Yuyi Morales reminds us how important libraries are in her latest book. When Morales first arrived in America with her young son, she didn’t know how to speak English. She was afraid and unsure of her new surroundings. One day, she visited the library. Picture books captured her attention. Morales discovered she could read the illustrations and understand the storyline. The language difference was no longer a barrier. She learned to read, speak and write in English by spending hours exploring books. This beautiful story weaves words of poetry with compelling illustrations. Each page holds layers of meaning. Readers will enjoy exploring fascinating details in this gorgeous book.
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 write and create for a variety of purposes.
Morales is a self-taught artist. She spent hours copying illustrations from picture books. Her story of independent exploration and creativity will inspire learners to delve into art.
A mooncake is a Chinese pastry that is popular during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival celebrates the harvest when the moon is full. The combination of the moon and the mooncake inspired Grace Lin to write A Big Mooncake for Little Star. This fantastic folktale explains why the shape of the moon changes. The setting takes place in outer space. A little girl and her mother bake in their celestial kitchen. The girl, Little Star, wears black pajamas with a star print. Her mama wears the same outfit. Together, they make a mooncake and place it in the night sky to cool. Little Star can’t resist sneaking nibbles from the delicious mooncake. Every night she eats a little more until only a sliver of the cake remains. Mama smiles when she sees what’s left of the pastry. The story ends as it begins, with the pair making a mooncake.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.B.2 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reflecting and questioning assumptions and possible misconceptions.
This book lends itself to 4 different exploration scenarios. Learners may want to explore some of these questions:
Invite learners to explore a topic of interest. Prepare for independent learning sessions by passing out Know, Want to Know, How Will I Learn It, Learned (KWHL) worksheets. Instruct learners to fill out the first three columns of their worksheet. Collect worksheets and identify needed resources. Gather books and online resources for learners to explore. Enlist the help of volunteers to support young learners as they research their topic.
If you are looking for Moon resources, try these online resources:
Are you planning a STEAM challenge? Does it involve design and construction? If so, read Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature. In this book, author Etta Kaner explains how nature influences design. She pulls on her experience as a classroom teacher to deliver this information. Kaner engages the audience with thought provoking questions and illustrated examples. Step-by-step directions invite learners to experiment with architecture. Readers will feel compelled to study nature after reading this intriguing book.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Create: V.B.2 Learners construct new knowledge by persisting through self-directed pursuits by tinkering and making.
Share your designs with #AASLstandards!
Think of a favorite author who is also an illustrator. Do you ever wonder about their process? Do they write the story and then work on the illustrations? For Virginia Lee Burton, the illustrations took center stage. Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton is a biography that reads like a Disney movie. The vivid colors and imaginative drawings invite us to see “Jinnee” at work. She moves through the pages as if she is performing a ballet about her life as an illustrator. Children will enjoy reading the inspiration behind Burton’s classics with this beautiful book.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Share: V.C.1 Learners engage with the learning community by expressing curiosity about a topic of personal interest or curricular relevance.
Great Websites for Kids:
Video Interviews with Top Children’s Authors and Illustrators:
18 Best Videos to Get to Know Children’s Authors & Illustrators:
Imagine you have a learner in your classroom from another country. They speak their native language. How do you include them in your conversations to learn their perspective? Someone New illustrates how to welcome diverse learners in the classroom. Three different scenarios describe what it looks like and feels like to see a new student. American children tell their stories with open honesty. We hear ideas that readers can connect with. The narrators notice that the new students are uncomfortable, but they don’t know how to help. Because they are empathetic, they find ways to talk with their new friends. The casual narration invites readers to see what the children think. We see them process their thoughts. The illustrations add depth to the story by helping us read emotions. This relevant story deserves a prominent place in any collection.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow II.D.2 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by demonstrating interest in other perspectives during learning activities.
Extend this lesson by reading I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien. It’s the same story as Someone New. However, this time, immigrants tell the story. Children will hear a different perspective and build empathy after reading this relevant story.
Do you have the book Snails Are Just My Speed! by Kevin McCloskey in your collection? If not, I highly recommend getting a few copies. Learners and educators are going to love this book. As the stamp on the left-hand corner of the cover implies, you’ll hear giggles while reading this Toon Book. The presentation of information is quite remarkable. My favorite page is an infographic of sorts that shows different animals moving as if they are in a race. A fly is in the lead, while a snail hitches a ride with a tortoise in last place. Each animal tells how much faster they are than the animal directly behind them. Math mixes with science to engage readers on this double-page spread. The illustration may inspire learners to design a pictograph with this format.
