Moth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus

Summary

Moth: An Evolution Story begins as it ends with this sentence:

“This is a story of light and dark, of change and adaptation, of survival and hope.”

When a book ends as it begins, it gives the reader a sense that the story continues to evolve when the book is closed. Author Isabel Thomas uses a circular story format to inform readers that the peppered moth is still evolving. It continues to change and adapt to survive.

The evolution of the peppered moth is quite fascinating, and Thomas does a great job telling it to young readers. The light peppered moth survived for many years by blending in trees covered with lichen. When the Industrial Revolution pumped smoke and soot into the air, light peppered moths stood out to predators, while the dark peppered moths stayed safe in the polluted environment.

Now that Earth-conscious businesses are making the air better, the peppered moth must change and adapt again. The moth’s story is circular as it continues to evolve in order to survive.

Readers are going to love Daniel Egnéus’s illustrations. He uses different art mediums to enrich story of the peppered moth. Readers will find illustrations created with crayons, collage, Photoshop, acrylics and watercolor. The reflective elements on the book cover will have everyone wanting to hold the book up to the light to see the moths sparkle.

The text adds playful drama to the story. Some words curve around tree branches to express flight while others stagger to show the passage of time. The text and illustrations work well together to tell the tale of the peppered moth.

Curious readers will appreciate the information at the back of the book that adds meaning to concepts introduced in the book. Readers will learn more about evolution, natural selection and adaption.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Grow V.D.2 Learners develop through experience and
reflection by
recognizing capabilities and skills that can be developed, improved, and expanded.

We live in a world that is always changing, and we adapt to carry on. COVID-19 is presenting us with a front row seat to this reality. The idea of “school” changed overnight because of the virus. All readers can connect with this experience, but their stories are different.

After reading Moth, ask learners to think about what changed for them when schools closed and they had to learn from home. Ask the following questions:

  • How did you adapt to learning from home?
  • What went well? What didn’t go so well? How did you change and adapt to make it better?
  • How did you stay motivated to learn?

See how the New York City School Library System adapted their roles to accommodate online learning with a table showing online vs. face-to-face support: Translation of Practice for School Librarians

Reflecting on Learning From Home Worksheet

This worksheet provides learners a space to reflect on their experiences with learning from home.

$1.50

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase Moth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus from Bookshop. I am an affiliate of Bookshop; a business that gives back to local independent book stores and affiliates.

Please click here to join our Facebook Group where we discuss lesson ideas for picture books.

You Matter by Christian Robinson

Summary

Author-illustrator Christian Robinson cares about his readers. How do I know this? Let’s start with the title of his book You Matter. Here, we can almost imagine Robinson pointing at the reader, telling them with confidence, “You matter.” Readers will find more encouragement on the copyright page where Robinson writes, “For anyone who isn’t sure if they matter, you do.” What a way to enter a story. Imagine how a reader will feel when they realize the author cares about them.

The story begins with a Black girl looking through a microscope. The illustration helps readers feel like they are looking through the lens, too. They’ll see tiny green organisms floating around the glass slide. The science theme continues with illustrations of the ocean, land, and outer space. Then, readers are brought to a city, where a diverse group of people walk, relax and travel through the pages.

Readers will enjoy the simple text and the colorful illustrations that convey an important message we all need to hear.

Response to Reading

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Share II.C.2 Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by contributing to discussions in which multiple viewpoints on a topic are expressed.

Invite learners to consider the title of the book You Matter by Christian Robinson. Ask the following questions:

  • “What can we expect from this story?”
  • “Who do you think the author is talking to?”
  • “How do you know this?”

Read the message on the copyright page before digging into the book. Consider how this message gives readers a clue about how author feels about the people reading his book.

After reading You Matter, ask learners why they think the author wrote the story. Tell learners that you agree with the author. Invite learners to give the thumbs up sign if they agree with the author. Explain that they will write what matters to them. They will think about the dreams they have, the people and things they love, and the activities they like to do.They can write words or draw pictures. Explain that they will share what they write, so they shouldn’t record things they want to keep private.

Divide the class into groups. Invite learners to take turns sharing dreams, activities, and people that matter to them. Then, ask learners to make connections with others in the group. Discuss similarities and ask for more information about interesting statements. Learners can share with the entire class if time allows.

Check out Christian Robinson’s “Making Space” YouTube channel. Share it with learners. Everyone will fall in love with Robinson and his message while watching his videos.

Worksheet

Here’s a worksheet for learners to record their ideas for sharing with the group:

You Matter Worksheet

Learners will write or draw what's important to them in the parachute panels. They can use their recordings to connect with other learners in the class.

$1.50

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to order a copy of You Matter by Christian Robinson. I am an affiliate of Bookshop; a business that gives back to local independent book stores and affiliates.

