Saturday, April 25, 2009
It is difficult for me to write this particular blog entry. I have just come to realize that my time in this class is almost up. I have really enjoyed my time in this class. Our discussion after we have read books has been very productive and encourages one to talk the time to evaluate what we have read and why we are drawn to certain books.
I find myself taking extra time when picking out books for not only my daughters to read but myself as well. I no longer just grab books off of the shelf. I like to take the time and flip through books. I am now looking at children's literature through the eyes of a future teacher instead of just a parent. Books that I may have shied away from in the past because of their subject matter are now ones I take extra time and review. I have discovered new genres that in the past I would not have even given a second glance too (Captain Underpants for example).
When looking at books for purchase I find myself wondering how I may make that book work or utilized in my future classroom. I believe that this is the intention of this course. As far as the blogging goes, I fully intend on keeping up on my blog as I start to work through my practicum courses. I feel compelled to express my opinions on children's literature. I have already found that this blog makes me more critical of the books I choose to read. I can only hope that any followers of this blog feel that I have helped them look at children's literature a little more closely than just the picture on the cover. Thanks for a great time.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Molly and her Dad by Jan Ormerod; Illustrated by Carol Thompson (Roaring Book Press, 2008)
I hate to admit it but the only thing I liked about this book was the illustrations. I was really hoping from the title that this book would be about a stay-at-home Dad watching over his daughter. NOT AT ALL!!!
Molly lives with her mother and has not seen her Dad since she was a baby. She often dreams of what he would be like. What does he do for a living? Am I anything like him? All very valid questions that she deserves the answers too. However, she is constantly lying and making up stories of what her father is like to please her friends at school. Miraculously one day, Molly's mother has to go out of town for a week and, viola! her Dad shows up to take care of her. Why on God's green earth would her mother allow for this to happen. This man has never shown an ounce of interest in your child and now you are allowing him to spend a whole week with her? Seems a little far fetched if you ask me. The book is filled with all sorts of warm and fuzzies as Molly and her Dad start to see just how alike they are. But low and behold and the end of the week her Dad is on the first plane out of town. This message worries me a little.
I infer from this book that Molly ends their week together longing for a closer relationship to her father and he decides to leave. Way to get her hopes up. Now I have not not recommended a lot of books this semester but this is one I would caution using. You must really know your students and their family situation before you read this book in your classroom.
Intended audience: Preschool through Grade 2
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells ( Dial Books, 1989)
There really is not much to say about this book except that it is a good beginner reader book. The text is simple and the illustrations are cute. The story lacks proper punctuation and does not use quotation marks when the characters are speaking to each other.
I really do not know what else to say about this book except it will serve beginning readers well trying to implement reading strategies that they are learning. I guess in that sense it would also be able to be used when introducing the editing process in the writer's workshop.
Intended audience: Kindergarten through 2nd
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish; Illustrated by Fritz Siebel ( Harper Collins, 1963)
Oh Amelia, you really are not the sharpest tool in the shed. I have to admit that until right now I have never read a book about Amelia Bedelia. During the course of this semester I have heard numerous stories of how students love this series. OK, my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know what was so great about this book. I am still wanting to know what is so great about this book.
So I understand that Amelia is a maid and makes several mistakes. An ordinary person would have been fired if they would have made all of these mistakes. But yet, since she can make an amazing pie, she gets to remain. Come on, how unrealistic is that? Don't we want to show our students that it is hard work and attention to detail that makes one successful, and not how well you can bake a pie? Don't get me wrong, I understand how the humor plays into everything, but it just seems a bit unrealistic.
With that said, I would not keep this series away from my library just for the pure fact that they are hilarious. Amelia obviously was raised to take things literally but that is part of the fun of this series. Amelia, I may not agree with the way you do things, but you make me want more just to see if you ever manage to get fired.
Intended audience: Kindergarten through 6th.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Today I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me in my mailbox. My mother sent me a copy of a book that she used to read to me all of the time when I was a little girl. I used to just enjoy the book for the cute little bunnies and never really paid much attention to the actual text.
