Teaching a Slug to Read?

July 13, 2011

I featured this book at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute in June. What a fun title! I love the way a list of how to do somethings was integrated with speech-bubble interjections and narrative. David Slonim hooked me with his illustrations. This book is a great example of a “How To” book. Older kids could use it as an example to create a book for younger student on a subject they know a lot about. You could use this publishing technique for an All About Unit of Study.

In How to Teach a Slug to Read by Susan Pearson,a slug wants to learn to read. A young boy shares with him and his mother the steps to reading, from making sure the slug can see the pictures and words to stretching out sounds. The author and illustrator use well-known books and create books with a slug as the them in the background illustrations and poems. For example, instead of the book The Cat in the Hat, they have The Slug in the Hat.

The book demonstrates how children should ask questions about their reading, including vocabulary or unknown words.

“What’s a tuffet?”

A tuffet is a low seat.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for How to Teach a Slug to Read:

  • Interjection
  • Speech bubbles
  • Persistence – reading takes time to learn
  • Vocabulary
  • List book – how to learn to do something
  • Book jacket – mentions Susan spends lots of time in her garden – probably where an idea came from

Warsaw Community Public Library new book (2011)


Adventurous Hero

July 11, 2011

Chick loves stories of adventure. He daydreams of meeting the hero who fights off evil. The chicken coop is too dull with its daily duties of pecking, laying eggs, and sitting. Chick wants more.

Jennifer Sattler creates a fun read in Chick ‘n’ Pug. Heading out, Chick finds a pug. Chick is thrilled! At last he has found his hero. In contrast, the illustrations portray pug as an ordinary, lethargic pup trying to sleep. Believing his hero is exhausted from a heroic conquest, Chick marvels at Pug. He wants to be just like Pug. Chick has visions of strength and wit.

When an intruder (a cat) appears on the scene, Chick decides to help his hero out and defeats the foe with a LOUD bark. Hooray!  Too cute!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Chick ‘n’ Pug:

  • Thought bubbles vs. speech bubbles – dreams of being something mightier
  • Magic of 3 – 3 short scenes
  • Character thinking aloud to the reader
  • Ellipse – dramatic, surprise ending
  • Love of Reading – chick reads the adventure book 127 times. ūüôā

Someplace Special

March 4, 2011

I love author’s notes!¬† I fell like having a personal interview with each author.¬† Patricia McKissack explains that Goin’ Someplace Special is her story, based upon the segregation she grew up with.

‘Tricia Ann wanted to go to her favorite place.¬† She had gone there many times with her grandmother, but today she was going on her own.¬† ‘Tricia rides the bus, sitting in the ‘colored section’.¬† As she walks to her destination, ‘Tricia gets caught in a crowd and is swept into a hotel where she faces hostility.

Through the encouragement of a kind woman, ‘Tricia is reminded of her grandmother’s words:

“And no matter what,” Mama Frances called after her, “hold yo’ head up and act like you b’long to somebody.”

Arriving at her destination ‘Tricia An was thrilled.¬† It was a place of freedom.¬† It was the Nashville Library.¬† The fron facing declared, “Public Library:¬† All are Welcome”.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Goin’ Someplace Special:

  • Love of Reading
  • Determination
  • Show don’t Tell – “What’s got yo’ face all clouded up like a stormy day?”
  • Visualizing
  • Grabber Lead – “Tricia Ann was about to burst with excitement.”

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 Рnine 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

Library Mouse

July 14, 2010

What an adorable book Library Mouse is!  I loved it!  The book is a great read aloud that links reading and writing and the love of literacy.  Daniel Kirk shows children a simple yet fun way to enjoy the library.

Library Mouse

Sam the mouse lived in a library.¬† He would sleep during the day, but when the library closed, his exploration began.¬† Sam would read book after book after book.¬† His mind was filled with fun adventures.¬† Sam enjoyed the children’s reference section the best, my favorite.

…he thought life was very good indeed.”

Sam begins to write his own books, and slips each onto the bookshelf.  As children read his books, they are curious and want to meet the author.  Sam is rather shy, and he creates a fun way for each child to meet the author.  He places a mirror in the box.  As children look in, they realize they are an author and begin to write books themselves.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Library Mouse:

  • Types and genres of books – biographies, fairy tales, cookbooks, mysteries
  • Visualizing – a mural of scenes from books Sam has read “his imagination brimmed over with wonder and fantasy
  • Setting Lead that leads into a One Day moment – begins in the library and then, “One night Sam decided …”
  • Ideas – write what you know; inspiring children to write
  • Predictable Structure – time of day, “sunlight streamed through the windows“;child finds his book and show it to the librarian; book is read and liked; Sam writes a new book.

Class Book Idea:

  • Take a picture of each child in your class holding their finished published piece.¬† Each child can write an ‘about the author’ page.¬† Make a class book of “Mrs. Gensch’s Authors”
  • Beginning of the year – take a picture of each child with notebooks in their hand.¬† Maybe take a picture of their favorite idea page and make the idea pages into a class book to place in the writing center.
  • You could take pictures of the children working on pieces throughout the writing process.¬† A class book could be made of the writing process for the class to refer to.¬† They could make if for a younger grade level as well.¬† Title it ‘Writer’s Workshop’.
  • This same idea could be used for Reader’s Workshop.¬† Visuals help the children to be focused.