Please click here to join our Facebook Group where we discuss lesson ideas for picture books.

Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte

Summary

Would you like to visit the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico? If so, follow young Carlitos as he roams the city in Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte. Carlitos is searching for his father in this award-winning book. He wonders about Papi because he left home with no plans to return. Carlitos carries a photo of Papi. He uses it to ask people if they recognize the man in the picture. He seeks help from a street vendor selling piragua, gentlemen playing dominos, and a lady feeding stray cats.

When Carlitos loses hope, a park ranger restores it. He explains that Carlitos’s dad can live in his memory. Carlitos feels better and heads home to his loving family.

Readers will observe Carlitos and his surroundings from different view points. Some illustrations make the reader feel like they are looking down on the scene while sitting in a tree. Other pictures view the scene looking up from the ground. A fascinating viewpoint is from the other side of a mirror in a barbershop. This perspective allows readers to notice the barber shaving a young boys hair while fathers and sons wait for their turn. We also see how uncomfortable Carlitos is as he stands next to his mother.

Aponte’s illustrations are captivating. He uses bold, thick lines to outline figures and cityscapes. Some drawings are transparent, while others are full of saturated colors. This style of illustration will engage readers as they gather information about San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Curate/Think lV.A.1 Learners act on an information need by determining the need to gather information.

Across the Bay won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book award. Introduce the book by asking readers what they notice and wonder about the medal. Share information about the Pura Belpré medal by visiting the Association for Library Service to Children page dedicated to the award.

Next, ask learners to read the title and look at the illustration on the book cover. What they can expect to learn from this story?

Explain that as you read the story, learners have a job to do. Learners will gather information about what is across the bay by looking for clues in the story. They will record questions they have about what they read.

At the end of the story, ask learners to share their questions. How will they find answers to their questions? Create a class plan to gather and share information about Puerto Rico. Consider illustrating new information from different perspectives. Use examples from the book to inspire ideas.

Here’s a note-taking worksheet to guide learners as they read Across the Bay.

Gathering Information about Puerto Rico

This guide will prompt learners to notice and wonder about Puerto Rico while reading Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte.

$1.50

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to order a copy of Across the Bay. I am an affiliate of Bookshop; a business that gives back to local independent book stores and affiliates.

Please click here to join our Facebook Group where we discuss lesson ideas for picture books.

It began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad

Book promotion for the picture book It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear.

Summary

What was your favorite childhood picture book? Did the story feature children of different races? If so, we can thank Gyo Fujikawa. She paved the way for racial inclusion in picture books.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way, by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad, is a fascinating story about how Fujikawa ended up creating books for children. Fujikawa was born and raised in California in the early 1900s. She loved drawing, and home was a place where she could fill pages of paper with pictures. Her parents encouraged her by supplying drawing tools and books.

At school, Fujikawa’s classmates paid no attention to her or her drawings. She felt invisible in her school where most of the children were white. One teacher noticed her artwork, and found funding to enroll Fujikawa in art school. Fujikawa’s studies led her to a career in illustration.

Fujikawa continued to be struck by racial injustice throughout her life. During World War II, her family was sent to a Japanese American interment camp. In the early 1960s, she recognized the injustice of segregation. These events compelled her to write and illustrate books featuring children of different races together on the same page. Fujikawa met resistance about her multi-racial books. She insisted that these books mattered. She was right, and her book were a hit.

Readers will enjoy learning how one person made a difference in the picture book industry. Fujikawa’s life was full, and author Kyo Maclear does a great job telling the story to young readers. The illustrations by Julie Morstad are gorgeous. Some of the drawings are black and white. Other illustrations have color. This technique engages readers to look closely at what the illustrator wants to convey by using different art styles. The end result is a book you’ll appreciate every time you share it with your class.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Think ll.A.3 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.

Gyo Fujikawa understood why all races need to be represented in picture books. Children want to see themselves in books and make connections with the stories.

Questions While Reading
  • “After reading the title and looking at the book jacket and cover, what do you suppose this story is about?” (cover)
  • “What questions do have about the object drawn on the title page?” (title page)
  • “What did you learn about Gyo’s family on these pages?”(pgs.1-2)
  • “What can we learn from the illustrations on these pages? Why do you suppose they are in black and white? (pgs. 3-4)
  • “What do you notice about Gyo’s drawing implement?” (pg. 8)
  • “What is happening on these pages? How does Gyo feel about the way she’s being treated? How do you know?” (pgs. 9-10)
  • “What do you notice about this double-page spread? How does it compare to the previous double-page spread? What do you think the illustrator is trying to tell us with these illustrations?” (pgs. 11-12)
  • “How would you describe Gyo’s classmates? How do you know this?” (pg. 13)
  • “What did we learn about Gyo on these pages? Why do you suppose the author wrote about this?” (pgs. 14-22)
  • “What questions do you have about the information on these pages?” (pgs. 23-33)
  • “What do you notice on this page? What questions do you have?” (pg. 34)
  • “What did we learn about what picture books?” (pg. 36)
  • “How do you think Gyo felt about what the publisher told her about her book? How do you know?” (pg. 38)
  • “Why was it important for Gyo’s book to get published? How do you know? (pg. 39-42)
  • “What do you think about the title after reading the story? Does the title capture what the story is about? Explain your answer with examples from the book.”
Questions After Reading