This afternoon I sat down and read the story with my youngest daughter. WOW! It is amazing how a story can change in your mind and be nothing like you remember 30 years ago. My daughter was just like me, she loved the little bunnies. I on the other hand saw this story as being the story of the ultimate working mother. The Country Bunny grew up idolizing the 5 Easter Bunnies. Never in her wildest dreams did she believe she would ever get the opportunity to become one herself. When one of the bunnies is "forced" to retire the "Grand Bunny" calls all of the bunnies together to choose the newest Easter Bunny. The Country Bunny was not consider until she was able to prove that she was wise, kind and swift. The "Grand Bunny" even rewarded (or I say tested) her by giving her the hardest location to deliver to. She not only delivered the egg but she proved herself to be brave. She was rewarded with the Golden Shoes that would allow her to jump anywhere.
The Country Bunny is an inspiring story for all generations. Now that I have revisited this story I see it in a whole new perspective. I am able to see this book as a mother. The Country Bunny wanted to do the best for her family and make them proud. By proving herself to the "Grand Bunny" she was able to achieve her ultimate goal. I guess you could say that this book is a testament to the importance of hard work.
Intended audience: ALL
In 1974 there was a street performer in New York who lived for a challenge. This gentleman thought there was no greater challenge then to walk between the Twin Towers (also known as the World Trade Towers). This book is all about the true story of what happened that day - I won't ruin it for you, that is the fun of this book.
What I really like about this book is the way the illustrations tell the story. This text could just as easily be a wordless book. The illustrations are so detailed and show the story from several viewpoints. This book could also be used to introduce the fall of the twin towers on 9/11 by getting students to see that we need to honor the memories of the towers and those who lost their lives instead of the tragedy that occurred. I know that this book helped me remember the stories I had heard of Philippe Petit and his tightrope walk and not the loss of a dear friend.
Intended audience: Kindergarten to 2nd
Spot and Whistle are poodles who like doing everything together. They live near a pond and enjoy running around it and playing fetch near it. They are very competitive and sometimes Spot is faster and sometimes Whistle is. Every time they go swimming Whistle swims the length of the pond, but Spot does something quite strange—he pretends to swim while remaining in one place so that he can jump out just before Whistle completes his return lap. Spot always wins this way by being the first out of the pond. One day, however, while the two are playing fetch, they have to dive into the water to retrieve the stick in the middle of the pond. Spot cannot pull his famous trick and has to swim with all his might to fetch the stick. From then on, Spot does not pull his funny trick but enjoys swimming in the pond beside Whistle.
This is an adorable story of competition and friendship. If you can say that you and your best friend are not somewhat competitive I would argue that you are lying. I know my best friend and I were always competing with our grades and at sports. It may not be seen as competition due to the closeness of our relationship but we will both admit that we are. This story can also serve as a "cheaters never prosper" lesson as well.
My only reservations about this book are the fact that the dogs are depicted as a black and a white poodle who are always competing. Some may have problems with this viewpoint. I don't but it is just something to think about.
Intended audience: Preschool to 2nd
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
For this weeks blog I decided to let my oldest daughter pick a book for me to blog about. She had just returned from school and was excited to show me her latest "find" from the school library. Lately I have noticed that the books she chooses have become more complex in text. I have seen her gain more confidence in a reader in just the last few weeks. She is more adventurous in the amount of words that are on each page. Emma sat down and read this book to me as if she has been reading for years.
What I liked about this book was its use of rhyming words. The repetitive nature of words ending in "at" helped assist Emma in her reading. I was surprised however that the illustrations did not appear to follow the text. In fact the pictures were about two ahead of where the text was. I believe this helped Emma move past predicting what would happen next. She was confused at first because "usually the pictures help me with the words." I was happy that this book worked that way. I believe it helped Emma gain more confidence in that she was making the correct choices.
Any book that provides me with multiple teaching strategies is a keeper in my opinion. I would consider having this book as well as other rhyming books in my classroom library. The confidence that this book gives a reader is something that I want to foster in my classroom. Intended audience: Kindergarten through 2nd.
This book is an example of a book that is old but can still be used in todays academia. While I would probably not offer this book as a staple in my classroom library, the lesson that it teaches would be beneficial in an art curriculum.
Little Blue and Little Yellow is the story of two dots, who have loving families, and can see past their differences. However, when the colors are combined the families worry that the little dots have disappeared. This is not the case however. The dots just combined their colors to form a new color, green.
