More Than Anything Else

February 11, 2011

Marie Bradby created a rich text in More Than Anything Else.  A young boy shares his thoughts through the book, giving you a glimpse into history and a boys dream.  The book takes place post slavery.  The work is hard for little pay.  The boy is young – nine years old and working in a salt mine.  He has a strong desire to learn to read.Product Details

I think about the hunger still in my head – reading.”

One evening, the boy hears an African-American reading the newspaper.  The boy is delighted.  He can see his dream of reading changing from a hope to a reality.  He shares his desire with his mother, who somehow brings home a book of the alphabet.  She calls it a song.  He practices writing the letter shapes in doesn’t know the sounds.  He longs to know the sounds.

One night the boy searches for the man.  The man explains the letters and sounds.  The illustrator, Chris K. Soentpiet, creates the excitement through the bright yellows contrasting in the dark setting. The boy wants to know more, so the man writes the boy’s name – BOOKER. 

This is Booker T. Washington’s story.  Notice the dedication part; it gives the clue. 

Savorings for reading and in writing for More Than Anything Else:

  • Sensory Description – chill of the evening, arms ache, stomach rumbles
  • Figurative language – it’s used throughout the story
  • Love of Reading –
  • Character thinking – “More than anything else, I want to learn to read.”
  • Background Knowledge – hardship after slavery, dreams

Ron’s Big Mission

February 9, 2011

Ron's Big MissionRon McNair had a dream.  He dreamed of flying a plane.  The book Ron’s Big Mission shares another dream he had – checking out his own library books.  The authors, Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden, share Ron’s determination on our summer day in 1959.

I love the fact that Ron had a thirst for knowledge.  He visited the Lake City Library frequently, being the “best customer.”  At that time, laws prohibited African-Americans from checking books out.  No today.  Today, Ron wanted to check the books out and displays his determination.

At the end of the story, an author’s note shares that Ron McNair did fulfill his dream of flying and also became an astronaut.  On January 28, 1986, Ron lost his life when the Challenger space shuttle blew up.  Ron’s memory lives on at Lake City Library.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Ron’s Big Mission:

  • Predicting – He had “something important to do.”
  • Character Traits – determined, boy with a plan
  • Show and Tell Feelings – “Ron felt nervous and his hands felt a little sweaty.”
  • One Day happening – going to the library
  • Tension – 3 trial solutions prior to getting his library card
  • Magic of 3 – “He took a deep breath, lifted his head high, and went inside.”
  • Ellipse – end of story

New PES Library book


SOL: A Comfy Chair

February 8, 2011

Do you have a favorite, comfy chair?  You know, the kind of chair that you are so comfortable in when you read or talk, you feel pampered.

My oldest son, W, made me laugh today. W is six foot two with very long legs.  He was explaining how he was working on his English dialectical journals while sitting on a comfortable, old, stage couch today.  W received 10 out of 10 points.  “I know it’s because I wasn’t having to worry about my butt.”  My quizzical look made him explain.  “I didn’t have to think about how sore my butt was from sitting on those hard chairs all day long.  It’s hard to concentrate when it’s hurting.”  I just smiled and nodded.  Yes, a comfy chair is definitely a pleasure.


Museum Trip

February 7, 2011
Cover Image

Illustrators have a unique gift they give readers – a prelude to the story.  Sometimes the prelude shares a character trait.  Sometimes it paints the setting scene, and sometimes it’s foreshadowing the main idea.

Barbara Lehman, author of Red Book,  introduces her male character on the title page.  I will name him Joe.  Joe is facing you, smiling, as if inviting us on his journey.  His innocent , sweet smile made me wonder what Barbara had in store.  Looking more closely at the illustration, I notice that one of Joe’s shoe laces is untied.  I began to wonder:  is this a clue?

Museum Trip is a wordless book that makes the reader speculate and predict.  For young children, this book has depth in comprehension.  The reader gets to see into Joe’s imagination.  He journeys into the exhibits he sees.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Museum Trip:

  • Wondering – will Joe reconnect with his group?
  • Everyday happenings – field trip; getting lost
  • Prediction
  • Story elements – children in all grade levels can share their “story” from the illustrative version.  You can teach just one aspect of detail or add-on to create a whole narrative
  • Inferring character traits

Winter Books

February 5, 2011

Throughout my blogging days, I have posted books about the current season or holiday.  I have listed all my books (hopefully) that I have posted in the index.  I highly recommend perusing it to see if a title stands out.

Below are a few books about winter that I have blogged about.  Enjoy!

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Snow Ponies by Jason Cockcroft (a favorite of mine!)

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick.


Satchel Paige: Don’t Look Back

February 4, 2011

David Adler once again shares a biography that will engage children.  February is Black History Month, and Satchel Paige:  Don’t Look Back is a great story to share.   I love to find books that capture character traits I want my students to develop.  This book shows the determination and stamina of a young man, Leroy Paige.  He gained his nick name “Satchel” when he began working at age 7 at a train station.  He would carry people’s bags, or satchels, by stringing them on a pole that ran over his shoulders.  Leroy also went to work sweeping a baseball field.  He loved the game and began practicing by throwing rocks.  Satchel didn’t let his lack of resources stop his determination to better himself.

Satchel Paige played in the World Series for the Cleveland Indians on July 7, 1948.  He was 42 years old.  In today’s baseball market, most players are much younger and are just ending their careers in their forty’s.  Not Satchel.  He played baseball until he was 60 years old.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Satchel Paige:  Don’t Look Back:

  • Perseverance and Stamina
  • Inferring – “Paige was overcome with emotion. His nerves, he later said, ‘were jumping every which way.’  He knew he wasn’t pitching just for his team but also for African-Americans everywhere.”
  • Magic of 3 – “He stretched.  He waited.  He shook his fingers.
  • Questioning
  • Semi-colon with a list

PES Library books


My Writing Group

February 2, 2011

Thanks to my dear friend, Ruth Ayres of TwoWritingTeachers, writing has become a necessity again.  We have shared ideas over many miles of traveling together to meetings.  Reflection has been so helpful.  I can process with a friend who shares the same beliefs and extend my thinking just by talking.  So many times as Ruth would be talking or I would be sharing, a ‘awe haw’ moment would happen.

Now, thanks to my other dear friends: Tammy, Tam, and Ruth, my writing is being spurred on.  I have an accountability with encouragement.  Even when time elapses between posting, my writing group gives me energy and support to keep going – through the tough spots.  I’m the hardest on myself, so it’s great to receive feedback within my trusted group.

It’s a snowy morning again and my first thought was “I have to write.”  I need to get another book posted and finish my letter.  I’m glad for these mornings with extra time to think and write.  But more so, I’m glad for my writing group.  I can hear their cheers and questions, and laughs and comments.


Footprints in the Snow

February 1, 2011

6:15 a.m.  I gaze outside to see footprints in the newly fallen snow.  The prints puzzle me – No, they are not the cat’s.  They look like…

My eyes move to the left and I notice a solemn rabbit nibbling on a bush buried in snow.  Nibble. Alert.  Nibble.  Alert.

Moments of silence pass as I enjoy the scene below.  I smile as my mind connects to a book, Footprints in the Snow.   Hello my unexpected acquaintance.