Sunday, January 20, 2013

Best Read Aloud Chapter Books for Children (from Good Reads)

Here is a great list of read aloud chapter books for parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents,....  This list comes from great reads Listopia and there are 328 books on the list, so get ready to be overwhelmed.  The nice thing about lists is, that you have a "plethora" of ideas right at your fingertips when you are at a book store or library and need some great ideas.  The books were voted on and are ranked by highest votes received by the public, not some academic group of literary judges.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

Today is Amelia Earhart day!!!!!!
It’s a mystery. What happened to famed pilot Amelia Earhart on her bid to fly around the world? Where did she go wrong? And why is her disappearance still fascinating to us 75 years later? In Amelia Lost, biographer Candace Fleming follows up her acclaimed works on P. T. Barnum, the Lincolns and Eleanor Roosevelt with a fascinating look at aviatrix Amelia Earhart. Fleming’s meticulous research combines with her storytelling expertise to craft an account of Earhart that manages to breathe life into the legendary figure’s mysterious disappearance. Even though the reader knows that Amelia never returned from her fatal flight, the book’s structure and Fleming’s pacing manage to build suspense and create tension. The author intersperses accounts from the viewpoints of the many people concerned about Amelia’s whereabouts with accounts of her early years and her career, allowing the reader to know Amelia as more than a one-dimensional historic figure. Most biographies of Earhart aimed at juvenile audiences focus on her fun-filled Kansas childhood and her desire to be a pilot at a time when women were not encouraged to climb into the cockpit and risk their lives. But Fleming digs a little deeper into Earhart’s youth and discusses not only her tomboy escapades, but also her father’s alcoholism and other family troubles. Amelia’s teen years were marked by the influences of her father’s “sickness” and the effects it had on his career. Amelia’s family moved from Atchison KS to Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Paul and eventually Chicago and each move was a step down on the social ladder. Amelia’s college efforts were scattered and halfhearted. Then she volunteered as a nurse in Canada during World War I and became fascinated by the airplanes on the nearby airfield. But her first urges to fly were stymied by the fact that women were not allowed to fly. As she said “Not even a general’s wife” was allowed to take to the air. By the time Amelia returned to the United States, she had already been bitten by the flying bug. Her fascination was increased after she attended an air show in California in 1920 and she became determined to learn to fly. She worked hard to earn enough money for lessons and found a female pilot willing to take her on as a student. Amelia had finally found her place in the sky. The author expounds on Amelia’s early efforts as a pilot and how she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and she portrays Amelia’s relationship with George Putnam in an age-appropriate manner. She gives the reader some interesting details about Amelia’s willingness to be a public figure and her efforts to promote women in aviation. But the most compelling stories in the book are the accounts of her last flight and the massive attempts to locate her after all contact was lost with her plane on July 2, 1937. The author searched communication logs and news stories, as well as primary documents submitted to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. These documents include diary entries and records of conversations from citizens who claimed to have heard Amelia calling for help in her last hours.

Amelia Lost: My Recommendation

I recommend Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart for ages 10 and up. The book has a lot to offer in terms of engaging young readers’ interest and historical information. By weaving the stories of Amelia’s final hours that we know of with the story of her life, Candace Fleming not only builds interest, but she also engages the reader in the immediacy and importance of Amelia’s disappearance. The 118-page book is filled with photos, news items, and memorabilia ranging from Amelia’s grade card to a note to Amelia from her co-pilot, Fred Noonan. The book includes a bibliography, index and suggestions for more information on the Web. Students looking for information about Amelia Earhart’s life for reports will find a wealth of biographical information in this work. Young readers looking for an interesting non-fiction book about a fascinating subject will be enthralled by this depiction of Amelia’s life and her disappearance.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Books About Winter and Snow

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Cover art of Children's Picture Book Owl Moon
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen; illustrated by John Schoenherr, Caldecott Medal WinnerPenguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.   
John Schoenherr received the 1988 Caldecott Medal for his Owl Moon illustrations and it's no wonder. The artwork and the story beautifully show us a child's thrill at finally being old enough to go "owling" with her father. The little girl beautifully describes their night walk through the frigid and snowy forest. Jane Yolen's words capture the mood of hushed expectancy while John Schoenherr's lovely watercolors capture the beauty of the walk through the woods. It's obvious that the trek with  her father is what's important and getting to actually see and hear an owl is the icing on the cake. Both the art and the words show the love between father and child and the importance of their time together.