This book would be useful in introducing color theory to kindergartens. The text is simple and the plot is easy to follow. In an art classroom this book would be useful. However in a regular classroom the text really does not serve a purpose. Intended audience: Kindergarten through 1st.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
A moving journey of the Kawashima family as they try to evade being captured by the Communists. So Far From the Bamboo Grove is a great retelling of Yoko, her mother and her sister Ko as they struggle to make it from their home in Korea back to their Japanese homeland. The strength that these women show while battling nature, human kind and their own personal demons is truly inspiring.
As I was reading this book I was extremely moved. During my junior year of high school, I spent the whole year in Osaka, Japan. I am familiar with the Japanese/American relationships (or lack there of) that occurred during World War II. I was not however familiar with the comings and goings of the Japanese/Korean/Russian relations that were occurring at the same time. I was lucky enough to visit the cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo to see the pain and devastation that happened during that horrible time in our worlds history. Yes, as an American I was outraged at Japan's eagerness to include us in the war even when we vowed to stay out. But now, after I have read Ms. Watkins, I see that we all were facing danger during that time. I admire her for being so candid as to what she experienced. It takes courage to speak of such a difficult time in ones life.
So Far From the Bamboo Grove would serve as an excellent book when discussing the complexities of what led to the travesties that occurred during World War II. So many lives were displaced by the decisions of so few, it is a topic that needs to be discussed. This book was a very quick read and offers an insight into the plight of the Japanese toward the end of the war that I was not familiar with.
Intended audience: Fourth through high school
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I believe I am standing pretty good at this point in the semester. I am prepared to provide my opinions and concerns in class. I strive to value the opinions of my fellow classmates. As far as the reading goes, it seemed overwhelming at the beginning of the semester. I am surprised at how fast I am able to finish our books. The books are fun to read and each one helps to trigger a memory from my past or bring a topic up that I would like to discuss.
I enjoy reading children's books (and on average read 5 to 7 a day, thanks Emma and Jillian). I will admit that I did not see chapter books as a form of children's literature, but I am starting to see the benefits of expanding into these books. For example: I may have a student who is bored with the picture book scene and needs the extra push to go to the next level. The genre presentations provided me with an abundance of tools to use when selecting age and grade level appropriate texts.
I really like that this class is challenging the way I look at children's literature. I used to solely base my choices on the illustrations inside the book. Rarely did I look at the text of the book. I would only look at the illustrations and whether they would appeal to my daughters tastes. I feel that this class is providing me with the knowledge to choose wisely for my classroom library.
So I guess when you ask the question, "Where am I", I would have to say that I am feeling really good. My confidence in text selection is increasing and I feel that I contribute to the classroom discussion.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The end of The Misfits was not as predictable as I thought it would be. I guess I was choosing to believe that Mr. Howe would have tied everything up in a pretty little bow and the No-name Party would win. Well at least they did not finish last.
I liked the way that the Gang of Five supported each other and listened to each others ideas (even if they had to yell at each other to be heard - mainly over Addie). The lessons that they learned, as well as the rest of their classmates, was one that made me smile. My high school was very similar to Paint Brush Hills Junior High. Unfortunately we never had anyone who was willing to challenge the Britney's and the Collin's.
I believe that The Misfits should be taught in every school. The message is one of hope and belief that someday we all just may get along. With the ever changing landscape that is occurring in the American school system, the early this book is taught, the better prepared our students may be for junior and senior high. I would probably introduce this book to a third grade class with parental consent; fifth grade without parental consent (I would still send a letter advising the parents as to why I was teaching the book).
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What an amazing story. The true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo (Roy and Silo). Who says you have to be in love with the opposite sex to raise a family. When the penguin keeper noticed Roy and Silo in love, he took an extra penguin egg and allowed them to raise Tango (because after all it takes two to Tango).
I would absolutely teach this book. In the Des Moines area this book was challenged by a family who was APPALLED that their school would openly teach about homosexuality. The school board luckily disagreed with the family. However, the school board, to appease the family moved the book to a part of the library that required parental permission to check out. Nice compromise but ABSOLUTELY unnecessary.
We need to stop sheltering our children. Yes we need to protect them but by taking books like "Tango" and placing them on a permission only shelf, we are not preparing our children for the world that exists today. I do not want my students to have to face a situation and fall flat on their face and make unnecessary comments about anyone (or their lifestyles). It is up to the parents to explain their views at home, but it is my job as a future educator to prepare my students as much as possible for the crazy world we live in.
