Monday, July 29, 2013

Picture Book Mentor Texts Part 1

Even though I teach sixth grade, I love sharing picture books with my students.  Sixth graders love being read too and, this really should come as no surprise, they love picture books!  I’m always on the look out for picture books to use as mentor texts for reading and/or writing.  The following are two of my finds so far this summer…

Now It Is Summer by Eileen Spinelli

Now It Is Summer is a wonderful picture book about a little mouse that can’t wait for the pleasure of autumn to arrive while his mother patiently reminds him of the joys of summer.  He should take advantage of them while he can for too soon they’ll be gone.

This book is a perfect mentor text to use for teaching poetry, compare/contrast, alliteration, repetition, onomatopoeia, and especially sensory descriptions.  The author does a fabulous job of helping the readers experience the pleasures of both autumn and summer throughout the book.  Two of my favorite descriptions include:

“Will I leap laughing into leaves
heaped high in the backyard?
Soon”  (Autumn)


“….but now it is summer.
Now you can tippy-toe
into the gurgling surf. “  (Summer)

Students will be able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel each season.  I envision having students practice writing their own sensory poems after sharing this book.

Someday by Eileen Spinelli

An imaginative little girl dreams about what her “someday” will be like as compared to what her “today” or “right now" are like.  She dreams and wishes of swimming with dolphins, lunching with the president, digging for dinosaur bones, and counting penguins, while she’s actually feeding her goldfish, eating with her cousin, looking for coins in the couch, and counting jellybeans.  While the illustrations are colorful and fun, author Eileen Spinelli’s story has such wonderful details and words that readers/listeners will be easily able to close their eyes and imagine the adventures of the little girl. 

After sharing this story with my students I will challenge them to write their won “Someday… Today…” poem.  I will encourage them to think about things they do everyday, then use their imagination to turn those tasks into things they wish they could someday do.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Slice of Life: Little Library

A few years ago I started noticing these strange little boxes, they actually resembled little houses, showing up here and there around the area.  Even stranger, the little houses were filled with books!  Upon closer inspection, I discovered the books were free!  Oftentimes messages such as “take a book, leave a book,” or “take a book, return a book” were written on the boxes. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would leave books just sitting out in these boxes, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  As a reader I love books, but what did I do with the books once I was done reading them?  Sure I passed them on to others that might be interested in reading them, but I have so many books that I’ve finished reading and my kids have read.  I have shelves filled with my favorites that I can’t bear to part with, and many more end up in my classroom.  But still there are even more that I just have no room for anywhere.  I’ve often fantasized about opening my own little library with all the books I own (kind of like the library in Because of Winn Dixie).

I was filled with excitement and curiosity when my son announced one day this past spring that he had discovered a Little Library in our neighborhood, only a few blocks from our house.  He even found a book that he was interested in reading!  It was then that my idea began to grow. If I put books in the Little Library, would people want them? Would they read them?  Could I put in books for kids too?  So this summer I began my experiment. I took ten books down to the Little Library.  Really I was so excited it felt like Christmas, I just kept thinking how happy someone would be to read these books.  I even had some children’s picture books in the mix.

All week I kept thinking about the books I had put in the Little Library.  I wondered if anyone had looked at them. I wondered if anyone had picked any to read.  I hoped at least a few had found good homes.  So today I decided to take another bag of ten books down to the Little Library.  Again I was so excited, this time not only to drop off more books, but also to see if any of the first ten were gone yet.  As my husband and I approached the park, a man sitting on a bench near the Little Library looked up at us.  Suddenly nervous, I held up the bag I was carrying and said I had more books for the library.  He smiled and said, “good”.  It was then that I noticed the Little Library was completely empty!  All of the books I had brought the previous week were gone!  This may sound a little corny, but it felt so amazing to know that all of those books were being read and hopefully enjoyed.  I filled the library with my new load of books and headed home even more determined to help keep that library filled.