Discuss how Fujikawa wanted all children to see themselves in books. Some people refer to these books as “mirrors”. Ask learners to think of a book where they saw themselves in the book. How did the book help them learn more about themselves?

Explain how some books are referred to as “windows”. Books can provide windows to the lives of different people and places. Ask learners to share titles of books that helped them learn more about the world around them. Invite them to share what they learned.

Dr. Rudine Simms Bishop first described books as windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors. Click here to read more about her great work.

Worksheet

Below is a worksheet to help guide learners with this work:

Books as Windows and Mirrors

This worksheet will guide readers to think about books that taught them something about themselves and the world.

$1.50

Order Books

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase It Began With a Page from Bookshop.org. I am an affiliate of Bookshop; a business that gives back to local independent book stores and affiliates.

Please click here to join our Facebook Group where we discuss lesson ideas for picture books.

How Do You Dance? By Thyra Heder

Book promotion for How Do You Dance by Thyra Heder.

Summary

If you are looking for a book that is sure to put a smile on your face and a jiggle in your soul, you’ve got to read How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder. Every page shows people of all ages tapping, jumping, dabbing and shimmying around in their own style. Their fluid movements are so lively, you could almost imagine them dancing off the pages.

The fun begins on the front endpapers, where readers will enjoy checking out the dance moves of a diverse group of people. They’ll find more people striking dance poses on the back endpapers. Some double-page spreads are dedicated to showing a dance move that begins on the left side of the book and progresses to the right side. These images have a flip book feel to them where we see a series of static images move across the page.

Readers will recognize some of the moves in this book. They’ll want to try some of the new dances. Which one makes you want to move?

Double-page spread from How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder. Two children move in a continuous dance across the pages.

Reading Response

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.B.2 Learners construct new knowledge by persisting through self-directed pursuits by tinkering and making.

Thyra Heder watched a lot of videos of people dancing in order to illustrate her book. Invite learners to take several pictures of someone dancing. Ask them to practice drawing stick figures that move like the person in their photos. They can transfer their new skills in stick figure drawing to create a flip book. Click here to see an example by Pip Francis in the YouTube movie Stick figure flip book.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase a copy of How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder from Bookshop.org.

Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me by Susan L. Roth

Summary

What does a bowerbird have in common with author/illustrator Susan L. Roth? It turns out alot! In her story, Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me, Roth describes her art process in an interesting way. She compares it to how bowerbirds make their nests. They both collect unusual objects for their creations. They also love adding color to their projects. Roth uses tweezers and her hands to manipulate materials, while bowerbirds use their beak and claws.

Readers are going to love this idea of comparing oneself to an animal. They’ll also enjoy the illustrations composed with all different kinds of material. For curious readers who want to learn more about Roth and bowerbirds, they’ll be happy to find detailed information in the back matter.

Double page spread found in the picture book Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me by Susan L. Roth. A bowerbird collects material with it's beak and claws while an artist uses her hands and scissors to work with materials.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.1 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and create for a variety of purposes.

Invite learners to think about something they love to do. Is there an animal that has an affinity for the same thing? Direct learners to create Venn Diagram to show the similarities and differences they have with the animal. Explain that they will have to do some research to find as much information as they can to make a strong argument for their comparisons.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me from Bookshop.org.

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino

Summary

What can you create with a straight line? If you need some inspiration, take a look at Ruth Asawa’s wondrous sculptures. She constructed them by weaving wire with her hands, creating movement with continuous loops. Light plays a special role with the wire mesh; casting a magnificent shadow beyond the sculptures.

How did Asawa learn to create such fantastic hanging forms? In the book A Life Made By Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa, author Andrea D’Aquino illustrates the history of the artist. We discover Asawa’s affinity for art started at a young age. She noticed organic forms and shapes and made art with paint, paper and wire.

In college, Asawa learned how to create art with available materials. Wire intrigued her. She was curious about what she could make from something that started as a line. After learning how to weave with wire from an artisan in Mexico, Asawa transferred her new skills to craft her famous sculptures.

Readers will appreciate the combination of charcoal, colored pencils, and paper shapes that illustrate Asawa’s life. The accessible text complements the art with angled lines and curved shapes. The back matter includes directions to make a paper dragonfly along with more information about Asawa.

