Saturday, April 30, 2016

Strictly No Elephants

Wolfie the Bunny reminded me of another book on my bookshelf: Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. This one is about friendship.

A young boy has a tiny elephant for a pet. They don't really fit in. Each day they take a walk. The elephant does not like cracks in the sidewalk, so the boy carries him over because that is what friends do. On Pet Club day, the boy takes his tiny elephant only to be met with a sign, Strictly No Elephants. Dejected, they head on home. On the way they meet a girl with a skunk, she and her pet were turned away, too. They decide to start their own club. Other kids with unusual pets start to follow them and one of the new friends points to a spot where the new club can meet. It has a treehouse, a tire swing and plenty of open space for the penguin, armadillo, porcupine, bat, narwhal and a giraffe to play. The sign on their clubhouse door reads All Are Welcome. If you want directions the tiny elephant will give them to you because that is what friends do.

The AR is 2.0. 

Wolfie the Bunny

At the Schools of Hope Advanced Tutor Training (see below), Dr. MaryAnn Nickel recommended Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora for beginning readers. So I went to my bookshelf and reread the book. She was right, a book about bravery, sibling rivalry and unconditional love is perfect.

One day the Bunny family finds a little wolf in a basket on their porch. Mama and Papa are smitten but Dot cries "He's going to eat us all up!" Wolfie is a good baby, he loves carrots and he is a good sleeper. When Dot's friends came by to see the baby, they scream, "He's going to eat us all up". Soon Wolfie is following Dot everywhere she goes. She is not pleased. 

Wolfie grows rapidly and the bigger he gets the more he eats until there are no carrots left. Dot is heading to the store to get more when Mama dresses Wolfie up in a pink bunny suit so he can go to the store, too. At The Carrot Patch, Wolfie is threatened by a very large bear. Guess who saves the day and her brother?

The Nerdy Book Club has a funny article by Ame Dyckman about how she finally heard Dot's voice and finished the story

The Sonoma County Library has ten copies. The AR is 1.8.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SOH Advanced Tutor Training on Summer Slide

On April 20, 2016 Dr. MaryAnn Nickel gave an advanced tutor training on Summer Reading Slide. This is the piece of Schools of Hope that I felt was missing from the very beginning of the program.

Many of the kids we tutor start school far behind their peers who do not struggle with reading. All kids make about the same amount of progress each year but if a struggling reader does not read or do other literacy activities over the summer they can backslide and lose two months of literacy skills over summer vacation. Now they are even further behind. What can we do as Schools of Hope tutors? Dr Nickel has some ideas, in a folder or Manila envelop put dated letters you write to your students to be opened at various times during the summer. Use the vocabulary words that you have been reviewing during your sessions. It is OK to type the letters (Whew!). Look for environmental print (a comic from the newspaper, a candy wrapper and my favorite: the back of a cereal box. I mam a child of the 50's after all). Dr Nickel included a page of kid-friendly poems that you can find at the link below. The first poem is one I resemble. Kids will like it, too. Include information about how to get a library card. For The Sonoma County Library you can find the application in both English and Spanish here. All libraries have summer reading activities. Sonoma County's schedule is here, include that, too. The United Way will be giving each of our students a book to take home. Another thing that you could include is the Five Finger Rule graphic to help the student and his parents find the just right book at the library or bookstore.

The United Way of the Wine Country has an online Resource Guide for Schools of Hope tutors. You can find links to several advanced tutor training sessions, literacy blogs and websites, libraries in their service area and a video of a Spring Creek tutor session.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop On Market Street was awarded the Newbery Medal (Matt de la Pena) and a Caldecott Honor (Christian Robinson) on January 11, 2016 by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association. This is the first time that a true picture book won the Newbery Medal. In 1982 a book of poetry, A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocence and Experience Travelers, won both the Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor.

As CJ and his Nana take the bus from church to the last stop on Market Street, he peppers his Nana with questions about their Sunday routine and meets all kinds of interesting people along the way. The bus driver, Mr. Dennis pulls a coin from his ear, he learns from a man with a seeing eye dog that a person can "see" the world with other senses, and feels the magic of a guitar player's music that transports him to a beautiful, tranquil place. As a child, my grandmothers offered a unique perspective on life that I didn't get from my parents. Another book about a grandmother guiding her grandson through a difficulty is Nana in the City.

