Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Fall 2011 Read Alouds Recommended by TC October 17, 2011

Filed under: book reviews,TCRWP,Teachers College — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:09 pm
Spotlight Article
Fabulous Read Alouds for Fall 2011!
September 30, 2011 at 2:01pm

We are always on the lookout for wonderful read alouds and we just HAD to share this list with you. Here are a few titles to start the year with energy and pleasure! Gather your kids on the rug and enjoy these together!

And as always, if you have any great read alouds to share with us, please let us know! You can email us at

Some Funny and Feel-Good Books To Help Build Community


Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

Poor Zero thinks she has no value. She sees the other numbers as they count and wishes she could be like them, but hard as she tries to stretch and pull and change herself, she can only be Zero. Can the other numbers help her see her own special value?

Both primary and upper grades will have conversations around this book about the importance of staying true to yourself and what having value truly means. Don’t forget to look for Otoshi’s earlier title–One! Both are reads your class can’t miss!

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party

Scaredy Squirrel series by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is scared of pretty much everything! He fears germs, killer bees, bad dreams, seagulls–you name it– he’s afraid of it. Scaredy is always prepared for the worst and he always has an emergency kit and back-up plans ready for any situation. In each of these hysterical stories, he is forced to confront his fears and realize things aren’t always as bad as he thought. Your children will realize we all have fears and we can support each other to deal with them. The illustrations, also by Watt, are done in great detail and the inclusion of diagrams, lists, schedules, maps, etc. also make these books great mentor texts for a variety of genres!

How to Heal a Broken Wing

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

In a busy, crowded city, no one sees a hurt bird laying on the ground except for one small boy. With the help of his mother, the boy nurses the bird until he can see it soar free once more. The illustrations show the careful tending of the bird by the boy in heartrending detail.

The story will raise questions about one person’s ability to make a difference and keeping our eyes open to seeing more than just our own needs. “What kind of person is Will,” we might say, asking children to interpret the character of the boy. And then, “What would you have done if you had seen the bird? And what kind of person does that make you?” Upper grades can easily move from discussing the bird to the larger metaphor of social responsibility and just what the bird represents.

Disappearing Desmond

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter

Desmond is so shy, he likes to blend into the background and disappear. But when Gloria comes to school, she is determined to help him find his way into the spotlight. Can Desmond find the courage to become visible?

Here is a tale many students will relate to and the class can have conversations about how each of them can be more like a Gloria in the lives of others. How can they help to bring out the potential of others? And, once your students notice that there are others in the story who are disappearing even once Desmond himself is visible, the conversation can move to discussing and setting community goals.

Let’s Hear it for Nonfiction!

Nonfiction is not just for one unit–weaving nonfiction read alouds into your whole year is a great way to show the value of nonfiction–and help students raise their nonfiction reading skills! Try some of these to build community and a love of nonfiction in your classroom!

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop

This one has been on our list of great read alouds before, but we couldn’t help ourselves–we had to put it on this year’s, as well. That is, we think this is one your class can’t miss! Join New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team as they work on a remote island refuge off the coast of New Zealand to save the last of the kakapo. Through Nic Bishop’s incredible photographs, your students will witness first-hand the work and the passion of the fourteen humans trying to save the kakapo from extinction.

Conversations about the environment, extinction, the role of humans, the results of determination, etc. cannot help but unfold around this incredible tale. We think your students will be just as excited about it as we are!

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx

Biographies by Jonah Winter

Winter’s lively books tell the stories of people who achieved greatness and the obstacles they overcame to do so. He has written about Sandy Koufax, Sonia Sotomayor, Josephine Baker, Muhammad Ali, and President Obama, along with many others. Due to come out next year is a biography of Pablo Picasso and in October, Winter’s book of his own family history will be published. Each title is done with rich illustrations and each will help students discuss challenges and obstacles people face and the inner qualities that allow them to succeed. Strengthen your students’ narrative nonfiction reading!


YA Saves

Filed under: ALAN — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:01 pm

My DFTBA friend Dana surprised me with a YA Saves t-shirt today! What a fun surprise! We will both be wearing them at the ALAN workshop in November.


TCRWP Fall Saturday Reunion October 9, 2011

Filed under: TCRWP,Teachers College — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:36 am

The Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

              presents the 


              9:00 am – 3:00 pm 


Join the entire Project Community as we open our doors to thousands of educators from New York City and

around the world for more than 140 free workshops, keynotes and closings throughout the day on state-of-the

art methods in the teaching of reading and writing for grades K-8. Special guest speakers and literacy leaders

from all over the country will join us to discuss such topics as: Aligning Instruction to the Common Core

Standards, Using Performance Assessments and Curriculum Maps to Ratchet up the Level of Our Teaching,

Helping Students Convey Ideas and Opinions Through Information/Argument Writing, Teaching Higher Level

Comprehension, Using Assessment to Inform Instruction, and dozens and dozens more…


The Morning Keynote will be held at Riverside Church at9:00 a.m. 