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Cover Art of the children's picture book Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Harcourt Brace & Company
Lois Ehlert is a master of collage and Snowballs is a delightful look at a variety of snow people and animals that can be made with snowballs and household items like mittens, buttons, and nuts. Snowballs is told in the words of a child who, along with the rest of the family, has "been waiting for a really big snow, saving good stuff in a sack." The good stuff includes corn, bird seed, and nuts for the birds and squirrels to eat off of the snow creatures; hats, scarves, bottle caps, plastic forks, buttons, fall leaves, a man's tie, and a lot of other things. The photo collages feature fabric circles as snowballs that are transformed when stacked and decked out with features and accessories.
At the end of the book, there is a two-page photo feature showing all of the "good stuff," with captions, that the family used to make the snow people and animals. That's followed by a four-page section about snow, including what it is and what makes it snow and featuring photographs of snowmen and other snow creatures. This book will appeal to children of all ages who enjoy playing in the snow, making their own snowballs and transforming them with good stuff.

Stranger in the Woods
Cover art of children's picture book Stranger in the Woods
Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Carl R. Sams II Photography, Inc.
The full-page color photographs go a long way in telling the story of the Stranger in the Woods. In the woods, the bluejays caw, "Take care!" All of the animals are apprehensive because there is a stranger in the woods. The bluejays, chickadees, deer, owl, squirrels and other animals are not sure how to react. Little by little, starting with the birds, the animals in the forest follow the snow trail and come close enough to examine the stranger. They find a snowman.
Unbeknowst to them, a brother and sister had crept into the woods and built the snowman. They gave him a carrot nose, mittens, and a cap in which they make a dent so it could hold nuts and bird seed. They also left corn for the animals. A doe eats the snowman's carrot nose, while the birds enjoy the nuts and seed. Later, when a fawn finds a mitten on the ground, the animals realize that there is still another stranger in the woods.
Stranger in the Woods is a beautifully photographed, captivating book that will appeal to three- to eight-year olds. The book was written and illustrated by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, who are professional wildlife photographers. Younger children will enjoy their book Winter Friends, a board book, which also includes exceptional nature photography.

Snow Crazy
Cover art of Snow Crazy by Tracy Gallup, a children's winter picture book
Snow Crazy
Mackinac Island Press
Author and illustrator Tracy Gallup celebrates the joy of snow - waiting for snow and playing in the snow when it finally arrives - in Snow Crazy, an appealing little picture book. A little girl is eagerly awaiting the snow that has been forecast. She makes paper snowflakes, and she and her mother "laugh, drink hot chocolate, and stand in a [paper] snowdrift." Finally, the snow comes, and the little girl has a wonderful time playing in the snow with her friends, sledding, skating, making snow angels and building a snowman.
The illustrations are what make this story so appealing. They feature sculpted and hand painted dolls and props created by Tracy Gallup, who has been a professional doll maker for more than 25 years. I recommend Snow Crazy for three- to six-year-olds.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Cover art for The Snowman picture book
Random House
The Snowman by English author and illustrator Raymond Briggs has intrigued and delighted young children since it was first published in 1978. At first sight, the book looks like a typical picture book. It's not. While it is a fully developed story about a little boy who builds a snowman and then, in his dreams, provides an adventure for the snowman when he comes to life one night and the snowman then provides an adventure for the boy, it has an unusual format.The Snowman is a wordless picture book, with significant comic-book aspects. The book is the size, shape and length (32-pages) of a typical picture book. However, while it does include a few single and double-page spreads, almost all of the illustrations are done in comic-book format, with multiple panels of sequential art on each page (about 150 in all). The softly rounded panels and the misty illustrations create the sense of peacefulness that often comes after snow falls, making it a good book to enjoy at bedtime. In discussing his use of pencil crayons and the absence of words, Raymond Briggs said, "You can draw lightly in colour, then gradually make it sharper, clearer and darker, while colouring it at the same time. Furthermore, for this book, crayon has a softer quality, ideally suited to snow."The wordlessness also seemed right for snow, which always brings with it a feeling of silence and peace. The house in the book is my own house here, at the foot of the South Downs, a few miles from Brighton." I recommend The Snowman for ages 3 to 8. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1978. ISBN: 9780394839738)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Meridian Magazine - It’s Time for My Top 2012 Books for Kids - Meridian Magazine - LDS, Mormon and Latter-day Saint News and Views

