Writing territories are topics each of us knows well. These topics we know well or enjoy learning more about. One writing territory I enjoy is baseball. I have read many picture books on the topic: narrative- first person, second person, third person, informational, historical fiction, biographies, ABC book, 101 Reasons, specific professional team. One topic; many forms of writing.
Kids need to see they can use their same topic in many writing forms. Comparing books is a great way to show children how they can explore writing techniques.
Jessica Olien (@jessicaolien) created a hybrid text in The Blobfish Book. Students are introduced to the creatures of each ocean zone. Facts are shared with real photos of the animal creatures. Blobfish adds his first-person commentary on each page with speech bubbles. The humorous style will hook your kids into learning more about the ocean.
When the text shares that the Blobfish was named the ugliest animal in the universe, Blobfish has a melt down. The other creatures, his friends, rally around him to uplift his spirits.
This book trailer includes an explanation of the different ocean zones.
Karen Kaufman Orloff captures the voice of a child begging to change his circumstances. Kids are the best at persuasion. They insist. They give reasons. And they insist some more.
In I Wanna Go Home, Alex isn’t not thrilled with going to his grandparents instead of staying with a friend. His view point is limited. David Catrow captures the many faces of Alex as his perspective changes. The reader learns of his pleas to his findings to his adventures through letters (a delightful writing habit that many kids may not even recognize.)
Karen Kaufman Orloff has created a website with activities linked to her I Wanna books. Clink on the link here to see ways to use this text for persuasive writing.
I was perusing through my Thanksgiving books and came across Turk and Runt. The book is hilarious. Lots of play on words and voices. Lisa Wheeler did an incredible job of thinking like a turkey in pursuit. Just had to mention it. Click on this link for more mini-lesson ideas.
“For everyone who’s ever loved a dog. – Ree Drummond”
I love the dog, Charlie. He reminds me of our dog, Harley.
Harley loves our family, especially my father-in-law. When he entered our home a year ago, rescued, he has given us continual thanks. Harley snuggles when you are sick, endlessly wags his tail smiling at you, and watches over my father-in-law all day. Although he often lays around, his eyes are watching and his ears perk at all noises.
Harley loves to snuggle.
In comes Moo, our kitten.
Moo loves to sit on my books when I am blogging.
Harley tolerates Moo’s playfulness, the sneaky attacks, swats of his tail, and nips on his floppy ears. If I could read his mind, I am sure he would talk like Charlie in Charlie and the Christmas Kitty.
Charlie is trying to do his own thing and the kitten keeps on snuggling up to him. The personalities of the animals are brought to life. Diane deGroat’s illustrations enhance the personalities of the loveable pets. Don’t you every what your pet is thinking? I especially find the “King of the Ranch” endearing. I’m sure Harley believes he is King of the Gensch household. Charlie’s perspective brings life to the playful pets. His perspective is true to so many of our furry friends.
On the back, Ree Drummond is holding her Bassett Hound. Kids will be inspired to write their own pet-perspective story. Our furry creatures have such personalities and talk to us. At least we talk to them and stories from the heart warm our lives and make us laugh. Read this book. Share with your kids. You will bring joy to the classroom.
(A 47 second sneak peek into the book.)
Savorings for reading and in writing for Charlie and the Christmas Kitty:
Personification – character personality
Dog perspective – notice how Charlie changes, becomes more accepting
First Person Narrative – speaking to the reader
Reporter Voice – Can’t you just hear Charlie’s disgust? “WHAT’S A CAT DOING ON MY RANCH?”
For more Charlie fun, read the prequal: Charlie the Ranch Dog. The below YouTube video allows you to preview the book (5 min.). Enjoy.
A few weeks ago, I reflected on the beginning of the year. I realized a stumbling block to my reviewing books and decided I didn’t like it. The realization sparked a plan to change. Taking a personal day, I took two bags of books, my sticky notes, and computer to the nearby Starbucks. Books laid out, pen in hand, I wrote. I had so much fun. I laughed at books, trying to hold my chuckles in. (I’m sure the groups of men around me wondered what I was up to.) I found a system I can manage and am happy.
In the height of the World Series, one Giant’s player needs to be highlighted: Willie Mays. He is one of the best all around baseball players. In You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! Jonah Winters shares how Willie’s hero, Joe DiMaggio, inspired Willie to play hard. His natural talent mixed with determination and fatherly coaching, Willie worked at perfecting his baseball skills. By age 15, his career in the Negro Leagues began.
