I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since I’ve posted. I’m not even sure why, this week just went really quickly. Last weekend was full of awesome birthday celebrations, which I will post more about in the next few days. And it’s just been quick and a little exhausting. We’re trying to work out a new morning and evening routine here, so we’ve been kind of hyper-focused on that. But the end result is that I have a pile of stuff to post about now, including the fact that Hannah turned 11 months old yesterday!
So my first year teaching I wanted to have a game for my 2nd graders to explore the library and discover new books. I’ve blogged briefly about this game before. We spend a lot of time in second grade talking about how we choose our books, how to find summaries on the backs and inside the dust jackets of books, and basically just how we find the books we like. I do another activity called “Judge a Book By Its Cover” (I talk about Drop Everything and Read in that post). Judge a Book By Its Cover came in real handy this year when my 4th graders started Wonder; they remembered the 2nd grade game immediately and understood what I wanted them to do.
I love this time of year at school. Every year during the short Thanksgiving week I have the 3rd and 4th graders help me change The Library Tree from fall to winter. It’s a small thing, but I love those rituals.
My fabulous and amazing mentor Dee sent this out today, and I love it. Zazzle is now selling prints, tees, bumper stickers with this Burning Through Pages graphic (in addition to some other equally outstanding book nerd goodies). I support everything about this.
I cannot overstate what a marvelous fall read-aloud Bob Raczka’s Fall Mixed Up is. I have read it to all of my 1st grade classes, my Multiply Disabled class, and I’m getting ready to read it to my kindergarten classes. I think this might even be my favorite read aloud of the year so far.
I bought this book last year hoping to get some use out of it, but I guess in my pregnant haze I decided it would be too confusing after all to read with classes. Not to mention the fact that I was furiously trying to squeeze in all of my Big Important Units with each grade before I went on maternity leave—we were kind of rushed last year. But this year I brought it out, and it was a huge hit.
Last week was Respect Me Week at school. We focused on anti-bullying education as well as just general acceptance–it was a big school-wide week of tolerance. I suggested and loaned lots of various titles to the classroom teachers and then kept a few to use in my library classes. Here’s what we did:
When I was in high school we lost my stepfather to lung cancer. He was sick for a full 2 years and passed away right before my sophomore year midterms. That experience is still so vivid in my memory that it overshadows and colors a great deal of my high school experience. It made me awkward and quiet for the first 2 years of high school, a 180 from the boisterous kid I had been. And not an advantage when I switched from public to Catholic school for 9th grade and knew absolutely no one. I disappeared almost entirely into an obsession with movies to avoid thinking about death and my own mortality every single day. Kids were mean. I was withdrawn. Guidance counselors wanted to talk about it, and I found myself inventing feelings about the situation to make them feel better, to give them a problem they could solve to soothe their extremely kind and earnest need to help me process the experience. I felt empathy for them because they so wanted to fix it.
I picked up these two titles by British author and illustrator Rubbino last week. I remember skimming through his first book, A Walk in New York, in a bookstore display of NYC picture books a while back. But I never read it all the way through until I saw its companionA Walk in London last week.
Maurice Sendak, author of the famous Where the Wild Things Are, died yesterday at the age of 83. He was one of those creators of children’s literature that librarians feel particularly possessive of, one of our last living “national treasures” like Eric Carle, Beverly Cleary, or Ed Emberley. Still making incredible works of art that tap into the heart of childhood, the perspective of children, that magic, at an age when most have long forgotten what it is to be childlike. He did not shy away from dark themes for children, which certainly stemmed from his own childhood experience as a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who lost several family members in the war and had severe health problems. It always made him controversial, but for anyone who has ever read one of his books to a child or as a child you know that he got to the bones of those great big feelings–which most adults try to shield from children. Sendak knew that this does children a great disservice, denying that they can feel darkly or understand deeply.
Mo Willems’ latest pigeon adventure came out earlier this month, and it was officially the first book I ever read aloud to Hannah. It seemed fitting to start with the Pigeon since I’m a big fan of these books, and they also kicked off my collection of signed books for Hannah’s library.