books are) great at illustrating for students the use of symbolism in writing (see also Whelan’s HOMELESS BIRD and MIRANDA’S LAST STAND, among others, for examples of symbolism that students can grasp). At the end of the book, my students even broke into spontaneous applause!”

Sounds like a winner to me and I liked it very much



I am now trying to finish The Underneath. If it doesn’t win the Newbery this year, I’ll be shocked!             




Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School The never ending quest to find the perfect book for every student August 24, 2008

Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw is a fun new cross breed of books that has been gaining popularity. I would describe it as a cross between a journal (think Amelia’s Notebook) graphic novel (Babymouse).

Ellie has just had to move to a new town and is facing the tough “new kid to school” blues. Fortunately she has her journal, where she chronicles her downs (and some ups).

The author does a great job of capturing common struggles for new students: people messing up your name, mean kids teasing, the job over meeting a new friend.

I also like how the author captures some common issues of pre-teen students-relationships to teachers, trying to communicate/protest a school issue that seems unfair, and even touches on how to act with people with special needs.

This the second Ellie McDoodle book. I bought the first one for my daughter (just started fourth grade) in my quest to find a new favorite book for her (her current is The Magic Half by Annie Barrows). I’ve always prided myself on being able to match books with students, turning reluctant readers into book lovers, and being able to help make connections for children between different books that the already read and ones that might be the “best book they haven’t read”.

Unfortunately, but probably predictably, my daughter is my toughest sell. It drives her crazy when we go the library and parents and other kids will come up and ask me about books (it is a small town where almost everyone recognizes each other).

I really like Interview with the Author at the end, told in the same style as the novel.

A great addition for a classroom library!


Great new Read Aloud Kenny & the Dragon

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:50 am
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Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi grabbed by attention at the bookstore for its great cover illustration and secondly I recognized Tony DiTerlizzi of the Spiderwick series. It grabbed me by with the first sentence and kept me pulled in through the entire story. What I think I loved most was how I could visualize reading the story aloud to a group of students and how mesmerized they would be by the story.

Kenny, a young rabbit, happens to live on a farm where a dragon has taken up residence. Kenny expects to get to have an up close look at something he has only read about, kind of like the hummingbird he had studied for a school report. Little does he expect to find a kindred spirit. With Kenny’s love of reading and his active imagination, his only friend prior to the the dragon, Grahame, was a elderly bookstore owner. This same elderly friend, also turns out to be the king’s highest ranked dragon slayer!

As a teacher of intermediate students, finding a chapter book that still has compelling illustrations, has been difficult to do with as much regularity as I would like. This book falls into the niche and I can imagine a teacher of any age-group having fun reading this aloud, complete with the voices.

I think it would be fun to read this book aloud and then share the inspiration picture book The Reluctant Dragon and have fun comparing similarities and differences. It would also be fun to share some of the fairy tales that Kenny and his two friends enjoy so much.

I just had an ah-ha moment that I didn’t have while reading the book, the author of The Reluctant Dragon’s author is Kenneth GRAHAME (maybe that’s not so much of an ah-ha, but a DUH moment).

Tony DiTerlizzi does have a nice blog-my favorite part being his Friday Fan Art work that he posts! What a neat thing for kids to see-authentic children’s artwork posted on an author/illustrator website.


Moms trying to get by…first day traumas and successes August 21, 2008

Filed under: moms,motherhood,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:22 pm
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 NOW I think I have this right.  Here is what I thought I sent this morning and tried (unsuccessfully) to resend twice this afternoon (link to Oriental Trading Company).  If it  doesn’t work this time I am giving up and calling each of you!

We got back after midnight last night (this morning?) and combined with the two hour time difference and the fact that Jessen, my mom and I  were all sick during our trip the level of (adult) exhaustion here is beyond what I can describe.
 Here’s hoping Nicholas will be affected just enough the first few  days of school to lack the energy to get himself in trouble!!! Ok, I am officially too tired to live my life!!


P.S.-Do you think it is safe for me to DRIVE to Meet the Teacher?


Ooh, that stinks that you all were sick on vacation!  Kinda funny though, how delicately you worded it re: Nicholas.  A little touch of the bug might be an OK thing for that first impression for the teacher, huh?



OH too funny- you need a GREAT night’s sleep my dear…

Warmly- Susan



 Hope you all had a good meet the teacher. Happy baby news Susan-yucky 
sick vacation news Beth–have LOGOS rec books from Janice now Diane. 

