April 28

Library Mission Statement

Mission statements are helpful to stay focused on what is truly important. When you have a mission statement to guide your life, you can truly begin-with-the-end-in-mind and live your life in the most meaningful way. I have developed my own personal mission statement that has evolved over the past few years (to leave a legacy of loving and learning), and the librarians of Leander ISD have developed a group mission statement to guide our work in the library (to lead our school communities by fostering literacy in an environment that challenges students to imagine possibilities, explore opportunities and connect with the future and the world). I felt like our students as the library learners also needed to have a voice in what our library mission statement should be. The journey towards our student-created mission statement took more than a year to complete, and I am pleased with the results.

Our journey began last year when I created a Google Form that posed the following questions:

  • What do you learn about in the Rutledge Library?
  • What do you do in the Rutledge Library?
  • How should you act in the Rutledge Library?
  • How should you treat others in the Rutledge Library?
  • When you think of the Rutledge Library, what words would you use to describe it?

Every student in third through fifth grade had the opportunity to answer these questions on the Google Form. Their answers were compiled into a spreadsheet which unfortunately sat untouched in my Google Drive for the remainder of the school year.

This year, I was determined to follow through and bring our mission statement to completion. In order to use the student “data” I had collected in the form last year, I copied all of the answers from each question placed them into a word cloud using Tagxedo. The words that are used most frequently appear larger in the word clouds. This is helpful to highlight the most important ideas. Here are the word clouds:

What do you learn in the Rutledge Library?

What do you learn in the Rutledge Library?


What do you do in the Rutledge Library?

What do you do in the Rutledge Library?


How do you act in the Rutledge Library?

How do you act in the Rutledge Library?


How do you treat others in the Rutledge Library?

How do you treat others in the Rutledge Library?


When you think of the Rutledge Library, what words would you use to describe it?

When you think of the Rutledge Library, what words would you use to describe it?

You will notice many similarities and some subtle differences in the various questions and answers, and you can easily see which words stand out the most. To start the next phase of the process, I asked the current third through fifth graders to choose the words that stood out to them as the most important. We wrote those words down on chart paper for each question. As subsequent classes worked through the exercise, they placed a check mark by the words they agreed were important, and other words were added. By the end of the third day, there were many words that had been added to the list, with 10 checks beside some of the original words. For the next phase, we narrowed even further. The next classes compared the important words from the first two questions and compiled them into a Learn/Do chart, and then they looked at the lists from the second two questions to make an Act/Treat Others chart. This narrowed it to 28 words that stood out as the most important. We still needed to find the critical concepts to guide our mission.  The next group of kids looked at those two posters and decided what words went together and which concepts could be combined, and they came up with the 7 most important concepts. These were the big ideas that we used to create our mission statement.

The next day, classes split into self-selected groups and began composing mission statements using those 7 critical concepts to guide the process.  For the next phase, students read each of the 10 mission statements that were created, underlined their favorite parts of each, and then combined, edited, revised, and narrowed it down to 5 mission statements that we all agreed were solid.  This entire 6-day rotation was dedicated to the process of analyzing and synthesizing the word clouds in order to create those 5 mission statements. Here’s a short video of the process up to this point:

My next step was to create another Google Form with those five mission statements, and during the next 6-day rotation, every third, fourth and fifth grade class voted for their favorite mission statement on the Google Form. A clear winner stood out from all of the rest, but I was not completely satisfied with it. It was missing 2 of the 7 words that our students had agreed were the most important, and the last line didn’t quite flow. After much careful consideration, I saw that I could change two words and it would include the two missing ideas while making it flow. I knew that I shouldn’t make an executive decision to change it without getting student input since this was their mission statement. During the next 6-day rotation, I placed the original mission statement the students had chosen and the new one with the minor changes on the door, and I placed the 7 big ideas on the wall beside them to remind them of our focus. As students lined up to leave at the end of class, I explained the changes I made and why, then gave each student a hot dot to place on the statement they liked the best. In the end, the final mission statement expressed all 7 important concepts the students had originally agreed upon.

Final Mission Vote7 Big Ideas

The process took a lot of time and effort, but the input from the students was invaluable. They all had a part in creating and selecting the final mission statement, so the students truly take ownership of it. Here is the final mission statement of the Rutledge library learners:

In the library, we will read, lead, and grow with the 7 habits. We will be respectful by using the golden rule. We will be good digital citizens while using technology. As leaders, we will make the library a great place to learn and explore.

