Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Earth Day books and read-alouds April 20, 2009

Looking for an Earth Day read-aloud? Here are a couple of my favorites!

h_earthday_oAll ages: Read alouds

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (How can you go wrong with Dr. Seuss???) There is even an old video of the book, but you should read the book!

Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle by51ju4huwnl_sl160_aa115_ David Elliott (a great chapter book that is a blast to read aloud and has a wonderful environmental theme. My students begged for this book every day-probably grades 3-6)

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry (classic!)

10things10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh (great for everyone-kids of all ages love the flaps! Adults of all ages will love the message!)

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood (beautiful fable, but definitely religious overtones)

The Earth and I by Frank Asch (Moonbear author-beautiful illustrations-good message for younger kids)


Our Big Home by Linda Glaser

Children of the Earth by Schim Schimmel

Our Big Home: A Poem by Linda Glaser


There is also a great little short story book just released in March called Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman. Each story is one to three pages. My fourth grader and first grader  love it! recycle-this-book


Toothpaste Millionaire-one great book to help kids understand economics March 14, 2009

Filed under: background knowledge,blogs,book reviews,content area — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:57 am
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Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill is a book that I can’t say enough good things about!  I have read this book aloud since I discovered it several years ago as part of our class study of economics.  It’s a great way to build background knowledge. It was originally published in 1972 and reprinted with the new cover you see in 2006.    It is truly a timeless book. When I read it aloud to the students, there are very few clues that let the reader know it took place over 30 years ago.  The author must have been very progressive and I’m so curious what type of reveiws it got when it first came out.  



Posy-the most beautiful picture book I’ve seen this year! January 3, 2009

posyI found Posy by Linda Newbery and Catherine Rayner when I was CTC yesterday and instantly fell in love with this beautiful picture book!  

She’s a…
whiskers wiper,
crayone swiper,
playful wrangler,
knitting tangler…
Not only did I need a copy, but I gifted one to my friend Carol. I was pleased as punch to be able to find a  gem for her for a change. (Very hard to do! The first book I had selected for Carol for Christmas had to go back and be replaced since it turned out she already had read it!) 
I absolutely love the illustrations by Catherine Rayner. It’s so easy to imagine how soft she would be to pet, her curly whiskers give a little peek to her personality, and she reminds me of all the reasons I convinced my soon-to-be-husband (1996) that I needed not one, but two kittens.
I love the big accessible font that will pull kids into the story. Even the jacket flap is written in a font meant to read by kids. 
kitten Posy
as she
and bounces 
through her 
filled day. 

It’s easy to imagine what you could do with older elementary or intermediate students just using the text.  Each page has an engaging illustration and a two words…


Intermediate Age Students- Read Aloud Books January 2, 2009

I had a very productive and fun day with my friend and literacy guru, Carol.  We started at our favorite Cover to Cover to peruse new books and ended up having a working lunch to talk about writing workshop in the primary grades.  

ctc_exterior_3_2005While at Cover to Cover, Carol and I were able to fulfill one of my school year goals of having a short list of common read-alouds for each grade level at the intermediate school. We have both read a lot over the years and also had the expert staff at Cover to Cover to help us. We aimed to have two “classic/Newbery*” for each grade level and two “newer” read alouds. We also tried to take into account gender, ethnicity, etc.  

Here is what we came up with:

4th Grade:ctc_interior132

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli   *

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson *

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (review)

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (review) (I think Moxy Maxwell  and Alvin Ho really complement each other)

Hate That Cat/Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (review) (You can’t have one without the other!)


A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck *

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant *

Along Came a Spider by James Preller

Science Fair by Dave Barry 


One-Eyed Cat by Norma Fox *

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis *

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (review)

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester


I’m going to try to tackle Along Came a Spider by the middle of next week when I give them to the different grade levels.  That way I will have read each grade level’s “classics/Newbery” and at least one of the newer titles. Science Fair and The Girl Who Could Fly will be put at the top of the To Be Read pile.

Yeah! Happy Reading for all our students and teachers.

Thank you Carol! I hope to post a link to your new blog before the end of the month! 


Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things December 28, 2008


“If there were no school, my troubles would blast away, just like that. I would dig holes all day. I would play catch with my gunggung. I would watch cooking shows. I would keep an eye on things. It would be fantastic!” 