You can read an article in Brightly by Matt de la Pena about talking to our kids about diversity when we read with them.

The AR is 3.3. The Sonoma County Library has eighteen copies.

Reading With Your Kids

Words of wisdom from children's book authors Kate DiCamillo, Loren Long and Brad Meltzer:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reading and Bookish Links

This week let's start off with a fun quiz to see how many of the 100 Best Children's Books of All Time you have read. I got 69 of 100. Bonus feature: it makes a great list of book ideas for the kids in your life.

Some young kids pick up reading quickly and want to read chapter books. They may be good readers but the content of books they can read is not age appropriate. Ellen from the Cutting Tiny Bites blog has done the hard work of compiling and reviewing a list of chapter books for very young readers. Hat tip: Growing Book By Book

Would you like a way to check your beginning reader's progress? Reading Is Fundamental has a Reading Check up for Beginning Readers (Grades 1/2) to help.

Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book By Book wrote a guest post at parenting blog, Childhood 101How to Support an Early Reader. Her five tips include understanding a new reader, coaching a new reader, modeling fluency, checking for understanding and picking "just right books". Scroll down to see links to other articles by Jodie about beginning readers.

Parents are their child's first teacher. It is their job to lay the ground work for future success  in school. That job begins at birth. Maya Smart from Book Riot has a quiz for parents to see how they are doing in Are You Raising A Reader?

Along this same theme is An Expert's Opinion: What Parents Can Do That Apps Can't. There are many commercial programs and apps that claim to teach young children to read. Brightly has published an excerpt from Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham's The Informed Parent: A Science Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years. Their research-based advice for parents is talking and reading to children from birth and having lots of books around. Just handling (or even chewing) books is an early literacy behavior.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Six decades ago, I picked a book from my school library called Beezus and Ramona. At the time my favorite books were fairy tales, The Betsy, Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and the Cherry Ames series by Helen Wells. None of these books were about contemporary families like mine. The Betsy, Tacy books took place in the early 1900's, more my grandmother's childhood than mine (I loved those books and so did my daughters). The Cherry Ames books were a series about a young girl starting  nursing school and following  her into various nursing positions. Cherry Ames, Army Nurse was my first real exposure to World War II. All of that was a far cry from Beezus and Ramona. Almost a quarter century later, when my daughters were reading the book, it was just as real. By then, Beverly Cleary had written several more books about Ramona and her family: Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona and her Father and Ramona Forever. In 1999, she wrote her final book about Ramona, Ramona's World.

 Did you know Beverly Cleary was a struggling reader who grew up first to be a librarian and then a writer? You can find out more about her at CNN and NPR. She also has a website, where you can find all the 41 books she has written, learn about the characters and even play games. In Ramona Quimby, Age 8, she wrote about Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) a month long celebration of reading. D.E.A.R. programs have been held nationwide on April 12, Beverly Cleary's birthday.

Beverly Cleary won the Newbery Medal in 1984 for Dear Mr. Henshaw and Honors in 1978 for Ramona and Her Father and in 1982 for Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

The Sonoma County Library has every book written by Beverly Cleary and many as audio-books as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016


On July 1, The BFG movie will be released. I am excited about the movie but, really, the book is always better. What a great family read aloud, you get to say words like bumfuzzle, whizzpopper and gloriumptious. Then you'll be ready to see the movie.
The main protagonists are the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), Sophie, an orphan girl and the Queen of England. The antagonists are nine enormous giants who travel the earth every night getting their fill of "human beans". Roald Dahl tells modern fairy tales. Like the ones we read, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack in the Beanstalk, there are scary parts, but outsmarting the villain
is empowering to children.

The BFG is tied with Matilda as my favorite Roald Dahl book. You can watch the preview here.

The AR is 4.8. The Sonoma County Library has twenty-eight copies.

And a final word from Roald Dahl:

For our day, I am sure he would add phones, computers and tablets.