The year is off to a great start. Mr. Prebles had a wonderful opening morning for the teachers (yeah)!




 Oh, wake me up when they’re all on the bus, in cute little outfits (not yet picked out) and with healthy lunches in hand (gotta buy something for that tonight too.)
 Is school starting too soon, or is it just me???




Wait a minute- shouldn’t you be doing the happy dance- all 3 in school all day- congrats!! Will you be teaching more classes? No-  you’ll be doing more LOGOS- yeah, yeah, yeah…..

Warmly- Susan



You guys were all up past my bedtime!  I think GNO after curriculum  next week is an excellent idea.  I have the supplies and the lunch  (I think – we’ll see what comes back today) but the one thing I  don’t know about is, what am I going to do all day without Peter?  



 OH my- As I sat waiting for the bus to come back….I realized the kids have no idea what bus number they ride…I don’t even know…I  didn’t think I’d be this kind of parent…..oh well I have all the  faith in the world they’ll make it back to me some how, some way……
 You know the past two years I’ve gotten on my bike and been there to make sure all goes okay- not this year….kind of ready to get cleaning…



 Nicholas has a great day, hope the same is true for everyone at your  houses.  Our drop off bus came over 30 minutes late so we will have to see what time they really end up getting here.
 Biggest news from Nicholas:  “Guess what?  We have recess *EVERY* day!”
P.S. Diane, I have folders for Kay if you need them!


Hi all –
Crazy day here.  It’s 4:51p and Jenna still isn’t here.  (Kay arrived late — but no Jenna on that bus.)  Anyway, the school has located now.  (I guess I’m not the only one having a crazy day!)
Beth — thanks so much for the folder!!!!!!!!  That was so sweet of you, and I’m sorry I haven’t called you yet.
Jenna’s gonna need a beer when she gets home.  (Oh, maybe that’s me.  She’ll have the ice water.  Just kidding, it’s a little early for my beer…)



Oh my..Sally and I just hung out on the stoop- I did a lot of that today- did the same thing this am watching for their bus to come back…they say they go to Park Trails? Feels far and long.I’ll time it again tomorrow. But I’m picking up my kids tomorrow as Peter has a violin lesson.

By the way I had a scotch at 5:45- bus wait, plus sad news about Mona- she has a very aggressive bone cancer. Joe had done the research and we sort of thought that- glad they’re not recommending surgery/amputation..we’ll keep her comfortable for awhile. Kids know some of it, but didn’t want to drop it on all of them on this happy day..I also had an ice cream sundae and am headed to a hot bath and bed with my new book- thank you Kristine for the young adult vampire stuff.2nd book!!




I should have know when the day started at 6:00am with (dog) poop on the floor. (Sorry all you non-pet people — I swear this NEVER happens.  That’s how I knew I was in trouble today…)
Our morning bus came 10 min. early.  Kids were ready but lunches weren’t.  Lunches caught up with them at a later stop.
Jenna took last year’s bus after school.  Trouble is, last year’s bus now goes out to Granview Rd.  Jenna spent half her (90 min.) bus ride worried about Kay.  Kay, who was on the correct bus, didn’t seem a bit concerned about her older sister.
Here’s what I’ve learned about 7th grade:
Thank goodness that Susan T tipped me off to that last week (Nancy R confirmed) before I sent Jack into that locker room.
I thought I was fine with all this first day hub-bub, and promptly burst into tears as I pulled into the middle school parking lot.  Jack took one look at me and said,” Oh, no, Mom,  you are NOT gonna cry!!!!  Just stop it Mom…Really!”
Oh well, here’s to a smoother tomorrow!!!  Cheers everyone!



I think the dogs are launching a revolt!  Ours barfed on the kitchen floor during the morning madness.  My 6 ½ year old – going on 16 told me very matter-of-factly this morning (I let him sleep an extra 10 minutes which made for total chaos) that  I am to wake him precisely at 7:30 – he doesn’t need extra sleep he gets enough in the night.  Then he proceeded to “style” his hair for school into a “shark” (faux hawk)  help me……




Oh Diane-you just made me laugh so hard I cried. I am so sorry that your day went like that today! I would have had no idea about the underwear, so that is a good heads-up!