What page is your favorite? Please share in the comment box below.
AASL Standards Framework For Learners: Inquire/Think I.A.1 Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.
Check out Toon Books’s website for more teaching ideas and fun activities for learners (http://www.toon-books.com/).
Photos for Class (https://www.photosforclass.com/)
Toon Books (http://www.toon-books.com/)
How many times have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? At least once, right? It’s amazing to consider how one book continues to touch so many lives. What does it take to write the great American novel? In Alabama Spitfire, readers get an idea of what makes an author noteworthy. Young Nelle Harper Lee was a reader, a writer and an observer. She watched her father, a lawyer, fight cases in the courthouse. She wondered about her reclusive neighbors and wrote stories about them. These childhood experiences prepared Lee to write a book we all know and love. Children will appreciate the illustrations that have a cinematic feel to them. The interesting storyline will compel readers to make observations and write. Who knows, maybe one day they will write the next great American novel!
AASL Standards Framework For Learners: Curate/Think IV.A.2 Learners act on an information need by identifying possible sources of information.
When you cut yourself, what’s the first thing you do? Reach for a Band-Aid, right? Before the 1920s, Band-Aids did not exist. Josephine Knight was accident prone and needed to save her cuts from infection. Her husband, Earle Dickson, wanted to help. He applied his background knowledge with cotton to solve the problem. The Boo-Boos That Changed the World delivers an interesting narrative about Band-Aids. Children will enjoy the comical way the author pretends to end the story when there is more to tell. The cartoonish illustrations add to the story of this great invention known worldwide.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Curate/Think IV.A.2 Learners act on an information need by identifying possible sources of information.
How do we keep our family history alive? In this insightful and poignant book, Junot Diaz examines just how we keep our stories alive. In an age when immigration is a debate in our nation and tops the headlines each day, we consider the story of Lola, who immigrated as a baby. She cannot remember “The Island” that she came from, since she left when she was a baby.
To bridge the past with the present, Lola’s family brings the “The Island” to her, by sharing all kinds of memories – from the wonderful to the heartbreaking. It is a story of sharing, imagination and the importance of our stories.
Throughout this story, Lola starts to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”
Note: This book is also available in Spanish under the title “Lola”.
Response to Literature
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3 Engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.
How much do we really know about our family history? How far back in history can we imagine? How is the story of your family history conveyed over time?
Are you teaching learners how to code? If so, you must add How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk to your lesson plans. A young girl, by the name of Pearl, narrates the thought process behind coding. She begins by introducing her robot friend, Pascal. Readers will see how Pearl directs the robot to build the perfect sandcastle. Terms like “loop” and “sequence” are defined with appealing illustrations. A “Guide to Coding” at the end of the book further defines coding terms.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Create V.B.1: Discover and innovate in a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection by problem solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection.
Check out girlswhocode.com, and consider starting a club in your library!
I Walk With Vanessa is wordless book that provokes a conversation about bullying. All readers will relate to the concern of finding a way to stop aggressive behavior. When a new girl at school feels alone, a bully decides to make her feel worse by yelling at her. Another young girl witnesses this and is shocked and saddened by what she saw. After pondering for some time, she comes up with a brilliant plan that is sure to make Vanessa feel better. Learners will immediately connect with stories of their own. The wordless platform encourages readers to voice their experiences around bullying.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.B.1 Learners adjust their awareness of the global learning community by interacting with learners who reflect a range of perspectives.
Extension Idea: Pair this book with “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson. Ask learners to think about how they would make a new student feel welcome in their classroom.
How can we introduce the concept of mindfulness with our students? Self regulation and focus are key to learning in all settings, yet often we struggle with just how to begin the conversation. Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, is an engaging book, told through the eyes of a little boy and girl as well as Stillwater, their panda friend. Stillwater seems to have just the right story to share that matches an emotional challenge. This book serves as a wonderful platform from which mindfulness can be explored.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth
Have learners work with you to identify and list a wide variety of different emotions. Consider having them research mindfulness techniques that would help a friend with a strong feeling. They could also write or find a story that would support a friend with handling an emotion. Learners can consider their own authentic audience – who could they teach mindfulness practices to?
Some ideas include:
There are so many opportunities, whether you intend to follow a single lesson , or build it out to become a mindfulness unit. We would love to hear your ideas!
Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, March 1st 2005 by Scholastic Press