Saturday, August 31, 2019

These Five #pb10for10 Favorites Will Melt Your Heart

August 10th was our 10th annual picture book celebration:  Picture Book 10 for 10.  Since our event, I've been receiving library notifications for the books I requested as I read the recommendations of the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  JOY!  The second stack from the library produced a few favorites that you won't want to miss.  I'm going to apologize now as I can't be sure which blog recommended which books.  I guarantee you won't want to miss these titles - and if you wonder where all these great recommendations came from, please check the event post linked above.

Here are my favorites from the second #pb10for10 stack:

What is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison

This is the story of James Otis and his mama.  They have been struggling to get by since his father died, but when their church asks for everyone to help a family that lost everything in a fire, he and his mama dig deep to find something to give.  This is a beautiful book in message, illustration, and line.  Told from the point of view of James Otis, this book will melt your heart.

We Are Grateful:  Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac

The author takes us through the celebrations of a Cherokee family as they show gratitude across the year.  The structure of this cumulative text will be one young writers can use in their own writing.  It also is guaranteed to not only bring great conversation, but to spark ideas for writing as the author shares the celebrations close to her heart.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

We can't really know someone until we take the time to sit down with them for a bit.  So often we create our own narratives for people without knowing their real story.  So it goes in this book by Marcy Campbell.  Adrian Simcox tells everyone about his horse, but Chloe doesn't believe it for a minute.  It isn't until Chloe's mom arranges a play date with Adrian that she learns the real story.  This is a heartprint book for sure!

My Heart is a Compass by Deborah Marcero

If you stop by regularly you know I love a book that is written and illustrated by the same person.  I just like the message it sends to young writers.  Now, personally, I wouldn't be able to illustrate my own book, but kudos to those with the power of the paintbrush.  My Heart is a Compass is a book you'll want to have in your classroom library always!  In this story Rose is looking for the perfect item to bring to school to share with her class.  She has no idea what it is so she begins to draw maps to help her to find it.  The reader walks alongside Rose in her quest for a treasure.  This book would make a smart choice for talking about maps, but it also helps to illustrate the importance of our stories.  I think it would also work to create maps showing places or things that are important to us and begin to spur some ideas form writing.

the remember balloons by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

Just bring tissues.  This book will go straight to your heart.  There are books I love that I look forward to reading with different ages of readers as I wonder what they will think of the book.  This book is one of those books.  I loved this book.  It made me think of my grandparents and the stories they told - those I hold and those I have lost over the years.  In this story, told in first person, a young boy takes us through the balloons each family holds.  The balloons represent the stories that stay deep in our hearts; the stories we love to share with one another.  It make me think about "the balloons" that are close to my heart.  What a great title for the beginning of the year writer's workshop!

Well, after writing this post I've decided borrowing these titles from the library just isn't going to be enough for me.  I need these five picture books on my shelves always!!!  #pb10for10 community, you are not good for my wallet --- but you are great for my heart.  :o)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Five Favorites: Picture Books You Can't Miss

August 10th was our 10th annual picture book celebration:  Picture Book 10 for 10.  Since that time, I've been reading posts and reserving books at the library.  Okay, okay.  I may have purchased a few titles as well.  The first stack from the library produced a few favorites that you won't want to miss.  I'm going to apologize now as I can't be sure which blog recommended which books.  So many little time....

Here are my favorites from the first #pb10for10 stack:

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This book!  I'm not sure I will get over this picture book for a long time.  Sometimes a picture book stops your heart, and this is one of those stories.  In this story, a young girl helps her grandfather find the language that was stolen from him as young boy.  This book is a must read for everyone.

tiny, perfect things by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

This book is a reminder that the world is full of tiny, perfect things if we just slow ourselves down enough to notice.  The author and illustrator take us on a walk of a discovery.  The simple text alongside the illustrations open the door to all we might discover.  This book has so many possibilities.  It seems it would be the perfect title to share to help writers slow down to notice the world around them as they grow ideas in a writer's notebook.  It would also be the perfect title to start conversations about noticing in science.  This is one for the classroom library, for sure!

We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands by Rafael López

What's not to love about this one?  First of all, Rafael López is certainly an illustrator to keep an eye on in children's literature.  His work adds layers of meaning to any text.  How exciting to see him author and illustrate a picture book!  Secondly, the primary teacher in me loves a good song book.  It's hard to find newer picture books that pair with a song so I was happy to find this one to add to the collection.   Finally, there's the message that it is our job to take care of this world.  Yep, loved this one as well.

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan and illustrated by Aailya Jaleel

I had the pleasure of listening to Hena Khan speak when she came to Ohio at the beginning of this year.  Since then I've been discovering her books and enjoying every one.  Under My Hijab is no exception.  This story helps readers to see the strength and complexity of the women who choose to wear their hijab.  It's a must for any classroom library.  

How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

This book has so many possibilities.  Not only would it make a delightful read aloud, but it also would work as a mentor text.  In this story, the character tells us about something she is quite good at:  walking ants.  Yes, walking ants.  The author makes so many interesting craft moves that young writers could try in their own writing.  Her nine step guide to ant walking with steps, tips, and rules is sure to inspire some interesting writing.

These are a few of my favorites from my first collection I picked up at the library after August's picture book event.  Thank you to everyone who shared such thoughtful recommendations.  I picked up the second stack yesterday.  I'll share some favorites from that stack soon.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Lesson Learned: Finding the Celebrations

We've all heard it said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  Apparently the same can be true of data.

