Category Archives: Reading
If you had to choose, which fairy tale would you name as your absolute favorite fairy tale? Would it be Goldilocks and the Three Bears? How about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Maybe it’s not exactly a fairy tale but a story that has magic in it like the Wizard of Oz? Perhaps, it is a nursery rhyme like Three Blind Mice or a legend like King Arthur and the Knights at the Round Table.
These characters plus so many more form the massive cast of characters in Michael Buckley’s first installment in the Sisters Grimm series entitled, The Fairy-Tale Detectives. Ferryport Landing is a small town along the Hudson River in New York and Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are stuck here! Their grandmother finally sends for them a year and a half after their parents disappear, after time in an orphanage, and after multiple, horrible foster homes.
But, from the moment they meet their grandmother, Relda Grimm, something is off. Is it her random ramblings? Is it scrawny Mr. Canis who is always with them but not related to them? Is it the multiple locks, the weird decorations, or the forbidden room in their grandmother’s house? Is it the townspeople who just don’t seem quite right? So many unanswered questions but the most important one is: Is this woman really who she claims to be? Their grandmother is dead! At least that’s what their parents told them from the time they were little!
Sabrina and Daphne are about to find out the hard way who their grandmother is, who they are, and what on earth is going on in
Fairyport Ferryport Landing! Are you ready for the adventure, the suspense, and a few of those questions to be answered?!
Title: The Fairy-Tale Detectives
Author: Michael Buckley
Illustrator: Peter Ferguson
Copyright Date: 2007
Dewey Decimal Number: 813
Reading Range: Grade 4-6
Curricular Connections: This would be a great read-aloud for our Grade 3 teacher after their Language Arts/Library unit on Fairy Tales. I anticipate that many middle school students who call fantasy their favorite genre would like this updated and modern look at fairy tales. I think they would also appreciate that this is a 9-book series so it’ll keep them reading and exploring for quite a while. The Reader’s Guide at the end of the book has some great ideas for teachers (or even students) to extend learning beyond this book’s extension of fairy tales.
Fischer, Robbie. “The Fairy-Tale Detectives.” MuggleNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Where do you get recommendations for books to read? Maybe your recommendations come from me. Maybe your recommendations come from your teacher. Maybe your recommendations come from friends. I get a lot of my recommendations from my friends and acquaintances online. They start talking about a book that they really liked. Some of them change their profile pictures to the book cover. And they start raving to anyone who will listen about how good the book was. A year and a half ago, that book was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. And now, there’s Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. And it definitely didn’t disappoint.
Willow Chance is in middle school and definitely does not fit in! Her clothes are wrong. Her way of thinking is different. And, in “17 minutes and 47 seconds,” she scored an absolutely perfect score on a standardized test given to all students (Counting by 7s 35). Willow Chance is obsessed with the number 7 and two other things: medical conditions and plants (12). Her life is dominated by those three things until the day that it isn’t, the day that it can’t be, the day that everything around her crashes. Then, all she has to hold on to is an unlikely friendship with the Nguyen kids and her school counselor, Dell Duke.
Like the extremely popular book Wonder, Counting by 7s doesn’t just tell Willow’s story. It also jumps from narrator to narrator, broadens the borders of the story by including important insight into other characters, but keeps coming back to Willow’s powerful story of coping with immense sadness and loss.
Title: Counting by 7s
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Reading Range: Grade 5-8. Ages 10 and up.
Curriculum Connection: This book could be used by an upper elementary or early middle school teacher as a classroom read-aloud with potential for conversations about differences, unlikely friendships, and coping with trauma. I see the potential for conversations in regards to Child Safety training that we do because of a character who exhibits indicators of potential child abuse. I can also see it being a popular individual read for those who liked Wonder, Because of Mr. Terupt, or Mockingbird.
Goldberg Sloan, Holly. “Blog Tour: Counting by 7s with Holly Goldberg Sloan.” Jenna Does Books. N.p., 9 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Goldberg Sloan, Holly. Counting by 7s. New York: Dial for Young Readers, 2013. Ebook.
What would the Philippines be without basketball? While it’s not the official national sport, it is played EVERYWHERE! It’s rare to drive through the city and pass a tin-roofed basketball pavilion and not hear the sounds of feet running down a concrete court, isn’t it? Flip through the channels on Philippine TV and you’ll eventually come across a PBA or college basketball game. You can be driving on the national highway in the province and have to come to a stop to wait for the men playing a pick-up game in the road to realize that a car is coming towards them. And, even as you head down Penny Lane when you leave school, you pass a dirt basketball court that’s often filled with kids lobbing the ball towards the netless hoops. The last page of John Coy’s book titled Hoop Genius reads, “And today, millions of people around the world play the game that was invented by James Naismith and that rowdy class. Do you?”
There’s no doubt that James Naismith had his work cut out for him on that fateful day in December 1891 when he walked into the gym that two previous teachers had marched out of. He was met by a group of bored and rowdy boys. He realized that he had to do something to keep them engaged and to keep them from hurting each other! Football was out. Soccer was out. Lacrosse was out. He needed something new! Just 4 days before Christmas, he had it! He came into the class a posted rules for new game with a ball, with goals mounted on the walls, and with penalties for “holding, pushing, and tripping.” And thus, the international phenomenon, known as the game of basketball, began.
