Archive for the 'Children’s Books' Category

Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’s Birthday

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Did you know that this week is Read Across America week? Thursday, March 2nd is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) was born in 1904 and would have been 102 this year. He authored and illustrated forty-four children’s books. The first one was published in 1936. Not only have our children grown up with his books, but we did and our parents did. Maybe even some of our grandparents.

Today was “Crazy Socks Day” at my school in honor of Fox in Socks, one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books. Children and teachers wore their craziest socks. For me, that meant some Rudolph-the-red-nosed-Reindeer socks. Yes, Christmas was over two months ago, but my Rudolph socks are the only unusual socks I own.

Fox in Socks is a tongue-twister of a book that the children LOVE, and it’s great reading practice for them. They have to read THROUGH each word carefully to get it right. I used the book with a small fifth grade reading group yesterday, and I used it with first grade, second grade and fourth grade groups today, and they all loved it. I even read it aloud to the entire third grade yesterday. With a room full to bursting with children, it held each one’s attention. In the small groups, it was fun to watch the children’s faces as they struggled through the tongue twisters. There was laughter. No one realized they were getting some high quality oral reading practice. The introduction to Fox in Socks warns

Take it slowly. This book is dangerous!

And it is! Dangerous for anyone who doesn’t want to smile. Here’s a sample:

Let’s do tricks with bricks and blocks, sir.
Let’s do tricks with chicks and clocks, sir.
First, I’ll make a quick trick brick stack.
Then I’ll make a quick trick block stack.
You can make a quick trick chick stack.
You can make a quick trick clock stack.

Or how about this one?

Bim comes.
Ben comes.
Bim brings Ben broom.
Ben brings Bim broom.
Ben bends Bim’s broom.
Bim bends Ben’s broom.
Bim’s bends.
Ben’s bends.
Ben’s bent broom breaks.
Bim’s bent broom break.
Ben’s band. Bim’s band.
Big bands. Pig bands.

Tomorrow evening I will stop by Sam’s Club to pick up NINE sheet cakes so that each child at my school can celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Thursday with a piece of birthday cake. I’ll be wearing a Cat In The Hat hat as I dish out cake slices.

Your assignment: If you know a child, read a Dr. Seuss book to him or her this week.

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Patricia Polacco

Friday, September 30th, 2005
I have a favorite children’s author, and it’s Patricia Polacco. Without even having to think about it, I can name my three favorite Patricia Polacco books: Thunder Cake, Thank You, Mr. Falker, Pink and Say. Make that four! I can’t leave out The Keeping Quilt. Okay -five! Chicken Sunday is a fabulous Polacco book, too. Once maybe 12 years ago my mother visited my classroom of second graders and read Chicken Sunday to my class. Funny how one remembers a small detail like that from so long ago. I can’t read Pink and Say out loud to my classes because I can’t get through it without crying. It’s a Civil War story, and it is probably one of the few stories that children talked about long after we read it at school. On the playground one day as I walked around, several girls came up and held my hands as we walked. The one on the outside said, “I’m holding the hand of the hand of the hand that’s holding Ms. Shaw’s hand.” If you read Pink and Say you’ll know what she was referring to. She was making a text to self connection (That’s teacher terminology). It means she GOT a particular point of the story. She understood it well enough to translate it into her own experience.
Thunder Cake contains a recipe for a chocolate cake that contains TOMATO PASTE (yes, that’s right – tomato paste)…and it’s delicious! Over the years my classes have made it many times. One year I had a child in my class who was fascinated by the weather. I think he was traumatized a couple years earlier when the entire school had to sit in protective positions in the hallway for over an hour during a tornado warning. He handled his fear by learning as much as possible about weather. Whenever I wanted to know the weather forecast, I just asked Billy (name changed to offset the remotest possibility of identification) — and he always could tell me what the high and low temps would be and whether there was any rain forecast for the upcoming weekend. I remember he particularly enjoyed Thunder Cake since it dealt with how one family handled an approaching thunderstorm.
Patricia Polacco spoke at a conference I attended a few years ago, and brought the real keeping quilt – the one the book is based on. Often at conferences, the attendees must sit through boring speeches. That wasn’t the case for Patricia Polacco’s speech. I hated for her to stop talking. I wished she would keep on telling us more. Her story is incredible and tender. Thank you, Mr. Falker is based on her own story as a struggling reader. Hearing her tell the story in person was a touching and memorable experience.
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Book Recommendation: AIRMAIL TO THE MOON

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Another feature of THE MEDIAN SIB is book recommendations. I read lots of children’s literature, and I read lots of professional literature – especially on reading, for teachers. I will share some books that I feel are particularly noteworthy. Some of the best books ever written are children’s books. AIRMAIL TO THE MOON by Tom Birdseye is one of my favorites. It offers humor that children and parents will appreciate, and it offers great examples of figurative language that teachers will love. I have frequently used this book for mini-lessons on figurative language with all grades.

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