(Created by 3rd-5th grade students, 2015-2016)

August 11

It’s Monday! What are you reading? August 10, 2015

Summer time is almost over, and I’ve enjoyed reading books of all kinds!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  To follow the tradition, I’ve been participating again this summer, and I can hardly believe that my vacation is OVER! Today was my first day back at work, so this may just be my last #IMWAYR post for the summer.  If I can figure out how to manage my time and juggle regular blog posts along with all of my other duties, I will try to pick this back up during the school year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in this reading community, both by sharing what I’ve read with others, reading the comments on this blog, and reading the wonderful #IMWAYR posts on the blogs of others.  It’s a great way to keep up with all of the great literature that is available. So let’s look at what I’ve been reading these past two weeks!

Last week (and the week before) I read…

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Scholastic Reading Summit, where I was energized by the enthusiasm of many great advocates for reading. While I was there, I bought this book for our library (and the following two) at the Scholastic Book Fair. This delightful book chronicles four very different families and their traditions of making a dessert called blackberry fool throughout four centuries. The first section highlights a mother and daughter living in England in the 1700s, followed by a slave girl and her mother in South Carolina during the 1800s, then a Boston mother and daughter in the early 1900s, and lastly a boy and his father in present-day San Diego.  The lovely illustrations faithfully depict the eras, showing the technology of the times as well as common clothing, decor and practices. I really enjoyed the back matter where the author and the illustrator share their research (not to mention the recipe for blackberry fool). This could be a powerful launching point for how families, technology, and social norms have changed over the centuries.

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
It was so wonderful to hear Kate Messner speak during the #ReadingSummit. She shared about her life-long love of reading, how she finds ideas for her books, and her writing and research process. She is truly an inspirational advocate for reading and writing. We also participated in a shared reading of her book How To Read a Story, and I was so disappointed to find that it was sold out! I did get the pleasure of purchasing Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt, which alternates between the world of green growing things and the plant life above ground in the garden, and the creatures down in the dirt below that help the garden thrive. With highly engaging and educational text and beautiful illustrations that bring the garden to life, this is a very enjoyable read.

What If You Had Animal Hair by Sandra Markle and Howard McWilliam
What if you had quills like a porcupine, fur like an oryx, or perhaps scales like a pangolin? This delightful follow up to What If You Had Animal Teeth highlights the fur adaptations of various animals and how those adaptations help them survive. There are facts related to every animal, a photagraph of each, and a humorous illustration depicting a child with the animal’s fur as it asks the question, “What if?” I loved using the first book last year as a spring board for inquiry and research with my students, and I look forward to using this one in the coming school year.

Blue Moo: 17 Juke Box Hits from Way Back When;
Rhinoceros Tap: 15 Seriously Silly Songs;
Frog Trouble and 11 Other Pretty Serious Songs
All three books by Sandra Boynton (and Michael Ford)
After reading and listening to Philadelphia Chickens, I put these three books on hold at the public library right away so I could hear what other great things Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford came up with. The text and illustrations are all by Boynton in collaboration with Ford for the musical arrangements and production. Each book has an accompanying CD, and they all have a similar format of “Look While You Listen” in the first half with illustrations and some of the lyrics, and “Sing and Play Along”  for the second part with the musical score and the complete lyrics.  Rinoceros Tap was the first production by Boynton and Ford, and though it does not have nearly as many artists as the subsequent books, I believe its success paved the way to bring in other great performers (such as Allison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam in Frog Trouble and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Neil Sedaka, and B.B. King in Blue Moo). These books and songs are so much fun!

nightgardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Irish orphans Molly and Kip travel to a mysterious house in England that is strangely entangled with a sinister tree. Molly has taken on a job there, but begins to uncover some frightening truths about the tree, the house, its inhabitants, and the mysterious stranger that haunts it at night. This Bluebonnet Nominee will keep you on the edge of your seat, hoping to uncover the strange ailment that befalls those who partake of the fruit of the tree, and longing to see Molly and Kip find safety, freedom and happiness after all their hardships and struggles.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
There is no wonder this book won both the Newbery and the Coretta Scott King Awards. This novel in verse draws you in from the very first word! Written from the perspective of Josh “Filthy McNasty” Bell, you get a glimpse into the basketball filled lives of this 14-year-old and his twin brother Jordan. This book has everything–basketball, intense family bonds, more basketball, sibling rivalry, the love of the game, a crush, a father who is a basketball star in his younger years, a mother who is the assistant principal of their school, a medical condition that goes ignored… And the text! The lyrical, rhythmical poetry on every page! This book is a work of art, just begging to be read aloud. I have a feeling this book will touch lives, reach reluctant readers and bring many to the joy of reading.

