Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Third Grade Booktalk, 4/18/12

Today, I visited a third grade class in our nearby Catholic school. The classroom teacher told me ahead of time that her class loves Choose Your Own Adventure Books. My branch doesn't happen to have many of those, though they are widely available in my system, but I wanted to incorporate the spirit of those books into my booktalk. What I did in the end was a booktalk I called, "Choose Your Own (Reading) Adventure." Instead of just booktalking the books that interested me, I pulled together a whole bunch of titles, then asked the kids a series of questions to determine which ones we would discuss.

Here are the questions and answers. I provide the titles in parentheses but did not provide those to the kids when posing my questions so they would be surprised by the books themselves.(Links are to my reviews on my book blog.)

My question: Would you rather speak in a secret language (Say What? by Margaret Peterson Haddix) or not speak at all (No Talking by Andrew Clements)?
Class's answer: Speak in a secret language.


Q. Would you rather have a magic coin (Half Magic by Edward Eager) or a magic babysitter (Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald)?
A. Magic coin

Q. Do you prefer math (Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes by Jarrett J. Krosoczka) or science (Babymouse, Mad Scientist by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm)?
A. Science 

Q. Do you like frogs (Marty McGuire by Kate Messner) or turtles (The Birthday Storm by Sharon Draper)?
A. Turtles (unanimously!)

Q. Explosions (Phineas L. MacGuire... Erupts! by Frances O'Roarke Dowell) or gross food (Scab for Treasurer by Trudy Trueit)?
A. Explosions 

Q. Would you rather hear about a lost diamond (The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar by Martha Freeman) or a found diamond (Bogus by Karla Oceanak)?
A. Lost diamond 

Q. Would you rather go camping (Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look) or go to a sleepover (Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb by Francesca Simon)?
A. Camping 

Q. Would you rather tell a secret (Amy Hodgepodge: The Secret’s Out by Kim Wayans and Kevin Knotts) or a lie (Honestly, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman)?
A. Secret

The kids' votes were pretty heavily one-sided, which I attribute to peer pressure as much as to their actual interests, but I didn't hear a single complaint about a vote not going someone's way. They were invested heavily in the books and a lot of great discussions arose about everything from what can happen on a camping trip to what you can do to make amends after telling a friend's secret. When we finished the questions, we went back to talk about the books they did not pick in the initial question and answer round. Then I gave them a handout of all the book titles and allowed them to look at the books themselves. Eight of the students chose books for me to keep on hold for them at the children's desk so they could come in later in the week or next week to pick them up. The titles the kids chose were:

  • Search for the Black Rhino, Curse of the Pirate Mist, and The Lost Jewels of Nabooti (These were Choose Your Own Adventure books I displayed but did not booktalk.) 
  • Half Magic
  • Scab for Treasurer
  • Say What?
  • Babymouse, Mad Scientist
  • The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar
The kids also told me Marty McGuire is in their classroom library, and many had also read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

This was a great format for a book talk, and it's absolutely how I will do my booktalks from now on. I think some things could be made even better, but it was a great first experience, and I can't wait to do it again for more classes!

Click here to download my handout.

Baby/Toddler Story Time, 4/17/12

Story time is getting crazier and crazier here at my library, even though the groups have been smaller than usual. Yesterday, not only did I stop and scold the parents for talking, but I also had to delay the start of the 11:00 story time because one child bit another one on the eye. It was strange, to say the least, and more than a little bit stressful. That is the one thing I hate about three-day weekends. Tuesday is always brutal when we come back. But we press on. Here's yesterday's Baby/Toddler repertoire.

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Book: Little Cloud by Eric Carle (1996)

Rhyme: Two Little Clouds 
This was a new rhyme for us and a little bit tricky for the smaller kids. But we had some threes and fours  who really got into it.

Two little clouds one April Day
[Make two fists.]
Went sailing across the sky
[Move fists side to side.]
They went so fast, they bumped their heads
[Bump fists together.]
And both began to cry.
[Rub eyes with hands.]
Out came the big round sun who said
[Make huge circle over head with arms.]
Never mind my little dears,
I'll send sunbeams down
[Wiggle fingers on both hands downward.]
To dry your fallen tears.

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Quack and Count by Keith Baker (1999)
To make this more interactive, I asked the adults to quack with me after each page. Most of them did. 

Song: The Ducks in the Pond
To the tune of The Wheels on the bus, we sang:
  • The ducks on the pond go quack, quack, quack... all day long.
  • The ducks on the pond go flap, flap, flap...all day long.
  • The ducks on the pond go waddle, waddle, waddle... all day long.

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands 

Book: The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson (1945)

Song with Stick Puppets: Oh, Yellow Flower

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song with Puppet: You Are My Sunshine

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

Second Grade Class Visit, 4/13/12 (National Library Week)

I was really nervous about this library week visit, but it turned out to be the best one of the week.