Our morning today started with tears (not from me-Maggie), dog poop, Guy swearing, and new dog freaking out when I left and Guy tried to kennel him (guess I shouldn’t have taken him with me everywhere this summer, but he doesn’t talk back and thinks I’m great!-who can resist that?) and more bus confusion.

Ah, well at least there wasn’t a tornado during bus dismissal like there was for the kids who are seniors were fourth graders.




I knew there is a reason we don’t have dogs…on the other hand the cat made three messes in the garage yesterday so maybe there is no way to win!

Here is hoping for a smoother day all around!!
hmmm….maybe dogs (cats too, Beth?) have that 6th sense…
Oh Janice, I hope that Peter sticks with the shark ‘do for a few weeks so I get a chance to see him at LOGOS!  What a confidant little guy — he knows what looks good on him!  I bet no one will have to tip you off that he needs to switch to boxers in 7th grade — he’ll be at the head of the class with that one!
Sorry Guy doesn’t share your enthusiasm about your new little dog.  It took David nearly a year to bond with my boston with no eyes.  (That dog WORSHIPS me!! I have never had a bigger fan!)  Maybe Guy needs a little bonding with the pup — I don’t know, a camping trip or something?
Anyway, next time I will surely see it as a sign when I wake up to something evil and rotten that my dog did on the floor.  If/when it happens again, all alarms are shut off and I’m going back to bed.
Have a good day everyone!

“Newer” titles for Read Alouds

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:05 am
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Newer titles for read alouds that I really like:

Alabama Moon by Wyatt Key (comes out in paperback Sept. 2)

In a nutshell, Moon is raised by his father in a primitive shelter. At the age of 10 his father dies from a broken leg, that shouldn’t really kill him, except they will in a primitive shelter somewhere in Alabama. There is great dialect that I love to read aloud. I swear my students last year (all ability levels) hung on every word and begged for more. You might not pick it up based on the cover or back summary, but I loved it when I read it and loved reading it aloud.


Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle by David Elliot & Andrea Wesson

            I thought this book was a hoot to read aloud. Lots of silly big words that are fun to read aloud (they do get explained in the text-good context lesson built in!). Her parents are researchers who get the opportunity to study the rare Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle. Evangeline is left with her less than desirable uncle and his wife. When her parents go missing, Evangeline must go to their rescue, leading  to more adventures.  Not only is it a funny book that students love, it also has ecology themes woven in that you could choose to focus on if you so wanted.


Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

            This is the first book in her newest series. I loved it and it has gotten some great reviews from other intermediate teachers and librarians. There is a link for a video the publisher created for the book that gave me the chills.  I loaned it a couple students over the summer who also really liked. You don’t have to

 like the Among the Hidden series to like this. Two boys, one knows he is adopted, the other doesn’t. They both get letters telling them they are “one of the missing”. It is part mystery and part time-travel.


The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff: You Wish! By Jason Lethcoe

            Poor Benjamin lives in an unhappy orphanage (similar in some ways to the character Molly Moon from Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hynotism by Georgia Byng). When he has the opportunity to make a wish on a birthday cake candle his social worker had brought for him, he wishes for “unlimited wishes”.  

He somehow manages to follow

Rules for Birthday Wishing


1. The wish must be made with the eyes closed.

2. Every candle on the birthday cake must be blown out in one breath (coughing, sputtering, or spitting out the candles doesn’t count).

3. The wish must never, ever be spoken aloud.

which guarantee his wish will come true! In a parallel story in Wishworks, the keepers of the wishes are trying to deal with a management change when the crisis of Benjamin’s wish crashes in on them. Wishing for unlimited wishes or any version of this wish is a big no-no and students love to hear what is going to happen next. The descriptions are a great one to use for visualization/mental imagery lesson. 


New great first day read-aloud!

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:04 am
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Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton is a new great first day read aloud.  I love the first page illustration of Splat lying wide awake in bed with huge eyes. I know I’ve felt (and probably looked) like that the night leading up to the first day of school.

“It was early in the morning

and Splat was wide awake.

Today was his first day of Cat School

                                              and his tail wiggled wildly with worry.” 

What great descriptive words and alliteration! Besides using this book as a first day read-aloud, you could also use it as a mentor text. The illustrations are really engaging for kids and they can relate to having things that keep you up at night worrying, especially a new class or a new school. There are almost two story lines going: new school worries and Splat’s friend Seymour, the mouse, not being liked by other cats.