490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets) , 525 W.120th Street, NY 10027

   The ensuing workshops will be held at Teachers College

No registration required.  For more information, visit our website at:

Naomi Shihab Nye, our opening keynote speaker and a beloved, award-

winning poet and author, has written books of poetry for adults and young readers,

picture books, essays, short stories, and YA fiction. Her numerous books of poetry

include: You and Yours, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, Fuel, 

This Same Sky, Red Suitcase, Hugging the Jukebox, and Honeybee. In 2010 she

was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Mo Willems, our closing keynote speaker is the well-known and much-loved

award-winning author and illustrator of a score of books including Knuffle Bunny, 

the Elephant and Piggie series, the Cat the Cat series, and the Pigeon series. Before

turning to write children’s books, he was a writer and animator for Sesame Street

where his work won six Emmy Awards.

Lucy Calkins is Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and

Writing Project, as well as the Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at

Teachers College. She is the author of the Units of Study books supporting K-2 and

3-5 writing and 3-5 reading. Her foundational texts also include The Art of 

Teaching Reading and The Art of Teaching Writing.

Katherine Bomer is a national literacy consultant, a former member of

TCRWP, and the author of Hidden Gems and Writing a Life. Along with Randy

Bomer she is the co-author of For a Better World.  

Kathy Collins is a former TCRWP staff member and the author of Growing 

Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom, and Reading for Real.  She is a

frequent guest lecturer at national conferences.

Mary Ehrenworth is Deputy Director for Middle School of the Project.  She

is co-author of Tackling Complex Texts: Historical Fiction Book Clubs and 

Constructing Curriculum in Units of Study for Teaching Reading, co-author with

Vicki Vinton of The Power of Grammar, and author of Looking to Write.

Laurie Pessah, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author of

Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports and A Principal’s Guide to 

Leadership in the Teacher of Writing 

Kathleen Tolan, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author with Lucy

Calkins of Building a Reading Life, Following Characters into Meaning, and

Navigating Nonfiction in the recently published Units of Study for Teaching 





I Wonder… A lot… Do you? October 8, 2011

Filed under: school,Teachers — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:51 am
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I wonder about things alot. Not like Wonderopolis wondering (which I think is a fabulous site), but other big life issues and educational issues.

I’ve always considered myself settled in my career and hometown. I grew up here. My husband grew up here. Both our families are still here. I’ve been working in my childhood school district for nineteen years. I love it here.

In Ohio (and I think it’s same to say in America), once you are a teacher who has taught more than four or five years, it is typically very difficult to get a job in another district because you are “too expensive”. It’s not unusual for districts to have an “unofficial” cap on hiring anyone with more than three years of experience unless it is harder to fill area (not so much of an abundance of let’s say librarians, or high school science teachers or music teachers). So even if I didn’t love it, live here, etc., going to a different district was really never an option (as a teacher).


I had a realization this summer.

Just because I love it here, doesn’t mean that I can’t love it somewhere else.

What if…

I opened the cover of the book of somewhere else???

What if…


Bigger Than a Breadbox October 2, 2011

Friday, October 7th, fifty of our students will get the opportunity to Skype with author Laurel Snyder about her newest book Bigger Than a Bread Box (which I am madly trying to finish today). To promote her book, Laurel is Skyping with 100 classrooms in 100 days. I “won” one of the Skype visits over the summer. I’m excited that authors are embracing Skype as a way to still do author visits during these economic times that have made traditional author visits financially unfeasible and believe author Laurel Snyder deserves to be commended. She has a great website and blog

I’m hopeful this opportunity will provide a little more magic for our students.


Versatile Blogger continued plus my grad school rambling October 1, 2011

Filed under: bloggers,blogs,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
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Since I haven’t been a faithful blogger of recent, I’m going to take the time to tap my go-to blogs (in addition to Franki and Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading):

Sarah @ The Reading Zone

Karen & Bill @ Literate Lives

Stacey and Ruth @ Two Writing Teacher

Abby @ Abby the Librarian

Travis @ 100 Scope Notes

Jen @ Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Katie @ Creative Literacy 

I could keep going, but I have to get back to the task at hand today, which is to make a huge dent, if not finish my gazillion hours of documentation for the hours and projects that I have done TO COMPLETE MY PRINCIPAL LICENSURE!

(I won’t start in on how Muskingum University changed all the requirements for principal licensure over the summer and the new licensure candidates have to complete only 2/3 of what we who have been in the program for only six additional months have to complete or how all those extra courses they made me take cost my family an additional $4500. I’ll just stop with WTH!! and go back to focusing on something positive. I’ve now admired my problem, acknowledged there is nothing I can do about it and am moving on.)

The finish line is within sight! I never, ever thought I was going to get a principal licensure, but that past three+ years have moved me down a path I didn’t anticipate for myself back when I was a very happy fourth grade teacher. (see my first post as Scaredy Teacher/Squirrel)