Meridian Magazine - It’s Time for My Top 2012 Books for Kids - Meridian Magazine - LDS, Mormon and Latter-day Saint News and Views by Holly E. Newton

Now that 2012 is over, it's time for my favorite picks for kids ages nine and older. I am sure that several of these books will be a potential Newbery winner.
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio, is a beautifully written story that ultimately teaches acceptance, friendship and kindness. Ten-year-old August leaves homeschooling and enters public school for the first time because his parents have protected him from criticism and bullying from peers. He was born with an extreme defect that has deformed his face. But you quickly learn about his quick humor and intelligence, through his eyes and others close to him, and you grow to love and admire him. And eventually, so does the entire school.
The Boy on Cinnamon Street, by Phoebe Stone, is a powerful story about seventh grader, Louise, who lives with her grandparents and doesn’t want to do much with her dad, who lives in another town with a new family. You don’t learn what happened to her mom and why she doesn’t want to spend time with her dad until the end of the story. Louise discovers something she has had all of the time and there's a sweet and supportive element throughout.
image 2Liar & Spy, by Newbery award winner Rebecca Stead, is full of twists and mystery. Georges has just moved into a Brooklyn apartment building where he meets another boy, Safer. Safer recruits him into his small spy club where Georges must spy on a mysterious neighbor upstairs. As the story unfolds, you’ll begin to wonder who the good guys are and who are the bad guys.
Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin, is actually a continuation of the Newbery Honor book: “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”. Rendi has run away from home and finds himself stranded in a small village. He finds work as the innkeeper’s chore boy and thus begins the most interesting tales, many of which are based on Chinese folklore. Madame Chang tells a story of such magnitude that Rendi can hardly believe it. But the center of all is the missing moon and Rendi hears the sky’s sadness wrench through the horizon.
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand, and sprinkled with illustrations by Sarah Watts, is a spooky, eerie mystery that begins when Victoria’s friend, Lawrence, suddenly goes missing. She suspects that perhaps he, along with other missing children, are ending up at the Cavendish Home. So she sets out to investigate. What she finds there will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire book!
Malcolm at Midnight, by W. H. Beck, is filled with mystery, adventure and humor! Malcolm is a small rat who has just arrived in the classroom. In the middle of the night, Malcolm escapes the cage only to find many other escaped pets engaging in a secret meeting. He’s not included and feels left out and rejected until the leader of this pet gang, an iguana, goes missing. There are many sub-mysteries running through the larger one as Malcolm attempts to locate the missing leader. The delightful graphite drawings that are sprinkled throughout, by Brian Lies, help move the story along.
image 3Mr. and Mrs. Bunny- Detectives Extraordinaire!, by Polly Horvath, and wonderfully illustrated with ink by Sophie Blackall, is a fun and funny mystery involving two very enjoyable rabbits who have decided to take on detective work. When Madeline gets home one day after school, she finds her parents are gone. She employs the bunnies and they soon discover the parents are being held by foxes. Between the pictures and the story-line, this book is great fun.
Laugh with the Moon, by Shana Burg, has Clare spending time away from friends and living for two months in a remote village in Africa with her doctor dad. He’s helping the community and she can’t believe how these people live without modern conveniences. However, she learns many valuable lessons – most importantly, that of becoming friends with the kids who live there.
image 4Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood, takes place in a Mississippi town in 1964 when great difficulties arise with segregation at a public swimming pool. This historical fiction showcases friendship which is at the heart of this well-written story. Glory is about to turn twelve but there are many problems facing her, and her best friend Frankie, now that a new girl from the North has just moved in. This eye-opening story centers on family, friendship and making the right choice.
image 5The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, is told through the eyes of Ivan, a sweet gorilla who lives in a mall. He watches his limited world through the glass that encases him and only has the friendship of an elephant, a stray dog and Julia (a young girl who comes at night while her father cleans the mall). What you learn through Ivan's eyes are poignant, enlightening and somewhat sad. The drawings sprinkled throughout, by Patricia Castelao, are a perfect combination to the story.
The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, is a magical story rich in complexities as fifteen-year- old Sage leaves the orphanage in the kingdom of Carthya and is to now serving Connor. But Sage soon discovers that Connor is devising a plan to figure out which of the four orphans he has recruited can impersonate the missing prince. The story is clever with twists and turns that will make the adventures fly off the page.
image 6May B., by Caroline Starr Rose, is set in the western Kansas prairie during the 1870's. Eleven-year-old May has been left helping a young bride get settled as her family heads onto their homestead. But May finds herself alone during a harsh winter when the bride runs off and her husband heads out to find her. The physical drama of how May survives will keep you turning pages to the end.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January Book Calendar

