Read a little; write a little

Green eggs without ham? Elephant without Piggie? Ivy without Bean? A library blog without book recommendations? Inconceivable!

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While I hadn’t specificaly planned to feature book reviews here, the opportunity has presented itself. My school is migrating its webpages from one provider to another and as a result I will be losing some of the content from my old website. These book blurbs date from 2007 to 2010 but they feature some of my favorite teaching resources and read-alouds. So while you won’t find anything brand new here, if you follow my creed “Any book you haven’t read yet is a new book”, hopefully you will find a gem or two to add to your repertoire.

Today’s post features suggested titles for English Language Arts. Math, science and social studies will be covered in a future post.

Need inspiration or mentor texts to teach the writing process? Here are four great titles to get you started:

The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch

In this pun-filled offering, book-loving hen, Henrietta, decides to write her own story. Writing advice is sprinkled throughout, including Rule Number Seven-“Make your story come alive by using all five senses.” Follow our spunky heroine through the writing and publishing process in this amusing picture book.

The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

What does a good story need? Action, humor, pathos, romance? Watch the creative process flow through the eyes of our young protagonist and see what truly makes the best story.

Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter

More writing advice is offered in this narrative about Eva, a young girl faced with writer’s block because “nothing ever happens on 90th Street”. With assistance from her helpful neighbors, Eva develops her story by asking “What if?”, observing carefully and finding the poetry in her words.

You Have to Write by Janet S. Wong

In a more serious piece, Janet S. Wong encourages struggling and reluctant writers to take the plunge even when they think they have nothing good to write about. Good writing doesn’t have to be about glamorous vacations or astounding talents. “Write about the fights. Write about the holes in your socks, your grandmother cracking her knuckles, your father snoring all night long.”

Don’t be stuck up a creek without a paddle! Use these books to introduce idioms and similes to your students.

Crazy Like a Fox by Loreen Leedy

Do you shake like a leaf when it is time to teach similes or are you as smart as a whip? Either way, this new title by Loreen Leedy is sure to make your lesson easy as pie.

Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch is an entertaining little book which illustrates some of the more common idioms using simple pen and ink drawings enhanced with photographs. (Picture a nice hunk of swiss cheese with a head and boots depicting the “Big Cheese”.)

My Teacher Likes to Say by Denise Brennan-Nelson will amuse with a line of super-glued students (“stick together”) and There’s a Frog in My Throat by Loreen Leedy is bound to please with “440 animal sayings a little bird told me”.

But if you would like to use these titles, you better hurry; the early bird always gets the worm!

Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edwards

Students will comprehend alliteration in a flash with this fabulous, funny fictional picture book. Mother fox cries “Farewell” and leaves for five days in Florida. What a fracas ensues! Pair with Edwards’ other offerings–The Worrywarts, Some Smug Slug and Clara Caterpillar.

Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier

This book is a teacher’s dream come true. While it stands alone as a great read-aloud, it can best be used as a springboard for both vocabulary and spelling lessons. Each page features a spelling sentence in the margins as well as intriguing vocabulary words such as hypothesis, pasteurization and ancestor in the text itself. Additionally, the story offers a lesson about excessive pride and the courage it takes to face one’s mistakes.

Fly With Poetry and Leap Into Poetry both by Avis Harley

Looking for a new twist to teaching poetry during National Poetry Month? These two offerings, both written in A-B-C style, present a myriad of poetic forms to use as lesson introductions. From alliteration to zejel (a form of poetry popular in medieval Spain), from abecedarian (sounds like what it is!) to zoophabet (also sounds like what it is!), it is guaranteed you will discover an aspect of poetry new to you and your students.

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