Pictures books: Miss Allaneous: a Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier was a re-read for me but new to the third graders that I was visiting in my daughter’s class. They were discussing writers craft and the making of books using Debra Frasier’s great little videos on her web site. (http://www.debrafrasier.com/pages/books-events/miss-alaineus/index.php)
This book was developed years ago when Debra’s daughter was in my classroom. The book idea came when she struggled with the spelling and the meaning for one of our vocabulary words. Leave it to Debra to turn this into a fabulous vocabulary lesson, a great arts integration experiences and a way to teach the craft writing and of developing a book.
If you have not worked with Debra’s books you are missing something wonderful. Her books are great, the web site a wealth of ideas to share with students and it is even more fun if you can find a way to work directly with her. She is a kind and gentle soul who can bring sunshine to even the wildest “mistakes”.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolan was also on my reading list this week as I am developing a short lesson on simile and metaphor for third graders. This is a hard concept to learn as a young writer so using Jane’s book to help us begin our skill building is great. This is a beautiful book that came out in 1987.
We will take time to explore the comparisons before reading. Then spend a little time making a torn paper owl and then begin our own writing for our owl stories. Some of the early writers will need a sentence stem to help them write a simile and for others who are ready they will jump into their own winter story about owls including metaphors or similes. (You have to know that this lesson comes on the heels of another snow day. Minneapolis was caught in one more blizzard last Friday leaving us all stuck inside or digging out from another 10 inches of snow.)
I just finished reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. (which is being released this week) What a delightful read! I so wish I had a classroom of students to share this book.
Lloyd has developed a wonderful cast of characters from Felicity, the collector of words, to Franny Jo (little sister), Aunt Cleo and the Beedle. This great group quickly become your friends and it is hard to leave them at the end.
Felicity and her family (Mom and Franny Jo) come to Midnight Gulch to stay with Aunt Cleo. It is one more new school that Felicity must struggle through – school is fine it is just the talking that is hard. Talking in front of a group just doesn’t happen for her. She is a great collector of words. She loves words, writes them down, create poems and rhymes for her sister – just don’t ask her to speak in front of a group.
The town of Midnight Gulch is full of mystery, history, laughter, frustration, sadness and a snicker of magic. Felicity quickly learns there is a riddle to solve that might just solve her family issues, fear of speaking and a host of other problems all over Midnight Gulch. This is where a village of friends are there to help.
As a teacher this is a great book to share with students. Felicity models the skills of a writer – strong observation of the world around you, collecting words and writing them down and the struggle of creating something from those words. There is also the lessons of friendship and the truth that we all have a snicker of magic to share. It is about friendship and family.
The last book I am finishing is Paperboy by another first time writer – Vince Vawter. I am only about half way in but I am in love with this book. Our lead character – the paperboy also struggles to share his words. He has a strong stuttering problem which makes it very difficult to communicate with friends, adults, strangers, or anyone.
Vawter has a simple and straight forward writing style which drops you right into the summer of 1959 in Memphis. We are following the daily struggles and frustrations of a young boy coming of age. He delivers the afternoon paper and collects the payment each Friday evening. This simple activity demands that he communicate with a wide variety of strangers. It also opens his world to a new thoughts, ideas and concerns.
There is so much to teach from in this book. There is the history of race relations in the late 50’s and 60’s, there is family relationships, coming of age and the persistence of young people who have an added challenge in their life that they must come to terms with. This book also offers a chance to look at
- writing style (short, quick paragraphs that model our main characters speaking but also ease of reading),
- use of metaphor,
- strong characters and place,
- a great lead or hook to the story
and so much more. It is a must read for adults as well as students.
Books in Waiting:
This is where I usually list what I am reading next – but lets me truthful here I almost always end of reading something different. I know for sure I will be working on
Tellegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (adult read – my adult book group is starting back up so I need to pick up my pace and get my “assignment” done)
Kid Books in waiting:
- I have started The Mark of the Dragonfly so will finish it!
- from Net Galley I have
- Half a Chance
- Zane and the Hurricane
- Would Like to get to Threatened this week but that is a lot of reading – we will see what happens.