I also finished a “grown up” book that I heard about on NPR last year. I put The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on hold in the APL digital library a few months ago. I was number 189 on the waiting list, and it came in this week. This suspenseful English mystery brings on a mix of emotions as the story unfolds and each character reveals more about their lives. Each chapter is narrated by alternating characters, and you don’t know whether to sympathize with them or loathe them at various points. It is definitely an adult book–I’m totally not used to the language and situations, being an elementary school librarian. But it was a great read, keeping me glued to the pages until the very last word.

Next I will read…
I’m really excited to be reading Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland, which was recommended by my librarian friend @LibrarianDee. As a person who struggles to manage all of the tasks that come my way, I’m hoping that this will help me organize my time and prioritize. Scrum originated as a rugby term, and then the concept was adapted into a way to manage projects in the tech industry, and now teams and leaders in every sector can use this process to become more effective. I haven’t picked up Invent to Learn in weeks, but I will come back to it soon enough. I’m also looking forward to some of the books we received at the Scholastic Reading Summit, primarily Open a World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and Power of Reading, edited by Lois Bridges, and Independent Reading: Creating Lifelong Readers by Barbara Moss and Terrell A. Young.

As for kid-lit, I only have two more Bluebonnet Nominees to read, Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle, and The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom by Christopher Healy. I’m also looking forward to reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullally Hunt, All the Answers by Kate Messner, and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, some of my purchases from the Scholastic Reading Summit Book Fair. I unpacked a shipment of great titles from Bound to Stay Bound today, so I’m sure that I’ll be busy with tons of things to read for months to come!

As part of my job as a librarian, I feel it is important to read current literature in order to be able to make recommendations to the children who walk through my doors. If I want to make a difference in kids’ lives, if I want to help a child find “the book” that turns him into a life-long reader, I must know what is out there. My “to read” list is constantly growing, and I will never reach the end. And do you know what? I’m happy about that. There will always be a new friend, a new discovery, a new adventure, and a new world waiting to be explored. That’s the beauty of reading.

I hope you will take part in this reading community by sharing what you are reading or what you love about reading in the comments. Even if my #IMWAYR posts become irregular during the school year, I feel tied to this community of wild readers, and I am so thankful to be a part of it every summer. Read on, my friends!

July 27

It’s Monday! What are you reading? July 27, 2015

Summer time is here, and I’m reading up a storm!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  To follow the tradition, I’m participating again this summer, and I can hardly believe there are only 2 weeks left of summer for me! Let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading this week–this just might be my penultimate (I love that word) #IMWAYR post for this summer.

Last week I read…

Two by Katherine Otoshi
One and Two are best friends and do everything together…until Three comes between them. Three starts to pit the odds against the evens, and divisiveness ensues. Zero wants everyone to just get along, so he helps Two see that he is “greater than” that, so they find a way to help each other get along.  Apparently, this is the third number book by Katherine Otoshi.  I had no idea there was a Zero or a One until I finished reading Two, and after reading it, I think I’d like to check out the others!

Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer
Bea has just moved to a new town and will be starting a new school soon. She absolutely loves pandas. It just so happens that she moved right next door to the panda habitat at the zoo! When she is worried about making new friends, she writes a letter to Panda, and their new friendship begins. Panda likes to do a lot of the things Bea likes to do! He also comes up with an idea to set her mind at ease about starting a new school, and ultimately ends up helping her find another friend, too! This is a cute “feel-good” story, and it will be a hit with anyone who likes pandas.

Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander and Tim Bowers
This book is a rhyming barnyard tribute to jazz. The names of the characters are mostly inspired by jazz greats, such as Mules Davis, Duck Ellington, and Ella Finchgerald to name a few. As the bass playing Acoustic Rooster sets out to find a band to play in the Barnyard Talent Show, he learns that winning isn’t everything, and finds the joy of great music is what it’s all about. The back matter has a glossary of jazz terms, facts about the real jazz artists behind the animals they inspired, and a timeline of the history of jazz music. This might be a good way to introduce kids to the idea of jazz, and make sure you bring some jazz tunes along to share!