I read this book several times trying to find why it would have been considered controversial. Finally the fourth time through it and I think I got it - the main character, Mickey loses his pajamas and goes naked (and I mean naked) for awhile. Whoop d doo. What kid has not seen themselves naked? The text is simple, not controversial in anyway and the illustrations allow you to be heavily involved in the dream. Once again it is a parent who wants to have their child be sheltered that causes this book to be on the list.
Daddy's Wedding and Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Scooby-Doo and the Phantom Cowboy; illustrations by Hanna & Barbera
Scholastic has decided to bring episodes of its popular "Scooby-Doo" series to readers. I must admit that I always enjoyed watching the cartoons when I was a kid. I was a little leery of how the episodes would be translated into text however. What I have now come to realize is that Scholastic is a lot smarter than I gave them credit for. My 5 year-old daughter is a perfect example of their success.
On Sunday we were taking a break from cleaning the house and I let them watch a little T.V. I found "Scooby-Doo" on the Cartoon Network and thought we could watch it. My daughter however got extremely upset. She did not believe that "Scooby-Doo" existed outside of the books that she was reading. She really made a connection with the books that we were reading. She is enthralled with the way Scooby seems to jump off of the pages due to the great illustrations. While the stories are predictable and always end with "those meddling kids and their dad-burned dog" solving the mysteries, my kids often will make up their own stories based on the illustrations.
I would probably never use these book when teaching in my classroom, I would keep them in my classroom library. They allow students to enjoy a character that has been around for years (at least 35 that I know of). They also typically have a lesson attached to them somewhere. In the lower grades they may be beneficial when discussing the importance of teamwork.
Intended audience: Kindergarten to 3rd
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Who doesn't love a good book about bananas? A jester (yes I said jester) lost his monkey (yep, I said it). The problem is the monkey steals a banana and throws the peel on the ground which causes a whole chain reaction to occur during the rest of the book.
The book sends a good message about how one action we take may change the course of our (or someone elses) life. I would use this book when I teach a unit on the environment and a character counts curriculum.
The illustrations allow you to see the expressions on the peoples faces as they see the problem and how the next person sees what is to come.
All in all this was my favorite book of "wordless" books that i read. The story was clear, the illustrations were spot, and the themes were apparent early.
Intended audience: Kindergarten to 3rd
What? I am totally lost as to what this book is about. I know that "wordless" books are supposed to challenge the readers imagination, but either this book really missed the mark or I am just not that imaginative.
While the drawings were good and the "gate-ways" (that is what the flaps were referred to) were amusing, the overall idea of the book was lost on me. Amazon and Barnes and Noble say that "The Crocodile Blues" is "a creative book that will leave readers anything but blue." What I find funny about that is, that even they cannot tell me what the book is about.
The illustrations show a man taking an egg from an egg vending machine placing the egg in the refrigerator. While he and his bird fall asleep the egg cracks and a FULLY grown crocodile appears. Next thing you know the guy has moved, then attends a party, and is presented the egg by the same crocodile who he ran from. I just don't get it. If someone can explain it to me I would greatly appreciate it.
Intended audience: I am not sure. I probably would not use this book in my curriculum because if I am confused about this book, how am I supposed to use it in my teaching.
A cute book about having the last laugh on something mean. The Last Laugh is a cleverly disguised book about bullying. As one can guess by the title, the snake gets his bullying returned. Throughout the whole book you see the snake tormenting animals and never having any thing done to him in return.
Finally a gaggle of geese decide to get even, they have had enough. What I liked about this book is that the theme is so prevalent for what may happen in schools today. I really do not have much else to add about this book. It was fairly predictable.
Intended Audience: Kindergarten to 2nd grade
What child hasn't been sent to bed with no supper? Last Night by Hyewon Yum is a delightful book about a young girl, sent to bed with no supper and what happens when she falls asleep.
The illustrations are so dead on, it is easy to see the story occurring on the pages. The little girl is frustrated and falls asleep with the favorite teddy bear who takes her on a tour of the forest with her friends.
Hyewon Yum does an amazing job of using shadowing in his drawing to bring out the anger the characters faces and the disappointment the mother feels (a looming figure with her hands on her hips). The fact that the bear trusted the little girl enough to introduce him to his friends (an eclectic bunch of foxes, fish, and turtles), lets the reader know that trust is earned. It also helps one see that the little girl and her mother need to forgive and forget.