Let me explain.

Last week we received a Home Energy Report from our electricity provider.  I'm geeky when it comes to data so I love this report with its fancy charts, colorful graphs, and interesting comparisons; not to mention the fact that it usually helps me to show the family that we need to reduce our energy use.  As I looked over the report I was a bit disheartened to read that, once again, we fell above the average of our neighbors in usage and didn't come close to our most efficient neighbors.

One evening as the family sat around chatting I brought up the report.  "Did you see our electricity use report?" I inquired not so innocently.  "How are we among the least efficient electricity consumers in our neighborhood?" I wondered aloud.

"I knew you were going to bring this up," my son sighed.  He is used to my insistence on turning off lights as we leave rooms and keeping the temperature of our heat and air conditioning just out of our comfort zone.  "I saw the report sitting on the counter and knew we were going to have this conversation," he grumbled.

Not wanting to lose any ground I continued, "And did you see our usage this July compared to last July?  It more than doubled.  How can that be when we were gone for some of the month?"

My husband, used to the banter between my son and me, had been sitting quietly in his chair.  He had looked up from his book in slight interest, but hadn't really jumped into the conversation.

My son began trying to reason through the report.  It wasn't long until we were volleying points back and forth.

My husband - who would much prefer we keep the house in our comfort zone - finally interjected in my son's defense, "All I noticed was the statement that said we'd used 11% less electricity this year than last year."

Mic drop.

What?  How could I have missed that?

Quickly I started skimming the report again.  We were among the highest usage customers.  We had used more electricity this July than last.  I continued scanning.  There it was.  The statement read as he said, "So far this year, you've used 11% less electricity than last year."

How had I missed it?  This conversation is similar to the conversations we have in our schools.  Data can tell you a lot of things and may be a bit in the eye of the beholder.  Often as we sit and look at information collected we look for all that needs fixed.  It can be easy to let data tell us everything that is wrong, but what about what is right?  My husband with his rose colored glasses - and desire for a warmer house in the winter - found the positive in the report.  What if we looked more for the strengths in the data we collect?  What if we took pause to find the celebrations?  It seems the interpretation of data may be in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Time Flies! The 10th Annual Picture Book 10 for 10

Today's the day!  

Today is our 10th annual August Picture Book 10 for 10 event (here's a little history).  

I know, right?!  10 years???  Honestly it snuck up on me too.  10 years of 10 for 10!!!  Wowza.

Yep, 10 years of 10 for 10.  

If you hoped to join the conversation, you're in the right place.  We will be collecting posts for the event here.  (see below)  

Picture Book 10 for 10:  The Tradition
On this day each year, educators, parents, media specialist, and picture book lovers around the globe share ten picture books they just can't live without in the coming school year.  If you'd like to share your favorites, or just check out the books that are being shared this year, please stop by the Twitter hashtag #pb10for10.  Thanks to Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning for helping to kick off the new school year with this great event each year.   Make sure you stop by her blog to see what she has selected for 2019.  I know I can't wait to see.  Stop by the other participants spaces too.

My Past 10 #pb10for10 Collections

As the calendar turns to August my mind always turns to the new school year.  There's always a certain amount of excitement as our communities come back together.  This year, with all that has been going on in our world, I can't help but wonder what the children in our learning communities will be feeling as they walk in our doors.  Will all children feel safe?  Will all children feel welcome? How do we honor their stories?  How do we help them to know they are save with us?  How do we help them to feel welcome?

As I worked to create my picture book list for this year, I wanted to find books for the beginning of the year that help all of our children to know their stories matter.  Creating inclusive communities begins with this message.  Sara Ahmed, in Being the Change, reminds us,
"What I have learned is that we cannot progress as a society if we rely on television images, single stories, and sensationalized headlines over getting proximate to the personal experiences and individual truths of human beings who don't look like us (p. 16)."  
So in those first weeks of school, I know I want to create an environment where everyone feels welcome - an environment where everyone finds the space to tell their story.  I wanted a collection that opens the door to say:  YOUR STORIES ARE WELCOME HERE.

Here are my 2019 #pb10for10 selections:  

Want to Join?  
  1. Choose Your 10 Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  2. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  
  3. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, make a Padlet, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  4. Link Your Seletions:  Please share your posts here (today's post of Reflect and Refine) in the comments.  (Share them on Twitter too at #pb10for10.) 
  5. Find Other Participants:  You will find the links to other 2019 collections in the comments below.
  6. Connect & Comment:  Take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three. 
Warning:  Picture Book 10 for 10 can be hard on your wallet.  I'd pull out your library cards before you start to visit these wonderful posts below.  


Please note:  If you stopped by my original post, you know that I shared Home is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and illustrated by Chris Sasaki.  After sharing my post, Jillian Heise reached out in a tweet about this book.  She shared a post at Crazy Quiltedi that talked about some concerns over the images in the text.  When I read the book, I fell in love with the way it invited us into a home and made us think about the places we know as home.  In lines like, "Home is a window, a doorway, a rug, a basket for your shoes," and "Home is the shirt that smells like your old room, stories you had never heard, and every song you know," the author made me see the possibility of talking about our stories of home.  However, after reading the concerns, I am removing the title.  The post makes some good points that I want to weigh a bit more.  As educators, we certainly have to look at the books we place on our classroom shelves with a critical eye.