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex
How can you not love Mac Barnett? When paired with Adam Rex, you have a masterpiece! Mac and Adam are actually characters in this story (they are made out of clay). You must start reading on the title page to get the full effect. As the story unfolds, Chloe, the illustrated main character of the story, gets lost in the woods where a lion leaps out from behind an oak tree. The only problem is that the illustration is not exactly a lion. It’s a dragon. Adam thinks a dragon would be cooler. So Mac pops out and tries to regain his rightful place as author, and after a spat, fires Adam. Lucky for him, another illustrator walks by to “save” the story. But he’s clearly not nearly as good as Adam. When Hank doesn’t work out, you won’t believe the way the story takes shape. Chloe becomes the true heroine as she finds a way to save the story. I love the way Mac and Adam so artfully come to life as part of this hilarious story. Kids will love the humor and unexpected twists of the plot. This one is a total winner.

Oddrey by Dave Whamond
Oddrey has always known she wasn’t like everyone else. She has her own unique way of seeing the world, but not everyone appreciates her uniqueness. When the class play starts to fall apart, she uses her quick thinking mind to rescue the cast. Her classmates see that being different has its advantages. This is a great story to help children celebrate their own uniqueness and learn to cherish the differences of others.

Abigail Always, Abigail by Nancy J. Cavannaugh
As Abigail begins sixth grade, she wants nothing more than to join the Pom Squad with her two best friends, Alli and Cam. Unfortunately, she does not end up in their homeroom, but the homeroom of “Old Hawk,” who is only the strictest teacher in the whole school, and also happened to be her mom’s sixth grade teacher. Old Hawk starts a “friendly letter” assignment, and pairs Abigail with Gabby Marcos, the schools biggest outcast. Sixth grade is not turning out the way she had hoped. In this book, her dreams are crushed, then she gets exactly what she’s always wanted, and learns that sometimes what you wanted wasn’t what you thought. This book deals with friendship, bullying, and stand up for what is right now matter what the costs. I loved how Abigail thinks and processes information and events through making lists, which actually makes this a quick read. I didn’t really know what to expect from this middle grade novel, and it turned out to be a great read from this year’s Bluebonnet Master List.

Magic of Tidying

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
I know that this isn’t kid-lit, but I have to share about it! I think this will definitely be a life-changer. Now that I’ve finished reading it, I’m ready to put my house in order! It will surely be a long and potentially painful process, but the concepts in the book make a lot of sense! If you don’t think of it as getting rid of things, but put it in the perspective of only surrounding yourself with the things that bring you joy, the process becomes so much easier! Whether it sparks joy is the criterion with which to judge what you will keep. I can hardly wait to get started, even though I’m scared to death of how much I will have to let go.  But I’m also looking forward to living a clutter-free life, which will hopefully lead to a clutter-free mind. 

Next week I will read…

I just started another Bluebonnet Nominee, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.  I’ve only read the first page and a half, and I’m already hooked. I have two more Bluebonnet Nominees after this one, but seeing as I will be “putting my house in order” and going to the Scholastic Reading Summit, I’m not sure if I’ll get to those this week. I’m also still working on the professional book Invent to Learn by Martinez and Stager. With all of the amazing free online learning opportunities there are, I’m finding it hard to stay focused and get through all of the things I want to learn about. What a great problem to have!

I hope you are enjoying your summer reading! Let me know what you’ve been reading or share your ideas and suggestions in the comments. Thanks for being a part of this reading community!

July 20

It’s Monday! What are you reading? July 20, 2015

Summer time is here, and I’m reading up a storm!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  To follow the tradition, I’m participating again this summer, so let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading this week.

Last week I read…

Buddha Stories by Demi
A few weeks ago, I had this on my “to read” list, and I forgot to write about it. It deserves a write up, for sure. Although it is not a new title (©1997), it stands the test of time. I pulled it off the shelf to weed it due to low circulation, however I think that with promotion, it will be well read and enjoyed. It deserves a second chance. This collection of parables told by the Buddha to his followers teaches valuable lessons that are as relevant today as they were centuries ago. The gold ink on dark blue vellum produces exquisite artwork that beautifully captures the moral of each short tale. I think I will use this book to introduce fables, as each tale has a moral and personified animal characters. Teachers always use Aesop as the go-to for fables, and this provides a unique perspective while staying true to the literary form. This is a beautiful book, and one I would like to add to my own personal collection.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate and G. Brian Karas
If you have not yet read Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan, you should. Regardless of whether you have read that one or not, this book is the true story of the shopping mall gorilla who was the inspiration for that wonderful novel.  This book provides a unique look into the real life of Ivan, from his capture to his “human life,” to his life in captivity at a shopping mall, to his eventual integration into the gorilla habitat at Zoo Atlanta, where he could finally live out his life with other gorillas. The back matter is full of facts about Ivan’s journey as well as a special, heartfelt note by Jodi Carrigan, his main keeper at Zoo Atlanta. It truly is a remarkable tale, and one that should be shared.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Macbeth by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo
In this graphic novel adaptation of Macbeth, we find a cast of animals that put on a production after hours at the zoo. The roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are played by lions, his friend Bansky is a hyena, the witches are various forest creatures, and a stork plays Detective Macduff. I think the personification of the animals is exactly what this tale needs to make it kid friendly. It surprisingly sticks closely to the sentiments of Shakespeare’s original play, yet it is light-hearted and humorous for the young audience. I was skeptical at first, but now I’m convinced that it’s well worth reading.