                                                     back book cover Alvin Ho 

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a fantastic book. I picked it up this fall at Cover to Cover and it had been slid to the middle section of my TBR (To Be Read) stack before NCTE. A couple of recent blog posts reminded me I had the book and was once again drawn in by the cover illustrations and title. I went and dug it up right away. 

It is a fast and easy read. I loved it and could think of so many students that this would have been (and will be) the perfect book for. The illustration style and storyline will appeal to those who are stuck in a Wimpy Kid rut.  Boys finally have a voice. I love the main character of Alvin and how the book is narrated from his point of view.  I love that there is book for those transitional/reluctant MALE readers that has an engaging and sympathetic character similar to Clementine and Ivy and Bean.

My six year old son saw me reading this book and was also drawn in by the illustrations on the cover. He thought the title was very funny. He begged me to read it to him while we waited for my daughter’s basketball game to start. He liked it so much, he was pretty sure I could keep reading it to him even after the game had started.

Alvin’s “desk buddy” Sophie (aka. Flea) is also a very likable character. Her eye patch and longer leg are treated as badges of honor, not something to make fun of.  She sticks up for Alvin and through her loyalty, he is able to learn an important lesson about himself and about friendship. 

His Performance Anxiety Disorder which turns his voice completely silent as soon as he gets off the bus, his costume as Firecracker Man, his swearing in “Shakespearean” at his therapist, his loss of his father’s childhood toy, all these things and more make Alvin Ho one of the most likable characters for the second to fifth grade crowd I have seen in a long time. 

I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second installment, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (due out June 23, 2009) will go back and read the Ruby Lu books that I am not familiar with yet.


CoverIt Live Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth-The Power of Read Alouds November 20, 2008

Filed under: books,picture books,read alouds,reading workshop,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:52 pm
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Lester Laminack, Reba Wadsworth and Read Alouds (11/20/2008) 
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Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth-the power of picture books
Here I am in San Antonio at NCTE. Got checked in and off to the convention center.
Holocaust-Reba’s favorite book The Harmonica by Tony Johnston. A Holocaust story from the point of view from a little boy. He was from a poor family but he and his parents were very happy. They loved music, but could not afford a piano.
They saved up and bought him a harmonica. They all loved Shubert and he would play and play while his parents would dance. The soldiers showed up one day and took them to a concentraion camp.
Eventually the Commodant heard the boy playing and made him play for him. He would throw an old piece of bread to him-which probably kept him alive. He felt guilty about the music, but the other camp prisoners thanked him for giving them hope through music. Also recommended Erica’s Story.
Immigration-When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Hess
A story of a young girl who immigrates-sews lace to save money to bring over her grandmother.
Lester Laminack is so funny! Today he started with his clock metaphor how some things are never going to change-not doing his description justice.
One thing that always is around is hate which is driven by fear. The concept of bullying has been around forever in all cultures and communities.
We should be allowed to build communities in school and the basis is mutual respect. It’s a mistake to tell children to love one another. First comes mutual respect, From mistake comes friendship, and maybe eventually love. 

Even if love isn’t legal in California.

Respect is at the core of the books we want to looke
Mem Fox-Who Ever You Are-we have more things in common than different. 

Bullying is such a huge issue. It is subtle, whisper campaigns, and it begins in elementary school.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon (I LOVE this book!) The capacity of children’s books-Lester reads it aloud-very expressively!
“Molly Lou Melon had buck teeth that stuck out so far, you could stack ten pennies on them.” She didn’t mind-her grandmother tells her to stand proud. Things are fine until she must move and Ronald Durkin calls her “SHRIMPO!”
How important is expression in a read-aloud?

 ( 100% )

a Little

 ( 0% )

Not at all

 ( 0% )