In 1951, Willie Mays was drafted by the Giants, rejuvenating the team with his intense effort. In the 1954 World Series, Willie made an incredible catch – and was viewed by millions of people on TV.
“You could fill a whole book with all the jaw-droppin’ plays Willie made, all the homers he hit, all the bases he stole.”
View the amazing catch:
Savorings for reading and in writing for You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!:
Explode the moment – the catch, the throw
Quotes – radio announcers
Repeating line – “He was the kid who…“
Voice – draws the reader in
Ticket inserts – informational text highlighting the history and stats behind the story
Tammy Shultz and I present our top book picks of the year. I always have a difficult time narrowing my choices; there are many books to choose from. We do not necessarily choose the newest books (Donalyn Miller keeps me updated). We choose books that have appealed to our kids this past year. Curious Critter is a book I loved. It’s funny and the kids react to the creatures talking to them. I had it on my slide show when I reviewed last year’s books; I realized Tammy had shared it as her book last year. Makes sense. Great book!
Curious Critters is a nonfiction text with voice! I was drawn to the captivating descriptions and features of the creatures. David FitzSimmons illustrated the photographs on a white background, emphasizing the details of the critters. A website features the critters. Click here to see what’s new.
His second book, Curious Critters Vol. 2, is available. When you click on the title, the link will allow you to preview a few pages. Fascinating!
View the YouTube video (1:20 second) book trailer. Your students will be intrigued!
Savorings for reading and in writing for Curious Critters:
Point of View – the critter talks to the reader
Voice – The goldfish says, “Let’s play a game: I’ll flip my fins and swim around in this aquarium, and you throw in some food. Sound good? Great?”
Allitoration – decorating daisies
Transitions – one creature will connect to the next
Children welcome Santa with their plates full of cookies and other goodies. Santa is nearing the end of his Christmas Eve venture and is lured to have one more tasty treat. As he relaxes in a comfy chair, Santa’s one dessert treat leads to another. Rhonda Gowler Greene use of vivid verbs and rhyme creates a fun read your children will be delighted with.
Henry Cole draws the reader’s attention to specifics in the scenes – Santa’s belly, a button popping off, the reindeer waiting above. In each wide angled scene, another view is shared with a zoomed-in-circle overlay.
With too many treats eaten, Santa’s attempt to leave is stopped – he’s stuck in the chimney. Each animal comes to the rescue – the reindeer, a dog, a mother cat and six kittens, and finally a mouse. With the use of teamwork, they push and pull Santa out.
Savorings for reading and writing for Santa’s Stuck:
Voice – a question to the reader the author answers with you: “One more cookie? Couldn’t hurt.“
Vivid Verbs – nestled, gathers, shrugs, entices
Stair-step structure – one more thing is added to the prior scene
Sound effects – onomatopoeia but also the font adds to show effort “No -o -o -o luck“
Have I got a Book for You! – Really, I do. The voice of Mr. Al Foxword is superb. In all of his flattering-salesman pitch, Al works his magic. He begins by showing his customers are satisfied. He is the #1 seller of products that satisfy. Melanie Watt has created another attention-grabbing, fun-loving book.
I love how he engages me, the reader, into wanting his book called “Have I got a Book for You!” (Yes, it is the exact replica of the book you are reading.) The book mimics the commercial ads on everyday TV. This book would make a great mentor text for persuasive writing.
Delightfully, some fourth grade students narrate the book in the following YouTube video. It gives you a glimpse into the writerly voice Melanie Watt uses.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Have I Got a Book for You!:
When I heard Jeff Anderson readScaredy Squirrel, I instantly added the title to my must-have list. The voice Melanie Watt uses with her delightful, yet nervous, character grabs your attention. You are hooked.
This summer, I came across another book in the series, Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party. You will quickly learn Scaredy Squirrel is particular. He’s very contemplative and plans ahead for possible disasters. He does not want any surprises.
When Scaredy Squirrel plans his birthday party, he is very detailed. The party schedule makes me chuckle. You can definitely sense his anxiety. The party schedule page could be combined with a math activity. Student could have clocks and calculate the digital time to analog time. It also show a comparison usage of the colon – in time and also in a list.
A surprise gift warms Scaredy’s heart. Even young children will get a sense of how the character changes by an act of kindness (what a lead in to a discussion on community). What a twist to Scaredy Squirrel’s well planned party.
View the YouTube trailer to predict possibly disasters:
Savorings for reading and in writing for Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party:
Voice – talks to the reader
Character Thinking – you can sense Scaredy’s personality
Character Change – notice the last page
Reading Charts – use the book to introduce nonfiction text that have inserted charts