Zorro Gets an Outfit by Carter Goodrich, and Mister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich
My daughter selected these two books to bring home from the public library the other day, and I’m so glad she did. Zorro (a pug) and Mister Bud (a black dog with a white face) are best buddies, and they love biscuits and walks. In Zorro Gets an Outfit, Zorro is mortified by the adorable cape he finds himself in and does NOT want to go for a walk. But when he spots another cool dog in an “outfit,” he learns to be happy with his new look. In Mister Bud Wears the Cone, poor Mister Bud has a hot spot that he bites and scratches all night. The next day, his person makes him wear a cone while she’s gone. The cone gets in the way as Mister Bud tries to eat, drink and play, and when the cone accidentally knocks something over, he loses heart.  Throughout all of this, Zorro thinks it is hilarious. When their person comes home, she finds the mess and knows exactly what has happened and who is to blame, and she is sympathetic to her poor Mister Bud. These books are really cute, and the illustrations perfectly capture the personalities and emotions of the lovable animals. Now my daughter is making us role play the characters as her new favorite game.

A Perfect Season for Dreaming  by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Esau Andrade Valencia
This bilingual book chronicles the dreams of seventy-eight-year-old Octavio Rivera, who has fantastic dreams each day of the summer. At first he keeps them to himself, but as each day produces dreams that are more amazing than the last, he feels the urge to share them. He does not know with whom to share the dreams because he does not wish to be seen as old and crazy; nonetheless, his desire to share them grows stronger. At last, he thinks of the perfect person to share his dreams, and he knows he has chosen well by her response, “You are the most beautiful dreamer in the world!”


I knew this book would be a winner, but I just didn’t know how much it would ignite flames in my heart and mind until I read it. Mr. Browne, a fifth grade teacher, has gathered up all of the precepts he has collected over the years, both on his own and from his students, and he writes a book to highlight his top picks. He presents a precept for each day of the year and divides them into months with his own personal anecdote for each month. There are definitely allusions to what has transpired in Wonder, and you might find some closure as lingering questions are answered and other unexpected interactions occur. R.J. Palacio is a master at making you believe it is written by Mr. Browne. What I loved most were reading these fabulous “words to live by.” My brain went into idea overload as I considered all of the possible ways to use this book in the library and the classroom. I think I’d like to start a “Words to live by” wall, where students can post quotes from books that resonate with them, almost like the “graffiti wall” that Donalyn Miller shares in her book Reading in the Wild. I have about 70 quotes from this book that I’d like to post, so I’ll have to carefully consider which ones I select to save some space for my students! This book is a quick read since it is mostly quotes, and it will uplift your soul.  If you still have not read Wonder, go out and find it right now. You can read more of my thoughts about Wonder here and here.

Next week I will read…

Professionally, I’m still making slow progress through Invent to Learn by Martinez and Stager, and I may not be able to finish it this week as I’ll be working on writing/revising curriculum for our district elementary library program. For my kid-lit pick of the week, I would like to read a Bluebonnet nominee, so I think I’ll either try The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, or perhaps Always Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh. There are two more nominees on my list that I have yet to read as well. On a more personal level, last week I started reading a book for self-improvement called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book just might be a life-changer. I’m fascinated by the ideas, yet terrified to implement them because it will be a long and arduous task to purge and organize my house. I’m excited about how an uncluttered house might just make my mind a little less cluttered, leaving a little more room to focus on other things that are worthy of my attention. My trepidation to get started with the tidying process has halted my progress through the book, because I know that once I finish the book, I’ll have no excuses any more!

So what have you been reading? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Please leave a comment to contribute your ideas to our fabulous community of readers.

July 14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? July 13, 2015

Summer time is here, and I’m ready to read!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  To follow the tradition, I’m participating again this summer, so let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading this week.

