Saturday, 9 March 2013

Way Out in the Desert

Way Out in the Desert
Written by T.J. Marsh and Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Kenneth Spengler

I've had this book in my own collection for years, being that I'm from the Arizona desert originally. It's a spin on the classic Wadsworth Over in the Meadow song/story, but with a super cool twist of having a number hidden on each page. Ooh, we went a bit nuts over that one as it was just the right amount of challenge for the little ones. Plus, we learned lots about desert animals. Mostly, they loved the cadence of the song, and I looked out to see every single one of their faces just mesmerized. It sent us on a mission to find and read as many versions of the song/story as we could.

We read Over on the Farm and Over in the Meadow and again, they loved the melody and rhythm. Still, Way Out in the Desert was our favorite because of finding the numbers. So glad they loved one of my favorites!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Written and Illustrated by Sue Hendra

What's not to love about this book? Robots + bottom humor is a perfect match for just about any age, and this book was a huge hit with my students. No-Bot has lost his bottom on the swing and searches high and low for it around his neighborhood. Seems that everyone else has found different uses for it (I am always trying to get my students to think creatively about what something might be used for, so this was a great teaching moment!), and he finally does find it at the end. Only then he loses another body part. Fun and fabulous, No-Bot could be used for many different grades.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Big Green Monster

Ed Emberley

For years, I have loved Ed Emberley's drawing books for kids, but I somehow missed out on this fabulous book of his until recently. It's awesome for many reasons-- great focus on parts of the body for EAL learners, (most) kids love anything with monsters, and the cutouts in the book make it extra fun. 

There is also an iPad app that we used in class, and the app has made the book into a song. Now that I know the song, I find that I can't read the book anymore. I have to sing as it's folky and cute! 

Cat the Cat, Who is That?

Mo Willems

Who doesn't love Mo Willems? I love how many of his books can go across grade levels seamlessly, and we are huge fans of anything Gerald and Piggie do. When I used this book with K4, it was a smashing success. All the repetition, the concept of making a friend, and the oh-so-fabulous "BLARGIE! BLARGIE!" monster page--it was all wonderful. This was another book that they immediately took to reading on their own. For a few weeks there, there was a whole lot of "Blargie! Blargie!" going on in our classrooms. I'm thinking I'll check this one out again since we are knee deep in rhyming at the moment...

For some reason, the rest of the series was not as much a hit as this one. Perhaps it was the lack of Blargie! Blargie! 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Roly Poly Pangolin

Anna Dewdney

I'm a sucker for books that look really new in a library, and this book by the author of the Llama Llama series looked nice and shiny and just right for the K4 cuties. They ate it up and loved the rhyming and roly-poly, shy pangolin stuff. What I loved about it as a teacher is that there was tons of information about pangolins (all new to me since I had never heard of one before) that was shown only in the illustrations. We could look together to see what they eat (ants) and how they eat (with their tongue).

Always on the lookout for fiction books with nonfiction information tucked in the pages...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Jan Thomas Love

I've been a fan of Jan Thomas' work since I first stumbled on her book, The Doghouse, at our local library a few summers ago. Kids adore her silliness and amazing illustrations, but her books are also chocked full of teachable moments.

We are currently LOVING Jan's work in K4, and here is what I am noticing from the wee ones:

1. They are making tons of connections between her various books, be it with characters or speech bubbles or rhyming. Sometimes we take longer to come up and show the connections than we do to actually read the book.

2. Little ones love the concept of ellipses (...) and how they make us wait just a little bit longer to see what will happen. I love reading Is Everyone Ready for Fun? and having them say aloud, "dot, dot, dot."

Our newest favorite is this one--it's not a rhyming book, but it's cheeky and hilarious and we are nuts over it. I'm so excited to share this basket of fun with the K4 Cuties tomorrow. We'll act it out with finger puppets from Jan's website! And just look at that cute couch for the cows to jump on and dance on like they do in the book.

Jan Thomas' work is not just for the tiny ones. It is witty and funny enough to work with older students as they will get her humor even more. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Higher! Higher!

Leslie Patricelli

This book was sheer magic with my 4 year olds. A little girl asks her dad to push her higher and higher on a swing, and she winds up going all the way into outer space. My students were giddy with how silly this was each time she went higher, and when she meets an alien kid in space who is also on a swing, well, that was the best part for them. We read it many times together, and this is one of those books I love because I read it to the kids and then they can immediately go and read it themselves. I have a video of a little boy in my class saying, "Higher! Higher!" and there is a good chance they were his first English words. Cutest part was his voice was exactly like mine. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Written & Illustrated by Bill Thomson

This wordless book is such fun, and the drawings are so realistic. A group of children head to the park on a rainy day to find a bag of sidewalk chalk hanging from a dinosaur toy's mouth. They soon discover that whatever they draw comes to life (this part was downright fascinating to my students), which can be fun or can be dangerous, depending on what you draw! 

On our reading table, this is one of the books that was read over and over and over. Even months after I had to return it to the library, my students still talk about this book, and my kindergarten daughter also loves it. One student recently came up to me, and with her limited English said, "" It took me a minute to figure out she meant Chalk, but it was so cool that she loved it so much. Our library copy is checked out, but this will definitely be one book I will buy for our own classroom. 

This was also a big hit with our 3 year olds but I could see it working with older kids as well! 

Switching Gears

This blog that is so dear to me has been on hiatus for a while now. My family and I moved from Thailand to Saudi Arabia, and my new job is teaching PreK and not in the library. Because of that, I have not been sure what to do with the blog. After we took some time to settle in here, I am ready to switch gears with it for a while and turn it into an early literacy book recommendation blog. I know when I was in the library, it was sometimes difficult to find those fabulous books that just clicked with the wee ones--they have a lot of wiggles and very small attention spans. Since that is my life now, I have a ton of great recommendations! 

But, before I start telling you about those books, I thought I would close the last chapter by sharing this gorgeous note a 2nd grader left on my library desk in Bangkok. He had just arrived from Finland, and his English was just emerging, but when I read the note, (it says--"I love what you have done with the place") I asked him what he meant. He swept his arm out in this grand gesture to show the whole library and said, 

"This. I just love what you have done with it."

Well, I could not think of a better compliment from a kid than to love his library and the way it made him feel. I keep the note with me in my wallet now until I find the perfect tiny frame to put it in.

I love what you have done with the place. 

And, although I am not in the library anymore, this is still my philosophy. My 4 year olds are already reading machines--I can hardly keep up with them! 

Great books coming super soon!