Children’s Books and More for January by Elizabeth Kennedy

    January 1 - Birthday of Author Gary D. Schmidt
  • The Wednesday Wars - Fiction set in middle school, a Newbery Honor Book
    January 7 - Birth Date of Author and Folklorist Zora Neale Hurston
  • Zora and Me - Historical fiction based on Hurston's childhood
    January 12 - Birth Date of Illustrator Clement Hurd
  • Goodnight Moon - Illustrated by Clement Hurd and written by Margaret Wise Brown
    January 16 - Birthday of Author Rebecca Stead
  • When You Reach Me - Newbery Medal Winner
    January 26 - Birthday of Author Shannon Hale
  • Repunzel's Revenge Graphic novel by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
    Birthday of Illustrator Bryan Collier
  • Martin's Big Words - Picture book biography of Martin Luther King, Jr, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Doreen Rappaport

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January School Library Lesson Plans

JANUARY Lesson Plans: 

Week 1:  REFERENCES/RESOURCES - review all reference books and resource materials so that students can name them all.  Examples include atlas, almanac, dictionary, encyclopedias, thesarus, computer database for looking up books in the library, Annual Book of World Records, Magazines of all kinds, etc...  REF is the spine label which stands for "reference", with numbers under and books are placed in numerical order.  These book are not for check out.
Lesson Plan: 


    • 1
    • Write a "scavenger hunt" of questions that students need to find the answer for. These should include questions which can easily be answered by using specific reference materials.
    • 2
      Allow the students a set period of time (such as 20 minutes) to find the information sources on their own.
    • 4
      Write the remaining reference materials on the board, explaining the benefits of each one.
    • 5
      Hand out a second "scavenger hunt", allowing the students to take advantage of the new resources they've been taught. This should reinforce the knowledge and enable them to complete the task more efficiently and accurately than before.

Week 2:  COMPUTER SAFETY - review safe web sites for kids and unsafe web sites.  Discuss what to do if you accidentally see something "inappropriate".  Practice accessing appropriate and safe children's web sites.
Safe children's web sites:

Week 3:  MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY  -  (Celebrated the 3rd Monday of January.) 
Here is an amazing lesson plan from the book Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice. 
Week 4:  ARTIC ANIMALS - Discuss the life and habitat of all sorts of artic animals and look up where they are "found" in the library.  Answer questions about a variety of animals by looking up information in a variety of informational books available.

Author Study: Tomie dePaola & Patrick Carmen - birthdays in January and both are excellent authors, dePaola for the younger grades and Carmen for the older grades. 


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