Last week I read…

Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boynton
I love me some Sandra Boynton. When I saw that some of her board books were inspired by an album, I had to find it! I was not disappointed! Think of big band swing sung by farm animals (with well known voices such as Meryl Streep singing the nonsensical tunes), and you’ve got yourself a winner.  The words and illustrations are of course by Sandra Boynton in collaboration with Michael Ford who brings the music to life. This book with accompanying CD is a hoot, and I could listen to it all day long (which is probably a good thing, because I think my daughter Nova plans to do just that)!

Bedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider
As Arnold gets ready for bed, he asks to sleep with his parents because he’s afraid of a toe biting monster. His mom says that the monster is probably more scared of Arnold than Arnold is of him. When the toe biting monster arrives in his room that night, Arnold asks if he’s scared. He admits that he’s afraid of the horrible tooth gnasher and jumps into bed with Arnold. As more monsters arrive in Arnold’s room, it gets more and more crowded in his bed, until one of the monsters tells about the scariest monster of all, the Arnold! This cute bedtime story just might help alleviate some of the fears of monsters in the closet (or under the bed).

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat
In this adaptation of the Red Riding Hood folktale, the wolf is tired of getting beat up by his potential meals, so he goes to ninja school (incognito, of course) to learn some moves. The rhythm and rhyme of the text is reminiscent of the limerick. Although parts of it stick with tradition, the ending is anything but typical.

Dog and Mouse by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt
This cute little tale is about a dog who is searching for something. A curious mouse asks what he’s looking for, and it turns out he’s looking for a friend. Mouse is always eager to help, so she joins his search to help him find the perfect friend. One day when mouse is late, dog realizes that what he was looking for had been right beside him all along.

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon
Penguin sets out looking for love, but instead, he finds a single mitten. He begins looking for its owner, and when he doesn’t find it, he decides to knit a mate for it. Meanwhile, another penguin is knitting away to warm her lonely heart. Two clever puffins take note of these knitters and hatch a plan to help penguin find his own perfect match.

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? by Barney Saltzberg
Getting my child to bed has always been a struggle. She fights sleep more than anything! I checked this book out hoping she would make a connection, and maybe lesson our bedtime struggles a bit. Cornelius P. Mud has done everything he’s supposed to before bed, but he is still not ready. Turns out, he forgot something very important! Once that is resolved, he has no problems getting to sleep. On the Texas 2×2 list from a past year, it is a cute little bed time story that young children can relate to (but I don’t think it will solve the our bedtime problems).

If I Were A Book by José Jorge Letria and André Letria
I found this treasure in one of my favorite shops in Austin, an independent bookstore called Book Woman on North Lamar Blvd. Translated from the original Portuguese by Isabel Terry, the text puts the reader in a book’s shoes, “If I were a book…” I love how the simple illustrations of no more than four colors per page bring the text to life.  Some of the things this book would do is change lives, “…sweep away ignorance,” “…crush violence,”  and my favorite line: “If I were a book, I’d like, above all things, always to be read, and always to be free.”

shipwrecks Island of Shipwrecks by Lisa McMann
I placed a hold on both the digital and the print version of this book when I finished the previous book in the series.  Wouldn’t you know the digital version came in on Thursday, and the print copy was available the next day (but I was already nearly finished by the time I got to the library on Saturday). In this fifth installment of the Unwanteds series, Quill prepares for another attack on Artimé. High Priest Aaron Stowe creates–no, builds (creating is for Unwanteds)–a machine to extract oil in order to get the Quillitary vehicles working again. By teaming up with the Quillitary, he makes some very bold moves.  Meanwhile, Alex Stowe and his rescue team are stranded on an island that is at the center of an unmoving hurricane that has only an hour a day of calm. They have to find a way to get themselves home. While all of this is happening, pirates are plotting a kidnapping, and the not-to-be-trusted Gondoleery seeks to take over the entire island without regard for the wellbeing of the citizens of Quill nor Artimé. This was not the final book in the series as I had previously thought, which is both good and bad. The good is that the adventure continues and I’ll get to dive back into this magical world again. The bad is that I have to wait until September to see what happens next, and I’ll have to wait another year for the next one! In the words of Gerald the elephant (from Mo Willem’s beloved Elephant and Piggie series), “Waiting is not easy.”

Next week I will read…
I think I will probably pick up 365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio next week. As much as I loved Wonder, I’m sure this will be a winner. I will continue to read Invent to Learn for my professional learning, and one of the organization books I ordered earlier in the summer just arrived.  I may get started on that one for a bit of self-improvement. I still have about four more books from the Texas Bluebonnet Master List to read, so be looking for reviews of those in the next few weeks, too.