The Library Doors

November 8, 2009

This book is a great introductory book to the library for preschool to second grade.¬† Toni Buzzeo uses the familiar tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” for the structure of the text in her book, The Library Doors. (Have you ever tried using that as a class book idea?)¬† This is a great upper elementary text to give readers a structure to make their own books or books for younger readers.The Library Doors

Children will be able to interact with the text in many ways.  The text shares information on how to search for books, use library markers, and even the updated scan to check books out.  Included with the book, Toni Buzzeo has an eight page Library lesson booklet for additional extension lesson.  I particularly like the hand/finger plays that go along with the text.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Library:

  • Verbs – search, click, hold
  • Onomatopoeia – shh, tickety tick
  • Class book for procedures¬† – you could use the structure of the text to create a book about procedures in class
  • Hybrid – poetic, informational
  • Sequential

Libraries Around the World

December 2, 2008

The author shares that she read an article “about a camel in Kenya that was used to bring books to young people who lived in remote desert villages.”¬† Intrigued, Margriet Ruurs researched and learned of “mobile libraries.”¬† My Librarian is a Camel:¬† How¬†Books are Brought to Children Around the World¬†is a creation of the photos and stories shared.¬† Each two page spread shares about people who are passionate about reading and getting books to others.

The text layout shows the country’s physical map, flag, and some general information including basic language(s) spoken.¬† It’s very intriguing!!¬† I’m thankful that I can walk to our town’s library and drive to another nearby one.¬† Libraries bring so many opportunities to us, and I’m thankful we are blessed with them.

Mode of transportation for the books include the following:  camel, wheelbarrow, donkey and cart, elephant, book bus, bicycle, flat boat, and by mail. This book would be a great way to introduce other cultures around the world.  It can also be a way to talk about how special the school library is and the ones in our communities.

Check out Margriet Ruurs recommended books.  Many are my favorite too.


Chicken soup? (dedicated to my bookloving friend, Tammy)

December 1, 2008

Mary Jane and Herm Auch have created a fun-loving book to read to your class, or just for a fun laugh yourself, in Souperchicken.¬† The dedication reads:¬† “For reading teachers everywhere.”¬† Teachers, you need a pat on the back, and this book is it!

The story begins:¬† “Henrietta loved to read.”¬†Henrietta, the chicken, taught herself to read and finds that reading is very important.¬† Her aunts think that she is behind the times and needs to be laying more eggs.¬† Egg production was down on the farm, and so the farmer decides to send the hens on a vacation – all except Henrietta.¬†

With a fun play on words with phrases like “rice to the occasion“, “she’s cream of a chicken“, and “you’re wonton to keep her”, the Auchs have the farmers laughing and Henrietta wondering.¬† The aunts were ready for a relaxing time.¬† As they headed down the lane, Henrietta read the sign on the side of the truck:¬† Souper Soup Co.¬† Heading off to save her aunts, Henrietta helps other animals loaded ready for market.¬† She would then share her wisdom, “Please learn to read!¬† Reading can save your lives!”

After the grand rescue, Henrietta and her aunts retire to a vegetarian farmer’s farm.¬† Henrietta begins her new fabulous job:¬† a reading teacher.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Souperchicken:

  • Dialogue – the font seems to make the quotation marks very visible
  • Play on Words – “Yep, just simmer down and relax.”
  • Problem and solution – several attempts
  • Love of reading
  • Repeating line – “please learn to read

Read All About It

November 26, 2008

The title, Read all About It, jumped out at me when I was looking through some of the newer books at the library.¬† Then, seeing the authors’ names, Laura and Jenna Bush, I was intrigued a little more.¬† I know that the First Lady use to be a librarian and loves books, so I wasn’t too surprised to see how a library is tied into their book.¬† Jenna is a teacher and author, something I was enlightened on.

The story begins with Tyrone Brown.¬† He is more interested in playing than reading.¬† His teacher, Miss Libro, has a definite different viewpoint.¬† She sees the library as a place of adventure.¬† “You never know who you’re going to meet in a good book.”¬† He is not interested in listening to the daily read aloud until… one day,¬† his classmates are so attentive, he actually listens.¬† When he does, characters from the book begin to appear in the room.

I love the font in this book.  when a character speaks, the font is larger and in the illustration Рwithout the  speech bubble frame.

Denis Brunkus illustrations capture snapshots of the adventurous children.¬† One each two page spread, you will notice a blackboard behind the teacher.¬† Flanked on either side, you will notice a “Read All About It Book List” and also the classroom rules.¬† With each new holiday, the book list has several titles listed within that category.¬† More rules are added to the list with each surprise read aloud scene.

Checkout the Harper Collins’ website about the book.¬† You will find some tips on helping reluctant readers.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Read All About It:

  • Voice – Tyrone speaks to the reader in first person narrative
  • Book end – the book closes with a link to the beginning; close to a circular, but not quite
  • Love of Reading – you can feel the teacher reaching out to her children
  • Library – and adventurous place
  • Ordinary moments – taking an ordinary day at school and making it exciting with a read aloud