To break the ice, I briefly let the kids tell me all about their Friday the 13th bad luck. We had everything from a forgotten lunch to lost homework. Once we got past that, we moved into a discussion of the library. I forget sometimes how literal second-graders are. When I asked, "What do we have at the library?" they told me everything from the front door to carpeting to books to pencils. When asked what a librarian does, they knew pretty much everything, but they also added things like, "The other librarian - not you - she lets us borrow a pencil." (This is, for the record, not because I don't lend them pencil, but because I am often on the desk in the middle of the day, and not during the after school rush.) They really knew their stuff - I was very impressed.

Once we finished that discussion, we moved onto our first book, which was Stella Louella's Runaway Book. (If you don't know it, it's about a girl whose library book is due but she can't find it. She interrogates a bunch of different people in her neighborhood, all of whom have seen the book but don't have it anymore.) Before I started to read, I told the kids that each person Stella Louella meets in the story would give them a clue as to what book it was that Stella Louella had borrowed. I told them that no matter how soon they figured it out, they couldn't tell me until the entire story was finished. The first clue comes from Stella Louella's little brother, who says he liked the bears. Then the mailman says he likes the part where the characters go for a walk. I prompted them to notice these two clues, and then didn't offer anymore prompts. By the time one of the characters mentioned porridge, all the kids had figured it out, but they got a kick out of watching for the rest of the clues, and were about ready to explode with the answer (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, of course!) by the end. After we reached the end of the story, I asked the kids to tell me what clues they noticed that helped them figure out which book it was. They all had different answers, which was great, and the whole discussion reinforced their understanding of the story.

We had some time left after the first book, so we read the second one I'd brought as well - Wild About Books. One of the kids asked me if the illustrator of this book is the same as for Where the Wild Things Are, and I said no, but that they should recognize the illustrator. They weren't sure at first, but once I said Marc Brown, they recognized that he also illustrates the Arthur books. We talked some about how the art was the same or different, then read the story straight through. They got most of the references, and found lots to look at in the illustrations, and one boy even announced, "I love this book!" It was great.

After the second book, the kids would have kept talking all day but it was time for me to take my leave. I got their card applications from their teacher, and headed back to the library. I could tell the kids really got a lot out of my visit, and I had a great time as well. I can't wait to use this format again the next time a second grade class invites me to visit!

This was my last class visit of National Library Week. Click here to review the others.

Book Spine Poetry: Poem #1

Last year, I admired Travis Jonker's Book Spine Poetry Gallery at 100 Scope Notes from afar. This year, I was determined not to miss out, so before National Poetry Month completely passes me by, I want to share the book spine poems I've written. There are three in all; this one was my very first attempt.

(The titles are transcribed below.)

Fiendish Deeds
Gone from Home
In Jail, Ms. Wiz?
You Have To Stop This 



BOOKS USED IN THIS POEM:
Fiendish Deeds by P.J. Bracegirdle
Gone From Home by Angela Johnson
In Jail, Ms. Wiz? by Terence Blacker
You Have To Stop This by Pseudonymous Bosch

Caldecott Challenge Post #23

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Published 2003. Caldecott Honor 2004. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780618256280 

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page know exactly how to tap into kids’ curiosity about the natural world. Children love learning about the ways animals are similar to and different from humans, and this book introduces that information in an accessible and awesomely illustrated way. I love how realistic the images are,  and how they look almost three-dimensional, giving a great sense of each animal’s texture. The informational section at the back of the book is also very thorough so that adults can accurately answer small kids’ inevitable questions and bigger kids can find out more information on their own.


First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Published 2007. Caldecott Honor 2008. Roaring Brook Press. ISBN: 9781596432727 

This simple book explores the age-old question about the chicken and the egg and demonstrates other such relationships, such as that between a tadpole and a frog, a word and a story, and paint and a picture. The bright eye-catching illustrations make it visually appealing to babies and toddlers, and the book’s entire concept lends itself to a great writing and creativity exercise for older kids. Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s books are hit or miss for me, but this one is definitely a hit.


Alphabatics by Suse MacDonald. Published 1986. Caldecott Honor 1987. Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9780027615203

When parents come to my library looking for a “simple” or “traditional” alphabet book, I often hand them this book because of its straightforward letter-object relationships. Parents like B to stand for balloon, F to stand for fish, etc. But what I didn’t realize until I actually sat down and read the book cover to cover is that this is more than a simple litany of the ABCs and boring objects starting with each letter. The shapes of the letters actually figure into the illustration of each object through a series of shifts and changes - the “alphabatics” suggested by the title. This gives the book a much larger, and older audience, encouraging kids who already know the alphabet to play with it, and giving young artists a suggestion for stretching their own creativity. Great stuff.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

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