What have you been reading? Any thoughts or connections? Let me know in the comments! Let’s keep growing our community of readers and spread the love of reading!

July 7

It’s Monday! What are you reading? July 6, 2015

Summer time is here, and I’m ready to read!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  To follow the tradition, I’m participating again this summer, so let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading.


Last week I read…

Some Bugs by Angela Diterlizzi and Brendan Wenzel
This short text from the Texas 2×2 list has some really adorable illustrations of bugs of all kinds (and Oskar, who is not a bug). The rhyming text gives young children an idea of all the fun and interesting things that bugs do, and encourages them to make some observations of their own. Arachnids, insects and isopods are all included as “bugs” in this book, and the back page lists the names of the bugs featured in the story.

By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman
Mouse sets out to write and illustrate his own brand-new story. Frog jumps in with his own ideas, much to Mouse’s dismay. When Frog completely hijacks the story with his own nonsensical ideas, Mouse has enough! In the end, though, the two work together to make a new tale of their own. This is an endearing story of friendship and creativity that young children are sure to love.

Early Bird by Toni Yuli
In this Texas 2×2 book, Early Bird gets up early to get her day started. As the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm,” but surprisingly, it doesn’t end badly for the worm. The simple illustrations are bright and cheery, and it will leave you with a smile on your face.

My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock
In this retelling of a popular Yiddish folksong, a grandfather makes a handsome coat to wear on his wedding day. As it gets tattered and torn over the years, he snips and clips it and transforms it into a smart jacket, a vest, a tie, and a toy before a mouse finally finds the remnants and makes a nest for her family. The story spans generations, and it highlights the bonds of family as this coat in all of its iterations makes its way into our hearts as a story that will be cherished.

Little Melba and her Big Trombone by Katherine Russell-Brown and Frank Morrison
I absolutely love learning about the lives of people through great children’s literature. This book does an excellent job of introducing a jazz legend and pioneer. Melba Doretta Liston loved music, and when she was seven, her momma bought her a trombone. She taught herself to play and became one of the first women to become a world-class trombone player. This book touches on the difficulties of a black woman trying to make it in an industry dominated by men, and it shows her grit as she overcomes the discouragement that came from racial discrimination in the south. The illustrations beautifully capture her spirit and grace, and the story just might ignite a flame in budding musicians.

Flight School by Lita Judge
Penguin has the soul of an eagle, so he signs up for flying lessons at Flight School. No matter how hard he practices, he just can’t get past the fact that penguins aren’t built to fly. His heart is broken by this realization, and as he leaves flight school for good, Flamingo has an idea that allows him to soar on the wind as he has done in his dreams. This Texas 2×2 book has you rooting for the precious bird to break through the barriers of his own skin. His grit and determination are great examples for children of all ages to keep trying, even when the world says it’s not possible.

It’s a Book by Lane Smith
A monkey is reading a book. A donkey sees the book, and asks questions about it. How do you scroll down? Do you blog with it? Where’s the mouse? He does not understand exactly what a book is or does, and thinks it must be some sort of electronic device. Eventually the donkey gets absorbed in the story. He still doesn’t quite get it, though, and offers to charge the book up for the monkey. The final line cracked me up. In a world where people are so absorbed by technology, this little gem brings us back to the joy and simplicity of books. I loved this story, however, if you are not comfortable with alternative names for “donkey,” this may not be the book for you.

island of legends

Island of Legends by Lisa McMann
At the start of this fourth book in The Unwanteds series, Artimé is under attack. Aaron Stowe, the self-appointed High Priest of Quill, has stumbled upon an unknown place with creatures the likes of which he’s never seen. Alex Stowe, the young mage of Artimé, has to lead his people through battle and also guide an expedition to rescue the mother of two of his friends, who is held captive on a nearby island. He also makes his first attempt at bringing one of his creations to life. This fast paced book continues the adventures started in the first three books, and brings on new, unexpected twists and turns as new characters and adventures are introduced. If you have not read the first three, it would be hard to follow. However if you are already invested in the series, you will not be disappointed and will only want to keep reading. It “ends,” as always, leaving you hanging and craving more.

Next week I will read…

I am on the hold list for Island of Shipwrecks, the fifth book in The Unwanteds series. I hope it comes in, because I’m eager to find out what happens next. I’m hesitant to start any other novels until I’ve finished this series (although I’m not sure if book five is the last book or just the latest one to be published). I also just started Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager. This is a professional book that will help build my knowledge base on maker spaces and help improve the one in our library.  It may take a while to get through this one–I don’t quite breeze through professional books the way I do novels.  If my hold doesn’t come in soon, I may pick up another novel off my “to read” pile, but I’m not sure just what that will be.