Illustration of a double-page spread from A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D'Aquino. The illustration is of Ruth Asawa weaving a sculpture out of wire.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Create V.B.2 Learners construct new knowledge by persisting through self-directed pursuits by tinkering and making.

After reading A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino, discuss how Asawa made art with whatever materials she had. Sometimes, she used paper. Ask learners to take stock of the paper and other materials they have at home. What can they create?

Invite learners to do an image search of “paper crafts.” They will be amazed at what they’ll find! Direct them to create something based on what they see. Develop a plan to work around possible problems. Encourage learners to persist through mistakes and make adjustments. Invite them to share works-in-progress if they would like feedback from their peers.

Follow author/illustrator Andrea D’Aquino on Instagram where you’ll find her reading her book, A Life Made by Hand.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase A Life Made by Hand from Bookshop.org.

Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for our Planet by Nanette Heffernan and Bao Luu

Summary

Earth Hour is March 28th, and author Nanette Heffernan is offering a chance to win a free online visit to honor the occasion! She is the talented author of Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet. This fabulous book describes the occasion that will take place 8:30 P.M..

Young readers are going to love this book. The simple text and engaging illustrations take readers around the world to learn about energy and Earth Hour. Illustrator Bao Luu represents a diverse population with his appealing drawings. Readers will see multicultural families looking at famous monuments all lit up against a nighttime background. Then, the lights go out, and citizens look quietly at the dark monuments. The story ends with a gathering of people holding candles with the words “…together we have power. United, we are Earth Hour.” Detailed information about Earth Hour and why it matters is included at the end of the book.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Engage/Think VI.A.1 Learners follow ethical and legal guidelines for gathering and using information by responsibly applying information, technology, and media to learning.

Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet illustrates famous monuments, but doesn’t name them. Invite learners to search online for the monuments illustrated in the book. Discuss what key words would help them in their search. Model responsible searching by reading web addresses and descriptions before clicking.

Learners can also practice responsible internet use by thinking about submitting a pledge to the author’s web site. Here, readers are asked to make an Earth Hour Pledge. Invite learners to notice that people only used their first names when publishing their pledge. Ask them why posters did that. Also, discuss the importance of always asking an adult before entering any information on any website.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase the book from Bookshop.org

How to Respond to Literature with Sketchnotes

Hi Everyone!

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on my first class for Skillshare and today it’s officially live!

If you’re not familiar with Skillshare, it’s an online learning community with thousands of classes on everything from photography to illustration to fashion – it’s the Netflix of learning. 

In this class, you’ll see me modeling how to sketchnote while reading the book Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris. My hope is that you’ll take the skills learned in this class and model sketchnoting to learners. Before you know it, they’ll want to try sketchnoting themselves.

Sketchnoting is important because it compels learners to look closely and think deeply about the topic at hand. It’s a great way to engage learners with literature.

Click here to enroll in the class and sign up for a Skillshare Premium Membership. You’ll have access to all other classes on Skillshare starting with a one-month free trial. 

If you are looking for lesson plans, rubrics, anchor charts and assessments to go along with Her Right Foot, check out our book Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Books.

What is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison

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Summary

If a local family lost everything in a fire, you would probably donate clothes and money to help. But what if you had nothing to give? What is Given from the Heart is a beautiful story that captures the true essence of generosity.

Young James Otis knows what it means to live with very little. His family is poor. Life gets tougher when his father falls asleep and never wakes up.

At church, they hear about a family who needs help. Their house burned down with all of their belongings. The congregation is asked to make donations. But what could James and his mom possibly give when they have so little themselves?

Author Patricia C. McKissack shows us the struggle of a young boy who grapples with helping others when he could use some help himself. The illustrator, April Harrison, adds depth to the text with her beautiful portrayal of the characters. The color choices and mixed media artfully capture the mood and feelings of the story. Her illustrations caught the attention of many readers who promoted her work with Mock Caldecott awards.

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Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow II.D.3 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by reflecting on their own place within the global learning community.

After reading the story, ask learners what they noticed about the gift James made for Sarah. What did it take to make it? Learners may say that it took empathy, time and creativity.

Ask learners to think about situations where people might need help in their school. Perhaps a new student might feel left out at lunch, or someone might be sad about a lost family pet. Others may feel alone at recess. Brainstorm ideas on what the group can do to show others they care.

Take a look at a couple of ideas from Colchester Elementary School in Connecticut. Watch this video to learn about their Buddy Bench that helps people make friends at recess. Read this post about their Giving Tree project that assists those in need.

Please share your ideas in the comment box below!

If you like this lesson idea, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Click here to purchase a copy of What is Given from the Heart from Bookshop.org.

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