Intended audience: Kindergarten to 3rd grade
So I am completing my post about "Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman" under my new pen name of Poopsie Hamster Buns. Too funny.
I am still relatively new to the whole "Captain Underpants" phenomenon. Last summer I was teaching at a Summer Program and had a group of kids who were not paying close attention because of this series. Instead of getting mad, I found a way to use them in the teachings.
What I enjoy about these books is that they take the story of two boys who could be interchanged with almost anyone in school, anywhere in the country. Dav Pilkey has a way of making reading and writing fun. He introduces several forms of writing into his tales and that is what makes it fun. The expressions on the illustrations are also priceless. I can totally remember making the faces of "Captain Underpants" when I would play Superhero in grade school.
"Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman" brought back many memories of my least favorite teacher and how I would have loved to do something to her. The fact that she did not promote her students using their imaginations really bothered me. Ms. Ribble is everything I DO NOT want to be as a teacher. I was so excited to see Harold and George go against the grain. To me every student should be able to question. They may not always like the answer that they get, but they should at least have the chance to ask.
Intended audience: 4th grade and up. Adults may even enjoy them. I know I did.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Curious George's First Day of School by Margret & H.A. Rey
Now who doesn't love a story about a silly little monkey brought to the United States by a man in a yellow hat? Curious George has been around as long as I remember. My Dad used to read me one of the Rey's stories every night for bed. I always swore that when I was older I was going to bring a monkey back from a vacation. I wanted my "George" to do everything with me.
The illustrations in this book, once again, allow the reader to tell the story without having to know every word on the page. They are whimsical and detailed. The illustrators use of colors allows the drawings to jump off of the pages. The giggles that my children provide while reading these stories wants me to have all children experience the brilliance of Margret and H.A. Rey. I fully intend to have the whole collection of Curious George in my classroom library.
Ecosystems: Oceans by Greg Reid
Every once in awhile I like to find a non-fiction book that explores an area of the world. One of my favorite places to visit (no matter which coast I am on) is the ocean. I want to share my fond memories with my students. I also want to help them squelch any fears they may have based on movies and/or books.
Oceans offers the reader an in-depth look at oceans around the world. The text allows the reader to feel as if they were actually visiting that particular location. What I also liked about the book is that the author provides the viewer with a list of websites that students, caregivers, and teachers can use to extend the information that is provided.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I can only hope that my students do not feel about me how Jake feels about his teacher in the quite comical book titled "HELP! I'm Trapped in My Teacher's Body" by Todd Strasser. While walking through the Curriculum Lab I was trying to think of series books that have been popular since I graduated high school in 1992. The genres that are read today vary greatly from the books that were tops in the library checkout list from JD Darnell High School in Geneseo, IL. Back then the girls were interested in "Sweet Valley High" books and boys only wanted to read about "Star Wars" and "Star Trek".
Today the kids have Harry Potter. Fantasy novels seem to be the way to go when it comes to connecting to today's youth. Since I have already read all of the Harry Potter books I was looking for another series I heard was popular "Goosebumps" by R.L. Stein. He was my intended read for this week, but then a title caught my interest and made me remember a time when a teacher of mine switched place with a student for a subject period in 6th grade because the student thought "teaching is easy, all you do is boss us around."
"HELP! I'm Trapped in My Teacher's Body" was a cute book but fairly predictable. Jake was a troublemaker, hated his teacher, a science experiment went wrong, they switched bodies, Jake learned his lesson, so did the teacher, end of story. It reminded me a lot of "Freaky Friday" by Mary Rodgers. I could almost see the Disney movie now. While I enjoyed the book, I feel that the theme has been used too many times. I was hoping the book would also help the teacher see that his way of teaching was not necessarily the best way to teach to all of his students. Yes, Mr. Dirksen did also learn something from the change, but it was not as prevalent as I was hoping it to be.
However, what I did take from the book was that I want my students to feel as comfortable with me (and I in turn with them), to know when things need to be changed up a bit. I want to be able to tap into ways that will allow my students to learn to their utmost ability. If that means that we need to watch a movie, complete an experiment or bring Art into a Social Studies lesson, then so be it. I believe that this book helped me realize that unlike Mr. Dirksen, I want to offer my students the ability to switch things up a bit.
Until next time, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars." (Casey Casum)