Joe Morse’s illustrations pair well with the story that John Coy writes. His stylized drawings reflect the historical time period in artistic style as well as the movement of the rowdy action of the group of boys. He also manages to distinguish an even earlier time period with James Naismith’s flashback to his own boyhood and then finishes with a still-stylized but more modern rendition of the game of basketball today.
Title: Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball
Author: John Coy
Illustrator: Joe Morse
Reading Range: Ages 7-11
Curriculum Connection: This picturebook has multiple curricular connections: a fun read-aloud for any of our PE teachers as they start a unit on basketball, an example of an invented game for our HS PE 1 students who have a final project option of inventing their own game, a read-aloud with our Grade 1 students who study inventors, a biography for multiple grade levels, and as an analysis piece for our art students looking at the highly stylized illustrations.
Coy, John. “Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball.” John Coy. Winding Oak, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2013.
“Quite simply, Tony Sarg just never grew up,” his daughter Mary once said. From the time Anthony “Tony” Frederick Sarg was a little boy, he loved making things! One of the first things he made got him out of doing his chores. He invented a way to feed his family’s chickens from his bed! But, it was eventually his specialty of making marionette puppets that got him his most well-known job as the puppeteer of the annual Macy’s Parade.
And, just like Tony Sarg, Melissa Sweet, the author and illustrator of this book, created the art for this book out of a whole host of materials! Some of the images on the pages are her drawings, some are actual photographs of Tony Sarg with his creations, some are photographs of toys and puppets that Melissa made herself, and some of the pages use Tony’s illustrations from his book called The Tony Sarg Marionette Book. The result is a visual feast on the page with heaps of interesting little tidbits to examine and ideas for your own creations!
Title: Balloons Over Broadway
Author: Melissa Sweet
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Reading Range: K-3
Curriculum Connection: This book has a wide range of opportunities for curricular connections: a fun read-aloud with our puppet-loving Kinder teacher, a read-aloud with our Grade 1 students who study inventors, a biography for multiple grade levels, or an idea-book for middle school and high school art students who are exploring the use of different mediums for creating.
“5 Questions With… Melissa Sweet.” Engage: A Reading Today Blog. International Reading Association, 23 Nov. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.
Sweet, Melissa. Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin for Children, 2011. Print.
The Thursday and Friday before March Break, the Elementary Librarian and I conducted our first Parent Cafe in the Library. Now, a week later, I’m still trying to figure out whether I would define it as a failure or as a success.
A brief introduction…
- Our goals – welcoming parents into the Library, explaining a bit about our reading/library philosophy, helping parents navigate reading level vs. interest levels, and demonstrating the features of our Follett Destiny program.
- Timing – We scheduled two sessions during times that appeared to work well with Parent-Teacher conferences in Elementary and Middle School and with the Middle School Speech Tournament Finals.
- Agenda – We split the time between talking through our slides, taking questions, and helping parents use the Follett Destiny program for themselves.
- Advertising – We put out the details with a Smore flyer sent via e-mail one week prior. Brief details went out with our weekly All School Bulletin on the two Wednesdays before the events. Elementary and Middle School parents were invited via teachers’ weekly class newsletter and the Middle School weekly Student Calendar handout.
- Food – Yeah, we tried to entice with homemade cookies, delicious coffee, and refreshing iced tea.
Defining it as a failure…
To be honest, I’m not sure that the balance of preparation for outcome made it worth it. We had a grand total turnout was 7 parents – 6 on Thursday and one on Friday. There was a lot of extra food left.
Defining it as a success…
- If I examine our list of goals, we definitely succeeded in meeting those. I think every one of those 7 parents felt welcomed, left understanding our reading/library philosophy a bit better, now knows how to search for books by reading level and interest level, and was able to successfully log in to the Destiny program and explore it a bit on their own.
- The small group allowed for more time for questions and hands-on experience with Destiny.
Learning from our failures and successes (i.e. preparing for next time)…
- This was our first time offering anything like this in the Library…and we had 7 people show up! I actually think this was a great way to ease into the idea.
- Rather than solely relying on digital forms of communication to advertise our next Parent Cafe, I’d like to ask the 7 to personally invite other members of the Faith community. I think we solidified 7 library advocates last Thursday and Friday and they have the potential to be some of our greatest advertisers.
- I think we scheduled this one on the best possible days. They were days that we had more parents than usual on campus. I think the timing of the end of Quarter 3 wasn’t the best, however. We’ll look at doing our next Parent Cafe at our Back-to-School Afternoon at the beginning of the school year (in August).
- One hour was a really good amount of time. Just long enough to be able to say what we really wanted to say and just long enough for the parents to be able to ask questions and try out the online tools we discussed.
- Another positive was that the Elementary Teacher Librarian and I were both available to work with parents after that hour was up. Neither of us had a pressing schedule which meant that we could stay after to answer more questions.
- And the food was delicious. We’ll definitely keep that at our next Parent Cafe.
While I still remain a bit discouraged that we didn’t have the turnout that I was anticipating, I think this first Parent Cafe was, ultimately, a success. There are definitely things that we can improve and build upon for the next Parent Cafe. And those are fairly easy to define.
We needed to start somewhere…and we did. And next time, we’ll do even better.
Need a book but you’re in a post-Hunger Games funk? Try one of these.