I hope that you are enjoying your summer reading.  Keep me posted on what you are reading in the comments, and let me know if you have any thoughts, recommendations, or suggestions for my #IMWAYR posts!

June 29

It’s Monday! What are you reading? June 29, 2015

Summer time is here, and I’m ready to read!  Last summer (and the summer before), I took advantage of all my free time to participate in the meme “It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading?” hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and brought to the kid-lit world by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  I’m participating again this summer, so let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading.

Last week I read..

I Don’t Want To Be a Frog by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt
In this adorable picture book, a young frog thinks of all the reasons he does not like being a frog, and decides he wants to be a rabbit, or a pig or an owl. His dad (or mom–I can’t quite tell) proceeds to tell him all the reasons why he can’t be those things, when along comes an unexpected predator that helps him realize why being a frog is not so bad after all.

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
This beautiful bilingual tribute to Frida Khalo is captivating. The exquisite illustrations are hand crafted three-dimensional scenes that have been photographed, full of detail, color, and emotion. The text is brief, inspiring, and empowering, and the author’s note gives you a more in-depth view of the life and legacy of Frida Khalo.

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant
This book is all about perspective. Why argue over something that is completely subjective? Why let differences come between us? Let’s all learn to accept each others’ differences respect each others’ points-of-view, and then let’s go grab a bite to eat.

My Teacher Is a Monster by Peter Brown
In this cute story on the Texas 2×2 List, Bobby has a problem when he goes to school: his teacher is a monster! When Bobby goes to the park one weekend, he runs into Ms. Kirby. It’s always crazy for a kid to see a teacher outside of school, and he’s not sure whether to run away or greet her. Their interactions lead them to discover that they may actually like each other after all.

Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall
One fateful day, Mr. Button adopts a dog. Unbeknownst to him, Mrs. Button buys a cat that same day. The two animals try to get along, but they really just can’t stand each other. Eventually they build a wall to separate themselves from each other, but they realize they actually kind of miss each other after a while.  Then Mr. and Mrs. Button roll in a cage with the most terrifying creature either of them has ever seen; the two work together and hatch a plan to make the best of it. Another book on the Texas 2×2 list, this is a book both cat and dog lovers alike will enjoy.

Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard
In this delightful early chapter book, Mr. Putter enjoys reading to his cat, Tabby. He finds an advertisement to read aloud to animals at the story time at the local library. He invites his neighbor and her dog to join them. It’s a fun story, another that cat and dog lovers both can appreciate (and book lovers, too)!

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This early chapter book on the Texas 2×2 list is already a favorite of my daughter. Princess Magnolia has a secret, and she does not want anyone to find out–especially not Duchess Wigtower. Her perfect pink persona is exactly the cover she needs for her monster-fighting alter-ego, because everyone knows that princesses don’t wear black. While challenging stereotypes, The Princess in Black is a fun, enjoyable romp through a world of monsters and girl-power.

Island of Fire

Island of Fire by Lisa McMann
In the third book of the Unwanteds Series, the land of Artimé has disappeared, and Alex Stowe is trying to solve the clues to restore it. His twin brother Aaron has become the High Priest of Quill and is determined to control the whole island and take down the whole idea of Artimé, getting rid of the Unwanteds once and for all. In the mean time, Alex also needs to rescue two of his best friends who are being held prisoner on the nearby island of Warbler. This series is full of one adventure after another.  The action is enthralling, and the characters are full of depth and emotion. It’s so hard to speak about one book in the series without giving away too much about what has happened in the others–this is a series you’ll want to read from start to finish, as they all leave you hanging on the edge of your seat, wanting to know what happens next.

 Next week I will read…

I’ve already started Island of Legends, the fourth book in the Unwanteds series. If I can get my hands on the Island of Shipwrecks, I’ll likely read that when I’m finished. There are quite a few other titles on my “to read” shelf, including three Bluebonnet Nominees, two professional development books, and a few other kid-lit novels I’m interested in reading. I also have a couple of books on order to help me with my organizational needs. Continuous improvement is a large part of who I am as a person, and organization is an area that needs a LOT of improvement! Hopefully those books will come in soon so I can get started.

So tell me about your great summer reads! I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading, or if any of these books I’ve mentioned have sparked your fancy.  Keep reading!