Other books mentioned:
Message to Ground Zero by Shelly Harwayne
Across the Alley-a young Jewish boy and a young African American boy. One’s father wants him to play the violin, the other, baseball. Turns out the opposite child is talented at the other one’s talent.
Tone, intenstiy, pacing and mood. When you deliver a story you must pay attention to these things.
Dog Eared
modeling fluency-NOT accuracy and rate! If you read a book like the six o’clock news, it will fall flat.
Otis the dog is being bullied, so the tone of his voice will be intimidated and quiet. If I hadn’t read the book to myself ahead of time, you wouldn’t know that the first page being read aloud can start the book entirely wrong.
If we then give 10 creepy questions, response log, text-to-text, post-it, turn and talk, you are taking away from the book. It is about the author’s purpose, not the details, The reader’s job is it interpret, not to give the answers to someone else’s question.
“Talk to your neighbor about how Otis feels.” It is a dangerous question to pursue. In order to deal with adversity, you must be able to turn inwards, not outwards.
You’ll never be satisfied with yourself if you need someone to validate you-you need to be taught strength of self-like Molly Lou Mellon.
You must believe in yourself first!
Turn attention to bully dog-he is yellow. Bullies are cowards who are
The insult he yells is because of a fault he preceives in himself.
USA Today-Bullying, Nightline last night
Sissy Duckling, William’s Doll, Odd Velvet, My Secret Bully
all are picture books that deal with bullying.
Must start with respect and human dignity.

Take a Look! at Lookybook November 14, 2008

Filed under: books,kidlitosphere,picture books,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:17 am
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Lookybook has a free e-newsletter called Take a Look! that comes weekly.  This week’s had some great autumn picture books, as well as some newer books.
One great use for this website if you have a projector in your classroom would be to be able to project the pictures from the book to a larger group as you read a book aloud. You could even set up the projector with the book as a station/center for small group use. I think kids would think it was fabulous. I still get a kick out of clicking the book pages back and forth. I can’t think of any reason why the school filter would not allow the website, but I will have to play around with it at school this week. Another great use would be to use the computer(s) in your classroom for students to either use as a station, or to enhance your classroom library.

Here is one of the books featured in this week’s newsletter.


Mystery Reader November 11, 2008

Filed under: books,parent involvement,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:28 pm
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Another great idea that I got from Beth Newingham is Mystery Reader. It is a great, non-threatening (for both parent, as well as the teacher) way to involve parents in your classroom. It would really work at any grade level and would work just as well if there was multiple grade levels in the building that do it. I used it with my fourth grade classroom, but think my first grade teaching friends would really like this idea as well. Parents sign-up for a slot (about 20 minutes) to come in and share a favorite book with the class. The week leading up to their visit, the teacher reads one clue that points to the reader’s identity.  I had it set up to e-mail a reminder to the parent a week and a half out, reminding them of their appointment and asking them to e-mail their clues. Clues usually started general (I’ve always had a pet), to more specific as the week wore on.

There are so many benefits to this project, I can’t even name them all. Kids loved guessing who was coming and it was always amazing to kids if there was a Mystery Reader who stumped them all. We had aunts, grandparents, the school principal, guidance counselor, special education teachers, etc. as well as parents over the year.  It really helped build the classroom community as students found out their were similarities (or differences) not only between them, but between their parents. Parents LOVED having a genuine, authentic experience in the classroom. Some would bring their favorite childhood book, their children’s favorite childhood book, a book that related to what we were studying, or one related to their profession. 

Things I had planned on doing a little differently this year, was incorporating Franki Sibberson’s suggestion of having parents bring their “stack” of current reads. Cookbooks, magazines, book club books, how-to manuals-all great ways to help students see that reading if for life and include so many different things!

Click the link to see Beth Newingham’s Invite and personalize it for your use. If you still aren’t sure it will be the best thing since sliced bread, try it once a month, once a quarter, have other staff members be the mystery readers during their planning period. Mystery Readers-it does a classroom good!

Mystery Reader Invite


Another Beautiful School October 14, 2008

Filed under: books,picture books,read alouds,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:14 pm
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Glacier Ridge Elementary is a beautiful school. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a professional workshop last spring and this fall in the building and both times I’ve been very impressed by the displays of literacy throughout the school. The dedication to reading and writing is evident everywhere.

Click to play Glacier Ridge Elementary
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Redwall author to visit Columbus! October 13, 2008

Filed under: books,KidLit,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:40 pm
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Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall saga books, will be in Columbus, Oct. 21 from 6:00-8:00. This is a pretty unique opportunity and I admit I signed up within 15 minutes of getting the information. He makes his home in Liverpool and also narrates the audio versions of his novels complete with voices!  They are pretty amazing. There is also a cartoon version done by one of the PBS stations of at least the first two books in the series.
Jacques will do a presentation about his newest book (Doomwyte) and an autographing. You might have students that might like to know about this opportunity. The phone number to register is 614-263-1624 in case you live in the Central Ohio area.
Redwall Is the official website for the author.